Blogger Interview: Shari Anderson & Cheryce Thompson

Optimistic Divorcees by Shari Anderson & Cheryce ThompsonOPTIMISTIC DIVORCEES BY SHARI ANDERSON & CHERYCE THOMPSON

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
The Optimistic Divorcees was created as a way to share our experiences surrounding our marriages and divorces in an effort to encourage, support and relate to those who are experiencing separation or divorce. We realize that this transition is not easy and often times you may feel alone or believe no one understands. We do. It is our hope that this blog connects with those who need to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, life goes on and there’s reason to remain optimistic.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
The Optimistic Divorcees blog is about encouraging, supporting and inspiring those who may have dealt or are currently dealing with or contemplating divorce through our stories and the stories of others who have experienced it. We aim to show that although divorce is painful, there IS life after divorce!

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
Our ideal reader is anyone who has experienced divorce or may be contemplating a divorce. We hope that through the content of our blog, readers realize that they are not alone in their experiences and that leading a full, enjoyable, happy life is possible after divorce.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
In 5 years time, it would be great to have a larger following of our blog as well as products based on our blogs – books, etc. The statistics for divorce haven’t decreased, so the topic will definitely continue to be a prevalent one.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
We typically find content for our blog just by conversations we have with one another or with friends, and of course pop culture. Relationship talk is always big among women. 🙂

5) How to do you remain committed to each other to keep the blog going?
There aren’t many successful blogs out there that are a collaboration! Admittedly, it’s hard to remain committed to keeping the blog going. It’s a much bigger task than we’d originally anticipated. We are actually just coming off of a three-month hiatus. However, we believe that our experiences and what we share in our content can be of help to those dealing with divorce. It’s also encouraging to hear from readers who tell us that were encouraged by something that read on the blog.

6) Tell us about your Hump Day Haiku and OD Adventures segments of your blog.
Our #HumpDayHaiku segment is a fun and creative way to poetically share our thoughts on topics related to relationships and divorce. We like to think of them as quick therapeutic exercises. Our OD Adventures segments seek to show us just living life and doing things we love – being tourists in our own city and other places we visit, dining out (we consider ourselves foodies), etc.

7) What would you say to a new divorcee on how to remain optimistic and positive?
Our advice would be to take the process one day at a time, surround yourself with those who will encourage and support you and keep moving forward. Don’t look at what was lost, but instead look for the lessons in how you can be even better in the new chapter of your life. What will help them get through the initial stages of loss? What will help them get through the initial stages of loss is actually allowing themselves to really acknowledge what their feeling and allow themselves to feel every emotion – anger, hurt, confusion, etc. Masking how they really feel during this time can only prolong the healing process.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
When you want to give up, DON’T! Recognize and remember that what you have to share, someone needs to read to be inspired or encouraged!

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Shari Anderson & Cheryce Thompson and would like to follow their blog, here are all their pertinent details.

Blog: Optimistic Divorcees
Shari & Cheryce’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Lottie Lomas

THE SECRET DIVORCEE BY LOTTIE LOMAS The Secret Divorcee by Lottie Lomas

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
When I was 40, I realised I’d married the wrong man. I had two beautiful boys, but was sinking into a mire of depression. So after months and months of tears and discussion and loneliness, I made the decision to separate from my husband.

I am a single parent, but don’t want to be defined as such. I work, I’m a pilot, I’m a singer, I’m a photographer. And a parent. I write about all sorts of aspects of life, from my family to my ageing body. Occasionally I add in pictures I’ve drawn, but they are awful. I am terrible at art.

I’m still looking for the right man. God knows where he is. He’d better show himself soon because my knees have started to make a frightening creaking sound every evening as I go upstairs to bed.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
I started to write very soon after I had separated from my husband. Although it was my choice to leave, it was a very stressful time and I found that there was a lot of – well…stuff – that I couldn’t say to anyone. So I just let it out in my blog. In one big dump.

It started as an electronic diary, a private log, but quite quickly it grew into a more public space. As I became happier in my personal life, I found that I was considering my audience much more, and I wanted to share the fact that divorce can actually be a positive experience.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
My blog isn’t all about divorce now! In fact, as I separated three years ago, it’s much more about the ups and downs of life as a single parent. So I guess that the blog is aimed at single parents, because they will identify with my shenanigans – but actually the reality is that most of my readers tend to be in relationships.

I do get messages regularly though from unhappy women, who are thinking of leaving their husbands. Sometimes they want advice, and other times, they just need someone to speak to.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
As the blog is about my life then I’m hoping it will still be going in 5 years’ time. Let’s see: my boys will be 19 and 17 by then. The 19 year old will probably have swanned off to America (he was talking about this just yesterday) leaving me hanging on to my 17 year old   with all my might. He will no doubt hate me for this, and I shall become a wizened old bitter empty husk of a crone, with a severe case of premature empty nest syndrome.

And who won’t want to read about that?!

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
It mainly comes from my children. How I feel about them, what I do with them, how they affect my relationships… They have a wonderful insight on the world that adults don’t seem to have. I’m also a keen amateur photographer so, if I don’t have written content, I will share some of my photos. I don’t sweat it, though. If nothing comes into my head, I won’t post anything.

5) Do you have any words of wisdom for all the single parents out there that have tweens and teenagers in their household and how to deal with co-parenting effectively?
When I split from my husband, I had a fairytale vision that we would spend Christmases together, babysit for each other, support each other. But quite quickly our relationship exploded; he lied about me to our friends and cut off all communication. If this happens to you, my advice is to not rise to it. Head down, keep being polite, don’t lash out. Particularly don’t reveal your feelings to your kids. If you manage to bite your tongue, it will all level out in the end. It’s taken me three years, and we’re still not quite there, but we show each other more respect now than we have done for a long, long time.

6) Does your ex-husband read your blog? How does he feel about it?
No. I blog anonymously.  If he read some of my earlier posts, all our positive relationship-building would go down the toilet.

7) What opportunities has your blog provided you professionally?
Well, I spent six months drawing up an agreement with a large internet-based organisation, which sadly closed down before everything went live! So I’m back to the drawing board on that one. I would love to publish a collection of my posts, or write a book about divorce – but as all single parents know, time is hard to come by.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Don’t faff about too much, thinking about your aims, or the blog title, or the platform, or whatever. They’re just excuses. Just write. It doesn’t matter if your first posts are a pile of poo. Actually, what am I saying? It doesn’t matter if ALL your posts are a pile of poo. Just get on and write. You’ll find it’s an amazing outlet for you. And if you’re not already on Twitter, get on it. There are like-minded single parents out there who will, in time, give you support when you most need it. Good luck!

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Lottie Lomas and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: The Secret Divorcee
Lottie’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Kate Efomi

SUDDENLY MUM BY KATE EFOMI Suddenly Mum by Kate Efomi

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
After graduating from the University of Nottingham with a degree in English Studies, Kate went on to work as a trainee researcher at BBC Birmingham. In 2002 she moved to Glasgow to work with BAFTA and Emmy award-winning director, Norman Stone (Shadowlands, The Black Velvet Gown) at his company, 1A Productions. During her time there she learnt about every stage of TV and film production, working on many dramas and documentaries before producing her own documentary, Old MacDonald’s Farm, for BBC Scotland.

Meanwhile, Kate has always had a passion for writing. From the age of fifteen she secured a regular column in her local newspaper, The Northern Echo, and has been writing professionally ever since. She started writing her blog, Suddenly Mum, when she became a full-time step-mum soon after marrying her wonderful Congolese husband, Consol. In November 2013, whilst on maternity leave, Kate started her own copywriting, proofreading and web content business: kateefomi.com – The Wonderful World of Words. She is also working on various writing projects and is contemplating a children’s book based on her most popular blog post to date: Daddy Had a Pet Baboon.

She also opened notebooklove.com – an online store selling beautiful notebooks for those who prefer old-school paper – in early 2015 as a passion project.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
My blog centres on my relatively new role as step-mum to two gorgeous girls who have hearts of gold and a very messy bedroom. Two months after marrying their dad, they unexpectedly came to join us, full-time and permanently. For the first few months, I was having fun and panic attacks all at the same time. I was Suddenly Mum, forever! No maternity leave or health visitor support, just straight into packed lunches, homework help and school gate shyness (me, not them). I love writing and my new life provides me with plenty of material. My blog laughs at my own fumbling maternal attempts, offers me a little therapy and solace and helps me order my thoughts about being a step-mum – a job that doesn’t come with the best of stigmas attached. Thanks, Cinderella.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
My main reason for starting my blog was to create a bit of space for me. An online journal, if you like. But in those early days what I didn’t realise was that there was such a fantastic support-network of fellow step-mums and mums out there, both on blogs and Twitter. A blog isn’t just a book you scribble in before sticking it under your bed at night. It’s a living, breathing creation for all to see… and comment on. I don’t aim my blog at a particular audience, but new step-mums seem to find it mildly amusing and sometimes helpful.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
Just as I told myself over and over again during that first week, as I clenched the duvet around me: This is for life. I’ll never stop being their mum now. We’re family through-and-through and with that will always come stories. In 2013, our little girl was born and she has brought our new family even closer together. She’s a laugh-a-minute and brings her own unique stories and experiences.

Right now we have a teen, a tween and a toddler. In five years’ time our eldest will be 19 and emerging from the fog of her teens, my youngest step-daughter will be celebrating her 16th birthday and the toddler will be starting school. All manner of fun to be had there! Thankfully, 5 years is a little too soon for step-grandchildren. I hope!

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
Life constantly provides colour, stories and anecdotes. Whether it’s the youngest asking if there was electricity when I was young or the oldest being scared about the impending birds and bees school talk… there’s always something to write about – tastefully and always with the girls’ hearts and dignity held in the highest regard. Mine, not so much.

5) Describe your parenting style and how did it forge the relationship you have with your two step daughters?
I had a very happy childhood with strict but loving and fun parents who showed an active and supportive interest in me as I grew up. Thanks to Billy Graham turning up in Leeds in the early 80s, my childhood home soon became a Christian one where I was introduced to a loving and kind God. If you’ve had a happy childhood I think you want to replicate it for your own children. I certainly want to do that for our girls.

I’ve been surprised and truly blessed by the way we’ve all clicked together. We’ve been in a privileged position in that everyone in the new family wants to make it work. The kids accepted me very quickly, I didn’t feel like I needed to win their love at all, in fact they were desperate for hugs and kisses, time to chat and have a laugh together. It’s been so rewarding to see two young lives blossom and hear almost every week, “This is the best day EVER!” in response to just the simple things in life, like a hotdog in Ikea,

I can be pretty shouty though and I’ve been working on that. I’m a bit of a clean-freak and I grew up with a clean-freak mother. Before I was born, Mum was an officer in the Royal Air Force and one of her jobs was to inspect levels of cleanliness by running her hand, in a white glove, along skirting boards and tops of cupboards. She carried that standard into our family home when I was growing up and still insisted on the skirting board inspection after I’d cleaned my bedroom. Thankfully the gloves were long gone by then, though. As a result, I feel more at peace in a clean and orderly house, but I’ve had to let my standards drop a little for the sake of sanity these days. The girls have got better and summer holidays with my parents (whom they love dearly) have been a bit of an air force bootcamp for them. No complaints from me and I think they now appreciate the fact that they can see their bedroom carpet.

6) What advice would you impart onto first time step mothers so they are well equipped to start this journey?
Don’t try too hard, pray hard and just as you’ve committed to your husband in marriage for better or for worse, resolve to do that for the kids too. Roll with the challenges and be honest with the kids when you need a bit of space. I tried to be Super Step Mum for the first few months, but ended up blowing a gasket and turned into Step Monster instead. Major back-fire! Work together as a new family, after all you’re not the only one who’s new to this. Encourage the kids to talk openly about how they’re feeling, what they’re finding tough about being in the new family and listen, listen, listen, love, love, love. Oh and no matter how tempting it might be, never speak ill of their mother, even if it means just being silent – it’s really not worth it and can be so damaging to the kids and the family life you’re trying to build. Every now and again we go out for a family meal and review the highlights of the last few months together. We also each go round the table and pick out positive things to say about each person in the new family. It builds everyone up and creates a great atmosphere in every-day life, which could otherwise be tough. This life is so rewarding and I wouldn’t now swap it for the world.

7) Apart from a blended family, you also have a multiracial family. Does that add colour to your family life and how did the Scottish in you and the African in him embrace that?
Although I’ve been living in Scotland for the past thirteen years I actually grew up in beautiful North Yorkshire, south of the border. Meanwhile, my husband, Consol, is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo but his dad’s job took his family around the world. Before he was a teen, Consol had already lived in China, Germany, Sweden, Burundi and Zambia. He also went to boarding school in Belgium so Consol has quite a western outlook on life.

Having said that, there are definitely differences and when we first started dating we had very little in common. From how to carve a chicken (carve it? What about the bones? Give me the bones!) to the pets we had as kids (hamster and cockatiel vs baboon and monkeys), things definitely differed. But the most important thing in my life and the most important thing in his is exactly the same: our faith. That holds us together. Any other cultural heritage or tradition takes a back seat really.

Our wedding was great, though. Lots of African men in kilts and a tongue-in-cheek dowry of a live chicken for my mum!

The girls are very Scottish as the oldest came here when she was three while the second step-daughter was born here. They say they don’t fancy going to Africa as they, ‘don’t want to encounter any snakes or creepy crawlies’. Consol rolls his eyes and knows we need a family trip there some time soon to give them a taste of their roots.

Occasionally we have Congolese food, which I know Consol misses. Yorkshire puddings don’t quite cut it for him so he sometimes buys banana plantain and chikwanga at the local African shop. I must get his mum to teach me to cook Congolese dishes next time she visits. Last time she was here she cooked so hard she split our wooden spoon clean down the middle, length-ways! The food was awesome though and well worth the minor damage.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Give it a go. Set up your blog and don’t think too hard about what you’re going to write. Build it bit-by-bit. It doesn’t have to be perfect all at once. Just use it as a diary and you’ll find that the stories start to flow. I am forever tweaking and changing my blog. The important thing is just to start, then the fun begins and you’ll be hooked. Join Twitter as well – there’s a massive community of mums and step-mums out there and Twitter helps you find their blogs. They’re all so lovely, come and join us!

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Kate Emofi and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: Suddenly Mum
Kate’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Eleise Hale

A VERY BLENDED FAMILY BY ELEISE HALE A Very Blended Family by Eleise Hale

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
Eleise is a mum to one gorgeous, ridiculously active 6 year old girl and wicked step mum to a teenager girl doing her HSC and step-step mum to an 18year old boy who ran away to the Navy, she calls these her bonus kids. She has been part of a blended family for 4 years and is always learning.

She writes about her struggles with the relationships with the 8 parents who raise three awesome children and the complex nature of the blended family. She was a step child and now a step mum so she often reflects on her own childhood to try and make best decisions for her family.

Outside of her blended family Eleise is an accountant, married to an auditor and lives in beautiful Wollongong. She loves to cook, run half marathons and can get a little obsessive about living a healthy life. She hates cleaning and holds steady to the idea that a clean house is a sign of a wasted life. The whole family lives a crazy busy life, encouraging each other  to make the most of each day and live with gratitude.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
I started blogging before I met my husband and wrote about my local area and reviewed cafes and events. When I started dating my husband I really struggled with the new dynamic of being a blended family and I couldn’t seem to get my head around our situation. I started googling forums for step mums and I was shocked by how much of it was negative. I wanted to write a new blog to document my difficulties but also the positives and lessons I learnt along the way. I found the blog much cheaper than therapy and often used it as a way to communicate with my husband.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
My ideal reader is other mums in blended family or step mum roles who just want to love their step kids and enjoy their blended family. Being a blended family can be horrible some days so I want my readers to see that although I have crap days sometimes there is light at the end of the tunnel and it can become more positive. I sometimes get emails from step mums reaching out for some positive support they adore their husbands but their new blended family just isn’t working, they don’t want to hear horror stories they want to hear that there are positive steps you can try to improve the situation.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
I think blended families is a growing topic, more parents are reaching out for information and trying to make their unique family work. With the number of kids in blended families growing I think that blogs are a great way to share experiences and maybe get some tips from other mums who have already been through the same situation.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
It is usually easy, having to deal with 8 parents and 3 kids, marriages, babies, sports, different school, and of course running, ideas comes to me. Our life is crazy, finding content is easier than time to write it down.

5) How did being a step child help you become the step mother you are today?
My dad died when I was 4 so I was a pretty messed up kid, in my early teens life threw me some huge curve balls and that didn’t help. I was pretty horrible to my step dad and my mum. I often thought about what they could have done better as parents, now as a step mum I try and put those lessons in place. I love my step dad now and have a great relationship with both of my parents. During the difficult days I think about how hard it was on them and they survived.

6) How do you cope being a parent to a kindergarten and two teenagers? It would require such different parenting styles due to the age difference!
I will admit that some days I feel torn at each limb. One child gets up at 6am every morning whilst the others want you to stay up until midnight every night. One wants to go shopping the other wants to go to the see a kids movie. We found that we need to break up often and give the kids individual time. My daughter and I go to the local cafe for coffee and milkshakes on Saturday mornings whilst hubby and the teens sleep in. The teens require more emotional support where the 6 year old needs help with everything and a lot of time. Miss 16 likes to go on dates with my husband and I to restaurants we can’t take the youngest. I am very lucky to have in laws who are happy to babysit.

7) How do you find the time to blog, being a step mother, mother, wife and tax accountant? What’s the secret?
I went back to work full time in May last year, it certainly has been a challenge to continue blogging. I see blogging as something that keeps me balanced so it is just like writing a diary. We don’t watch much TV so I blog in the evening when the youngest is in bed. I think the real secret though is low expectations, my home is far from perfect and good enough is well….. good enough. I try to prioritise what is important to me and my blog is part of my journey.

8) How did you keep up with your ‘balance’ for 2014 and how will that help you keep this year’s resolution of ‘simple’?
When I decided on my word for 2014 being balance I knew I had a tough year ahead. Our eldest was starting in the Navy, the middle child was starting her HSC, the youngest was starting school and I was selling my business and starting work full time. I knew that we needed to keep balance to survive. When I started working full time, my husband used some leave to structure part time hours to help with the transition and balance. We often sat down through the year and asked ourselves how could we balance things better, often it meant giving something up or splitting up our team to divide and conquer. 2015 is all about simple, this word came from balance because so often last year, simplify was our answer. I tend to over complicate things, so I want to focus on simplicity.

9) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
If you love writing, just write. Don’t worry about statistics, write from the heart.

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Eleise Hale and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: A Very Blended Family
Eleise’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Kyle Bradford

CHOPPERPAPA BY KYLE BRADFORD ChopperPapa.com by Kyle Bradford

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
Kyle is the author of ChopperPapa.com, a blog dedicated to observations and discussions about single parenting, dating, divorce, manhood, and occasionally motorcycles and music. Launched in late 2010, ChopperPapa.com is not the average “daddy blog” about potty training, naps, minivans, or the best apps for toddlers. Once referred to as “Confucius on a Chopper,” Kyle brings a shrewd and candid approach to the weighty issues we all face (married or single) such as relationship communication, coping after an extramarital affair, co-parenting, relationships and the kids, dealing with ex-spouses, and other tidbits he affectionately refers to as  “intellectual road kill.”  A single father for nearly a decade parenting two tweens, he will soon be remarried and add another topic to his tag line – blended families.

Through his own mistakes, he is intimately familiar with the struggles single parents endure whether it’s answering our children’s questions about divorce, spending holidays alone, or finding love again.

In 2013 he launched a program called ‘Fatherhood Wide Open‘. A podcast dedicated to intelligent conversations on issues facing fatherhood and masculinity. He holds in-depth conversations with writers and thinkers about topics most important to men and dads.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception? Tell us how a recovering backwoods redneck became a prolific blogger that has been featured on Huffington Post.
Naively, I believed, when I began writing, that I would be the next Oprah prodigy. When that didn’t happen – I am still waiting for the phone to ring – I discovered more authentic and sincere reasons. As the first of my circle of friends to become a divorced father, in the ensuing years those same friends who were now facing the same trials I had previously endured approached me. After discussing with others, it was suggested I begin writing about my thoughts on divorced fatherhood, dating, remarriage, and all that entails. I write what’s on my heart and mind. Issues that I read about or hear of that sit at the intersection of fatherhood, relationships, and divorce always grab my attention. Over the years my blog has become the storehouse of my thoughts on life and love. Hopefully I’ll write indefinitely and can, in the years to come, look back and see how much I’ve changed or stayed the same.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
I hope to connect with single fathers. What breaks my heart most are fathers who, through the ending of a relationship, abandon their children for the sake of fun, freedom, or fear. I want to inspire, encourage, and even frighten them into reengaging with their kids. I hope to connect with single and divorced fathers who are dating again and how to navigate those dangerous waters. Yet, I also hope to give a different perspective to single and divorced moms and offer a male’s thoughts on the topics they often wonder about.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
I have no expectations for my site. I will continue to write with a heart of sincerity, authenticity, and transparency. Perhaps I’ll expand on a series of posts about a topic and put that into a book. With a remarriage in the near future, blending families will be a central topic of my future writing, but I will not move away from those same topics that have grabbed my attention for the last few years.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
I read authors who inspire me, most should add, are dead. F. W. Boreham and J. G. Greenhough are two very obscure writers/preachers from the 19th century that have given me new perspectives on numerous topics. My faith is an important part of my content. Current news and events around us can be wonderful inspirations, but always trying to keep any topic within the framework of fatherhood, masculinity, and single parenting.

5) Tell us about ‘Fatherhood Wide Open’ and how did it come about?
There are wonderful men around this world who are doing great things by they are sharing their manhood journeys with the world and I have been inspired by many of them. FWO is an opportunity to catalogue just a sliver of their wisdom. The program is two years old and in the 20 plus episodes I have recorded, I have yet to have a conversation where I didn’t learn something new. It is one of my greatest joys in connecting with other men about issues that matter.

6) What sort of content makes it to your ‘intellectual roadkill’ section of your blog? How did you come about naming that segment of your blog?
Intellectual Roadkill is that content that doesn’t fit neatly into fatherhood or parenting topic, it’s a catch all for anything that doesn’t stick, for example my article on Thanksgiving dinner or the dangers of the social media app Yik Yak. I chose that because, as any motorcycle rider will quickly admit, roadkill is something we must always watch out for.

7) What advice do you have for single fathers raising tweens?
Be there! As children get older the influence of a father becomes crucial and there may be no better time than in the tweens to have a father pour himself into his children. Don’t allow the shiny objects of singlehood to distract you from the responsibilities of being a dad. Childhood is fleeting and before one knows it any influence we have vanishes never to be regained again.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Forget the popularity, forget the idea of making a living at it, never mind the number of readers you have, or the likes, forwards, or comments on social media. If all that happens great, if not, great. I don’t believe in this idea that as a blogger we ‘write for ourselves’. If that were so we wouldn’t publish it for the world to see. Everyone enjoys recognition, but that shouldn’t be the aim of a blogger. Always and every time write from the heart, where your passion is, write on what you enjoy and that matters to you. But I must caution that when you do so you will likely experience what was noted by Catholic mystic Thomas Merton, “If you write for yourself, you can read what you’ve written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted you’ll wish you were dead.”

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Kyle Bradford and would like to follow his blog, here are all his pertinent details.

Blog: Chopperpapa
Kyle’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Barbara Goldberg

THE EVIL STEPMOTHER SPEAKS BY BARBARA GOLDBERG The Evil Stepmother Speaks by Barbara Goldberg

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
Once upon a time, I misplaced my first husband…similar to misplacing your car keys. I came home and my husband was gone, which led me to a life as a single mom for six years. I was a single mom to a darling, little boy, Ean. I am Barb Goldberg. I was about to embark on my next adventure. Read on…

Several years later, I was at a friend’s birthday party at a local restaurant. I noticed a lone gentleman in the room and knew immediately that I would someday marry that guy. I told my best friend to take a look at him because I would one day marry him. True to my word, I married “that guy”, my second husband, Bruce. Thus, began my journey as a stepmother to three wonderful kids: Adrienne, Nathan and Betsy. I now had the opportunity to parent children who ranged in age from six to fifteen. It wasn’t long before my children started to label me, “Wicked One”: a name I have worn with pride (especially when given the opportunity to shoot at them at laser tag). I made it my personal mission to make sure that I showed those kids a good time and appropriate revenge on a daily basis. It has been quite the journey that I love sharing with my readers, students and clients.

Along the way, I received a Masters degree in Business and a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education. I am also a Certified Life Coach, studying with Dr. Martha Beck. (Dr. Beck is a world renowned author and columnist for O Magazine.) I also have spent almost 20 years in corporate America with a large Fortune 500 company: skills that have certainly helped to create classes and coaching programs for stepmothers who would like a more peaceful life. To that end, my goal is to teach the art and science of stepfamily management.  Neuroscience, biology, sociology, leadership skills combined with good ole fashioned Mom know-how combine to find each stepmother’s happily ever after. Bring your sense of humor. You’ll need it!

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
The Evil Stepmother Speaks is a blog dedicated to saving the world one stepfamily at a time. Over 95 million people have a step-relationship and many of them suffer. I want to stop that frustration and explore solutions. Look for lessons from the fields of neuroscience, psychology, sociology, physics and leadership.  I also like to include practical ideas from my own experience and mom ‘know-how’. If a person reads one blog and learns something or feels better about themselves and their families, then I have done my job.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
my ideal reader is a woman who is in a relationship with a partner who has children from a previous relationship.  She is about 25-55 years old and has frustrations about her role as a stepparent.  The goal of The Evil Stepmother Speaks is for stepmothers to know that they are not alone. My ultimate goal is to teach stepmoms how to love and laugh.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent? 
I see the blog becoming more popular and relevant. Stepfamilies will continue to be recognized, as the ‘normal’ family structure. Readership will grow by double digits. More stepparents will take our classes and understand the value of taking the time to learn how to lead.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog? 
It feels as though the stepfamily journey has an unending list of blog topics. After all, the stepmother fable started so long ago! I never struggle with new ideas.  The women who chat on my Facebook pages inspire me every day and keep me relevant.

5) “Once upon a time, I misplaced my first husband…” Although I laughed at your opening line, it must have been extremely difficult. How did you find the strength to cope with this and are you a different person now? 
The pain of a divorce is like someone stabbing you in the heart.  Even if you are the one that initiates the separation, the impact is the same.  So, yes, this was an extremely difficult time.  The strength came from my son who was a toddler when I got divorced.  Children keep you focused and you just do not have the luxury to be depressed or lazy. I still believe the life of a single parent is the most difficult.

Divorce, single parenthood and stepparent-hood changes who you are. Am I a different person?  I would say that I am the same person, just wiser and older.

6) How do you find the time to blog, get a Bachelor and Master’s degree, become a life coach and write a book? Oh, and be a wife and mother of course!
All of these accomplishments have happened over a lifetime.  My Bachelor and Masters degrees happened prior to the birth of my son.  I studied with Dr. Martha Beck and became one of her certified coaches by taking courses at night, during the last several years of my corporate career. The book was a journey over a couple of years.  It is all about pursuing goals that you love and taking it one small step at a time.

7) What is the secret to a successful blended family? 
One secret to a successful blended family is a stepmother who has a great sense of humour and does not take herself too seriously.  She understands the science behind it all and the power of compassion and silence. Don’t try to go it alone.  Get support from a trusted professional while understanding that it isn’t personal.

8) How would you describe your parenting style? 
I would describe myself as tough on the outside, with a soft heart.  I like to think that my family knows what I stand for and what the expectations are.

9) What advice do you have for aspiring bloggers in terms of getting into the media? 
The media is interested in what you have to say.  There are so many outlets and you can find your place.  Have confidence and tell people your story.  They want to hear it.

ESS 3D Updated smaller copyTHANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Barbara Goldberg and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: The Evil Stepmother Speaks
Barbara’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Judith Middleton

JUDITH’S DIVORCE BLOG BY JUDITH MIDDLETON Judith’s Divorce Blog by Judith Middleton

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
I am a retired divorce solicitor, previously a partner at Latimer Hinks and latterly a part-time consultant at Macks, both in Darlington. As a divorce practitioner I was accredited by Resolution as a family law specialist with particular specialisms in the areas of financial provision and pensions. I was a trained mediator and collaborative lawyer; a member of Resolution and also the regional spokesperson for Resolution Tees Valley. I have now retired in order to enjoy life to the full, pursue my leisure interests and take a course in interior design. I do, however, still blog about divorce and also now, retirement!

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
My blog started as an outlet for creativity denied to me by my professional work and also linked in with a quest by Latimer Hinks to promote the firm using the Internet and social media.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
I hope that there is something for most people in my blog which seeks to normalise and find the humour in divorce.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent in the same vein you have blogging about it?
Although a solicitor by profession I have tried to steer clear of giving advice on the law and practice in my blog and instead relate it to anecdotes or experiences that I come across in my daily life. For that reason I believe that my blog will remain prevalent especially with no likely let up in the number of people who separate and/or divorce.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
I seek inspiration from all sources during my daily life including what I see and hear whilst out and about, reading books or newspapers or listening to the radio.

5) What opportunities has your blog provided you?
I have interacted with many more people that would otherwise be the case both through social media and in real life. My log is featured in a local newspaper and has been a reliable source of marketing.

6) Had you not been a divorce lawyer and been interested in the subject matter, do you think you would have a blogger (of any kind!) anyway?
Yes and I now blog separately about retirement.

7) What do your grown up children think about your blog and do you think it gives them a different perspective on marriage?
My children love being mentioned in the blog and then cringe in case anyone they know reads it. It has given them a level of understanding about my career that they would not otherwise have had ie that some really awful things happen to people and relationships, and that my job did have real benefit.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
If you have a creative bent or something important to say, the blogging platform is a potentially great way to reach out to thousands of readers. It is important to try to blog regularly but to be prepared for moments of “blogger block” especially when you are working hard at the day job and suffer from a lack of creativity or time as a result. I tend to write down ideas as they come to me in a notebook and use them later.

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Judith Middleton and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: Judith’s Divorce Blog
Judith’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Donna Mott

BLENDERMOM BY DONNA MOTT Blendermom - Thrown in the mix of a Blended Family by Donna Mott

PROFESSIONAL BIO:

Donna is sharing her faith and blended family life on blendermom.me. She is a graduate of SheSpeaks through Proverbs 31 Ministries. She has done a series of articles on Uplifting Families and is a regular contributor to Family Fusion Community. She is currently pursuing a degree in Biblical Studies. She and her wonderful husband have been married for over 6 years. She has a beautiful 15 year old daughter and a handsome 10 year old son as well as a handsome red headed 12 year old stepson. Aside from working, writing and school, she serves in the Open Arms program in her church working with children with special needs.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
My blog is about being a biomom and a stepmom in a blended/stepfamily.

I have loved to write ever since I was a young girl. It was an outlet to express emotion for me; a happy song, a sad poem, a prayer to God. I can’t think of more emotionally charged circumstances than verbal/emotional abuse, divorce, remarriage, and blending a family.

In scouring the internet for help through this journey, I noticed that although there were Christian articles and websites on stepfamilies, there was very little faith-based information and advice on some of the deeper issues that we had faced such as  court, custody, jealousy, competition, control, abuse, etc… So I started a blog to express my emotions and feelings as well as to share my thoughts on some of those deeper issues from a biblical standpoint.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
Divorce can be very emotionally damaging for all involved. It can leave you feeling that something is inherently wrong with you, that somehow you were made wrong and that’s why it didn’t work out or  now that you are divorced and remarried, God can’t use you. I want my readers to know that God doesn’t make mistakes. He gave you everything you need to be great. Your blended family may have come out of a broken home but God heals and restores so that your family is not broken. You are restored to unbroken. In Esther 4:14, there’s a phrase that says “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Your roll whether it is biomom, stepmom, or like me, a blendermom is such a wonderful opportunity to facilitate that healing and exemplify unconditional love. I truly believe God placed you in this roll for a reason inspite of all the discouragement and issues.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
I hope that God will continue to open doors for me to share my journey and faith to more hurting stepmoms, biomoms, and blended families. I hope to eventually create more of a ministry of healing out of my blog. I think that it will absolutely be prevalent. We are just starting to see more churches and faith-based organizations reaching out and ministering to these familes but there is so much more to be done.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
(Lol) My life is continual content. That is absolute truth.

5) What opportunities has your blog provided you?
Connecting with some really great “blendermoms”. Opportunities to share God’s unconditional love. The opportunity to help just one other mom feel that she is not alone.

6) How do you juggle “3 kids with 3 other parents that go to 3 different schools and have 3 different parenting schedules” and also manage to maintain a blog?
I describe it as glorious chaos. It is very difficult to find time to write but I just always seem to manage. I am not always able to blog every week but I try to at least twice a month. I also have lots of schedules and notes plastered on the fridge to keep up with who is going where and with whom.

7) What words of wisdom would you have for first time step mothers?
The dad and the children are a package deal. You can’t commit to one without committing to the other. It’s hard. It’s disappointing at times but make the decision to support and love anyway no matter the return. You may be the only example of what a good healthy family relationship is supposed to be.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Write! If you are considering starting a blog then write some posts before you go through the trouble of setting up a website. It will help you form more of what you want to say. It will help you with organizing your thoughts on what you want to share. And it will also help with setting the tone and atmosphere of your blog.

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Donna Mott and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: Blendermom – Thrown in the mix of a Blended Family
Donna’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Natasha Peter

EPIC MOMMY ADVENTURES BY NATASHA PETER

PROFESSIONAL BIO: Epic Mommy Adventure by Natasha Peter
Natasha blogs over at Epic Mommy Adventures, where she shares her every day epic adventures as a single mom to her son, and shares tips for other single parents to navigate the ins and outs of parenthood. She is a contributor to the Mother of All Meltdowns, an anthology focused on the adult-sized meltdown, and a board member of the International Bloggers Association, which focuses on helping bloggers expand their audience by providing opportunities to share and be shared by other members of the community.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
My blog is all about sharing the ins and outs of single parenthood – the frustrations, exciting moments, and lastly and most importantly, the incredible appreciation for being a mommy. I want to create an impact on those who read my blog, whether they are a single mom or not.

I started Epic Mommy Adventures back when a friend recommended that I started sharing my thoughts and experiences through blogging. I had been writing a journal for some time, but it was great to now share them with the world. And I haven’t looked back since.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
My ideal readers are moms – those who are going through a difficult time and concerned about parenting alone, those in happily married relationships but struggling with motherhood, any type of mother at all. I hope that they are able to know that they’re not alone. We can only get through it if we work through it together.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
In 5 years, I hope that my blog continues to grow and evolve.  I hope to come up with a few interesting ideas to really make my blog a household name, while continuing to be myself. Being a mom will continue to be a prevalent topic; however, as life changes and evolves, I’m sure that my blog will change and evolve as well.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
Honestly, I find my best content from just living life, and reading other blogs. Most of the topics addressed on Epic Mommy Adventures, are those that I have specifically gone through myself or someone close to me has experienced. And reading other blogs allows me to answer some of my own questions and challenges and I use those thoughts to create blog posts that are based on my life.

5) How do you find the time and motivation to blog being a single mother, working full time and studying part time?
Honestly, it’s really hard to balance it all – I have to give my full attention to each of these facets of my life while keeping myself afloat. The time comes when it comes – I squeeze it in during breaks, late at night, early mornings, whenever I can. The motivation comes easily because I love each and every facets of my life – I LOVE being a mom and I love blogging, working to take care of my family, and studying to continue to support my family. So I just do it all – because I love them all.

6) Do you believe things happen for a reason?
Absolutely! I believe that everything happens for a specific reason. My life is an example of just that. Although I have been through so much in such a short life, I have come forward with a drive and resilience like no other. I couldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for the fact that all of these things had to happen to me. And I don’t regret anything, because it was supposed to happen.

7) Do you think you would have been a blogger (of any kind!) had you not gotten a divorced and gone through this life challenge?
I think I may have to clarify my welcome message. My son’s father is not my ex-husband. Actually, I met my son’s father while I was separated from my then husband. But a lot happened during a 4 year span – more than I could ever imagine.

Yes, I do believe that I was somewhat destined to become a blogger, so if it wasn’t for my life changing so drastically, it would have been for another reason. I had been reading blogs for some time when I started, so I think I would have inevitably wanted to start writing my own blog.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Oh, I have tons of advice for aspiring bloggers, but I have one important piece of advice that I’d like to share – Stay true to yourself. When you start your blog, you will want to imitate those who are successful in order for you in turn to become successful. But if this is not your true self, you will inevitably lose an interest in blogging. You will find it hard to keep up with the pace of trying to be someone you are not. So make sure to always stay true to yourself, and define your own success.

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Natasha Peter and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: Epic Mommy Adventures
Natasha’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Mandy Walker

SSince My Divorce by Mandy WalkerINCE MY DIVORCE BY MANDY WALKER

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
English by birth, Mandy studied Business Administration at the University of Bath, England. In 1986 she emigrated to the United States and spent the next twenty years working in financial services. Of the many hats Mandy wore during that time, she was responsible for handling formal customer complaints and major service resolution issues giving her a solid foundation in dispute resolution.

With a change of career in mind, Mandy graduated in 2008 with a Masters in Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder. While pursuing her journalism studies, Mandy and her husband of seventeen years divorced and it was that experience that led to Mandy’s new career as a divorce coach and mediator.

Mandy is a member of the Mediation Association of Colorado, the Boulder County Bar Association and also serves on the Board of Children First of The Rockies, a non-profit that provides safe exchanges and supervised visits for children on the Front Range in Colorado

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
Since My Divorce, inspired by my own divorce, is collection of people’s stories about life after divorce, shared with the hope of making my readers’ own journeys a little easier, whether that comes from gaining a different perspective, growing in compassion, greater understanding or knowing they are not alone.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
My ideal reader is someone who is going through divorce whether it’s them or their spouse who initiated it or who is considering divorce and wants to know more about what to expect. I hope that my blog helps them on several levels. I hope the stories help them see that divorce is another life event that shouldn’t be stigmatized or judged. I hope they’ll find some practical solutions to the complexities of untangling from your spouse and I hope they’ll get the sense that they are not alone because divorce can be a very isolating time of your life.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent in the same vein you have blogging about it?
I’d love for Since My Divorce to still be around in five years’ time – most blogs don’t make it past a couple of years and Since My Divorce has already been going for over five years. The need for divorce-related information certainly is not going to go away and I think people will still need to learn about the tools and skills for ending a significant relationship with dignity and respect.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
My blog is about sharing other people’s stories so the content comes mostly from interviews with other people. Very few people turn down an interview request – I think on a fundamental level we all like to help others and we like to feel we’re making a difference.

5) What opportunities has your blog provided you?
Starting my blog was part of my midlife transformation although I didn’t know it at the time. I’d spent 20+ years in customer service and operations in Financial Services when I took a severance from that job. I went back to school for journalism partly because I didn’t have any idea about what I wanted to do for the rest of life. That led to the blog which led to divorce coaching which then led to divorce mediation. Now I have a whole new career centered around helping others and that’s important to me.

6) Do you think there are enough resources out there for children of divorce? What do you think is missing or what can we improve on?
I think we need more resources specifically for children, rather than their parents, giving them tools and skills for renegotiating their relationships with their parents and siblings following divorce, how to love both parents without choosing and what they can do to avoid getting caught in the middle. The challenge is getting the resources to the children because often they are dependent on their parents for access. It would be great to create to an coaching program for children that could be delivered in school perhaps as an after-school program.

7) Why did you decide to create some free audio and how does that complement your blog?
The free audio programs are timeless content such as deciding if divorce is right for you, essential preparations for divorce and parenting after divorce. They really are the basics, the starting points for anyone who is ending their marriage and getting that information out is about helping people to get started on the journey. Frankly, it’s much easier for me to turn these teleconferences into audio programs than to keep organizing the teleconferences.

8) Tell us about My Divorce Pal
My Divorce Pal is an affordable, self-guided, online divorce coaching program created from the interviews for my blog. It covers five main areas: deciding to divorce, preparing for divorce, financial preparations, parenting and divorce, and self-care. In total there are over 50 different modules each of which comes with a worksheet so you can apply the message in the module to your specific situation. It’s a great learning tool.

Membership in the program gives access to all the modules which you can do in any order because, divorce is not a neat, orderly process as much as the law would like us to believe it does. I do firmly believe that you will easily save the cost of your membership through finding out more about divorce, making more informed decisions and making better use of the hired professionals on your team.

9) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
I don’t like to put anyone off blogging because it’s been such a great learning opportunity for me. Blogging about your divorce can be challenging since it can cause difficulties with your ex and privacy concerns for your children. That makes it hard to be authentic about what’s happening and if you can’t be authentic then you may be losing some of the therapeutic benefit of blogging. This leads many people to using a pseudonym and that’s probably the safest way to start. I still caution people though, especially if they’re still in the legal process. You absolutely do not want to jeopardize your parenting arrangement or financial settlement because of something you wrote in a moment of overwhelming emotion.

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Mandy Walker and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: Since My Divorce
Mandy’s’s social media connections:

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