Why Your Online Presence Matters

online presenceGoogled Yourself Lately? What did You Find about Your Online Presence?

Student, Educator, Small Business, Freelancer, Independent Contractor, Self-Employed, Aspiring Entrepreneur, Blogger, Hobbyist no matter who you are or what you do it seems that everyone has a website these days.  Heck, even my 10 year old has a website.  In a time where Google is a verb in the dictionary as well the authority on search engines it seems that if you want to spread the word on whatever it is you do you or whoever you are, you need to be online.  Being online means you have an online presence whether you are active on social media or have a website, your online presence matters.

Nowadays people can Google you and find all sorts of information, from public records to social media posts.  How you represent yourself online is your online presence.  This can make a difference on what you do, whether you are looking to get hired for a job or trying to make a sale. Your online presence will become your personal brand.  People will look for you and/or your brand online to see what you have to say and even more importantly what has been said about you.  Therefore to set the tone of your online presence you need to start with your Website and your Social Media accounts.

A Website has evolved from a static business card to an interactive portfolio where you display your expertise and interact with your readers/visitors through blogs and other added functionalities. In this fast moving society where information is expected with one click, your website has to look good, be up to date and be accessible through a computer as well as mobile devices.

Social Media has become the virtual world’s form of traditional networking and online presencesocializing. While it doesn’t replace physically socializing with others in your field or business it can expand your network significantly.  And with the increase in social media platforms since AOL introduced to us the famous “You Got Mail” phrase along with AIM instant messenger, you need to make sure you are part of the social media world that exists.  Understanding there’s an overwhelmingly large number of social media platforms out there, knowing which are the most popular and who is your target audience should determine where you invest your efforts.

Now, I’m not saying that being active on social media will make you instafamous – as young kids say these days – but it will allow you to start a conversation with others that share your interests or want your product/service.  Neither does having a website will get you to the coveted #1 spot in Google – no matter how much you dabble on SEO – but providing good continuous content can make you a reliable source online.  And remember, in the same way that word of mouth from a trusted source can get you an interview for a job or a product endorsement, having a solid website and interacting with people through social media will position you as a trusted source online within your social media circles.

So go ahead, Google yourself or business and see what comes up, then take control of your online presence.  And if you want more than free when taking control of your website, check out PixemWeb.com, a perfect solution if you are short in time and money.  I say this with confidence because I’m not only part of PixemWeb, I’m also a client!

New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

Goal Setting 20153 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

We are well into January and if you haven’t already flopped your New Year’s resolutions you have probably cheated at least once. So by now you know New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work!  But don’t feel bad, you are not the problem (this is the one time when you’re probably okay with the “it’s not you it’s me” explanation).  The reason is that New Year’s resolutions set you up for failure from the start and here are 3 reasons why:

  1. New Year’s resolutions are made during a high peak emotional season.  It’s New Year’s for goodness sake! The holidays make most people highly emotional. Reminds them of things/people lost, you start thinking of what could or should be, add that financial stress and you have the set up for a perfect storm.
  1. New Year’s resolutions tend to be Extreme!  Because they are created during such emotional times resolutions tend to be set very high without a plan of action.  When there are no visible results it all seems impossible leaving you disappointed.
  1. New Year’s resolutions don’t last.  Once you feel disappointed after not being able to see results to the highly unrealistic expectation you set for yourself you will start to slack off until you drop your resolutions completely as an impossible dream.

So you see, New Year’s Resolutions are a complete waste of time, so don’t make them! HOWEVER – there’s always a but isn’t there?! – instead of making a “New Year’s Resolution” take the time to set goals for yourself for the new year. And no, it is not the same thing.  While the intentions are the same the execution of it is completely different.  I, for one, am a firm believer that the road to hell was paved with good intentions.  While you mean well by setting New Year’s resolutions what you should be doing is waiting after the tumultuous time of the holiday season is over and take a good look at your situation.  Assess where you are, where you were and where you want to be.  This gives you a bit of perspective from a realistic non emotionally charged setting that can lead you to identify action steps to accomplish your goals for the year.  Just as I gave you 3 reasons New Year’s Resolutions do not work, I can give you 3 Ways to Help You Meet Your Goals:

  1. Identify long term and short term goals you want to accomplish. After taking a good look at yourself and what you want list those things you want to accomplish this year and moving forward.  For example: Buying a Home or getting out of debt tend to be long term goals that can take more than a year. While a short term goal can be getting  more exercise.
  1. Set action steps for each goal.  Once you have identified your long term and short term goals, identify specific smaller action steps you can take for each of the goals daily,weekly and/or monthly to get closer to the goal.  So, if your goal is to buy a home, maybe every week you will save a certain amount of money to put towards a down payment.  If your goal is to get more exercise one action step can be walking more or going to the gym once a week.
  1. Make yourself accountable by making your goals visible. Whether you make your goals your desktop wallpaper or you place post-it notes on your mirror, make sure that every week you look at what you’re working towards.  I like putting an index card with my goals and weekly action steps on my mirror, this served as a reminder.  If you have a close trusted friend/partner/spouse they can also help you be accountable by reminding you of your goals when your actions or talk seem to be diverging.  Not only making your goals & action steps visible make you accountable for them but it is also encouraging to see how each of those steps you check off are getting you closer to your

Fear Not!! If you already flopped your New Year’s Resolution, you don’t have to wait until next year to start over.  Now that all the hussle and bussle of the holidays are gone you can take an honest look at yourself and start working towards what you want now. Because just like the movie title remember, Tomorrow Never Comes.  You need to start Today!


New York in The Fall: Barton Orchards

Snark World Adventures: Fall in New York

One of my favorite seasons is Fall and lucky for me I live in the best place to enjoy this beautiful season – New York!  Going to Barton Orchards in the fall has become a tradition with family and friends.  There we are able to catch the beautiful fall foliage on the drive up and enjoy a day of fun as we pick apples and pumpkins.

CaughtAtBartonsThanks to my kindred spirit and awesome friend Janet, I was introduced to Barton Orchards about five years ago, and since then it has become one of my fall traditions.  Every year during Columbus weekend I enjoy the beautiful scenic drive from The Bronx to 63 Apple Tree Lane in Poughquag for some apple and pumpkin picking along with great food, awesome fudge and many other fun activities.

My favorite part of going in October is the haunted house, Rotten Core Manor. Every year my son complains as we wait to go into Rotten Core Manor saying he doesn’t want to go because it’s too scary and every year as we exit the haunted house he convincingly exclaims that it wasn’t so scary this time.  In addition to the haunted house there’s plenty of good food to go around.  When you go be sure to pick up some apple cider donuts, while the line can get very long it is absolutely worth the wait.   If you’re a chocolate lover as myself be sure to stock up on their fudge, although this year I waited until the end of the day to get my fix and to my terrible disappointment all the dark chocolate fudge was gone.  So if I may dare make a suggestion I failed to follow, get there at least by 11am (or earlier if you are an early riser) get your donuts and fudge take them to the car and then feel free to lose yourself within acres of land in the company of family and friends.

For the kids – and adults – the corn maze is ears of fun, kids get a themed story and they have clues to find each station as they take CornMazeturns leading the way within the 5-acre maze. A note to parents, be sure to take the flag with you just in case your fearless young leaders get you going in circles and someone ends up needing to use the bathroom in the middle of the journey – don’t ask but it wasn’t me, honest!

RaceTrackAs if you don’t get enough of a workout running around the corn maze there’s a Fun Park complete with giant slides, bouncy houses, baseball and football pitch, pedal kart race track, and more.  Once we’ve made our way from the haunted house, the corn maze and the fun park that’s when we begin apple picking followed by pumpkin picking and ending with the hay ride back to the beginning.  Oh and did I mention there are also barnyard animals, gemstone mining, wood carving, face painting and live music!

One of my goals is to continue to explore and learn more about New York and as I do, I will do my best to share about my experiences through this blog.  But one thing is certain, Barton Orchards is my Columbus weekend destination for years to come. Even the drive through The Bronx River Parkway North to Sprain Brook Parkway North to Taconic State Parkway offers a colorful view of the fall foliage worth taking pictures as you go along – that is if you’re not the one driving.  I particularly enjoy crossing the New Croton Reservoir Bridge with its bright red color in a background of greens, yellow and orange changing leaves.

For more information about visiting Barton Orchards visit their website http://www.bartonorchards.com.
To keep track of the autumnal landscape in New York visit The New York Fall Foliage Report
And of course for more about New York State visit ILoveNY.com

Until the next Snark World Adventure!

The FLUFFY Movie Coming in July 2014

FLUFFY MovieThanks to Advance Screenings and GoFobo I had the chance to experience The Fluffy Movie at the Regal E-Walk Stadium 13 (247 W. 42 St. NY) before it opens in theaters.  Normally I would not be one to go to a movie theater to see a comedy performance but this is the next best thing to seeing Gabriel Iglesias aka Fluffy perform live – which is by the way something I’ve not yet have the pleasure to do.  So when given the chance to obtain screening tickets I jumped on it (and just an FYI I have turned down/released screening tickets before even if Free, my time is more valuable than money).

The movie opens as giving a glimpse of his early life and with that the laughter begins.  Gabriel Iglesias “Fluffy” is as real as real can get and touches on so many subjects that we all can relate to.  If you’ve seen any of his shows you already know how he can find the humor on anything from annoying teenage hygiene to difficult struggles with weight, not to forget his good ol’ pal MARTIIINNNN!!!  The Fluffy Movie was particularly touching for me given the rough subjects of single mothers, raising boys and step parenting, which he presented hilariously light hearted. The Fluffy Movie did not lack anything in comedic value, the girl next to me was making funnier laughing sounds than me – if that’s even possible – considering we were in a public theater.  Even as we left the theater I heard people talking about it and laughing as they repeated repeated parts of the movie.

Now, as every good counselor one opens with all the positives before presenting the areas of grow so here goes.  I was hoping for a little more movie, but that was just me. Maybe some clips from some of the many experiences on the road mixed with some comic reenactments.  But that is just a matter of opinion based on the expectation that I personally have when I hear or see the word “movie” on something.  That said, I would definitely recommend it.  It is not often we can go see Fluffy perform, so make it dinner and The Fluffy Movie come this July.

For a clip of the upcoming movie check out YouTube The FLUFFY Movie.

Son of a Mother: Raising a Boy

I was never a girly girl sure I danced and played with dolls but I didn’t fit the stereotypical little princess standard.  When asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, mother or wife were never crossed my mind, instead I would say I wanted to be a scientist, an astronaut, a pharmacist, or a plastic surgeon.  I wasn’t one to watch or read fairy tales instead I ran around my backyard pretending to be Cheetara from the Thunder Cats or spun around pretending to transform into Wonder Woman.

With all that said I did explore the sciences in college and ended up with degrees in the social sciences.  The only scientific experiment that I conducted was an utter failure that killed my grandmother’s entire cactus garden (she never did find out it was my doing).  It is therefore no wonder that while many women I know dreamed of becoming mothers to little girls I was so relieved when I was told I was having a boy. The way I saw it, I wouldn’t have known what to do with a little girl.  Surely I could dress her up pretty in pink and have her take dance class but I was not going to raise a princess, not unless she was to be a warrior princess because I am no Cinderella.  At first I thought, great a boy! baseball, superheroes, martial arts, sports I can’t mess that up.  Then reality began to set in, the role of men in today’s society is so convoluted.  The entertainment world and the media portray men as aggressive, unfaithful, irresponsible and non committed; then there’s the cultural machismo and even within many of the religious groups there’s a male superiority factor that is not very Christ like.  As a single mother without a father figure to point to as an example I often wondered what was I to do, sure I can shape the boy but I am raising a man.

I read books, articles, listened to church messages and signed up to e-newsletters, mind you I did all this in addition to my formal education which is heavily on the area of human development. I looked into the most conservative articles and books (which by the way made me feel like both my child and I were doomed without hope) to the liberal ones that were frankly too happy go lucky to be taken seriously.  I was doing all this in the quest not to mess up my son until I finally accepted the fact that it didn’t matter how many books I read not one of those experts could give me a fool proof way of raising my son into the man of great character I want him to be.  And the most important thing I realized is that no matter how hard I tried not to mess up I am not perfect and would never be,  so mistakes will be made.  Although, all that reading did help me get different strategies and techniques to addressing the needs of my son as a single mother in order to minimize and correct my mistakes.  Here are a few of the things I’ve learned so far:

  • Loving your son and showing affection with hugs and kisses will help him be more open to expressing affection
  • Acknowledging his feelings will teach him to identify and manage his emotions instead of suppressing them
  • Having a support network with trusted friends and family that can serve as examples of men and women of character will serve to contrast the example the media is putting forward.
  • Talking and most importantly listening to your son without judgment will lay a foundation for him to talk to you in the future
  • Correcting  your son with words of edification will be more helpful than calling out his negative behavior; instead point out his positive qualities and associate them with the desired behavior
  • Allowing him to be active, explore and rough house a bit will allow him freedom to be himself; testosterone makes a difference, let him be a boy
  • Most importantly don’t be too hard on yourself when you don’t always get it right, acknowledge your mistake and correct it. Nobody is perfect.

Nearly eight years later, and still a single mom, I worry from time to time about messing up my son due to poor choices.  I’m often hard on myself because it seems so much easier to manage my students than my own son, but everyday is a new lesson learned and every morning is a new chance to improve.  My son has played sports, participated in church skits and  has even danced ballet (shh! don’t tell him I told you).  He has shown kindness and understanding to his school classmates and has begged me in tears to donate money for the homeless and for animal shelters.  I may not be doing everything right and I don’t know all there is to know about being a mother and bringing up  a son but so far God’s grace continues to be enough to cover my flaws as I raise my boy into a great man of character.

This post first appeared on July 2012 on one of my first WordPress blogs, One Woman Standing: On Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  As it is #TBT Throwback Thursday and I am retiring my blog I figured I’ll just repost.  As I read back on it now I have continued to fall short but every day is a new start and today my son is 9 years old and the greatest compliment he paid me took place the other night when he told me he had a great life.  Sure he continues to gripe and growl when I tell him not and I continue to scream after he ignores me the first two times I speak, but in the end he knows I love him, he recognizes he is blessed and we improve on the mother and son front everyday.