Posted by Casey
Back to what I learned at WordCamp.
WordCamp US 2015. In a word: FabuSuperEducatioFunExpialidociFrabjous.
“It seems very pretty,” she said…”but it’s rather hard to understand!” -Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
And because of a ridiculous addiction to etymology, I just learned that Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, often attributed to Practically Perfect in Every Way Mary, appeared in use prior to the movie. And it’s the longest word in the English language. I love Google.
My tenth grade English teacher informed us we could break language rules and make up words once we knew them all (rules AND words) or when we become famous—whichever is first.
Right, then…I’ve done neither, so…
WordCamp 2015 was Fabulous, Super Educational and Fun. And Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. And Frabjous.
The fourth thing WordCamp taught me is intertwined with the second.
Epiphany # 4: Every blog needs a BRAND.
Advertising utilizes many forms of brand. Here are a few:
Think of the GEICO Gecko. Joe Camel (“Cool people smoke Camel”). Marlboro Man (“Real men smoke Marlboro.”) And yes, smoking is a bad idea. I’m just pointing out characters everyone knows. Keebler elves. The Planters Peanut. Ronald McDonald (a bit creepy, but recognizable).
Coke. UPS. John Deere. Here’s a fun little test to see if you can identify the brand by trademarked color.
Amazon’s arrow/smile (“We get it to you fast and make you happy!”). FedEx’s subtle arrow (hint: it’s negative space). The Nike Swoosh. Coke’s ribbon. And perhaps the most recognizable symbol in the world, those Golden Arches.
Certain trademarked words become so famous we forget they’re brand names. No one (at least around here) says, “I cut my finger. Please get me a plastic bandage.” We say, “quick, I need a Band-Aid!” Xerox. Velcro. Chapstick. Bubble wrap. Dumpster. Fiberglass. Ping Pong (yes, really).
Some trademarked words lost previous status due to common use, like aspirin or WAIT, WHAT?!? heroin. Yes, Heroin was a Bayer trademark, back in the day. Yowza.
If you’re neurotic like me, check out this link for more. (Yep, I read them all.) The website also includes chuckle-inducing generic names.
Here’s the point of this little advertising lesson.
I need to brand my blog.
Create a character, use a photo or symbol, find a color, word or phrase. Or hey, all of the above.
Thanks to my conversation with this guy (who also has a cool blog),
I realized the current “brand” on this blog is
and it’s time for a change.
The original plan: a play-by-play (and honest) description of our lives, centered around the definition of Adoption: “Adoption =”
In other words, my intent was to illustrate a clear picture of what Adoption is. What adoption “equals.”
A blog with titles like “Adoption = Fun” or “Adoption = Difficult.”
Nobody got it.
Or, if you did, you’re astute, intelligent, and/or my mother.
Prior to WordCamp, I began using “Casey Alexander” as the brand, but Google proclaims that the most recognized “Casey Alexander” is a guy who worked for Sponge Bob.
How can I compete with a guy whose boss wears quadratic clam diggers and lives under the sea in a prickled yellow fruit? Or something like that.
Also, there’s this.
Casey Alexander is the worst I’ve ever seen for a few reasons…wrote the absolutely BORING, HORRIBLE, BULL…
So Casey Alexander (One of the worst writers in the history of Animation) has apparently stopped writing…I could go on all night with how happy I am this idiot no longer writes…
Although you may think it would be a fun prank—or a true statement (
just wait until you see what I write in response, you jerk I mean, your opinion is always valid and welcome even if we don’t see eye to eye)—these were not written about me.
This is a good time to consider re-branding.
Dennis encouraged me to pick something timeless; the kids will grow up (or matriculate to Military Academy). My life, someday, will not orbit adoption. Or, at least, our adoption.
I plan to always, always, always advocate for children.
I’m passionate about adoption, foster care, fair treatment, child development, trafficking (fighting it—not participating—although…there are days…oh, HEY, sorry, did I say that out loud?), orphan care and child survival rates in developing countries…and I’m a little bit loud about all of it.
The new brand:
Our kids became available for adoption about six months after they moved in. We brought them into our home without the assurance we’d be able to keep them, but we were determined to ensure they received every possible accommodation—just as we would for “our own.”
Social Services didn’t like me.
Well, to be fair, OUR social worker didn’t like me.
The relationship started out a bit rocky due to my apoplectic fit. I found out the worker lost our fingerprints, delaying our approval to foster and requiring the children to live with a temporary foster family. (This, I took in stride.
Shi—Lost paperwork happens.) The family was local but outside our school district.
I asked the social worker to request that the school board make an exception to allow the children to attend our elementary school, in spite of location, due to the circumstances.
Otherwise, the children would have three different families, three different homes AND three different schools in 40 days. To me, this seemed excessive. And avoidable.
She didn’t want to do the extra paperwork. (Since then, I’ve made this same request in order to enroll the kids in a school with better accommodations for their special needs. It required ONE piece of paper.)
By the time they arrived at our house, the kiddos were in an understandable but horrific state of mind. Like hyenas, if you will.
Imagine: You’re married to someone for eighteen months. You get along. Communication patterns are set. It’s not perfect, but you feel secure.
One afternoon, as you enjoy milk and biscuits, government officials appear.
“We’ve determined this spouse is not your best match. And, partly due to your behavior, they don’t want you here anymore. Pack your things. We leave in thirty minutes for your next destination.”
Numb, you follow the officials as they toss your belongings into black plastic trash bags and cardboard boxes. You thought they liked you. Or, at least, tolerated you.
The officials dump you at another house, with a new spouse and no explanation other than, “You’ll be fine here.” They leave.
Four weeks later, you’ve begun to settle into the routine. You’re still bewildered but no one has bothered to clarify the situation. This family is nice enough; maybe living here will be okay. Now if you could just figure out what they did with all your stuff.
And then those officials show up again. They leave. Can you relax?
Nope. The few items you possess are packed and you’re bundled into the family’s van, where you find the rest of your trash bags. The second spouse drops you off with a third, smiling. “Have fun!”
By this time, you’re in complete confusion and more than a little angry.
Somebody better tell you what the heck is happening. And soon. Before you start screaming.
Yeah. That’s the clusterfeather that showed up on our doorstep. (Spell check says that’s not a word. It is now.)
And our little story above doesn’t even bring into play the new school, new people, new lights, new buildings, new clothes, new foods, new sensory input, new terror. TWICE.
After I figured out that the social worker did NOT have the kids’ best interest at heart, MommaBear appeared. Enter: The Fit of Historic Proportion.
These kids were obviously having a rough time, but they weren’t even in regular counseling.
With Hubby’s full support (and let me tell you, I don’t know how single adoptive parents survive—they are absolute HEROES) I got them into counseling, occupational therapy, speech therapy. Worked with the school to develop an IEP, ensuring they received appropriate support (both academic and behavioral).
Annnnnnd fought with the social worker, then went over her head and worked with her boss and the county to get a behavioral aide to stay with the boy during class (then 5 and a school-escape-artist).
I have no idea why she didn’t like me.
Speaking with Hubby (and in front of me) she called me “hyper-vigilant.”
It wasn’t a compliment.
But “Hypervigilant” is the one positive thing that woman gave me in the 16 months I struggled with her. We (THANK GOD) acquired another social worker who managed to push the adoption to completion under six months from her start date.
Vigilant: keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties
I like the third definition for “hyper” best. “A greater than usual amount.”
For our children, I watch “more than usual” for possible danger or difficulties. Medical. Physical. Emotional. Academic. Interpersonal.
Hubby and I believe in cause and effect as well as cleaning up your own messes, so if they get a bad grade or, for instance, pour glue all over a desk, we absolutely support the school in whatever consequence is handed down. The administration knows our stance.
But I work with teachers, administration, counselors, doctors—any adult who can better support our children by understanding their background and situation—to prevent and ameliorate situations before they occur. Call me Hypervigilant.
When we go out in public, I’m always aware that previous foster families and even biological family members could be one grocery aisle away. It happens. Last summer, we drove five hours to a beach, stood on a pier and recognized a friend surfing, then saw another (unrelated) family we know. All within five minutes.
I’m on constant alert, scanning crowds and restaurants as we walk. Looking for any sign of recognition from an adult I don’t know. Yeah. Hypervigilant.
On days I’d like to give up, sometimes I actively remind myself to be Hypervigilant. Don’t toss that towel. Extra attention now will pay dividends in their future success.
Hypervigilant has morphed from a snide remark into WHO I AM.
After that conversation with Dennis, the name snapped into place. My brand.
No matter my life situation, when it comes to protecting kids, I’ll always be Hypervigilant.
You may have noticed the new domain name already. If not, just thought I’d mention coming changes to the blog. If you show up and things look a little different…you’ll know why. But it’s still me.
Now it’s your turn! Take a look at your blog. Does it reflect your passion? Your personality? Who YOU are? If not, consider making a few tweaks.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Side note: some guy in FarawayLandistan tried to sell me Hypervigilant.com for thousands of dollars, so…I picked the .org extension instead. In creating your brand, research creative ways to name your domain. Here’s an older—but still useful—article to get you started.