Archive for July, 2009

Where I bare my soul about BlogHer…

Posted in Workin' 9 to 5 on July 27, 2009 by talesofanunfinishedmom

 I’m finding this BlogHer recap post a bit challenging to write. Perhaps because I am running on fumes at this point—four nights with little sleep.  That would be the easy answer. The more difficult answer is that there were things I loved about BlogHer and other things, well, that were kind of disappointing.

Let’s talk about love first.

The main reason for my being at BlogHer was to accompany my fabulous author to various sessions, her booksigning, and steer her in the right direction if needed. This part was great. I love to get a chance to hang out with my authors and what a treat to be with a rockstar at BlogHer and see her get recognized by many of her blogging peers.

Speed Dating, BlogHer-style was another favorite. The BlogHer founders did it a little differently than last year and I think made it that much more effective. They had us all line up in two big circles around the room—an inner and outer– facing each other with the instruction that only the inner circle would rotate counterclockwise at one minute intervals. With 1,500 women, the circle went around the entire circumference of the Sheraton ballroom.  Then for about 30 minutes, we had one minute to talk with the person facing us until they told us that our minute was up and the person would move on. I was on the outer circle so I basically stood in one place and waited for new faces to greet me every 60 seconds. It was really fun, albeit a little manic, and gave me an opportunity to meet a wide array of bloggers and other marketing professionals I would not have otherwise gotten a chance to meet.

I also really enjoyed spending time with my colleagues who are a bunch of funny, smart and just downright cool women. Having my own “posse” there made navigating such a huge event that much easier—even though it was still overwhelming.

I have to admit that there was something very awesome about meeting and/or seeing all of these amazing bloggers whom I’ve been following in one form or another for the past year. It really felt like I was seeing and in some cases, meeting, celebrities – even if few would have recognized these women outside of those ballroom walls.

 Now for the mixed feelings.

The sessions were a mixed bag and part of that was due to poor planning on the part of the BlogHer folks.  Do you think it makes sense to put four of your most popular bloggers on a panel together and put them in a tiny room in the corner of the basement? It gave new meaning to standing room only. People were sitting on the floor, in corners, jammed in the doorway, and practically on top of one another. It was hard to hear and really difficult to connect and caused a bit of competitiveness as people fought to get through the doors and gain the best view.

Another complaint is related to the sessions that didn’t deliver on what they promised. For example, should we really be talking about Google alerts in an Advanced SEO session? If I’m feeling unchallenged then you know there is a problem.

With that said, I did find some sessions valuable including a Beginning SEO session lead by Kelby. She was very knowledgeable and I picked up some great tips so thanks to Kelby for that. Also very helpful was the session on getting the word out about your blog. All three panelists were fabulous and incredibly knowledgeable so thanks to Jen, Annie and Jessica for your savvy sense (even if I had to sit on the darn floor again – growl).

And, naturally I attended the “Online Safety for Your Kids” session where my author, Lenore, joined a talented panel of women and added just the right amount of humor and fact-based savvy while addressing a host of issues and concerns related to kids and the Internet. 

 I would love to be sharing more of my great knowledge from all of the sessions I attended, which brings me to complaint #3. Can we please make this a three day conference? With an average of six sessions going on concurrently on TOP of the helpful Geek labs (where one can polish up on their social media skills), it’s impossible to even scrape the surface of everything being offered — not to mention all of the random giveaways (read: SWAG) and other distractions going on concurrently. A three-day conference would allow the attendees to experience so much more –visit more panels, have more time to spend with each other (as opposed to drive-bys which is what a lot of it felt like to me).

From a professional standpoint, I did walk away with more blogging and social media insight than I had going in but I know I could have come away with that much more if I’d been able to sit in on more sessions.

 The part that kind of sucked.

This was my first year attending BlogHer as an actual blogger. So even though I was there in a professional capacity, there was a part of me that felt a bit vulnerable. Sure, I could have not even mentioned that I’d started a blog, but, what good is that? If I wasn’t going to feel comfortable telling people I have a blog at a BLOGGING conference, well, I might as well just shut down and call it a day.

I even went so far as to create new business cards to *advertise* myself if the opportunity were to arise. And, of course it did.  Repeatedly. After awhile I got used to explaining that while I was at BlogHer for business purposes–and what that business was– I also had a blog. Most people were very nice and we went through the exercise of exchanging cards.

As I mentioned in the Love part above, it was exciting to see and/or meet some big name bloggers – at first. After about a day of being there it felt a bit like there was a hierarchy at play – the popular bloggers and everyone else. I didn’t fully realize that some of the bloggers that I’d been following religiously (and commenting on their posts regularly) were the most popular bloggers. But, once I got to BlogHer it became clear. And, while I realize, of course, that they don’t owe me a thing : What am I to them but just another reader?  I can’t help but think that it’s all of your readers and commenters that MAKE you popular. If not for us, where would you be?

It made me even question if I wanted to do this blogging thing if it’s all about popularity. I started blogging because I wanted to write – not to be popular. I thought if I ever got to a place where even a few people were commenting that that would be significant. And, if anyone ever came up to me and told me that they loved my blog, I’d be thrilled and gracious. But, I guess, like with any celebrity – after you hear it a few thousand times, it just gets old.

Regardless, this little undercurrent of elitism left me a little bruised but also the wiser. And, while this certainly isn’t my main take away from BlogHer 2009, it saddens me that it’s a take away at all.

Family planning…

Posted in Mommy stuff with tags , , on July 18, 2009 by talesofanunfinishedmom

Why is it that just when you think you’ve made peace with something, you question it all over again? Or, perhaps that’s just me.  I am notorious for not being able to make a decision. PB (my tolerant husband) always jokes “as long as there’s an out, you’re in.”  There’s a lot of truth to that.

But, to be fair, deciding whether or not to try and have a second child is a huge decision. Epic, really. I know that there are people everywhere having children every day and not obsessing over it the way I am, but, I bet most of those folks are not of advanced maternal age (or in my case, way past it).

When Ellie was born, I figured that I’d be ready to try again, IF I was going to try again, when she turned one. But, that year went by way too fast and frankly, after 3 miscarriages and 9 months of *morning* sickness, I wasn’t nearly ready to a) jump back in and b)move my attention away from my baby after trying for so long to have her. So, I set a new goal — by the time Ellie turned two. By then,  CLEARLY  I would know what to do. And, if I still wasn’t ready by then, well, we’d try to just be happy with our one.

Well, guess what, the second year went by even FASTER! 

Now she is 2 1/2 and I’m not kidding when I say that I’ve literally changed my mind about 10 times since the beginning of the year. “I’m done. No more.” “Maybe we could try again?” “Maybe we’ll adopt.” And, on and on and on.

The thing is, I’m not sure I have the energy. It’s not easy managing a full-time career and an active toddler. I’m also pretty poor – at least by San Francisco standards. I can’t imagine how we’d afford a second child (not to mention where we’d put him/her.)  I also can’t imagine going through morning sickness again. UGH. I had it with each and every one of my pregnancies — even those that ended in miscarriage. 

But, frankly, none of these rational arguments help an ovulating Mom when she sees the tender cradle of a newborn nuzzled into his Mommy’s busom, or when I see my beloved toddler play with her *babies* day after day after day as I look on pondering what a great older sister she’d be. During these moments I end up right back at square one.

At some point, though, biology is going to take over and make a decision for me. I’ve never been a gambler but I find myself gambling with this choice. I can only hope that if we do move forward, that the roulette game plays to our advantage. And if not, that I can finally find peace with our little family — perfect in its own right.

Ellie_Mommy_Daddy_June_Chrissy Field.

BlogHer fashion panic…

Posted in Workin' 9 to 5 with tags , , , on July 14, 2009 by talesofanunfinishedmom

 I have to say that I’m really excited for the upcoming BlogHer conference. I attended last year, but in a purely professional capacity (my company was a sponsor and the conference was local). I’m even more excited to be attending this year. Even though I’m still attending in a professional capacity with a few other colleagues, and one of my parenting/author bloggers whom I love is speaking, this year I will be attending for the first time as an actual blogger! Ok, so, I’ve only actually written about 10 posts but you gotta start somewhere, right?

With that said, I am TOTALLY stressed about this fashion business. I used to be fashionable. Really, I did. That is San Francisco fashionable – which kind of means you set your own style. Since I’ve had a kid though, I can BARELY muster the energy to get dressed or even find the time to shave my legs, much less put together a hip ensemble.

 I got wind last week that there is going to be a designer on hand at BlogHer —  Tim Gunn – and he is parceling out fashion advice in advance of BlogHer. Something like:

 *Must have a little black dress for the cocktail parties (I can only assume that fashionable strappy sandals or pumps must also be purchased)

*Designer jeans (Ok, he didn’t say designer, but, obviously he meant that) for the day so you’re comfortable in the sessions

*Blazer (Must be tapered correctly – not some $20 job you bought from JC Penny – what, who me?)

 I have none of these items on hand and no real time to shop or real money to spend. If only he’d said, “Make sure you show up with the following…” :

 *Roots from two-month old highlight showing

*Fuzzy eyebrows

*Faded jeans (if you’ve had them since before you were a Mommy, even better)

*Flip flops (extra points for Reef)

 I’d be loving life. I expect that when the time actually rolls around that I’ll show up with some combination of the above — designer jeans with fuzzy eyebrows, black dress with flip flops, or any combination of the above.

 Please don’t judge, Tim Gunn. I’m a Mom. If my two-year-old had a pass for BlogHer, I can assure you that she’d knock your fashion socks off. Where do you think all my time, money and fashion sense went?

There but for the grace of God…

Posted in Mommy stuff with tags , , , on July 6, 2009 by talesofanunfinishedmom

I’m not really a religious person. Meaning, growing up my family didn’t regularly attend any religious institution and now as an adult, things don’t look too differently. Except that we did recently become members of a certain religious institution — but mostly to get our daughter into preschool, so not sure it really counts.

With that said, I am no atheist. I have no idea what exactly is out there but I believe in SOMETHING.

Which brings me to the title of this post.  A friend of mine and I were once discussing the incredibly hard lives of people in third world countries and how it’s not like we’ve done anything special to be born in the United States. Why are some so unfortunate to be born in such poverty and doomed to a life of starvation and struggle and others born in a country filled with an abundancy of resources? And we said “There but for the grace of God.”

I’ve mostly used this expression on a global scale when discussing massive destitution. But, lately, I think about this much more on a personal level. And yesterday, it slapped me right in the face.

I read a certain blog daily. I’ve been reading it for months now.  And while it’s not the first time I’ve asked myself why something so unfair would happen, I think also having a little girl whom I love more than life itself, it’s hit closer to home. I imagine the pain of such a loss and it makes me question so much and leaves me asking WHY? Why do such awful things happen? Why do parents lose children they adore? Why do parents take their own children’s lives? Why does anything bad EVER happen to a child?

This past 4th of July weekend, we were having a lovely time with my parents up in the Sierras – beautiful Northern California country. Ellie was having a fabulous time playing in the pool, taking walks in neighborhoods (as opposed to city streets), watching the birds, and experiencing perhaps a little more freedom than usual. Country freedom.

Yesterday my Mom and I took Ellie to run some errands with us and we decided that since she was being such a good girl and it was so hot, that we’d take her for a rare ice cream treat at a real old-fashioned ice cream parlor. They have things like that up in the country. After we parked, Ellie held her Nana’s hand as she crossed the street but was happy to break free once she was on the sidewalk again. Sadly, the ice cream parlor was closed due to the holiday weekend which was a big bummer since we were leaving last night but Ellie didn’t really seem to mind — or understand (which means I really need to take her out for treats more often.)

Anyhow, we decided we’d just head home at that point so we crossed the single lane street again to walk back to our car, Nana holding Ellie’s hand once again, and once again, Ellie being eager to break free once we got back on the sidewalk. She was standing by my side as I opened the back door for her to get into her car seat and then all of a sudden, without warning, Ellie took off. She ran behind our Subaru and another parked car and right INTO the street as a car was coming.  It all happened so fast that I couldn’t catch her. As fast as my reflexes are, her 2 1/2 year old legs were faster. And, as fast as she was running, everything suddenly stopped and moved in slow motion. I could see the top of her head as she darted into the road and the car coming from the left. I was too focused on her to even see if a car was coming from the right but I prayed there wasn’t. And then I screamed her name at the top of my lungs – a shriek that she has never heard. Simultaneously, a woman from across the road started screaming as well to alert traffic and probably because as a Mom with her own kids in tow, she knew that it takes a village.

Ellie froze in the street as did the car and I swooped her up unscathed, my heart still in my throat. She immediately put her head on my shoulder and I could tell she was afraid. Afraid at what she’d done and afraid at how loudly I screamed. But, she was OK.

Needless to say, there were many discussions of how we never ever run into the road for the next few hours. I’m not sure she fully got it but she definitely got that she did something wrong that should not be repeated.

For the rest of the night, I couldn’t get that image out of my head. The image of the top of her blonde head darting into the street between the cars and feeling so grateful that all turned out OK — shaken but grateful. And then I asked, why was I so lucky?  Why was my child spared in that moment when other darting children are not so lucky? 

It’s that expression again — There but for the grace of God — and it could not have rung truer yesterday.