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.

Sharing Means Caring

In the past two days I have written about my mid-week run, food, routines, other bloggers, infertility, changes to a schedule, social media and running socks.

All of them have ended in the trash can.

I haven’t quite figured out what is going on, but I wonder if my excitement over meeting my birth family, and my subsequent social media sharing (not to mention the overwhelming positive feedback), has got me a little gun-shy about hitting the publish button.

How much sharing is too much? How much information should stay private?

We have a saying in my house, “Sharing means caring.” This cheesy little phrase worked wonders with two-year olds who fought over a single toy. It still works when my four-year olds fight over the one Dora book found at the library, or when one wants to sing a song out loud (without her sister chiming in). Sharing makes things better. Sharing is kind. Sharing means you care.

Over sharing, though, is an invasion of another person’s space, isn’t it? Don’t we all deserve to sing a song alone? Should I really make Grace share her Dora book, considering she carefully searched for it alone, amongst all the other D’s on the kiddie shelf? I suppose, as adults, we have the right to click close if we take issue with another person’s position or voice. Do I really want to make another person feel that way, like I’m imposing on their space?

What have I gotten myself into with this blogging, then?  Writing is sharing, and so I need to get over this hump.

A therapist I once saw told me that I see things in black and white. I struggle with balance (it’s the libra in me), so I often question myself when something goes too far in one direction. If something creeps way over the happy line, I get anxious and start looking for a little blackness to balance the white. It’s the same if something feels too dark. Not the greatest quality I possess, but part of the internal balancing game that makes me who I am.

Maybe if I take the advice I give to my kids, I won’t feel like I’m teetering on the Libran scales.

I am sharing because I care. I care about what I write. I care about the people who read my words, even people I don’t know. I share my thoughts because it is part of my journey, which isn’t black and white at all, but filled with the most beautiful shades of gray.


Too Soon for Writer’s Block

It’s been one week since I started the blog. I’m surprised at how inspired I am to write and to run. My little spill the other day has made it difficult to run, so that leaves me in a bit of a pickle. The blog is my attempt to document the marathon training, so what’s a blogging gal to do when the training isn’t happening?

I woke up this morning, not sure what to write about. Writer’s block already?

Instead of sitting at the computer, I went out into the garage with the girls and watched them ride their big girl bikes.

And there it was, the, “Aha moment,” I was waiting for. Maybe training isn’t actually only about running and cross training. Most training plans incorporate rest days and any good athlete knows how important resting the body is to avoid injury and aid in performance. Maybe my training plan must also include writing when there is nothing to write about, in order to help me focus on the long haul. What is the end result going to be?

I’ve already written about uncertainty and the difficulties that come with not knowing what the outcome will be. For me, this process is going to include writing, as a means to keep my eye on the ball.

Of course there’s stuff to write about. I must keep writing, even when not running, even with a swollen ankle, even with kids spilling apple juice in the vicinity of the laptop, on rest days and sick days. Writing is what is going to help me meet the challenge; probably the biggest personal challenge of my life.

Thank God I love to write!

Writing as a Practice

froggy pajamas, compression sock, iced ankle, and last night’s quinoa left on Sophie’s chair

At this very moment, I am sitting in my froggy pajamas, with a compression sock on my left foot, which is elevated on a chair, wrapped in a Ziploc bag filled with ice. I had just gone upstairs to locate a journal I had written while taking a class at UC Berkeley in my late 20’s.  The class was called Writing as a Practice. The purpose of the class was to pick an activity that I did 4-5 times a week and write immediately afterward. I chose running. Kind of like blogging, pre-blog Universe.

As I rummaged through the drawers in my closet, where my journals are hidden, I racked my brain about where it could be. I move my journals around often; truth be told, there’s some scary stuff in there. Moving them makes me feel like they are safer, though really, no one is looking.

The Berkeley journal wasn’t in my drawers. Maybe it was on that really hight shelf, in that box with all my old photos? Instead of going to find a chair to safely climb up, I stepped on the lowest built-in with my right foot, stretched up to grab the highest hang rack with my left hand, and reached for the box with my right hand. At that very moment, Sophie, recovering from a really horrible yesterday (ear infection, fever, the works), ran into my closet crying that I can’t run today! Some days I have to peel her off of me to get out of the house. In my haste to get the box, and my frustration of having Sophie completely under foot (I also didn’t want the box to fall on her), I slipped and landed squarely on my left ankle. CRACK!

I laid on the floor for Brian to come help. Tears streaming down my face, I yelled for Sophie to, “Go get Daddy!” She didn’t. She wanted her, “Hoppa Woobie” and was crying herself.

Ok. Regroup. I’m mad as hell, but what can I do? The smart thing is to rest the ankle. It’s throbbing up my thigh. Forget the running today. Hopefully if I give it a day or two, I can still do my long run on Sunday? Adjust the schedule again. One step forward, two giant steps crippled steps back!