Reflections of a Thankful VMJ


Today we sit to celebrate all that we’re thankful for. Our families will be milling around the house, and they dare not touch anything in the kitchen if they don’t have experience doing “real” cooking because such is the requirement for Thanksgiving. At any rate, I thought I would blog about my lifelines; translation my friends and family. I also want to make special mention of some new folk in VMJ land. Not that I don’t have several people I could name, I’m gonna be specific on a few.

My parents – I have the absolute BEST parents in the world! I’m thankful that God has preserved their health and they live active lives going on trips without telling their children and such (lol). I couldn’t ask for more supportive parents, and their only grandchild couldn’t have better grandparents. Who else goes to the grocery store in preparation for their grandson’s visit and asks him what he wants and GIVES him what he wants just to send him home to be reprogrammed. Thanks ma and da!

My brother and sister – For YEARS, we did nothing but argue and seemingly fight to the death, but what you won’t do is mess with my brother. We probably didn’t actually talk like we “have sense” until we were grown, and oddly enough we both share the same techyness! My sister and I are years apart in age and at different places in life, but I do love her and want nothing but the best for her, and if she doesn’t call me more, we’re going to have problems and situations. Just sayin…

My relatives – My side of the family can be nosy, pushy, a hair controlling, and nosy (yes, I said it twice), but when it comes to loving you, there’s nothing like them. I’m thankful for their support, advice  (solicited or not) and humor.

My besties – They know who they are and they know I love them dearly. We may not call each other every day, but if one calls, the others are coming. We balance each other better than a seesaw.

My church – I’m a LIFER and proud of it! I’m thankful for Kingdom Life. I have grown so much in this ministry. My relationship with God has been strengthened and I’m forever grateful for the people who have entered my life as result of being a part of this body of believers.

I’m thankful for my business, VMJ Media Group, and the person responsible for branding it, Tamika L. Sims. I probably fought her more than followed her, but in the end, what I have is an amazing brand with room to be even greater as I continue to discover who VMJ is. I have something to offer that is useful and much needed. I have the ability to educate others on the importance of leveraging social media and helping them to get it done. I tell stories in my plays and novels that pull viewers and readers in to the lives of the characters. I never thought I had that or at least not what the masses would deem worth it. VMJ is no longer the girl who just wanted a new logo. She’s helping individuals and businesses tell their story via print and social media and that far outreaches a logo. She’s writing books, blog posts, social media posts and plays. That goes so much further than a pretty logo. I get it!

MY FELLAS! I can’t leave out my husband. We are complete opposites but I’m thankful we love each other through it. We have our ups and downs, and we aren’t perfect by any means, but there’s something to be said when you stick it out and watch how God works it out. I’ve gained a new appreciation for my husband, and for that alone, I’m thankful. Xavier, affectionately known as Sir in social media land, is our gift from God. Some choose various ways to grow their family, and after the loss of our precious daughter, we decided to grow ours through adoption. It was one of the single best decisions we have ever made! This child was MADE for us. He couldn’t have been anyone else’s child but ours.

The bible says in ALL things give thanks. That “all” includes the good, the bad and the ugly. My life is not all roses, but for every bit of it – every tear, every gut chuckle, every up and down – I thank God! Every day of is a day to be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Be grateful!

American Education Week – School to Parent Digital Connections


c39d84a24912e61993130d4c70554db5_originalIt’s American Education Week. It’s a week dedicated to those who make an impact on the education of our children. The village consists of more than your child’s teachers and administrators, and this week gives the flowers, so to speak, to all who have a hand in your child’s education. I was in a traditional classroom setting for 13 years and a technology coach in a school for a year and half. I’ve seen the ways in which schools communicate with parents change drastically over time.

The above illustration was on a site for a product schools could use to digitize their communication with parents. However, I found it to be a great illustration of how many schools try to communicate with parents and how most parents would prefer to get pertinent information. This blog post is about school to parent digital communication. I’m going to offer tips to help you either enhance what you’re doing or implement a new method of communication. For parents, I’m going to offer you some helpful information as well to become a more active participant in the life of your child the student.

Many schools now have digital means of checking grades or sharing important information. On the flip side, while I was employed in a very technology rich district here in SC, the school I worked in was made up of many families who were less fortunate with a heavy free/reduced lunch population. Because of this, the school was hesitant to utilize technological means to communicate because the assumption was that parents will not have access to it.

Today, I challenge you to reconsider your expectations. If you have none, then there’s nothing for parents to strive to reach and/or exceed. When a standard is set, with proper training and preparation, I believe that most will get on board with the vision. In teacher preparation at Winthrop University, we were taught that high expectations should be present for every student who walks into our classrooms. If you enter into a school year with the attitude of what students can’t or won’t do, then that’s exactly what you’ll get from them even if they could do more. The same is true for adults. Even though there was a high percentage of households in the school I was in who didn’t have internet access in the home, they would find a way to make sure they stayed abreast of what was going on with their student(s) if that was the expectation of the school. Libraries have free wifi. Parent may have access to wifi at work, or they could use their mobile data. My point is to give them the opportunity. Let’s examine a few ways to open the doors of your school or classroom so parents, whose schedules do not always permit their physical presence in the schools can still be a part of their student’s school life. Effective communication tools are vital.

Tip 1 – Create school social media.

Even if some parents don’t have internet in the home, they have cell phones and have access to social media. Create a school Facebook page and post the great things going on in your school or classroom. Share important announcements via Twitter. Post images or short clips of events, field studies, or lessons via Instagram. The possibilities are endless. As a parent, my schedule doesn’t always allow the opportunity for me to be with my son, but through his teacher’s blog and other digital means, I don’t feel left out of approximately 40 hours a week of his life.

Tip 2 – Digitize the school newsletter.

Let’s face it. Paper gets stashed under some mail or accidentally thrown away or intentionally thrown away. The average parent today gets their child from school and no, they don’t go straight home. There’s karate, soccer, dance, cheerleading, basketball, football, church, and a myriad of other extracurricular activities. At what point, do you think they are going to take out a piece of paper and read? Create a school blog. It’s an excellent tool for displaying the school newsletter. Parents can read it on the go without having to wonder where they put that piece of paper.

Tip 3 – Calling posts, text messages and email lists still work.

Sometimes, I think my son’s school has TOO much to say. I get a phone call, text, email, blog post from the school AND his teacher! I almost want to say enough already, but I  have grown to appreciate all the various facets of their communication strategy. You have access to parent emails and phone numbers (most of which are mobile). Use them. I may not have time to listen to a recorded message, but my voicemail picks it up. If I don’t get it that way, an email will come through with the message in text form. The key is to find us where we are.

For Parents

Now for parents, here are some ways you can be an active participant in your child’s education even if you can’t physically be in the school every time the opportunity presents itself.

Tip 1 – If your school district uses a parent portal like PowerSchool, create an account for yourself.

In Richland School District 2, here in SC, PowerSchool is a system where you can track your child’s attendance, grades, graduation credits, etc. Gone are the days where we don’t know until weeks into the marking period that our student(s) is not performing well in a particular subject area. I’m able to see his progress as often as his teacher updates it, and if it isn’t updated, I have the right to call and inquire on when it will be. This is an excellent resource to open the lines of communication between parents and teachers.

Tip 2 – If your school sends pertinent information via email, text or voicemail, make sure your information stays up to date in the school system. 

Your email should be one that you check often. I have all my emails on my phone so I don’t miss anything. If you change phone numbers, let the school know as soon as possible. Emergencies happen, and I have worked at three different schools in the same district and have witnessed serious incidents unfold and no one has current contact information for the parent. For general communication purposes, keep all contact information current. Wonderful events are going like Veteran’s Day programs, Black History Month assemblies, sporting events, and school pageants. You can’t always count on your student to relay the information, so having current contact information keeps you in the loop.

Tip 3 – If your child’s school is using social media, like their page or follow them.

How cool is it that even though you had to work, you were still “present” at your son or daughter’s school assembly he or she had a part in? How proud would you be to watch the graduation of your child because you’re overseas? How important would it be to know right away via tweet that busses are running, so your child may not be at the bus stop as early as expected? Inclement weather is approaching, so school is closing early. That kind of information is needed immediately. Social media can give you immediately. Social media opens up the doors of a school or classroom and allows you entry for those special moments in your child’s life.




Help Your Social Media Manager Help You

JulienRio.com_social-media-smartphone-choicesThis blog is all about writing when there’s something to say. Usually, I choose to write either my own revelations or ponderings from a personal stance, but this post is business related with a personal twist, if you will. I’m a certified social media professional, and it is from this perspective that I write this blog. Ladies and gentlemen, please allow your social media manager to do their job. It is a simple request, and you may think you are not in the way of them being effective and efficient, but I challenge you to reconsider as you read further.

Do you…

  • freely give needed information to your social media manager so they have something to post?
  • keep them in the loop of upcoming projects, events, etc. for the purpose of future posting?
  • do they find out social media worthy news when everyone else in the general public does?
  • post yourself when you’ve hired them to do it?

Social media managers are here to make you look great on social media and be your voice across your chosen platforms, but you have to help us out here. Unless you would prefer we have free reign over what goes out over social media on your behalf, a true partnership must be formed.

Anyone can post something, but a social media manager understands the strategy behind the posting – the when, where, why, how, and what of it. They know which platforms will best serve you. They know how to vary the same post to give a fresh look each time it shows up in a timeline or news feed. A social media manager monitors the engagement of your accounts and can pull analytics for them and make a plan of action moving forward. However, none of this can be done if they are on the outside looking in. Yes, we have a responsibility to check in and ask questions, but at the same time, if we’re not really familiar with the business, we may not know what to ask at first. Here are few tips to help your social media manager help you.

  1. Plan, plan and plan some more! I write social media strategies and action plans, and if my client is going to work with me, we will have to revisit and revise this plan often based on analytics. If a strategy has been written for you, don’t simply put it on a desk and hope your social media manager implements it. You have to be in on the master plan too.
  2. Talk to your social media manager. We don’t know unless you tell us. Carve out time periodically to check in with your social media manager. I know social media, but I may not know your particular business, so communication is vital to my learning. Once I have working understanding of what you do and what you need, then it won’t be necessary to talk as often as is needed in the beginning.
  3. Make sure there’s a content calendar in place. Organization is a must. Try not to deviate from what’s planned to be posted unless something major comes up that will trump the plans. Review that calendar as often as you can, but the main person who should paying attention to it daily is the social media manager.
  4. Be patient. As I stated, a social media manager knows the best times to post based on your target audience and when that audience is hanging out perusing their social media. If you don’t see your post first thing in the morning, don’t take it upon yourself to post it thinking your social media manager dropped the ball. Which leads me to the next tip…
  5. Trust the ability of your social media manager. No explanation needed here…

I love what I do, but I also get frustrated because some of the pages I manage lie dormant because I have no idea the direction the client wants to go. I could still post something, but “willie nillie” posting is fruitless. Also, if what you’re posting is one-dimensional, meaning it’s the same kind of thing lacking variety worth engaging with, it is also fruitless. There’s so much more to what you have to offer (I hope); only showing one aspect of your business isn’t going to help you. Social media managers, here are some tips to help yourself when in a situation where it seems you can’t do your job in a more excellent manner.

  1. If communication is vital, then you might have to initiate the conversation. Business owners and individuals are busy doing what they do, and having a social media manager is relatively new to them.
  2. Ask questions and get answers. Ignorance is not bliss when you’re trying to manage social media.
  3. Take action. If you have anything to go on, use that to generate relevant posts for your client. Be creative and keep them in the news feeds.
  4. Educate the client. They may not know what they hired you to do. Tell them.
  5. Create a questionnaire for the client prior to your initial meeting, so you have an idea of what they expect and what their goals are. Even if they aren’t accessible, you’ll at least have a basis to begin.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to be successful. If you truly need something from your client (logos, special graphics, headshot photos, etc.), ask for it.

These are a just a few things I’ve encountered on this new journey into social media management. It’s no longer a casual hobby for me that I just happen to be good at. I take my role seriously and want to be the best manager I can be for my clients. Again, I say, let’s all work together because together we all win!

She Meets Herself

SELF REFLECTIONHave you ever wanted the person you long to be to meet the person you currently are? It can be a great truth to come out of such a meeting IF it could happen. All we have is the mirror, but that still shows us as we are in the flesh. What if that window showed you what you could be? Just think about it. We all have been placed on this Earth for a purpose. Is the current you walking in that purpose? Would you love to know how life would be once you actually are living in that purpose? “She” runs into “Herself,” and this poem plays back the conversation.


Hey! How are you?! Been a long ti…
You just gonna walk past me like that?
Here comes another passerby.
Hey! Yea, you…
Well, fine then! I don’t need you either.
Why don’t these people know me?
I know them well.
I just looked in the –
Wait! Wait! Come back!
I need   to   talk   to   you.
Let me look again.
I see me.
Maybe, I’ll just make eye contact.
Maybe, they don’t recognize my voice.
I have been away for a while.
Another just passed me too.
I left a long time ago, but surely I haven’t been gone so long I’m unrecognizable.

Wow, FINALLY, someone who knows me.
I look like a girl you know?
What’s her name?
And I look a lot like her?
They say everyone has a twin…I guess.
She has my name though…wait!
Identity theft…
Can I ask you something else?
This girl who looks like me; where can I find her?
Why don’t these people know me?
I know them well.

Knock, knock, knock
My body is a concrete block.
Say something…anything…don’t just stare at her
Who IS this chick who just answered MY door?
Let me check the number again.
Do you know me?
You do? I gotta be dreamin, so I’ll just go with it
I’m sorry to just stare at you, but you look so much…
Like me; yea.
May I ask your name?


My name is yours.
My life is yours.
My beauty is yours.
My gifts are yours.
I look so much like you because I AM you.
You relinquished control of yourself a long time ago.
I signed the paperwork and left with everything.
Sound mind
Oh yes, I took it all.
Why?! Well, you didn’t really fight for it.

I bought me some FIERCE red bottoms
and strutted right down to MY house.
You can’t wear a heel, can you? No matter…I can.
Huh? What’s that?
Oh yes, MY husband is here, and uh…MY child is too.
Of course this is real honey.
Don’t get upset with me…
You left with what you came with.
You can’t fight hope with despair.
You can’t expect self-imprisonment to knock out freedom.
Panic and fear? No match for sound mind and courage…
Clearly, you didn’t want this life, but I sure did.

I am your beauty; fading in your mirror –
Blossoming in mine
I am your gift; unused and untapped in your world –
I am your wellness; unattainable goal in your mind –
Fully realized in mine.
I am your peace; sleepless nights in your bed –
Lullabies in mine.
You see, you still have just enough to have it all back.
Enough what? Must I guide you through it all?


Your life isn’t over; that’s nowhere near the plan.
YOU made it the plan, but that plan, dear, is CANCELED.
Look at me!
I’m telling you, this is yours and it’s waiting for you.
I had to get out because you were crowding her royal highness with the blah blah blah.
But I also had to get out so you can see where you’re going,
And know you WILL get there.
Nothing is holding you.
No negotiator needed.
You are NOT a hostage.
So shall we live?

Welcome home Us!