Sunday, November 29, 2015

Top 10 Reasons To Reverb This Year

Reverb is a reflective writing challenge that began in 2009. It is a series of writing prompts to reflect on the year that has passed, and to consider what you would like to manifest in the year ahead.

I've been participating since 2010.

There are many Reverbs available, but my favorite by far is the one offered by Kat McNally. Kat is a writer in Australia (which makes her cool right there for living in Australia) who says her mission is to "soothe weary souls" ( how cool, and soothing, is that?) I've never met Kat personally, but through Reverb and our emails back and forth to each other, I just know if put in the same geographical location we would be fast friends.

Kat will again this year be hosting Reverb. Her theme for 2015 is Alchemy.  You can sign up to receive the prompts here, and you can even follow along via the Wolf and Word Facebook page.

  1. You don't have to be a professional writer to participate in Reverb. No one cares if you have published a book, write in your journal, or know the proper use of a semicolon. Everyone is welcome to Reverb.
  2. By following along either on Kat's page or the new for this year Facebook page, you have the opportunity to read some amazing writing from bloggers you would never even know about. I have met some great blogging friends through Reverb.
  3. Those bloggers will read your posts and many will leave feedback for you as well! And unlike Internet trolls found on some of my published writing, bloggers are genuine and encouraging when they leave a comment.
  4. It's fun to look back at the year and trace your path. I've rediscovered moments I would have forgotten about and have been able to make sense of things I didn't understand at the time.
  5. Looking ahead and becoming clear about your intentions is always a good thing. But sometimes one that's hard to do. The Reverb prompts really force you to think about what you want, and what you are willing to do to get there.
  6. No pressure. Really, no pressure at all. Reverb begins December 1 and goes for the first three weeks of December. You can write a post for each daily prompt or choose just the ones that speak to you. This is your chance to Reverb your way.
  7. No pressure to even post publicly! Although it's fun to read other bloggers posts, you are under no obligation to publish your Reverb posts. If you aren't ready to bare your soul to the world, that's OK. Take the prompts, write it out, and keep it for yourself only.
  8. Reverb really gets the creative juices flowing. I've been fortunate to turn Reverb posts into paid published pieces in the past.
  9. You can win prizes! If you do choose to publish your posts, be sure to add the link to Kat's page. At the end of Reverb she will have a drawing and two random winners will receive a fantastic prize.
  10. Reverb is a collaboration and this year Kat honored me by allowing me to create one of the daily prompts! I am so excited to be participating both as a blogger and as a contributor this year. And I think it's further proof that the potential friendship between me and Kat is only hindered by an ocean and a couple continents. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Shameless Art of Self Promotion

So, now that I'm this big time author and I've been on TV I guess I'm kind of famous. Ah... the life of a celebrity.

Just kidding. I know I'm not famous in the way we usually mean it, but I have been interviewed on radio and TV and my kids think that's pretty cool. So I'm good with that level of fame!

I have this bad habit of playing small. I've done it for years! Any accomplishment or credit I get I immediately downplay. Why? Maybe I don't want to come across as boastful or arrogant? Maybe because I'm embarrassed? (Embarrassed of doing something good. That makes no sense at all). I've even been told I play small because I don't think I'm worthy.

The real reason is a mix of all those and then some. But playing small has gotten me... not very far.

So a few years ago I had this idea for a book. It took me a long time to write it, partly because life kept getting in the way, partly because I was playing small and afraid to actually let my dream come true. Little ol' me a published author? No way.

But I finally finished the book and had it published! Woo Hoo!

(Get ready for a shameless plug here)

You can buy Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom on Amazon or any major retailer where books are sold. You can also buy it out of the trunk of my car. Seriously, I keep some in my car to sell. And believe it or not I've sold quite a few that way.

Is that really a shameless plug? Or is it self promotion?

I am learning that not only is it OK to self promote, it is encouraged and expected. And, in fact, self promotion is the best promotion there is! No agent in the world is going to be more connected to your story or product more than you.

Who better to tell your story than you?!

It's a lesson I learned very quickly this summer. I call it the" Summer The Universe Kicked My Butt Out The Door And Away From Playing Small".

It began, as these things usually do, with making a connection through a friend. I know someone who knew someone who knew someone, and I ended up being interviewed for a magazine. That led to a radio interview. Then another radio interview on a bigger platform.

Eventually my work caught the eye of some local media people and I was asked to do the Marybeth Conley radio show. Which led to the Earle Farrell radio show.

(Cue music to Moving On Up here)

That led to an interview on WREG Memphis Live at Nine. My first live TV interview!

And what was my first thought when I was asked to be on TV?

"Oh my god what do I wear?!"

I wasn't too concerned about what to say, my content, after all, was my story. I knew I could tell  my story. I just was a little nervous about telling it on LIVE TV. What if I looked dumb?

With radio, there was no concern about looking dumb. Now sounding dumb, perhaps. But I've discovered radio is a more intimate setting. Just you, the interviewer and a big microphone in your face. If I brushed my hair out of my face or talked with my hands as I often do it didn't matter.

Radio felt like sitting in the kitchen talking to a friend.

TV is like sitting in your kitchen talking to a friend, with 10 people looking on giving direction, adjusting lighting, testing your sound level, counting down the time, and all telling you to just act natural.

I will admit, if you watch my Live at Nine interview for the first few seconds I look scared to death. I wasn't scared, I just wasn't sure what to do or where to look. I was told not to look at the monitors, But did I look at the camera? The host?

Once the interview began I loosened up and felt more at ease. Again, I was telling my story. No one else in the world can tell my story, so it quickly felt natural. Or as natural as it can feel with bright lights and cameras in front of you.

So, looking forward to more promotional opportunities heading my way, I will remind myself of the following things I've learned this summer:

  1. I worked for this and I earned this
  2. I will let myself enjoy this moment
  3. Wear solid colors on live TV, prints just don't look that good
  4. A little extra make up can cover up a very tired look
  5. Don't trust google directions time estimates. Leave about 15 minutes early
  6. Surround yourself with people who believe in you
  7. Bring at least one extra book everywhere to give away to anyone willing to read it
  8. Remember, they wouldn't have invited you if they didn't think you had something of value to say
  9. Let your kids think you're famous
  10. Have fun

Monday, November 16, 2015

#NightofConversation with Dr. Oz

I am honored and crazy excited to have my latest piece posted to Dr. Oz The Good Life Magazine.

Even more flattering, it is being posted in conjunction with Dr. Oz's #NightofConversation. From his website:

In partnership with SAMHSA, NIDA, and the National Council on Behavioral Health, Dr. Oz is asking families across American to hold a #NightofConversation on Thursday, November 17, 2015. At that evening's dinner, he is asking parents to speak with their children about addiction. A discussion guide is available here. Dr. Oz is also asking everyone to post a picture of an empty dinner plate on social media on the 17th as a symbol that this special meal is not about the food, but instead about the conversation.

I hate that I have become knowledgeable enough about addiction to be able to write about it. But, if any good can come of the pain my family has been through due to addictive behaviors, I hope that it can open up a conversation about the need for better mental health care and more accessible treatment options.

Please click the link, read, share with your friends, and talk to your kids.

My Family Has Learned Things About Addiction We Never Wanted To Know

Sunday, November 15, 2015

My New Website

Last week I wrote about needing a more professional presence if I was going to run with the big dogs.

One of the most important things I was told to do was to make a website with a dedicated URL. I was concerned about 1 - developing a website on my own that didn't look like I didn't know how to design a website, and 2 - losing all my content here on Blogger. I just can't leave this blog behind.

Well, thanks to my blog friend Stephanie Faris for suggesting a web platform and to everyone I asked to do this for me that told me it's really not that big a deal I can do it myself, I now proudly announce my new website:

And no, I am not leaving Blogger. The blog tab on the website brings you right back here!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

5 Most Annoying Mom's In The School Drop Off Line

The dreaded school drop off  line. It’s an evil necessity for many families who don’t have bus transportation, and a luxury for those who just don’t want their children exposed to the mayhem of a daily bus ride.

I am very fortunate that on rainy days or early days I have been able to drive my kids to school. Now that Kid 3 is driving, he chauffeurs Kids 4 and 5 to the middle school and high school.

That just leaves Kid 6, the last one in her last year of elementary school.

I know by Kid 6 I'm a bit jaded and over the whole "oh my baby is getting so big" thing. But, wow, it's just a school drop off line. It really shouldn't be that big an ordeal.

If you’ve spent more than five minutes dropping off or picking up your kids from school you know there are a set of very strict rules that must be followed. The rules are necessary and set for the safety of all the children.

You pull in to the designated unloading zone, say goodbye, pull out and drive away. That’s all there is to it. Keep it moving people!

The school drop off line isn’t rocket science. Yet there’s always that one mom who insists on f’ing up the whole system.

  1. The mom who makes sure everyone knows she has a very important professional job that she must get to immediately so it’s necessary for her to cut in front of the line every single day. Because surely she is already far too over scheduled to leave her house a few minutes earlier. And us stay at home moms have nowhere else to be right? Bonus points when she sneaks into the bus only lane!
  2. The mom who reinforces to her little darlings that they are special and precious and should never have a drop of rain or bad weather touch their fair skin. Therefore she must wait until she is at the very front of the drop off line to open her doors and quickly whisk them into the school doors just a few yards away. It’s OK, the rest of us who dropped off our kids within the designated zone will wait on her and her weather apprehensive children. I’m sure giving her kids an umbrella would be an undue burden upon them at such a young age. 
  3. The mom who designates herself Safety Mom. She is very vocal in reminding other parents of the rules, which are already well posted. She always has pen and paper handy to write down the license number of cars not following the rules. I've even seen Safety Mom go so far as to post pictures of the offending car to Facebook.  I guess she thinks public shaming is an appropriate deterrent. 
  4. The mom who holds up the line because she's decided now is an appropriate time to have a conference with her child’s teacher or needs to discuss an issue with the principal who is outside greeting the kids. Her child’s AR level is obviously more important than anywhere the rest of the cars behind her need to go.
  5. The mom who expects her elementary-school child to be able to carry a heavy load by himself.  If your child is loaded down with a backpack, lunch box, cage holding the class pet and a Styrofoam replica of the solar system, then now would be a good time to park your car – in a designated parking spot- and walk your child into the school. 
My kids school is really good and the teachers that monitor the drop off line do a great job of keeping the kids safe and the cars moving. But, really, at one time or another I've seen it all.

The afternoon pick up line amazes me as well. There are some cars lining up as early as 1pm! Our school doesn't let out until 2:30pm. What are they doing sitting in their car in line for so long?

Oh well. To each their own. And my own can get on the bus!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I Am A Serious Writer! No, Really I Am. Sometimes.

For this month of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, more of my insecure ramblings.

I've been told by those in the know that I need to start taking my writing career more seriously if I want others to take me seriously. Well I know that.

But, what if I take myself seriously and they laugh at me?
What if I take myself seriously and do the things that have been suggested  and it ends up all being for nothing away?
What if I take myself seriously, do the things that are suggested, but then have to pull back because of another family or financial crisis?
What if...

You get the insecure picture right?

The suggestions I've received have included:

  • Get a real professional head shot and for the love of God please stop using that selfie you took in your car!
  • Send out at least three pitches weekly
  • Create a new website with a dedicated URL (this is the one causing me the most angst)
  • Develop my purpose, mission and vision
  • Write out my ultimate wish list
  • Get to work on my second book

    So, after doing my usual 'do nothing out of fear' for a few weeks thing, I finally completed step one - a real professional head shot.

    I contacted my new friend and famed Memphis photographer Marci Lambert and told her what I needed. Outwardly she was excited for me, but I'm sure she groaned a bit inside. She was the photographer for my first photo shoot commissioned by a local magazine. I didn't exactly give her a hard time, but I didn't make it super easy on her either with my whining about how I don't like my picture taken and I don't like any picture ever taken of me.

    But, Marci is amazing and she managed to put me at ease and she even convinced me to smile!

    So step one - complete!

    Step two - three pitches weekly? Three? I get it, I get it. The more you write, the more you submit, the more you publish. OK, I'll work on that.

    Step three - a new website with dedicated URL. But that means leaving Blogger! Of everything on the suggestion list this one is my biggest hang up. I can't even handle the thought of losing everything I've done here these past five years. Literally, it makes me anxious and tense just thinking about it.

    But I understand the need. No one is going to Google Diapers, Detentions & Downdogs. They are going to Google my name.

    I simply can't pay anyone to create the switch for me, there's just no budget for it. Which means figuring it out on my own.

    Anyone have any advice on switching from Blogger to a new URL? What about all you Word Press people?

    Any and all advice or assistance would be very very appreciated for creating a dedicated URL!

    Four - my purpose, mission and vision. Ummmmm. Well I always say I want to help women find their voice. I suppose I could jazz that up.

    Five - my ultimate wish list. I've told everyone this - I want to get my book on the Ellen Show! Why Ellen? Because she loves yoga and she loves her mom. It's just a bonus that my kids will think I am the coolest mom ever if they see me on Ellen!

    Six - start writing book two. Actually, and this will be the first time I'm publicly admitting this, I think book two is beginning to rattle around in my brain. But I'll save that for next months Insecure Writer's Support Group post.

    This is the picture from my first professional photo shoot. Marci may have got me to smile, but I still think I look scared half to death in this one. Hopefully I look much more relaxed - and more serious about myself and my work - in the second one posted above.