Volume, Visibility, and Buses, Oh My!

Not So Fine Print: blah blah blah Sponsored Post blah blah blah Full Disclosure blah blah blah That Thing About Any and All Opinions Being My Own. Moving on...

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Volume and visibility.

The first refers to how much noise we are capable of generating when combining our own voice with our community to bring notice to a particular message; the second is specific to how many pairs of eyes follow the yellow-brick road to the land of Oz. Enough noise and you re-energize your existing audience and hopefully expand your reach with a few new voices. Enough eyes and you see the difference between a ripple and a wave.

The wave, y'all, is when one of your social media friends texts you excitedly because your links have started showing up in Facebook shares from her IRL friends. The wave is what happens when momentum starts working for you, turning that snowball you've been working on and turning it into a straight-up avalanche. That's when you no longer have to bust your ass and begging your friends to help promote your blog post, new book, new product line, or otherwise fabulously fantastical idea, because the ginourmous  bus that just drove by in the middle of Times Square with your blog/book/or otherwise fantastical idea all over it...

...and now you know what validation feels like.

I'm proud to announce that Zuesvision Public-- the company that prides itself on leveling the advertising playing field for the little guys -- has selected Aspiring Mama to take part in it kickstarter awareness campaign. In exchange for a blog post sharing the Zuesvision message with you, I get two weeks of bus-sized Aspring Mama ads wheeling their way through high traffic areas in both LA and NYC. II'm not an idiot, so I said yes, but I'm also a hard-ass when it comes to being convinced to sponsor up the blog, so I think it goes with0ut saying that any and all words written on behalf of Zuesvision are my own, right?

(This is the part where you come in.)

Here's the thing, y'all...we all know that it takes more than hard work and busting our asses to make an actual go of whatever it is we feel we are called to do. An advertising budget and/or pure dumb luck tend to play a big part in who we are talking about and who's talking about us. Whether it's building a successful nonprofit like my friend Denisse Montalvan with The Orphaned Earring, getting your glitter on with a new product line launch with a major retailer like my girl, Kathy Cano-Murillo, a.k.a. Crafty Chica, or selling the hell out of their book like friends Rick Najera with Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood and Mercedes Yardley with her new release Pretty Little Dead Girls, or if it's big dreams of bringing your bling to the front lines like my friends Jessica Mazone and Lucy Ball, the struggle is the same: We can write the hell out of the blog posts and share the links on our social media channels like the seasoned social veterans that we are, but we only have so much time to devote to being all self-promotional and shhhtuff.

None of it matters if no one bothers to click the links. We are busy and we'd love an intern and imagine the day when we can afford a reliable assistant to keep us (mostly) on track and of course we don't have time to click every link from the very friends we'd support at the drop of a hat if we knew they needed it (without having to click the links, of course). So here goes nothing...

I want Zuesvision to succeed. I want to see their kickstarter campaign bring it all home and cheer when the company announces the addition of more digital billboard buses to their fleet. Why? Because we need Zeusvision just as much as they need us. We raise our chances of success when we join forces and who doesn't think that ginourmous buses inching its way through Times Square with your $99 URL-containing ad aren't a good idea?

Exactly. 

So pay attention, because I'm about to play hardball.

This is the part where I ask you directly to click the link to Zuesvision's kickstarter campaign. 

This is the part where I ask you directly to donate $5, because five bucks gets you a single 30-second ad on a bus. (If all the $5 spots are taken, this is the part where I tell you to team up with friends to pool funds for one of the larger sponsor spots because...)

This is the part where I ask you directly to gift your ad spot to a worthy cause. Go with your gut, but I'd like to suggest donating that ad spot you just bought Denisse Montalvan of The Orphaned Earring. She is doing incredible things and this is so much easier than scaling a mountain and shouting myself hoarse on her behalf.

And this is the part where I say thank you. 

Let's see what we can accomplish together, Internet. I believe in you.

#ChingonaFest Fridays: Elisa Camahort Page

  Welcome to WEEK 12 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama!

If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purposeLas Tias and cultural backlash be damned. If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you it does.

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? I interviewed myself to mark my year anniversary as Latina Magazine's Dimelo Advice Columnist right before Lorraince C. Ladish made me look  bad in last week

s interview by referring to books I pretended to read in high school.  Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

Today’s featured Chingona is …Elisa Camahort Page.

Camahort Page is a BlogHer co-couner  and, amongst other honors, was also a Fortune Most Powerful Entrepreneurs, 2013.

And now? It’s time for the interview!

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Elisa Camahort Psge

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Elisa Camahort Page: Vanilla

PC:  A straight-shooter. I like it. Favorite book and why:

ECP: That's a tough one, I love many books. Perhaps Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer had the most impact because it articulated a philosophy I already subscribed to in terms that were relatable to regular people who might not have my same activist fervor on the subject.

Pauline Campos: *blinks* My IQ just developed a complex. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

ECP: YES.

PC: There's that straight-shootin' again. I like a woman who tells it like it is. Who inspires you?

ECP: The BlogHer community inspires me every day. Every day *someone* tells an amazing story, does something incredibly brave, makes real change in their life, their community, or the world. It's crazy actually. Crazy how much talent and passion are out there...this despite the regular conventional wisdom proclaiming the death of the very blogging that creates that inspiration.

PC: Who is it you hope to inspire?

 ECP: The BlogHer community has so many new folks still flooding into this space every day. I hope to inspire them to do social media and blogging *their* way. There is no one right way. There is no single one-size-fits-all approach. There is so much opportunity...knowing what you want to grab from that grab bag is important.

PC: I was just gong to say "Anything dipped in chocolate" but I think that you've got a T-shirt quote somewhere in that last one. Lemme have my coffee first... Do you dream in color or black and white?

 ECP: I don't remember, actually. Why, do you know what that means?

PC: Not a single clue. Also? I should Google that one so I have a slightly smarter answer the next time a featured Chingona throws this one back in my court. Speaking bad words redfined... Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?

 ECP: Huh? You're the chica who introduced me to the term :)

PC: ummmm... *blinks slowly* Well? The short answer is DON'T SAY CHINGONA IN CHURCH. Also, it's probably not a good idea to yell the word out randomly in public, 'being as I like you, and and all. Also, did you know "pinche" is a bad word in Mexican Spanish but means "barette" in Chilean Spanish? You're *welcome*. Why are you giving me the side-eye? Focus, Woman! Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest...

ECP: Not applicable...no kids :)

 PC: Fair enough. Do you feel "Latina enough"? 

ECP: Definitely not. I don't even call myself Latina, although I will say I'm Hispanic. But, for example, I never learned Spanish...I think when I was growing up there was a lot more assumption that immigrants would assimilate and less expectations that their children would retain any culture. Add on top of that my family is a mixed family originating from Spanish immigrants to the Philippines. So much of my connection to the culture is through food...which was actually kind of a mix of Spanish and Filipino. And being spanked with a slipper...which I think is more of the Asian side of that equation ;)

PC: Don't take this the wrong way, Elisa, but we gotta talk. Because every Mexican reading this just choked and simultaneously yelled out "LA CHANCLA"! Anyway, you have the chance to eat dinner and drink wine with one person, living or dead. Who is it, what do you eat, what kind of wine, AND WHY THAT PARTICULAR PERSON? 

ECP: Stephen Sondheim. Why? Because I'm a #theatrenerd and he is completely brilliant and my idol.

PC: You are totally smarter than a fifth grader, aren't you? *runs off to Google the name the smart lady just said* Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

EC: That is definitely just a you thing.

PC: Admit it. You think I'm adorable, don't you? Gimme one Latina stereotype you despise?

 ECP: Oh, I guess it's the whole kit and caboodle...fiery Latinas, sexy Latinas, spicy Latinas...and then there's the indomitable Latina matriarch. The problem with any stereotype is that it ignores the diversity within diversity. That Latinas are not a monolithic bloc, just as women aren't, just as no group is like the Borg.

PC: You win the Internet for using the Borg to bring that last point home, Elisa. *High five* Describe your perfect day.

 EC: Well, it would start with actually getting a full night's sleep #damnyouinsomnia. Then I would probably chillax with my cat and my iPad full of all the books I never have time to read. I'd be playing music. And my S.O. could join for a couple of great meals of #vegan food!

PC: One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

 ECP: Yeah, in case it wasn't clear, not very into embracing stereotypes :)

PC (grinning):  Nope...everything is crystal...

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine. Girlfriend needed a reality check…so I gave her one.

Oh! And be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

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 Who like Pretty Pictures? I'm #MexicaninMaine on Etsy and have more art available on Society6. And because it's actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and Etsy shops for Sassy #ChingonaFest gear! More designs and products coming soon!

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter!

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page! I know. You’re *welcome.*

 

 

 

Launching the AspiringMama Zazzle Shop

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I'm a dreamer. That means I rock the creative side of most anything I do but utterly suck at implementation so even the good ideas take forever to become new realities. Case in point? Creating my line of #ChingonFest greeting cards in my new Zazzle shop. Reader response to my quotes has been incredible and I've fielded plenty of requests for ways to bring the quotes home in swag form to show off the Chingona Spirit! Last night, inspiration hit and now the AspiringMama shop is open for business. I'll be designing prints of my horse photography, greeting cards and buttons with Chingona quotes, and so much more!

Check it out and tell me what you think!

To celebrate the store launch, I'm running a contest!

Up for grabs are:

 

 

Yeah, it's one of my favorite's, too.

*  one Celebrate Who You Are Button

I know, total conversation starter...

*  one #ChingonaFest Button

I like to chant this silently   to pep myself up in the toy section at Target before telling my kid "No."

* and a set of three Stronger if you Do Greeting Cards.

 

There will be one winner for each prize category listed. To enter, you must:

 

* sign up for my Tortilla Press newsletter (that's the only place winners will be announced for this contest and any I run from here on out)

* visit my Zazzle shop, take a look around, and head back here to leave me a comment on this post sharing which you like most or what you would like to see added

 

One bonus entry per social media share can swing the odds in your favor, though. All you need to do is share the following on any or all of your social media channels and leave me a separate comment with the direct URL of each link shared.

I just entered to win #chingonafest swag from @pauline_campos ' new zazzle shop! http://bit.ly/QTMjlO #chingonafest 

I'm excited. You guys are talking to me about online classes and requesting workshops in your city on how to embrace your inner Chingona and raise one of your own (and, of course, the boys who will grow up to love the next generation of self-respecting bad-ass women). It's incredible and I am brainstorming ways to make things happen. For now? Spread the word and share the love, because without you guys, I'm kinda like the fallen tree in the forest wondering if anyone heard that hilariously improper thing I just said.

And for this week, that's all she wrote.

 

#365FeministSelfie: Validation Has Nothing to Do With It

I love me a good hashtag. It took a bit of convincing to get me on board for the #365feministselfie movement, but my friend Galit Breen as a way with words. The eye-rolls have been replaced, every day that has passed since the first one, with just the tiniest bit less bullshit and slightly more unapologeticness. Because that's a word, right?

The ringleader of this little Love it Or Hate it project is Veronica Arreola and I'm thinking we're gonna be hanging out lots at BlogHer14 in California this year. I happen to think anyone who can convince a bunch of random women -- who for the most part don't know each other --  to plaster the selves our significant others don't get to see until at least one good round of crazy sex has to be made of magic. Especially when you stop to consider how much work we put into getting naked to begin with, what with the perfectly applied makeup, hair that took hours to curl, and  lingerie that cost way too much for the amount of time we actually spent wearing it before it got tossed to the floor ... hell, you guys! I think it was six months of dating The Husband before I was comfortable enough to fart.

All this to say that I have issues and we all tend to keep up whatever appearances during our little courting periods before we stop trying so hard.

Maybe we start out with the bells and whistles. In my case, I wasn't about to turn the camera on myself unless I didn't look like shit. And by "look like shit", I mean no bra, no make-up, no clever Instagram filters or photo editing...

 

I've seen some chatter here and there referring to the #365feministselfie as self-serving and a sad reality for feminism. Now, I want to make it clear that until very recently, I hadn't even stopped to consider myself a feminist. But I guess writing columns about raising a self-respecting Chingona automatically got me in the club. And I'm okay with that. I figure I have to be if I'm announcing to the world my intention to encourage my little girl's hell-raising ways.

I also want to make it crystal clear that there is nothing self-serving about this. I'm not posting selfies so you can tell me I'm pretty. Every one of us is taking our own journey throughout the coming year. We each came to it with a predetermined level of individual comfort and we will each have the comfort level challenged as we progress. There's no way I'd have started off with a no-make-up-full-face-allergic-reaction, even if I instinctively knew my friends and readers would come to my ego's rescue and tell me how brave and beautiful I am for sharing because that's not the point.

 It's about dropping the facade, digging deep, letting go of our own self-judgement, and that defining moment when we hit that share button after taking one last big breath. After we pin it and hit publish and share and send on the singular images that, when when combined, reflect who we really are.

You can tell me I'm pretty. You can tell me I'm not.

I'm more interested in what I tell myself as I share that which I would normally hide.

Apple vs. Samsung: Week 3 of 8

For the next few weeks I will be posting one #ApplevsSamsung review from my perspective. I’m not a tech blogger but I am a writer and blogger who relies heavily on tech and my connections to social media. With that in mind, I’ll be focusing on things like one-handed typing to photo, editing, and sharing quality to battery-life and, of course, the snazzy Penny from Inspector Gadget like Galaxy Gear Watch, itself. Check out my previous posts here and here.

When I’m done, I will confidently climb to the top of the highest mountain and declare my loyalty to one. Or maybe the other. Or maybe I’ll just write a blog post and post it on Twitter because that’s easier.

 

I'm a bit behind on my Samsung series, but life (and mostly Latina Magazine deadlines) tend to get in the way sometimes. Now that I'm in the clear for a bit, it's back to business as usual.

Before I say more, though, I want to make one thing clear in the purpose of these reviews. I am a long-time Apple user and happens to be married to an Android Devotee. I like to call it an InterTech marriage. He hates Apple with a passion and cannot wait for me to cross over to the Other Side. While I love my little iPhone and all it allows me to do in my work with social media, I am not blind to the fact that Team Android has a thing or two up it's sleeve. Namely, picture quality (and that's something I can't ignore.)

I am not a tech blogger. I am a writer and a blogger who lives through social media. I sit down at the laptop to write. Everything else doesn't tend to happen unless I've got a phone in my bra.

That being said, this series may make the Actual Tech Blogger's eyes roll, but they aren't my audience. I'm writing this for the social media user with the iPhone who might be wondering if the humongous Note 3 may be worth dumping Apple over. And I know there's a few of us out there.

It's been a few weeks now since I started shocking the locals here in Northern Maine while I trek around town with two phones in hand. I'll be honest in saying that while the size of the Note 3 is a bit on the crazy side when compared to my iPhone 5 S, I recognize how much I've come to depend on it since FedEx showed up on my porch. I'm not ready to break it off with Apple quite yet, but I am able to say that I'm seriously considering it.

Here are my favorite Samsung Note 3 features right now:

*The Samsung Action Memo: Think of it as the Post-It Notes you can't lose. You can access the app then removing the S-Pen from the Note 3. I use ot to manage my Daily To-Do list and for handwriting a new name and phone number, which alone is fabulous because I'm famous for never remembering to add a new contact (which means I'm still getting texts from phone numbers I don't recognize until I can place the ongoing conversation on the iPhone.) Even better is that my ADHD brain doesn't have the chance to blink and be distracted by something shiny before adding the information to my phone's contact list. All I have to do is highlight the name and number with the S-Pen and tap "contact" and boom: I now know who the hell is texting or calling me me.

*The S-Pen: I admit to being terrified of losing this little pen within moments of taking the Note 3 out of the box. But Samsung seems to have thought of everything. If the S-Pen is disconnected for too long, a message pops up reminding you to reconnect it before leaving wherever you happen to be at the time. There's even a safeguard built in alerting you to if the S-Pen somehow ends up out of range from the Note 3. It works, too. The fact that I haven't had to drop $30 on a replacement yet is pretty solid proof.

*The Galaxy Gear Watch: There's a lot more this fancy little watch offers than I am going to mention today, and I'll touch on some of my favorite features in the coming weeks. For now, I want to thank Samsung for saving my ass and both of my phones by once again paying attention to how the average person uses their smartphone. Even if you happen to keep both the iPhone you still own and the Note 3 on silent because the constant notifications would drive a saint to swear, it's entirely possible to find your Note 3 remotely with the Galaxy Gear. How? Go to the aptly named "Find Your Gear" option on the Gear and when you tap that little lifesaver, your phone gets its volume turned on for you and won't stop ringing until you find it and tell the Gear that you found it. I'm eternally grateful to Samsung for helping me not donate the iPhone and the Note 3 to the Salvation Army (along with the pile of old clothes they got bagged up with.)

Oh and one more thing: I refuse to call the Note 3 a phablet. And you can't make me.

 

Not-So-Fine Print: While I was supplied with the Samsung Note 3, a case for the phone, and the Galaxy Gear Watch, I am in no way obligated to provide anything other than my own opinion on this blog, any of my social media channels, or in any words attached to my name anywhere, ever. But I think you already knew that.

AppleDogs and Story Pirates

Social media has made me a parental super hero. Ever since Eliana was a little thing, twitter and Facebook and (more recently) instagram have connected me to an entire world to which I wouldn't otherwise have access. (And yes, I almost ended this sentence with the word "to" but then the voice of a former newspaper editor said something in my head about unicorns dying, so I changed it to read like I actually follow proper grammar on a regular basis. Also? I like unicorns. Anyway....)

Princess Katie of Princess Katie and Racer Steve (have your volume off when you click the link if you're at work) once tweeted a FEEL BETTER in response to my update about Eliana being sick. I'm pretty sure the wide-eyed wonder in Eliana's face as she blinked up in pure disbelief while I read PK's well-wishing tweet is what cemented my role in the Parenting Hall of Fame. Not only did PK know who I was, she knew who Eliana was because of me. And because Eliana had no concept of twitter or followers or what in God's name a social media update was -- and because I handle almost all of my SoMe updates on my iPhone -- the tweet became a text and that meant that Princess Katie Had My Phone Number.

That means I win at Parenting, y'all.

Since then, I've been asked to text Santa her Christmas list, the Tooth Fairy to let her know another tooth was loose, the Easter Bunny to let him know we moved, and countless other Magical Beings about countless other Magical Things. On the flipside -- and because Mama is gonna milk this for as long as she can -- I've stopped tantrums in their tracks and witnessed Feats of Perfect Behavior during Otherwise No Good Very Bad Days  simply by muttering something about how Santa just texted a poll to parents asking their thoughts on how many pieces of coal should appear in stockings for the kids on the Naughty List.

I'm an evil genius and you're welcome.

Not too long ago, maybe around the time we launched Eliana's blog that we don't have the time to post on as often as I'd like, texts became tweets and instagram became AppleDog and the Story Pirates nominated me for Best Mom on the Internet. Okay, so not really. But they should and I'd totally be gracious and surprised if they actually did because I'm modest like that. Also? I probably deserve a cookie for making it 400 words without saying a bad word so you're welcome for that, too.

Back to the AppleDog story...I took a picture, Eliana asked me to tell the Story Pirates on AppleDog so they could see the picture, too, and they did AND RESPONDED.  Had it ended there, I'd still be just as giddy as the day I realized I could use my iPhone addiction as a peace negotiator with The Guardians. But then this happened....

No seriously...where's my tiara?

I have no words for how awesome today was made simply because of this exchange. It highlighted to me exactly why the Story Pirates are the phenomenon they have become with the kids who listen to their podcast, check in on Kids Place Live, or are lucky enough to see them perform in person. The concept is brilliantly simple and beautifully executed: kids write their own stories, submit to the Story Pirates for consideration, and if selected, the story is turned into a play and PERFORMED on air or on stage. If not? The Story Pirates have been known to write a kind word or two on the back of submitted stories before sending them back to the hopeful playwrites. It's creative inspiration, acknowledgement, and the fostering of literary love all wrapped in glittery awesomeness.

Today's update from the Story Pirates wasn't just a feather in my parenting cap. It was the moment Eliana realized she has a voice.

Plus I totally have Santa Clause on speed dial now...so sorry about that tantrum your kid just threw in the toy store.

On Second Chances & Our Daughters

I wasn't going to write tonight. There's frankly too much going on right now to really justify the time I am using right now that could be spent doing needed things. Like sleep.

And yet, here I am.

I'm here because of a tweet that was written because of a blog post that was written because a well-meaning mother decided to tell teenaged girls to stop acting like teenaged girls because their sexy selfies on instagram are sending the wrong message to all the good teenaged boys in the world.

Like others who have responded, I immediately thought of myself when I was younger and my daughter and the reality of growing up on social media and iPhones. I admit to shaking my head and wondering what the hell they are thinking when seeing selfie-updates posted online with pouty lips and sexy poses. Sometime I remember the only difference between then and now is that then didn't include instagram. So I refocus on doing (what I believe is) right by my daughter.

It's my job to raise her, not society's job to judge her. It's my job to teach her right from wrong and left from right and that she is so much more than a pretty face. I want her to be proud of herself, feel no shame in talking about things like anxiety and mama's ADHD and the therapist that we share. And I sure as hell am working my ass off to try (oh please, God) to provide her with a foundation strong enough to weather the demons that still chase after me like body image and my eating disordered past. As her mother, it's my responsibility to give her the tools, the knowledge that society will always have an opinion, and (hopefully) the sense of self to not give a damn. From there, it's her job to make mistakes, learn from them, and make some more until she's found her path.

It's my job to raise my daughter. It's not my job to judge yours.

I have no doubt my daughter will grow into an incredible older version of the wonder that she is now. But looking at the innocence in her little 6-year-old face is sometimes heart-breaking because I know that one day she will stop believing in the tooth fairy and asking to snuggle between me and her daddy and she will start pissing us off by pushing the boundaries. It's my job to try and make it through the storm she will create as she defines herself on her own terms and love her no matter how many times she disappoints herself...and maybe even me.

She's a lot like me, this little girl. And I wonder how many times I will see myself reflected in her actions as each day passes. The difference, though, is that while I was a teen, my mistakes were only recorded in my journals and written in overly squiggly cursive with i's dotted in hearts. Today's girls have a whole world waiting to serve as judge and jury for every misstep they share on Facebook or twitter or instagram or tumblr. I wish we'd stop judging. I wish we'd stop telling our daughters that it's their responsibility to get it right the first time and that it's their fault for anything relating to sex that may run through a young boy's mind. I wish that we'd just stop with the You Should's and You Shouldn'ts and remember that we didn't stop falling and picking ourselves back up just because we learned to walk.

I wish that I am successful in conveying the importance of never passing judgement on a friend just for making a choice she may not agree with.

I don't want to think about what I'd find searching my name online if the social media had existed when I was 15 or 18 or even 20. But even without the permanent record, I still held my breath waiting to hear my parents tell me that they still loved me. I'm not sure how many second chances they gave me. All I know is that when I fell they were still there to watch me brush myself off as I picked myself back up, reassessed, and gave it another go. One time in college I swallowed a bottle of pills because I just wanted to sleep and panicked when I realized sleeping and dying were to very different things. The friend who took me to the hospital in the middle of the night was a second chance. The friends who forced me into therapy were a third and so on and so forth. I am the product of all of my fuck-ups and all of my successes and I wonder how many of you recognize that about yourselves. We are who we are right now because yesterday happened.

When she's older and looking back like I am now, I don't know how many regrets her yesterday's will hold. I probably won't know half of the regrets that will have been posted online or maybe even all of the little things she is proud of. I might not even know how many second chances she counts as part of the foundation that -- even if a bit cracked here and there -- is still strong enough to hold another tomorrow.

A Thing or Two About Me Not Being An Expert

I'm not a social media expert. I am a social media addict who has over 70 thousand twitter updates on just one of my accounts, this blog, another website, a print and online column, two Facebook fan pages, and an instagram stream that serves as my lazy substitute for scrap-booking. So maybe I'm not an expert, but I feel pretty fucking confident about a thing or two.

Since my Latina column became A Thing, I've been working to build community, find my tribe, and follow the buzzword trail to that social media utopia where the world waits with baited breath for that rare moment when I have time to post an update and proceeds to like, retweet, and plus the hell out of the silly shit I share. My goal, for reference, is something between a Scary Mommy social media mafia and Jenny Lawson's very existence. Which probably sounds weird, but only if you've never read the blog post that started the Metal Chicken Revolution. Go ahead, read it. I'll wait. Because at least then I'll know you understand where I'm coming from.

I've been online five-and-a-half years. In that time, I've amassed a decent flow of blog hits per month, some 6-thousand plus followers on my two main twitter accounts, and a smattering of likes and followers on the rest of my regular social media channels. That might sound like a lot. Or it may not.

Because sometimes feel like I am sending out updates that seem to fade into the Great Nether without having any real impact, I started asking friends for tips. How do I foster engagement? Spark conversations? Hit the retweet lottery? Get me some of that Google + community action? Build community??

The responses I got had me adding more to my already insane To Do list. Tweeting and instagramming and pinning and sometimes remembering to post to my fan pages on facebook might take a few moments, but it doesn't seem like work because they are as automatic to me as breathing. Adding more to that equation to build my platform basically made my brain explode.

I found myself on Google +, which is a great social media channel, but one I often treat as an afterthought. I spend an evening joining communities and creating a few of my own because -- who knew? -- a successful community there is the new black, and for about a week, I was all into it. After I hit my regulars, I was on G+ sharing my inspirational quotes and trying to build more buzz for my column with a community dedicated to All Things Spanglish and another for Girl Body Pride. The response was great, but one day, probably yesterday, I just stopped driving myself up the Wall of Craziness.

Sure, I could pay a monthly fee to Hootsuite to allow for the pro options of updating every social media outlet known to man at the same time, but Maybe Later and I need to focus on what I can realistically handle on my own right now. Because that's where I am.

So I found myself falling back to my good old friend, Twitter, as my mainstay because it's what I know. I write here when I have time, (or make time depending on the topic). And I stopped giving a shit (again) about where I'm not.

Here's the thing, Internet; maybe Scary Mommy and Jenny Lawson have built successful blog communities that have led to bigger and greater reach. Maybe Google + communities are the place to be and I'm missing the boat. And maybe Will Ferrell can say Shaggy didn't do it and sit back and watch the retweets fly. But they didn't succeed because Twitter/Facebook/Google made it happen. They succeeded because, no matter where they were or which social media format they chose, they connected with their readers and fans.

See?

It's not the medium. It's the message.

That's the epiphany that I tripped over as I ran from Twitter to Google to Facebook to Google to the nearest bottle of wine. It's not the medium. It's the message.

If you like the simple things like breathing and sleeping, stop making more work and less time for yourself buy trying to spread yourself too thin in the name of Building Your Platform. That's kind of like tossing a handful of balls in the air and hoping a few are reflexively caught by those walking by. You want to build your tribe? Find one person who gets what you have to say. Make eye contact. And throw a pitch directly at them. Maybe it's not as splashy as the first option, but it's the more effective option.

My new plan is to not make a plan. I'm sticking to what I know and what I do.

And I'm going to do them fabulously.

What about you?

 

A Thank You to Otterbox

 

I'm talking about the case on my iPhone, y'all. It's pretty spiffy, yes?

Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I am brutal on my electronics. I blame gravity, but The Husband insists gravity had nothing to do with me spiking my last 4s on the kitchen floor hard enough to render the protection of  the previous Otterbox case I had on it utterly useless. I was left with a shattered phone screen and only didn't lose my shit because Apple Care is a Thing.

While waiting for my replacement phone to arrive, I was pleasantly surprised with a tweet from Otterbox inviting me to choose a new case on their site. No strings attached and no requirement to blog or instagram or tell you why Otterbox kicks serious customer service ass. Just a very nice gesture, a replacement case for my replacement phone, and me spreading the social media Otterbox love-fest because this is how I say thank you.

Get Down with BBC (Ya, You Know Me... Or Something Like That)

A few years ago, I struck up a twitter friendship with one person that led to me signing up for my first social media conference that led to an invitation from another to car pool since she lived in my neighborhood that led to, well, a hell of a lot of awesome. That first conversation was with Dr. Lynne Kenney and the car pool invite was from Becca Ludlum. And that conference? It was Bloggy Boot Camp, y'all. A last minute decision on my part that fit my budget, was close enough to home that maxing my credit card out on plane fare wasn't necessary, and turned out to be the best of all of the conferences I have attended to date.

I showed up not knowing what to expect and left knowing that I wanted to stay. I haven't had the opportunity to attend another Bloggy Boot Camp since, but I can promise you I will when I live on the same side of the country as my family and free childcare.

Because this conference was such an incredible experience for me, I jumped at the chance to share my one and only chance to tell Tiffany she is pretty in person with all of you for Bloggy Bootcamp Day. Better yet: here's my original ode to the fabulousness that is the BBC.

****

 

I wasn’t going to go. There really wasn’t a point, after all. I mean, I don’t do reviews. I don’t really have time to make IRL friends out of the people I already talk to online. And my spare time should be dedicated to that getting famous/book deal thing I’m kinda invested in, so do I really need to be spending a weekend with a bunch of women I probably have nothing in common with in the name of networking and social media at something with a cutesy name like Bloggy Boot Camp?

 

Answer: You bet your ass.

Here’s the deal: When you have familiar avatars and scary-impressive numbers attached to every tweet your send out, it’s bound to intimate the little fish in the pond who might wonder if responding to something your super-famous-self said or if you are even going to see the comment from not-so-famous us. So we follow. We lurk. We type and delete and then figure we’ll try again later when our numbers get just a bit bigger.

But those avatars are tricky little fuckers. They’re teeny. They can be grainy. They might not look so much like the In Real Life you. And that’s when people like me walk up to people like you and forget about the numbers and the followers and the influence and just smile and say “hello” and tell people like Loralee that her purse kicks absolute ass before realizing who I was talking to.

Because it’s that easy.

And that hug Tiffany said she wanted before bloggy boot camp? Ya know…the one she sent me a tweet about? Yeah, she remembered!

And ya wanna know what happened when I opened my mouth? (Aside from making an ass of myself when I heard Katja speak and realized it wasn’t just a cute red head at my table but Katja herself, that is. Because that’s when I turned back to Theresa and loud enough for Katja to hear and said, “OMG. I just realized who I was sitting next to! She’s Katja!” Which I’m sure is a moment Sugar Jones can relate to. Ask her about Patrick Duffy if you weren’t at Bloggy Boot Camp.)

I connected with people. I laughed with them. I learned I wasn’t the only mom-writer there who thought it was going to be a waste of time and left totally high on renewed energy and lots of new dreams.

 

Then there was meeting Carolyn McCray for dinner on Saturday after the conference and before the cocktail party and showed up with my heart in my throat while trying to not sound like I had no clue what I was talking about with her, Dee Dee and Piper Heiney.  I’m thinking I survived, but I may need that vodka Dee Dee provided in her little swag bag to get over any glitches in my portion of the conversation that now make me do some face-palm action.

 

I was only there because Dr. Lynne  Kenney thought it might be a great idea to give it a try and I reluctantly signed up. (And I can’t thank her enough for making me try something new.)

I may have been the picture of confidence but I’ll tell ya a secret. I freaked before I got there. Becca, Melanie, Michelle, Chelsea, and Shey were okay with the fact that I packed a week’s worth of clothes so I could have choices and blend when I got to the Xona Resort, which was nice because I seriously looked like an asshole next to the people flying in from other states with those adorable little over-nighter suitcases. (Note to self: I will not be repeating this mistake next year.)

(Okay, that was a total lie.)

I may not give a damn about SEO (mainly because thinking about it makes my head hurt) or have plans for monetizing the blog. But I did learn to keep an open mind when entering into each and every new situation. Because as I listened to authors who blog talk about making their dreams a reality and to presentations on vlogging and branding yourself, I realized I fit right in with every other mom blogger in the room with me as we work on leaving our marks in the world with our words and figure out how to stay sane while doing it.

 

****

Fine print: I suck at poker and am incapable of BS so this is all me and my own thoughts. If I remember to link up I might have a chance at a free trip to a BBC in 2012, but I might also win the lottery if I remember to buy a ticket, so whatever. I wrote this because I wanted to. The End.

Beauty and the Beholder

It seems the world is trying very hard to remind me of what I thought I already knew. Everywhere I turn I see a new reminder that body image, self-love and self-worth are the foundation on which our reflections are built. And once that foundation is shaken and cracked, it seems that the woman smiling back at us in the mirror is always a bit...unsure of herself.

My friend Janice posted this photo, which she found on Pinterest, and asked her blog readers a very important question and one that I am going to pose to you:

Which Woman Would You Rather Be?

That was the caption used with the image by the person who pinned it. Which woman would you rather be?

I can tell you which woman I'd rather look like. And I can tell you which woman I feel like. And then I can tell you that it's all a bunch of bullshit anyway and none of it matters because it's not about what we see when looking at and judging their bodies. It's what they see when they look in a mirror. It's how they feel about themselves. And who you or I would rather be doesn't mean a damned thing to either one of them.

Maybe that's the point. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, why are we trying to tell everyone else that what they see is wrong?

My answer? I'd rather be the one who is happy and comfortable in her own skin. I'd rather be the one who loves herself and all that she was, is, and ever will be. I'd rather be the woman who didn't understand what it is to be eating disordered.

Your turn.

Which woman would you rather be?

 

Rachel's Wish Lives On

A smiling face. A flower in her hair. And a headline about a 9-year-old girl who asked for donations to Charity Water instead of birthday gifts. But it was the birth date itself that caught my attention: June 12.

My own daughter turned four that day. Rachel Beckwith turned nine. A month later, she died as a result of injuries received in a 14 car pile-up. But an amazing outpouring of support is keeping her wish to help others alive.

As of her birthday, Rachel was just $80 short of her $300 goal. As of this moment, over 21,ooo donations totaling over $771,000 have been made on Rachel' behalf.

Countless have donated $9, in honor of Rachel's age, and I just added my own. I hope you will, too. Please, spread the word. This little girl could have asked for Barbies and glittery lip gloss and purses and Justin Bieber T-Shirts. Instead, she only wanted to help others. That kind of generosity of spirit cannot be forgotten.

 

Mamavation Monday: A tale of two blog posts

I once tweaked my neck sneezing. This is important to note because two days ago I sprained my ankle.

While standing in front of this...

 

I can't get into further detail because there aren't any. I limped my way through packing The Husband's work cooler, getting his dinner done before he woke up for work, and getting Buttercup into bed. I woke up yesterday morning not being able to walk, kissed The Husband goodnight as he climbed into bed to prepare for another midnight shift, and dropped Buttercup off at a friend's house. That's when HC Palmquist called to give me the same speech I gave her about being a jackass for driving myself to the ER and told me to stop by her place so she could play taxi.

Frankly, I think she was just looking for some cheap entertainment.

Observe:

check-in Nurse: And what are we seeing you for today?

Me: I either broke or sprained my ankle.

Nurse: When?

Me: Last night.

Nurse: Last night? Um, okay. Have you taken anything for the pain or swelling?

Me: *Blinking* Shit. I  didn't even realize that was an option. This is why I'd never be invited to appear on Celebrity Rehab.

HC Palmquist: Um, I think you actually have to be a celebrity for that to happen.

Me: Or shot someone in the head and had my name all over the tabloids. --yes, I'm talking about you, Amy Fisher.

HC Palmquist: *shrugs shoulders* Same difference.

Nurse: *Obviously ignoring the exchange* How did you injure yourself.

Me: I was standing in front of my refrigerator.

Nurse: *waiting.*

Me: That's it. I was standing in front of my refrigerator.

HC Palmquist: Hysterical laughter.

Or this one:

Nurse Practitioner: What did you do to yourself, dear?

Me: No idea. But I can't put weight on my foot.

NP: This happened when?

Me: Last night.

NP: last night?

Me: Why does everyone act like I should have come in right after I made the sandwich?

HC : *snickering* Because that is what a normal person would have done.

NP: (to HC) Thank you. (to me) Made the sandwich?

ME: That's how it happened. I was standing in front of the refrigerator.

NP: And?

ME: That's it. I. Was. Standing. In. Front. Of. The. Refrigerator. I grabbed what I needed to make my husband a sandwich and suddenly felt like comparing the pain in my ankle now shooting up my leg to an unmedicated childbirth.

NP: So, it never occurred to you to take an aspiring for the swelling?

ME: It's swollen?

 

NP: Really?

HC: Hysterical laughter.

Or:

NP: Well, it isn't broken. But you did really hurt yourself. You can see significant swelling on the X-ray.

Me: Thank God.

NP: It is sprained. You aren't off the hook. I'm sending you home with an ankle brace and crutches. No weight on that injured ankle for three days.

Me: That count started yesterday, right?

NP: It might have if you had come in when you almost broke your ankle making a sandwich.

HC: hysterical laughter.

It wasn't until after I sent HC home with a few tokens of appreciation for playing nursemaid all day that I realized I got had. I'm the one who should have been charging admission.

The line forms here, people. You're welcome.

***

The problem with posting on a schedule is that life happens off schedule. Today's focus was supposed to be on Leah Segedie and today's awesome two-year-anniversary celebration for her ground-breaking Mamavation social media health initiative, but then all the crap before the asterix happened. And because it wouldn't be funny on Wednesday, I figured I'd do do double duty and talk about both today.

If you are new to the blog, let me explain. Every Monday I try to post a personal health related update sharing my current experience with the Sistahs of the Mamavation community. The literal ups and downs...no harsh judgement allowed. Just support and open arms for those giving their all to trying to better themselves for their health and their families.

I also serve as an editor for Leah's Bookieboo blog and post weekly. So yes, there is a fair amount of time invested, but only because I believe firmly that Leah has created a fantastic community and love being a part of it. I also love that i can call many of the moms friends and inspirations. Shelley, Kimberly, Kia, Stephanie, and Sue...thank you for being part of this group of Awesome created by Leah.

Happy birthday, Mamavation. Can't wait to see what the next year brings you.

Insomniac says...

Things you realize at 2:25 a.m.: * Insomnia isn't really your thing. It's just a way of life you've grown accustomed to. Exhibit A? Mom came to visit which meant Buttercup slept in her room for the first week. You slept like the dead. Until the New Grandma smell wore off and the baby monitor ended up back by your bed. That's when the fucking thought of even the slightest shift in the cosmos will make it impossible for you to get comfortable in bed, let alone fall asleep.

* Bed time stories entitled Go the Fuck to Sleep? Sound like the best idea ever.

* Dreams of hiring a live-in masseuse start to actually make sense.

* That Facebook Like Page that the rest of the world has? Yeah. You created one months ago, it seems. And because you couldn't sleep tonight, you created a new one, found the old one, realized it was an old one, and deleted the new one. You think. But you aren't entirely sure.

*You are convinced that you are so past the high school social anxiety related to people liking you...until you refresh your Facebook Like Page for the 143rd time at 2:32 a.m. and realize that only 39 people actually like you.

* The puppy licking your toes under your desk feels kinda kinky.

*That thinking about ( maybe possibly trying to) getting pregnant again seems like an entirely feasible way to celebrate the four years it took to lose the 45 pounds gained with the first kid.

* That if this actually works, and it takes four more years to lose the baby weight, I'll be kissing 40 before I can identify my waistline in a police line up.

* That by the time Buttercup loses her first tooth, I will probably have to distinguish between the fruit and the smartphone when I offer her a blackberry.

* And that when she hears a bird say tweet in the park, she will most likely tell me to check my phone for new messages (because that's what I'll be doing, anyway.)

* That I am not in the minority when my phone rings and I get annoyed. Who the hell uses those things to talk anymore?

* It's 2:42 a.m. And my kid didn't come with a snooze button.

Tomorrow morning is not going to be pretty.

Grading on a Scale

As a child, I spent more time than I care to remember hiding in the pantry at home, eating away feelings I couldn't process. Maybe my brain was wired in such a way that I was just prone to falling prey to eating disorders, or maybe my body image issues stemmed from growing too tall too quickly. I'm not sure. But I'll bet skipping training bras in the second grade and borrowing my petite mother's jeans the same year (she stands 5' 1'') probably had something to do with it all.

I eventually averaged out, reaching my adult height of 5'6'' at the age of 13. That's  when my hips developed and my curves made me feel even more out of place with the Caucasian girls I went to school with. I was bingeing before I knew it was a word and by the time I was 15, I was in denial about my bulimia.

And almost all of the hell I put myself through manifested from within. I can't even imagine having had to deal with having my school measure my BMI (body mass index) and stick a corresponding grade on my report card.

Can you?

Can you imagine being a child with any bit of uncertainty about themselves and their bodies (think about that for a minute) and suddenly have the requirement of a BMI grade thrown at you?  Eating disordered or not, rare is it that a child of any age is self-assured enough that a little number such as that won't have some kind of negative effect on them.

Before I go any further, let's talk about BMI. I have never been a fan of this particular acronym; mainly because it's been a cause of --- let's just call it frustration--- since I learned of its existence. BMI is nothing more than a measure of body fat for an individual taken against their height and weight. Figure out your number and then the BMI scale will tell you if you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. I was 156 pounds in high school, wore a size 10, had curves that didn't come into vogue until after Jennifer Lopez insured her ass, and played varsity tennis. And according to the BMI scale, I was overweight (bordering on obese.) I also was a full-fledged bulimic.

One of my best friends is also 5'6''. She's a teeny little thing with a size four ring finger (I wear a 7) and fits in the underweight to normal range on the BMI scale depending on the day. As an adult who has finally come to terms with different body types, bone structures, muscle mass, and every other little physiological fact that makes us unique, I understand that my friend and I only have  height in common. I understand that her being smaller than me does not make make me fat by default. But as an insecure teenager?

Hell no.

Slate.com has a very informative piece on the history of the BMI. The well-written ladies over at The F-word paraphrased and added their own commentary here.

And I quote:

Here’s the kicker: Like Quetelet, Keys never intended for BMI to be used in this way.  In fact, his original paper warned against using BMI for individual diagnoses, since the equation ignores variables like a person’s age or gender, and I would also add, also their ethnicity, frame size and muscle mass ratio. Writes Singer-Vine:

It’s one thing to estimate the average percent body fat for large groups with diverse builds, Keys argued, but quite another to slap a number and label on someone without regard for these factors…  Now Keys’ misgivings are gaining traction across the world of medicine: BMI simply doesn’t work when it comes to individual measurements. --- source: The F-Word

Now, tell me why these schools think it a good idea to add a number that marks us all yet fails to take into account all the factors that help to determine it? I won't argue that childhood obesity is a problem that needs to be addressed, but is this the way to approach it? Take out the sugar-laden vending machines. Maybe stop cutting back on physical education programs and extra curricular activities. Hell, bring in Jamie Oliver and stage a Food Revolution to help teach kids and their families how to eat and cook healthier. But this?

Turns out even The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) wanted make sure the new policy's potential risk to students was reduced. Following are the CDC guidelines from their Executive Summary on the matter:

To reduce the risk of harming students, BMI measurement programs should adhere to the following safeguards (1) introduce the program to school staff and community members and obtain parental consent, (2) train staff in administering the program (ideally, implementation will be led by a highly qualifi ed staff member, such as the school nurse), (3) establish safeguards to protect student privacy, (4) obtain and use accurate equipment, (5) accurately calculate and interpret the data, (6) develop efficient data collection procedures, (7) avoid using BMI results to evaluate student or teacher performance, and BMI (8) regularly evaluate the program and its intended outcomes and unintended consequences -- source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

I, for one, am wholeheartedly against this. Thankfully, I am not the only one. Cheryl Rainfield and Sarah Littman have started a petition, (which you can sign directly on my sidebar) in an effort to put an end to what we consider a very dangerous practice. Please, take a moment to sign.

I will also go on record now with this statement: If my only option for my 3-year-old daughter's future education involves her being subjected to being graded on what the scale says, I will search for another option. She will already have societal pressures, magazine covers, Barbie dolls, Hollywood starlets, and her own interpretation of body image to deal with. And I'll be damned if I let her report card add to the reasons I can only hope she avoids the same path I traveled before I found myself.

Justice, Pride, and Fear

I don't write about politics. It's not my thing.

But 10 years ago, I was in a small newsroom when the world stopped spinning. When planes hijacked by terrorists flew into the Twin Towers, killing thousands. I remember being afraid as I drove home that evening. I was in Michigan, far from Ground Zero, but I was afraid.

I interviewed a woman who lived in the city I covered who sat on a bridge as the towers fell. I cried as she spoke. All those lives lost. The hate responsible for our nation's terror. She saw it all happen. Her eyes captured the images I painted with words.

Today, I am afraid once again.

The nation celebrates the death of Osama bin Laden. And rightfully so. I believe in justice. I believe in bringing those who lost loved ones the comfort that only closure can bring. And I believe that our nation has the right to cheer the death of one so evil.

But, yes. I am still afraid.

While cheerleaders do pyramids in front of the White House. While crowds sing, "Na-na-na-na, Na-na-na-na! Hey Hey, Hey! Good-bye!..." And while images of Stanley Cup celebrations cross in my mind with tonight's breaking news, Osama bin Laden did not take all of Al Qaeda with him. Osama bin Laden did not die clutching all evil known to human kind to his chest.

I have closed my eyes and breathed in the sorrow surrounding Ground Zero. I am watching tonight's celebration at the site and I understand it. I do. I didn't lose anyone I know on September 11, 2011, and yet, I want to say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing our national anthem and shake the Obama's hand and thank our military personnel who put their lives on the line to protect the country they serve.

I am proud to be American. But I am afraid.

Osama is dead.

But tomorrow is a new day. And I only wish I knew what it will bring. Because I don't, I can only hug my sleeping daughter close, breathing in her innocence.

I now call this meeting to order...

It's no secret. I spend a hell of a lot of time on Twitter.

It's fun. It's random. And I love being able to connect with writers and moms just by pulling my blackberry out of my bra and sending a tweet.

But ya know what I don't love?

Auto DMs (or automatic direct messages, for the uninitiated).

Here's my take on the situation: If you send them, you look like an A-hole. A fake, smiling, chipper telemarketer hoping that the person you just called won't hang up before you finish your pitch. I don't care how famous you are or how many followers you have or how impossible it is to keep up with all the tweets coming your way. Be real or sit down and shut up. I know when I'm being patronized. And you know what happens when I get "Thanks for following me! Please check out my INSERT URL HERE and I can't wait to get to know you!" in my direct message  inbox?

An automatic unfollow.

Same goes for the crazy Facebook games some of Those People with Time to Spare that end up with your results in my direct message inbox.  Because really? I don't need to take a quiz to figure out which real crazy writer I am like. I can save a lot of headache by just looking in the fucking mirror.

I don't care if you have 2 followers or 2 million. I don't care if I followed you because I thought you were interesting until the DM showed up in my inbox. Sometimes it hurts to cut the chord. But if you're too busy to sincerely acknowledge or ignore me, I doubt you're going to notice you're down a follower.

Here's the thing, people. I know that some perfectly wonderful and nice bloggers/tweeps use auto DMs. I've grimaced every time I've gotten one...and admit that I have had to swallow my own words and ignore my own policy every now and then, especially if a relationship had already developed outside of/or prior to Twitter. I want to tell these people that for a brief moment, I stopped thinking they are wonderful and nice and instead thought they were about as real and sincere as The Popular Kid in elementary school who was forced to invite all the kids in his/her class to their birthday parties. Smile big and pretty for the camera...but let's forget we this ever happened after the flash dies away, okay?

Am I being melodramatic? Probably.

I know that most people who set up auto-dm's probably think it's a nice way to welcome their new followers instead of making them wait for acknowledgment. But after my recent informal twitter poll, I confirmed that I'm not the only one with a bug up my bum about this whole thing.

What started this whole drama? A real direct message. One that thanked me for a follow that was very obviously written by the person who sent it and was very obviously intended for me. I was in shock.

So I tweeted this:

wow, i just got a realm sincere, thanks for the follow DM. take note people, i'd rather be sincerely ignored than falsely welcomed.

And the "Sing it, sister!" responses started coming in, so I started a very unscientific and unofficial Twitter Poll.

Responses to my "Love auto DMs or Hate 'em" tweet included the words "annoying," "hate," insincere," unfollow," and "why?"

Not one person jumped up and admitted to using them. Not one person called me out for calling them out.A few people did say that they are only mildly annoyed by them. Some just ignore the auto-dm's and others have even found magical and mystifying ways to block them completely. I'm not that talented, nor do I believe I need to go out of my way to avoid your social media fuax-paux, so I'll just bitch about them here because I can.

But ya know what? Not one person jumped up and said that they loved receiving auto dm's or that they make the receiver feel like they just got hugged by a rainbow.

Or a unicorn.

So here's my plan to take over Twitter and make it safe to play in the sandbox again: I think that those of us on Team Pauline should join together and form Tweeps Against Auto Direct Messages (TAADM.) I'll be president. Karen Quah can be vice-president.

I even have a slogan, which Karen already approved after too many martinis.

Friends don't let friends auto-dm. Respond or ignore sincerely. It could save a follow.

Our first meeting will take place in the community center, room 4A, right after the Twitter Anonymous (TA) meeting lets out. Don't forget the punch and cookies this time.