thank you and namaste blank

Happy Firstaversary!

That’s right – Mama Bear Said So is one year old! They grow so quickly, don’t they? *sniff*

birthday sparkly

I wish I could say that I deliberately skipped “Total Gratitude Tuesday” to celebrate the first year anniversary of this blog, but in reality, the holiday weekend messed me all up and I went around all day yesterday thinking it was Monday. Just FYI – it wasn’t. So today’s post is a combination of a celebratory post and a gratitude post. A two-fer, if you will.

I’m not sure if the blog has evolved as much as my attitude about it has. It’s very easy when you start blogging to get too caught up in all of the chatter about monetization and ads and audience and numbers. There’s a constant push to get your numbers up, to work on SEO, to get your name out there, to make money…it gets exhausting, especially if you’re the type who doesn’t have any desire to become a millionaire motivational speaker and isn’t terribly concerned with how many thousands of followers you have on social media. I basically just wanted to write, and it’s taken me a long time to be okay with that being my main ambition – not money or followers or fame.

But like most things in life, it just takes a little bit of peace and quiet and ignoring outside voices to find your own true voice. And trying to keep up with all of the reading and advice on how to make this blog bigger and better was exhausting and took a lot of the joy out of blogging for me. But I’m finally realizing that staying true to my own ambitions and wishes for this blog, and being authentic to my own vision is what will make this venture a success. It may not ever be a success according to the blog gurus, but if it feels like a success to me, that’s all that matters. So, with that in mind, I plan to return to blogging on a more regular basis and do it my way. It’s so much easier to enjoy yourself when you’re focused more on the journey than on the destination, whatever that is.

So a giant thank you to everyone that’s come along with me on this journey. I hope you’ll stick around for the next leg of the trip!

thank you and namaste blank

And now for this week’s helping of gratitude…

We had a big holiday weekend! Saturday night we went out to our friends’ house for their annual July 4th bash. It’s always a big to-do with fireworks and lots of great food and fun. Sometime during the evening, there’s also a ritual sacrifice of a stuffed toy so that none of the adults operating any fireworks will be injured. This was this year’s victim:

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Yeah, I’m sure you have a lot of questions about this, but let’s just leave it alone, ‘kay?

Later that night, in spite of having had nothing to drink most of the day, I wound up getting a bit tipsy (or maybe a lot) and schooling a few young’uns at flip cup. And then I got all maudlin about Prince and a few other things and sobbed for awhile and went to bed. Overall, a really great day, even with the sobbing! We also got to spend some time on Monday with my extended family, who I don’t get to see nearly often enough. Again, great food, great company and a lot of fun just hanging out with the people we love best.

And last night, we had a great meeting with Equality Springfield. It was a long one and emotional, given all that’s happened in the last month or so. We talked a great deal about how to open dialogue with people who perhaps don’t necessarily share our views on equality, and how important it is to keep the conversation about the violence in Orlando going and to remember those lives lost in a meaningful way. I’m so glad we found our way to this group. Equality is something I’ve always been passionate about, but it’s frustrating to feel that you can’t find a way to put your passion into action. Finding a group of other people who think the same way and want to put their efforts toward making progress toward equality has made a real difference. It’s also helped to keep some of the pessimism that’s set in lately at bay. It’s easy to forget how many good people there are in the world when the news is full of danger and turmoil and violence.

And wow, yesterday was a fantastic mail day! For starters, we got this bit of loveliness in the mail:

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It’s the wedding invitation for our son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law! It’s just a bit over two months now until the wedding, and we couldn’t be more excited! Somehow seeing the invitation just made it more real, I think.

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And then I got my stack of “Skinny” bracelets from Color by Amber yesterday, too! Aren’t they gorgeous? I love supporting fellow direct sales sisters, but especially when I can get something so pretty, like these little resin beauties! I especially love the map and novel ones.

So it’s been a pretty big week! And the next couple of months are going to be just as big. I’m really looking forward to what the coming months will bring!

Take care and have a beautiful week!

Much love. – Mama Bear

new year new me

New Year, New Perspective

Yeah, yeah, yeah…I see you out there rolling your eyes at me. Believe me, I get the same reaction anytime I see a sentence that starts out “new year” anything. Set aside your cynicism for a second and hear me out, okay?

new year new me

I didn’t really make any resolutions this year. I’ve finally hit a point where I don’t even try to bullshit myself because I know that whatever I’ve resolved to do on December 31st will most definitely be a distant memory by about January 5th. I did make a list of goals for myself (check out my “16 in 2016” post) and decided on a theme for this year:

peace bracelet

But other than that, I didn’t really come into 2016 with too many rules or expectations for myself. Partially because I’m a realist and partially because I think I’m doing pretty well, honestly.

However, I DO have some pretty big goals, resolutions, dreams, plans – whatever you wanna call ’em for the blog. For starters, I want to expand the scope of this blog. There’s a lot of talk in the blogging world about finding a “niche” for your blog to attract and maintain an audience. And I do understand the value of that. Most people don’t want to subscribe to a fashion blog and see a bunch of stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with fashion on there. They read and subscribe for a reason and sometimes for a very specific reason. And when I started writing this, I knew that I wanted my focus to be positive thinking and how it has helped me with depression and anxiety and all-round better living.

As time went on, I realized that positive thinking is only telling part of the story. There’s a lot more to building a positive, healthy life than just thinking happy thoughts. And I put a lot more into it than just thought. So I plan to expand the blog with a lot more content that pertains to the big picture – whole living for a happier life. So you can expect to see more writing on health, fitness, life, love, parenting, humor and all the things that help make life better.

I also would like more input from my readers, including guest posts. I’d love to hear from anyone who has a fresh perspective on dealing with life’s challenges. So if you’ve got something you want to say, advice you want to share, or a story you’d like to tell about making your life better, please feel free to send me a message through the blog or email me using the form below and we can talk about you writing a guest post for the blog. Don’t be shy; I’d love to hear from you!

So yeah maybe a little bit of “new year, new blog”, but that’s exciting, right? Stick around – it’s going to be fun!

Take care. – Mama Bear

 

16in2016

16 in 2016

Back from a long hiatus – sorry about that, folks. Allow me to explain, or at least try:

Recent world events and the social media and real-world response to them have kicked my hibernation urge into high gear. Actually, they’ve exacerbated a depressive episode I was already knee-deep in. My tendency when I get depressed or overwhelmed is to just hibernate and go inward. I spend a lot of time deep in thought, trying to counter the negativity I see on the news, on social media, in the world and even in my own head, with lots of positive thinking and a healthy dose of self-care. What I don’t do is reach out (usually) and or write – at least not anything fit for public consumption. We all know how that nasty bitch depression works – it saps every bit of energy and drive that you might be able to muster up and on top of that convinces you that a) nobody cares b) nobody wants to hear what you have to say and c) things aren’t going to get any better. Now that I’m blogging about positivity and happiness, I have the added burden of feeling like a total impostor when I get depressed and can’t summon the usual antidote to my gloomy “demon voice”.  I’d like to say the clouds have passed, but they haven’t. I’ve just finally struggled out enough to change my perspective a little bit. I know depression’s never going to leave completely; it’s just how I’m wired. So I choose to look at it as a relative that I’m forced to live with but really can’t stand the sight of. Since neither of us has the luxury of moving out, I’m just going to try to go about my life and deal with it the best way I can. It’s like those old sitcoms where the roommates drew a line down the middle of the apartment. I know at some point that bitch is going to cross over on her own side again and until then, I’m just hunkered down trying to keep a sense of humor about the whole thing. But I have resolved to try harder to keep up with the blog, in spite of my “roommate”.

Now, on to “16 in 2016″…

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I picked up the phrase in one of the Facebook blogging groups I belong to (not sure which one). A fellow blogger was inviting other bloggers to join her in setting 16 blogging goals for 2016. I loved the idea, but as I am a great lover of lists, I decided to expand on it a bit and apply it to my life in general. So here are my 16 in 2016 (Note: these are not resolutions because I always break those; that’s why I chose “goals” instead.):

16 BLOG/CAREER GOALS

  1. Write at least 2 posts a week on each blog in addition to my weekly features.
  2. Read through my mountain of blogging books/articles/worksheets/workbooks on how to improve my blogs.
  3. Find at least one seminar, workshop or conference to attend.
  4. Find a way to monetize each blog.
  5. Develop a product for this blog.
  6. Reach at least 500 subscribers for each blog.
  7. Find a side hustle that’s a good fit for me.
  8. Make my personal monthly financial goal by the end of 2016.
  9. Schedule guest bloggers for each month.
  10. Find a good platform for scheduling posts, content, etc.
  11. Work on my blog roll to help other bloggers get exposure.
  12. Submit to at least 5 websites.
  13. Host at least 2 giveaways on each blog.
  14. Take a grammar refresher course.
  15. Write something every single day, even if it’s just for me to read.
  16. Get more freelance work.

16 GOALS FOR MY HEALTH/BODY

  1. Size 14 by June 14!
  2. Reach my Fitbit steps goal at least 5 days a week.
  3. Cut out soda.
  4. Cut down on sugar.
  5. Cook at least 4 nights a week.
  6. Find some kind of fun, physical movement that I can do every day.
  7. Start using that damn CPAP more regularly.
  8. Make sure to keep up on all my yearly check-ups.
  9. Don’t beat myself up for the days when I’m not perfect at all of this.
  10. Yoga!
  11. Drink more water.
  12. Get more sleep.
  13. Get outside more (except during allergy season).
  14. Meditate.
  15. Keep up the regular gym visits!
  16. Less TV/cell phone/social media and more reading.

16 GOALS FOR MY MIND/HAPPINESS

  1. Stop saying “yes” to things that make other people happy and start saying “yes” to more things that make ME happy.
  2. Just stop trying to make other people happy, period. If it happens naturally, that’s awesome.
  3. Realize on a cellular level that not everyone’s going to like me. And be okay with that. And stop chasing the ones who either don’t like me or won’t treat me right.
  4. Try to reach that Goodreads Reading Goal this year, and start with all the unread books I already have.
  5. Finally get that damn Paris scrapbook done! (And the other ones, too!)
  6. Pay more attention to how extra time is spent and try spending it on things I want to do rather than letting mindless tasks suck it all up. Prioritize.
  7. Finally figure out how the hell to use Adobe Photoshop.
  8. Stop debating politics/religion/etc. and limit exposure to social media/news/etc. Seriously. Stick to that.
  9. Stop being so fucking serious!
  10. That to-do list about organizing your music collection and photos and keepsakes and such? Get on that.
  11. Mindfulness – work on it.
  12. Journal every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  13. Those places that you always say, “I’ve always wanted to stop there but just never did”? Go!
  14. Check off some of those items on your genealogy to-do list.
  15. Start the Guerilla RAK and Little Free Library projects.
  16. Spend more time volunteering.

Now, here’s where you come in. I want to see YOUR list of 16 in 2016. It can be any list of goals you want to share. You can post them in the comments here, or you can post them to my Facebook page or come join The Happy Tribe group on Facebook and share it there! Or if you’d feel more comfortable just sending it to me, send it to mamabear@mamabearsaidso.com. I’d love to read it!

Much love. – Mama Bear

 

Be yourself. Everyone elseis already taken.-- Oscar Wilde

10 Tips For Starting Your Own Blog

This isn’t my usual subject matter when it comes to this blog, but I’ve had lots of people asking me about how to start a blog since I started this one, so I thought I’d offer a few tips. I haven’t been blogging all that long so I’m not an expert by any means but there are a few things I can tell you that will definitely help you on your way.

  • Figure out your “why”. Why do you want to start a blog? Are you hoping to use it to make money? Are you hoping to use it to segue into products that you can sell (books, downloadable content, etc.)? Are you using it mainly as an online journal? Figuring out your “why” will help you in every other step you take with the blog. With this blog, my long-term goal is to have downloadable content and a book.
  • Figure out your audience. Who are you writing for? Are you a new mom wanting to reach out to other moms to talk about your parenting experiences? Are you a world traveler and want to share your knowledge of the places you’ve gone with other travelers? Are you a gamer who wants to do game reviews to let others know which games to try? Or you might just be writing for yourself – to get something off your chest. In my case, I am someone who’s dealt with depression for 30 years, with varying degrees of success, but I’ve learned quite a bit along the way about different ways of dealing with it and how positive thinking and whole living can help with it and wanted to share my insights with others who might be dealing with the same issues.
  • Choose what platform you’ll use – that’s the website you’re going to use to build your blog. Blogger and WordPress are probably the two biggest platforms, but there are many others like SquareSpace, Wix and Weebly.
  • Learn some of the basics of blogging. You don’t have to be an HTML guru, but it helps to know some of the basics, like what domains are, what it means to self-host, and how to use the dashboard on whatever platform you choose. Any of the “Blogging for Dummies” books are a great place to start, but there are plenty of great websites that will help, too. I’d recommend searching by whatever platform you’re using and then “for beginners” (for example “WordPress for Beginners” or “Blogger for Beginners”).
  • Look at other blogs for design tips. I know a lot of other people recommend reading a lot of other blogs to get ideas of what you want to do, but I don’t recommend that. It’s one thing to get design tips, but eventually if you spend too much time reading other people’s content, I think you’re bound to wind up copying their style, even inadvertently. In the end, you want your blog to represent YOU, not someone else.
  • Find your voice. There are some really great bloggers, just as there are great writers, but as much as I admire Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain or Dorothy Parker for their wit, I have to write like myself or I risk being a cheap knockoff of what they are. It’s one thing to admire someone’s work, but you’ve got to find your authentic voice otherwise it’s all for naught. Being yourself is the only way to be successful at what you’re doing. And in a sea of millions of bloggers, if you want to stand out, you’ve gotta be you.

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  • Mind your grammar. You don’t have to be a Grammar Nazi but making sure you don’t have tons of typos, grammar errors and misspelled words will make your posts much easier and more enjoyable to read. If you’re worried your skills aren’t up to par, get some help from a website like Grammarly. You can use it wherever you’re writing – even in your e-mail program and it will find grammar and spelling errors that even Microsoft Word can’t. And it’s free.
  • Find a blogging community. Want to promote your blog? Have a question about how to change this or that in your design? That’s what blogging communities are for! Facebook is a great place to start – just look for blogging groups. Or just type “bloggers groups” in your favorite search engine. You’re bound to find a community of other bloggers that will be there to help. That’s one of the most amazing things I’ve discovered about blogging – how ready other bloggers are to help one another.
  • Ask questions. There’s going to come a time when there’s one little design glitch or one widget that threatens your very sanity. You’ll be up until 2 AM banging your head against the wall trying to figure it out. Fear not. I guarantee there’s been someone else in the same place, and they’ve figured it out. Let’s say you can’t figure out how to put a button on your sidebar. All you have to do is go to the search engine and type exactly what you’re trying to do and you’ll find a community of gurus who have been willing to use their knowledge to help the rest of us out. I don’t use other platforms, but I know that the WordPress support website is just amazing.
  • Write. No matter what your “why” is, or who your audience is, you’ll need to write and you’ll need to do it on a consistent basis. Do what feels natural as far as how often you write, but make sure you’re writing. It helps keep your creative juices flowing and it helps your followers want to keep following to see what you’ll write next.

And that should get you started on deciding how you want to proceed with your blog. Or make you run screaming in the other direction! It’s a lot of work, but it can be very rewarding, too.

Take care – Mama Bear

Be yourself. Everyone elseis already taken.-- Oscar Wilde

10 Tips For Starting Your Own Blog

This isn’t my usual subject matter when it comes to this blog, but I’ve had lots of people asking me about how to start a blog since I started this one, so I thought I’d offer a few tips. I haven’t been blogging all that long so I’m not an expert by any means but there are a few things I can tell you that will definitely help you on your way.

  • Figure out your “why”. Why do you want to start a blog? Are you hoping to use it to make money? Are you hoping to use it to segue into products that you can sell (books, downloadable content, etc.)? Are you using it mainly as an online journal? Figuring out your “why” will help you in every other step you take with the blog. With this blog, my long-term goal is to have downloadable content and a book.
  • Figure out your audience. Who are you writing for? Are you a new mom wanting to reach out to other moms to talk about your parenting experiences? Are you a world traveler and want to share your knowledge of the places you’ve gone with other travelers? Are you a gamer who wants to do game reviews to let others know which games to try? Or you might just be writing for yourself – to get something off your chest. In my case, I am someone who’s dealt with depression for 30 years, with varying degrees of success, but I’ve learned quite a bit along the way about different ways of dealing with it and how positive thinking and whole living can help with it and wanted to share my insights with others who might be dealing with the same issues.
  • Choose what platform you’ll use – that’s the website you’re going to use to build your blog. Blogger and WordPress are probably the two biggest platforms, but there are many others like SquareSpace, Wix and Weebly.
  • Learn some of the basics of blogging. You don’t have to be an HTML guru, but it helps to know some of the basics, like what domains are, what it means to self-host, and how to use the dashboard on whatever platform you choose. Any of the “Blogging for Dummies” books are a great place to start, but there are plenty of great websites that will help, too. I’d recommend searching by whatever platform you’re using and then “for beginners” (for example “WordPress for Beginners” or “Blogger for Beginners”).
  • Look at other blogs for design tips. I know a lot of other people recommend reading a lot of other blogs to get ideas of what you want to do, but I don’t recommend that. It’s one thing to get design tips, but eventually if you spend too much time reading other people’s content, I think you’re bound to wind up copying their style, even inadvertently. In the end, you want your blog to represent YOU, not someone else.
  • Find your voice. There are some really great bloggers, just as there are great writers, but as much as I admire Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain or Dorothy Parker for their wit, I have to write like myself or I risk being a cheap knockoff of what they are. It’s one thing to admire someone’s work, but you’ve got to find your authentic voice otherwise it’s all for naught. Being yourself is the only way to be successful at what you’re doing. And in a sea of millions of bloggers, if you want to stand out, you’ve gotta be you.

.

  • Mind your grammar. You don’t have to be a Grammar Nazi but making sure you don’t have tons of typos, grammar errors and misspelled words will make your posts much easier and more enjoyable to read. If you’re worried your skills aren’t up to par, get some help from a website like Grammarly. You can use it wherever you’re writing – even in your e-mail program and it will find grammar and spelling errors that even Microsoft Word can’t. And it’s free.
  • Find a blogging community. Want to promote your blog? Have a question about how to change this or that in your design? That’s what blogging communities are for! Facebook is a great place to start – just look for blogging groups. Or just type “bloggers groups” in your favorite search engine. You’re bound to find a community of other bloggers that will be there to help. That’s one of the most amazing things I’ve discovered about blogging – how ready other bloggers are to help one another.
  • Ask questions. There’s going to come a time when there’s one little design glitch or one widget that threatens your very sanity. You’ll be up until 2 AM banging your head against the wall trying to figure it out. Fear not. I guarantee there’s been someone else in the same place, and they’ve figured it out. Let’s say you can’t figure out how to put a button on your sidebar. All you have to do is go to the search engine and type exactly what you’re trying to do and you’ll find a community of gurus who have been willing to use their knowledge to help the rest of us out. I don’t use other platforms, but I know that the WordPress support website is just amazing.
  • Write. No matter what your “why” is, or who your audience is, you’ll need to write and you’ll need to do it on a consistent basis. Do what feels natural as far as how often you write, but make sure you’re writing. It helps keep your creative juices flowing and it helps your followers want to keep following to see what you’ll write next.

And that should get you started on deciding how you want to proceed with your blog. Or make you run screaming in the other direction! It’s a lot of work, but it can be very rewarding, too.

Take care – Mama Bear