How to Network (Even if it Scares You!)

One thing I have discovered since starting mittonmusings, is that blogging is really all about connections and networking. And I am painfully bad at it! As a self proclaimed wallflower and hopeless introvert, actually talking to people is brutally tough! I smile and nod politely, in great hopes that you might talk to me initially… but heaven forbid I make the first move! Very few of “my people” would even know that I blog… except for random posts on social media.

So, I scanned a few resources to see what the experts say about networking. Why do we put ourselves out there, out of our comfort zones, to connect and make ourselves known? Sometimes it is to improve our positions… perhaps a new job or a better rank within a current job. Our eldest has just started to tackle this daunting task… and we are trying to encourage her that employers don’t come knocking at your door — you must go to them and prove that you are worthy of their hiring. Yes, I agree, it is not easy!

Other times it is to make connections. If you have a passion for art or music, you tend to gravitate towards like-minded people who share your passion. Perhaps, it is to learn more about something you are interested in. The hubby and I attended “Seedy Sunday” at Evergreen Brickworks this past weekend… the intent was to learn more about gardening (another adventure I am hoping to tackle this spring), but I ended up chatting with a fibre artist about alpaca wool. Should I mention that the hubby wandered off and got coffee at this point? But put him in a room with small talkers who love world events… and it’s me who searches out the family cat.

I’m learning. I joined two online blogging groups — and have made some connections. I have had to be vulnerable and ask for help when needed… and, by golly, it works sometimes! Part of the reasoning for this post was to convince myself that I should attend a real, live, blogging networking event. It will be good to go — but I am petrified. It’s one thing to post on Instagram — it’s another to actually be there in the flesh and tell people what you blog about. Especially, in my case.

#Jesusbloggers, or people who have faith based blogs, have created a very narrow niche for themselves. It’s controversial. It’s limiting. Many businesses and affiliates don’t want you mentioning the whole God thing. No one wants you to guest post about “religion” — stick to just the craft or product, okay? (which — actually — I am cool about — just not something I choose to do here). I’ve also found it frustrating that many faith based bloggers are a little too flowery for me. All southern belle, hugs and kumbaya. Others have a significant story to tell — a miraculous event, or traumatic experience that illustrates their faith so beautifully. People read those stories.

I’m just a regular ol’ mom who happens to love Jesus. I started the blog to learn some technology, and it has blossomed into a unique way to share my faith. Networking, like sharing the gospel, is simply telling your story. My faith happens to be a part of my story… and so I am learning to tell a story that is so much bigger than my own. It’s God’s.

The experts say there are some key tips to follow when you network:

Smile. Okay. I can do that. I am putting on my southern belle smile. Here’s your ice cold lemonade. Come sit on the porch awhile, whilst I tell ya’ll about what I been musing about lately….

Prepare. I promise to continue to post weekly. I’m committed to sharing how my faith and my everyday life continue to coincide. I’m far from perfect, and I don’t have all the answers, but if you follow along on this adventure, I will seek to shed some light on this dark world as I give you glimpses of how God continues to work in our lives… perhaps not in big , miraculous events… but in the everyday. I hope to have another online course fully prepared for launch this summer!

Challenge yourself. Alright. I am boldly going to put myself out there… I will attend the live network (and pray hard I find another Jesusblogger hidden among the wallflowers!). I’m going to follow up on some leads for guest posts and re-connect with a few others. I continue to learn more about the technical side of this blogging thing…look for my upgrades!

So, my friends, here’s where you can help! If you have just joined me, and liked this post… would you consider following along in the adventure? Click here and you’ll get a weekly email. Already a follower? Want to share a post? Click on the title of your favourite post on the blog page… that gives you the “link”…then you can copy and paste the link to an email, your favourite social media account, or your own blog! Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of being the next internet sensation, but I have learned that “clicks”, “followers”, “shares” and “forwarding” is the way that the internet says your story is worth sharing. I’m hoping mine is.

Haha!! We, my new friend, have just networked!

Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne

My youngest received a boxed set of the Canadian classics: The Anne of Green Gables Series, for Christmas this year, and she just recently cracked it open. As the first book sat there on the couch, I smiled as I glanced through a few pages and read some of the infamous dialogue of the beloved “Anne”. Melodrama becomes the little orphaned girl who was supposed to be a boy helper. I was a big fan of the books when I was my daughter’s age, and was an even bigger fan of the 1985 Canadian television mini series starring Megan Follows.

Anne — with an “e” — is the delightful character created by Canadian author, Lucy Maude Montgomery. Her never ending chatter and imagination (and “horrid” red hair) won the hearts of many a young girl, and Montgomery’s novels became international best sellers. I’ve claimed her in this week’s muse, in honour of International Woman’s Day (recently celebrated back on March 8th). The research I discovered marks L.M. Montgomery as an even more interesting Victorian lady than I had once thought.

She was raised by her grandparents, and although her Anne books were very successful, she struggled with depression and angst. She seemed complicated… a spiritual woman who questioned her faith and the church, and was often angered at political agendas and the atrocities of war. Her journals and diaries contain her grief stricken outcries at things that she saw in the daily news, as well as in her own day to day duties. Her love life was confusing at best, and she although she seemed to follow the suit of marriage perfectly (as befitting the times and her strict Presbyterian upbringing) she did not seem happy in it. Her “fleshly” desires seemed to get the better of her and she longed for a bit more of the wild side.

Even her death seems somewhat of a mystery. The official books say she died of a blood clot in her heart, but there are rumours that her bouts of depression may have lead her to take her own life via a drug overdose. This complicated woman appears so far drawn from the character of Anne… the whimsical red-head that seemed so innocent despite her strong willed nature. But such is the escape of a good book, eh? Especially one that I am encouraging my youngest beloved to fall in love with ….

And so I muse about the complexity of this wonderful creation that God has given us as women. We are delicate and yet bold. We are strong and yet weak. We are certainly complex. I think of the short glimpses of the biblical women we see: Women like Mary, Esther, Ruth and the woman who wept at Jesus’s feet. The woman at the well, who questioned. Rahab who risked much to save others. These women lived in a time so unlike ours. They had no International Woman’s Day to celebrate their gender equality. They were the lowest of the low… and yet stood in honour in the eyes of their Saviour.

They were bold and courageous. Certainly, many were not perfect. In fact, most of them made some very poor life choices. But God used them mightily despite their gender — and despite their lot in life. He used them to move the events of time. To change history. To further His plans.

Perhaps, Lucy Maude Montgomery’s, Anne, is no real comparison to the biblical characters. Perhaps I have no business equating one story to another, but it did make me muse a bit about what makes women so special? Why does there seem to be a balance between fragility and boldness in the lives of women? Why do we fight to have gender rights when we already seem to have such a strong presence in this world already? Has Satan so deceived us (like he did Eve) with his smooth talking, leading us to believe that we are somehow less special to God and His plan for the world?

I really don’t have the answers. I’m just as complicated as the next chick. But for now, I will encourage my girls to delight in being daughters of the King, and to enjoy a good novel about a feisty little red-head, with a wild imagination, who gets into just a bit of mischief, and changes the lives of some people — simply by being who she was created to be.

Aloe Vera

I’ve been reflecting, lately, on how complex our world is, and yet, how it all seamlessly works together to provide us with all that we need:

  • Our middle school son has been learning about parts of a cell and all the intricate workings of the tiniest of living things. I love that! Besides, it’s just fun to say “rough endoplasmic reticulum” and know what it means.
  • We have been surviving the snowmaggedon of 2019 here, and many are waiting for spring to arrive — and it will — eventually. The snow will melt and nourish the land just in time for spring flowers to peep up out of the ground. But for now, we continue to shovel out.
  • We’ve marked the year anniversary of my beloved mother-in-law’s final battle with Alzheimer’s, and reflected on how painful it was to watch this awful disease rob her of so many things. Yet the beauty of her life was cared for so diligently by her beloved husband and family.

Which brings me to my Aloe Vera muse. In case you don’t know, aloe vera is the term given to a variety of succulent plants know for it’s “healing” or “soothing” properties. The aloe vera gel is harvested and used in countless beauty and hair products. It’s been grown by many a gardener for it’s attractive, easy growing nature and it’s medicinal properties. A few years ago, I received a huge pot of aloe. It had been left untouched for some time and had propagated to about 40 “pups” or off shoots — baby plants, if you will. I have shared or used most of those babies and now have a few lone survivors left on my windowsill. Recently, I bought an aloe stem (stalk?) with my groceries! It didn’t cost too much, and held all the promise of good things. Only issue… what to do with the crazy thing?!

You tube to the rescue again! Apparently, you harvest the gel inside by trimming away the sharp, spiky edges, filleting the green off, and scooping up all the yummy aloe vera gel from the inside! I wish I was better at videos, because it would have been much more entertaining for you to watch the process as opposed to my still photos! The plant smelled a little funny, it tastes bitter direct from the plant, and the gel is like trying to herd a slippery pile of snot. We laughed. All in all, we harvested a good sized jar of the soothing aloe gel — currently stored in my refrigerator.

Further research says I can use it on my skin, hair and nails. We’ve been trying some natural bar shampoo that is a little drying, so hair help might be on the agenda. I can mix it in with my smoothies for digestion help (or a good cleanse (apparently) if one adds too much!) I use it all the time for minor burns and skin irritations. It works wonders on sunburn (not that we are having any of that in the middle of winter!) but supposedly it works well on chapped lips, so this is a current seasonal option! I figure if it worked for Cleopatra’s beauty regime, it will certainly help with ours!

Learning more about this miracle plant has shown me, that yet again, the Creator of this world takes good care of us! Time and time again the words of Psalm 147:3 ring true: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (ESV) Like the soothing gel of the aloe vera plant, God is the balm that calms our hurts, heals our pain, and binds our wounds. Sometimes it is messy. We get lost in the snotty goo of our imperfections, but His grace covers us and provides that added layer of protection on our parched, chapped skin.

His nourishing word cleanses us from the inside. Our bible study group last week reminded me that meditation on God’s word gives us the tools we need to navigate through our daily routines. Like the aloe, a little nourishment can keep us “clean” and boost our immunity.

So, if you are like us, and dreaming of more tropical weather and sunburn season… remember the little Aloe Vera plant and all it’s benefits. Let it be a green reminder to you of how God is the balm that cleanses and purifies. The One who heals and calms our hurts. Be blessed!