I Stopped Writing

Three years ago this month, I stopped writing. Of course, I still WRITE. I write blog posts, articles, and content for work(s). But, I stopped actually writing… writing about what I think, what I am wondering about, what is going on in my world. I stopped writing because life got really hard and I didn’t know what to say. I stopped writing because I worried about what people would think.

I miss it. I am busy, like many of you. I have a lot of things going on but in the middle of those things is a person. A person who likes connecting with other people. A person who likes figuring things out, trying new things, and learning.

So I want to start again. I want to write about the middle of all the things, about my town, and what I am learning about people, parenting, and life. I will be wrong. It might be embarrassing. I want to do it anyway or try…

So if you want to get tips on digital marketing you can check out my writing at flyte new media and Social Media Breakfast Maine. If you want to read what is going on with the wine business, you can follow along at eighteen twenty. If you want the stuff in the middle, the messy stuff, what I am reading and thinking about, the not quite figured out stuff, trying to be a good human and mom stuff… you can follow along here, because I want to start writing again.

One Year In and No Direction Yet

One year ago, I decided to officially launch this blog after drinks with a wonderful friend. As in internet marketer by trade, launching with no goals, no direction and with a free Worpress theme was VERY hard but I needed just to start and I was coming up with too many excuses not to.

The goal was to write one post a week about whatever I felt like and see if something sorted out along the lines of a theme or a goal. I did pretty good with the once a week goal – this will be my 54th post. I did not figure out a direction or a goal but I am OK with that. If anyone finds it too scattered, they are very welcome to not read it.

I went through this blog’s analytics and below are the top ten posts from this year and they seem to be all over the map too. This blog has a lot of readers and page views but not a lot of subscribers which I am sure could be fixed if I narrowed in on a topic. Who knows… maybe in 2012 I will find a narrower focus.

Glad I did it

So even though the blog wasn’t up to my standards, I am so glad that I did it. This year has been a rough one but having this blog really helped me through some difficult times. It also gave me reason to sit and reflect on some really great things that were happening in my life.

I am not sure how I would have flushed out my emotions with all the Brody stuff or how I would keep so many people who care about him/us up to date on how he was doing. I also succeeded in finding a channel other than the companies I write for to talk about my personal life and about things that really interest me. That was a lot of fun.

Most popular amandapants.com posts of 2011

Thanks to some web analytics, here are the ten most read blogs from this past year.

10. Giving 100%

This post was actually just a quote from Larry Bird. I wish all posts were that easy!

9. Cheers to Three Years

Three years of marriage down and still another lifetime to go!

8. Anticipatory Grief

I was sabotaging the time I have left with Brody by worrying too much about losing him.

7. How Long Does it Take to Fall in Love with Portland, Maine

With only two days to show a first time Maine visitor around, I reflected on some of my favorite things to do. I love this city.

6. What I learned at SXSW – The Not So Official Version

Reflections from Nerd Spring Break.

5. Top 5 Movies for When You Are Sick

Some type of plague took over my life. I spent some time thinking about my favorite movies for when I am sick and the close runner ups.

4. What We Did Before Cell Phones

After a week with some of my favorite people and no cell phones, I was almost sad to turn them back on.

3. A Few Thoughts on Big Decisions

When faced with the biggest and hardest decision on my life, I learned a lot about myself and what is really important.

2. I Cut Off My Hair and Sent it to Locks of Love

I have had long hair for almost all of my life. This Spring, in a tribute to my grandmother, I took off 10″ of hair and sent it to Locks of Love

1. Brody Has Three Legs – Just Don’t Tell Him That

This was the most read blog post here last year. After a long walk in the woods, Brody went to jump into the Jeep and one of his hind legs shattered. My athletic and healthy dog actually had bone cancer and that leg was so pock marked it shattered when he went to jump into the car. From then on in, our year and my life totally changed. It wasn’t just Brody who had to adjust to being sick and two having 3 legs.

How people got to this blog

Some people got to this blog by searching for terms on Google. As a life-long Saved by the Bell fan, I am VERY proud of how many people got to this blog for various searches that involved Zach Morris.

Below are the most popular searches that got people to this blog:

  • amanda pants
  • zack morris
  • movies for when you’re sick
  • happily ever after
  • amandapants
  • zack morris cell phone
  • smiley face scale
  • songs like you always make me smile
  • cut off my hair
  • best movies for when you are sick

Other than searching most people got to this blog from Facebook, Twitter, Hootsuite and LinkedIn.

The best parts

Trudging along with no goals was tough but I got so much from this blog last year.

One of my favorite parts was hearing how this blog affected other people. People have told me that this blog has made them laugh, has made them cry and has even made a few people try out running or get back on track with running.

As I mentioned before, this blog also helped me sort out a lot of things. This year has been one of the hardest I can recall. Somehow writing about it has helped me get a better handle on how I felt about all of it and put into perspective how I was going to deal with it.

What to do in 2012

Fortunately or unfortunately for anyone reading this blog, I am going to probably keep with the scatter-brained posts. I hope for next year I can do some things different stylistically and get it beefed up a little. I hope to continue with one post a week and to continue to learn and grow with this blog.

Thanks for reading in 2011 and cheers to 2012! Let’s see where this road takes us!

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

social circle fortune cookieSo we are on month eight of this blog, but I have been around the blogging block for about four years officially and before that I wrote and published some random stuff here and there. If you are building up your online presence, starting a blog, trying to get more Twitter followers or fans of your Facebook page – I have a little advice for you: give credit where credit is due.

If someone shares something with you, gives you advice, lets you use their equipment, sponsors your event, suggests a book that changed your life etc. give them the credit for it. It doesn’t have to be grand fanfare but a link or a nod or a mention should suffice.

I had an interesting conversation this past weekend about bloggers and playing nice in the sandbox. The folks I was talking to were beyond frustrated at helping someone out only to see their advice posted on that person’s blog without even a nod in their direction. They will probably not be helping that blogger again.

Your network is sexy

Many blogs, especially business blogs, are written to teach you something and for the business to prove they are an expert in their industry. There is pride in having all of the answers and speaking in an authoritative voice. Being smart is awesome and it does close the deal but you know what is even more sexy? Having a huge network of people that you can collaborate with and call on for help in an instant.

In the blogs I write for and in my work, I will always tell you that if I don’t have the answer… I bet I can find the person that does and I can usually get it very quickly. Does that make me not as smart? I don’t think so. I think people, friends and customers value that honesty.

We are in a new world where barely anyone is solely responsible for their work and knowledge. We work in teams. We Google things we don’t remember. We carry our networks in our pockets (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Email). An answer is within reach, at all times.

Adam is in week three of medical school and he was telling me even how surprised he was at how collaborative the learning process is. We heard horror stories of students stealing books from each other or sabotaging study guides so other students would suffer. Adam is learning that with online tools students share notes, resources they find online, practice tests and more (all legal and all on school resources). My first impression is yes, they need to learn all of this stuff but even how we practice medicine is different – their are new tools and resources online for doctors to use and collaborate.

So if someone does you a solid, or sparks an idea – give them the credit they deserve. I don’t care if they have 45,000 Twitter followers or 45, give them the nod they deserve and show your network how connected you are. If not, your network will eventually catch on slight after slight and you may find your network of good people shrinking, not growing. Oh and there is always karma.

Photo credit: Jeff Hester

The Thing About Birthdays…

Amandas 2nd BirthdayThe thing is for my birthday and Brody’s birthday (his is September 1st) I get really reflective. I think about where I am and where I want to be. I think this annoys Adam sometimes but I am not a party hat wearing, binge drinker on my birthday – I am usually pretty calm and I spend a good time alone and/or thinking about the state of me. I was surprised to see two men I respect professionally seem to take a similar birthday approach – CC Chapman and Chris Brogan.

Last year was the first year that I can remember that I had a hard time setting my goals. I have found and married an wonderful man who loves me very much and makes me very happy, we have a great little house of our own, we have two of the most fun dogs on Earth, I have a great family who love and support me, I have a good job that is near my home and I was feeling like I was really finding my way.

So my goal last year was more a basic idea – BETTER. I just wanted all the things I already had but I wanted to make them better. I wanted to spend more quality time with my husband, my family and my dogs. I wanted to eat better, become a better runner, take care of some things to make our house better, be a better friend, do my job better and all in all just be a better person.

I think I did a pretty good job with that. We really have had a great year. We have gotten to do some amazing things. I have spent some really great time with my family and I do feel better.

So what about this year?

Today I turn 32 **gulp** . Everything is about the same, generally speaking, as last year with some recent road blocks. My dog, who is just the love of my life is sick, my work is morphing and we are still working on getting Adam into school. Not a whole lot I can do about some of those, which is hard for me because I am ‘a fixer’.

So this year I am going to not go for specific goals but a general goal like last year. This year I want to become stronger. I have some big decisions to make, we have some changes to get ready for and I will feel more equipped to handle these things if I am stronger.

  • Stronger physically – Becoming stronger physically will help me achieve a few goals I have for running. I am not talking about entering any weight lifting competitions or anything but a little more muscle in this body wouldn’t hurt.
  • Stronger mentally – I am a constant learner. I read a lot, I write a lot, I go to a lot of conferences and webinars and I try to soak up a lot of information. I have been pretty busy lately and feel like this learning has slipped a little so I want to try to bulk up my brain a bit more this year too.
  • Stronger for Brody – As you probably know Brody has bone cancer and we recently amputated one of his hind legs. This has been beyond hard for me. I know that we are in our final chapters here but I want to be stronger for him so I can continue to make the right decisions for him and make sure our last stretch is a kick ass one. I want to make sure he is happy, knows he is loved and is well taken care of.
  • Stronger for my husband – How awesome is my husband? Pretty awesome. Our biggest ‘problem’ is that we don’t get to see each other as much as we would like (we work opposite schedules). He has a big year coming up and I want to be better about being there for him when he needs it.
  • Stronger for my family – My family is fantastic. We are unlike any other family I have seen before and I wouldn’t change that for the world. This past year I was lucky enough to get to spend more time with them. I don’t think I spent this much time with family since I was a little kid. It has been awesome. I want to keep that up and be able to help them if they ever need anything.
  • Make my company stronger – My work is in an interesting place. We are growing, moving and in the starting gates to take everything to another level. In the position I have, I am partially responsible for how that growth happens and making sure we execute it well. I want to make sure I do the best job I can growing our company for all the people that work there.
  • Be a stronger writer – One of my heroes, my grandmother, wanted to be a writer. Times were obviously different then but I can only hope she can see all of the work I do. I think she would be very proud. Writing here has been a tremendous help in finding my ‘voice’ and for sorting out some problems and sharing things that I think are important. I have a few projects I want to complete that will involve me taking writing more seriously so I want to become a stronger writer and be more confident in my own writing.

Oh, oh AND I want to make a fish tank out of a television. That is a goal for this year too 🙂 I have the television console… just need to figure out the fish tank part. I am serious.

So I guess those are my birthday goals this year – to just be all around stronger. I am excited to have a fun day with the people who love me and I hope you have a great day too! Thank you so much to those of you who take the time to read this, comment on this and support me in this weird little blogging project.

A Few Thoughts on Big Decisions

We make decisions all day, every day. We make big decisions often too. Sometimes, we have to make big, life-changing decisions – and those are a different beast. Decisions about your health, about switching jobs or careers, about friends and family are what I am talking about. Ones that actually are going to forever change your life. Decisions that if you choose wrong, you may never get a do-over.

I am fortunate that I haven’t had too many of these. A life changing decision done wrong, could have major consequences, you may hurt someone who loves you, you could never get back to what you had. On the other hand, you may choose right and reap the benefits of a new path in life.

I unfortunately had to make one of the hardest personal decisions of my life this week*. I won’t know if I made the right decision for awhile but a decision had to be made. I hope none of you are ever in the position I was in this week.

Over the last few days, I have thought a lot about not only my decision but decisions in general. Although I am not willing to discuss my decision this week because it was my own, I do want to talk about making large decisions.

Here are some of my thoughts on making life-changing decisions

  • You don’t know what you would do, until you are actually there – We do it all the time, I know I do – we project what we would do if we were in someone else’s situation.
    “I don’t have children, but if I did I wouldn’t let them do that.”
    “I know I don’t have her job, but I would totally ask for that promotion.”
    But we are not in that person’s shoes and we don’t have all the information on why they choose a decision. It feels like each time I am faced with a big decision, I seem to do the opposite (or some version of) than what I thought I would do. You just don’t know what you are going to do sometimes, until you are there.
  • You need family – Family is important and if you don’t have a close family you can make a close family with your nearest and dearest friends. ‘Family’ always want what is best for you, family doesn’t care what you look like or if you haven’t showered for days. They bring you food when you didn’t even realize you hadn’t been eating and you can call them and just cry and they will listen. They may project their opinions, it is only because they care but they will support you in whatever your final call is.
  • Saving is so important – When life throws a road block up and a fork in the road, you want to be able to make a decision that is right for you, not the decision that you can afford. If you need to leave your job, that is easier to do when you have a savings to catch you when you fall. If someone gets hurt, or needs something it is much easier to have a net to catch you than to have to make the decision based solely on money.
  • Social Media might not be ready for big decisions – I live and breathe the internet, quite literally, it is what I do for work. I work with businesses on how to use the internet, social media and blogs to market their businesses. I think things like social media and blogging are so interesting and watching how it has changed how we communicate is crazy. I don’t think it is ready for life changing decisions. I think that is related to my first point. Our major decisions will change our lives and I don’t know if you need the input from your friends, people you went to high school with, work friends you met at conferences etc. Someone may have been through something similar but what they did and what you should do may not be the same. You don’t want to put your future in someone else’s hands.
  • The faster your brain goes, the slower times goes – Anyone who has gone through a big breakup** or been near to someone who passed knows this. When you think so fast about all the ‘what ifs’ and what you would do differently, time goes by so slowly. What feels like hours has been twenty minutes. You can also multiply that if you are waiting for calls for news. Waiting for an update or a call can be the worst wait there is. You don’t even know if what you hear will be good news or bad news and each minute feels like an eternity.
  • Writing helps you process your thoughts – As I am writing this sentence, I am still not sure if I am going to post this but it feels good to write it. I was never into journaling, but the times I tried were times I felt down about something. Just the act of getting some emotion out of you and onto a piece of paper (or a computer screen) is empowering.
  • Once you have made that decisions you should own it – You might have to explain it for the rest of your life so once you are there and you have made a decision you better back it.

So those are a few thoughts on making life changing decisions. They are usually never easy and often there isn’t a right or wrong, just what you choose. The worst thing you can do is not make a choice so you need to make one, own it and live on with it. Hope (if I post this) it helps someone, somewhere process something.

* No, I am not pregnant, I really wish everyone would stop asking me that. I think that is very personal and it is shocking how many people feel they have the right to ask if you are pregnant. It is ok to be married and not get pregnant right away. That is a whole other blog post though right?

** Please note I am not going through a big breakup. Adam and I are healthy and happy. I love him very much. I love being married to him and I couldn’t get through any of my big decisions without him.

New Year’s Resolution 2011

Well I have had the domain, had the blog theme downloaded but then this has just sat here. As an internet marketer by trade, I always talk about having a niche or a direction when you start a blog. But I don’t have one. I don’t have a direction, I don’t have a theme. I just have some things I want to share that I can’t share here, here, here or here.

After a nice night out with Josh Fisher, I think we both convinced me just to get started. So that is what I will do. I am going to get started and start putting some things together here. As it unfolds, as I start putting down thoughts here more regularly – maybe I will find a direction.

Until then, this is what you get.

Happy New Year!