I remember when I first started When Life, one of the tag lines I used was, “making social media social again.” I had this vision of building an online community of storytellers where you could share your story, encourage others as they share theirs, or just come hang out for inspiration. I can proudly say that while I may not have the biggest following, my tribe is quite mighty!
When someone shares a part of their journey, and it goes on to be published, seeing everyone comment, encourage, and applaud the brave soul who made that submission makes me one proud Mama. What I don’t think some realize is how much they have helped me. Now I don’t mean website visits, purchases, or stories, but I am talking about how they have emotionally and mentally helped me with the meaningful relationships we have made through the power of social media.
I remember telling people when I was in the early stages of building When Life that I just wanted people to make honest and real connections. And I remember being told, “good luck with that.” “People are so superficial and fake,” they would say. “No one is there to really ‘connect,’” I would be told. While that may be the truth for some, I can say that I am proof that when you show up consistently as your true and authentic self, and you are ACTUALLY social, it is possible to develop real relationships with other likeminded individuals.
Let me share with you a few (okay maybe more than a few) of some of my favorites.
@celeryandthecity is my blunt talking and crunchy friend from Chicago. We somehow connected through a group we were in together and I honestly loved her sense of humor from the start. If I have ANY kind of health-related issue or concern or if I want a good recipe or if I just need a laugh, she is my girl. Since following her, I have learned to take better care of myself and have even come off 3 medications I was taking for my Dysautonomia. I’m telling you first chance I get to go to Chi town, she better clear her calendar.
Then there are @lifewithmamak, @fantabulous40s, @raising_julian, and @wilmarieckerson who have been there since the beginning. Some of us met in Facebook groups while the rest of us stumbled upon one another on Instagram, but consistently for the past 12-15 months, we have championed one another’s endeavors. We have shared fears and concerns about our blogs and businesses. We’ve talked and supported one another during difficult times, both personal and business. I will never forget the time that Wilmari told me she was sending me a present. A few weeks later a packaged arrived and in it was a journal. Not an empty journal, but rather a journal filled with personal thoughts and entries written during a difficult time in her life. I was so moved by this kind gesture. She explained that she wanted to share with me part of her journey as an encouragement to myself. I don’t know that I have ever been gifted something so selfless in my life.
Sometimes you connect with people over the simplest of things. For instance, @hookedinhope, @mia_sutton_blog, @deepsouthluxury, @wine.with.tosjagoodnight, @rustiquebychristy, @grahamintheham, and @limited_edition_mom (whew that’s a long list) are such kindred spirits to me. Maybe it’s our love of coffee, books, and music that brought us together. Mutual acquaintances that we somehow discovered one another through. I’ve prayed with some of these ladies for their children, their health, and their families. We’ve encouraged one another through difficult health journey’s or during the decision to share their story. And while we are spread out all over the globe, I think of and speak to them often and consider them to be like a distant soul sister.
My sweet British friend, @61things was uprooted and moved to Texas and honestly there is nothing better than an English accent with a Southern twang. I could seriously listen to her talk all day! I honestly can’t even remember how we started talking, but we went from sliding in and out of each other’s direct messages to traveling to New York together. Ok, let me explain… You see, Sharon was going with her husband to NYC for business, and I couldn’t help but whine about how I have always wanted to go. The next thing I knew, I was being tagged in her photos and Instagram stories as unbeknownst to myself she had taken me to New York with her…flat Stanley style! If you haven’t heard of Flat Stanley before, you can read about him HERE. Basically, she printed out my picture and wherever she went I followed. I am so blessed to have been able to visit New York and even more thankful she didn’t drop me off the Empire State Building.
Leah, from @la.is.a.hot.mess, is the most real and down to Earth gal you could ever want to meet. She and I had been following each other for a few months when she showed up at one of my pop-up events. She came right up to me and said, “Hey, I’m Hot Mess Momma!” Not sure if she’s a hugger but she got a big one from me that day. It was my first real show and here this stranger just drove all the way here to see me and buy one of me tees!? And even if she did come for the other booths, she sure didn’t make me feel that way. We still talk and have bonded over so many things from special education and IEP meetings to navigating our businesses and blogs. She has been such a blessing!
Last, but definitely not least, is @chiggerhillcottage. I’ve known Rhonda from Chigger Hill Cottage since I was in middle school (maybe even longer,) however we connected again once I started When Life. She was so supportive of all my endeavors and was kind enough to tell her friends and family about my little business. She has been so wonderful in sharing little tips and tricks along the way, and it’s been so fun watching her grow as well. Whether I am blowing her phone up about questions related to business insurance and licensing, to participating in her yearly vendor events, she has been an endless source of knowledge and inspiration.
I know some of you might be reading this and thinking, “why is she telling me all of this?” I’ll tell you why. Social media is the place to go if you’re into depressing stories, fake news, and 101 ways to feel completely inadequate. However, when used correctly it is also one of the best places to find some pretty amazing and inspiring men and women to connect with.
They say you are the sum of the 5 people you hang out with the most. With so many people using social media several hours a day every.single.day those individuals that you follow and interact with become at a minimum 1 of those people.
Surround yourself with those you find encouraging and that set your soul on fire. Follow those who make you happy and excited when you see something they’ve posted. Someone that will make you laugh or who will cheer you on. I have found mine and continue to nurture those new relationships every day because they genuinely make me happy. I encourage you to look at what isn’t serving you on social media and hit that glorious unfollow button. Then find your tribe and love them well.
Love and lemons,