Getting Lucky

Getting Lucky

From time to time, I seem to surprise my husband of 18 years with some random new fact about myself. It always catches him off-guard, and he looks at me as if to say, “Who ARE you?”

I don’t mean to do it, it just happens. You would think after being together for so long, we would know everything about one another, right? I thought so too. Even at this very moment, I think there is nothing he doesn’t already know about me. But I am sure, in time, some small detail about my life will pop up and he will be shocked again.

We spend a LOT of time talking, about everything, or so it would seem. We lounge outside, on long, humid summer evenings, enjoying a drink together and we just talk. Sometimes he dominates the conversation (which throws me because he’s usually fairly quiet and laid back) and sometimes I’m the one spilling my guts, but regardless, we thoroughly enjoy these talks with one another.

On one particular evening, a few years ago, as the summer sky was darkening, he had a sudden urge to throw a baseball around. We had mitts and gloves in the garage and so he took them out… convinced me to play some catch. He stood a few feet away from me, thinking he was being respectful of his girl, and not making me step out of my comfort zone, and probably not wanting me to embarrass myself with my poor throw.

I smiled at him and asked that he move back… go on further down the street. He looked surprised but moved back a few steps… and I had to repeat myself again. When he hadn’t moved away far enough, I decided to back up to a point where I was comfortable. He seemed unsure, but as I wound up for the throw, memories of playing baseball on the field as a kid in gym class came back to me. I LOVED playing baseball when I was younger. It was my favourite game, and I was often part of the group playing it in the summer with a group of neighbourhood kids.

My husband didn’t hold back with his shock as the baseball sailed easily and swiftly through the air. He caught it just as easily, because he was on a baseball team around the time that I met him, and I went to a few of his games. We tossed the ball around for awhile after that, and he said he couldn’t believe he didn’t know, after all this time, that I could throw a ball. I laughed at him… he didn’t know me in my tomboy days. I could climb trees and hop fences to match ANY boy in my neighbourhood when I was young. I built forts and rode my bike through dirt fields, and came home sweaty and filthy, with more than my fair share of cuts and scrapes. Games of tag and man-hunt were played daily through my summers as a kid. I happily and almost giddily, shared this with him. I honestly thought he knew, I thought I had told him!

A little while later, the song “Inner Ninja” came out, by Classified. I loved the song, mostly because it was catchy… I don’t remember exactly how the topic came up this time, but it must have been through another one of our evening conversations. I shocked him again when I told him that when I was in grade six, I had taken a karate class, which was hosted by a teacher at school. The classes were held before school started for the day, and all I remember is yawning throughout the class. I had the moves down but was still surprised when it came to sparring at the end of the course, in order to get the next belt. I was in grade six, I couldn’t fight for the life of me, so the moves that I had been practicing, along with my yawning, did me no good and I failed epically.

But my husband didn’t hear ANY of the bad stuff I was telling him. He didn’t hear how I had FAILED the sparring match. Oh no… he immediately got our boys’ attention and asked if they knew their mom was a ninja.

Are you kidding me?

*sigh*

Inner Ninja became my theme song after that. Whether I liked it or not. Good thing that song was catchy.

To conclude my story of hidden lifetime tidbits of myself, when I began learning about blogging last summer, I kept it to myself for awhile. I like to think things through, turning it over and over in my mind. I needed a topic… and it began with camping (because of my deep-rooted love for it), and then it progressed to family. Two of my most favourite things in the world… even before wine and chocolate!

When I explained to my husband that I wanted to start a blog and write, maybe make a living off of it, I got that look from him again. The “who ARE you?” look, as he said, “Really?”. I told him I’ve always loved writing (honestly, he should know just by my post-it notes, they are practically mini-novels most of the time!). He had no idea, and I still can’t figure out how he didn’t know.

English was always my favourite class in high school, and I had considered the idea of writing novels like some of my favourite authors; Danielle Steel, Stephen King, and later on down the road, David Baldacci, Jodi Picoult. Wouldn’t it just be awesome to not have to work a traditional job and to get paid for writing?

More ideas and research and reading, and finally I am here. I have, what I think is, a good blog. A place I can call my own, to write and share as much or as little about myself as I like. This is the place I go to when I can’t sleep in, and then my husband gives me hell for being up so early… but I can’t help it. It’s almost therapeutic. It’s mine to share and I have things to say and it’s beginning to pay off. Literally.

I received my first pay for writing, last weekend.

It’s changed everything. It’s changed how I feel about my full-time job. It’s changed how I feel about my future. I am not stuck anymore. I have options. I have VERY REAL options. There are people out there who will pay me to do what I love to do.

Does anyone have any idea how freeing that realization really is? I feel like I can finally breathe.

It is freedom.

And while it’s just a small step, it’s a start. Baby steps are still steps and that is all that matters.

If you’re reading this, I want to personally thank you for being a part of my journey thus far, and I truly hope you’ll stick with me as I navigate through whatever this will become!

Money For Nothing

Money For Nothing


I have spent a lot of time over the past few months rethinking what I do for a living.

I don’t have the job security that I once had, despite having spent nearly fifteen years with the same company. I’ve often thought about leaving, but I have excellent benefits and the paid vacation time really can’t be beat. I have some fantastic co-workers, but overall, I don’t think I would miss it much if I left.

Then I began this blogging thing back in August. I had done a lot of reading about how people can make money from it, but I soon realized that no one will pay me for what I write about, at least not right now. And I am okay with that… I’m still a new blogger, still feeling my way through this, still evolving. One day, I may be able to help others with my blog, but for right now, I think it’s okay if I’m just testing the waters.

But my dream of working in my pjs, not leaving the house on -30°C days in sleet and snow has all but died. The dream is still very much alive, because in my search for at-home work, I’ve come across an idea that really excites me. While I’m not ready to share the idea with everyone yet, I’ve already taken the first steps towards my dream of working at home and made some powerful connections to get started in the direction I want to go. (Sorry if I’m being coy… I don’t mean to be… I just can’t bring myself to say it out loud yet – or in this case, type it out loud!)

This new venture won’t allow me the freedom to leave my job for awhile (I need to make sure I’ll earn enough before I walk away) but I know that I can do it. I know this because my confidence has grown with blogging, something I wasn’t entirely positive I could pull off, but here I am! I know I need to do a lot of work to kick this off, and build up contacts and clients before I’m financially secure enough to walk away and be the stay-at-home mom I want to be.

What I love most about this idea in my head is that blogging and promoting my posts has given me the building blocks and skills I need for this new venture. Even though I didn’t plan it that way, I am so glad things worked out the way they have. I’m thankful to the people who have already reached out to help me on my way.. bless you and thank you!

What is your dream job? Is it possible for you to take the steps necessary to make it happen?

Are you already working in your dream job? What steps did you take to get there? Were you afraid to take the leap of faith? What advice do you have for those of us wanting to take the plunge?

Money for Nothing

January 2016 Roundup

January 2016 Roundup

January was a pretty good month for us as a family, and for myself as a blogger. I am really enjoying the WordPress Daily Prompts, I love the challenge of writing about several topics and relating them to my own life. Here’s a breakdown of what’s been going on here at SMores and Sundresses:

My son, Tyler, shared his story about coming out. If you missed his brave and amazing story, you can catch up here.

I began my journey with 21 Day Fix… it’s been touch and go but I’ve lost a few pounds and I’m pleased with how it’s going. I plan to continue the program over the month of February. Read about my start here.

I shared my celebrity run-in from when I was a teenager… you can check it out here. It’s kind of funny, and it wouldn’t be a teen experience if it wasn’t at least a little awkward!

I wrote about a fun weekend shared with friends, which can be read here, and the music at that party can be checked out here.

I’ve shared the dreams of my husband and I, for our big vow renewal bash in two years, when we will be celebrating our 20th anniversary. Can you smell the pork? Find out here.

I compiled my bucket list! It’s pretty awesome to see it in black and white! I encourage you to write yours down as well! Check mine out by clicking here.

I also started a fan page for Smores & Sundresses to keep my posts separate from my personal Facebook page. Bloggers are welcome as well; I plan to have weekly threads for bloggers to share their top posts of the week, and non-bloggers will have an opportunity to check out some other great reads! Let’s share the love, join here.

I wrote to my younger self in a post, you can check it out here. Writing it was so much fun, the words and sentences just poured from my heart!

I shared my concern for a friend who was diagnosed with cancer. He goes in for a scan tomorrow to check his lymph nodes. He would sincerely appreciate your prayers.

I wrote about my experiences with technology throughout my life… maybe my story isn’t much different from yours?

Lastly, I have set aside some time to return blogger love out to the blogosphere and have retweeted posts from fellow bloggers under the hashtag #sundayblogshare. I love how it feels when someone helps to promote your writing, and I’ve been lucky to have received RTs, so I wanted to promote writing that I’ve personally enjoyed!

I am blessed with some pretty fantastic followers, both blogger friends and personal friends. It warms my heart to have you on board. Thank you!

Meet and Greet 12/18

Always happy to meet new bloggers! Follow me, and I’ll follow back!

Dream Big, Dream Often

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It’s Meet and Greet Weekend at Dream Big!!

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post.  It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!  So don’t be selfish, hit the reblog button.
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags (i.e. reblogging, reblog, meet n greet, link party, etc.), it helps, trust me on this one.
  4. Share this post on social media.  Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new bloggers to follow.  This helps also, trust me.

Now that all the rules have been clearly explained get out there and Meet n Greet your butts off!

See ya Monday!

Danny

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5 Blogging Truths

5 Blogging Truths

 

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1. Strangers may commend you on a life-changing event in your life when you write about it.

I poured my heart out, all over my keyboard when I wrote this post, “Coming Out – A Mother’s Story – Part One“. As the words flowed, the tears rolled, and I put it all out there, in black and white. Then I sat on it, for a month. I wasn’t ready to share it, because I didn’t think anyone would care.

Some people did. It felt great to not feel so alone. But was that what I was striving for? Maybe writing about it was just therapeutic, something for me… so opinions don’t really matter as much as I thought they did.

2. If you ever need a reality check, have your blog post featured.

Seriously.

I was so excited. I had received some positive feedback with it, and a few readers admitted that the post made them cry, which I took as a good thing because it made ME cry, so yay for me, making some of my readers feel like I did! I was feeling pretty confident about it, and then comes “THE NEGATIVE FEEDBACK”. I knew it would happen, I expected it and I thought I would react with grace.

Not so much. The feedback upset me a little, but even though it did, I knew there was some truth to it. I needed to hear it. not everyone has the same point of view and that is absolutely okay. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but that still doesn’t mean that they get to tell me how I should proceed. The battle I wrote about is MY battle, and writing about is my way of working through it.

3. Just because not everyone agrees with you on your topic or your post, doesn’t mean you’re doing this for nothing.

We all have opinions, we all have ways of looking at things. We all need various amounts of time to deal with things. The point of my post was to share how I felt, in the event that someone else, now or in the future, goes through the same thing and feels exactly the way I do, they will know they are not alone. Is that not the entire purpose of putting our life experiences in print?

4. Strong reactions, positive or negative, all mean the same thing.

You’re doing something RIGHT because people are reacting. People are reacting because they are reading. They’re reading YOUR work!

Think about some of the celebrities and the stunts they pull, all to create a media frenzy. No such thing as negative publicity (okay, we can’t say that for Justin Bieber, but I digress).

Writing is the same thing… getting people talking, even if it’s negative, even if it’s about YOU, doesn’t mean anything other than: people are reading your work. Focus on the good, take the bad with a grain of salt, and hold your head high.

5. You SHOULD continue.

Throwing in the towel is not an option unless you genuinely dislike writing, in which case, why did you write anything? Exactly. You will get better, you will grow. Not only with writing, but also as a person.

It’s been awhile since someone’s called me out on something, and the post I mentioned is the first time in a long time. It’s a good thing because it’s given me something to think about, not to mention, something write about. You can get inspiration from just about anywhere, and sometimes, it can be hidden in a reader comment. So I’m going to look at the whole experience as a positive one.

In the end, being featured was still an exciting thing for me. My topic can be a controversial one, and everyone has an opinion, but it doesn’t matter because it’s MINE I’m writing about, and it’s done me some good to do so.

For the record, Tyler, my gay son, has read the post and absolutely loved it. Our communication has been excellent with all of this, and he thought the piece was well-written and he’s shared it with his friends. He’s also written about HIS experience, which I hope to have him guest blog about in a future post.

Fellow bloggers, keep writing! What you have to say matters!

8 Things I’ve Learned About Blogging

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Hellooooooo! So, my blog is about two months old now… and not quite sleeping all the way through the night. I say that last part because I sometimes have an idea for a post and I’m so excited to start on it, I’m up at least two hours before my husband is on weekends, and I LOVE sleeping in. I haven’t even turned the coffee maker on yet, and I’m tapping away on my laptop!

Here is what I have learned so far in my virtual travels:

There are people out there who genuinely want to help you.

It’s heartwarming to discover this. Life can be competitive, and in so many areas of life, people don’t often extend a helping hand, but I’ve been blessed to come into contact with people who are so helpful and encouraging. I hope to help others one day, like those people have helped me.

Meet & Greets, Link Parties, Sharefests – These are oh SO important to get your writing seen, your voice heard! Search for them on Twitter, and READ the instructions… then read them AGAIN. Follow the host, and read at least a few posts from other people. Like and Comment. Go one step further, SHARE. It’s one or two clicks, it really just takes a second, and it means the world to fellow bloggers. Doesn’t it make your day when someone shares YOUR post?

I am FAR from being a pro at any of this, but my best blog days are the ones where I give and take, and share, share, share.

I’ve never been so unsure of myself before.

Being a perfectionist has definitely made me question myself. Even though I LOVE writing, there’s always that little question in the back of my mind, “Does anyone care enough to read what I have to say?”, or “Do I write well enough to do this, or am I wasting my time?”.

I have decided to ignore that little voice, and to just do this, because I genuinely enjoy it. For myself.

There REALLY is not enough time in the day.

Seriously. Really. Truly. Where did that stretch of five hours I had after work go? How is it bedtime already? I still have to do this and that! I had an idea for a post and never got a chance to start working on it!

This past week could have been better. My personal goal is to publish at least two posts a week, and I feel disappointed that I couldn’t accomplish that. I need to go easier on myself… I have a busy family and a full-time job. And those darned kids expect dinner. Like, every day!

Every blogger I’ve “met” has been in my shoes at some point.

They keep telling you not to focus on your stats and your numbers, but it’s hard not to when the page is RIGHT THERE! The people I look up to have been where I am, and wondered if they were doing this for nothing. I will continue to grow as a blogger just as I will continue to grow as a person. Remembering this, and reminding myself that I ENJOY writing, it really helps.

Social media WILL make your blog more visible.

Twitter has literally become my best friend. I probably over-use it, but if I used Facebook like I use Twitter for self-promotion, I’d be lucky to have three friends on it, and I can’t even guarantee that my husband and my son would be two of them. I am blessed to have every follower I have, and even more blessed to have the WP blog followers I have. Use Pinterest, Instagram and Google+. Viewing other blogs and how they promote their posts can help you decide what you like and what you don’t like.

I love the look of Pinterest and Instagram screen shots for tweets, and I figured out how to do it myself. If you’re ever in doubt about how to accomplish something you like, Google it, or write to the blogger and ask. I know for myself, I would feel honoured if I was asked how I did something!

Edit your blog photos.

I used Paint Shop Pro for everything at one time, but, I think the program is too old for my laptop and it doesn’t always load properly. I don’t understand Photoshop very well (although I’m confident if I had enough time to sit and play with it, I could do great things with it). I’ve tried PicMonkey… I wasn’t overly impressed with it, but Canva! WOW! I am Canva’s biggest fan. I use it to brighten and fix the contrast on just about every photo I have on my blog. I only use my own photos, and once in awhile I’ll use some of the free elements, but it is really fantastic. It’s free to use and gives you web-worthy photos that won’t bog up your page’s load speed.

Browse Other Blogs.

I wish I had more time to do it more frequently, but I try to do this a couple of times a week. I love using WordPress’ Reader view to catch up on blogs I follow. They are all in one place, and easy to comment and like. BlogLovin’ is another place I don’t get to as much as I’d like, but it’s the same idea. All your favourite blogs, in one convenient location. Reading other blogs lets you get to know the authors and develop friendships.

Use a scheduler for your posts/tweets.

I tried CoSchedule… didn’t want to pay for it because I’m still new, and I don’t want to be charged for a service I’m not sure of yet. So I tried Hootsuite. LOVE IT! There is a paid pro version, but right now I’m using the free version. I get to schedule my posts and tweets, and when I have busy weeks where I can’t post as much as I’d like, my online presence is still felt, because Hootsuite is putting it out there for me.

Like I said, I’m not a blogging pro. I don’t know all the ins and outs yet, I am truly learning every single day. This is what I have learned so far, and I am grateful for all the help and encouragement I have received so far, and will receive in the future.

So fellow bloggers… I’d be honoured if you would share what you’ve learned! =)