Tips for a Good Social Media Account

It’s super rare these days to come across anyone who is not on some form of social media. There’s something for every generation!  People are attracted to the social aspect of it.  Most people want to hop on to connect with family and friends.  Others use it for business and networking.  Some want to share their talents with the world. And some people are on it because it’s the “cool” thing to do.  Whatever your reason for being on social media, I think there are some important things to keep in mind. I want to show you how to have a social media account that makes people want to come back and read your posts.  So, I’m going to share with you some Tips for a Good Social Media Account.

Social Media
Connecting

There are so many wonderful things about social media, really and truly.  Sometimes you have to get past the bad, but I promise it’s there.  One of my favorite things about social media, is connecting with others.  Whether it be reconnecting with old friends, staying up to date with family, or making new friends, social media is a great place to build and sustain relationships.

My first ever social media account was Facebook.  This was before I really knew what it was or anyone who was on it.  For some reason that I can’t remember, I had to get a Facebook account for the college classes I was taking.  So, I set it up and pretty much didn’t use it for a long time.  I eventually started getting lots of friend requests from old friends and high school acquaintances.  And I’ll be honest with you, I rarely accepted these friend requests, because I didn’t want people knowing my business.  The irony that I share pretty much everything now, is not lost on me.

Overtime I was able to appreciate what Facebook was all about and that it was actually pretty cool to be able to reconnect with people that I hadn’t seen in years and that I probably wouldn’t see in person. I especially loved being able to keep up with family members that I didn’t get to see often or that lived out of town.  I also loved that I was able to share pictures of my kids with these family members.

And now, I absolutely love the fact that social media has connected me with a community of moms of kids with Down Syndrome that I would’ve never been able to meet!  I have so many amazing support systems made through social media.  And it continues to grow, because I am able to connect with so many like minded people around the world.

Networking

What an incredible time we live in where we can become anyone we want to be.  When I began my career as a stay at home mom, over 15 years ago, there were very few ways for me to earn money without leaving my kids.  Yes, network marketing existed, but for an introvert like me, calling, having parties, or going out and meeting people was super intimidating.  Plus, I didn’t have time to leave my house or make calls with 2 small boys at home.

Social media opened up a doorway for me to be and do something outside of being a stay at home mom. I was able to connect with other momma’s like myself who needed what I was able to provide. And I could do it all from the comfort of my home and on my time.  The friendships I have made through my business, have been priceless!  It’s never been about selling to my friends or family, but providing a service to those who need it. Social media has helped to connect me to those people.  And it’s led me to want to do more and be more.  Now, I’m just hoping to have some sort of positive impact on the world. With social media, I can have a bigger impact.

But it’s not just about network marketing!  You have the ability to start your own business, advertise your company, your products, your services for FREE!  How cool is that!?   We can now reach so many people we couldn’t before thanks to social media!  You want to change the way the world sees people with Down Syndrome (I do!)?  Well, guess what?  You now have the ability to teach thousands of people the beauty of having an extra chromosome!  The world is at our fingertips, if we choose to use it correctly.

The best approach when using social media

Whatever your reasons for using social media, personal, business, fun, etc, I believe there are some things to consider.  Some of these will be more focused on business, but many apply to everyone.

  • Be respectful– You should absolutely be allowed to share your views and opinions on your social media platform of choice.  But please, be respectful, and realize that your opinion is not the only one that exists. If you would not say it or share it in person, then maybe you shouldn’t share it online either.  Don’t leave rude comments on people’s post.  Just be respectful to all people-that’s just common courtesy.
  • Be you!–  No seriously, be unapologetically you (while still being respectful).  No one is happy and smiling all the time.  We all have issues, we all have faults. People want to connect with people that they can relate to. I promise you that people know when you are being fake and they will stop watching your posts.  Stop being the person that you think others want you to be and actually be you (in real life too!).  It’s so much easier!
  • Keep it positive– Yes, you can be real, share the good, bad and ugly and still stay positive. I share the down sides of being a special needs mom and a mom of teenage boys but I  focus more on the positive. That’s how I live my life though. No one wants to follow someone that is always negative and complaining about everything.  They just don’t.  So share your struggles, your hard times but also share how you overcome them. Where your focus goes, energy grows.  So, even if your life is hard right now, you must find something positive to focus on if you want it to improve.  Be real, be you, but also be happy.
  • Engage with other people– Social media is meant to connect people, so don’t just be a fb stalker, engage with people.  Support your friends and family by liking and commenting on their posts. Be social!  If you like what someone is posting, tell them.  You can relate to what someone is going through, let them know.  You really want that recipe that someone posted a picture of the other day, shoot them a message and ask.  Social media is the one place that you don’t have to feel socially awkward.  People are posting because they want you to engage- so do so.
  • Post with purpose– Before you make a post on social media, think, “what is the purpose of this post?”  This is especially important for business and marketers.  Don’t just throw up a post, just to post.  You need be clear on why you are posting.  It doesn’t have to be just to sell something, in fact, most of your posts should NOT be for that reason. Your posts should always add some sort of value.
  • What goes on the internet, stays on the internet– This is true for everyone!  I tell my kids this all the time!  Just because you delete a posts, doesn’t mean that its gone.  All it takes is one share, one screenshot and its out of your hands.  Keep this in mind when you are posting on social media.  Please, stop and think before you post or share to your page.

 

If you’d like to follow one of my social media accounts, my favorite place to hang out is Instagram but you can also find me over on Facebook, of course!

And if you found any of this information valuable, please feel free to share it!

Southwest Chicken and Black Bean Salad

I’ve really gotten away from sharing recipes because, honestly, it’s just not my thing.  I can talk to you all day long about fitness, being a mother, overcoming obstacles and positive mindset.  But cooking, not so much.  I’m also very basic in my meal prep and cooking skills so there’s rarely anything worthy to share.  But I made these Southwest Chicken and Black Bean salads the other day and they looked so beautiful!  And they tasted even better so I shared the on my social media.  Well, I guess they really were beautiful because everyone kept asking me about them.  So I figured, I’d going ahead ands are them with the world.  Also, if you’re not following me on social media, why the heck not!?  I’m super cool, funny and amazing!  Hahahaha!  No, but really you should go ahead and follow me because every once in a while I post some pretty cool things.  You can follow me on Instagram, my favorite place to hang out or over on Facebook.

Southwest Chicken Salad

Southwestern Chicken and Black Bean Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. lemon pepper
  • 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups black beans
  • 3 cups sliced orange bell peppers
  • 3 cups sliced red bell peppers
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cups sliced grilled chicken breast
  • ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. To make dressing, combine vinegar, lemon juice, and lemon pepper in a medium bowl; whisk to blend.

  2. Slowly add oil while whisking; mix well. Evenly divide dressing between 4 one-quart Mason jars. Set aside.

  3. Evenly layer beans, bell peppers, onion, tomatoes, chicken, cheese, and cilantro on top of dressing in jars.

  4. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Shake before serving.

Servings:  4

 

The Day I Lost My Mother

They say that talking about your troubles is good therapy.  I’ll be honest, I’m not much for talking about my feelings but I find it very therapeutic to write about them.  It may sound crazy to want to relive the traumatic past but for me it’s a release, it’s therapy, it renews me. I want to tell you the story of the day I lost my mother.  This story really isn’t for you, it’s for me.  Since I don’t talk about it, writing it helps me to heal.  It’s not to get sympathy, I don’t need or want that.  The truth is I wouldn’t be who I am today, had I not gone through this tragedy.  It may have taken me a while to figure that out, but I know it’s true.  Of course, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t give anything to have one more day with my momma, because I would.

The night before

I remember calling my mother a few times that Tuesday night of September 12th.  It was a little odd that she didn’t answer or return my call considering we talked every day.  But I figured she probably had one of her headaches or was just really tired.  I went to bed not thinking anything about it.

Wednesday, Sept 13, 2006

It was about 7:00 Wednesday morning when I got woken up by the phone ringing. You know it’s never good to get a call that early in the morning.  When I answered, all my little brother said was, “They took mom to the hospital, get up here now.”  I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach but it would never prepare me for what I would find out when I got there.  Chris and I got our two boys up, they were 3 and 10 months old at the time.  We threw some clothes on and ran to the car.  The hospital was about a 30 minute drive so you can imagine the thoughts that were running through my head during that time. The truth is that I don’t think that, her not making it, ever even crossed my mind.  I mean, this was the woman who had been through hell and walked out carrying all 4 of her kids over her shoulders. She had overcome tougher times and she would overcome whatever this was.

We parked the car and walked into the emergency room, me carrying Joey on my hip and Chris holding Jack nearby.  I remember walking around the corner and seeing Jason and his future wife.  Dana immediately grabbed Joey out of my arms and stepped back.  I saw my baby brother’s face trying so hard to keep it together.  I will never forget how brave he was and I hate that he had to be the one to say to me, “She didn’t make it.”

It was like a punch in the gut and I immediately yelled out, “NOO! What did they do to her?!”  Because, of course the doctors must have made a mistake.  They must have caused this.  It so crazy the thoughts that randomly come to your head in a time of crisis and tragedy.  I’m not sure why I immediately blamed them.  It just didn’t seem possible that my healthy, 52 year old mother would die so suddenly.  I guess I had to blame someone.

I pushed passed my brother and walked into the triage room that she was in.  She lay there with a tube in her throat and I thought there is no way this is real life.  I’m pretty sure I was yelling and wailing crying as I stood beside, caressing her beautiful face.  It was such a surreal moment that I will never forget.  I have no concept of how long I was in there, not saying a word to anyone, just sitting beside her.  I remember hearing someone else’s version of when I walked in.  They told me that had Chris not been there to catch me, I would’ve dropped right to the floor.  I don’t remember that but it’s not surprising because he’s always been here to catch me.

I’ve looked back at those moments so many times and have felt so much guilt.  I was so selfish in my grief that in those initial moments I never even acknowledged anyone else’s grief.  My baby brother, who had to tell me that our mother was gone and I just pushed right by him.  My step father who had just lost his wife, I was unable to see his pain.  Later when my sister came in, I was still too lost in my own sadness to be there for her.  I will probably always regret that. Many times, I have wished that my kids hadn’t had to witness me like that.  If only I would’ve been able to stop and think. You think you are an empathetic, compassionate, level-headed person until tragedy strikes and your emotions completely take over.  I’ve worked really hard the last 12 years to make up for that day.  I wanted to work really hard to keep our family together and unified after our leader had gone.  But no one could ever replace her, not ever.  

Eventually, the hospital staff made us leave so they could take her tubing out and get her “cleaned up.”  I remember sitting in the waiting room, in silence, in sadness, in disbelief.  By this time, more family had started to show up-aunts, uncles, etc.  I don’t think I ever spoke a word.  There was nothing to say.

Saying goodbye

I eventually got to be with my momma again in a private room.  The 3 of us siblings (my other brother did not live in town and was probably just being informed) sat with her for a long time.  I held her hand and caressed her face.  I wanted to take in every freckle, every line, every wrinkle, every distinct marking that made her so beautiful and so unique.  It was torture to think that this would be the last time I saw her, so I stayed until they made me leave.  I kept waiting for her to wake up and squeeze my hand.  As I held her hand while she lie there, I remembered every time I would hold her hand in church during the “Our Father.”  Those hands that fixed all my boo boos, carried me, and wiped away my tears too many times to count.

We spent the rest of that day at my aunts house.  I laid on a couch and didn’t move, didn’t eat, didn’t talk to anyone.  It was the saddest day of my life and I remember thinking that I would never get over it.  I could not imagine a world without her in it.  My mother was my life line, my best friend, my confidant.  Losing your mother, is like losing a piece of yourself.  And a piece of me was lost that day.  But I did learn how to go on.  It wasn’t easy and it honestly took years to really get over.  I was finally able to rise after the darkness, to walk through the fire and become better for it.  She wanted more for me in this life and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let her down.

While I would give anything to see her eyes light up one more time around her grand kids, I know that she is exactly where she is meant to be.  She is free, she is happy, she is loved. And I am who I am because she loved me!

Self-Care as a Special Needs Mom

 Self-Care as a Special Needs Mom

I took a vow in January to devote more time to self-care and I challenged others to do the same. We started off the year pretty strong but I feel like, summer came and my self care habits left.  Anyone else?

This summer was probably my toughest summer yet as a mom of a child with special needs.  Having Stella home all summer long, meant that my attention was spent on her, all summer long!  My old tricks of putting a movie on or giving her her iPad so that I could get something done, didn’t work this summer. She had other plans, and they involved me playing with her constantly or her getting into everything she was not suppose to.  Therefore, my self-care time was extra tough to squeeze in.

What worked for me

One thing that did remain constant for me, at least during the week, was waking up before my kiddos. I’ve stated many times that I am NOT a morning person but I have learned to love that morning time before the kids wake up. Even if it’s just 30 minutes, it’s enough time to enjoy my coffee and focus on just me, before dealing with the chaos that is my life.  If you do nothing else for yourself, I highly encourage you to take this time to start your day off right.  It will completely transform your days!

The second thing that I have continued to do and that I highly recommend to other mommas, is taking time to move your body.  Being a special needs parent can be exhausting both mentally and physically.  It can cause anxiety, stress and overwhelm.  One of the best and healthiest ways to overcome those feelings is with exercise. You don’t need to go out and run a marathon (more power to you if that’s your choice), or spend hours at the gym.  But what you do need, what your body and mind need is some type of exercise.  This could be as simple as going for a walk or doing 20 minutes of yoga.

Exercise is such a great natural way to produce endorphins.  You know those chemicals in the brain that can act like natural pain killers, help with sleep and reduce stress.  Yea, those!  Even a 10 minute brisk walk can help provide a few hours of decreased tension.  And a bonus, is that when we exercise, it actually helps to improve our self esteem.  I’m sure most of us could use that boost.

Finding time

I know, I know!  You’re busy and you don’t have time!  Girl, I get it!  I’m not asking you to spend a ton of time on yourself.  But I’m telling you that it is necessary for you to spend SOME time on yourself.  Self-care will make you a better mother, wife, friend, person.  As a mom of a child with Down Syndrome that requires a lot of my time and attention-even when she’s not with me,  I’m telling you, you NEED this.  So, I’m going to make it easy for you by giving you these 2 very small steps to begin with.

Wake up first

I don’t care what time you have to get up in the morning (I get up at 5:00 and have gotten up as early as 4:00), you must wake up at least a half an hour before your kiddos.  Turn off your Netflix at night and go to bed early.  No one will judge you for leaving dishes in the sink or having a messy house- just go to bed early.

Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT, check your social media first thing in the morning!  That is not how you want to start your day.  Instead, focus solely on you during this time.  Here’s what my routine looks like:

  1. Wake up
  2. Fix coffee
  3. Sit in my chair and meditate for about 10 minutes (I listen to Meditation Minis by Chel Hamilton or the Calm app)
  4. Pray or write in gratitude journal
  5. Read or listen to Personal development

If you do this everyday, I promise you that it will completey transform your days.  Taking this time for you and to count your blessings and just breathe, will be a game changer.  Don’t make me beg you, just please give it a try and see for yourself.

Exercise

I exercise at a minimum of 4 days a week, no matter what!  Sometimes that means that my daughter is on my back while I’m planking.  There are times when my workouts are interrupted so that I can give her another snack or change her movie.  I typically try to get my workout in before she wakes up but that’s just not always the case.

Working out with kiddos

My workouts are typically about 30 minutes and involve cardio and weight training.  Just enough time to get my endorphins moving and burn some calories.  I love weight training because it’s imperative to me to be strong for my daughter-physically and mentally.  My workouts challenge my mind and my body.  If you’ve ever had to hold down a child with low muscle tone, who is strong as an ox and limber as a dishrag, you get the importance of being physically strong.  All my workouts are done from home.

All of us momma’s need to take time for self-care!  As a momma of child with special needs, I’ve come to realize just how important that time is.  We spend so much time and energy focused on our children.  Even when they are not with us, we are worrying, over analyzing, trying to plan their future, stressing, coordinating therapies and doctor’s appointments – constantly.  As busy as we all are, it’s necessary for us to take some time each day, to spend on us so that we can be the best version for them.