The house was getting chilly. #365feministselfie

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?

Martial Arts Mom #365feministselfie

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.

Russian Red. #365FeministSelfie

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…

 

5 am.The child has been awake 3 hours. It took me 5 hours combined to write a 500 word column. And I don't care what my face looks like because it doesn't hurt anymore. Oh,.. And an orange did this to me, I think. #365feministselfie

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.

No red lipstick. I'm okay with this today. #365feministselfie

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.

Mexican in Maine (on a cold day) #365feministselfie

 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.


 

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.

 

A picture of my Galaxy Gear taken with the Note 3 and then transferred to the Note 3 through the Galaxy Gear. I know. My brain just imploded.

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.

 

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.

 

Photo by Pauline Campos

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.

 

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?

 

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