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To so many people, Joanna Gaines' life and Instagram are total #goals.

The mom of five has a bevy of businesses, the kind of publishing success most authors can only dream of, and her social media feeds make everything look easy and perfect.

But in the latest column for her magazine, Magnolia Journal, Gaines writes about how she's struggled with Instagram, and why she's eased up on the perfect posts in order to be more authentic online.

"It wasn't so very long ago that I had only a handful of followers on Instagram," Jo writes. "There wasn't any pressure to post anything at all, so whenever I did, it didn't really cross my mind whether or not people would 'like' it."

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Indeed, that's how most of us start out using Instagram, but as Jo's follower count grew, so did the expectations she placed on herself. The standards for images that would make it onto her feed got higher, and so did her anxiety level.


"I could feel insecurity start to creep in, and posting a photo was no longer an act of enjoying the in-the-moments of life but rather a more calculated decision," she writes. "With every picture I found myself critiquing if there were messy backgrounds or blurry smiles. I think this is how we can end up losing sight of what it worthy of sharing and what is even more worthy than that—moments worth simply experiencing."

According to Jo, there is a "creepy allure to a place where we can present ourselves any way we choose," so she's choosing to be more authentic in what she posts, and is living in the real world instead of for the 'gram.

"It is so easy to let social media rob us of authentic moments," she explains, adding that she's making a real effort "to stop scrolling and put [her] phone away," especially when she starts to feel like she's comparing herself to others.

Jo's right about the downsides of social media, and how it can work against authentic human connection.

But it can also be a tool for authentic human connection in a world where so many of us are far from our loved ones. Social media can be our digital village, but only when we're real with each other.

It's great when people are willing to share those authentic moments (like when Jo shared her messy nursery with the world, or when Chrissy Teigen posted that pic in her mesh hospital undies) because it's those moments, not the perfect ones, that help us connect in this digital world and remind us that we are not alone in our imperfection.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking.

On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced the 33-year-old mother's body was found at Lake Piru, five days after her son was found floating alone on a rented boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Rivera's last action was to save her son.

"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point in her journey. It was at that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water," Ayub explained, adding that Rivera's son was wearing his life vest, but the adult life vest was left on the unanchored boat.

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Ayub says exactly what caused the drowning is still speculation but investigators believe the boat started drifting and that Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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