Three mistakes made by every parent

photo of family on seashore
I am not perfect, nor is my husband. We have made each of these mistakes (and more) in  raising our two children, and I can’t say that either one of us is proud of that fact. Of course, parents everywhere have made the mistakes of not listening closely as the child rambles on about trivial (to us) things about their school day, best friend, favorite food, the family pet, the list goes on and on. I am guilty of zoning out as I listen my children ramble on about the latest playground drama, or the best friend’s new pet,  who likes who, which classmate got into trouble that day, what the school lunch was that day, you get the gist. While listening with half an ear, managing to maneuver through Little Rock traffic while attempting to recall the items on my grocery list that sits on my kitchen counter where I left it, all the while trying to decide what I should make for dinner that night!

I thought I was doing a good job of juggling being a mom, a wife, and a friend while keeping our house running smoothly. Each day was a day to day schedule of taking our two children to pre-school and school respectively. I even joined a hand bell choir at our church, as well as volunteered my nonexistent time to assist in co-founding a Scout Troop at our eldest child’s primary school. I was also a member of PEO, a philanthropic and educational club that meets once a month, and several committees at our church. Just writing about all the activities tires me now!

One afternoon while running errands with both kids in the van, I was taking my usual route to our home.  I stopped at a traffic light and waited for traffic to clear before I resumed the drive to our home. Very quietly from the back seat of our minivan, came our eldest child’s voice telling me to “Move mom, go now, hurry!” Of course, it got my attention, and I quickly glanced out the windows of the van to see what Hunter was referring so urgently. The light changed to green at the same time, so I kept my eyes on the street ahead while asking Hunter what was wrong.

“That cannon back there was pointed at our van and had smoke coming out of it!”

It appears that a realistic-looking cannon, emitting plumes of smoke was sitting in front of a barbecue restaurant to attract new customers had caught the attention of our eldest! I wanted to laugh so hard, but I kept my composure while I explained the situation to the kids. I laughed plenty when Steve came home that night!

I resolved then and there to actively listen when our kids were talking. I decided to become an active listener whenever they were regaling their tales of their days. This does not mean that I would stop what I was doing every time they talked. Rather, I would actively listen to them as they chose to allow me into their days’ events. I think it gave them each a little boost to think that for at least 15-20 minutes each day, and several times a day, my focus was not on dinner, or television, or the telephone, but was on them!

As any parent can tell you, children are very egocentric; the challenge for any married couple is to not let your children become the priority in your life. It sounds much worse than the point I’m trying to make. Children are our priority, of course, but when we begin putting their wants and needs before those of ourselves and our spouse, that is the point we need to step back and remember that you and your Significant Other were once a couple. Your children were born as a result of the love you feel for your Significant Other, so don’t allow them to form a barrier between the two of you now. Rather, allow them to nurture the roots of your family.
As parents, your priorities should be:
1. Children’s Needs
2. Parental Needs
3. Children’s Wants
4. Parental Wants

Believe me when I tell you it isn’t easy to keep the priorities in order 100% of the time. Situations arise, illnesses occur, jobs change, tragedies transpire, in short – Life happens! It’s important to stay grounded in your marriage throughout all these events, no matter what comes your way! The important thing is to always put your family first. And sometimes that means putting your marriage first! Your children will benefit from this in ways you can’t even imagine.
One thing has always bothered me is the make-shift competitions a lot of parents sign their children to participate. You know the kind, where every participant receives a trophy just for being a member of the competition. I signed our daughter up for one such competition when she was 4, knowing full well that she would be awarded a trophy no matter how well she did in the competition. I didn’t feel good about it at the time, but I rationalized it to myself by saying, “At least she will get a trophy of her own”, thinking she will value it as much as her siblings’ awards.

It wasn’t until the night before competition that I realized by guaranteeing that she would receive a trophy simply for participating that I realized how wrong it was. Her older brother (by four and a half years) had already amassed ribbons and awards for grades, swimming, and piano and I thought it would be nice for little sister to get a trophy out of this. Something she would be proud to have. I allowed her to compete for Little Miss Clark County Fair Queen the following day simply because it was the easier way to do things. Instead of taking a stand and withdrawing her from the competition on my beliefs that trophies should be earned and not simply given away.

She kept the trophy on her desk in her room for a few days and one day while she was at pre-K, I noticed the trophy laying on top of the trash can in her bedroom. I asked her about it when she came home and our four-year-old told me it wasn’t important to her! She said, “But mom, I didn’t practice for it!”. I was dumbfounded. Of course, she didn’t take any pride in the mass-produced trophy when she had been watching Hunter practice the piano daily for years and saw the rewards of such diligence. Out of the mouths of babes… Psalms 8:2 (KJV) Lesson learned.
“It takes a great deal of selflessness to be (a) parent. But maybe it takes a tiny dose of selfishness to be a good one,” writes Genevieve Shaw Brown, author of The Happiest Mommy You Know: Why Putting Your Kids First Is the LAST Thing You Should Do. Our generation played outside until the street lights came on. Our parents didn’t even know where we were or what we were up to for the most part, as long as we were within yelling distance, or at a pre-approved friend’s house.

Children today are kept busy after a full day of school with athletic event practices such as football, baseball, golf, and tennis, music lessons, Explorer clubs, Boy and Girl Scouts, I could continue, but I think you know what I’m talking about. Why don’t we plan time for them to relax, and foster their imaginations? Must every minute of their days be planned? To me, that is setting up an entire generation that will expect to be entertained.

The next thing a lot of parents do for their children is to protect them from failure. No parent wants to see their child hurt, or left out of things, but shielding them from the downside of life can lead to this generation of children becoming dependent adults. We all wish for them to live a happy, healthy life as citizens of this world. It can begin as innocently enough as a parent placing toys within their infant’s reach rather than placing the toys further away to encourage crawling. But just imagine the same child when she is in college. She may be more prone to experience a mental crisis in the middle of an especially difficult exam. Parents should allow their children to fail. The most important thing we can do as parents is to provide a soft place to land when failure does come. Because it will.
Psychologist Wendy Grolnick’s research shows that the kids whose parents helped them a lot gave up when they are faced with a task they could not quickly master; whereas, kids with “autonomy supportive” parents did not. I don’t remember where I saw this, but people are so afraid to fail that they immobilize themselves and learning to fail is one of the biggest factors for success in life. That may be one of the hardest parts of being a parent; stepping back and allowing our children to stumble and fall when it would be easier on us to help them along but doing so is an injustice to our children.
Jessica Lahey, author of best-selling book, The Gift of Failure says that modern parents are more worried about raising happy children than competent or autonomous ones. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know in my heart that I want my children to grow and persevere through the obstacles they are sure to face. I think that quitting should not even be in your child’s vocabulary.

Of course, there are extenuating circumstances to everything, but I honestly wish that we had not offered our children the option of quitting ANYTHING. The most memorable instance to me is when our daughter came home from 2nd grade and announced to me that she had been selected out of her entire class to be the lead in the classes’ production of a short, three-act play at her school. I was so excited for her, and probably (certainly) made a bigger deal out of it than it was.
My excitement did not last long, however. Unbeknownst to her father nor I, she went to school the next day and declined the role. Stating that “she didn’t want to talk in front of a bunch of people”, she asked her teacher if someone else could take her part. The teacher was shocked, as was I, but after a week, to allow her time to think it over, acquiesced. When we went to the school play few months later, Sloan was happy to be on the stage, as part of an ensemble, her eyes bright, and smile so wide, I know it must have hurt her cheeks! In that instance, I regretted giving her the idea that if she didn’t want the part, she didn’t have to take it. I had said in an off-hand remark that she could let someone else take the part if she didn’t want it, not expecting her to decline the role altogether!

I feel that allowing her to quit set the stage for many things down the road, when I should have realized, as I do now, that coping with stress is a lot like exercise. We become stronger with practice. In fact, Psychologists Victor and Mildred Goertzel’s study into the childhoods of more than 400 famous twentieth century men and women found that a full 75% (or 300 individuals) grew up in a family that featured problems such as abuse, absent parents, alcoholism, poverty, homelessness etc. Don’t get me wrong here. Do not quit your job, burn down your home or do anything of the sort to create adversity so your children will be more successful in life! Believe me when I tell you that Life has a way of making that work out. It seems these individuals, who endured tough times as children, drew strength from their hardship and overcoming adversity was one of the keys to their success later.

I’m not telling you that you should make your children’s lives harder than it naturally will be for them but allow them to see that life is sometimes unfair. However, by sticking it out and finding ways to solve their own problems is a good thing. It builds resilience and that is a quality I wish more people had! Psychologist Mark Seery’s research echoes the Goertzel’s findings: “Those who had known some adversity were both higher-functioning and more satisfied with their lives than those who had experienced extremely high levels of hardship — and compared with those who had experienced no adversity at all. I suppose nineteenth century philosopher Nietzsche was right when he said, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”
The final thing we get wrong as parents is falsely praising our children. Of course, you think that your child’s drawing is better than all the others but refrain from telling them it’s the best. Children know when we are disingenuous with them. We should give them credit for that at least. Instead of complimenting their very primal rendition of the family dog, remark on the choice of colors used, or ask how the painting made them feel.

What are we teaching our children when we praise them for the status quo? You don’t get paid for showing up at your place of work. You get paid for the value you add. I don’t have scientific proof of the following statement, but many believe that artificially boosting self-esteem actually lowers performance. Not to mention that people who become high on their own self esteem become what we often refer to as narcissists. Is it any wonder that the trophy generation and the junction of social media has led to a world where we feel compelled to post our every thought on social media? Or where, there’s any number of people trying to make a career as an Instagram “model?” How many “reality shows” does our society need?

Jean Twenge’s book, “The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement,” claims that narcissism among Americans is rising at the same rate as obesity. What if, instead of artificially swelling our child’s self-esteem, we helped build a responsible and stabilized sense of self? What if we stopped praising effort without progress (i.e. “process-oriented praise”)? What if we allowed our children to struggle and yes, even fail sometimes?
I’ll be the first to admit that our children didn’t have much of an opportunity to fail often while they were young. I wish we had fostered a better sense of independence with them at an earlier age. They are two well-rounded individuals now, and we are extremely proud of them. But I can’t help but wonder when Life hands them a difficult situation, would they be better able to handle the circumstances if we had not always stepped in when these things arise?

This one post is not going to solve all the problems we have in this world, but maybe it will begin putting a dent in our society of self-inflated egos and sense of entitlement. I know this has been a lengthy post, but I really do appreciate those of you who may still be reading. In summary, the three major things parents get wrong when raising their children in my opinion are:

1. Putting our child’s wants above our own – Make sure your child is safe and fed, but you don’t have to give up 18 years of your life and your dreams to raise a child. Having children shouldn’t subtract from your life, but it should instead be an addition. Include your children in your work, as well as your dreams.

2. Protecting our children from failure – Children learn when they overcome adversity. Failure builds resilience and prepares our children for adulthood. As much as we want to minimize the failures that are sure to come, It is vital that we allow them to face those failures with their heads held high.

3. Inflating our children’s self-esteem – Giving them disingenuous praise and/or artificially inflating self-esteem eventually leads to narcissism. Learn to offer process-oriented praise, instead. Be specific in your praise. Let them know that everything they do is not the best, but with time and/or practice they can improve.

Do you feel that childhood is fleeting and should be savored while our children are young? Do you agree with me that parents should encourage independence and self-reliance in our children to help them as they grow?  Or am I completely off-base?  Let me know in the comments below.

Future Implications

Table of Contents (Click to Jump)
Tools to look within
Greater focus on personality
Incorporation of multimedia content
More fluidity of content
Decision-making power from data
Conclusion

In an article for Inc. I found these 5 predictions on the future of social media, and I found them to be insightful as well as astonishingly accurate. I will summarize the article here:

According to Agrawal (Agr2015), the year of 2016 will be year that the number of social media users will top in excess of 2 billion people. Social networks are growing at an exponential rate as well as the technology involved. Agrawal (2015) also suggested that there are five hints that suggested how the shape of social media will affect us all.

  1. Tools to look within

The author’s first hint at the future of social media he called Tools to look within. He states that “With the growing influx of social media followers, more users are resorting to features such as “follow” on Facebook to limit the amount of people on timelines, or in the case of Twitter, “lists.””

  1. Greater focus on personality.

In 2016, social media sites will concentrate more on the procedure of onboarding, which means they will be focused on making each user a more complete profile. All of this will lend a hand toward keeping the user more attentive and involved on our social media platforms, but at the same time it will give marketers more time to modify their ads to a more sophisticated customer who is more in tune with the message.

  1. Incorporation of multimedia content.

Social media is changing how we do business, marketing and sales with the perpetual improvement of social ads and open graph searches such as search.twitter.com. Facebook will be better able to learn more about their users for ad targeting. Social selling via native ads and open searches on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Linkedin will be the new trend as these platforms grow in 2016. Community management and customer service will move to be more social as it’s a cost effective way to handle questions, support issues and enchant customers with high transparency into your organization.

20-social-media-icons

Retrieved from http://blog.jimdo.com/how-to-find-and-use-free-website-icons/

  1. More fluidity of content

In 2016, the focus will be on mobile devices more than ever before. Companies in 2016 will need to make sure that you are on the platforms you need to be on and also make sure you are learning how to communicate well on those apps. One example of how the social media is expanding in the news industry is demonstrated by Fresco News Inc. This news service encourages people to use their cell phones, and other electronic devices to assist by gaining live video and pictures that will prompt the company to develop a new story.

Retrieved from: https://fresconews.com/account

  1. Decision-making power from data.

More users can only mean more prospects for businesses to get pertinent data regarding their customers more quickly.  The opportunities are endless for large companies to stay linked to their customers, as well smaller businesses and even nonprofits can benefit from the information provided by contacts in the field.

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Retrieved from https://youtube/LNGn0gmsjFA

Conclusion:

Social media is changing the ways we do many things. We are going from a world of simply instagramming pictures of our meals, tweeting about our cats, andfacebooking about our lives, to construing that information to create more influential and customizable messages. This wave will transform the way we think of social media, and hopefully make an impression in the world for the better. Based upon the technology shifts and the expansion of social media usage the landscape the news industry such as: Fox, CNN, MSNBC, and other local news channels will be among the largest industry affected by these changes. The speed and point at which news stories break will most likely be the most impactful changes.

Works Cited

Agrawal, A. (2014, May 27). Inc. Retrieved from 5 Predictions for the Future of Social Media: http://www.inc.com/aj-agrawal/5-predictions-of-the-future-of-social-media.html

Viral Marketing Initiatives

 

What is viral marketing?

Viral marketing is the rapid sharing of an idea, a portion of this idea contains a marketing message about buying a product or service” (Markowitz, 2011).

Here are six tips to creating your own viral marketing message:

  1. Make it Emotional

If you are wanting to make a viral video for your company, to promote a new or existing product, first you must get rid of the traditional ways of advertising. A viral video should strike some sort of emotion for the viewer. The content must be culturally relevant and timely. “Not one viral video has ever been proven to go viral that was based on yesterdays’ news” (Yeoman, 2014). The emotion can be one of happiness, sadness, humor, nostalgia, anger, or any variety emotions (Yeoman, 2014).

The Budweiser ad below tugs at the heartstrings for several reasons, the bond between humans and our dogs, for one. The idea that dogs can have a horse as a best friend is another. At first, the viewer experiences sorrow for the lost puppy, all alone in the rain, maneuvering past obstacles in the “real world” only to experience overwhelming joy when the pup is returned home, by none other than the famous Budweiser Clydesdales!

Retrieved from – http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/budweiser-lost-puppy-super-bowl-commercial-28548227

  1. Develop content that is both Notable as well as Unique

This next part of your viral campaign is easy—and hard. How do you take something that isn’t unique and create an ad that shows it being used in a memorable way? Remember the old Samsonite luggage commercials from 1971? Or the Timex watch commercials that showed us, their watch can “Take a licking and keep on ticking? More recently, Toughbook launched a campaign to show just how tough their notebooks are by dragging their laptops behind an ATV over rough terrain via chains. This is a perfect example of showing a product in an unnatural environment with memorable results.

Retrieved from – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n6mX8Q1wa

  3.   Every campaign needs to know their target market

Each company should know their target markets, but you also want to reach thatsector of the market that purchases the product. A great example is when Old Spice discovered when they began to market their body wash and deodorants to women on the premise that women want their men to smell good. It logically follows that Old Spice was able to decrease their media expenditure substantially in the following months.

Retrieved from – https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=old+spice+commercial&&view=detail&mid=D9D13BD0BF0C939D8DD8D9D13BD0BF0C939D8DD8&FORM=VRDGAR

  1. Just Do It Already

Once you have your ideas, content, and message ready to be seen by the hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands, it is time to launch your campaign (Lang, 2012). This is not a time to hesitate. Just as in comedy, timing is everything (Lang, 2012).

  1. Make it Easy to Share

Your message should be worthy of a share, as well as easy to share. This is one instance where you want to lose control of your message. But not in a bad way, make sure you have the correct buttons, easy to share buttons, like buttons, and logos should be prominently displayed, easy to find, and effortless for your readers to learn more with just one click. You can’t go wrong if viewers request more information, or share the information with others. In this instance, you want the message to grow out of your control.

stock-illustration-24465273-web-icons-in-metro-concept

  1. Make your Call to Action Noteworthy

To make your CTA (call to action) stand out, use active, even urgent words to clearly tell users what you want them to do. They should include active words that urge the reader, listener, or viewer of a sales promotion message to take an immediate action, such as “Write Now,” “Call Now,” or (on Internet) “Click Here”. A retail advertisement or commercial without a CTA is considered incomplete and ineffective (Boag, 2009).

To create a sense of resolve and a need to act now, these words can be used alongside such phrases as:

  • Offer expires August 31st
  • For two weeks only
  • Order now and receive a free gift

Thanks for reading my tips on How to Create a Viral Video, hopefully some of the tips will help you. Get online to peruse the abundant information available, and don’t forget to go viral.

If you send an email with your favorite viral video to nancy.wayland@snhu.edu before June 10, 2016 I will send you a link to receive an e-book of my upcoming memoir, The Ripple Effect:  Living with Multiple Sclerosis, to be published in August, 2016.

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Works Cited

4 Tips For Launching A Successful Viral Marketing Strategy. ( 2012 , Aug 17).

Boag, P. (2009, January). 10 techniques for an effective ‘call to action’. Retrieved from boagworld.com: https://boagworld.com/design/10-techniques-for-an-effective-call-to-action/

Lang, B. (2012, August). Entrepreneurs. Retrieved from Forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2012/08/17/4-tips-for-launching-a-successful-viral-marketing-strategy/#4d99e7885e39

Markowitz, E. (2011, July). How to Launch a Viral Marketing Campaign. Retrieved from Inc.com: http://www.inc.com/guides/201107/how-to-launch-a-viral-marketing-campaign.html

Yeoman, M. (2014, June). 5 Key Viral Marketing Tactics Proven to Work. Retrieved from Jeffbullas.com: http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/06/24/5-key-viral-marketing-tactics-proven-to-work/

 

 

 

 

 

Adaptively Written: DIFFERENTIATION

Differentiation is the thing or things that make you, YOU. It is important to single yourself out from the others who are also out there trying to single themselves from your blog, post, advertisement, picture, name, or brand. The things that make you stand out from others can be as superficial as the color of your hair, or your location. For example, do you know that there are only approximately 1-2 % of the entire population that have natural red hair in the world today? That fact alone is somewhat amazing to me! Surely you can think of one or two things that makes you different from everyone else. Find that one or two different things about yourself, your business, or your brand and capitalize on it!

Below are some helpful strategies to assist you in making your blog, post, brand, or company stand above all others from Rebekah Radice, a social media expert and strategist who speaks to groups world-wide on this very topic. You can find her website here: http://rebekahradice.com/

How to Build a Winning Social Media Strategy

  1. Know Your Audience
  • Demographics vary within Social media from one demographic to the next, so it is important to know who you are speaking to.
  • Once you know who your target audience is, it is time to the time to research and understand exactly how, when and why your target audience is using social media.
  • It is also vital to identify a target demographics preferred social media platform so that your strategy can be more focused and direct. This may take a little more research, but it’s worth the extra time!
  1. Take the Time to Wisely Create Your Content
  • This means to carefully think through the message and goal of each post. Is the post relevant to previous posts?
  • Be sure that everything you write or post, whether it is a Facebook post or blog article, make sure everything that you write supports your end goal.
  • Is your goal to drive traffic towards your latest product? Maybe you have a service that you are spotlighting this month. Whatever the case, do not lose sight of the end result you are working towards.

 

  1. Make sure to Develop a Cross-Platform Strategy
  • The most successful companies leveraging social media are expanding their impact to many different platforms.
  • Aside from being on Facebook and Twitter they’re enriching their brand recognition with Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, blogs, and LinkedIn. Get your brand out there!
  1. Keeping Your Branding Consistent is Important
  • As you set up your accounts on various social networks, as you should, make sure your logo, color scheme, fonts and graphics are consistent.
  • You want to ensure that no matter where people connect with you, they recognize your brand. Keep it consistent so that your personal brand is easy to identify.
  1. Mix Up your Posts, Tweets, Blogs, Articles, and the like
  • You could just stick with the same old “picture with a caption” format, but DON’T DO IT!!
  • The best social media strategies mix up tactics in their posting when it comes to adding new posts, whether the content is a link, video, image or text only. You want readers to click on it, comment on it, or share it with their friends, so try changing things up and incorporating Infographics, quotes from your latest post or even answers to commonly-asked questions. Variety is the spice of life, after all!
  1. Keep You Audience Engaged
  • Once you catch the attention of your audience, take care to ensure they feel special, because to you they are!
  • Respond to comments, soothe concerns and answer questions. It is important that you stay consistent in your messaging and maintain a professional demeanor.
  1. Follow the 70-30 Rule
  • The 70-30 rule is this: maintain seventy percent engaging content and thirty percent promotional content.
  • The seventy percent should be fun, interesting and/or useful to the online user. Let your audience get involved in the conversation, rather than feeling as if they are being “sold” a pitch each time you post.
  • This will keep your followers communicating with your business and involved, so that way when you do promote, they are far more likely to value whatever information comes their way.
  1. Keep Checking Your Analytics
  • Research is the backbone of any social media strategy. Without a stable foundation, things fall apart.
  • Google Analytics offers a rich database of statistics and analytics that can (and should) guide your posting, writing and strategy decisions.
  • Weigh this information to learn as much as possible about which content is making the biggest impact with your followers, and evaluate how and why some content works and some does not.
  1. Keep up with Trends in the Industry
  • Maintaining a close eye on the pulse of trending topics and stories relevant to your target market should always be your priority.
  • Keeping your posts timely is a sure way to improve the gradual reach of any post, and that’s what we all hope for.
  1. Reconsider, Rewrite, and Revise
  • Take the information you pull from your analytics and adjust your strategy. Consistently. Social media is notoriously fluid. This means your strategy must remain relevant.
  • Throw caution to the wind, and don’t be afraid to succeed!

 

Works Cited

 

Radice, R. (2013, Dedcember 7). http://rebekahradice.com. Retrieved from 10 Steps to Creating a Winning Social Media Strategy: http://rebekahradice.com/creating-winning-social-media-strategy/

 

 

What I’ll Say to my Children if I’m Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s

God's Grace and Mom's Alzheimer's

I was skimming some other dementia blogs lately and a reader had written in saying, that though she felt guilty about it, she wished her mother would die in her sleep and not have to continue living through the pain and indignity of dementia.  I’ve heard others say things like, “I’ve told my kids if I ever get Alzheimer’s just shoot me.”

I understand where these comments are coming from, but they make my heart heavy.  I feel like these attitudes devalue my Mom’s life right now. Even though they are not specifically referencing her, they are in effect saying that people like her are better off dead. It is hard to see Mom changing and confused and upset. But she still has sweet times of love and joy, too.  And God still has a purpose for her life.

He is growing our patience as we care for her.  He…

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My Final Chapter… in my book!

Looking back over the last few years of my life, my goal has been to live as if there were no tomorrow, which in my case became a real possibility last year. I have been no regrets about many of my major life decisions other than the choice to begin using an electric wheelchair about 11 years ago, because that has had a great impact on my overall strength and level of mobility. Another recent major goal in my life includes the re-entrance to the workforce after over 20 years of unemployment. This along with completing a Master’s degree in English/Creative Writing has been a personal breakthrough for me. It shows that with hard work, determination, and unwavering support from my husband and family a mid-life career opportunity has been realized. Honestly for anyone that has experienced long-term isolation due to an illness such as MS, Parkinson’s, or any disabling disease, Higher Education is the ultimate key to personal and career salvation in my eyes.

Through these essays, I realize just how much I have to be thankful for! I am grateful to my parents for wanting to try for a son “just one more time”, and I am grateful for the ways I was raised. Of course my sisters will probably say that I was spoiled, but I won’t even go into that discussion. My thoughts are that mom & dad had plenty of practice raising my sisters, so that when I arrived on the scene, I’m sure I was an angel!

Nevertheless, this is by no means my final book, much less my final thoughts on life. I began a blog: Adaptively Written, where I post my musings on life so please stop by and spend some moments reading even more about my life, and the ways God continues to show His greatness.

These past few years have really taken their toll on my body, as I suffered through kidney stones, 8 surgeries for those stones, almost a week and a half in an unconscious state due to Septicemia, an emergency helicopter flight from my hometown to Little Rock, too many days in hospitals, two separate diagnosis’ of Breast Cancer, the turmoil of deciding to undergo a double mastectomy only to be told that wasn’t an option because I am on blood thinners for the rest of my life because I now have a Deep Vein Thrombosis in my leg. Let’s see, what else? It doesn’t matter what else I’ve been through, because all of that is in the past.

The one thing that I think has changed my life the most is surprising for many who hear me say it, and that is Online Education! I began working on a Master’s degree in March of 2012 and I have loved every minute of it! I received a Master’s in English and Creative Writing in August of 2015 from Southern New Hampshire University, and immediately began working on a Master’s of Science in Marketing with an emphasis in Social Media. Being enrolled in school has given my life a purpose like nothing ever has before. Granted, becoming a mother to our two beautiful, smart, funny, loving daughters gave me a purpose in a major way, and I tried my best to raise them the best way I knew how. I know that we made mistakes in parenting them, and continue to do so now, but children are resilient in ways I never imagined. Steve and I raised them to be kind, caring, and devoted to their family and I for one am so proud of the young women they are becoming!

I will be beginning radiation therapy soon for my Breast Cancer. I had hoped it would all be behind me before Christmas, but since Christmas is only a few weeks away, I don’t see that happening! So, I guess I should be grateful that my cancer is treatable, because for so many it is not. And I’m thankful for my wonderful doctors in Little Rock and Hot Springs because they have arranged for me to receive therapy closer to home. My first appointment with the new doctor is scheduled for Dec. 16. I’m looking forward to getting all of this behind me. I’m still disappointed that I am not a candidate for a double mastectomy; I guess mammograms WILL be in my future!

I find myself having to remember all the things I have to be grateful for. I’ll admit that much. Yes, I want everything to be perfect for me, and when it isn’t I secretly (or not so secretly) sulk! I am not proud of it in any way, but at least I’m admitting to it, which I think earns me some brownie points. I am married to a wonderful man for 25 years, we have two beautiful and smart daughters, my parents are still with us and lead active lives, my sisters are both happily married and their homes fill with grandchildren most weekends, my big, large, family still enjoys getting together several times a year, if not monthly, and I live in a home that’s paid for, we drive a minivan that is paid for and is handicapped accessible, two trucks are parked outside, we have food in our stomachs, as well as clothes on our backs, shoes to wear and coats to keep us warm, and way too much stuff in our house. That shows that we have enough money to provide for ourselves. Sure, it isn’t the home my girlhood dreams imagined I would be living in, but it is our home, and we have no mortgage.  We have our health, which at times over the past two years has not always been the case! I am thankful for each day that I awaken; I just have to remind myself of all the things I have to be thankful for.

When I imagined my life as an adult, I always imagined it to be a full life, filled with love, children, happiness, and plenty of money to support a classy lifestyle. I didn’t imagine that one day I would be sitting in a 2 bedroom, 2 bath home on our own property in the country not far from where I grew up. I raised our two daughters the best way that I knew how, and they have turned out to be kind, loving, and caring young women… I think I can take a lot of credit for that!!

I am also thankful in a strange way, for the fact that I have had Multiple Sclerosis for nearly 30 years. The fact that I was able to stay home with my children instead of working at an outside job for all of their growing years, I am extremely thankful for that! I’m not saying that working moms don’t love their children as much as I do, but rather I have sacrificed having the nice home in the nice subdivision with a nice car parked in the garage, with neatly manicured lawns and flower beds. We could have had all of this, and most likely more if I had not stayed at home to raise the girls. I am grateful for every moment that I have spent molding our daughters into the beautiful young women that they have become. My mind is absolutely full of all the memories I have made with my daughters, and I wouldn’t change any of them!

I thank God on a daily basis for the life I’ve led and just hope that I may continue to lead this blessed life for many more years! My heart overflows with joy and happiness, I just have to remind myself of my fortunes when I start feeling down. I am blessed, and I know it in my heart! Like many of you, I sometimes take these things for granted and am not thankful for them. I now make it a daily effort to thank God for all of my many blessings, because there are so many people in this world that do not have these blessings. God is good, of that much I am sure.

Blogging and Writing My Way into History

Writing and Blogging for New Authors

I think beginning a blog is one of the most frightening things a writer can do. I know that although I had been told by many teachers, friends, and family members that I was a good writer for many years, I was still hesitant to put my thoughts onto the World Wide Web for anyone and everyone to see. What if someone didn’t appreciate my writing style? What if my opinions did not correspond to my reader’s opinions? What if—gasp—my writing did not click with what others think? I was terrified to put that first sentence into words.

What Do I Really Want?

Then I thought to myself, “Do I want everyone to like me, or do I want people to read what I write in order to gain a different perspective than what they think?” I guess it is imbedded in each of us to want to be liked, that’s just human nature, isn’t it? Yes, I crave affirmation as much as anyone, but do I want to be liked more than I want to be read? My goal has always been to produce works such as the likes of some of my favorite iconic writers: Nathaniel Hawthorn, John Keats, Sylvia Plath and some of the more contemporary writers as well.

I have dreamed of seeing my name on the spine of a book since I was young, wandering around my county library, trying to find a book to occupy my time until summer ended. I valued the sounds and smells of the Clark County Library so much, that it was practically a reverent experience for me each time I opened the doors to the library.

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Walking Softly in Sneakers

I never dared to speak above a whisper, even if there were no other patrons present. The floors creaked loudly under my sneakers at each timid step as I tiptoed from fiction to romance to mystery. I would gather in my arms the maximum number of books allowed to check out, sometimes having to choose between two very promising titles as I approached the check-out desk and the wonderful lady with the most awesome job I could imagine opened each book carefully to stamp a due date for three weeks in the future. I couldn’t imagine a better profession for a book lover such as myself, to be surrounded by the words of so many authors on a daily basis.

The Name on the Spine Is Mine

Now that my first book is in the process of being published and I can actually walk into the library and find my name on the spine of a book, I may just do that very thing this summer, and possibly find some new books along the way! The following link is a site that encourages new writers in their blogging efforts. Please take a moment to read through these tips, and leave a comment telling which ones were most helpful to you. In a search for great websites for new writers that are developing their first blogs to promote their accomplishments and tips to creating a blog I found Grammarly Blog. This site has many tips and trends that will assist any writer in their pursuit of writing an “epic blog”. Finally I would like to include two other icons that have been a great source of inspiration to the pursuit of one’s dreams.

When it comes to the pursuit of your dreams who has been a source of inspiration in your life?

Risky Business in Social Media Marketing for New Authors

 

The most important thing a new author can do for his or her self is to make a name for themselves on social media. I’m talking all social media channels, and there are quite a few!

Start with the basics:

You probably already have a Facebook account, so your reputation precedes you. The Writing market is a highly competitive one, but that shouldn’t scare you, it should energize you! Your reputation is the beginning of your brand. You must find a way to differentiate yourself from the thousands of other authors and writers setting out to publish his or her first book.

  • What makes your book different?
  • What makes YOU different?
  • I’m not talking about your hair or eye color, but what led you to start writing your book to begin with?
  • Are you an expert?
  • Are you an anomaly?
  • How are you different from everyone else?

Your story doesn’t need to be miraculous by any means, but it does need to be original. And that shouldn’t be a hard concept to grasp.

  • After all, have you ever met someone exactly like you?
  • You need to show the ways in which you are different from others.
  • It’s one thing to tell someone how you are different, but it’s entirely another thing to show them!
  • Just as in your writing, one of the cardinal rules is Show, Don’t Tell, so it is the same with your life!

Join the organizations you will be proud to represent, and organizations with a cause that are close to you. Become an active volunteer in whatever manner is acceptable to you. Time is often the most valuable thing you can give, so don’t feel badly if you are not in a position to give money. Add your name to the mailing lists of organizations you feel proud to be associated with. Even the smallest pebble causes the water to ripple, so don’t be afraid to make yourself known to the general public.

There are a few downfalls to not managing your personal brand, and they are really just basic common sense. The downfalls are shown in the website http://domain.me/dangers-of-not-managing-personal-brand/. I think the best thing you can do for yourself and your career, is to follow these simple guidelines in branding yourself.

What challenges would you imagine that would be involved with social media marketing with for a new author?

 

Mobility in Writing

Mobile apps are available to assist writers at any stage of their writing careers. These can range from dictionary apps, to apps that help you when writing prose. A good dictionary app is helpful to all people, be they professional authors or just someone who enjoys the English language. I don’t know of a single person who cannot find a basic dictionary useful, such as the

1) Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. This dictionary also provides lists of antonyms, parts of speech, and basic grammar rules to assist any writer in finding the appropriate word for the sentence on which they may be stuck!

2) Help! For Writers app is available on iTunes for a nominal cost of only $1.99. The Help! For Writers mobile app outlines 5 steps in the writing process: getting started, hunting and gathering, finding a focus, writing a first draft, and making it better. This app takes the writer on a step-by-step guide go writing and publishing your first book, and even touches on the marketing aspects of selling your writer first book. Other helpful apps for the stumped writer in all of us include:

3) Spice Mobile: A Phrase Thesaurus & History of the English Language – This app functions as both a phone and tablet application and is designed for on-the-go access to a comprehensive phrase thesaurus. This clever writing app is sure to spark your creative energy. You can look up a keyword or phrase and see related literary phrases, which can help you come up with a more creative phrase of your own.

  • Easily share phrases by email, text or Twitter
  • Access to over 22,000 phrases
  • Phrase History: up to five oldest source citations
  • Frequency of use per phrase
  • Timelines and graphs for in-depth views of history

4) Write or Die: Great for Procrastinators

Although the name itself is a little callous, it probably applies to most of us at one time or another!

  • Gentle Mode: A certain amount of time after you stop writing, a box will pop up, gently reminding you to continue writing.
  • Normal Mode: If you persistently avoid writing, you will be played a most unpleasant sound. The sound will stop if and only if you continue to write.
  • Kamikaze Mode: Keep Writing or Your Work Will Unwrite Itself

These consequences will persist until your preset conditions have been met (that is, your time is up or you’ve written you wordcount goal or both.

Learn more at writeordie.com

5) Dragon Dictation: Not Being Close to a Keyboard is No Excuse

Dragon Dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition application powered by Dragon® NaturallySpeaking® that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text or email messages. This is especially useful for those moments that inspiration strikes and accessing a keyboard isn’t practical, such as when you’re in line at the grocery store or when you wake up with that amazing idea.

Learn more at www.nuancemobilelife.com

6) Evernote: Ever Yours, Ever Mine, Ever Useful!

This app is useful to all of us in helping to organize notes, web clips and  files. All of these things  and images are made available on every device and computer you use. Collect your information from anywhere into a single place. From text notes to web pages, to files, to snapshots, everything is always at your fingertips.

Evernote’s site has a great video too, that will give you ideas of how you can incorporate this extremely-useful tool into your own collection.

Learn more at evernote.com

 7) My Writing Spot: Pick a Spot, ANY Spot!

This app provides a simple, uncluttered writing workspace. In this case, uncluttered doesn’t mean lack of usable features. Whether you’re writing a novel or jotting down quick notes, all the essential features are there:

  • Autosave
  • Word Count
  • Dictionary/Thesaurus lookup
  • Document Groups
  • Send to Email
  • Download to Computer

Learn more at www.mywritingspot.com

8) Index Cards: Remember Those?

This is a corkboard writing app for iPad or iPhone that makes it easy to capture, organize, and compile y8)our ideas. Whether you’re an author, screenwriter or researcher, Index Card can help you become more efficient and organized. This is a nifty app for outlining (remember outlining – when ideas progressed from A-Z and 1- X?). Features include:

  • Automatically saves your work as you make edits
  • Touch and drag reorder
  • Powerful enough for multiple separate projects
  • Can export as RTF or Plain Text
  • Email projects without leaving the app

Learn more at www.denvog.com

9) Notes Plus: From Scribbling to Styling!

While there are plenty of fun note-taking apps (Penultimate is one) this particular writing app for iPad lets you scribble your thoughts, then circle the ones you want and covert them to text, without having to retype all of them. There are some great demo videos on the website. The app also lets you import pdfs, web text/graphics, audio and more to really rock your research!

Learn more at notesplusapp

These nine applications can all be helpful to any writer, from the novice to the expert, but they are not in any way a comprehensive list of apps available to the writer at any stage in their career. If any od you have used these apps, please leave a comment telling me which app, and why? I’m interested in knowing which app you used, and if it helped you !

 Self-Publishing and Social Media

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#snhusmm#selfpublishingsocialmedia#newauthors

One of the greatest challenges for a new author concerns the decision-making process regarding self publishing and how to market your book using various social media tools. Fortunately there are many self publishing companies that are available for the new author that has not created a name in the writing industry. One of the key elements to self publishing regarding the marketing of your new book is the use of social media to establish a presence in your writing genre.

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Click Hyperlink to Watch Video

There are many companies that offer a wide array of self publishing packages for new writers. The self-publishing companies provide access and assistance to new writers to a wide array of social media and various other marketing tools. According to Top Ten Reviews an online consumer independent products and service evaluator the following list for the top ten self-publishing companies and reviews on those specific companies (click on link to see reviews):

1- Lulu

2 – Create Space

3- Author House

4 – Outskirts Press

5 – iUniverse

6 – Llumina Press

7 – Xlibris-s

8 – Virtual Book Worm Publishing

9 – Infinity Publishing

10 – Wheatmark

One important key to self publishing is the use of a comprehensively developed marketing plan that specifically uses social media to illustrate the biography of the author, the style of writing, the use of several forms of media to illustrate past and possibly future published works by the author. The self publishing author must realize that the cost of the publishing plan they choose increases as more of the marketing efforts that are done by the publishing company, therefore an educated author that has a background in marketing with an emphasis in social media can be very beneficial to the author. Lulu, one of the top self-publishing companies discusses this very issue concerning the additional cost of a more comprehensive marketing plan which suggests that as author: “You can pay for professional book and author videos that can be distributed to YouTube and other venues to advertise your book with style”. This is where the cost of the plan that an author chooses can increase significantly.

In an article by Betty Kelly Sargent called Seeing Is Believing published in www.publishersweekly.com Sargent mentions how to create a video to be used in social media. Sargent makes several comments concerning the guidelines regarding the content and how to increase the attention of the viewers. Some of the guidelines in respect to the quality, content, and highlight of the video include:

  • Sell yourself or the benefits of your publication
  • Tell a Story
  • Show , Don’t Tell
  • Make it Fun
  • Keep it Short

The use a self made video or even using a professional group to shoot a video for social media publications sounds appealing to me as a new author. This type of video would be a perfect video to post on Facebook and YouTube for a rapid expansion of self advertising with low to no cost.

In a recent Article by Betty Kelly Sargent called It Takes a Village in www.publishersweekly.com Social media guru Loren Kleinman also says that it is essential for new self-publishing authors to connect with the public and other writers. Kleinman also mentions that: “As an author, you never know where your support will come from, so why not get out there and start networking and helping each other out?” she asks, adding that authors can connect on such sites as Twitter, Goodreads, Inndiereader.com, digitalbooktoday.com, and IndieBRAG’s bragmedallion.com.

Self-Publishing and Social Media