When people ask me what I do and I tell them I co-create an online community for moms, they often follow up with, “That is so cool! How did you decide to do that?” Depending on the window of time available (that I can sometimes gauge by the amount of liquid they have left in their glass), I go into a version of the following narrative:
A couple of years ago, I went to a conference in Chicago called Successful and Outstanding Bloggers. At the time, I had another business and my purpose for being there was to learn how blogging could help promote it. I didn’t know any of these people (Chris Brogan, Brian Clark, Terry Starbucker, Liz Strauss, Chris Garrett, David Bullock et. al.) but my takeaway message from the speakers that weekend was that whatever you do is… YOU!
I had spent the last few years in an existential turmoil. Whatever it was that they said, individually and as a group, made it self-evident that I was asking the wrong questions. Almost immediately after that weekend in May, my entire existence changed. Seriously.
I left a failing marriage. I moved out of a giant house and into a tiny apartment. I started My Mommy Manual with the technical assistance of Michelle Vandepas and Jesse Petersen, both whom I met at SOBCon. Because of all my new SOBCon friends like @shashib and @JenChicago and @tojosan, I started engaging in social media and in the process, discovered who I was and how to really show up in my life, both online and off.
“Relationships are mirrors.”
So said Leonardo da Vinci. Or at least, so said Leonardo according to my amazing new good friend, Scott Ginsburg. (If you want doses of daily inspiration, follow @nametagscott) This is how relationships matter. Each and every one holds up a projection of yourself to yourself. Is that totally awesome or what?!
Following this line of thinking it’s no surprise that I was meeting new people, as I discovered aspects of myself that were completely new to me too. Because of Twitter, I met Elizabeth Hannan and Chris Brogan at another conference, who in turn introduced me to Lewis Howes, who introduced me to David Garland, both of whom are great professional and personal contacts. Concurrently, I met my seriously awesome online friend, John Haydon who introduced me to one of my BFF’s and collaborators in work and life, Jen Wright (who I’ve never met in real life) who introduced me to Morgan Day Cecil who interviewed me for her Single Mom Revolution podcast. Because of a post I wrote called How to Change Your Life I met the woman whose book actually introduced me to this concept of relationships as mirrors, bestselling author Sarah Susanka. I actually got to interview her about it! (I love my life!) Dozens of connections continue to happen just like that, like neurons firing and igniting the next one.
Regardless of my role in whatever project I undertake my litmus test has become, who am I in this “relationship?” Is this a reflection of me that I want to nurture? Here, I am Practical Mommy. In sharing my life with you I am in relationship with you. You are my mirrors too. I source a bunch of experts to answer your questions because they are my questions as I parent my kids. Who am I as I do this? I’m a supportive friend, a good listener, an empowered mom.
I used to say that being a stay-at-home mom was the toughest job I’d ever had, not just physically but also mentally and spiritually. Without a really strong foundation in Self, it was easy to lose my balance to the caring of my husband and children. Again all around me, my girlfriends (all wives and mothers) were mirrors. Theirs (ours) was the pain that inspired me to start My Mommy Manual. Suzanne and I wanted a forum for moms to find support, not only for the practical aspects of parenting but also for their own wellness and growth. This is why one of my favorite interviews of all time is the one I just did with Heidi Howes (Yes, Lewis’ sister) on How to Keep Following Your Bliss.
I wrote this post as a response to Terry Starbucker’s request for examples on how The Virtual Meets the Concrete, how an online person has made a difference in my life. Fitting since Terry is the co-founder of that conference I attended two years ago. In a way, SOBCon08 started it all… when I sat in that room and figured out that the answer was not in what I was doing but who I was BEING!
Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon, co-creator of My Mommy Manual and the online parenting course, Yogi Parenting. Click the links for Practical Mommy’s recommendations for travel car seats, affordable and fun diaper bags (skip hop bag), and the best-selling crib brand, Da Vinci Crib.