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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview
Today’s guest on This Blogger’s Life, Ree Drummondis one of the kindest and sweetest bloggers that I know. Ree  aka The Pioneer Woman is everyone’s favorite foodie mom. She does it all. I’ve “known” Ree for a few years now but we only just met in person in 2013 and boy, was it a memorable experience.
In case you were wondering, yes, she is even nicer in person than you could imagine. But don’t be fooled by the gorgeous smile and the cute photos of dogs and cows, Ree’s not just another pretty face. She is a smart, powerful businesswoman who works her tail off to do it all. I don’t know how she does it.

Ree Drummond has been someone that I have respected in the blogging space for some time.

She has truly built an empire doing something she loves; documenting life with her children and husband while writing about and photographing the things she is passionate about. Isn’t that the dream? I know it’s mine; to do what I love and make a living while getting to spend time actually in the moment with my family. Go, Ree! Not to mention, while she is writing books, filming for her cooking show, raising children on a ranch, homeschooling and cooking all of that mouthwatering food she still makes the time for her friends…like filling out these interview questions from me right in the middle of taping a new season of The Pioneer Woman. I appreciate it, Ree. You are good people.
 
Anyways, I could go on all day saying nice things about Ree. The bottom line is that she is a sweet, generous, charismatic mama who puts her foot in some Dr. Pepper barbecue. I’m honored to call her my friend and it’s my privilege to have her on This Blogger’s Life today.

This Blogger’s Life…Ree Drummond

Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview, the people behind the blogs

Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging on a whim one day when my husband took all four of our kids to work cattle with him. I had no plan, no sense that it would last longer than a week. I just sat down, set up a free blog, and posted a couple of photos and stories.
 
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?
Blog! Blog often. Blog daily if you can. It’s difficult to get comfortable with blogging if you write one or two blog posts a week. When I started blogging, I fell in love instantly and blogged daily for a few months—even on the weekends. It made me a better writer, and made blogging easier and easier.
 
What are the three words that describe you best?
 Happy, Messy, and Weird.
 
What is your favorite website?
Impossible for me to choose!
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?
My favorite thing to do when I have a little free time is just plop down on the couch and watch Real Housewives or old episodes or 24 or, as is the case right now, the NBA Playoffs. TV time in the evenings is what my husband and I do together. It sounds spectacularly boring, but it’s my favorite time of day. It’s when I recharge.
 What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself  from blogging?
I’ve learned that if I’m passionate about something, I’m much more creative, motivated, and efficient. I have loved blogging from the start, and since I blog about things I love—my family, the country, our dogs, the food I cook—I never get tired of it. That’s one of my biggest pieces of advice to anyone starting a new project of any kind: Make sure your passion shines through. It will show.
 How do you balance life and blogging?
It’s a continual balance. When I started blogging, my kids were all little. Now I have two teenagers, and one is about to be a senior in high school. When they were younger, I  was able to be more rigid and predictable with my blogging schedule. These days, I’ve loosened up a bit because life demands flexibility. While I still blog regularly, I’m not afraid to skip a couple of days here and there if the kids and I are busy. You have to have a little give.
 How has blogging changed you or your life?
Blogging has certainly opened doors for me. I wouldn’t have cookbooks or a TV show if I hadn’t started blogging. It’s all the blog’s fault! 🙂
 What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same?
I think a successful blog is one that compels readers to return. One that becomes part of people’s daily reading schedules. That’s why I’ve always recommended that new bloggers commit to blogging regularly—daily, if possible. You won’t become a part of someone’s daily routine if you just blog a couple of times a week. When I first started blogging, I had lived in the country for ten years and must have had a lot to say, because I was prolific in my posting. Months later, after my readership had grown organically, people who visited my site started telling me that reading my site had become part of their day, like their morning cup of coffee. I realized that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t blogged as regularly as I had.
 If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?
Exercise more and learn to embroider.
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? 
For me, it’s always been easy to strike that balance. I do blog about the people I love, but I don’t share their personal stories because they aren’t mine to share. I stick to our interactions together, fun anecdotes, and things about them that I appreciate and love.
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 love that the blogging community has grown and is so strong today, so I like where blogging is now. If I had to say something I miss from my early days of blogging, it would be that my waist was much smaller. 🙂
How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?
Again, I think if you remain passionate about your subject matter—in my case, family, home, food, etc.—you’ll never run out of things to share. And if your passion comes through, people will be drawn to read it. Also, I do try to change up my content so that it isn’t the same every day; I never want someone to come to my website and be bored!
 If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?
Al Pacino in 1972, Vivien Leigh in 1939, Russell Crowe, Meryl Streep, Mother Teresa, and my grandmother.
 What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I can put both my ankles behind my head.
What’s the one post that you are most proud of?

This sounds like an easy answer, but I would say whatever post I’ve written that day. Because my household is so busy and I’ve got different irons in the fire, if I am able to sit down and see a post through to the end, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. 

If you’d like to find out more about Ree Drummond ( The Pioneer Woman) you can check her out on her blog, twitter and my favorite Pinterest. If you want to learn about other great bloggers like Jill Smokler ( the Original Scary Mommy) , Jessica Gottlieb, Vera Sweeney and many more, please be sure to check out the rest of the interviews in the This Blogger’s Life series

Thank you, Ree Drummond, for being my guest today. Can’t wait to see you again in person, this time I promise not to body check you in the process. XOXO

 
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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 my good friend, fellow blogger and mentor, Jessica GottliebI have known Jessica for a few years now. I believe our friendship was sealed over a conversation on Twitter about drinking good wine, in bed, or something like that and we have been friends since. The more I’ve gotten to know her, the more I admire her keen sense of business acumen, her sense of humor and her determination to always put her family first. It’s hard to find a balance doing what we do but she does it and that’s something I’m still working at.
Anyone who knows Jessica knows that she is a straight shooter, loves her family and likes fast cars and pretty things. I love her because she has a giant heart, can use the word f*ck in casual conversation and still sound like a complete lady and always says what’s on her mind, especially if it’s a cause she believes in. I am honored to have her as my friend and here today. So, without further ado…

This Blogger’s Life… Jessica Gottlieb

This Blogger's Life, Jessica Gottlieb, bloggers, blogging,

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging a number of years ago when my friend was dying of AIDS. I was raising my kids during the day and then spending my nights by his side at the hospital. I found that my friends would ask me how I was doing and then I’d burst into tears and start giving them the details of Steven’s demise. I needed an outlet and blogging became a good one for me. https://angrymom.blogspot.com Without that site I’d have lost many friends.

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

Write honestly. If you don’t have a passion there’s no reason for your readers to care.

 
What are the three words that describe you best?

I’d be scared to think about that.

 
What is your favorite website?

Just one? Everyone loves Suri’s Burn Book right? No one’s supposed to admit to reading GOMI but I have to admit that it tickles me. Also I really enjoy suburbanmatron.blogspot.com

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

If you can get my husband my kids and me all in the same room I don’t really care what we’re doing. I am happiest when the four of us are together. As for alone time? I like to be in motion. I love tennis, yoga and hiking.

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

I learned that I can be respectful of people who I disagree with. Blogging reveals a lot about people that you might not otherwise learn and I’ve found that I can enjoy parts of people and they can occupy parts of my life without needing to agree with them.

 
How do you balance life and blogging?

I have a social media schedule. I am willing to spend up to three hours a day working on these things and no more. When the time is done, my work is done. No one wants to read about a blogger who sits in front of the computer all day. You have to get out and live. Most days it’s less than an hour but three is my absolute limit.

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

I don’t know what a successful blog is. Is success a large audience? Maybe financial security? Perhaps success means a book deal? Blogs are like the new MLM and the moment someone tells me they have one I sort of cringe because I’m not sure I want to read it. I’m not sure anyone wants to. Hell, most of the time when people ask me what I do for a living I tell them I’m a housewife. There’s something so inherently narcissistic about blogging that I’m both drawn to it and repelled by it. I can’t define success. I can’t define greatness. I’m not sure anyone can.

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

They same thing I do now. I’d just have to budget better.

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

This is where the work comes in. It’s difficult (and worth making the effort) to tell only my story. It’s entirely possible to talk about motherhood without talking about your kids. I’ve had a few slips and annoyed some folks along the way but for the most part no one knows much about my kids, my husband or my extended family. When my kids go to get their first jobs you will not be able to google their names. That’s the balancing act.

 
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 don’t know that I feel particularly wistful for anything. Change is good. I love that short content can live on other networks. I just don’t enjoy slideshows, I’d say that’s the only big bummer in blogging right now.

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

I don’t. An awful lot of my content gets ignored.

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

My family of four and Sasha and Malia Obama. I want the scoop from those two.

Thank you Jess for being my guest today and always being such a huge supporter of other women & bloggers, and on a more personal level, thanks for always being such an awesome friend and mentor to me. Your writing always makes me think and your fierce attitude has taught me that strong women can do what ever they set their minds to. XOXO

If Jessica  rocks your socks as much as she does mine, check her out at JessicaGottlieb.com and at Word of Mouth Women. but if you really want to have someone interesting to follow and engage with, Jessica Gottlieb is that person on Facebook and , of course, Twitter, where it all began.

 

 

 

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The Internet, introverts, online, social media

Have you noticed that even though the world has become so connected with the Internet, almost incestuously so, it’s becoming lonelier? Sure social media and the Internet have made it much easier to reach out and touch someone…anyone. The thing is even with being able to connect with millions of people on a daily basis, we are able to experience solitude in a way that we never have before. It’s like being naked in front of the world and no one noticing.

I guess I had never really thought of this until last night when I was watching television and a commercial came on for online university and it shows all the graduates celebrating via Internet in their own homes and my first thought was, “ That’s sad.”

Don’t get me wrong, online has it place. In grad school, I moved before my last semester and luckily the university offered a few remote classrooms which meant that the professor gave us a syllabus, we met once a week remotely via an online classroom and we turned our assignments in weekly via email.  This all sounded very convenient and it was for me because by this time I was a grown up with a full-time job and responsibilities and a marriage. But what about the 18-year-old who decides that it is more convenient and more cost-effective to just stay home and take courses from his mom’s basement? What happens to the “experience” of college? For me, that was the most important part. It is where I metamorphosed from a child to an adult. It’s where I learned who I was, apart from my parents.

Then I started thinking about it and “it” (the slow submersion into solitude and easing into social awkwardness) starts much younger than that these days. I’m not saying that being an introvert is a bad thing. I am just saying that being raised in a cyber world (online k-12, cyber dating, cyber sex, online college, chat rooms, sexting, texting, email, Skyping and Facetime) can make it difficult to live in the real one. We’ve all become so trusting in the Internet but really do we even know whose behind the screen, at all?

The Internet is an introvert enabler.

I get it. This is supposed to be progress but it feels a lot like going backwards. People are unlearning their basic social skills. Kids would rather text the kid next to them than look them in the eye and talk. People are making up and breaking up via texts and emails. School is not the same experience as when you and I were in school. All of those social norms we learn from facing our fears head on and in person can not be learned without pushing through the in person social awkwardness.  People are not interacting with other people anymore. There is a buffer easing into place; the Internet. It’s hard to connect with people with an entire Internet between you.

I know it sounds ironic coming from a grown woman who has made her living and some of her closest friends online in the past 5 years but I think that was all possible because I had already lived in the real world. I attach real world experience to each and every connection but for a kid who was able to bypass all the in real life social situations, I think online takes on a whole new meaning. I think its solitude at its worst. It has taken the humanity out of the equation.

Sure living online is easier; you can be, do, say whatever you want in half the time and without 1/3 of the effort but I prefer the real world. I prefer to face people and talk to them; hear their voices, see their facial expressions and pick-up on their social cues. I like the feeling of initiating a conversation with a complete stranger face-to-face or recognizing the acceptance and love in the face of someone I’ve known forever. I like the satisfaction of pushing through the messy, awkward encounters. There is growth and accomplishment in surviving real life that you just can’t get from living your life online.

It’s only getting worse. The more technology evolves, the faster society declines into solitude. I’m going to be offline more with my family and friends and want to take those very real connections that I have made online and solidify them in real life. So if you see me at a conference, please don’t hesitate to initiate a conversation. I love to talk to people, just ask anyone whose met me. I’ll talk your head off.

I can’t tell you how many people that I have met who I felt a real life connection with online only to meet them in real life and them not say a word to me. The problem is that it’s a lot harder to speak in person to someone who knows your deepest secrets than it is to tell the world those secrets from behind a computer screen. Believe me the first time I realized that the woman I was talking to had read my life story on my blog, I almost swallowed my tongue in fear but I pushed through and she’s one of my favorite people in the world now…who happens to know all of my deepest, darkest secrets.

In many ways the Internet has allowed us to be more open about who we really are but in others, it has stifled us in our real world relationships.  We’ve gotten lax and stopped trying. We’ve made things so “convenient” that we are missing all the good messy stuff of life. I like the messy stuff.

How has your life changed since the Internet?

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

In celebration of my 5th year of blogging, I have decided to start a weekly series called This Blogger’s life.. featuring one amazing blogger each Friday. I will always ask the same 15 questions to all the bloggers.For my inaugural post I am interviewing my amazing friend and fellow blogger, Jill Smokler ( the force behind ScaryMommy.com).

This is how it will work, every Friday ( same bat time, same bat blog) I will be interviewing one of the many amazing women ( or men) on the internet. Those who inspire me, mentor me and even some of those bright new up and coming bloggers. The blogging world feels so small sometimes because we share some of the most intimate moments with one another; marriage, pregnancy, birth, labor, raising children, divorce, sex, fashion, travel, food and everything in-between. It’s the greatest tribe I’ve ever had.

I love conferences because it’s a giant hug fest amongst some of the women that know me best but there just never seems like enough time to hang out; to talk. So, I decided why not interview some of these amazing people, who I am proud and lucky to call my friends. So without further ado, I give you the inaugural

This Blogger’s Life…Jill Smokler aka Scary Mommy.

Jill Smokler, This Blogger's Life, Interview, bloggers

Why did you start blogging? March of 2008, I was home with three little kids and desperate for a hobby of my own. A friend started a blog and, on whim, I figured I’d try one, too. Never, ever thought it would last past a month or two.

 

What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger? To have fun; blogging starts as a hobby – very few people make decent money from it and those who do, certainly don’t immediately. If it’s feeling like a job or a burden, you’re missing the point. 
 
What are the three words that describe you bestStubborn, passionate, driven

What is your favorite website? My own. I mean, it better be, right?
 
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging? Walking on the beach with my kids, looking for shells. That’s my happy place. 
 
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself  from blogging? That my path in life is really up to me.  
 
How do you balance life and blogging? Not very well, unfortunately. Since the time the site became my sole income, I’ve constantly been searching for that happy balance, but still don’t think I’ve found it. As a side hobby, it was easy, but as a job, never. I’m not sure you can ever truly balance life with work you’re passionate about, though – something always suffers. 
 
How has blogging changed you or your life? Pretty early on, I realized that blogging could be the vehicle that allowed me to do something I enjoyed from home and not have to go back to an office job. I’m thankful every single day that it has allowed me that. The lifestyle isn’t easy, and I’m always working, but I’m working for me, doing something I love and I can still be the one to pick the kids up from school every day. None of that would have been possible without the blog.
 
What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same? I think a great and successful blog is one that serves its purpose — if you set out to entertain your friends and family and do that, you’ve succeeded. If you want some fun freebies and perks and you get them, you’ve done it. If you want a record of your days with your kids, that’s a pretty awesome gift to give them. I think there are a million ways to have a successful blog, it just depends on how you define success. 
 
If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life? I can’t even imagine! Seriously. I’m stumped. 
 
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? The older my kids have gotten, the less I write about them for that very reason — their stories aren’t mine to share. It’s a tough road to navigate, though, and I’ve definitely learned the hard way that most people don’t appreciate being blog fodder. 
 
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 miss the intimacy, I miss having time to visit all the blogs I care about and I miss the focus being on quality content rather than virality; sites like BuzzFeed and ViralNova drive me crazy. I do love that there’s much more acceptance of less than perfect sites than there used to be. It’s no longer taboo to admit not loving every second of motherhood and that’s definitely a win.
 
How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content? I’m lucky to have people send me content, because I certainly couldn’t do it alone! 
 
If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite? Erma Bombeck, Hilary Clinton, Tina Fey, my grandmother, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. Hello, random dinner party.
 
What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? Years ago, I was offered a job to work at Martha Stewart Living – kind of the anti-Scary Mommy workplace. 
 
What’s the one post that you are most proud of? Probably this one – It was the most raw I’ve ever felt, and I still sometimes go back and read the comments when I need a pick me up. 

Thank you Jill for allowing me to interview you. You were one of the first blogs that I ever followed and you inspire me with your big heart and authentic voice. You always stay true to who you are. Thanks for always sharing your truth and being scary awesome.  XOXO

Hope that you all enjoyed my first This Blogger’s Life interview with Jill and if you liked her here, go check her out at ScaryMommy.com or better yet share her hilarious series of Scary Mommy books with the moms in your life.

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5 year blog anniversary, blogging, 5 years

Happy 5-years of blogging anniversary to me!

My blog is officially going off to kindergarten in the fall. Honestly, every year my blog turns another year older and I completely forget to celebrate on the anniversary. I never forget my kids’ birthdays and let’s face it; this blog is like my third child. It’s been a labor of love for sure and I have definitely poured my blood, sweat, tears and truth into this hear little website.

It probably has a lot to do with May being hell month in our house.  We are booked solid all month long. The four of us, the Big Guy, the girls and I, just muddle through the entire month in a blur and then on June 1st we all sit down, put our feet up and exhale a sigh of relief.

But not today, today I have flower beds to plant, pitches to send, conference calls to attend and a garage that has to be rearranged as we are finally emptying our storage unit from back in the days when the house was staged for selling.  It’s been 3 years.  Anyways, today, I am pausing to say thank you. Thank you for the past 5 years! Thank you for all of the love and support and perspective. You complete me. The Big Guy made me a wife, the girls made me a mother but you all made me a blogger. And all of you helped me to find my dream and go after it.

When I started this blog, I had no idea what to expect or what I was doing. Some of you may suspect that I still don’t and, truly, I am still learning something new every single day. That’s what I love about blogging.  Like motherhood the space is constantly changing, the rules are different and there are fads a many but I have just stuck to my original plan; to do it all with honesty and try my best to not screw things up too badly.

Today, The TRUTH about Motherhood turns 5. I can barely remember the time that I didn’t write this blog. It’s gotten me through the toughest moments of motherhood and I’ve made lifelong friends through this site.  You’ve been there to make me not feel alone in those quiet times of doubt, held my hand when I thought I couldn’t go on and even celebrated the little wins in my life and I hope I have done the same for you.

There are changes coming for The TRUTH, you’ve been warned.  I mean you know how 5-year-olds are? They like to shake things up.  This month we celebrate 5 years of blogging, 4 years of Throat Punching on Thursdays, 15 years of marriage, 9 years of motherhood and my youngest turns 7-years-old.  I’d complain about being so damn busy but I can’t because I am so damned blessed.

Stay tuned for changes. Speaking of changes, this Friday I will start a new weekly feature called This Blogger’s Life. I will be interviewing some of your and my favorite bloggers and even some new and up and coming bloggers. Wouldn’t you love to be the fly on the wall on the inside of a blogger’s brain? Well, now you can. Our first interview will go live this Friday with Jill Smokler of Scary Mommy. Hope you’ll check it out.

Thanks for the past 5 years, it truly has been life changing. If you want to stay connected, I am also lots of fun on Facebook ( I won’t lie, I like to share a lot of cool things I find on the Internet and see what you think about it), Twitter ( I like to have silly conversations in 140 characters), Instagram ( I posts lots of photos of cute bulldogs, cute kids, nature and the occasional photo of myself with no nose ), Pinterest ( where I pin all the pretty and cool things) and Google+ ( where I am still trying to figure it all out. Want to follow me so that I can get some lessons from you?)

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Internet security, internet casualty, online safety

I don’t want to become an Internet casualty. As a Lionlock ambassador, I take password and online security very seriously. Safety online is not just needed it is imperative in my line of work. As a blogger, I am in the business of sharing my life out loud on the Internet. Even as someone who has been doing this for years now and as an adult, I still have security slips. I sometimes forget that the Internet is forever and I get caught with my metaphorical pants down.

You know that saying, “A moment on the lips, and forever on the hips”? Well, the Internet is JUST.LIKE.THAT! We are so trusting of the Internet that we often forget that a moment on the Internet truly is FOREVER in the world. You can delete and undo all sorts of things but you are always just a screen grab away for being immortalized in Internet infamy. Those private sexts you sent to your ex? There is no such thing. You say Snap Chat? I say screen grab. That nasty comment you left and then deleted? Already sitting in someone’s inbox. That petty FB update about your soon to be ex? Yep, his lawyers already have a copy in their file. The cute naked photo of your toddler in the bathtub that you uploaded and promptly second-guessed and took down 5 minutes later? Some pedo is already getting his rocks off to it. There is no privacy online.

We’ve all put something on the Internet that we wish we hadn’t. It’s embarrassing and we get over it. It’s like going to a party, drinking too much and wanting to crawl under a rock and die the next day when you see the proof on Facebook. It might not ruin us, but it might. None the less, we’d prefer those moments stayed private because we are left feeling compromised and vulnerable. Unfortunately, there are no second chances on the Internet so you have to know going in that everything you put on the Internet is set in stone for eternity. No matter how badly it may differ from reality.  The Internet knows you from glimpses, social media shares and sound bites. There is no emotion, connotation, context or empathy. There is only what you say, what you share and what it sees. The Internet is a cold-hearted bitch and she doesn’t get innuendo or anecdotes. So what you put out there is who she thinks you are. So be safe and think before you go online.

While LionLock automatically audits any interaction that takes place with your passwords in the vault, it is still important to use common sense when sharing any important private information.

Here are a few online security tips to keep you from becoming just another Internet casualty.

1. Keep a Clean Machine

Keep all Internet connected devices free from infection and malware by keeping all critical software—security software, web browsers, apps and operating systems—up to date so that you can counter any new viruses lurking.

Have your security software set to monitor your computer continually, not just a weekly scan.

2. Protect Your Personal Information

Secure your accounts by making passwords long, strong and unique.

3. Own Your Online Presence

This is my favorite. I am very transparent; probably more so than I should be, but I know when I put it out there that it is out there. I consider this every single time I post anything. Set security and privacy settings to your comfort level of sharing.

4. When in Doubt, Throw it Out

If an email, social network post or text looks suspicious, even if you know the source, delete it.

5. Be Web Wise

Be wary of communications that implore you to act immediately, offer something that sounds too good to be true, or ask for personal information.

6. Be a Good Online Citizen or Don’t be a Web Douche canoe

Post only about others what you would have them post about you.

7. Beware of public Wi-Fi ( hint: There is no such thing as FREE wi-fi)

Anytime you use public Wi-Fi, keep in mind that everything you do can be visible to a 3rd party/stranger that is also connected to the network. Criminals can see everything the users do and capture any information that is sent over the network. Find a staff member at the coffee shop or hotel that can verify the name of the proper network. Also disable auto-connection features when Wi-Fi is not in use.

8. Save money matters for your trusted networks

Even if you’re not on a compromised Wi-Fi hotspot, it’s really best to wait until you’re back on a secure network you trust before shopping or banking. If it’s an emergency and you need to move funds from one account to another, use your cellular data connection rather than public Wi-Fi.

9. Use Secure Sites (Https://)

Secure SSL connections are connections that encrypt any data you send through a website, adding a layer of protection for your private information. There are a couple different ways that you can check to verify that a site is secure. The first is that you’ll notice the https:// turns into https://, with the s indicating it is a secure network. Additionally, there should be a padlock displayed in the URL bar.

10. Secure your mobile devices

In addition to installing security software on computers, it is equally important to have a mobile security app, for your mobile devices. These apps will help your mobile devices stay secure by detecting security flaws in your apps and preventing you from clicking on malicious links.

The Internet is a wonderful place to live and play but it really is what you make it. Just like your home, you wouldn’t go on vacation and leave all the doors and windows open nor would you announce to the neighborhood gossip that you have syphilis. So use your common sense and take precautions to protect yourself online just like you would in your real life.

How do you keep yourself from becoming just another Internet casualty?

 

 

Photo Credit: Ellen von Unwerth

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Lionlock but all opinions are my own. Don’t be an Internet Casualty!

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LionLock, Safety, Internet, password protection

Last month when I announced my ambassadorship with LionLock, I told you what an incredible password management tool I think it is. It’s perfect for every 21st century small business from freelance writers, digital marketing professionals, and social media consultants to virtual assistants. And let’s not forget about us busy 21st century parents who do everything from monitor their nannycams to subscribe to parenting websites and manage their baby’s college fund online. We trust the Internet. We depend on it.

LionLock can securely store all kinds of protected information, including passwords, website logins, bank accounts and credit card details. This information is your “secrets”; called so because they should be protected. Each account or password is it’s own separate secret.

LionLock then encrypts and stores all of your Secrets using AES-256, which is the same level of encryption the government uses for Top Secret documents and then stores all of your information in the vault. It’s one secure place that you can access from your work computer, home computer or any of your mobile devices.

If you need to share a “secret” you created with clients, you can easily grant them access. If the situation or your mind changes, simply adjust their access permissions. You only have to change one password. It’s that simple.  As the Secret Owner you have full control of a Secret. Only you can edit, delete, and grant access to other users.

To help secret owners know how their accounts are being used, LionLock keeps automatic reports of all the users of that you share vaults/passwords with and date/time users viewed or changed any passwords that hey have access to. Owners can view all reports associated with a secret they own. You have complete control of your “secrets”. Nice, right?

But, where does all that information go? I mean the Internet can be a giant scary place and sometimes, I have so much information out “there” that I get a little agoraphobic and want to just keep it all close to home but that’s not really a solution. What am I a social media password hoarder? Maybe I need an intervention.

I work from home and I am my own brand so my reputation means everything. If a brand hires me or I am collaborating on a campaign with a client, I need to be responsible and professional not only for my sake but for theirs, as well. Those pieces of paper with notes written all over them is not professional. It’s very unprofessional and it is just an accident waiting to happen and jobs to be lost.  If I want to be taken seriously, I need to act seriously. My clients need to know that their information is safe on my site and in my hands.

So where does all that private, personal information go? This is going to be a little technical but you will be glad that I told you, so bear with me. Amazon EC2 secure servers in the United States host LionLock. It’s sort of like Dropbox taken to the security extreme. One major security feature of LionLock is that the passwords are not stored on the client machine (my computer, laptop or phone). Nope all the passwords are stored in the secure Lionlock website.

What does any of this mean to you and why should you care? Well, if your computer crashes, your passwords are safely stored on the cloud so you do not have to freak out worrying that they are gone forever and you will have to look unprofessional losing all of your information. People pay you so they don’t have to worry about every single detail.

Also, with passwords being stored offsite (like your money in the Cayman islands) there is never the worry that someone is going to “accidentally” get access from your computer. All passwords are retrieved from the Lionlock website using a secure SSL connection; this is the same web standard used by banks. And no, the developers at Lionlock do not have access to Amazon’s servers and data so they cannot access your “secrets”.

If you don’t believe me, try LionLock out for yourself. An account for up to three users and 25 passwords is free!  If you need more users and unlimited password storage, LionLock has that too! I’m hooked because it just makes my daily work so much easier and more streamlined. I have everything securely stored for myself and my clients.

Lionlock allows me to trust that my passwords and my clients are safe and so is my my reputation.

Have you had the chance to try LionLock yet?

 

 

Photo Credit: 1954 Ellen von Unwerth

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Lionlock but all opinions are my own.

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The Soundtrack of My Life ; Audio Fest is Happening at Best Buy!

Ever wonder what the soundtrack of your life would sound like played out loud in stereo?

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with Best Buy and review a JBL Flip Portable Stereo Speaker that works with most bluetooth-enabled devices. This JBL streams music wirelessly from your phone/tablet/laptop, its portable and has a speaker-phone, built-in microphone and call-answer button that lets you easily take phone calls. It is about the size of a Coke can but packs the speaker punch of what my full size boom box used to; all the sound with none of the bulkiness.

I was born in the 70’s to parents who defined who they were by the music they listened to. My earliest memories are of my mom singing the Mama’s and Papa’s to me as a very young toddler. Fond memories of my dad strumming his guitar and singing Johnny Cash are part of the soundtrack of my life. Music has always been an integral part of who I am.

My formative years happened in the 80’s. I remember from the time I was old enough to earn an allowance, every single cent of it went towards buying cassette tapes, compact discs and concert tickets. I remember begging my parents for extra chores or to let me babysit so that I could earn some extra money. Every penny went towards music; buying blank cassettes or the biggest boom box that I could find.

Music was an obsession. It was my comfort and refuge as a teen. If I was at the beach with friends, at the park with family or even taking a bath, my boom box was with me playing the soundtrack of my life. No matter what was going on in my life, I needed music to be playing in the background. Music was and is something I need in my life, at all times.

When I was in high school, music was my escape. In college, it defined me. There was a perfect song for everything I was feeling and experiencing. First loves, first heartbreaks, first taste of freedom, facing challenges, meeting the man I was going to marry and growing into the woman I would become. There was a song to fit each one. A song that , to this day, transports me back to that moment in time.

In those early days of marriage and motherhood, music was my constant companion. It lulled me to sleep when my husband traveled for work. I sang it to my pregnant belly while swaying and decorating the nursery. There has been a playlist for every major event in out life. I played music while we played and grew from a couple into a family.

Music plays and invokes feelings and memories. Songs are for my ears what photos are for my eyes, the keeper of our memories. Now, I share music with my girls. I have shared that love. We sing songs together in the car. We dedicate songs to one another. Music says the things our heart wants to say.

I want music playing with me at all times. A boom box doesn’t really seem like the best option in today’s world of technological advancement in which everything has gotten smaller and more portable. That’s one of the reasons that my JBL Flip Portable Stereo Speaker makes so much sense. It is compact and easily to take anywhere I go. Now, I can have music playing in the background at all times, just like I’ve always wanted it to be. I’ve had it for less than a week and it’s already been used to lull kids to sleep, keep me dancing while I cooked dinner, accompany me while I sung in the shower and was the official Frozen Soundtrack player at my daughter’s birthday party. I am in love with it. Honestly and truly in love with it.

Beginning on March 2nd through April 4, 2014, Best Buy will be hosting March Audio Fest. It will feature one month of fabulous deals on every audio product your heart and ears could ever desire.

We’ve made a lot of our big audio purchases at Best Buy because I like being able to test and try out the products before I buy them. I like to know how loud my speakers are going to sound, how true to life my surround sound is going to feel and just how much noise can my headphones reduce? Who wouldn’t want to try before they buy? It’s being a smart consumer.

This week’s deals are as follows:

2x points on Sonos Home Theater

All AVRs on Sale

All iPod touch on sale

Save $80 on Samsung Blu-ray/Soundbar Bundle

soundtrack, life, Best Buy , Audio fest

Disclaimer: The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

If you making the playlist for the soundtrack of your life, what would you include on the list?

 

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shhh, secrets, Lionlock, password management, passwords

I am thrilled to announce that I have partnered with Lionlock as a brand ambassador.

This makes me happy because not only do I get to share my love of a great and very useful product with you but they even pay me to do it. What? It’s like getting paid to eat chocolate without the calories.

I know many of you, like me, work, play and live online and for security reasons you probably have 25 different passwords. Me, I have so many passwords that I have passwords scribbled all over the place in my office in notebooks, on napkins, up my arm and none of it is really effective because if I misplace the password source, I have to try seemingly endless combinations of letters and numbers, some with capitalization and one even requires a “symbol”. What? Yeah, that account may be lost to me forever. It’s like when you hide all the scissors in the house from the kids only to realize you can never find them again. Yes, just like that and my mommy brain apparently doesn’t remember where I hide scissors, passwords or locker combinations.

So you are probably wondering what is this Lionlock she is rambling on about?

Lionlock is a password management tool for small businesses, teams and parents who live their lives online and honestly, these days, who doesn’t? LionLock can securely store all kinds of protected information, including but not limited to passwords, website logins, bank accounts and credit card details. They refer to this information as “secrets” because it should be protected. Each account or password is it’s own separate secret. For example, your bank account information is one secret.  Your 7 CMS logins are each their own secrets. Your five email account passwords are each their own secret. Now, unfortunately, Lionlock can’t help you at all with those misplaced scissors.

LionLock encrypts and stores all of your Secrets using AES-256 which is the same level of encryption the government uses for Top Secret documents. It’s like having your own personal secret service trained ninja assistant who keeps all of your online secrets in “the vault”. Only Lionlock’s vault can’t be plied open with vodka.

Lionlock’s vault stores all your information in one secure place that you can access from your work computer, home computer or any of your mobile devices. This is great for small businesses because a staggering 60% of small businesses suffer a cyber attack or major data loss in the first six months of operations. But it’s also great for me because when my mommy brain fails me, I know that my Lionlock account wont!

If you want to share your secrets with team members or your husband, you can decide to grant them access. If you change your mind, access denied. Change your Lionlock access password and that’s it. You only have to change one password. It’s that simple.

I am very excited about having the Lionlock password management tool in my online arsenal and getting to work as an ambassador for a product that I genuinely think is awesome. I think it’s perfect for everyone who has multiple accounts online.

Now that I’ve told you all about Lionlock, I’d love to invite you to our #Lionlock Twitter Party on Tuesday, February 25th at 6:00 PM PST/ 9:00 PM EST!  We’ll be giving away prizes and having great conversation.

lionlock, twitter party

**Lionlock Twitter Party Alert**

WHAT:  #Lionlock Twitter Party

WHEN:  TUESDAY, February 25TH, 2014 FROM 6-7 PM PST/ 9-10 EST

HASHTAG TO USE WHEN TWEETING IT UP:  #Lionlock

WHO TO FOLLOW:  @TRUTHFULMOMMY @Lizz_Porter AND @LIONLOCKDC (SPONSOR) >

PRIZES: Four $25 Visa Gift Cards and one grand prize $50 Visa Gift Card

RSVP:  PLEASE RSVP BELOW.

Join in the #Lionlock party for fun conversation and a chance to win some great prizes!

Please RSVP with your twitter name and link to qualify for a chance to win prizes during the #LIONLOCK Twitter Party.

 

Photo Credit: Ellen von Unwerth

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Lionlock but all opinions are my own.

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baby as art, Sioin Queenie Liao, selfie

Selfies, photos of babies and babies with pets have officially over saturated social media.

I know this post will probably not get me any friends and I am honestly not trying to be an asshole. I am a sucker for a cute baby photo as much as the next person but honestly, is anyone else getting tired of seeing babies (other than their own) sleeping? I currently have over 100,000 photos that I have taken of my girls since they were born. I took them for my own enjoyment. Sure they are adorable but you don’t want to see every photo of my daughters, every moment captured. I mean its babies in baskets, babies with puppies, babies with daddies, babies with other babies and babies as part of art while they sleep. Babies with painted on mustaches, wearing fedoras and roller skates. Gatsby baby sipping an old fashioned and astronaut baby planting a flag on the moon while baby Mike Tyson and baby Evander Holyfield chew on one another’s ears.

When my kids are asleep, especially when they were asleep as babies, there was no way in the world I was going to be using them as props with animals or amidst the backdrop of a cityscape or flying through space or taming a lion or whatever the hell else they are doing these days. Also, where are you guys finding the time?

baby as art, Sioin Queenie Liao, selfie

The more I look at these adorable photos done by Sioin Queenie Liao, I am reconsidering babies as art because OMG, my ovaries are twitching from the cute

Are these only children? Do you have a nanny? Is this your job? When my kids were babies and slept, I let them sleep because an overtired baby or child woken out of a nap before it ran its course was certainly not worth a photo op! My sanity is worth more than a potentially viral photo op. I always let sleeping babies lie.Sure, I think the photos are awesome but I don’t want to see every.single.one. you take. When did this happen? Do we keep nothing for ourselves anymore?

And the selfies? Holy fuck am I sick of the close up, Zoolander faces, #nakedselfies in the shower, at the gym, in the bathroom, in the ER getting stitches, giving birth breastfeeding and ass wiping. Is there nothing sacred anymore? Look I enjoy a good fly on the wall moment as much as everybody else too but suddenly, it’s just too damned much. People, pump your social media brakes. You’re telling us all too much. If a picture’s worth a thousand words than you just told me what a raging douche bag you are, in 15 languages, 67 different ways.

selfies, babies sleeping, babies and pets, photos, social media

Credit: Instagram & Danielle Lloyd

Selfies have their place. We’ve all taken them. Hell, as moms we are the photographers in most cases so, sure, we have to slip a selfie in here and there just to commemorate that we are here. That we lived. That’s fine. I’ve taken selfies. We all need avatar photos for FB and Twitter, etc but for grown ups to be taking selfies every day or in some cases multiple times a day, you might have an addiction. Take as many selfies as you want for your private collection but I don’t think the entire world needs to see you chew your food, kiss your kid’s booboo, your outfit of the hour or how your eye make-up looks and we certainly don’t need to see you in the shower with your baby, your backside or your stomach after eating; those are moments that you should keep and cherish for yourself. Nobody needs to see your post-coital selfie unless you are a hooker for hire.

Looks like just like with food, we all need to learn some social media selfie portion control; everything in moderation my friends. Take as many selfies and kitschy, cute and creative photos of your children and your pets as you like but how about we exercise some self-control and and only upload a chosen few to FB and  Twitter. If you must photo dump to satiate some need to document every image, why not keep it to Instagram?

P.S. NONE of this applies to newborns. Bring on the newborn photos, I can look at them all day:) Just don’t pair them with the family pet or use them as a prop in an elaborate creative purge every hour on the hour.

What are your thoughts of this time we live in of constant selfies, sleeping babies and their exciting lives with their pets?

 

Photo credit: If you can’t get enough of these cute kid photos, check out Sioin Queenie Liao slideshow on Today Moms bit I’ll never budge on selfies.

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