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Tech

Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

This week’s guest on This Blogger’s Life is Tracy Morrison @SellabitMum is the founder of the always entertaining website Sellabitmum.

Tracy is one of my favorite bloggers to read because she is always open and frequently hilarious. She has a way with words that can touch your heart and pee your pants with laughter, sometimes in the same post. We finally met in person last summer and if you want to know the truth, she is exactly who you’d expect her to be from reading her blog and that is very refreshing.

I am honored to know Tracy Morrison and proud to have her as my guest on This Blogger’s Life today. So, without further ado…

This Blogger’s Life, Tracy Morrison

Tracy Morrison, Sellabitmum, @Sellabitmum, This Blogger's Life, blogging,bloggers

Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging after my last(fourth) miscarriage over 6 years ago. I was reading many blogs and decided to journal my own experiences. However – I ended up not even talking about my losses, but instead telling funny stories about my family.
What’s one piece of advice for new bloggers?
Your story is important. Don’t think that everything has already been written. It hasn’t. Your story is yours and thus unique. Be authentic.
 
What are the three words that describe you best? 
True. Quiet. Kind.
 
What is your favorite website? 
Um, anywhere I can shop. Does that count? I mean I love blogs, but if I’m online I’m typically shopping….
 
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?
Running, shopping, or hanging out with my family. I run a lot as I’m typically training for a marathon or two.
 
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself  from blogging? 
That it’s okay to be me and opportunities come before you work hard and you are true to yourself.
 
How do you balance life and blogging? Ha! Is this a trick question?
I never want blogging to overshadow my life, but I want my life to be documented by my blogging. I want to live to the fullest – and write that down when I have time. If I find I’m telling my kids “Just give me a minute” – than my priorities are wrong.
 
How has blogging changed you or your life?
It’s opened a huge pot of love and friendship. The connections I’ve made through blogging with amazing women cannot be measured. It’s true love. And it’s made me a better writer.
 
What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same? 
I think each blogger needs to decide what success means for them – or even if they want success. Do they want to make money? Do they want to turn their blogging into a job? Do they just want a journal? Do they want to improve their writing? I think your blog is a success if it’s what you want it to be.
 
If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?
I think all bloggers think about this. I think I would train(run) more and maybe take some classes – do something for myself – as writing is a huge outlet for me – so I would need something positive to replace that.
 
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? 
I think that’s the beautiful part of writing and blogging – as it is memoir – and memoir is what you remember – and may not match up with what someone else did who had that same experience with you. I can tell my side of my story. It’s still my story.
 
Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days? What do you love that has changed? 
It’s so big now – and that can be overwhelming. It’s easy to feel smaller as a piece of this huge pie. But I love the opportunities and connections that have come from this space.
 
How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content? 
Life. Live life and observe and remember the details. There’s a good story in just buying a pair of socks. True story!
 
If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?
Oh wow – Jimmy Fallon, Ellen, President Obama, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, The Pope, And Boy George
 
What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? 
I majored in engineering in college. I’m a nerd.
 
What’s the one post that you are most proud of?
Probably my post about my marriage and being vulnerable, as it was a hard one – admitting faults on both sides. I don’t often share about my husband and our relationship – but it was raw and personal and felt good to just get out there. 
Tracy Morrison, Sellabitmum, @Sellabitmum, This Blogger's Life, blogging,bloggers
Tracy, thank you for being my guest today on This Blogger’s Life. You make me smile daily and I can’t wait to hug your neck today at the fashion show! XOXO

If you want to read more of Tracy Morrison, check her out on Facebook and Google+.

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National Geographic, Roku, Streaming stick, Giveaway

Update: The winner of the Roku Streaming Stick is Jessica Escobar. Thanks to everyone for entering.

As many of you know, I’m an ambassador for National Geographic Kids. For a second consecutive term I have been named a Nat Geo Kids Insider! Woohoo for me! Well, tonight that means woohoo for you too!

You already know that National Geographic is an amazing non-profit organization that provides awesome educational books, magazines and toys with amazing photos for our children. My girls truly love and enjoy their National Geographic magazine and books. Well, great news, recently National Geographic launched a channel on Roku, featuring a ton of exciting NGK videos that are perfect for your curious kids.

The new National Geographic channel is a video channel for curious kids and families featuring fun facts, animals and adventure. The subscription channel includes award-winning animated series like Mama Mirabelle, Iggy Arbuckle, Toot and Puddle and humorous, live action programming like Amazing Animals and Making Stuff. My girls think it’s awesome and the photography mesmerizes them.

National Geographic Kids’ mission is to inspire kids of all ages to learn about the world and provide quality video programming that sparks a child’s curiosity. With a focus on nature, animals, science, global cultures, exploration and adventure, NG Kids wants to keep the whole family engaged with videos even mom & dad like to watch!  Then, continue to learn together by getting outdoors and exploring the great, big world around you.

National Geographic, Roku, Streaming stick, Giveaway

The Roku Streaming Stick makes it easy to enjoy the best selection of streaming entertainment on TV like Netflix and the National Geographic channel as well as many more. With its compact design, the Roku Streaming Stick plugs discreetly into the HDMI port for a streamlined look that’s ideal for wall-mounted TVs like mine.

Once plugged in, the Roku Streaming Stick lets consumers start streaming from more than 1,500 channels of movies, TV episodes, music, news, sports, kids’ shows and free programming – more channels and genres than any other TV streaming device – and all in up to 1080p HD video.

And in celebration of National Geographic’s new channel, the great people at Roku are providing one Roku Streaming Stick for me to giveaway. So, this is a flash giveaway. It will last from now until Monday, July 14, 2014 at 8 pm EST on Monday night. To enter all you have to do is follow me on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/DeborahCruz/ and leave a comment below telling me your favorite show and the Pinterest account you followed me from.

I’m a National Geographic Kids Insider and was provided a Roku streaming stick to give to one of you.

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photography, photographer, photography tips, how to take amazing photos

How to take amazing photos of your child is what every parent wants to know. Because it takes more than just a good camera. It takes some good photography tips and a little know how.

If you are like me, since giving birth, I want to capture every milestone, smile and moment in a photo. What I really want to do is freeze time and keep these memories forever and a great photo helps me to do that. But kids are moving, running, laughing, sticky targets and sometimes, it’s really difficult to get that perfect shot. Here are a few tips to help you get the perfect shot, all you need is a good camera, a lot of patience and a willing (or maybe not so willing) subject.

Get down on their level

By kneeling down (or laying flat on your belly even for the really small ones) on the child’s level to take a photo, you give them the power to look directly into the camera. It also shows them that you respect them. Chat the child up to put them at ease. Then if you want a direct eye contact shot, ask the child if they see the fairy/dinosaur in your lens. Use a long lens so you don’t have to get right in the child’s space to get that close up shots.

Get Closer

A child’s face is perfect and sometimes the best shot is the one that fills the entire frame with just them. Focus on the details like newborn lashes, toddler lips going in for a kiss or tiny toes settled into beach sand.

Get Far Away & Forget the posing

Photograph your children being themselves, enjoying their favorite activities and experiencing new things. Step back and let the kids play. The angle will emphasize the smallness of the child  in contrast to the world around them, but highlight their confidence at being alone.

Try burst mode

Set your camera to take a series of photos over a very short period of time, and shoot your child in action. Switch your camera to high capture and fire off plenty of shots.  You will be amazed what is captured.

Remember, Light Rules

Natural lighting is always best for natural photos of kids, as you’ll find. In fact, I hate shooting in any other light. Using a flash is not only terrifying and blinding to babies and toddlers, it totally washes out their features. Avoid taking photos with them looking into the sun too or you’ll get squinting. It is always best to have your kids completely in the shade or fully in the sun. If there is a mix of lighting, you will end up with crazy shadows that will have you wondering when the chupacabra came in and stood in for your gorgeous little preschooler. To avoid this affect, try fill flash. Use your flash even shooting during daylight. The light from the flash will help brighten the shadows under their eyes and nose, and give you a well-lit image.

photography, photographer, photography tips, how to take amazing photos

Bring them to their favorite location

Try to choose a location for your shoot where the child has fun or they have never been. Either way you will capture joy or wonder.

Don’t forget the silly shots

Children will want to make the silliest faces they can when they are being photographed. They will want to flash you their cheesiest smile and make silly hand gestures. Let hem do this – you may not get the picture you want from such behavior, but the child is likely to enjoy this part of the experience, leading to them being more willing to have their picture taken next time.

Most importantly, make sure they’re in a good mood because no amount of lighting is going to turn that frown upside down.

What are your best photography tips for how to take amazing photos of your children?

 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Ted’s Cameras but all opinions are my own.

Photo Naixn

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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview
This week’s guest on This Blogger’s Life is Kelby Carr the founder of the website Type-A Parent and the organizer of the Type-A conference. I think just about everyone in the parent blogging world knows Kelby by her reputation as a business powerhouse. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her over the years through her online magazine Type-A Parent and finally got to meet her in March at Type-A Disney World. I’ll be honest, I was a little intimidated, and I am not intimidated by many people but she really has her shit together. But, when I met her, if you look at the photo below, this is who I met. A kind, quiet, strong minded, business savvy woman who upon recognizing me gave me a huge smile and heartfelt welcome that put all my nerves at ease. The thing that I love most about Kelby is that she genuinely wants to help other bloggers succeed, which is evident by her conferences. I’ve only been to a handful of conferences but I felt like I got more out of her 1 day conference than any other one I’ve attended, I can’t wait to go to Type-A Atlanta in September.
I am honored to know Kelby and proud to have her as my guest on This Blogger’s Life today. So, without further ado…

This Blogger’s Life, Kelby Carr.

Kelby Carr, Type-A, Type-A Parent, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging while still working as a newspaper reporter. It was a way to write about a topic I was passionate about, but didn’t cover regularly at my paper (travel).
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?

Run your own race (blogging isn’t a zero sum game).
What are the three words that describe you best?

Assertive, Type-A and social.
What is your favorite website?

Inc.com

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?

Watch movies and read (everything from comic books to horror/fantasy and business books).
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself from blogging?

After years of writing and working for others, I realized I could (and prefer to) be my own boss.

How do you balance life and blogging?

That is one of the biggest challenges. The smartest thing I did after years of being an uptight control freak (and too tightwad) was to hire an executive assistant last year. It has made a huge difference. It has allowed me to work more on my business, and less in my business. If I could go back five years, I would smack my old self and say to do this earlier.
How has blogging changed you or your life? 

I can now work for myself. While I do have some travel, I can attend almost every school function. We can decide at the last minute to do a short getaway. I get to decide my own fate.

What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same?

I don’t care what your business model or topic is, fantastic content is always the core to a successful and great blog. There are a lot of other factors that also can enhance that, but you can’t have great and successful without the quality content.
If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?

Travel, start another business or open a restaurant.
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? 

I actually don’t share anything personal about my children or husband. I did buy my kids’ domains with their names years ago, so web their lives get blogged it will be by them.
Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days? What do you love that has changed?

The focus on great writing, conversation and community. I am over the moon thrilled bloggers are making money and supporting their families now from this industry, but it is important that bloggers balance revenue goals with maintaining quality content. I see sponsored post to non-sponsored post ratios that are really alarming. If we don’t maintain the quality content, we will kill the golden goose anyway. We won’t have readers, and brands won’t see the value in investing in our industry.

How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?
Type-A Parent has always been an online magazine/social blog, so that means I mix up my own posts with paid posts by bloggers. Each month, we do a call for paid blog post ideas and any blogger can apply. What’s great about that is it helps us remain community-focused, and we get lots of variety of topics and expertise areas. As an online magazine, we also cover a wide variety of topics (anything of interest to parents who blog, so that ranges from business and blogging advice to recipes and crafts).

If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?

Hunter S. Thompson, Audrey Hepburn, Seth Rogan, George Takei, Lynda Carter and Stan Lee. 

What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I witnessed an execution.

What’s the one post that you are most proud of?

My favorite posts tend to be when I mix commentary about our industry with advice, like this recent one on sponsored post ratios: https://typeaparent.com/sponsored-post-ratios.html

Kelby, Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. I KNOW how crazy everything is right now with you being in full-swing preparation for Type-A Disneyland in a couple weeks. You always make time for your fellow bloggers and  I hope you know that it doesn’t go unnoticed. You’ve earned my respect on so many levels for what you do and how you conduct yourself in this arena. Can’t wait to see you in September and hug your neck. XOXO

 

If you want to know more about Kelby Carr, check her out at Type-A Parent on FB, Twitter and Google+.

 

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why I write, blog, blogger, the TRUTH about Motherhood

This is not the post that I meant to write today. I meant to write about my family road trip to Boston. And I want to be that person who just let’s things roll of her back. I really do but it’s Monday and I’m not accustomed to being called out and belittled for having an opinion. I’m all about respectful, intelligent debate but name calling is for children not intelligent adults.

See, way back in 2009, I started my blog. I called it The TRUTH about Motherhood because I was right in the thick of Motherhood and it seemed to fit my voice and where I was in life. I just wanted to write.

A friend of mine who worked in traditional media said that the wave of writing was moving to online and to get work, I needed an “online presence”. Hell, I had been neck deep in babies for the past four years, I had no idea what that even was and God knows I didn’t have the time to write about being a mom because I was too damn busy actually being a mom.

The first year was a joke. Seriously, I had no idea what I was doing. I had a few goals 1) develop my “online presence” whatever that was 2) when the kids napped or slept, write, write and write some more because I love to do it. It is how I process. I basically just copied essays that I had jotted down in a notebook for the girls about their childhood 3) to capture all the cute, funny, quirky moments of motherhood and document even the not so pleasant ones so I could appreciate the good ones and if I could help just one mom feel like she wasn’t alone, I’d be happy.

What happened that year was relocation across country that I never documented other than the original drive to Richmond to check out the city. I was too busy living to write about it. Then, things went to shit and my husband was downsized and we had to move home (blessing in disguise our home still hadn’t sold) in a blizzard.

We were quickly running through our money and afraid of what our future would hold with a toddler and a preschooler. The Big Guy (because my husband is 6’5” in case you didn’t know where the reference came from) took a job in another state because it was the only one he could find doing what he does and he made the sacrifice to work to support us and we all made the sacrifice to be apart 5 days a week. It was the worst 2 years of our lives. In those 2 years is when I really started to write.

You remember when you were in your teens and you were “in love” and there were so many ups and downs and drama and all you wanted to do was write poetry? Yeah, that’s called being inspired by your misery. I was going through a hard time and I had lots to write about. That’s where I found my people, moms who blog. I never understood what a “tribe” was until I found one as an adult. It’s more than a clique, it’s a group of people who support one another through good and bad.

I know bloggers are just regular people. I’m not delusional and don’t think they are actual celebrities but they care enough to get up and interact with the world by sharing their experiences. This meant a lot to me because at the time, I was hours away from any family and alone with kids. I needed someone to talk to, especially since my husband wasn’t there.

When you interact with people on such a personal level, I’m not talking just sharing recipes and diaper war stories, I mean the real stuff like marital issues, fertility issues, raising your child and feeling like a failure issues, feeling ugly and vulnerable and raw, the bonds are real and you see what’s on the inside (well, at least what they allow you to see). I have a tendency to have no filter so what you see is pretty much what you get.

I know that sometimes I am dorky, funny, boring, annoying and sometimes my stories are deep or interesting or shocking, sometimes they are well written and sometimes I am half-asleep or writing through the hardest moments of my life and it’s hard to type through tear filled eyes and ugly cries. Sometimes they are completely irrelevant to you and that’s okay because they are written for my children and me. You see it’s been a long time since I started blogging to become a writer. That has come to fruition. People actually pay me to write. I love my job. I am happy.

My blog is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and neither am I. My hair is never perfectly coifed and my clothes are occasionally stylish but I am a tired mom who spends the bulk of my time trying to raise happy, interesting children, while maintaining an open and honest relationship with my husband and sometimes, I write on the Internet.

My blog is real and it is flawed, like me. I cuss on my site and sometimes I add too many commas. I am educated and not a hot “mommy mess” who loses her “mommy cool” at the drop of a hat. I do however have my issues, so I can see where the jump to full on emotional train wreck could be an easy one.

I don’t blow smoke up people’s asses nor do I befriend people solely for their social media stats because none of that matters to me. What matters to me is what kind of people they are on the inside and how they treat me. It’s not about who is the coolest or hottest blogger, not for me anyways. I’m not trying to sleep with them. I want someone who can relate to me.

As bloggers, we have a little bit of real estate in the world to ignite change. Change can come in all shapes and sizes, a charity campaign to raise funds for clean water, to bring awareness to pediatric cancer, to help someone through a shared difficult situation like a miscarriage or a medical diagnosis that might be hard to face alone. Online communities hold our virtual hands through all of life’s events, if we reach out and want it.

My friends that I have met online are not virtual. They are real people. They have lives, families, jobs, interests and situations outside of the Internet but the Internet is our meeting place.

I wrote this in case you are new here or you forgot who I was. Make no mistake, I tell my truth on my blog and I welcome friendly, intelligent debate. I have a lot of opinions, I know they are not the only ones but I won’t debate you with name-calling and tantrum throwing. I just want to write my blog, share my story and tell my truth.

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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

Today, I am honored to welcome a woman who needs no introduction and is a force to be reckoned with in the blogging community, Cecily Kellogg to This Blogger’s Life.

I have “known” Cecily for a few years now but finally had the pleasure of meeting her last year at BlogHer. When I met her I found her to be more beautiful in person than she appears online ( that sounds wrong but what I mean is that she is such a vibrant woman and I don’t feel that comes across fully online) and she is one of the kindest and most down to earth people I’ve ever met. She greeted me with a hug and felt like an old friend almost immediately.

I’ve always enjoyed reading UpperCase Woman for the transparency of her words and she’s always writing about what’s new and changing on the Internet.  Cecily is a kind soul whose words have weight. She is a doer in the world. She sees something wrong, she puts her back into it and she tries to make a difference. I love that about her.

Cecily is truly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook. She looks hardcore like she could kick your ass ( and she probably could if you got on her bad side) but I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone nicer.

I’m honored to call Cecily Kellogg my friend and it’s my privilege to have her on This Blogger’s Life today.

This Blogger’s Life…Cecily Kellogg

Cecily Kellogg, UpperCase Woman, DoubleGood Media, This Blogger's Life, the people behind the blogs, blogging

Why did you start blogging?

 

In 2003 I was desperately trying to get pregnant and couldn’t. Someone on a fertility message board

linked to a handful of blogs and I finally found my tribe. I devoured those blogs and the blogs they all

linked to, and by March of 2004 I started blogging myself.

 

What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?

 

Don’t blog about deeply personal things if you’re a sensitive person. I’m sensitive – even hypersensitive

– and my own psychological makeup means I don’t have many tools for creating barriers between what

people say about me and how I react to them, although I am working on it (part of this is also because I’m

an alcoholic; we tend to take everything very personally).

 

What are the three words that describe you best?

 

Loud, funny, and sensitive.

 

What is your favorite website?

 

Oh god, just one? I couldn’t possibly begin to narrow that down. I mean, I live online. It’s like asking

someone what their favorite song is. From what decade? In what genre? I utilize so many for my life and

work I can’t imagine picking one. They are all just tools for doing what I do.

 

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?

 

Cuddling with my daughter, or hiking.

 

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself from blogging?

 

That I am a great writer.

 

How do you balance life and blogging?

 

I actually just read a really good article about this idea of balance that we’re constantly told to strive for.

I no longer believe in balance. I just do what needs doing and try to make sure I take time to eat well,

exercise, and be with my family – but sometimes that has to all go by the wayside to get the work done I

need to do to support my family.

 

How has blogging changed you or your life?

 

Everything in my life today is because of blogging. While I do have some good hardcore pre-internet

friends in my life, and some great connections with my daughter’s school families, most of my closest

friends are people I’ve met through blogging. It also completely changed my career – not always in the

best ways – and now I run a boutique content marketing agency that serves a very particular niche. While

I’ve struggled as a personal blogger – I recently closed comments on posts because of the chronic abuse

I received from a group of folks – it’s like breathing for me. I can’t imagine life without it.

 

What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same?

 

In the decade I’ve been blogging, that has changed so much. I think a great blog requires all of the

following: excellent writing, great story telling, and a beautiful and user friendly responsive design. It

doesn’t matter what niche the blog falls in, if it has those components it can be a great blog. The blogs I

read the most, however, are either industry blogs about tech/content/social media or are the old-school

blogs written in memoir style that share way too much information and make me fall in love with the story.

 

If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?

 

I’ve thought about this so much, and in fact, have set up my life so that I can walk away from blogging if I

need to do so. I’d continue working in online content, just from a business perspective instead of personal

one (which is about 80% of the work I do already). I’d probably expand deeper into marketing work as

well. And I’d finally write that damn book.

 

How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life?

 

Ah, the big question. I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes other people don’t want to star in your

story. It’s an awkward dance, of course, because my family is part of my story daily. For instance, I often

write about my father abandoning me as a baby because it has impacted my life in so many ways, but it

can be hard for my siblings to hear how I feel about him. I’ve taken posts down at their request. But the

biggest change, of course, is that my daughter is now eight and reads my blog now and then and I need

to bear that in mind when I write about her. She approves every post where I speak only about her, and

any photos I post of her. Eventually, I imagine, I won’t be able to write about her at all, and that’s okay.

I’m not a mommy blogger anyway.

 

Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in

the early days? What do you love that has changed?

 

Blogging wasn’t competitive in the early days. It was, really and truly, about community and supporting

each other. But even so, it was plagued with personalities. I had a huge falling out with another infertility

blogger after I lost my twins around early 2005, and it was rough and divided our community for a while.

While today the competitiveness is mostly around the “fame” and the money, it was there even back then.

I will say that in general the level of vitriol on the web has gotten so, so much worse. That’s the worst

thing by far. Blogging is rather terrifying now; I’ve been threatened with everything from violent rape to

being reported to children’s services and more. Without careful monitoring of what I view online, I would

see non-stop messages about how awful I am. It’s fucking exhausting.

However, the good part is still the community. I have gotten to know so many amazing people through

blogging. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

 

How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?

 

Well, I obviously find myself fascinating as that is what I generally write about. But I also write about

elements of politics and culture too.

 

If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?

 

Honestly? I could list amazing historical figures I’d love to meet, but I’d really rather just have a dinner

party with my “sister wives”, or my closest girlfriends.

 

What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

 

I’m not tough, not even a little. Also, I’m very short and I’m much fatter than I look in my gorgeous avatar

photos.

 

What’s the one post that you are most proud of?

 

This one: https://uppercasewoman.com/2007/04/19/health_vs_life_/

 

Cecily, I know that you are super busy and I really appreciate you taking the time to let me interview you. Thank you for sharing your stories, no holds barred. It was my pleasure to have you on This Blogger’s Life.  xoxo

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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

Today, I am honored to welcome one of my favorite people and writers on the Internet, Amanda Magee to This Blogger’s Life. I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda last year at BlogHer and she has been one of my favorite people ever since. Not only was she dressed completely adorable, my first impression was what a beautiful smile and legs for days but she had a great personality so the first thing I did when I got home was start reading her blog. She’s a directly to my inbox kinda writer.

I am not blowing smoke up your derriere when I tell you that she is one of the best wordsmiths I’ve ever read and being the bibliophile that I am, that is saying a lot. She is not only a wonderful storyteller, she is an artist. She paints a story with her words and her “book” of words is better than any movie could ever be. Amanda is a writer’s writer and I am thrilled to get to feature her here.
When I met Amanda, we were introduced by a mutual friend at a function and I am pretty sure that I charmed the pants off of her with my gruff vocabulary and loud, overly blunt attitude ( just think naval officer on leave but louder and more obnoxious and you have me). Amanda on the other hand was very Grace Kelly, her personality is as ethereal as her words. Still, she laughed at my jokes and I enjoy anyone who I can amuse without offending.
Long story short, if I had been a regular reader of her site before we met, I may have approached her with a little more reverence and a lot more awe but as it stands, we met exposed in all our human vulnerabilities and became fast friends. I am not joking when I tell you that I look forward to reading every word she writes because it always makes me feel something, think something, consider or take action. Her words have weight and we all need to read them and if you are a writer, mother, sister, woman, human; Amanda Magee should be on your daily read list…just like she’s on mine.
I’m honored to call Amanda my friend and it’s my privilege to have her on This Blogger’s Life today.

Amanda Magee, This Blogger's Life, the people behind the blogs, blogging  This Blogger’s Life….Miss Amanda Magee ( Jones in my head as I now cannot get that song out of my head)

Why did you start blogging?

I initially started blogging because my grandmother once told me, “Write things down. Just a little detail or two each day to help you remember times in your life.” I knew that I would not go the scrapbooking or journaling route with recording our daughter’s first year. The blog was a way to chronicle that sweet time, while also making it possible for my family on the West Coast to keep up with the milestones.

 
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?

Write for you. It’s really that simple, because anything less is unsustainable. Now, writing for you means a lot of different things, for one person it might mean writing reviews to earn bits of money, for another it might mean writing to cope with emotions. Whatever your motivation, so long as you stay true to it, you’ll find a path.

 
What are the three words that describe you best?
Hmm, why is that so hard to answer. Me as a writer? Open, hopeful, intimate. Me as a working woman? Driven, passionate, frank. Me as just me in the quiet of my thoughts? Worried, sentimental,
 
What is your favorite website?

A site that I kind of forget and am then reminded of and every single time find something grounding or inspiring is https://thatkindofwoman.tumblr.com/

 

 

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?

Well it isn’t folding laundry, I can tell you that. Ok, sorry, focus. My favorite thing is probably doing something outdoors with my family. A hike, a trip to the lake, or just goofing off in our backyard. It makes bedtime so much easier when everybody has had their itches for time together scratched. That moment when the girls are down and we have the sensation of job done right or a life well lived, it’s priceless.

 
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself  from blogging?

That I dream in words. My love and my heartache, it all lives inside of words and the release of those words, sometimes as a declaration, other times an admission, and others still a kind of song, makes me feel whole.

 
How do you balance life and blogging?
The simple answer is that I don’t. I think balance, in any sense, is more a loose concept than a real thing. I certainly pursue a sense of balance, but honestly most of the time in order to get the uninterrupted writing time that I crave, I cannibalize my sleep, staying up late or waking early. The saving grace is that my family all know how much writing means to me and, as a result, it has come to mean a great deal to them. The girls ask me to write about them, offering suggestions and delighting in the times that I take them up on it. Sometimes on a Sunday morning Sean will clap his hands and declare that it’s “writing time for mom.” Everyone scatters and lets me have space.
 
How has blogging changed you or your life?
 

I have made dear friends, like share my darkest secrets people who have held me up from thousands of miles away. It’s also taught me so much about myself. I have often said that I wish I created something—music, art, buildings, whatever. Blogging helped me see that I do create something; I make Narnia like doors for people to slip away from the harsh intensity of life and just be inside a moment.

What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same?

I think we all define a successful blog in our own way. For me it is having a clear voice and a steady direction, which really means not writing things that don’t add value to my life and never betraying the people who “use their time on me” as my daughter would say. Every time someone visits my blog, that’s a choice, when they comment it’s a gift, I hope that in some way my writing honors that.

 
If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?

Miss it. And find a new way to write.

 
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? 
We have a saying in our house, “If you have to ask, then you probably already know the answer.” I feel like I have a pretty good internal gauge. If I am in doubt I’ll ask Sean or the girls.
 
Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days? What do you love that has changed?
I started over ten years ago. I don’t really miss anything because I really cherish each couple of years as a chapter in my blogging tale. I suppose I do sometimes yearn for a slightly less caustic environment. Even as I say that I don’t really know who is to blame, is it the media loving to stir the pot or is it in-fighting within the blogging realm? Maybe I’m just older and less inclined to try and elbow people out of the way. It’s why I am grateful that I love writing, the rest just doesn’t really matter to me.
 
How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?

Oh, I don’t. I’ve have stretches when I cannot bring myself to publish because it doesn’t feel up to snuff. Eventually the freeze passes. I think Instagram has helped a lot. I find myself getting so inspired by moments I snap and the conversations that they spark. “Oooh, I can write about this. This is more than a photo!”

 
If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?
My grandfather six times over…
My dear friend Estefania from my year in Spain (1991), I lost track of her and I’d love to hear her say “Ai, Amanda” and then laugh. Sean’s friend Andy and his wife Ali, who live just outside of Boston. Andy and Sean were on the crew team together at RIT. Andy can make Sean laugh like no one else in the world. It is one of my favorite sounds. Jenny Ingram because when you are with her she makes you feel like the most important and wonderful person in the room.
 
What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I used to be a smoker. I quit in 2001.

 
What’s the one post that you are most proud of?
I feel pretty deep shame when I run out of patience with the girls. I wrote a post once about a bedtime that tore me open. I was scared to reveal the experience. The night it ran Kristen Chase tweeted a link to the post.  Before I went to bed I got an email from an editor at the Huffington Post asking if I would allow them to republish the post. Reading the post I can still remember what it felt like to have her let go of my hand, it reminds me that nothing lasts forever.
Amanda thank you so much for being my guest on This Blogger’s Life and allowing me to interview you! I am so glad that we got to meet last year at BlogHer and I can’t wait til the next time I get to hug your neck! Keep on telling your stories. I cannot wait to read the book that I KNOW has to be written. Nobody puts baby in a corner:) XOXO

If you want to get to know more of the amazing Amanda Magee go read her blog, check her out on Facebook and Twitter!

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Walgreens, healthy choices, Balance rewards
I am a member of the Collective Bias ® Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for #CollectiveBias and its advertiser.

Women’s Health has suddenly become top priority in my life. Recently, I’ve been focusing more on creating my own healthy habits. Maybe it’s my age or just the fact that the older my daughters get, the more time I have to actually focus on my own health and mortality; you know, now that I have a free moment to pee alone now and again.

Did you ever consider that what you do for a profession could affect your health? I mean, we know that if you are a stunt man or a cop, your life is generally at higher risk than the general population. Of course, I never considered that being a blogger/writer/ sitting at my desk all day could be detrimental to my health. We all laugh at “blogger butt” and joke about sitting around in our pajamas all day but did you ever really consider that blogging could be bad for your health? Me, neither.

vitamins, #Herhealth, #Walgreens, Women's Health, Health

Blogging has made me happy. I love what I do. I love freelancing. I love social media. I love letting my girls see me pursue my dreams and get to do something that I am passionate about.  It’s important to me to be a good example for my girls. In fact, as a mom of girls, being a good example is probably the most important thing to me that and just being around to see them grow from my babies into women.

So imagine my frustration when I went to the doctor and aside from gaining weight, which I can obviously see, my sugar and cholesterol levels were both elevated but normal. All that I heard was blahblahblah HIGH blahblahblah AT RISK blahblahblah.

vitamins, #Herhealth, #Walgreens, Women's Health, Health

My brain went directly to all the things I would miss if I were to suddenly die (yes, I am one of those people); first dates, driving, graduation, college, falling in love, growing up, getting married, getting pregnant, becoming a mom, repeat. Then I thought of all the smaller things like taking care of them when they are sick, holding them when they experience the first crushing blows of falling in and then out of love, the fear and excitement in the big moments, giving the gentle nudges forward when they need to be pushed in the right direction or even just being there to listen when they needed undivided attention and a mother’s unconditional love. I need to be an advocate for not only my health but for #herhealth, as well; both of them. In that moment, I knew exactly what I needed to do. My path had never been so clear. I made all of the doctors’ appointments and I made a plan. I need a plan. I can accomplish almost anything with a plan in hand.

Walgreens, vitamins, #Herhealth, #Walgreens, Women's Health, Health

My first stop was the corner Walgreens to buy myself a bottle of Vitafusion Women’s Daily Multivitamin, Gummies. These have been my favorite vitamins as an adult. They are small and easy to swallow because you chew them and they don’t have that bitter mineral after taste that many adult multivitamins have. I like them so much that I started buying Vitafusion multivitamins for the entire family.

vitamins, #Herhealth, #Walgreens, Women's Health, Health

Next, I started paying attention to what my FitBit was telling me. The first thing that I noticed is that without consciously making an effort to move, a blogger can exist on only taking 337 steps in a day; my goal is 10,000. No wonder why “blogger butt” is a thing. Now, I am getting between 6500 and 12,000 steps a day just by spending an hour every morning taking a walk or bike ride with my daughters. I can feel the difference. I can do better but at least I am off in the right direction.

I’ve eliminated pop from the menu and replaced it with iced water and switched out my daily coffee for unsweetened green tea. I love coffee but I was using so much creamer that it made each coffee have about 250 calories and the caffeine itself was contributing to my terrible insomnia. Now, coffee is a treat that I look forward to once a week (early on Saturday morning) and sleeping without the help of some kind of pill is a wonderful new bonus in my life.

vitamins, #Herhealth, #Walgreens, Women's Health, Health

I linked my FitBit to My Fitness Pal app and started logging everything I eat. You have no idea what you consume until you log it. You might think, “I don’t eat that much or that badly!” Believe me, you probably do. Some days, I found that I didn’t get enough calories and other days, I was going over by about 1000. My Fitness Pal also lets me stay aware of the sugar and cholesterol in everything I eat. In the past month, I have lost 12 pounds. I’ve also committed myself to seeing my doctor once a month to check in on my progress and keep me accountable. These are all baby steps to make sure that I am around for the big and little moments of my life to come.

What do you do to maintain or improve your Women’s health so that you are around for the big and little moments?

 

 

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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview
Today, I am honored to welcome my dear friend, Lori Garcia aka MommyFriend to This Blogger’s Life. Lori is a very talented writer with an always half-full personality and an infectious smile that shines through in her pieces. She is the woman who walks into a room and instantly brightens it up and her writing makes the Internet a better place.
When I first “met” Lori, we were both newbie bloggers who were just trying to figure all of this out. We knew we loved to write and blogging allowed us connections and community at a time in motherhood when we were craving friendships and connections like the air we breathed. Lori is and has always been the kind of person who every woman needs as a friend; she is kind, genuine and sincerely a good person who loves her family and looks for the good in life. We need more people, more writers, more friends like Lori.
Lori is also known as MommyFriend and it suits her perfectly because she is truly a mommy friend that every single one of us needs in life. Her passion for the stories that she tells coupled with her optimistic perspective, always leaves me wanting more. The one thing that always radiates from Lori’s articles is humanity. She tells her truth with wild abandon and unrestrained honesty.
Lori can write about anything and make it interesting but my favorite stories that she shares are her love stories for her family; her boys. The pride and love that she has for her family inspires me to be a better wife and mother. She is one of the kindest and most tenacious women I know and it makes me so happy to see her enjoying such amazing success as a writer, all over the internet.
I’m honored to call Lori my friend and it’s my privilege to have her on This Blogger’s Life today.

Lori Garcia, MommyFriend, This Blogger's Life, the people behind the blogs, blogging

This Blogger’s Life…Lori Garcia (MommyFriend)

 

Why did you start blogging? I always loved writing and after working in an uncreative field for a decade, I decided it was time to scratch that creative itch and begin sharing my stories.  



What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger? Decide what you’re willing to share and not share for the almighty dollar. It’s easier to make these important decisions and stick to them long before a financial carrot is dangled in front of you. If you’re unclear about where to draw the line when it comes to public consumption, spend some time thinking about it. What you don’t want to do is learn the hard way. Ask me how I know.


 
What are the three words that describe you best? Loyal, kind, dependable.


 
What is your favorite website? Ever? www.amazon.com. Come to Mama.


 
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging? Binge watch formerly popular TV shows. I just finished Gossip Girl because I’m 37 years old and that’s totally normal behavior.


 
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself  from blogging? Not only learning, but learning and believing that I’m not alone in motherhood has been huge for me. My stories help mothers and their stories help me. I feel bigger and bolder as a mother for blogging.


 
How do you balance life and blogging? Honestly, not very well. The two are so intertwined, making a distinction is nearly impossible for me.


 
How has blogging changed you or your life? Blogging gave me confidence in the value of my voice, which has translated to so many aspects of my life. From my career to my relationships, blogging has made me the woman, wife, and mother I am today.


 
What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same? I think a successful blog and a great blog eventually become one in the same. Great content almost always rises to the top because we’re all hungry for it. 

 
 
If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life? First, completely remove myself from the grid. Imagine all the time I’d have! Of course, that would probably only last a week or so because I’m a social being and I’d miss everyone too much, but for that week – man, that would be glorious. I don’t know what I;d do. I’m really into home renovation with my husband, so probably more of that.


 
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? This is a tough one. My tween son established blogging rules for me to blog by…what does that tell you?


 
Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days? What do you love that has changed? I think I miss the excitement I felt before every publish. Will people read this? Will they like it? Will they comment? I love witnessing the climb of so many remarkable blogger friends who have made a respectable career in this industry. I love witnessing success. Love it.


 
How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content? The blogger’s mind is a funny thing. In time, it comes a bit of a machine, finding blog fodder in every aspect of life. From what we read to what we experience, what we overhear to what we desire, relevant, shareable is everywhere.


 
If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite? Ooo, Jesus, my Grandpa Charlie (most awesome man ever), Brandon Flowers (because yum), my husband (because double yum), Bob Villa (I have some home improvement questions), and Elton John.


 
What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? Gosh, I don’t know. I’m pretty much what you’d expect, there’s not a lot of dark corners or secret passageways with me. Maybe that I’m a yell-y mom? I yell a lot. I do.


 
What’s the one post that you are most proud of? Probably this one. https://www.babble.com/mom/an-open-letter-to-my-gynecologist/

 

Thank you Lori for letting me interview you on This Blogger’s Life and thank you for always being such an amazing friend and inspiring writer.
XOXO

If you can’t get enough of Lori Garcia, check her out on MommyFriend, Babble and Twitter too!

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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview
Today, I’d like to welcome Jenni Chiu aka MommyNaniBooBoo to This Blogger’s Life. Jenni is one of my closest and dearest friends on the Internet and my BlogHer roomie. who just happens to be one amazing vlogger, blogger and writer Jenni and I found one another and the rest is history. If you have never read her, I recommend that you do that stat!
Her words have touched me (and many others) through sharing her stories with transparency and bravery. Jenni has a way of writing that is so raw and honest that if you are not feeling something when you are reading Jenni, you just might be dead. I can honestly say in the past 4 years she has made me laugh and cry more times than I can count. If she isn’t moving you with her written word, you can be sure that she is probably charming the pants off of you with her hilariously entertaining videos on youtube.
There are a million different wonderful things that I could say about Jenni ( and I’m not just saying that because she totally put up with my snoring;) but mostly I want to leave you with this, she was an actress and a beautiful model and now she is a mom, wife, a writer and a beautiful, talented soul who I am pretty sure can accomplish just about anything she sets her mind to. She is by far one of the kindest, truest women on the Internet and I could go on gushing for days. I know, I am biased because I’ve called dibs on her as my BlogHer roomie for infinity and beyond but believe me when I tell you, do yourself a favor and read her words. Get to know this brilliant woman through her blog. You will be wondering why the hell you hadn’t done it sooner.

I’m honored to call Jenni Chiu one of my dearest friends and it’s my privilege to have her on This Blogger’s Life today.

 

Jenni Chiu, This Blogger's Life, mommynanibooboo, the people behind the blogs

A blogger’s work is never done

This Blogger’s Life…Jenni Chiu (MommyNaniBooBoo)

Why did you start blogging?
I’ve always been a storyteller of some sort, which is why I spent so many years as an actor. After becoming a mother, I think I started blogging for the same reason a lot of mothers start blogging.  I needed some kind of creative outlet.  I also spent months holed up with a colicky baby and no support system after I gave birth. I was in desperate need of some kind of grown up conversation and commiseration.
 
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?
Write because it feeds your soul, or because it makes you happy to feed the souls of others. If you want to make money at it, have a plan on how to do it… and then be okay with NOT making money for quite a while.  Although, maybe that’s advice for writers… not all bloggers are writers.
I would say – Create a blog you can look at years from now and be proud of (whatever that means to you).
 
What are the three words that describe you best?
 empathetic, honest, undefinable
 
What is your favorite website?

The one that’s already built in my head – I just have yet to make it a reality.

 
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?
Sleep… wait no – play with my kids…
Wait – shop!
Okay now I’m back to sleep again.
 
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself  from blogging?
That my words can hold more space than my physical body can. In some ways it’s been a relief for me to have my words, and not what I look like, be most people’s first introduction to me.
 
How do you balance life and blogging?
I don’t. I am almost at all times off balance one way or another.
 
How has blogging changed you or your life?
It’s given me a sense of community that I was lacking in my real life.  It’s kept my creative self from dying a slow death.  It’s allowed me to witness and celebrate a thousand aspects of humanity… and also, it’s renewed my faith in women as a community.
It’s also made me a lot less physically active than I used to be (or maybe it’s the kids – or both). Either way, I have to remind myself to back away from the computer and move around more.
 
What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same?
I think that depends on how people define success. Some define it by impact… some by income… some by longevity.
For me, I feel more successful when my reach is great – when people read, and are moved to share my blog.  I think a successful blog is shared it’s because it has moved people in some way. There also blogs that are shared or have a large reach because they are inflammatory… they are the Star magazines of the blogging world, and not successes in my book.
I don’t think a successful blog and a great blog are one in the same.  For me, a great blog has well constructed or important content that’s updated fairly regularly… unfortunately, there are many great blogs out there that have no reach and are largely unsuccessful. The Internet is vast and murky.
 
If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?

I would write books… or paint… or go back into acting… or find some other way to connect people through stories of humanity. I would also sleep more.

 
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? 
I talk about what happens to me.  If something happens to someone else, I write about how that event affected me.  I also don’t use the names of my husband or children. I’m quite open about myself in my blogging, but very protective of my family.  I’m sure it will be even more so as my kids get older.  Their online identities will not be built on my blog – that’s for them to do later on in life.

 
Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days? What do you love that has changed?
I feel like five years ago the troll population was significantly lower. That may or may not be true however, because no one read my blog back then so trolls probably couldn’t find it.

One thing I love about blogging now is that we have so many different ways or sharing our words and engaging with one another.  Social media has exploded over the past five years.

 
How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?

I simply go with what I feel motivated to write about… turns out I have lots to say about all kinds of things.  I also try to remember that they can’t all be gems.

 
If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?
Shakespeare and Tom Hanks because they are two of my favorite men. I would also then invite Nick, Brandon, Monte, and Gary.  The last four are people in my life that I feel died too young. I want them back… even if it’s just for a one-night dinner party.
 
What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I ate my twin in the womb.
Kidding.
Probably nothing if they read my blog or follow me on YouTube.
 
What’s the one post that you are most proud of?
Impossible. That’s like asking which kid I love more.
Some of the ones that have done well are:
 I’m Pretty Sure AT&T is Responsible for Many Deaths (I love that I got to read this one at BlogHer’11 for Voices of the Year.)
Thank you Jenni for taking the time to let me interview you. You are one of my favorite people. Keep using that big voice of yours to change the world. I suspect some day soon I’ll be reading your book. It needs to be written.  Love ya , roomie.
XOXO
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