group

Reconnecting with the World via the Internet

I didn’t realize how lonely the first month after having a baby really is. Sure, you have the company of the baby, but for someone who is used to being around other people on a daily basis and having some form of adult human interaction, it can be a shock to the system (in addition to the other stuff that comes with having a baby, which I won’t go into here).

While it has gotten considerably easier to find our groove over two months, a huge part of my rediscovered happiness has been found online. In addition to streaming a lot of Bravo and Netflix, and consulting Dr. Google at least once a day for 4 weeks, the internet has actually helped me step into my new role.



Without being as cliché to say “find your tribe,” there can be a sense of “these are my people” when you connect with the right groups/people/apps.

Private Groups. One of the biggest things online that helped me feel connected was private groups. A few of them are directly related to “mommy stuff” and another is a fitness accountability group. People post daily about challenges/victories, offer advice, and are overall supportive. The groups I like and participate in have a few things in common:

  • There’s no judgment. Mom-shaming is real, and from what I’ve seen it tends to come from other moms. The mom groups I like participating in are honest and not critical of each other’s parenting choices. I won’t go into detail my feelings about this, but when people come to a safe space to vent or genuinely ask for help, the last thing that makes them feel “connected” is getting criticized.
  • It’s honest. The groups I like are the ones that really capture the “win some, lose some” essence of everyday life. It’s not always Instagram worthy, but it’s still nice to share. For instance, one mom had gotten glammed up, just because, only to have her kiddo spit up all over her outfit. Some days I work out in my living room in baggy t-shirts and boxer shorts. The point is we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
  • It feels like a conversation. After all, that’s why I sought out online groups in the first place. The best groups encourage others to post and it’s not all dominated by one person (but there usually is some sort of moderator who keeps things going if needed).

If you can find a group with a common interest, join up! If you can’t find one…create one 🙂



Events on Facebook. Another way to stay connected is looking at the events on Facebook. One of my friends actually pointed out Emlen Family Doula’s new Postpartum Support Group that meets every first and third Sunday. Without Facebook, I never would have known about this delightfully local and incredibly relevant/helpful event.

You can search events locally, by event “type,” and Facebook will also let you know if you have a few friends interested in a nearby event (which may or may not feel a little bit creepy). This example is more of an intersection between online and “real life” but it helped me feel connected to other people in a meaningful way.

Hobbies. For me, working out has always been something that brings me joy. Using the power of the internet to read blogs from some of my favorite fitness people (Hungry Runner Girl, Carrot’s N Cake) helped me feel someone connected again. That, and I was able to stream some easy post-partum workouts to get my endorphin level back up before getting the doctor’s clearance to resume a more intense program. For other people, connecting with a hobby online may mean perusing through Pinterest or writing blog posts of their own.

Entertainment. My postpartum period was not all productive (actually a small percent of it was). Most of it was spent catching up on Bravo TV, checking out some new Netflix shows (American Vandal satisfies my love for true crime and comedy). Another source of entertainment was Instagram. There are a lot of funny/absurd memes about parenting- and complete randomness- that ate up more of my time than I’d care to admit. Strange as it may seem, these memes actually made me feel connected to the outside world because it helped me remember that it everyone struggles- but sometimes you just have to laugh about it.

Turn it Off. Honestly, sometimes it’s all a bit overwhelming and you just have to step away from your phone or computer. Maybe make some tea, go outside for fresh air, read a book…we all need a break every now and then! Sometimes the most important connection to focus on is the one with yourself.

I’m happy to slowly be reconnecting with the world, online and off… and I hope this post helps at least one other person do the same.



Masterminds, Forums, and One-Man Wolfpacks

When in doubt, many people turn to Google for answers (most recently because we couldn’t remember the name of the town in The Iron Giant). But what about bigger questions or ongoing issues? These require a discussion that can’t be encapsulated in a Wikipedia/IMDB article. For those who seek improvement, personally and/or professionally, having some sort of support group can make all the difference. I’ve been known to strike out on my own, and as a result, under- or over-shoot my goals, and flounder when I inevitably encounter an obstacle.

58740552

Support comes in all shapes and sizes, so I thought I’d share a couple that I’ve encountered recently, and the elements of each that seem unique (and actually helpful).

Forums & Discussions. I started the Whole30 (finally committing after reading the book 3 years ago and a couple half-hearted attempts this summer) with a group of friends. There is an immense amount of online support that comes with this diet, but, being me, I only consulted the shopping list convinced I could wing the rest. By Day 3, I felt miserable. I hadn’t considered the effect this diet may have in other areas of my life. The next 30 days also happens to be my heaviest training for the MDI Marathon. My protein sources are down to eggs, fish, and a limited amount of nuts. One of my friends suggested I consult the Forum, and it was like a light switch flicked on in my head. I probably wasn’t the first person to have this issue. And, after looking at the forum, my issues are really common. If I hadn’t read through the forum, I’m not sure I would have made it through (even just 30 days).



Mastermind Groups: defined as “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.” This type of group has been around for awhile, one popular example being Walt Disney’s early team of animators. Napoleon Hill gave it the formal title of “Mastermind group” in the 60s. Basically, you can make a Mastermind Group for any topic, personal or professional. The goal is what’s important.

These groups don’t have a coach or facilitator and there’s no monetary or networking component. Members of the group are seeking improvement with the help of likeminded individuals. The idea is to discuss current obstacles, set up short term and long term goals, and participate in brainstorming exercises to assist others.

Why do these sorts of support groups work? While everyone is coming from a different background or set of experiences, they have a common purpose, and are looking for a challenge. They also have structure and format (yes, even the more casual ones). It may mean a weekly, hour long meeting, daily check-ins, whatever works for the group. Checkins could even be via Facebook chat, Skype, or Google Hangouts if that’s what the group decides.

Personally, I’m a fan of the open-minded groups that understand a cookie-cutter method doesn’t always cut it. There’s no one fitness regimen or diet or business model that reigns supreme. Some people flourish in a cardio setting, others prefer weight lifting. Whatever works. So, I seek out groups that have a common idea about an issue but are tolerant and inviting of other opinions. Although the Whole30 appears strict in many ways, it encourages people to experiment and find what works for them (i.e. all fruits are Whole30 compliant, but maybe you find that your body is happier sans fruit).

Remember, whatever “it” is, you don’t have to go it alone. There’s power in having a support group, and it’s actually kind of fun to share ideas with other people.



Your Guide To Bar Harbor Barter and Swap (And Websites Like It)

To some people in our area, there is an epic Facebook group called ‘Bar Harbor Barter and Swap’. It’s a closed and small group, mainly of people getting rid of random stuff (SCUBA fins!) or looking for random stuff (universal car seat stroller). Two examples from the past hour.

Whether unloading a cactus or buying a trailer, Facebook groups and other online spaces let you get in front of people who can join in your transaction.

Whether unloading a cactus or buying a trailer, Facebook groups and other online spaces let you get in front of people who can join in your transaction.

I’ve learned a few things from buying and selling items on Bar Harbor Barter and Swap… and I think this knowledge may help you on your own local swap/sell group on Facebook, Craigslist, or other online locations where you are wheeling and dealing.


Using the term ‘reasonable offer’ will leave you hanging.

If you post something you are selling and ask for a ‘reasonable’ offer, beware for the sound of crickets. Here’s why.

Clearly you have some notion of what your item is worth (or what you think it’s worth) yet you want the negotiating power that comes from letting someone else say a figure first. You can not have it both ways, my friend. Also from the point of view of the people seeing this, they are afraid their offer isn’t reasonable…so they aren’t going to say anything. So either let people make an offer or communicate your desired price. This ‘reasonable offer’ business helps none of us.

Sellers: Include information like dimensions

Those five pairs of shorts do look cute but I have no idea if I can cram my body into them. Tell me they are a Gap size 4 and people like me can pass and you can spend your time chatting with people who could theoretically fit into them.

We just gave away Derrick’s cactus and included approximate circumference (3 feet) and height of cactus (6 feet) so people would know what they were getting into if they wanted to come pick it up. Don’t make people ask, give them all the information.


Seekers: Include information like what you are willing to pay

I see lots of people seeking objects that no one responds to… but the difference between ‘I am looking for a dishwasher’ and ‘I am looking for a dishwasher that hooks up to my sink for $50 or less’ is significant. If I know you are willing to pay me some money, I might go in my basement and see if my dishwasher would work for you. Also more details makes you more memorable so people can seek items out on your behalf.

Include a link to specs if possible

Including a link to the same product you are selling on Amazon.com or another website. These websites have full product specs and this will save you a lot of duplicate question answering. Especially if you have a technical product (tablet computer, motor, laser printer), include a link to the related product. Bonus: people see how much it would be to buy the thing new… and are much more likely to pay your lower price.

Give me some assurance I am not buying something bad.

So with the cactus post, we put that we were getting rid of it because it is “getting too big for our space”. In truth, it is beginning to take over our small kitchen near the kitchen table and we have no where else to put it. (I know, nothing like having to argue over who has to sit next to the cactus at dinner!)

If you are posting a picture of a printer and you say you’re getting rid of it because you’ve gotten a newer fancier one, that let’s me know I am not buying a hunk of garbage. (Getting rid of kid’s stuff is usually kind of self explanatory that maybe your kids have grown.) ‘Printer works’ is good ‘Printed something last week from my Dell laptop’ is even better. See what specifics can do to give people confidence?


Get second (or third or fourth) in line. 

I’ve been looking for a filing cabinet for months but the idea of buying a new one that I was going to paint bright orange anyway seemed silly. I saw a perfect filing cabinet go by… and someone else had bid on it. I commented ‘Second in line if this doesn’t work out.’ And I got the filing cabinet in the end.

If you see something you like that someone else has dibs on, let the seller know you’d like to be considered if the deal falls through. I think this happens way more often than any of us know.

Know your audience.

There is someone trying to sell a really nice convertible for $8000ish. Problem is we live in a place where there are a ton of dirt roads and snow 8 months of the year (slight exaggeration but you get the idea). If this guy would put this thing on eBay motors or Craigslist, I bet he’d get his asking price.

It’s best to get a feel of the culture of your buying/selling/swapping site first before you post… and if you are in the wrong place, find another where you can get the best price for your efforts. This particular Facebook group seems to do best with transactions at or less than $100 with an occasional exception. Just because a certain website is convenient for you doesn’t mean that’s where your customers are.

I do hope you have some kind of fun distraction in your life like Bar Harbor Barter and Swap. It can help you get rid of the extra crap in your life and occasionally you can buy something you actually need from someone you actually know. I have met some fun people through the site who live near me… a bonus real life benefit in this online world.

And to those of you with some experience in this, is there any tips I might be forgetting?