Last Year, I met my best friends…and I really want to see them again! #LuvSoFab14

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Apparently I’m a vegetarian unicorn that loves to read about chicken on a daily basis. Don’t try to understand that, just roll with me here.

It sounds weird, I know, but I have best friends that I rarely see, that listen to me talk about chicken…all.the.time. It’s my job. In real life anyway. I see them every day in this little black box. I share in their daily lives, I know their joys, their woes and sorrows, I know their children. I KNOW THEM. But I never get to see them, except through this little black box on a daily basis. I love them. I cherish our relationships. I’ve known most of these lovely ladies for about 2 years now, but until last year, I never got to hug their necks. I never got to come face to face with them. I never got the chance to tell them about the impact they’ve made on my life.

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But last May, my dreams came true. I met my best friends, IN REAL LIFE, and they were as amazing in person as they were in this little black box. They were real. They were genuine. And you know what? I’m lucky to have them in my life! I’m forever grateful to Collective Bias for hosting SoFabCon13. If they hadn’t, I may never have MET my best friends. And I may never have made other real life connections that I’m now grateful for having. This community, this tight-knit online family, is a part of my every day life. This makes me happy. This COMPLETES me. I have my own family, here at home, but without these friendships, without this community, I would feel incomplete. Last year, when I met these best friends, when I connected with so many Collective Bias employees that I talk to every day, my life felt complete.

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There’s another conference happening this year in May *SQUEE* that I’m hoping to attend. But I’ll be honest, life has hit kind of hard this year for my extended family and we’ve been doing some major “save your family” work around here. It might not happen. I’m kind of sad face about it, but it’s a fact of life. I’m saving my pennies and hoping to find the love again. I want to see my SoFab family again. I miss them.

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I learned so much last year. I made so many real life connections. I love my Social Fabric community. I love Collective Bias, and I love my friends. Fingers crossed y’all, I’ll make it back to Arkansas again this year. I hate to leave my family here at home, but I long to see my other family again!

Can an Online Friendship be a True Friendship?

Now that’s a great question! I believe the answer to be yes for so many reasons, well 5 actually. I should talk about this more. I don’t believe in dating sites, I don’t believe in chat rooms. But I do believe in online communities and I KNOW for a fact that having a tribe, an online network, keeps me grounded. I love my friends. Sometimes I lote (love + hate) them because they do keep me grounded, but I’m happy to be a part of my close-knit group. Sometimes I find it hard to put into words how much they mean to me. And why would I when one of them put it so eloquently and allowed me to share it with y’all here? Without further ado, my friend, Janet from Going Crazy Wanna Go shares her story.
Photo by Dancenhance Entertainment


Guest Post by Janet from Going Crazy!! Wanna Go??!!

Before I started blogging, I was a blog reader. I would subscribe to my favorites and just read all day long about the lives of women who worked from home, worked outside the home, couponed to help their families save money, and taught others how to enjoy their children on a daily basis. I would comment where I felt a connection and support others as I often do in real life. I got to know a few of them, but I was just a reader to them. Sometimes the bloggers would respond and sometimes not, but I stayed loyal to quite a few of them for a while.

After I had read for several months, I started to think that maybe I could do this blog thing too. I reached out to a blogger who was near me and asked for her advice. She encouraged me and told me how she thought I could get started and then one day I took the leap. I didn’t know what I would write about, but I knew that others told me that I wrote well and were happy to see that I was using that skill for something enjoyable.

On my very first day of blogging (August 1, 2011) I came across another “newbie” and we started chatting. We found out that we both needed a LOT of help and we started learning new things and teaching each other. Not long after that we started a Newbie Blog Hop and a Facebook group for Newbies like us. We talked about the things we were learning and we had a great time. It turns out that my newbie friend is much younger than me and she had some family and marriage issues and the more we got to know about each other, the more we talked about our personal lives almost as much as we talked about our blogs (maybe more!). To this day, we are friends on Facebook and talk occasionally. The Newbie group is gone and the hop fizzled out (we passed it on to some newer newbies and I haven’t kept track of it), but our friendship is still there. Her original blog fizzled out and she started a new one, then she decided to move on to living her young, happy life. My blog is thriving, limping on some days and soaring on others, and it has been the source of a lot of happiness for my family. Someday I hope to meet Kristin  in real life and give her a big ‘ole hug.

Since making a friend in Kristin, I have continued to “meet” several people online and it amazes me daily that I have made so many friends through online groups and blogging. But, can an online friendship be a true friendship?
Can an online friendship be a true friendship?
I know that Christy has talked a lot on this blog about Collective Bias and you all already know what an amazing company this place can be to its bloggers. The community of Social Fabric is the stronghold of the company and I have met so many great people through working with them. When I was first starting out, I was timid and shy (still am in real life) and I doubted my work. I started up conversations with a few of my campaign leaders (who scared the crap out of me) and it turns out these people are (almost) just like me!

When I needed advice on a series of posts for my blog, Mallery talked to me about the logistics of it all and what she loved about the idea. She encouraged me to just go for it and rock it! I still doubted myself, but her words stuck with me for over a year and one day I took the plunge and started writing about my messy house and then I had the motivation to clean it up!
When I started to get down about my weight and my body and I put myself down too much, Summer stepped in and started giving me pep talks on a daily basis. She told me her story of an abusive marriage and her own struggles with weight. She is unashamed on her blog and she encourages me to just put it all out there. She and Mallery are both Paleo believers and they told me that my healthy lifestyle IS Paleo too! Now, I’m more motivated than ever to get healthy, not worry about size, love myself and my own beauty as I am today, and encourage other women to love themselves as well.

When I needed work, was discouraged by the work I wasn’t getting, and was looking to branch out, Jillian stepped in and offered me work, encouraged me to keep writing, found jobs that were perfect for me. She is one of “those” moms – the ones who love crepe paper and parties and make the most amazing crafts – but she encourages me to keep crafting with my boy and just being myself.

When I think that my life sucks and I just need a laugh, Amy will step in with an inappropriate, but very funny, anecdote and instantly I’m laughing instead of on the edge of tears. Amy has encouraged me in my posts to be better, do better, and work hard. She has a full time job outside the home, just like me, and she is a source of inspiration for me.

And Christy, bless her big ‘ole Texas heart, she is my rock on most days. I can text, email, call, message her on Facebook, or just think of her sometimes, and life seems more bearable. I know that sounds really mushy and dramatic, but it’s true and if you read Christy’s blog, you know it is 100% accurate. Christy has “pulled me back from the ledge” more times than I can count. She has helped me emotionally, financially, and spiritually (and yes, I know, she’s not “religious”, but she has…). She is an amazing person and friend and I was blessed the day I “met” her.

Now, to answer the question of this post, I’ll say this. I have met each of these ladies once in real life last May at a conference. I might have spent 30 minutes total with each of them (if that long) because the conference was overwhelming to me and I was more than a little ill. Even though I haven’t spent face to face time with these ladies, I consider them my very best friends. When something sad or frustrating happens, I tell them. When something exciting or funny happens, I tell them. When I thought about leaving my husband recently, I told them.

I think you could say that YES, online friends can be true friends. Well, that is if you have online friends like mine.

The Gift of a Germ-Free Holiday Season with Randalls

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser. As always, all ideas, opinions, and photos are entirely my own. #shop #cbias
Hi, I’m Christy and I’m a Germaphobe. I’m not your run-of-the-mill Germaphobe either. No, I’m obsessed with cleanliness and wellness. I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a crazy lady, but I was once told at a conference that instead of handing out business cards, I might do well to consider getting my information printed on those personal-sized hand sanitizers and handing them out instead. And at this time of year, I feel the need to step it up a notch. While everyone else is dreaming of diamonds, train sets, and sugar plums dancing in their heads, I’m thinking about all of the germs that are floating around because it’s that time of year. COLD AND FLU SEASON!
Let me back up a bit. Friday was pajama and a movie day for Bug’s first grade class. That meant fun, sharing hot chocolate, sharing space, sharing hugs, and sharing GERMS. I can do everything possible to keep her germ-free at home but it’s hard to control what goes on in the classroom, or the house of germs as I “affectionately” refer to it. I remind her daily of ways she can keep germs at bay and ward off cold and flu. Wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze with your elbow, and for goodness sake…STOP touching everything. There are germs everywhere!
And then there’s this guy. You see, B is a pipefitter. Let me tell you a little bit about pipefitters. They don’t clean up after themselves at work. The eat off dirty table tops in common spaces, and they rarely even wash their hands before eating *SHUDDER*. Talk about a breeding house for germs! I can’t change what he does outside of the home (I’ve tried…believe me I’ve tried), but I can change what he does at home and I can help kill those germs he’s sure to bring home and spread to unsuspecting victims. 
You see, this poor little unsuspecting preschooler and I don’t have the best immune systems. I keep us sheltered, I keep the house clean, but when the germs hit, he’s always the first to be plagued. It’s my job, as his mother and protector, to do everything possible to keep him, and the other family members, healthy.
I keep cleaning supplies and vitamins on hand at all times, all year long. 
I’m constantly cleaning the surfaces that the germ carriers touch when they come home from their daily germ-fests. My favorite “secret weapon” is the simple, yet powerful, Clorox Wipe. Each little square is effective at killing 99.99% of cold and flu viruses. AND they’re great on kitchen grease too. Kind of a miracle cleaning tool, especially at this germy festive time of year.
I’m even prepared on-the-go because you never know what you might run into while you’re out and about. You know how when you enter your favorite retailer like Randalls and before you grab your buggy, you go to reach for one of the sanitizing wipes to wipe everything down only to find that the container is empty? Right. That never happens to me. I’m always armed with my own. 
BUT despite all of my best efforts. Despite my obsession with all things germ-free, cleaning, and constant preparedness, the inevitable often hits and I need to be ready to keep my little ones (and the pipefitter germ-carrier) comfortable when a cold or flu does hit. And I need to have plenty of supplies on hand, like disinfecting wipes, Kleenex, and medications, just in case.
That’s where my local Randalls comes in. The store is clean (happy dance), the staff is friendly and helpful, and the prices are amazing using the Just For U Savings App which helps me save up to 20% more on top of my savings that I already receive using my Remarkable Card. I can even visit their Wellness Advisor online before heading to the store to find out more ways to fight cold and flu, and which products are best for my family’s needs. And to make things even better, my local Randalls even offers flu shots in store. Guess what we’ll be getting next week?

To find out more about the savings at Randalls and all of the services they have to offer, be sure to follow along on Facebook and Twitter.
And then head out to your local store to pick up all of the supplies you’ll need for your own happy, healthy, germ-free holiday season. And don’t forget to get that flu shot! Here’s hoping you have the best holiday season ever and that all of your wishes (including a healthy family) come true!