A week ago today, I left for NYC to attend BlogHer for the first time. Accompanied by Emily of Random Recycling, Lollie of The Fortuitous Housewife, and Amanda of The Lily Pad, we traveled by train, created our own Geek Bar on Wheels, and talked and talked about our expectations and what we hoped to gain for this new experience we were all about to share. Traveling by train gave us three uninterrupted hours to just be with each other. It was nice, really-really nice. By the way, these ladies are smart, and funny, and helpful, and just so great. All good friends before the trip; however, our bonds were tightened as a result of surviving BlogHer together (okay, so survive is a strong word but we definitely shared THIS experience, together. We’ll ALWAYS have BlogHer12! Haaa!). On the train, we solidified our strategies, talked about our blogs, exchanged so many ideas, shared our favorite apps, and swapped stories about life, our children, our families, recipes, photography, the conference, and just whatever came to mind. Our journey to and from the Big Apple were special moments, and I enjoyed that time a lot.
I’ve had time to think and to process what I experienced at BlogHer, and to be honest, it was a ton of fun and I really enjoyed myself; however, I had high expectations, and I’m not sure they were met. I thought I would come home with a plethora of transferable skills yet I didn’t. I went in search of the magic yet I’m not exactly sure it was found. I understand these big, huge, gigantic conferences cannot provide such skill building based on individual need but I wanted some, I needed some. Not knowing what to expect, I allowed myself to fall victim to some serious wishful thinking. Anyway, it doesn’t matter now. I will seek out assistance from all the amazing bloggers I met especially my partners from the Boston Parent Bloggers group (loved meeting so many of you, and can’t wait for more opportunities to connect and learn together). Thank you!
In order to process BlogHer12, I asked myself, “What did I learn? What do I know now post-BlogHer? What did I take home beside a sore shoulder and a bunch of swag? Will I go again? What does it all mean now, post-BlogHer?”
Here’s what I know, and some things I discovered about myself, the conference, and others:
- Always be ME. I know myself. Don’t deviate. Be open to growth but always stay true to who I am as a person and as I blogger. An example, I brought way too many clothes and shoes because I thought I would dress in ways that no longer fit the person I am today. I brought heels. Really? Anyone who knows me understands that I don’t wear heels very often (especially when I need to actually walk); I have horrible feet and heels cause me pain. Why would I wear heels to a conference in NYC? Not me. Never will be. I wore dresses but, guess what, I paired the dresses with my mismatched but lovely, pinkish Merrill sneaker/sandals. I know, I know: not the best fashion option but I was comfortable. No feet pain here and another news flash: NO ONE CARED. Well, maybe some people made fun of me behind my back but that’s really okay. I’m secure with myself and my shoes. Capise? Yes, got it? Be yourself if you decide to go next year. Note: If I go next year, my suitcase is going to be a heck of a lot smaller, and more manageable than it was this year.
- I loved describing myself as an “EMOTIONAL STORYTELLER!” Yes. It works for me and my blog. I like it. Yes, I do. One of the best moments in the expo was when the Lysol singers used the phrase emotional storyteller in a song they sang to my children, and yes, I recorded it. This video clip makes me smile every time I watch or listen to it. My children laugh, smile, coo, sign more-more, and dance to it. Thank you-thank you Lysol. Great marketing. I’ll never forget the experience. You made this emotional storyteller happy; therefore, I will sing your praises. Side note to Lysol: please, please, please develop a product that is chemical free for this Mama who cares deeply about my children’s health and the environment. I loved your sing-song approach but I’m scared-to-death of all the chemicals.
- I was bummed I couldn’t reserve a spot for the Geek Bar during the conference; however, I now know that the geek bar can be anywhere, anytime with people more experienced than myself who are also willing to teach, to model, to guide. I am extremely grateful for the time I had with my friends, travel partners, and roommate (Random Recycling, The Fortuitous Housewife, The Lily Pad, and Stowed Stuff). These women, and so many more, allowed me to ask questions, inquire about specifics, and just be myself as I continue to learn more and more about blogging in general and how it relates to my own blog and trajectory. Thank you-thank for being honest, helpful, and hands-on. You’ve helped and guided me in ways that go beyond what I can express.
- An observation about others, 5,000 others indeed: when people are hungry, feed them. Don’t make us wait as a collective group. Be ready for us. I cannot tell you how many times I was pushed or shoved waiting in line to be fed. I don’t think it was intentional at all but I think people just wanted to eat, needed to eat. Hilton: I know you were surrounded by hungry, perhaps hormonal women (and some men), so I’ll apologize if any of us were rude or pushy but that’s what happens when people are hungry, tired of waiting in lines, and just want to sit down. Reminder to all: a smile goes a long way. If someone is bitching next to you, just smile and reflect their feelings of frustration and then move along, peacefully towards the food. No shoving. No pushing. No barreling through saying, “I not waiting in this frigging line! – true story”, just remember that others are also waiting. Be kind, be courteous, be patient. Everyone will be fed. Don’t worry, you won’t be left out. Seriously, stop pushing me.
Do I dare continue or are you wishing this post would end? I just have so much to write about, comment on, and process. I think I’ll leave you with my TOP 10 DAYS WITH US MOMENTS of the weekend (in no particular order):
Drum-roll, please –
- I thoroughly enjoyed the train ride to and from the conference with Emily, Lollie, Amanda, and Anne as it included hours and hours of adult conversation about life and all that comes with it. Yeah!
- Waiting in line with Amanda to check into the hotel. There was a long line, one person working the desk, and a whole bunch of us Tweeting to the hotel saying: “please send back up, we are all waiting too long!” This got the weekend of social media off to a blasting start. Hilarious. Typically, I would have never complained about waiting; however, those around us influenced immediate action, so what the heck, okay – I’ll Tweet to hotel management with the rest of you. The people in front of us were all wound up about how long they had been waiting (and yes, they/we had been waiting and waiting).
- Walking down 6th Avenue with Emily, Lollie and Amanda when “something fell from the sky” (check out Lollie’s description of what happened). Scary. Funny. What the heck is going-on? Hilarious: post-experience.
- Meeting a whole bunch of new and interesting people here, there, and everywhere. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been to a conference at all, never mind one this big. I had a blast handing out and receiving everyone’s business/blogging/networking cards. A big thanks to my good friend, Kimmie H.M., for creating my cards; they served me well, and I loved them.
- The City Winery and Mindstream Academy: Where Teen’s Fit private party was incredible. This event created such a call-to-action for those of us who attended. The wine was phenomenal, in-and-of-itself, but this academy’s mission and drive to help children struggling with obesity moved me to tears and compels me to promote it. This program saves lives and provides opportunities for these children to find hope in ways that would be unavailable otherwise. If you are unaware of this program, please take a moment to learn about it and all the incredible work being done. Kudos to Mindstream Academy’s leadership and initiative.
- I loved Getting Gorgeous (figuratively and literally). Who doesn’t love having someone touch-up your makeup? I loved it. Thank you! Free jean: yes! I won a pair of Naturalizer shoes: yes! Thank you, Audrey McClelland and Vera Sweeney.
- Sitting on the floor at several conferences, squashed together with laptops, iPhones, iPads, and an abundance of coffee and chocolate surrounding all of us. Fire hazard? Yes. Learning some stuff: Yes. All worth it? Yes.
- I pushed myself to connect with Brands and PR/Marketing folks at the Expo (initially I walked in and immediately walked out) from all areas and topics. Thank you for talking with me, for taking my card (and scanning my badge), and for being so nice and polite and welcoming. It was fun, and I appreciate your interest in my blog and my emotional storytelling.
- A theme for me this weekend was SLEEPLESSNESS. I could not sleep at all. One night, post-party, I was up until 3 o’clock in the morning because I could not fall asleep. Instead, I dumped out all my swag and started making piles. Then I started looking at the cards I collected. Then. Then. Then. Oh, Good Morning. The cycle of coffee commenced early, early that day. REASON FOR SLEEPLESSNESS (say it with me): TOO MUCH COFFEE. Side note: I haven’t had any coffee since returning home and I’m once again sleeping fine. Correlation? Ah ha, yes.
- This is a post-conference experience but it relates to the relationships established. On Tuesday morning (that’s only day 2 of being home), we (Emily, Amanda and Lollie) met to go to a spinning class. We made eye contact, quick smiles and the class began (no time for talking, or catching up, or Tweeting and other social media stuff). Together we took the class to sweat out all the coffee and chocolate and carbohydrates and alcohol we shared. The memories of BlogHer12 will always be with us. Our friendships changed at BlogHer, and for that, I am so grateful. Thank you BlogHer, thank you!
Are you still awake and reading? Did you make it to the end of this post? If so, thank you. To all the bloggers I met, connected with, and exchanged cards with: thank you. In some special way, you’ve influenced my life, made a weird difference, and guided my blogging decisions a little this way and a little that way. Cheers to BlogHer12! Hopefully our paths will cross someday, somewhere in the blogosphere or perhaps in every day life. Will you go to BlogHer ’13 next summer in Chicago? Maybe? Maybe.
- BlogHer12 Link Up for Bloggers (pragmaticmom.com)