Technology Fail

Apparently WordPress is being fussy, posting a terribly boring beginning of a poem I’d written (ages ago) without my consent.

If you received the erroneous email, please disregard.

I’m now off to delete every other ancient draft (out of pure fear that it could happen again), while wallowing in the embarrassment that anyone believed I thought the content in the piece entitled, “Lemonade,” was good enough to publish.

The horror!

M.

Has this ever happened to you? Could it have published from my phone? I haven’t even visited the WordPress App today!

Since we’re discussing lemonade, how about this yummy-looking concoction? Pink Lemonade Maragritas from Barefott Contessa.
Advertisements

A Blogging Thingy Called UMV

For the third time in as many days I’ve been led to opportunities that require me to disclose my blog statistics, including my unique monthly visitors; the number of times one person clicks on your site, as opposed to overall clicks (if the same person came back 10 times, your UMV would be 1, not 10).

WordPress.com (my publishing platform) is great in so many ways. Primarily it’s easy, and I do have access to my statistics, only not to the UMV. In addition (and much to my dismay), WordPress.com doesn’t allow the use of Google Analytics, which is what everyone off of WordPress.com uses (it seems) to gather such information and more.

Folks in the business and marketing worlds want information like UMV (as well as other numbers like Twitter followers, Pinterest followers, etc.) to help them decide if it’s worth their time to invest in you. The good news is that readership in this little blog is growing as I continue to snuggle into my niche (writing as a practice over a single focus like mom blogging or fitness blogging).

But moving to another platform (like WordPress.org, which would give me more creative freedom and financial opportunities) is daunting and can be expensive. Self hosting can be a security risk, which (let’s face it) would send me straight over the edge should I get hacked.

So many decision must be made everyday. This one’s got me in a muddle.

M.

My purpose was to use the blog as a writing outlet, but if I’m missing out on opportunities, wouldn’t it be wise to make the change? What would you do? If you are a WordPress(dot)com blogger, have you made the switch, or are you happy where you are?

Social Media Icons
While searching for an image to go with this post I came across Angie Makes on Etsy. Her artwork is amazing. I especially love her flower clip art, which looks a lot like my Twitter background (but prettier). It’s yet another example of how I could have more freedom with self-hosting … To be able to have more creative freedom in imaging across the site.

Well Hello There, Tumblr!

I have recently discovered Tumblr.

Yes, I am late to the party, but finally, I’ve arrived!

If you haven’t yet ventured over to Tumblrland, here is what you’re missing:

1. Imagery, images, imagination.

2. Youngins with clever thoughts and the inclination to express.

3. Pretty templates; much prettier than Pinterest. Less categorization than Pinterest too.

4. Another avenue to expand your reach. We’re not calling it a brand anymore, are we?

Grow with Stacy posted a great piece about how refusing to add photos to your blog can kill your traffic. In it, she covered a lot of information in regard to imagery that I didn’t know (i.e. how to use Flickr to your advantage), and she’s right; humans are visual and images are important.

Since Mommyland (writings, musings, opinions) leads my parade of social media, I will continue to use imagery to create added interest, much in the way that Stacy describes.

Adding Tumblr to my list of social media stopping points (after Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reader) gives me one more destination on the daily Interwebz calendar of events. The benefit, it appears, is in its ability to open up the window to my soul from a purely visual perspective (there are poems, etc., but the words are far more image rich than the typical blog post).

If you like the idea of a younger audience (be warned, you will come across many a pouting teenage girl – “I vant to be a star”), and love the idea of a visual stream of consciousness approach, log on to Tumblr and follow me.

Hope to see you there …

M.

Why Blog?

If you are not a blogger you might not be aware of some of the fun things that your “publishing platform” can monitor for you.

In my case (on WordPress) I am able to see how many hits my site has had for the day, the month and the year. I also have access to cool information like the top posts for the day, which can be surprising if and old post gets a ton of hits from out of the blue.

One of my favorite sections is the search engine list which lets me in on the searches that have led readers to my site.

Today I have been located through searches for, “Sgetti honey boo boo,” “Emmy tits,” and “Miami 2013.” Yesterday  I gained a reader through the search phrase “make millet chips,” which I’ve never actually made, but all my talk about kale chips and millet and such makes it easy to understand Google’s minor confusion.

There have been endless interesting search phrases that have led readers to Mommyland and for each I am grateful.

Even the person who yesterday typed, “gorgeously dressed ladies with bare breasts,” is my reader….

Many people have asked why I still blog. My marathon has long ended; the main reason I started it to begin with.

There are a bunch of reasons that I continue.

But today, when the sun never shone and my kids spent way too much time in Crazyland (not to mention my own brain freeze caused by the paperwork pile of divorce affidavits), the smile that crossed my face upon the discovery of a curious reader’s search has proven to be reason enough.

Gorgeously dressed ladies with bare breasts.

I wonder if that searcher found what they were looking for? I wonder if they’ll be back?

Why do you blog? If you don’t have a blog have you ever thought about starting one? What would it be about?

XOM

Search number 4 on Google!

On the Train Again

The whole purpose of beginning this blog was to document my marathon training while living this crazy place called Mommyland.

It’s with relief that I am now coming full circle as training for race number two officially begins on September 24th.

In the space between the last marathon and now I have worked and re-worked the plan making educated and experience based substantive decisions, which I will do my best to follow.

1. I will again be following Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 schedule, but instead of three-day mid-week runs, I will be combining the mileage to run only two. This will mean that those mid-week runs will be longer, but I’ll have more days in between to rest and recover. I am hoping that exhaustion from too many successive runs in a row (which was an issue last time) will be resolved with this plan. I will also use the Galloway system of strategized walking, as I do believe it works and will help me go farther with more control.

2. I’ve agreed to help out my most favorite yoga instructor on Saturday mornings by checking in her students in return for a free pass to her phenomenal class. Last marathoning go around I was so consumed by the run that I neglected my yoga, neglected a huge piece of what grounds me to my life. Agreeing to be at the studio every Saturday will ensure that my yoga practice is built into the schedule. It will also give me an opportunity to re-build the dusty resume and re-establish the fact that I am consistent and committed and pretty competent at tasks in which I’m given.

3. Long runs, then, will have to happen on Sundays or Mondays (last year I ran long on Saturdays). The most gratifying runs are the long ones, for me. I am looking forward to those hours and hours on the road, out there on my own two feet, floating alone inside my own busy brain.

4. I’ve been off of sugar for twelve whole days, off of Diet Coke a week longer, and I’ve been much more careful about the overall contents of things like cereal and yogurt and so-called healthy snack bars and drink supplements. An ongoing process, I am sure there will be much more written about my emotional connectedness to food as it’s the one part that I still haven’t fully figured out. I should mention another change, too. I will NOT be getting on the scale anytime in the near future. More about that to come.

And so I am ready to go.

The last factor (of which I have no control) is with mother nature.

Yes there will be days in the next months that I will have no choice but run in the drizzle and/or rain and/or the early morning freezing cold. I can handle all that. It’s part of the challenge.

This heat, though, needs to go.

September marks a new beginning for me in so many ways and the muggy humid air has gotten very very old.

What races are you running? What will your training plan look like?

XOM

ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon. Joanna, from Poppy’s Style and I are running it! Anyone else want to come to the party?

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

Lessons From a Social Media Toddler

A friend of mine (a mom and fellow blogger who has been on the scene for the past seven years) and I had a conversation recently about the time one must commit for a long lasting future in social media to be possible.

This got me thinking about why so many people don’t make it in the arena. As a relative newby, one might not consider me schooled enough on the factors that go into long-term success, but I do believe that I have grown my own set of skills (in the past six months) that give me some credibility.

Success in social media requires near constant attention and time to build a brand, a name, something that people want to click back to, connect with or buy.

Great blogs have failed not because they weren’t well written or received. Often, it’s simply because they weren’t given the chance to grow and change. It takes time to tweak one’s focus and find one’s path. A great many writer’s have escaped the blogging world and left us with blank paged URL’s. I see it everyday and I always wonder where they’ve gone.

Tweeting requires an awful lot of updates, as does one’s facebook page. The nice thing about facebook, though, is that when you update there it goes directly to Twitter (if you set it up that way). You must remember to post with a hashtag or the tweet with your facebook link may never be read.

How you choose what to post is also important. Ask yourself, do my words here have anything to do with my brand or would it be better to suited for my friends on my personal facebook page? There’s a difference between the two pages for a reason. Not everything I tell my friends do I necessarily need to share with my followers. Although, come to think of it, a lot of what I tell my followers, I’d never share with my friends. Maybe it’s time to combine my facebook  pages into one? It’s a decision yet to be made.

I read recently that the most successful tweeters do so in the afternoon. I spent the past couple of days looking at my followers traffic (and those I follow, too) and decided that this isn’t true for my area of interest.

Most of the people with whom I’ve connected are runners, social media junkies, health promoters, and lovers of all things fashion. A huge number of them are moms, too.

The mom factor makes afternoon posts difficult to accomplish. It’s the afternoon when the kids get out of school and need their moms for snack making and cooperative playtime in the back yard.  Unless you are posting on your phone with one hand and pushing a couple of swings with another, it’s highly unlikely you are doing either job to the best of your ability. I decided (for me) that I wasn’t able to do both jobs at once and so Internetland only happens early in the morning when the kids are playing, early afternoon when they are in school, and late at night after the monsters are in bed.

Pinterest is a fantastic way to build a brand. Start to pin things you like and soon you might be turned onto another pinner with a similar mindset. There are fantastic pinners (here,  here, and here) who are growing businesses and share their aesthetics. I know that they spend an awful lot of time in the social media ocean based on the quality of their content and near constant updates to their pins. It’s necessary and important to continue to add to the images, since it acts as an inspiration board for yourself and others.

It’s work. If you fall in love with it, you realize this. You keep traveling from facebookland to Twitterville, from Pinterest and in my case to Mommyland as I grow what I’m building.

Most days I’m not sure what I’m building, but I am a social media toddler and it’s par for the course. The folks who have lasted and made names for themselves also began with an idea (and a voice), but it was their perseverance that grew their Internet credibility.

I realized this week that lower stats and less time to post are a part of the game.

The true definition of entrepreneurial spirit encompasses many qualities such as uniqueness, creativity, and adaptability.

Success in social media, whether you blog or promote a business, build a brand through Pinterest or grow a particular facebook page also takes an awful lot of work.

If you are like me and determined to make a place for yourself in it the advice is simple.

Hang on and keep at it, because the working (like the training for a marathon) is where our skills are grown, new friends and relationships are built, and where together we can impact our communities with our words, pictures and ideas.

Tropical by Stella Jean
Discovered by one of my favorite pinners. I only re-pin the things that really speak to me. This does on so many levels!
Brand new colorway from my Watercolor World Map series! :)
Brand New World. New watercolor color way World Map Series found on Pinterest by Jessica Durrant.
tweeting...
As I was saying.... pinned by Vanessa Johanning.
facebook
Would never, but it goes with the post!

Oprah and The Social Media Ocean

A few weeks ago Oprah tweeted to all of her followers a request to tune into her programming, especially if they had a Nielson box that affects the television ratings. The hoopla over her tweet was enormous. Her undeniable power to move the masses caused twitterers to both tune in and tune out. Many balked at the nature of her tweet. How dare she beg for watchers? With all of her power, was this unethical?

As I continue to dip my big toe into the great pool of social media I find myself on both sides of the fence. Blogging, tweeting, and pinning are great if your goal is to share and it’s purely out of a desire to express oneself. It’s pretty well-known that if you blog to make money, it is very unlikely to succeed. Or is it?

And how does one succeed in an area that is so saturated with like-minded individuals; most just as talented as the next? Should bloggers be more like Oprah or is it distasteful for mere mortals to ask to be liked?

My blog began with the most innocent of intentions. It was a way for me to practice my writing and tap into that part of my soul, which needs to share with words. I used marathon training as the driving force, but received feedback on so many of my posts that were non-running related that the personal importance of it grew.

Last week I entered Twitterland in an effort to see what was next on the horizon. I joined Pinterest, but have not yet pinned. What am I waiting for?

The truth is that I am nervous, because failure is not an option. I know what I have to offer. I know that I can do anything if I put my mind to it, this marathon has reinforced that fact. I know I need to write and must somehow find a way to parlay my love into an actual future where I have something to offer my family.

I am lucky to have a husband that provides for us, which allows me to have had this experience at all. But as our children grow I want them to see that their mothers’ work has value, too. And let’s be realistic, nice comments and higher daily bar graphs won’t pay for private schools and dream weddings.

But they can and there are plenty of bloggers who have made it happen.

What would Oprah say?

I am certain she would tell me to be authentic and to keep on working.

That little voice in the back of my head says the same thing, though without as much force and certainty.

There may never be more to my social media experiment than what it is right now. I might have to be okay with twenty-three people liking my facebook page and fifty-three followers on Twitter. I am grateful for each and every click.

I’ve never been the kind of girl to ask to be liked. It leaves too sour a taste in my mouth, so I’ll continue to let the work speak for itself.

The reality of the situation is that I’ve already taken the big leap by starting the blog at all. More than just my big toe is making circles in the social media pool.

In fact, social media is much bigger than a pool with heated water and a smooth tiled bottom. It’s more like an ocean full of unknown and undiscovered entities, fierce and angry sometimes, smooth and beautiful, too. I am currently immersed in the social media ocean and am carefully treading water (using all of my skills as a flotation device).

Now, it’s just sink or swim.

I suppose I needed to write this post as a reminder to myself of something I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned.

I’ve always been a very good swimmer.

Grace and the ocean. One of my very favorite pictures!

What’s Your Purpose?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what to do with the blog once I cross the finish line on March 18th. Running in Mommyland has turned into such an important aspect of my life for so many reasons, most of which have been documented here. I don’t want it to end, yet I know that it must (in its current form), as the finish line is just five weeks away.

Yesterday for no logical reason, I started a Running in Mommyland facebook page, even though I’d been busily tossing around its future. It was an interesting process, a frustrating process, as I am not a computer programmer. HTML code and iFrame and App development? I was using a part of my brain that doesn’t get stretched very often and I was reminded of my frustration with Physics in high school; one of the two reasons I didn’t graduate with my class. Is it a surprise that a boy was the other? I was oblivious, the true nature of youth.

As I worked on the page I made a decision.

Running in Mommyland will continue to be written, but with a brand new focus.

I want to get published!

I don’t know how it’s going to happen or what is going to be written. Will it be more blog posts that turn into something bigger? Maybe I’ll write a fun young adult novel as my first book out of the gate. It feels like the right decision. The two other books that are waiting in my soul (Maine and Sister) are too important and I’m not ready to give them the complete focus that they deserve. Plus they require research, which always takes time.

In some ways blogging has been easy, because there is a never-ending array of stories and experiences that happen in real life. True novel-writing is taking it to another level where character study and relationships, plot and problem, make it what it is; real, but not really, page turning and memorable (if it’s good). That, I consider a challenge.

For now, the challenge at hand is tomorrow’s nineteen miler. Though writing has helped keep me sane, I’ve become a little superstitious about documenting my feelings in regard to the biggies. So I’ll leave it there; the dangling nineteen.

As one personal challenge wraps itself up, another one has revealed its purpose.

Everyone have a purpose.

Write What You Know

It’s easy to write what you know, but what about the things you don’t? What about the things that confuse you?

Journaling is supposed to be a way to figure stuff out. Blogging is like journaling, except when you finish, you don’t hide your words in a drawer.

There is one subject I can’t write about; food. I have spent my entire morning writing and trashing posts about it. I went back to look over the three food posts I’d written before, and without a doubt, I like them the least.

My relationship with food is complicated. This I know.

A little while ago I went upstairs to make sure Brian was awake. He asked me where his cords were, since I am in charge of laundry in this house. I had folded them in the closet when I couldn’t find a hangar, so I pointed them out and came back downstairs.

When he appeared just now, in his khaki pants, I asked what happened to the cords.

Sucking in his gut he said, “They’re too small, I’m getting fat.”

I think it’s amusing that I’ve been pondering the issue of weight and food all morning and this is my first adult conversation of the day.

I told him that it’s Winter. I always put on some weight this time of year and it always comes off in the Spring. Whether it’s because of the foods we choose to eat, or our bodies holding onto excess weight (in the cold) like cavemen used to do, I’m not sure. That’s a lie, the cake and ice cream I ate during last night’s (DVR’d) Boardwalk Empire surely has something to do with it.

My relationship with food may never be understood and I may never be able to write an inspired piece about it. I may wake every morning for the rest of my life committing to making good food choices, but only succeed some of the time.

It’s possible that this might be the most inspired I ever get on the subject. Since I know it, I can live with it, which makes it all okay.