Just my two cents

Musings on social media and the world as I see it


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Being inspired by writing, and why readers are so important

dear readerI am an avid reader. For work and for keeping up with all things in the social media world, I subscribe to a number of blogs through Feedly. If you don’t know Feedly, I recommend you check it out. I came across it when Google announced they were doing away with Reader. I switched and never looked back. Bye-bye Google! (I love when I can say that, by the way.) It’s a great way to organize all the blogs you love and get a quick glance of what you’ve missed from the headlines. But I digress.

Now that I’m back into my normal routine (and yes, I always use that term loosely!) I try to spend at least some time during the business day to try to keep up with what’s going on. What has LinkedIn changed lately? (By the way, if you missed the news that we will soon be able to post long form content on that network, read this post from Social Mouths). What are the best tools in blogging? I love to hit up my friend in social networks, Lisa Buben (@lisapatb) and her Inspire To Thrive blog, because she always has some great tips and tricks for readers. So by day, I go through quite a few of my favorite bloggers, which usually leads to quite a few tweets too.

At night, I love to read novels. I always have a book going, and usually try to spend at least some time each night reading. I always thought I’d write a novel at some point in my life. Now that I’m approaching a milestone age, the chances of that actually happening are becoming slimmer by the year, but I have not given up just yet. I always have an idea brewing, and I feel like reading books in my favorite genres might help me become a better writer and inspire me to pursue that lofty (too lofty) goal of writing the next great American novel, or at least a suspense/mystery/thriller worthy of praise from Steven King or Dean Koontz or Gregg Hurwitz or John Grisham. (A girl can dream, right?)

What I really love about reading is that you get to transport yourself. You can be brought to other lands through a well-written book, or develop new skills or new ways of doing something from a blog post full of tips and tricks. The jackpot, to me, is when you are inspired by an author. When you are moved to do something, or pushed to an action because of something you’ve read. Like a piece of amazing sculpture or a fabulous painting that evokes an emotion or takes your breath away, beautiful writing can have the same effect. When you’re inspired, that’s a sign of a truly good writer.

Today I read a post by a gentleman named Danny Brown (@DannyBrown on Twitter). He is someone I’ve followed for years and with whom I’ve had a few interactions that are always appreciated. He has a wonderful way of writing, he has an incredible sense of humor, and he is also a truly giving person who strives to do for others. Today I read this post from Danny and I felt like he was speaking directly to me.

Have I made mistakes with my blog? Absolutely. Will I make more? Most likely, but that’s OK. I realized that my goal is not to build lots of readers, but to build a group of readers who are going to interact with me. Who will comment on my writing, whether it be the message in any given post, or whether it is my style of writing and what might make us all better writers and bloggers. Now I will be the first to admit that I don’t usually take criticism well, but constructive criticism is something that can make us all better, and strive to be better!

When you are kind enough to take the time to read my blog, I’d so appreciate a comment. I’d love to get conversations going. I know I’m not writing a thesis here that is meant to change the world, but I believe that we can all learn from each other, because we all have different experiences, tastes and points of view. And that is what makes the world of writing a beautiful place to be.

So with that, I throw it over to you, dear readers, to answer these questions… why do you read blogs, and what do you hope to do with your writing?


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An extended leave of absence, explained

half fullFor a long time, I struggled with doing regular blog posts. Then, just when I had gotten into a semi-regular blogging routine, wham. The proverbial you-know-what hit the fan.

First, a colleague at work resigned so I was doing double duty filling in for that role while still doing my own job. Then the holidays were upon us. Then we put our house up for sale after finding a house we loved. (Anyone ever heard that selling or buying a house is one of the five biggest stress-inducing events in life? Believe it.) Now, combine that with a personal health situation (nothing major, but still…) and there you have it — all the ingredients for the recipe that makes a blog post just about the last thing on a to-do list. In fact, the thought of writing a post just added to my stress. I felt like it was one more thing I couldn’t possibly add to my already filled days.

My hubby always reminds me that things could be worse and that we are very lucky. Sometimes he loses his patience with me because I lose focus on that. He’s right and I do appreciate all the blessings we have been given. Though, in the middle of times of stress and change, it’s not as easy  to remember that. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It’s easier to see the glass as half empty. So I’ve made a conscious effort to focus on the good things in life, to be more positive and see the glass as half full. Along with that is being grateful every day and not allowing “things” to overwhelm me. Going back to blogging is all part of it, because writing can be so cathartic (if it’s not viewed as a chore). I’ve also gone back to a regular exercise routine and some yoga thrown in a few times a week, and eating healthy and a few other things that contribute to a more serene, happy life.

I’m grateful for the life I have. I feel very lucky to be at a point in my life where I basically enjoy what I do for a living, and am able to pay my bills every month and have a husband who keeps me focused on what’s important, and two dogs who make me laugh every day and show me what unconditional love is. The other stuff is, well, just that — stuff that sometimes gets in the way of things. But we shouldn’t let that “stuff”  let us get sidetracked from what is really important in life.

So here I am, writing my first post in about four months. I’ve also decided that I don’t necessarily want to always write about social media. So you may see some more personal posts thrown in here and there, and I hope you don’t mind. A colleague and friend I’ll call “E” actually made this suggestion to me. She a wonderful writer who has a fantastic blog I really enjoy. All of her blog posts are personal ones. She writes as a way of getting her emotions out and on paper, a sort of therapy; it’s a release for her, a way of coping. “E” went through a recent family tragedy, and right now is dealing with a serious medical issue with a loved one too. She has a lot more to deal with and feel stressed about than me. It’s a definite reality check when you see how much others are facing. It can make you feel silly, really, to think that you’re overwhelmed by things that are trivial to so many people who are going through much bigger issues.

So that’s where I’m at right now, and for those of you who are reading this, thank you for still being here! I hope I don’t disappoint in this and future posts. Because anyone who takes time out of their own busy life to read anything I might have to say is just one more thing I’m grateful for in this life. And of course, thanks to “E” for the encouragement to write this post and get back to this. Sometimes all we need is a little push, and we should be thankful for those too!


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Darn you RSS feed!

RSSI love reading. Whether it’s books, web sites, blogs, magazines, I love to read. And working in PR and social media, reading is necessary to keep up with news of the day, what is trending or the hot topics du jour.

Over the last few years, I’ve built quite a list of blogs I like to read. It’s so easy when you come across something you like and you just hit that little RSS button and add it to your reader. My list is a mix of social and tech sites and personal blogs from really great, really smart people who wax eloquently and often about a variety of topics, including social media.

I love the mix of topics, from Bonnie Sashin talking about her beloved grandson Jack or what it’s like to row on the Charles River in the morning on Bonnie’s On It, to Jayme Soulati’s brilliant thoughts on marketing in today’s world on Soulati-tude (even the name is fab!), to the straight talking, no holds barred honesty of Gini Dietrich on the amazing Spin Sucks blog, absolutely one of my long-standing faves. Then of course there’s the brilliant Shelly Kramer who has given me more tips and tricks that use on a daily basis, along with wonderful commentary on so many topics on her V3 Kansas City Integrated Marketing blog.  I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t include Margie Clayman and her wide mix of topics (which is what I absolutely adore about this blog, not to mention her lovely writing style) on Margie’s Moments of Tiyoweh. And then there’s the amazing Geoff Livingston who recently started writing longer, more thoughtful, beautifully written posts that are thoroughly enjoyable and an escape from the norm, which I just love.

Of course these are just a handful of my favorite bloggers, and I could go on and on (and on!) with many more from my reader, which is Feedly since Google announced it wouldn’t offer Reader anymore. Sigh. Don’t get me started on that. But I digress. My point is, I could spend my entire day and most nights trying to keep up with my reader, reading the thoughts that come from these brilliant minds that are then crafted so beautifully into a wonderful little package we know as a blog.

The problem is how do you keep up? My days are filled from morning to night just managing my job responsibilities, and rarely getting to that list of “I should do that when I get a chance” tasks (I bet you’re nodding your head right now in complete understanding!). I hadn’t been on my reader in a while and today I had 724 new posts to peruse. Yes, 724. So I can either scroll through and delete most and maybe have some time to read the ones that really jump out at me, or I can mark them all as read and start over tomorrow.

But being my father’s daughter and never wanting to throw anything away, I find it impossible to do the latter, so I will start the slow process of going through my list and saving many for later reading, some of which I’ll get to and some I won’t, and I’ll be obsessed with the fact that I missed a vital piece of hot info, or an opinion by one of my fave bloggers that was just not to be missed. You know the feeling, right?

So for now, I’m going to end this post and head over to my reader. But I’m wondering what your favorite blogs are, and how you manage to keep up with your reading. I’m sure I’m not alone in this dilemma!


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Time

When I read that WordPress was down yesterday, I didn’t get upset. My first thought was at least I now have an excuse for why I haven’t posted anything in a week. Fortunately for most, it was back up pretty quickly and that was a good thing. For me, all I could think was that I really don’t have an excuse, except for TIME. 

I read some interesting things this week. The first was a tweet from one of the people I follow on Twitter, @unmarketing. Scott is a great guy who puts his own personality into everything he does and he definitely practices what he preaches. I’ve learned a lot from him about engaging with people in this social media world of ours. This week, I read that he posted his tweet # 50,000. Amazing. And he manages to run his own company, travel, raise a son, and spend TIME on the golf course.

Then I read a post from @ginidietrich. Gini’s blog, the Fight Against Destructive Spin, is full of interviews with interesting people, along with a variety of topics and suggestions for businesses and individuals. Even her #FollowFriday recommendations are done through a blog post, taking the TIME to carefully explain why we should follow those she is recommending, rather than a quick tweet. She’s also an avid biker who I’m sure I could never even dream of keeping up with, just like her blog, and she and makes the TIME to do this.

Then I read a post by another of my favorite folks in the Twitterverse, @katjaib. Kat is a great lady whose bio tells me she is working to find the balance in life and finding the TIME to do it all. In her blog post this week, she pondered the reasons she was a little behind on her blog (I love that I’m not the only one so THANK YOU!), with a thoughtful look at striving to be perfect, and some fun reminders on how to keep it in perspective. And she found the TIME to write a perfect post.

Then there’s @MackCollier, another person on Twitter who writes one great blog post after another, all while running his own company and finding the best ways to do things. And he even does the Twitter chat called #blogchat, which I haven’t found the TIME to sit it on. But at the same TIME, he’s finding the TIME to share his lessons learned with all of us. If I could ever find the TIME to read Mack’s posts or sit in on his chats, I’d certainly have a better blog with more posts and do a better job at promoting it.

These are just a few of the people who amaze me, and either inspire me or make me feel like a complete slacker… I haven’t figured out which! (And an apology to all those others out there who are not mentioned in this blog because there are SO many of you!). I’m calling upon these fantastic folks to share their thoughts on how they find the TIME to do all that they do. First, do you sleep? Second, how do you fit everything you need to do to make a living into a day and still have time to do your blog post, tweet, and do the things you love and have TIME for family and friends? I think we can all learn a bit from you. So THANK YOU in advance!

And if anyone else wants to add to this, PLEASE DO!