Friday Inspiration – Social Media for Good

Like a lot of writers, I have an imagination that runs wild. If I enter a contest, I can’t help but daydream about all the awesome things I’ll do with my winnings. In my head, on more than one occasion, I’ve interviewed with all the big talk show hosts, I’ve performed with my favorite actors, and I’ve made a difference in peoples’ lives.

You see, I really am like Oprah, only poorer.

Knowing that I have a leaning towards telling myself such grandiose tales, I expect absolutely nothing I imagine to ever come true. Even the not so grandiose.

It’s not pessimism, but a protection. I tend towards the philosophy that if I don’t expect much, if anything, from people or situations, I won’t ever be disappointed.

I know. Not the most uplifting point of view.

But, sometimes, something really cool happens. Sometimes, people surprise you and far exceed expectations you didn’t dare to have.

A few years ago, I joined an online forum for moms and moms to be. I wasn’t looking for anything more than a place to go and read up on pregnancy symptoms and quirks, plans for when the baby arrives, and the usual things that go swirling around in the mind of a pregnant woman. The forum divided women into due date groups, so I became a part of the July/August group.

Two and half years later, I found out one of the moms from the group was going through some seriously difficult times. Without going into personal details that aren’t mine to share, it became necessary for her to take refuge in a women’s shelter with her two little ones.

Up to this point, she was going to school via online courses, but in her need to keep her children and herself safe, her laptop didn’t make it. There was no way for her to get it back, which would mean quitting school. The expense of a computer was something that would likely be too much for quite some time.

I’ve never met this woman in person, but I felt awful. I wanted to do something. Anything. But what could I do? I’m barely in a position to buy someone dinner, let alone a laptop.

I pulled up my Twitter account that night and started asking around for help.

People responded with well wishes, recommendations of organizations that might be able to assist somehow, and retweeted to their followers. People wanted to help.

I sat staring at the Hootsuite app on my phone, imagining how awesome it would be if someone made something big happen. In my usual style, I let myself daydream about it, but I told myself to expect nothing.

And that’s when I got a tweet from Mr. Southcotte asking if I found someone to help yet. He followed up with words I didn’t expect.

“I might be able to put something together.”

A series of DMs and a few emails later, that “might” turned into a definite yes, and as of Thursday evening, there is a special delivery on its way to this mom in need.

In addition to the kindness that Mr. Southcotte displayed, the mothers from the aforementioned due date group offered to cover any shipping costs if needed, in addition to the emotional support they’ve been giving throughout the week. Some of these moms have their own struggles, but are willing to sacrifice and give, even a little, to help a fellow mom in need. (The whole concept of #GoWithout!)

A lot of time on social media is self serving. Read my blog! Buy my book! Laugh at my jokes! Look at how awesome I am!

Hey, we all have to make a living, and sometimes that is just part of getting the job done.

But the platform social media gives us can do so much more than that. It can be one that allows us to serve others.

My expectations when I sat down and wrote that tweet didn’t amount to much. But I am so glad that I did it anyway. Even more, I am glad that someone chose to exceed those expectations.

And I’m hopeful that many more will make that choice in the future. Maybe that overactive imagination isn’t such a bad thing after all.

[On a related note, if anyone knows of a lawyer in the Ft. Worth area who does pro bono work, please let me know. Dazzle me, internet.]

Amber’s Favorite Things for 2012 – Just Like Oprah, But With Less Free Stuff

I’ve spent a lot of time this past weekend thinking about the year ahead. I’m not one to make resolutions, but the end of a year always make me think about what’s next.

As I make plans, I thought I would take the opportunity to share with you some of the things that are part of my plan for 2012.

Organization, Cleaning, and General Home DIY:

Remember when I talked about the cleaning kick I’ve been on? It’s growing. To that end, I’ve encountered this great calendar for organizing your house across the entire year. I have a tendency to forget to pace myself when I start on a kick, which is why it usually is just a “kick”. It lasts for days, maybe weeks, then I return to my old ways.

This schedule breaks organizing the home into smaller daily tasks. Over time, your entire house will be together (and some charity will likely be very happy). Very excited about getting started

In line with keeping the house organized, I’m also on a quest to keep it super clean, and finding ways to do it without spending a fortune on chemical-laden cleaners. I’ll be experimenting with herb-infused vinegar, baking soda, and even some homemade detergent.

Pinterest has become a special kind of drug in my house-helping madness. So many amazing DIY ideas, including ones like this. My bathroom and kitchen are on the schedule to be renovated by little old me, armed with paint, brushes, and sponges. I’ll be sure to blog about it, failures and successes.

Speaking of projects, I’ve already begun one, a budget rehaul of the hubs drab office into a geeky man cave. Pictures and details to follow in the new year.

And I won’t even begin to list the many crafty projects ahead. Let’s just say that I discovered CraftGawker.

Blogging, Writing, and all that:

This week I wrote up a review of a fantastic book on blogging for writers. Which, being that I had pretty much written off books like this, is pretty amazing. I’m a critical student, so any book that ventures to teach me something gets an extra critical eye. However, upon completion of Novel Blogging, I actually see myself putting a lot of it to use. Strike that. It has me excited about putting it to use.

Now, being excited about Novel Blogging, setting goals for my writing is going to be very important, so I’ve decided to join up with the ROW80 crew again, and put my goals out there for all to see.

I’ll use the goal setting group to help me work through the non-fiction project I have brewing, with the aim of having it written by the summer. ::gulp::

30 Day Challenges 

Also while on Pinterest, I’ve come across a lot of 30 day challenges. I kinda love the idea of giving myself one little assignment each day across the span of a month that helps me work on something. Whether it be my love of drawing and photography, or a plan to help me be more fit. (Couldn’t link to the original on that one – if you are on Pinterest and want to see that 30 Day Challenge, check my boards.)

I may even create some of my own.

Social Butterflying

No, I am not talking about Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, G+, or any other way of socializing online. I’m talking about in real life. I have a bad habit (particularly in the last 3 years) of being a bit of a hermit. Which, while I am an introvert, isn’t completely healthy for me.

I’m motivating myself to do more with people with new recipes. What good is cooking fun stuff if there is no one around to eat it? I may have a tea party with the ladies so I can bust out this quiche, or a pajama dinner where we all indulge in yummy breakfast treats.

Whatever I make, the key is there will be people there to enjoy it. And I’ll be there to enjoy them. (That sounds creepy. See? Not around people enough.)

What tools will you be using to accomplish new things in 2012?