How Our Relationships Matter

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!

Online and offline posse, including: @ZenMommy, @JavaSTL, @kidsroomdecor, @Extraordmommy, @nametagscott, @dianeasyre, @CosmosGirl

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.


  1. Awww, thanks for sharing your story and showing how all of your relationships are connected. I’ve started writing a similar post several times but stopped when I thought it was getting messy. You did a brilliant job.

    All the best for a great 2010, Ria. You deserve it!

  2. Thank you. Thank you very much.
    I love that I was able to be part of your journey. I love that in some ways I till am.
    You’ve so far passed up many of the folks who helped you along the way, not because you were focused on being better but you were focused eyes totally forward towards success and you let those around you lift you up, cheer you on, and clear the path.
    Your story is inspirational. Needed this too. I’m feeling adrift even in what some would say is corporate success. I’d love to recapture the energy of SOBCon08.

    Cheers, your friend,

  3. David Siteman Garland says:

    Great story, Ria. Thanks for including me 🙂

  4. Thanks for the link love! Relationships are mirrors, indeed!

  5. XOXO to you all… my mantra for 2008 used to be “Leap and the net will appear” the “net” being my network of friends and supporters who believed in me and the person I was determined to become.

    @Todd, the journey continues. Or as @nametagscott has been known to say, all there is… is the journey! 😉

    @Jesse, I know. I hope I don’t offend people I didn’t include… to keep a somewhat straight line.

  6. Very nice Ria! It is inspiring to read about how social media has contributed to the evolution of your business and your life as a whole.

  7. Ria, you are the best! Thanks for your great and kind words. And you’re in the contest! Yes indeed, relationships DO matter.


  8. Jen Wright says:

    Awwwwwsome! I love the flow of the journey.

    And I love you!

  9. This story is soooo inspiring, Ria! My husband and I are currently discussing some huge changes in our outer world so that I can continue focusing on my music and writing — I will keep you posted on what that will look like! I will be asking you a lot of questions about downscaling!

  10. wooohooo .. Thank you Ria. Always there for you!

  11. this is like one big valentine!!! full of love and all our friends. i am psyched for our partnership and feel SO blessed to have you AND My Mommy Manual in my life. yes… relationships are mirrors!!! great story ria. and soooo timely with the big 2/14 right around the corner…

  12. I agree with Suzanne: this is one loving Valentine! Ever since I “met” you, you’ve given off this very positive enthusiasm. Go girl! I live by that, too: relationships really are mirrors.

  13. Every single one of you has, and I have no doubt, will continue to inspire me.

    What? Valentine’s Day is when?! LOL! So like you, Suzanne to point that out!

    And you, gorgeous Miss Rachel S., my single mom superhero… so tickled that you stopped by!

    Okay, okay… Happy V-Day to all! <3

  14. Oh how I love being a part of your online posse 🙂 You are truly amazing and every day I am touched by the capacity or relationships to push us toward our true selves… is happening over and over. Blessed to have you and Suzanne in my life. xoxo

  15. Maintaining relationships with other people other than our husbands and children actually can help us become better moms. Points of view from others help give us a world view on things and not limit ourselves. Thank you for your point of view.

  16. Ria, I loved this post. So true, our online community has changed me too and I have met some incredible people. (both in person and not) I love the effect we have all each other. You have pushed me in so many ways. So lucky to have you in my life!

  17. HI Ria,

    its always been great to converse with you and thanks for including me here. I love the term “auge by the amount of liquid they have left in their glass”


  18. You are so right about relationships being mirrors. I am so glad I am going to SOBCon. I can’t wait to meet in real life some of those that I am following.