I turned off my alarm this morning for the first time in months, at least for the first time when I hadn't prepared a post the night before.  

I heard the little chirping crickets sound, and my only thought was No. I swiped the screen and fell immediately back asleep.  

The tiredness is unsurprising, but you would think that after a weekend of talking blogging and writing and the power of online media, I'd be leaping out of bed to share my voice with the world.  

And yet.  

The BlogHer Conference was deeply inspiring, and the energy in every room was powerful enough to need its own registration. I told my therapist that being in the audience, listening to the keynote speakers and the Voices of the Year readers and videos and open mic participants, felt like a cross between the most loving church and the U.S. Women's World Cup game. We were there to cheer. We were there to be moved. We were hungry for it. 

I had tears in my eyes more moments than I can count. A couple times they spilled over. Once, when someone's words were too true and too beautiful and too painful, I had to head to a bathroom. As I stood with my back against the stall, silently sobbing, I heard the door open and the sound of a woman choking back tears. I opened the latch and peeked out. I didn't know her, but our red-rimmed eyes met and we hugged each other and held on while we wiped our wet faces. 

In her interview up on the BlogHer stage, Ava DuVernay, the director of Selma, spoke of her evenings hanging out with fancy people (aka Oprah, etc) as going to Disneyland. It's amazing and magical, but when you come home, she said, there's a big pile of laundry and you still have to get up and go to work the next day. 

I spent a weekend in community with the most diverse, empathic, and empowering group of women I've experienced. It woke a craving. Or at least helped me put a name to it.

And I came home to a life that is lovely in so many ways but not quite Disneyland. 

I want to keep it alive, but I don't quite know what that looks like amid the work days and the dog walks and the laundry. I know I can't wait until next year. I'm hungry now.  

I'm hungry for the person I am when I'm open to all that community and connection, when my heart is full and ready to give.

I hope I brought that girl home. 


p.s. A very different experience from three years ago for me.


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BlogHer 15: I'm Not Here to Make Friends

Me and a couple other fabulous ladies on a small blogger panel at BlogHer 12

Me and a couple other fabulous ladies on a small blogger panel at BlogHer 12

In two days I'll drive down to New York for the BlogHer Conference, that annual extravaganza where a small town's worth of bloggers (most women) descend on a hotel for a few nights of non-stop schmoozing, partying, and talking shop. 

Or panicking, looking around awkwardly, and hiding in corners. 

To each her own, right?

Okay, so my title was a bit much. I'm not on a reality television show, I'm not here to "win it," and I'm not anti-social (at least not on purpose). I paid good money to spend 48 hours with these thousands of women, and I've been looking forward to it for months. I want to have an awesome time and meet lots of fun new people. But the closer I get, the louder my inner middle schooler gets. Will they like me? Who will I sit with at lunch? What if I'm dressed wrong? What if someone notices I've gained weight? (a sign that things have really derailed, but one of my mind's favorite completely irrelevant things to throw into any 'ol insecurity fest) How can I be here when I took over a year off blogging? How can I talk to these REAL bloggers? Who do I think I am?

There is no lack of information online about how to "do" blogging conferences, and especially this one, as an introvert or an anxious person. Take things at your own pace. Go back to your room to recharge. Let your business cards talk for you. Remember to just have fun.

And they're all good points. Many of these articles end with the author sharing how they overcame their overwhelm, discovered their tribe, and went home with the best friends of their life, whom they've reconnected with every year at the conference. 

Here's the problem: I went to BlogHer. Back in 2012. I read all those articles in preparation, and I was ready for transformation and serious best-friend-making. There were some awesome parts of the trip. But I spent a lot of time standing around feeling awkward. I didn't know what to talk to people about. Or I did - blogging. But I still felt 12 years old and shy and like I didn't belong. I didn't come home with new friends, let alone a best friend. Sure, I left with some new twitter accounts to follow and some new folks I super-duper admired and mildly stalked, but no one that I maintained a real friendship with. 

And I'm a friendly person. But I couldn't relax. I felt the whole time like I was on overdrive. Afterwards I couldn't figure out how to keep any of the smaller connections going. I commented on some people's blogs. They commented on mine. But eventually the connection wore thin. Those that kept a thread at all seemed more like bloggy acquaintances. I've admitted I'm not that great at online friendships anyway

I felt overwhelmed and like a failure. What had I done wrong?

I noticed the BlogHer Conference emails and the twitter posts the next few years, but I pushed away any desire I felt to go by remembering that feeling of failure.  

This year I wanted to go back. It's been three years, and I feel newly recommitted to blogging. There are things I want to learn about and improve. I want to hear from experts, and I want to talk to some brands, and yes, I want to say Hi to a few people I read on the web. 

And what has occurred to me is this: maybe the BlogHer Conference is just that - a conference. It's not where I'll meet my best friend (I already have some awesome ones). It's not where I'll discover my true home (I have a great one). It's not where I'll finally feel like I can be myself (I'm learning to do that over and over everyday, everywhere). 

My expectations were all out of whack. 

It's so awesome that there are people who go to BlogHer and find their perfect place, who party until they can't stand up anymore, who meet their friendship soul mates. Maybe this year I'll surprise myself and become one of them. But I don't think so. 

No, BlogHer is where I will learn more about being a good writer and crafting interesting headlines and engaging my readers. It's where I'll figure out what's really involved in "partnering" with a brand. It's where I will meet other bloggers and talk about creativity and finding time to show up and developing an online presence. It's where I'll become inspired my hearing the truly exceptional words of authors I admire. It's where I will focus on the skills to help me become better at this thing I love. 

I have no doubt I'll meet some freaking awesome folks in between.

But as for making fabulous life-long friends and having the best weekend of my life? 

I'm letting my 12-year old self off the hook on that one. 

p.s. I did get to pretend to be a Rockette, which made my 12-year old self very happy.


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But not THAT fancy

While you may have gotten the impression from my post about the Celebrate Your Small Blog panel that I was dazzingly brilliant, rivaling my fellow speakers Katie Couric and Martha Stewart, these photographs taken by my co-panelist's sister show the real story.

Katie, would you please do an impression of a frightened chipmunk?

I don't know.  That doesn't really feel appropriate for this talk.

 Pretty pretty please??? 

Okay fine.

Are you happy now?

That was awesome!  Also, we were hoping we could get a picture of you before we go.

Oh, ok.  Just give me a sec while I try to get this piece of spinach out of my back molars.

Okay. I'm ready.


Just in case you thought I was that fancy.


Crossing the Finish Line at BlogHer

I have a friend from law school whose Facebook page is covered with images of marathon after marathon where she appears to be not dying. In fact, sometimes it seems like she's hardly finished one before she's posting photos of another.  And from her status updates and comments, it's clear that finishing a race just makes her more excited to sign up for the next one.  Running begets running.

I ran a marathon once.

At the end, I never wanted to run again.  And I rarely have.  Since then, I've only put my sneakers on sporadically.  After that, I've never been what I would consider a runner.

I'm afraid that the BlogHer conference felt to me a bit like a marathon.

The adrenaline, the shared enthusiasm, the need to tap into your deepest resources to keep going.

Did that last one seem like it came out of the blue?

Look, BlogHer was fun.  I met a ton of awesome people.  I laughed - a lot, especially listening to other bloggers read their incredibly funny writing.

But when I walked through the door of the Hilton for the sixty hours I spent there, I didn't know anyone.  I had commented on a few people's blogs or chatted with them over twitter or perhaps even over email, but I'd never met a single soul - not even the roommate I'd spend the majority of my time with.  And when I left the Hilton, I had spoken to hundreds of people - many of them one on one.
It was this, over and over and over again:

Hi, I'm ________.

I'm ________.

What do you blog about?

And then we were off.

It was a lot of talking.  A lot of talking about blogging.  And thinking about blogging.  And asking questions about blogging.

I'm sure that for some people this would've been the greatest thing they could imagine - and again it's not that I didn't enjoy myself - but for me, it was exhausting. All of that going and going and being on.  I'm a friendly person, but I'm a little shy and not really an extrovert. Talking to so many people (and being excited! and confident! and interesting!) wore me plumb out.

When it was over, I felt more like I had at the end of that marathon (proud of myself but also frazzled with wobbly legs) than my marathon-running friend does when she passes the finish line on her way to the next race sign-up.

Since I got back, I've been loathe to miss a day of posting.  I don't want to give in to this feeling, but the exhaustion hasn't gone away.  And I feel sort of off kilter on here.

After a weekend spending every waking moment talking and thinking about blogging, I find myself with more questions than answers.  (I should probably be used to that.)  What is this blog about for me?  What do I want to do with it?  Nothing?  A lot?  What are my skills?  Talents?  Do I want to monetize?  Not?  More writing less crafting?  More crafting less writing?  More photos and crafting? 

I'm going back to my old trick of Just Keep Writing and hoping that, in the process, I'll answer at least some of these questions for myself. 

Though I couldn't get in a comfortable sleeping position or walk down stairs without pain for several weeks after that marathon, I've never been sorry that I did it.  And I'm not sorry that I went to BlogHer.  In fact, it's the opposite.  As tiring as it was and as off balance as I feel now, I would do it again (and may!).  I've been around enough to know that these questions are good - they're the beginning of work.  Important inside work about what I want, what feeds me.

So while I'm not hobbling over to the next sign-up just yet, I'm guessing this wasn't my last finish line.


That time I was fancy

Where to even start with the weekend that was BlogHer 2012? With the feeling of celebration and connection at our celebrate your small blog panel? With a shout out to all the incredibly friendly and interesting women I met? With a recap of the interviews with Martha Stewart and Katie Couric? Or with some descriptions of the panels I attended? Hearing other people's blogs?

Because there's no doubt that being a panelist on the celebrate your small blog panel was, for me, the absolute highlight of the trip, I'm going to start there.

It wasn't just because I got to sit up there and pretend I was fancy, though I'm not going to lie and say that wasn't part of it.  But the real joy was the energy of community in the room.

I had told someone earlier that I wasn't really sure what questions people would have for us panelists because we weren't experts in anything. We weren't teaching them how to work on a particular platform or market their book proposal. We were just telling them about our own experiences. But as it turned out, we were both facilitators of the discussion and experts. Because we had spent time thinking about and talking to each other about what it meant to us to have small blogs, we'd developed some expertise at least in what it means to be a small blogger.

My co-panelists were fabulous - Nicci with her relaxed and conversational style moderating the panel an keeping us on track and Olivia wowing me with her thoughtful meditations not only on being a small blogger but on the world of digital media and our place in it.

And then there were the attendees. I was worried that folks might be shy about speaking up, that we might have to pull it out of them. I needn't have. We're bloggers. We love to share. Women told us about the hard parts of blogging, but mostly we talked about why we do it and why we love it - about the ability to talk about the things we need to - difficult subjects like mental illness and abuse as well as fun things like entertainment and children and the everyday delights of our lives.

We talked about everything from privacy and censorship to inspiration and community-building (hint: twitter is key).

I have a whole new reading roster.

Thank you so much to all of you who participated in the panel.

Here's a list of those of you who I know were there.  And those of you who kept quiet, share you info if you're so inclined.

Bacon Seed
The Life Muse
Reading and Chickens
Mama One to Three
Do Not Faint
Classic NYC Story
Sassy Monkey
Cubbies and Nooks
Miss Kris Kringle
Lady M
Tales from Clark Street
Conscientious Confusion
The Decorating Dork
Life with Roozle
Magpie Musing
Mia Bella Vida
The Variegated Life

Let the community-building begin!

If you'd like to check out the tweets for the event, look here.
You can find a live-blog that's somewhat accurate here!


An Honorary Rockette

I've woken up on Thanksgiving morning and rushed into the living room to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade almost every year of my life.

And of course there were parts I loved and parts where I got up and went to the bathroom or helped in the kitchen. When was my sister screaming at me from the couch "they're on!!!!!"?

You guessed it - when the Rockettes came into view.

I've loved them the first time I saw them. So symmetrical! And shiny! And pretty!

So when I found out that I had an opportunity, thanks to Caltrate and Centrum (BlogHer sponsors) to go to Radio City Music Hall and learn some routines from The Rockettes, I jumped at the chance.

And I am so glad I did. It was a blast! The two Rockettes who taught our class were as tall and lithe and gorgeous as you would expect. They were also incredibly nice.

But the real delight was that I was kicking my legs up alongside other fabulous ladies in time to music from the Christmas Spectacular. I felt like a superstar dancer even though I was in vibrams and yoga pants.

Also, you should know that I could totally be a Rockette. I'm tall enough (between 5'6" and 5'10") AND I can kick my leg up so that my toes are as high as the top of my eye. I learned that today. So, if I had learned some sense of dance or rhythm or ability to move my body in a way that doesn't look like a cross between Gumby and a robot, I would definitely be auditioning to become a Rockette.


This is my first time posting using my iPhone, so I hope it works out!

What I'm not buying for BlogHer

And there will be about 4500 fabulous people there who aren’t speaking.

There are even tons of private parties that I don’t know anything about.

The whole thing is kind of a big deal.

And for the last few weeks, it’s been blowing up in my twitter feed.  There are constantly new announcements, new excitements.  I get emails about it every day.  I’m connecting with my fellow panelists and hashtagging all over the place. 

And, believe it or not, a big part of what I’m seeing and reading and hearing is what to wear at the conference (seriously, if you follow that link it will take you to pages and pages of posts about what to wear at BlogHer).

For a few days, I lost my mind about it.

I was constantly designing outfits in my head –

sophisticated sequin top, black skinny slacks, red flats  

boat-neck striped top, a-line skirt, low, colorful wedges

chambray shirt dress, sparkly belt, hot pink flats

dark wash trouser jeans, lacy tank, giant flower pin, low wedges

I could go on.

The problem is I don’t own any of these clothes.

I was designing all these outfits in my head that I thought would present some image of me as sophisticated yet fun, stylish and quirky, the type of person you’d want to come over and say hello to.

And with the constant tweeting about new shoes and last minute runs to the mall or TJ Maxx or wherever to buy little black dresses or sequin tops or the perfect pair of flats, I started to think that it was totally reasonable for me to buy a whole new wardrobe for the weekend.  Everyone else was presenting their most fashionable selves – I should be too!

I was planning a shopping trip. Shoes were on the list. And new pants. And maybe a dress.

And then I got an opportunity to change my travel plans a bit, to be closer to the conference, to be, in fact, at the conference hotel. I took it, which meant that I’d be paying a lot more for this conference than I had anticipated.

But I would be paying more so that I could be more in the action, so that I could be more a part of things, and enjoy my time there more.

As I got my bag together to head out to the mall, I thought about my bank account.  About the big check that would be coming out of it to pay for half a hotel room bill. 

I sat back down.

More money for more fun?

Or more money for more fashion?

It seemed clear what the choice was.  I was dishing out the big bucks to have more fun.

And that meant I couldn’t dish out the big bucks to be more fashionable.

As I’ve thought about it,  I’ve realized what a gift this turned out to be.  It forced me to look at what I was doing – trying to control a situation that was causing me anxiety.  I’m nervous about BlogHer.  I’m nervous about who I’ll talk to and what it will feel like to stand in a room filled with people I don’t know and rustle up the courage to walk over to someone and say hi.  I’m nervous about my panel and whether I’ll sound interesting or silly, whether I’ll make good points or ramble.

So I was going to go spend a bunch of money on clothes that I hoped would make me feel special, like some more impressive version of me.  There’s something to that – it’s not like I’d be the first person to buy new clothes for an upcoming event.  We do feel better when we’re wearing things that make us look great. 

But it’s also not like my closet is filled with torn jeans and 80s hair band t-shirts (not that there would be anything wrong with that).  I have a perfectly fine closet, with clothes that look like me, just how I am.

I’m not a fashionista.  I don’t have 80 pairs of shoes.  I wear one really comfortable pair of black flats almost every day.  I don’t own a sequin top because I rarely have anywhere to wear it. 

And the truth is, no matter what I’m wearing at BlogHer, I’m going to be me – fun and excited, but also shy and a little goofy and probably somewhat scraggly.  Clothes won’t change that.  

Yesterday evening, I went shopping in my closet.  I pulled out the things I love.  I tried stuff on.  I thought about what would feel comfortable on a long day and what pieces make me smile because I remember buying them or I just love the print, or because they’re dresses with pockets (which are, hands down, the most fabulous things ever).  I set out my black flats and my sensible sandals.

Maybe I’ll be sorry this weekend that I don’t have a sequin top or a pair of red flats, but I’m guessing that I’ll be having so much fun that I won’t even notice.  Either way, it turns out not buying anything new is kind of liberating – I can’t present myself as anyone but me.


Two Katies for the Price of One

The other day I found out that Katie Couric is going to be the keynote speaker at BlogHer. 

You know what that means.

I'm a speaker at the same conference where Katie Couric is a speaker. 

Yes, it's about to get fancy

I was kidding before, but now it really is.

Ms. Couric's bonafide celebrity status is most definitely going to rub off on me. 

I've created some graphical representations of how our BlogHer speaker engagements fit into our careers:

Number of people who know who we are

As you can see, I am just steps behind Katie Couric on the trajectory towards fame. You should expect any day now to be hearing about my new talk show

It will be a cross between Ellen, Julia Child: bon apetit, and an episode of Little House on the Prairie (mainly because it will begin with me running through an open field with a bonnet on). 

So, thank you Katie Couric for my impending fame. 

I'm ready.


It's about to get fancy up in here

This August I will not only be attending my first blog conference - which is exciting enough. But I will also be speaking at my first blog conference.


You read it right.

I've been asked to be a panelist in a session celebrating small blogs, and you can bet I accepted right away. Well, right after I read the email again to make sure I had seen the words correctly and turned to Navah and exclaimed they want ME to speak!!

Apparently the post I wrote a while ago about the struggle of comparing yourselves to others in the blogosphere really hit a chord with some of the folks at BlogHer. And because of it, I'm getting to call myself a speaker alongside all those other amazing women. And I'm getting to talk with other bloggers about something that I'm really passionate about - what it means to put yourself "out there" in this digital age.

So count me excited.

And if you're going to BlogHer this year, tell me! Put it in the comments, email me, tweet me, tap me on the shoulder when we're there. Because while it may seem like I'm all fancy now (I am speaking, after all.  Did I mention that?), I'm actually more nervous, excited, and overwhelmed than anything else. So help a girl out!  

Can't wait to see you there if you're going! And I can't wait to come back and share the experience will all the rest of you!