Friends for Life {#BlogEveryDayinMay}

When I began blogging almost eight years ago, I didn’t even imagine all that would come of it. How perfect my timing was. How I happened to be at the right place at the right time. Not only was it a fabulous way to stay in touch with friends, and display our familiy happenings with our loved ones, but after a very short time I was seeing, feeling, and discovering so much more. I have been truly blessed with the experiences, the opportunities, but most of all the friendships that have grown over the years.

I can not even begin to tell you how incredibly precious my blogger friends are. The amazing people who I met in a virtual world; behind a screen; online. These friends were among the first to hear that I was pregnant – again. The first to know I was happy. They were the first to listen to me ball my eyes out when I made a mistake. They were some of the first to know I was hurting.

Among these virtual-turned-real-life friends are Lori and Janice. I have spent countless hours with these two women – on Skype and the phone, during blogging trips and conferences, via email and blog posts.

Lori, better known as A Cowboy’s Wife, approached me at BlogHer in San Francisco in 2008. Well, she did a bit more than just approach me – she ran up to me, screaming, “I know you. You’re YoungMommy!” This was the first time I had been recognized. Someone recognized ME; she knew who I was. Her bubbly personality and huge smile had me hooked.

Seeing Lori grow and transform over the years has been such a pleasure. I have prayed for her, cried with her, been hurt by her, yelled at her, and laughed with her. I love her dearly and can’t wait to live closer to my Texan friend.

a cowboys wife and me

5 Minutes for Mom was one of the first first websites I found on the internet way back when. I gave my first interview with Janice, as a “mommy blogger” in 2008. She was so energetic and enthusiastic. I couldn’t help but love her passion.

And I love her more today. She has lent her ear and shoulder, on more than one occasion. We have been on the rollercoaster of life, side by side, for the last five years. We may not always agree, but we love each other in spite of our differences.

janice and me

Have you made close friends in the blogosphere? Do you have a profession of love for a blogger friend?

7 Reasons to Write {Guest Post}

Writing. Does the word scare you or remind you of bad college essays? Or maybe you don’t think you can write. the only writing in your life is to help your children through their homework. If this sounds familiar, then maybe we need to rethink the meaning behind it.

Writing is an art form, but it is also another way to speak; a way to express the simplest of feelings and ideas. Take Facebook for example, that’s all about writing. But do you think of your “status” updates as work? Of course not. It’s relaxed and enjoyable (or should be, anyway) and there isn’t a whole lot of stress behind it. But guess what? You can take this same enjoyment and apply it to other writing as well.

Perhaps you are feeling a little overwhelmed with life. Maybe your tolerance level for your kids, work and house cleaning has hit its threshold. Here are seven reasons to write, how it can improve your mental outlook, and why you can’t live without it.

7 reasons to write

1. Inspiration:

There is something about the written word that evokes inspiration. Whether it’s a to-do list or New Year’s resolutions, words staring back at us make us respond. They almost force us to move, do or commit. Even if the list is long, and the chores are many, writing them down and hoping to do them can be enough to make them appear achievable. Write out your goals and act on them. Real words inspire us and our future. Make short term and long term lists and see what you can do!

2. Fends off Depression:

Ever hear how writing in a journal is therapeutic? Ever wonder if it is a bunch of malarkey? Then try it for yourself and see how amazing it is. Even writing a journal entry — to cap off a horrendous or honorable day — frees bottled-up emotions. Dr. Oz, the ubiquitous and noteworthy cardiothoracic surgeon, recommends keeping a gratitude journal. He says it’s “…a beneficial thing to approach everyday with an attitude of thankfulness.” Hey, if the doctor is saying it, perhaps he’s onto something.

3. Self-assessment Session:

We can easily become confused about ourselves because of our busy lives. What do I mean? Well, sometimes we want certain things (to lose ten pounds) only to change our mind when something else takes our attention (But, it’s only two scoops!) We lose sight of our goals. By revealing our feelings, dreams and desires in print, we not only know why we desire something, but we keep our focus on the main objective. A few minutes of writing things out prevents wasted time and misplaced priorities. Print out this list and stick it to the fridge or mirror where you can’t miss it daily.

4. Ventilation:

Anger, isolation, loneliness: these are all normal — and inevitable– parts of our lives. Though reacting to negative situations (loss of job) or whining and groaning to our buddies is a human response writing them down not only allows us to materialize what we feel, but it keeps unnecessary verbal explosions in check. When bad news comes — and it will come– go to the pen and paper … and then talk it out. And I don’t mean on Facebook, folks. Keep it to yourself this time!

5. A Worthy Notion:

In today’s age of “me, me, me” it is obvious we all clamor for worthiness. But usually, we won’t find true worthiness in others’ words. We instead have to look in our heart and know we are worthy just because we are. That’s where the truth of who we are speaks the loudest. What should you do when you’re feeling a bit invisible? Make a list of all your fabulous qualities, or attributes. Tape them to your mirror and look at it daily. It will remind you of your worth, even when you are feeling a little worthless.

6. Clarification:

Facing a big decision? Write out the facts and list the pros and cons before you make the choice. Many times, the answers in life aren’t clear. Our friends opinions — as great as that can be –can’t make the decisions for us. Write out how you feel; write out the future consequences to various decisions, reveal your heart’s desire and worst fears. Sometimes we need super x-ray vision when we can’t see straight. But by writing things out, we can focus in on what is important and weed out the distractions.

7. Creation:

Sure, some people have the gift. You know, the gift; those with the great-American novel sitting in their mind just waiting for release. But do you? If you love to read, perhaps that book is inside of you too. Feel like a horrible writer? Then work on your craft. Stephen King said in his book, On Writing, that he believes “ … large numbers of people have some talent as writers and story-tellers, and that those talents can be strengthened and sharpened.” So, keep at it. Your writing could be the spark of creativity just waiting to light the fuse of a new world.

Find a journal, a computer, a blank sheet of paper and get to work. Write out goals for the year and then write out your long term goals for ten and twenty years from now. Begin a gratitude journal, or write a simple thank you note. When was the last time you wrote one of those? Start today and who knows – your words may not only inspire you, but the entire world … and make you mentally healthier than you’ve ever been before.

Heather Spiva is a freelance writer from Sacramento, CA. She is married to her firefighter husband and has two young boys that keep her busy. When she’s not taking care of them she’s writing, or reading, and when she’s not doing those things, well … it’s hard to say. It rarely gets to that point. She just released her first book this year, a middle grade/young adult book called The Puzzle Master. Visit her blog for more information or to and find it there – It’s only 99 cents for the Kindle version!

Image courtesy of Surachai /

“We all have stories…”

When I first began blogging nearly seven years ago, it was assumed that I was writing about every minute detail – sparing none. I was asked almost daily why I would want to put our “whole life” out there for any and all to read. I have always wanted to be real and transparent, not only in this space but also in real life, but there was much I didn’t tell.

I’ve never been afraid to share what’s going on in my world, and what’s on my heart. Over the years I have shared about being heartbroken over leaving 2 year-old Ben at Target all alone, the CPS visit we received after a report was filed in our neighborhood and, of course, our life-changing decision to enroll our four oldest kiddos in a public charter school, after always believing I would teach them at home.

But, there are stories that were never told.

What began as a love for expressing parts of our story in words became a drive to just share. To share my fears, failures and mistakes as a wife, mom, and friend, as well as my joy, triumphs, and answered prayers. I remember hoping that even just one overwhwhelmed mom or dad would happen upon From Dates to Diapers and be encouraged by a real mom who’s been there. That this one person would read my real stories and know they are not alone.

From Dates to Diapers has gone through some major tranformations since it’s birth. You will find the story of our beginning. You will see us grow and change. You will understand how much I love and adore my husband and how important our marriage is. You will rejoice with us through the arrival of our fifth, sixth, AND seventh child. You will read as I process through many different feelings and emotions. You will even travel with us to some fabulous places.

But, there is still more to be told.

I feeel like most recently our personal and family stories have been overwhelmed with the business that grew of this blog without warning. Blogging ceased being a creative outlet for me, it no longer held it’s mysterious appeal of putting my thoughts in to words. While I never wrote a word I did not believe, I stopped writing about what was on my heart and wrote only when I felt I had to. I wrote simply to fulfill contracts and deadlines, and I lost my voice somewhere along the way.

I sorely miss expressing myself in words. I’m ready to tell you my stories.

I am ready to take back my blog.

Will you join me on my continued journey as a woman, wife, mother, and friend?

P.S. I do have a few prior commitments, so you will see some sponsored posts over the next few weeks, in addition to my Walmart Moms posts, as I fulfill my obligations. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being so supportive in either case!

“The World’s Most Powerful Social Media Influencers to Treat and Pamper”

The internet is all atwitter with this newest list of “top mom bloggers.” I will admit that it IS one of the most complete, unbiased lists I’ve seen in quite some time, and I am flattered to be listed among many of my blogging idols. HOWEVER, the article in which the list is included is just downright insulting, not to mention one in which bad advice is dispensed to marketers and companies.

And, it hit a nerve with me.

As a Social Media Influencer, I am offended that anyone would insinuate that I am willing to work for free, or a “chance to win a prize”. Unfortunately, articles like this are making it more difficult for us to be respected as business-women. It’s giving license, in a way, to PR reps and business owners to send us more ridiculous pitches. Not to mention, demeaning our place in the world of social media.

I understand that many see articles such as these that list our blogs as being free advertising, and I think that’s great. I have nothing against this list. It is the information that came before this list. I am pretty sure that most, if not all, of the listed bloggers on this newest list would refuse to work for an entry in to a contest as compensation.

We are not just silly mommies hoping to win a prize as compensation for our hard work. We work hard, sacrifice much, and devote oodles of time and energy in to our businesses. We are women who own businesses and deserve to be treated as such.

In short, I hope that anyone who comes across this list, considers it a list of strong, powerful women who deserve to be respected and treated fairly.

What are your thoughts about this list, or top lists in general? Do you think they are good for our community and help advance our businesses, or are they simply link bait schemes that cause unnecessary drama and dissension?

I have purposefully withheld the link to the article I mention. The fewer people who see it, the better.

Bring it, Summer!

This afternoon I found myself sitting on an airplane, jetting across the country. My morning was such a flurry of busyness, and I’m really not exactly sure how I made it through the day without falling into a coma as soon as I settled in my seat, only to be awakened by the flight attendant kicking me off the plane in Orlando. I suppose I can blame the tiny airplane aisles for that.

Anyway, I am about to snuggle in to my warm (but lonely) bed to try to sleep before the beginning of the second conference I will attend this spring – SheCon Expo. I was honored to have been invited to share on a panel and couldn’t resist a trip to Walt Disney World to see some of my favorite blogging buddies!

I am excited, but I am anxious, too. The excitement comes from the rush I get when I share with bloggers about the relationships between bloggers and brands. It’s great to be able to share my experience, so as to help others avoid the mistakes and large learning curve I endured. But, the anxiety comes from the knowledge that this weekend begins a stretch of travel, conferences, and events that will keep me busy for most of the summer.

Will I see YOU this summer?

I'm attending Evo 12 I will be attending EVO again this year, thanks to Walmart, and can’t wait to be inspired. EVO is seriously one of my favorite conferences, and I will not miss it. Not only do I look forward to actually learning a great many things from the sessions, but I will be surrounded by some of the smartest and most amazing women in the blogosphere.

Blogher Contours Mom And, how could I miss BlogHer in New York this year? I not only will NOT be seven months pregnant, as I was when BlogHer was last held in New York, but I will be working the registration booth AND spreading the word about Contours’ new line. (Not at the same time, of course.) Oh, and I will have my family with me for a vacation in the biggest city in the states after the conference!

Sprinkle in some great brand events in Bentonville, New Jersey, Chicago, and my hometown – not to mention spending lots of time with my kiddos by the water – and I’ve got myself a full summer.

You know what? I’m gonna take some deep breathes, try to get some sleep, and hope I get to see you somewhere soon…

Bring it, Summer! I’m so ready for ya!