Sunday, February 27, 2011

Post Postscript

After I published my post today, I checked my emails and found this gem that was forwarded by a friend. I'm not sure who the original author is but I have to re-post as the timing is so uncanny.

They Teach It at Stanford

I just finished taking an evening class at Stanford. The last lecture was on the mind-body connection - the relationship between stress and disease.

The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man can do for his health is to be married to a woman, whereas for a woman, one of the best things she can do for her health is to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends.

At first everyone laughed, but he was serious. Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences.

Physically this quality "girlfriend time" helps us to create more seratonin - a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going.

Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf? Yes.

But their feelings? Rarely.

Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.

There's a tendency to think that when we are "exercising" we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged-not true.

In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking!

So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We are indeed very, very lucky. Sooooo, let's toast to our friendship with our girlfriends. Evidently it's very good for our health.

The Other Side of the Picket Fence

A few weeks ago, my husband had me go through the stacks of Holiday cards from friends and family that have accumulated over the last several years. I was given the task of picking out what I wanted to save and to recycle the rest.

I took a brief trip down memory lane; marveling at the changes our lives have taken over the years. It's hard to believe that two decades ago, my singleton friends and I were fantasizing about the "2.5 kids-white-picket-fence-dream".

Life as a "Singleton"

I can remember pangs of longing when I would see a picture-perfect couple pushing a stroller on a family walk. I wondered what it would be like. I also considered the possibility of being a life-long singleton. I suffered through countless blind-dates from well-meaning friends.

I also smile when I recall Friday nights out with the girls looking for Mr. Right. (More like Mr. Right Now.) We'd gather at a friend's apartment and help each other with last-minute touch-ups to hair and make-up before heading out to the "clubs" (night clubs / bars).

Looking back on old photos, the 80's decade was not kind to us with regard to fashion. I can not help but cringe a bit.

The up-side to the single life was that most of my friends were single. We lived life more spontaneously. Much of our social-calendar was written with spur-of-the-moment planning.

What Happened to my Friends?

This week I was given two tickets to a charity event that my business donated a fair amount of work and materials to. My husband was already committed to taking the boys to swim-practice.
He's not a fan of fancy social fundraisers where we are among strangers. I needed to find a "date".

That's when it hit me. Where are my friends? Who could I call on short notice to come with me?
Most of my friends are tied-down with family commitments and are not able to slip away on a moment's notice. For a brief moment I felt sorry for myself while I racked my brain for who to call.

I suddenly remembered a single friend who might enjoy this event and gave her a call. As luck would have it, I found my date for the evening.

The gala was much more elaborate than I expected. Food and drink were top-notch and plentiful. (I was responsible and only consumed one glass of wine). There was free valet parking, a fashion show, live auction and "after-party" with a buffet, DJ and open-bar.

I felt like Cinderella at the Ball.

Act 3 - Life as Family Matures

As I was dropping my friend back home, we discussed organizing another evening out with mutual friends.

I realized that as the boys become more independent, I will soon have more free evenings. I also am starting to crave an occasional "Girls Night Out". Now that I have "Mr. Right" and the 2.5 (actually 3) kids at home, what I crave most is estrogen-filled conversation; a little commiseration once in a while.

While I would never want to go back to the "free-and-easy" lifestyle of my singles-days, I realized I am entering a new phase in my life. It's time to keep up with old friends and perhaps make some new ones.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Who Are Your Readers?

Last night I came across a post by Jennifer James in her Mom Blog Magazine titled "Why Do People Read Your Blog? Do You Even Know?" which inspired me to respond.

Bonnie says:

I have been blogging for almost four years now. I started my personal blog to learn about this form of communication and how I might be able to use a blog for my business. I have since learned that business blogging is much different than having a personal blog.

I also have found that blogging is a 2-way street. You get what you give. Unless you are a talented writer with a compelling story (think Pioneer Woman), your best bet is to make friends and comment on other blogs.

I made a few friends at Mom Blogger’s Club and the now-defunct Cre8Buzz. My “readers” are a handful of bloggers that cross-comment with me. I don’t spend as much time on my personal blog as I used to so I keep my bloggy friends to a small group.

I think it is more important to write for yourself than to worry about what your “readers” want to hear. For me, blogging is about personal development and keeping track of life’s trials and tribulations. And making a few friends along the way.

Experience is the Best Teacher

It's hard to believe that I am coming up on my 4-year anniversary of blogging. It's been an amazing journey. I've "met" some amazing bloggers along the way in my quest to understand Social Media. The knowledge I've gained has been helpful in understanding how to integrate tools like Twitter, Blogger, FaceBook and Constant Contact into my business.

There are so many misconceptions and worries when starting a blog. I worried about looking foolish in front of thousands of people. What would I write about? Would I be exposing my family to stalkers and trolls? How do I get started?

Truth is, in the beginning you will have no readers. No one will know about you. You are alone. The only person you will look foolish to is YOU.

Finding Your Voice

Forget about readers. The first challenge in blogging is to find your voice. Who are you? What is your unique perspective? What is your purpose for blogging?

If the answer is to make money, read no further. I am the wrong person to advise you.

Your number one reader should be you, the writer. Write about what you know, what interests you, and share your unique prospective on life. Write stories that you want to read. YOU will be your best audience and biggest fan!

A few tips on finding an audience

1. Join a Shared Interest Group - for an example, if you are a "Mom Blogger" join a site such as Mom Bloggers Club. You can find other groups on Ning, or use Google. Join in discussions, make comments on posts of interests. MAKE FRIENDS!

2. Key Words - Make sure you are using Key Words that someone might use when searching for the topic you are writing about. If possible, use these in your post title as well as when labeling the post in the area provided, "Labels for this post". Some websites have an area for SEO and ask for Meta words as well as a description.

3. Install a analytics program such as Stat-Counter or Google Analytics to find out who is coming to your blog and how they are finding you.

4. Tell your friends about your post - The best way to get others to read your post is to announce it on Twitter and provide a link. Shorten the title if possible using a program such as tiny URL. Give your fellow bloggers a reason to think about you and check out your blog. A well-worded comment on another post will help drive others to your blog.
Find posts to comment on.

What works for you? What drives others to your blog? How do you find your "readers"?