Stumbling Upon StumbleUpon

For months now I’ve been told to check out StumbleUpon, a social media searching site for bloggers, business builders and average Internet users alike. Unlike google+1, which I couldn’t quite figure out (thus never earning a place on my social media work calendar), after a quick registration and a good deal of poking around, I’ve gathered enough information to deem the site incredibly effective in its purpose; useful to those who take the stumbling plunge.

Like anything new there’s a learning curve, but the best new technological tools are the ones that don’t take too much time to decipher and pack a powerful punch in what they can do for you.

Here’s what I found…

1. You have to sign up.

A lot of people are hesitant to put their names and information into any site for fear of over abundant junk mail or opening themselves up to some sort of evil hacking computer nightmare.

Fear not. I have yet to receive anything weird in the way of emails or evil hacking nightmares and I signed up in June.

2. It’s like Google, only different.

I google everything from telephone numbers to recipes to images for Mommyland (though that is changing due to the legality issues involved).

But often when searching google in larger categories (like mom bloggers or running or healthy eating), the search is too broad which leads to more and more clicks, never quite getting exactly what I was looking for.

Once you’ve registered with Stumble and begin to search your interests, blogs (articles and sometimes pictures, too) will pop up onto your screen for your review.

If you like what you see, you click the like button, upon which time the search engine finds more content similar in focus. As your likes grow, the site has a better idea of the content that you are searching for, thus putting more of the web at your fingertips. The introduction to things you may not have so easily found on your own is a plus.

If you do not like what you’ve seen, you simply click the stumble button in the upper left hand corner and new content will come up; still under the umbrella of your category search.

Is it a little “Big Brother?” Maybe. But Big Brother is inevitable with an Internet that can track our every move (I’m not saying I like it). It’s par for the course and we’re not talking about inputting social security numbers or anything (because that would be dumb, not to mention unsafe).

3. Who has time anymore?

When I first started blogging I spent a ton of time reading other blogs. Bloggers come in all shapes and sizes, personalities and styles, and it takes time to find the ones who speak to you. You could (and I did) search all day, from dusk ’til dawn, but this will inevitably ensure that the rest of your life will quickly fall apart (i.e. hungry kids, messy house, children with glazed over television eyes).

With StumbleUpon I’ve been able to quickly search categories of interest leading me to places I’ve never been. It’s a time saver in some ways, but in other ways it takes an extra bit of effort.

4. Sharing is caring.

For example, say you are blog reading and come across a really great post that you want to share. Once you hit the stumble icon, you will be directed to a page that asks you some pertinent information about the post.

Yes it takes a minute to fill in whether or not its suitable for work, what category it falls within and maybe if you’re feeling generous, the tags that will link the post to other more specific searches (the whole point of tagging).

But if you do it, even just once a day when you find really unbelievable content, you will be helping out your neighbor who may have been searching for the very same thing from in front of their own magical Mac.

It’s a win/win, for the reader and the writer.

5. From the other side; how to use StumbleUpon to grow your business.

After writing a blog post and submitting your work by clicking the Stumble icon (which you must add like you would a facebook or twitter link) you are adding your content to the StumbleUpon search engine giving new viewers a chance at discovering your work.

A few months back I met a blogger who suggested that most of her traffic and monetary leads had been coming through the site. My curiosity was peaked at which time I signed up, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I conducted my own experiment and saw for myself the reach of the site.

The number of readers who liked my work after stumbling upon me added about 10% to my overall viewer statistics for the day. I’m still small over here in Mommyland, but no intelligent blogger would balk at adding that kind of percentage to his/her daily stats. All bloggers want readers, so it’s worth the effort to submit your work after it’s been published.

Worth noting, too, through Twitter I engaged with users who were seeing increased interest in their sites based on clicks through Stumble. Sarah Pardieck from Notice the Dirt was kind enough to tweet me a response to my query about the stumble experience and mentioned that she gets “quite a bit of traffic, but only stumbles certain categories of posts.” She also suggested that using lots of images up top (“above the fold”) would seemingly catch more attention and increase the likelihood that a stumbler would stay to read what you’ve got. Smart girl, that Sarah!

6. Mix it Up? In what category do you find success?

To be honest, I still consider myself a newby (less than a year in) and am still working out the best way to categorize my work to get more views. Like everything social media related it takes time and patience (and work and effort) to find that magical component that helps a blogger find success among the masses. If what they say is true, that being yourself, having your own clear voice and working hard is the key to long-standing success, then continuing to find my way in regard to categorizing myself is an important piece of the puzzle.

At this point I blog about running and healthy eating, motherhood and kids, and so I have submitted my work as such. This post, however, will be entered under “social media” and I’m looking forward to seeing the results in my stats.

No matter which way you look at it, as a simple searcher or a calculated endeavor to grow your business, I do believe that Stumbling is a useful tool for both groups.

Tell me what you think? Will you try it? Do you use StumbleUpon already?

XOM

Sorry about the fuzzy and less than beautiful photo. I searched for free stock images, but my desire for a somewhat aesthetically pleasing website negates their use.

Yin Yang A Yin Yin Yang

When I agreed to drive home from our seven weeks away it seemed like a good idea. I knew I’d have collected various suitcase filling objects and I wasn’t sure we’d be able to fit our stuff in the belly of a plane or comfortably underneath our seats.

As predicted, we left Groton Long Point yesterday morning with a car stuffed full, so much so that the only way to get to the cooler full of drinks was through the rolled down back window of the Four Runner (the door was blocked by a finicky bike rack). The roof rack above was filled to the brim with dismantled Hello Kitty bikes, dirty towels and random soft bags with items that normally do not go together (shampoo and shoes and Barbies, for example). I placed my precious laptop against the safest spot I could find (next to my feet on the passenger side floor) and surrounding us in every other empty space was an explosion of brought along foods, coloring books, items from the pencil boxes, empty Dunkin Donut bags and pillows and toys.

We rolled into Raleigh after eleven and promptly released the girls.

Said Grace later; “Mom. It’s like we were in jail and we didn’t even do anything bad to get there!”

All along the way I kept thinking that the trip could be described as Yin and Yang.

Yin: Passing around the nectarine and pear I’d brought and watching each family member take a bite.

Yang: Breakfast at McDonald’s (the girls and I didn’t actually eat it, so maybe that’s yin). But dinner at Wendy’s? So yang.

Yin: Outsmarting the GPS that was determined to take us over the George Washington Bridge. We found our way to the Tapanzee and were certain it would be smooth sailing all the way home.

Yang: Three hours of stop and go traffic through D.C.

Yin: Both girls falling asleep and staying that way through most of D.C.

Yang: The cries from the back seat when they woke with sore backs and crampy legs.

Yin: Listening to Sophie sing the words to Call Me, Maybe? (beginning to end) in her high-pitched lovely little voice.

Yang: Listening to Sophie singing the words to Call Me, Maybe? (beginning to end) after twelve or so hours on the road.

Yin: Listening to Adele full blast during my turn at the wheel.

Yang: Being so engrossed in that beautiful voice and missing the last big freeway change.

Yin: The Map Quest directions that said the trip would be eleven hours door to door.

Yang: Fourteen hours later peeling myself from the seat of the car and walking around my house, happy to be here but exhausted and with a headache.

Yin: Pechie’s bowl of freshly made spaghetti and meatballs in the fridge.

Yin: A fridge full of groceries that she bought for us so I wouldn’t have to take the girls in the car again today.

Yin: My house; relatively clean.

Yang: Out of toilet paper and coffee.

Yin: Kids off playing.

Yin: Me typing at my space.

Yin: Back to blogging and writing and running and yoga class and preschool and my juicer and my friends (both real and bloggy).

Yin: There’s no place like home.

XOM.

Grace seven hours in…

A Good Day

Saturday morning began with my running group the WannaBeasts (10.5 minutes per mile) and eight sweaty miles through the greenway around Shelly Lake, behind Crabtree Valley Mall. There was ninety-eight percent humidity and while it felt like running through soup, it was fast and easy (even downright pleasant) thanks to the conversation with my partner Nancy (whom I’d just met) and the energy of the team.

Afterward, instead of heading home to shower, I drove to Peachie’s for one last visit to her empty house and to drop off the baby clothes that the girls had gathered from their closet the day before (during their own packing session for Maine).

“It’s too small, it goes in the baby pile!”

I sat in Peachie’s back yard drenched in sweat and snot (my poor skirt had served as kleenex on the trail) and watched squirrels in pine trees pull branches from limbs and scurry away. I wondered if this is how they collected their nuts. I reminded myself that I loathe squirrels, especially after they had taken refuge in my attic a few years ago.

I called my sister and we talked.

I called my Peach and we talked even more.

When I couldn’t stand the dried sweat a second longer I left for home, driving and listening to the radio stations that are playing the same songs on rotation this Summer. I know all of the words.

I showered and threw on a typically scary post run outfit; a comfy bra, white and purple stretchy shorts that say, “I heart Saints,” a washed blue KBIA t-shirt that I intentionally cut down the front and unintentionally ripped under the arm, and bright pink CEP compression calf sleeves I’d received in the mail the day before.

I don’t like to match my clothes post run. The more mismatched I look the better I feel. I’m pretty sure that most runners feel the same way about their recovery outfits. It’s not mentioned much, but take a look at most running blogger’s post run photos and it becomes obvious. It might even be an unsaid qualification for calling oneself a runner.

As happens after a good medium to long run I was tired. I shuffled around the house until I couldn’t bring myself to shuffle anymore and by 3:00 curled up on the sofa with the girls for an episode of Sponge Bob.

I promptly fell asleep.

Grace soon nudged me and said that she was tired, too, and surprisingly both girls followed me upstairs where we crawled into their beds. Unexpected as neither girl has taken a nap since 2010. When I woke and realized that it was 7:00 p.m., I knew there’d be a long night ahead.

We came downstairs where Brian had made dinner and had it waiting on the kitchen bar; cheeseburgers, french fries and onion rings.

I cut up some lettuce and tomato and made plates of food that we took outside to eat by tiki lamps.

The girls were happy. Their dad and I were civil. We talked about a friend of a friend who at thirty-eight had just died from Frontal Lobe Dementia. There was a silent acceptance that this life is too short and that happiness is imperative. The girls laughed as their stuffed puppies “tried” to eat from the plates of food. The family unit was working as it should all the time.

With renewed energy I decided to tackle the packing that waited for me; my empty suitcases left for last.

I tucked my iPhone into my bra after pressing play on my audiobook version of Wild. As I gathered my running clothes and bathing suits I listened to the chapter about Cheryl’s mother’s horse named Lady and how she had become old. With her mother gone, she knew that she needed to tend to the horse.

The heartbreaking account of what came next made the placement of items into my luggage slow and deliberate. I listened while folding my piles and piles of must haves, acting out my work while my heart swelled and pounded from the depth of the pain I was hearing.

For two hours I continued; Cheryl’s journey on the Pacific Coast Trail and my journey through my stuff.

I have much too much. As I looked around at the things I knew I’d need and then back to the closet for the things that I might need and into the extra closets for things I never wear but probably need, I felt overwhelmed and a little disgusted.

I listened to Cheryl talk about Monster, the name for the pack she carried on her back, and wished that I could lessen my reliance on consumerism, so that all I needed was a pack and my kids. If only that could be enough.

When it became too overwhelming I decided to leave the mess to which I will return to today.

I sat on the master bed and continued with the story while gazing at the mound of fabrics and colors, pants and tunics, hats and necklaces, bathing suits and skirts. Underpants will go in last.

I connected to Cheryl’s feelings about her writing. How she’d always written, but the unattained dream of writing her own novel had left her disappointed and embarrassed. She wrote about making the decision to make it happen.

Remembering how I felt when reading the Hunger Games, how I liked the author and appreciated her words seemingly written for me, I added Cheryl Strayed to my list of imaginary friends. I might not understand a lot of what she went through on the PCT, but I certainly relate to her life as a writer and a woman.

By 10:30 the house was dark and bedtime was near. The girls brushed their teeth and chose their bedtime books. I imagined that I’d get them to sleep and then sneak away for some alone time, to ponder my day and plan the next. But instead, I just lay between my daughters thinking.

In two days we’ll be back at the beach that has been home for thirty five years. I will see my friends who have known me my entire life. I’ll see the newest babies and write by the sound of the sea.

Instead of sneaking away I closed my eyes and listened to the breathing of my girls, while hoping for a future that looked a lot like this day.

A day of sweat and books. Of food and fun. Introspection and civility. A life with purpose, happiness, respect, restful naps, laughs, and possibly less in the way of stuff.

All things are possible.

With that I fell to sleep. The best sleep I’ve had in ages.

The WannaBeasts at the start. Forty runners at the same pace is an unbelievable experience!
CEP calf sleeves in pink. I think I had them on backward and so I turned them around later in the day. I realize I haven’t written a “gear post” in ages. On my feet, Ipanema flip flops, my choice for this Summer. Under my feet a Dash and Albert exterior washable rug. Geez. Look at that! My consumerism in full effect!
The girls stack of traveling books. I like that they put A Good Day by Kevin Henkes on the top. I promise this wasn’t staged. I named the post after seeing the book tower and realizing it was exactly what I was writing about. 
My packing mess. Brian is going to take the girls out later today so that I can focus. Underneath that pile are neatly folded running clothes and beach things. I can thank Cheryl Strayed for that.
I downloaded Wild to listen to when I ran. I liked it so much I pinned it on my Pinterest page, which resulted in a signed copy of the book at my front door. Pretty neat if you ask me!
Good Day, Good Day
A Good Day found on Pinterest (uploaded by Brianna Hope). Fitting, wouldn’t you say?

Maybe Buddhism

I was told that my chances of getting published are slim to none.

I was urged to have a backup plan.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

I don’t have a journalism degree.

The only professional who has ever told me that my writing was any good was my Seventh grade tutor, and really, she was being paid by my parents.

I have not been paid for my writing; have not made five cents in this endeavor.

It’s not about the money, friend.

It’s about passion. It’s about love. It’s about the need to express, so that I don’t go mad.

Mad as in crazy.

I have enough mad as in mad. Oh, you made me mad as in mad. It’s like that button has your name on it. It’s reserved especially for you.

Which makes me wonder.

I can’t control you or what you think or your lack of vision. I can’t make you see what I see.

I can only control how I react when that button gets pushed.

And I don’t like how I felt inside and how the blood under my skin started to boil and my anger at your belittment seethed. It felt like a simultaneous punch to the heart and gut and my writer’s spirit will not allow that kind of repugnancy and so my mouth flew open and the words spit themselves out.

Yes, it’s my protection. No, it isn’t right.

This is a character flaw. It’s why I have to write.

God can’t help me. Therapy can’t change me. My soul needs to understand how your mean cannot affect me.

I googled Buddhism and came across this.

It seems to encompass so many of the things that I need and it very well might be the path that leads to my enlightenment.

Since life is a journey and Rome wasn’t built in a day, this day I’ll focus on a moving image  on constant rotation in my house as a child. Barbra Streisand’s Funny Girl spoke to me then as she does now.

Don’t tell me not to fly, I’ve simply got to. If someone takes a spill it’s me and not you. Who told you your allowed to rain on my parade!

Hiatus Shmiatus

A hiatus from old style blogging must be maintained, but new and future blog posts must be shorter, easier, to the point.

My social media realm feels incomplete without the pink bordered Mommyland page, so I’ll take the lead from other successful bloggers and focus less in the way of words.

Words must be saved for the novel. Dare I say novels?

My book has progressed and stories have been put down, though much too unorganized as characters keep forming and situations twist into each other.

My voice is clear; a comforting sign.

But the task to organize is harder than it seems. It feels a lot like your mother telling you to clean your room.

I whine, “But why? I’ll do it later!”

I’ve started to think about a sweet and easy love story. A story that blooms like new love and flows by the seat of my flowered board shorts.

We leave for Maine in about a week. Summer sun and wind that pulls the sound of laughing children to our front door does not call for serious writing. It calls for a story of a boy and a girl and lazy days and hearts aflutter.

Maybe the anthropologically tough stuff should wait for Fall?

My girls pilfered the book shelf while I was out running yesterday and left my reading assignments all over the house. They do this sometimes. I view their choices as research guided to me by my messy makers and the pull of our Universe; published works that have put their authors on best seller lists.

And so it continues; writing, reading, blogging, pinning, tweeting, cooking, laundry, husband managing, children tending, packing, kissing, yelling, tidying, yoga, running, running, running.

Toes tipping in all areas remembering that balance is key.

Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell. The stories of dating and looking for love in 1990’s Manhattan. Funny considering I was there in the 90’s, but all I was looking for was myself.
Corelli’s Mandolin found next to the purple pillow pet. Louis de Bernieres book is described as a classic novel full of love, loss, war, truth. Deep. Much too deep for now.

A Blogging Hiatus

Dear Blog,

I love you. I love writing you and finding pictures that match you. I like to share you and respond to comments from your readers. You are so much a part of me; good and bad, light and dark, brave and foolish.

But Summer has arrived stealing my time. Important things need attention that you just don’t allow.

My book wants to be written.

My kids need more care.

Magazine articles are begging to be finished and I’ve left them hanging.

Maine is coming and you know how that goes; busy, busy, busy, all the time busy.

I’m going to have to let you rest for a while. It’s not easy, but I must prioritize.

I’ll miss seeing your daily bar graph and images of the countries that inhabit the people who read you.

I’ll have to shake the habit of sitting to express every bloggy thought. I must focus my writing in other areas; quiet places that don’t offer as much support and connectedness to like-minded individuals, but in the long run will bring me closer to the goals that my spirit needs to grow bigger wings.

I hope you are not forgotten.

I won’t forget you or the people I’ve shared you with.

I’ll be back now and then. I can’t abandon you completely. Where else could I write my thoughts about 50 Shades and how I figured out the formula and why it works and what it means to marriage.

See that? See how every thought has the potential to turn into a blog post and then I write and edit and publish and the day is gone and the kids are hungry and the articles sit quiet and the book remains a paragraph waiting here in Mommyland’s archives? I’ve got to step back and think for a while without using you.

It’s not you. It’s me.

It’s not “Goodbye,” it’s, “See you soon!”

You’ve changed my world and helped me grow.

Thank you. Thank you.

Sincerely and with the most love,

M.

S.Klein  breaking up
Steven Klein photo of a break up.
Take a break
factsaboutyou via highdime.
Next on the book reading list.
Pinned Image
Owl Always Love You pinned by Heather Thimsen

Galloway Run Two

Adrenaline is coursing after a four mile run with the Galloway Group.

Today we ran one mile before an 80-85% push toward another mile marker.

I clocked my time at @9:15, slightly faster than I’d expected, probably because the last half mile was down hill.

I’m fairly certain that the 10.5 minute per mile group is the right one for me and I felt good (even up hill) with the group.

When I returned home the girls were just sitting down for breakfast with their dad.

I joined them and though probably should have refueled with a piece of Ezekiel bread and peanut butter, couldn’t resist the strawberry pancakes that Brian had already plated. Unfortunately, my fork couldn’t resist the sugar-coated lemon cake under cover in the center of the table, either. It, too, was begging to be eaten.

By the way, as I waited for the run to begin I spoke with two of the ladies from my group; Maria (the pace leader) and Kellie (e?) her marathoning partner. When Maria saw my name tag she turned to me and said, “Are you the blogger?”

“Yes, yes I am!”

She remembered my name from the post I passed on to the WannaBeasts group through facebook .

Recognition for the blog and a fantastic four mile run all before 8:30 a.m.?

Perfect start to this perfect day!

Pinned Image
Right?!