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Posts Tagged ‘#BlogHer13’

After attending #BlogHer13, I came away with a renewed inspiration for writing. I’ve always loved writing and never run out of things I want to write about. NEVER. Currently, I have eleventy billion ideas swirling in my head for blog posts. I want to get at least 4 of them done in the next week. At one of the sessions someone raised their hand to say they can’t think of anything to write about. REALLY?! Then we can’t be friends. I’m kidding. We can totally be friends. Just be warned that after drinking copious amounts of alcohol, I’m going to ask you to explain in detail why this is. I’ll be obnoxious about it. “How come you can’t think of anything to write about? Do you live a dull life?” It’s like standing in a huge library and saying you can’t find anything to read. PLEASE. That was the only time all weekend that I was tempted to raise my hand. I would’ve said “I never have trouble thinking of something to write about. I just can’t find the time to write.” Of course, that was too much like bragging so I didn’t do it. Lack of time is an issue for a lot of people, if not everyone. There’s always something else you can be doing. However, if you’re like me, you get so much JOY out of laying down the written word via your brain, through your fingertips, that you need to MAKE time. I never knew what that meant. I don’t have a machine in the basement that manufactures extra minutes or hours to add to each day to make it longer. I don’t have farmland that has migrant workers picking spare moments like weeds for me to stockpile and use later. How do I make time for writing? Yes, I’m asking. To write 2 LONG #BlogHer13 recaps this week, something had to fall by the wayside. Pretty much everything but general hygiene, walking the dogs and physical therapy. I didn’t clean house and took the easy way out on cooking meals. I let the laundry pile up. Like a lot of other women, I rarely take time for myself. I felt guilty at spending the majority of my day writing a blog post. That quickly passed though with the huge rush I got from publishing it and getting such positive feedback. Normally, I do a post a week (used to be a post a month). I’m lucky if I can squeeze in an hour to sit down and whip that puppy out as fast as I can type it. I’m writing this one the same way but I’m actually going to proofread it. This is just a huge preamble to what I really wanted to bring up today.
 
Since #BlogHer13, I’ve got about 100 blog post recaps to read and comment on. I’ve read a few and was shocked at what has offended people. First off, I’m not easily offended. Only if I think someone is INTENTIONALLY trying to hurt or insult someone else (or myself), do I take offense. I heard most of Guy Kawaski’s keynote and Q&A session in front of the entire blogging community. I never understood why he was such a big deal before this. I saw that a ton of bloggers follow him on Twitter and I even tried following him briefly. He is not my cup of tea. It has nothing to do with him being a man. He is just totally wrapped up in getting more followers in all social media sites. I know in some circles that’s where worth is measured by numbers of followers. I’d love to “be somebody” and have a huge following. But if it came down to brass tacks, I’d much rather have 100 people I interact regularly with on social media than 1,000 people I’ve never talked to. Anyway, Guy Kawasaki is a salesman first and foremost. He works for Android and Google +. He sings their praises but I believe he really finds them superior. He’s not just saying it because he’s getting paid. I think he’s done enough public speaking that he appeared relaxed. He said what he felt and that later on caused a backlash in the blogging community. People have been up in arms by his sexist remarks. Things such as “Behind every great man is a woman.” “You women writers come up with the best blog names.” “I’ve got the wrong chromosomes for that.” (when referring to Pinterest) I’m sure these are sexist remarks, I’m just not sensitive to them. Overall, the guy seemed generic to me. He didn’t get me excited about publishing or Android or Google +. He didn’t seem dynamic enough to command that size of an audience. I am not political and stay out of any heated and hardcore discussions involving conflict. That’s just not who I am. I’m not here to defend Guy Kawaski AT ALL. But I do think the people who are attacking him need to consider a couple of things: 1) He was being himself. He’s human. We can’t all say the right thing at the right time. 2) It’s more on BlogHer for hiring him if this is how he references women. I mean, if he’s being himself and they want him, then they have to bear some of the responsibility for picking him. 3) No one in their right mind would get in front of a huge blogging community made up mostly of women and INTENTIONALLY say anything bad about women. Think about it. I don’t think he’d want to lose the gig of appearing at BlogHer in the future. He didn’t say these things in a nasty voice or a sarcastic tone. We need to consider his intentions and if he’s malicious.
 
I don’t have a problem with others writing posts about their extreme dislike for his sexism. I think that’s a large part of what BlogHer is. They get women talking about what they see going on around them. They start a dialogue and give everyone an equal voice. I just think it should matter if he did it through ignorance or with the intention of putting others down. They say ignorance is no excuse but it’s been my excuse more than once. I’m a very naive person. I never want to hurt anyone by my actions or words. Yet, I’m sure I have and do. Unless people know me personally, they wouldn’t know it was unintentional. Someone who was offended during the Q&A should’ve stood up and just asked him. “Did you mean that to sound so sexist? You’re supposed to be talking about writers but instead you make it sound like women come up with cutesy names for blogs.” I have no doubt if it was brought to his attention (in a non-threatening way), he would’ve admitted he could’ve worded it better. People say the wrong thing everyday and that’s never going to change. Even with all the education in the world, there’s always going to someone somewhere who “misspeaks”.
 
You’ve probably got me figured out by now. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I make excuses for them and let them get away with things. Especially it is is done by accident, not knowing better or just having an off day. I do this because I’m human and screw up a lot and hope that others will cut me some slack when I say or do the wrong thing. That they won’t give me a hard time when I’m probably already having a hard time. I do look for the best in people and forgive them for not being perfect.
 
In some ways I’m easy going like that. Don’t think things don’t get me riled up! I’ve worked myself into a lather about plenty in my time. I wrote in my last post about meeting some great people. At the Voices of The Year, I happened to be 2 seats away from the infamous Titcircle. I don’t think it’s my place to discuss it but that’s not going to stop me. A group of women to my right were just having a good time. I could tell they genuinely liked each other and were thrilled to be in one another’s company. At one point they all jumped up and formed a circle and took a picture of their cleavage. My first instinct was to ask if I could take a picture too. Why on earth would I want a picture of a bunch of strangers’ boobs? Because of what it signified to me: women, friendship, fun. It was that simple. To me, it wasn’t sexual, it was like having a foot/shoe picture with a group of friends only x100 on the fun chart. Yes, I probably go through life looking at things simplistically and innocently. At the moment it was happening, I wanted to join in. Not just to take a picture but BE in the picture. I’m pretty much up for anything at all times but unless someone asks me, I’m sitting on the sidelines. I don’t like to insinuate myself into situations. Unless I’ve been drinking. Then all bets are off! So I didn’t join in but felt good about seeing it. I wasn’t offended in the least.
 
Imagine my surprise when I read the post by Lauren Marie Fleming about being called out as unprofessional for participating. She had taught one of the sessions I attended at #BlogHer13, It was called Using Social Media Tools Without Being A Tool: Marketing And Promotion That Lifts The Community As A Whole. This was my first exposure to Lauren and I could espouse her virtues until the cows come home. Instead, I’ll suggest you check out her blog. She speaks for herself better than I ever could. She was very professional while running her session. I felt like when she’s not teaching, she can do whatever she wants. I think to some people, you can’t be professional and have fun. If that’s the case, then I NEVER want to be a professional! Not only was Lauren called out for being unprofessional, she received so many NASTY, VICIOUS comments about the Titcircle. I think they should be everywhere like Cropcircles. We need to figure out if they need to be anonymous like Cropcircles though. Not only were people attacking the women for doing it at all, they were criticizing their breasts! I was aghast. A community made up mostly of women were going after what they deemed as body flaws. Really?! Haven’t we come farther than this? Besides how wrong it is to criticize someone for what they were born with, WHY DOES ANYONE ELSE NEED TO LIKE OUR BODY? Or anybody’s body. We need to learn to like our own bodies and nasty remarks like that aren’t helping anybody. This is where i will repeat that INTENTIONS ARE EVERYTHING. Looking at those comments, there is no question that those comments were meant to tear down, humiliate, bring pain to another person. Lauren in general but also all the other women participants. They were beyond cruel and so unnecessary. I could live to be 100 and never understand that type of mentality. If someone doesn’t like that they had that Titcircle, that’s fine. They can say that they’d never do it. Or they thought it was wrong for them. They should walk away and never do one. But to attack and malign anyone because they were having a good time is stupefying. No one forced them at gunpoint into a Titcircle so they need to calm down. Whether they know the women who participated or not, they need to respect their choices. That’s like going up to someone with a tatoo and saying, “That’s the worst tattoo I’ve ever seen. That’s gross and you should be ashamed.” I would hope nobody would ever do that but it’s along those same lines. Life is hard enough without having others telling you you’re doing it wrong all the time.
 
Something Erin Sipes told me happened to her at #BlogHer13 was equally disturbing. A blogger who KNEW Erin wanted to meet her put her hand up to shield her face as she walked by her. I was horrified to hear this. Erin isn’t a newbie, she was on the panel of the session I attended called Is Your Blog Holding You Back? The Balance Between Your Blog And Your Goals. The fact that someone could treat another human being this way hurts my heart. It shouldn’t matter who you are or what you do, no one should treat another person like that. Especially at an event intended for networking and connecting with other bloggers. There may well be people that some don’t want to talk to (although I can’t imagine it being Erin) but wouldn’t it be the right thing to do to exchange pleasantries and then say you need to talk to someone else? Is it ever ok to be that rude? I’d hope not. If we examine the intentions of the Talk To The Hand/Don’t Bother Me blogger, it can only be their way of showing their superiority. They consider themselves too important to deign to speak with mere mortals.
 
I’m going to climb down off my soapbox and go make some dinner. Let’s hear your thoughts on intentions and what makes you accept some less than stellar behavior and what behavior you will never accept.
 
 
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Yesterday I did my first recap on my time at #BlogHer13. I’m going to do a separate post about the Expo Hall and sponsors later on. Today I’m going to tell you about some of the wonderful people I met at my first blogging conference. As each day passes, I become more grateful to #BlogHer13 for the opportunity I had to attend. I didn’t meet a lot of people but the ones that I did, truly made an impression on me. I have no doubt we’ll be bonded for life. When I find someone worth knowing, I like to share them with the world. It’s part of the duty of belonging to a blogging community to promote the extraordinary people. There are so many blogs out there and it’s impossible to have read them all. Some of the really obscure, unknown ones can be a perfect match for your tastes. If we help the bloggers get some readers and attention, it almost guarantees they will stick around and continue writing.

 
In my previous post, I mentioned the joyous hug I got from Deb Rox at the newbie breakfast. I also got one from Tarrant Figlio who wandered in briefly with her son Joseph to check it out. Tarrant lives locally, only a few towns over from me but we’d never met in person. I recognized her right away and got up and made a beeline for her. I immediately felt reassured. I rarely think to myself that a woman is sexy but I did when I saw Tarrant walk by. I hope I don’t embarrass her by saying that but I almost blurted it out when we hugged. She also has a very calming presence. I was hoping the whole day would be filled with hugs like that. Instead these stand out because I received so few. Of course, I’d rather have fewer meaningful hugs than a lot that were insincere. Tarrant writes a food blog but is also a storyteller and all about family. On Friday night I got another hug from her (@thatwoman on Twitter) as well as being introduced to her family. Her partner Denise (who works for BlogHer) gave me a great hug as well and I got to meet some of their kids: Joseph, R.J. & Ellie. They make up the kind of family anyone would be happy to be part of.
 
My first Room of Your Own session was Shedding the Facade and Writing Our Vulnerable Truth. I came into the room and had no clue where to sit or who to sit with. I saw this shock of blue and purple hair sitting by the aisle in the middle and just had to sit next to the person who owned that head of hair. I told her I loved it and I did. This wild and colorful hair belongs to Tabatha Muntzinger. Boy, this chick is so together! She knows who she is, what her style is, etc. I told her the hair suited her, the whole thing, cut and color. The more I’ve gotten to know her the more right I know I am. She also dresses in a way that really reflects who she is and what she’s about. I just wear clothes and she picks out extentions of herself to adorn her body with. She was so friendly which was a big hit with me. There’s really no such thing as being too friendly. Or at least I haven’t found anyone who is, yet. She is just a fascinating creature and I have a feeling even though she’s much younger than I am, she will play a part in me finding out more about who I am. I could tell you she’s a married mom into remodeling her 115 yr. old house but I’d rather you go check out her 2 blogs and see for yourself. 😉 You’ll find her at SoTabulous and Turn Right At Lake Michigan.
 

Tabatha

Tabatha

At this same session, Shannon Duffy plopped herself down in the row ahead of us and turned around and started talking to both of us. Shannon is like a breath of fresh air. Really easy to be around, she doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable which is a great quality. We found we had several other sessions in common since we were both following the writing track of sessions. The 3 of us exchanged cards and friendships were born. It was only later after I got home and read Shannon’s blog did I find out that she had written one of the 100 pieces selected for Voices of The Year!! Wow. We had a celebrity in our midst and didn’t even know it. Which just goes to show she’s modest too. 😉 She told me she was local too, coming from a suburb farther out from mine. Check out her heartfelt writing at Deepest Worth.
 

Shannon

Shannon

At another session that day, a sweet girl came and sat next to me. She introduced herself as Jenn Belden and we swapped cards. It turns out she’s from the same suburb as Shannon! The day before BlogHer13, Jenn had flew back to the United States after time spent in England. She and her family had lived in the UK for 3 1/2 years, only recently moving back here. They had taken a vacation there to visit friends right before the conference. No doubt she was jetlagged and had been on the go for weeks but she handled everything beautifully. She was friendly and someone I’d love to get to know more. Her blog is Momma On The Rocks. You don’t have to question that in addition to everything else, she knows how to make a mean cocktail! 🙂
 
At the Voices of The Year, there was a lengthy delay while waiting for Queen Latifah to arrive. I had gone in early and sat on the right side in the 3rd row. On one side of me was a woman who was deep in conversation with the person she came with and oblivious that I was there. Then along came Stacy Jill Calvert. The seats were so close together they were touching and we were sitting tightly against each other. Our skin touching. At that point you have to get to know the person next to you or start filing a sexual harrassment suit. 😉 Stacy is bubbling with enthusiasm and I hit the blogger jackpot when she planted herself next to me. She talks a mile a minute which put me at ease. She’s originally from a suburb of Chicago, not far from where I live. Now she lives down state with her partner while they both attend graduate school. Her passion is filmmaking and she’s currently making a documentary that needs funding. She’s a Digital Storyteller and a force of nature! :-)’
 

Stacy

Stacy

At the VOTY reception, I was trying to eat standing up and not to spill any food on my top. I’m pleased to report ALL weekend, I didn’t get so much as a crumb on myself! That never happens. I’m notorious for wearing half my food across my chest and some of it lands in my lap as well. Before I went to BlogHer13, I almost tweeted out, “I’ll be the one wearing their meal like an abstract painting on their clothes.” I really should be issued an adult bib. While standing against a sign, I saw a woman standing by herself in the aisle. She looked alone and we made eye contact. I asked her if she was alone and she said no. She had a couple of friends she’d come with. One was with her at the reception and was going to come and find her. We started talking and really hit it off. Her name is Sandra Chang and she blogs at Letters of Muse. Her blog is probably the closest to mine that I’ve ever seen. She blogs about her life, whether it’s gardening, making homemade jam, her kids, etc. I feel a kindred soul with her. Her friend Maria Milik showed up and the 3 of us stood around talking. Maria is a real go-getter. She runs her own organic food business, raises kids with special needs, volunteers for everything. She’s just someone anyone would be lucky to have by their side. She started a blog called Two States of Chaos 1 1/2 years ago, did one post and hasn’t blogged since. I believe it when she says she’s too busy for blogging but it’s such a GREAT blog that I’m making it my life’s work to hound her until she takes up writing it again! Sandra and Maria are both from the same suburb that Shannon and Jenn are from. I started to think they just breed nice people there! I’ve since tried to get them hooked up with each other. I asked if they were going to the parties and they invited me to tag along with them. First we made the plan to hit the bathroom and then visit the White Cloud Lounge. That’s a small bar off the lobby of the hotel that they converted for this event. They decorated it in lots of white and even had what looked like heavy white smoke floating around the room but it was really dry ice. They had an artist doing art featuring the White Cloud logo and hostesses dressed in white going around making sure everyone was taken care of. Sandra and I went up to get a drink. They had an open bar and Sandra ordered a gin and tonic and I asked what their signature cocktails were. The guy just made me one and handed it to me. It was white wine with heaven knows what in it. Far be it from me to turn down alcohol, so I took it. It was ok but not something I would normally drink. 4 things happen when I start drinking: 1) My face gets flushed and I turn red. 2) I become more talkative = the real me comes out. 3) I want to drink MORE. 4) I want to dance. #1 definitely happened, as did #3. #2 only happened a little bit and #4 not at all. I never heard any dance music all night and was disappointed because I LOVE to dance. The 3 of us had our picture taken together covered in toilet paper boas and of course, the white smoke made it not turn out. We redid it and the 2nd time, only 2″ of my face showed up in the photo. Then we headed up to Room 929 at the Sheraton for the Come As You Are Party.
 

Maria & Sandra

Maria & Sandra

The Come As You Are Party was my favorite. Maybe it’s because I’ve been following Anissa Mayhew for at least 3 years on Twitter. She was hosting the party and had her beautiful daughter Rachael along with her. I introduced myself to Anissa and she shook my hand and then I told her I wanted a hug too. So I leaned down so I could give her a hug in her wheelchair. It was like meeting an old friend. I introduced Sandra and Maria to her and then let them talk. I went over by Rachael and talked to her for a bit. She’s such an intelligent, well poised 12 year old. I asked her if she was going to be a blogger like her mom and she said she wasn’t very good at it. I told her she didn’t need to be a blogger, she already got all the perks. She should do something she felt strongly about or enjoyed more. Anissa had heavy duty red solo cups as souvenirs from the party. I took one upon entering and then asked if I could have another when I left. I wish I’d gotten more–at least another one for my mom. They are so awesome! They look like an ordinary cup when you see them but when you lift them, they are sturdy and have some weight to them.
 

Anissa & Rachael

Anissa & Rachael

There was an open bar at this party too and I went over and asked what he could make me. He just motioned to the bottles and I couldn’t think so I just said vodka and diet coke. I’m more of a margarita or daquiri girl. I didn’t know who to talk to, everyone seemed already engaged. So I looked at the other end of the room and it was basically empty. There was another bartender down there that no one knew about. A couple of couches and a comfy chair. There was one guy sitting down there by himself. I got brave and went down to talk to him. I asked if he was a blogger or somebody’s husband that got dragged along. He said he was here with his wife and she was off socializing. From there we hit it off like gangbusters. His name was Levi Helgren and we had a very easy flowing conversation for a long time. I asked  a lot of questions but it was a mutual back and forth. I didn’t feel like I was monopolizing the conversation or being too boring. We’re both from WI so that gave us something in common right off the bat. We hung out for awhile and then others started coming over to join in. His wife showed up and out of nervousness I said, “I hope you don’t think I was hitting on your husband.” God. Really?! I was trying to be funny. People never know when I’m being funny. The 3 of us ended up going upstairs to the Multi-Culti Party together. The next day, just as I was getting ready to get up from the lunch table, they came and sat down. We chatted for a minute or two and I said, “I hope I wasn’t too obnoxious last night.” This is why I keep my mouth shut a lot of the time. Anyway, I had the BEST time talking with a non-blogger at a blogging convention. It really stuck in my head on Sat. how I’ve got ONE thing in common with all the bloggers (that we all write a blog) and yet it’s so hard to talk to some of them. This just reinforced that I can make conversation with anybody but it’s a 2 way street. They have to be willing to participate.
 

Levi at lunch on Sat.

Levi at lunch on Sat.

This is my love letter to the people I met at BlogHer13. Each and every person I’ve mentioned contributed to a good memory I can take away from #BlogHer13! Without knowing it, they each made a positive impact in my life. I just hope someday I can bring sunshine into other people’s lives in the same way. Please visit their blogs and see how incredible they are! 🙂
 
 

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First off, I want to say that my title is not meant as an insult to #BlogHer13. No matter how it looks, this is NOT an anti-BlogHer post. This my experience, seen through my eyes, felt with my heart and held in my soul. I’m not sharing this to rip on the conference or even really complain. I am chronicling what happened and my thoughts on it. To reiterate, I am not blaming BlogHer for my time at the convention being less than stellar. I accept the responsibility for the lion’s share of why I was disappointed in some aspects of it and some people. From the comfort of my own home, I can now look back and say I’m glad that I went. Even though conditions (of my own making) were less than ideal, it is an experience I am glad to have under my belt.

 

Downtown Chicago

Downtown Chicago

Overall, I was awed and impressed with the sheer size and volume of the conference. You can hear that there’ll be 5,000 people there but seeing it is a whole other thing. That’s a small city. For someone who doesn’t come to the big city often, it was overwhelming. As I told someone I met and talked with at length, I’m like a 10 year old kid with my mouth hanging open staring up at the skyscrapers when I come to Chicago. Actually, I’m pretty sure 10 year old kids would be less fazed by the urban surroundings than I was.
 

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Skyline

The BlogHer network of women did an amazing job of organizing such a big event. Just finding a location to hold that many has to be daunting. McCormick Place is so huge, it dwarfs a lot of small towns in Wisconsin (the state I grew up in). The fact that they could provide food, beverage, entertainment/amusement and classes for that many is incredible. Overall, they did a phenomenal job of meeting the needs of so many people. The food was really good, better than average for being produced on a large scale. The service was good. The sponsors and Expo Hall was a huge hit with everyone. I really didn’t find fault with the conference as a whole.
 

My BlogHer13 Badge

My BlogHer13 Badge

I read some of the advice posts prior to going to #BlogHer13, hoping to get a feel for the conference. I followed some of the advice which turned out to be erroneous. I have a couple of suggestions for improvements like adding a coat check where you can have your bag of swag held so you don’t have to carry it all day and all night. I should’ve weighed mine but I bet it was 30 lbs. This isn’t even what I picked up in the Expo Hall, this is the bag I was given at the booth right next to the registration. Either that or I wish someone had told me NOT to pick it up until the end of the day. I schlepped that puppy with me into the bathroom (I never sat it on the floor), to the sessions, through the lunch line, to the shuttle bus (getting lost on the way there), to the keynote and to the parties. I didn’t open it until after lunch and saw it had 3 HUGE bottles of juice and flavored water inside. (Next time, a sample size should be 4 ounces!)  I should have left them somewhere but I left my common sense at home that day. After carrying them for hours, I felt like I should get something for it. Like a medal or a sling for my arm. I tried switching positions, holding it in one hand or the other, putting it on my shoulder, carrying in in my arms. It totally sucked and made my day very unpleasant.
 

My Mini Moo Cards

My Mini Moo Cards

I also carried this swag bag to the Expo Hall. The first day I didn’t even pick up any goodies because I seriously couldn’t carry another thing! I went through and took pictures and it totally drained my iPhone 4 battery down. I ended up spending a half hour 2-3 times the first day standing alone against a wall (all the benches near outlets were taken) waiting for my phone to charge. The 2nd day I only did it once and then was in a session that had outlets on the table and I was able to charge mine. The first night my phone got so low it wouldn’t turn on. I was waiting in the lobby of the Sheraton for hubby to pick me up so I whipped out my charger and plugged in behind the chair I was sitting on.
 

View of the River from The Sheraton

View of the River from The Sheraton

The BlogHer13 smartphone app was helpful to a point. I wish they’d had a service AT the conference where you could be matched up with another person who came alone and wanted a buddy to do stuff with.
 
No one was overtly mean to me at BlogHer13. But I did find a large number of people unfriendly or uninterested in interacting. I did reach out to several, usually the people sitting alone. I hate to see someone alone because I know how I feel. The few I tried to talk to made me realize they were alone by choice, not by circumstance. The people who were there because they ran a company (not vendors) or ran the website for an organization were the ones least willing to chat. They were obviously there for work and unless you also blogged professionally (in the business world), they had no use for you.
 
The transportation issue was such a big deal that hubby offered to drive me down to McCormick Place. You’d think the hard part would be over. It did ease my mind until I was being dropped off on the first day. We got lost driving the wrong way on Lake Shore Drive and couldn’t get off to turn around. Then when we got to McCormick Place, I jumped out of the car to ask if this is where the blogging convention was. I was told it was. So I said goodbye, grabbed my purse and went in. Only to find out I was in the WRONG BUILDING. I started heading towards the area they directed me and saw a woman hustling and I started talking to her. I asked her if she was going there. She said she was and I asked if I could tag along since she was looking for the newbie breakfast. She was walking so fast I could hardly keep up with her. She was probably flustered but didn’t offer her card either. I asked her if she had gotten those. She said she had. She was local as well and had driven herself. Apparently she had people she was meeting and when I mentioned I was alone, she didn’t say I should join her or anything.
 

BlogHer13 Registration

BlogHer13 Registration

I understand how much fun it must be to be looking forward to meeting up with people. I understand how people are with their friends and don’t want an outsider trying to squeeze in. I don’t understand why it’s ok to exclude people. It doesn’t matter how young or old someone is or how fat, I can talk to them. Usually. I need a little help though. I can’t do it all by myself. Then it would be a monologue, not a conversation. We’ve all been there where we try to talk to someone and they are less than receptive. You don’t keep trying, you give up. I sat by one woman who I felt sorry for and found out I should’ve kept my pity to myself. We talked but it just felt like it was a huge intrusion on my part to bother her. She actually closed her eyes every time she looked at me! I saw her in the bathroom the next day (a few feet apart) and she didn’t say hi. Neither did I.
 
I went in to the event with an open mind and found the whole thing quite cliquish. It was like being back in jr. high on the first day of school and you don’t know where to sit in the lunch room. Unless you already had friends from the year before, you have to sit with someone. They either talk to you and you become friends for the entire duration at the school or they ignore you and make you feel like a freak.
 
I met less than 20 people the first day. I have 13 business cards from that day. There are some I met that I didn’t exchange cards with. At the newbie breakfast, I hadn’t yet picked up my Moo cards. No one offered theirs and I didn’t feel right asking when I didn’t have mine yet. I later came up with the eloquent phrase, “Wanna swap cards?” The saving grace for me walking in late to the Newbie breakfast was seeing Deb Rox. I follow her on Twitter and Instagram and instantly recognized her. She gave me a warm welcoming hug which has elevated her to rock star status in my book. I already liked her and just seeing in person what a caring individual she is gave me hope. When she was doing introductions for a section at the Voices Of The Year, she just radiated. As she described the women who would be reading their blog posts, she was so genuine. It moved me as much or more than some of the readings. I hope she won’t be offended if I tell everyone that Deb and I are both big girls. In her case it’s because she has the biggest heart! Her heart takes up 90% of her body. 😉
 
The people that I met that were nice to me, I will never forget. I just wish I’d met more people like the good ones. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. My blog isn’t for everybody’s tastes and neither am I. I got the impression that a lot of people felt that if you didn’t have something in common (besides blogging in general), it wasn’t worth talking to some people. To put it more bluntly, if they felt they had nothing to gain by talking to you, they didn’t. I don’t look at it that way at all. Everyone has a mouth and a blog, they can spread the word of your good deeds or bad. I choose not to call out anyone that was less than nice but I’m going to do a later post and highlight the gems that I found from the conference.
 
On Friday at 3 pm, I sent out a tweet: “Is there anyone who’s here alone that wants to go through the Expo Hall at #BlogHer13 with me at 4 pm & catch the shuttle to the Sheraton?” I sent it out twice and got no reply. This doesn’t just go to my followers but everyone who searches for #BlogHer13. Not one reply. <crickets> I didn’t let that deter me. I took the Expo Hall by storm and went around even though it was crowded. I wasn’t shy and talked to the folks at the sponsors’ booths. I had my picture taken ALONE with a chicken hat and pink feather boa for the Food With Love contest. My motto is “the more ridiculous the better!” It’s so much fun doing this stuff alone. NOT. After awhile, I had to go charge my phone and then start finding the shuttle. I knew it was on the first floor so I took the escalator down and ended up on the wrong side of the building. Gah! By then the whole day was getting to me. I was worn out from lugging my bag of tricks around, hurt from being shunned like an Amish woman with a neck tattoo and on the verge of tears. You’ll be happy to know I didn’t cry! I regrouped and formed a plan. I knew I could call my hubby to come get me at any time. I didn’t want to miss the Voices Of The Year so I decided I would get to the Sheraton and keep trying. The rest of the night wasn’t bad. I met a lovely gal at the VOTY so wasn’t technically alone. I went to the VOTY reception, ate standing up (not a fan) and met someone else standing alone. She was actually with someone from her hometown and took pity on me. They both included me and we went together to the White Cloud Lounge and then the Come As You Are Party. (More on the parties in another post.) I lost them there and I continued on awhile after that. I made a decent showing on Friday.
 

The more ridiculous the better!

The more ridiculous the better!

Sat. I was feeling shell shocked and full of trepidation. I got dropped off at the right building but the wrong end of the building. I even walked up a non-moving escalator (2 flights) to an elevator that didn’t work and back down again. I did find a cool hanging art waterfall that I would have missed if I hadn’t gotten lost. I got my food and went and sat at a table by myself. I had a hard time even trying on the 2nd day. It is such a hard thing to put yourself out there and hope you don’t get rejected. The first day I listened to all the speeches at the meals but the 2nd day, I spent some of the meal times in the Expo Hall. That place is huge and I bet I didn’t make it to half the sponsors, even though I went there repeatedly.
 

Art Waterfall Closeup

Art Waterfall Closeup

I didn’t really meet anyone new the 2nd day. I saw people I’d met the day before and the ones that were originally nice were nice again. I got the guts up to be bold and go introduce myself to Tanis Miller after her session on Storytelling. I gave her a card and it was like I felt in my groupie days with local bands. I rush up and say hi and a few words, my mind goes blank and I rush away. I am proud of myself for pushing my way into the Midlife Bloggers session 5 minutes before it started to go up to the front panel. I have been tweeting with Jen Baier (who works at AARP) for a couple of years and she insisted I meet Jen Lee Reeves, her coworker, who was working the event. I saw on the schedule that Jen was a speaker at the Midlife Bloggers session and even though I wasn’t going, I knew this might be our only chance to connect. I wanted to go to her session but another session I was interested in was at the exact same time! I didn’t want to let Jen Baier down and not try so I mustered all my courage and pushed to the front and introduced myself. We hugged and I asked her if she’d be at the AARP booth in the expo later. She said she would and so I told her I’d be down there and we’d take pictures then. As it turned out, she wasn’t there later but I met 2 of her coworkers and took their picture.
 
A lot of people plan to go to BlogHer13 a year in advance. They make arrangements to meet and hang out with specific people. Since I didn’t even decide to go to BlogHer13 until 9 days before the event, I was out of luck. Believe it or not, I DO know people online but they either had gone to the previous BlogHers and were skipping this one or had no intention of ever going. If I had just had ONE person to pal around with, I know my experience would’ve been different. I do fantastic one on one and even if I’d been with another newbie, I’d have been more outgoing. If I am trying to help someone else out, I’ll go to greater lengths than I will to help myself. Like asking directions, etc.
 
It takes a lot to make me cry. But when I do, it is the ugly cry that won’t stop. I can’t stand crying in front of people. If someone says, “Are you ok?”, it seems to make it worse. If I do breakdown and sob, it is almost impossible for me to recover. I know some people can be in tears one minute, wipe their eyes and go on but I’m just not built that way. If I get that upset, where my emotions are raw, my anguish manifests itself physically. On Sat. after going around the Expo Hall alone (again), it was like the stress and frustration from the entire 2 days had reached its peak. I got out my phone and tried to find the Serenity Suite and couldn’t. I knew it was on the first floor and should have looked for it when I wasn’t a basket case. BlogHer has the best of intentions by providing a place to go when you need a break. However, if you don’t try to locate it until you’re sobbing, I guarantee you won’t have your wits about you to be able to find it. I even tried searching #SerenitySuite on Twitter and the wifi wasn’t working (which happened for me a lot of the time). So I gave up on that idea and headed for the shuttle bus to the Sheraton. Even though maps are provided, I still ended up going to the wrong end of the building. This made me cry harder. By this time I had a phrase repeating on blast in my head where I just kept thinking “I can’t even buy a friend.” 😦
 
I felt like I’d failed. I had such high hopes that I’d be able to seamlessly find my way around, easily chat with everyone I crossed paths with, have my picture taken with a ton of bloggers, etc. Maybe my expectations were unrealistic. At that point, I was just DONE. I hated to miss the fashion show and the reception and the CheeseBurgHer party. I also felt like I was leaving in defeat. When I got on the shuttle, I had called my hubby to come get me. I tried to find the bathroom off the hotel lobby and couldn’t. I even looked at the map. I had even been to it the night before and was just too shook up to find it. I would’ve normally waited in the lobby in a comfortable chair. Instead, I went and sat out front of the hotel on a window ledge (at ground level! I wasn’t quite suicidal) and waited. The traffic was so bad that it took him over an hour to make it downtown. I got in the Jeep and burst into tears. I told my husband how my day went.
 
I don’t know why it had to be that way. I’m not that hard to get along with. I’m a fun person. I know this. I don’t need a lot of handholding. I’m not the kind of person who crowds others or is too needy. All I know is that I’m going to make a point to always include others or make the offer that they are welcome wherever I am at anytime. Maybe I should set up a Hug Booth right in the middle of the convention hallway (not the expo), where people walking by can come by for a hug. I would definitely be heckling people as they walk by, telling them to come and get their free hug. The people who were alone, I could tell them about other really nice people I met that need/want someone to hang out with. I like bringing people together!
 
If you’re familiar with Brazilian steakhouses, you know that they give you a gizmo (don’t know the technical term) that is red on one side, green on the other. It sits in front of you on the table and you turn it green side up when you want the waiters to bring you more meat. You flip it to red when you are done, taking a break or don’t want any at that time. I think this would be a neat thing to do at future BlogHer events. The people who WANT to sit alone or are not in a talkative mood, flip it to red. That way I won’t sit with you or try to talk to you. The ones with green, will be open to new people and new discussions. I will have several green side up on the table in front of me. The equivalent of a neon sign that flashes “TALK TO ME”.
 
I could have easily sugar coated my whole time at BlogHer13. Instead I am telling MY truth. I know each and every person had a different experience and perspective. The more time that passes from the end of BlogHer13, the more I’m apt to only remember the good things. That’s ok. I want to use this as a learning experience. I didn’t take away from it that I can’t handle this type of networking event. I KNOW the first time is the hardest and I’ll do better next time. Maybe I’ll even make it through without crying! 😉

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You’ll be surprised to know that after all my agonizing, last night I finally registered for #BlogHer13! On the verge of pushing the button to submit, I was overcome with a set of nerves. I stepped away from my laptop for awhile and came back and took the plunge. Hubby is very supportive and says he’ll help me in any way he can. That means a lot. He also joked that it’s a big deal for me to do this since I’m “2 days away from being an agoraphobic or a shut-in.” I laughed so hard when he said that. It’s not true but it’s kind of true. I do go out of the house, just not as often as others. (See my last post for my fears about going to #BlogHer13.) I got to thinking how when I need to take my mom out to the doctor, I can do it. Maybe I just have to pretend I’m taking her to the convention (even though I’m not) because it would be easier to take her than go alone. Now I sound even loopier than I really am. 
 
Today I woke up alternately thinking: “What have I gotten myself into?” and “What next?” I’m mostly filled with excitement now and know I will learn SOMETHING. Probably more than I even realize now. I also hope to meet people and out of 5,000, there’s got to be a few that I click with. Actually, I can get along with most people even those vastly different than me. It’s only the know it all and exclusionary types I have a problem with.
 
I also ordered my first Mini Moo Cards for pickup at #BlogHer13. In my last post I’d told of working on them and not being happy with them. Well, I went back and did them from scratch so I could get the free ones they offered ($4 fee). I copied the style, size and color of text but changed the background from black to gray. Also changed my email address to black. The dog picture is the same but the white space actually leaves room for the Moo logo they put on the free cards. I think I’ll be happy with them. I just hope 100 is enough! 🙂
 
Last night when I shared my joy on Twitter after signing up, the first to welcome me was another newbie named Di Ranere who blogs at freesamplemomma.com We are as different as night and day but what matters most to me is how genuine and friendly she was. I won’t ever forget how inviting she was and made me feel like I didn’t have to worry about going alone. I have a feeling I’ll be going up to anyone that’s by themselves and chatting up a storm. I just naturally don’t like to see others off on their own (unless they want to be) without offering them some support.
 
I’ve got to say I’m taken aback at how many people mentioned using Facebook groups to organize people they want to meet in person. I know tons of people just LOVE Facebook but to me, it’s the Axis of Evil. I’m not going to get into a rant against it because I don’t have a problem with others using it. I just don’t want any part of it. That puts me in the minority. I feel like I’m at a huge disadvantage not belonging. Yet, it doesn’t make me want to compromise my strong dislike for it by joining just for this reason. I’m not someone who joined, was really into it, got turned off and left. I NEVER joined but have seen some of what goes on and it’s just not for me. I know I’ll survive this without belonging but why isn’t being on Twitter, Instagram and having a blog enough?! Maybe people think the more social media sites they’re on, the better. I don’t agree. I try to do a couple and do them well.
 
I downloaded the #BlogHer13 app but there’s still so much I can’t figure out. Like how to sign up for the sessions that they have in the morning and afternoon. How do I get my name listed among the attendees? When do people go to the Expo hall to meet the sponsors? Are all the provided meals served AT McCormick Place? I want to go to the Newbie Breakfast on Friday but they don’t mention where it is. I assume it’s at McCormick Place. Now trying to figure out how to get there by 7:30 am and if I need to go to the hotel first or if I should simply go to the hotel to get the shuttle bus. Luckily, I have a big mouth and I can ask and keep asking until I get answers….
 
I don’t know if I’ll have time to blog anymore prior to going. Hubby has a diabetes class (which I’m going with him) on Tuesday night so what little free time I have between now and then is slowly evaporating. I want to be like a sponge and take in everything that happens at the conference so I can blog about it later. Hopefully, I’ll get lots of pictures too. Wish me luck as I tackle this totally new territory! 😉

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Due to circumstances in my home life and health, I had to wait until the last minute to decide if I wanted to go to BlogHer13 or not. As someone who overanalyzes everything, I knew I’d be torn. First I had to see if it was feasible physically. Would my leg pain and what the doctor would say about it (restrictions, etc) keep me from attending? No, I just found out on the 10th that I could manage that part. Then I researched online to see if I’d need to recover from the EMG I’m having on the 23rd and it doesn’t sound like it. So that was one obstacle removed. I had to figure out how I could be away from Mom that long. Hubby really wanted to come with me to the the conference and I know he would enjoy it. The days of the conference are his regular days off so that seemed to fall into place. Then he volunteered to watch Mom all day (both days), so I could go! That was really a generous offer and I knew I wouldn’t have to worry if he was looking after her.

 
I don’t get out of the house a lot. I don’t go a lot of places alone. I am more comfortable with someone than alone. The thought of going to an unfamiliar place alone is daunting. I’m no longer shy and could strike up a conversation with someone else once I got there. I don’t doubt that. I just don’t know how well received I’d be. Of all the people I know on Twitter, there doesn’t seem to be anyone I could meet up directly with. That and the transportation are the main obstacles. I could take the El train from the south side of Park Ridge to Clark/Lake stop but don’t know how far it is to the Sheraton from there. I haven’t taken the El but a few times and the last time was probably 6 years ago. I’ve never taken it alone. That isn’t even the part that scares me. It’s trying to get from the stop to the hotel and then to McCormick Place. No transportation goes directly to either one. It’s a matter of taking a taxi cab or a bus transfer. I’d rather walk 10 blocks than take additional transportation. Hubby says I need to do this just to get over my fear of it.
 
Financially, it is hard to justify spending money on a ticket. I need so many other things like a new laptop, a dryer, furniture, etc. But this is a once in a lifetime thing and if I don’t go now, I probably never will. The cost of the pass would be my early birthday present. I’d be more likely to go when it’s local than by myself to another part of the country. I’m afraid of being disappointed in the convention and the people. If I don’t go, I’ll always wonder if I would’ve enjoyed myself.
 
People online are blogging about the excitement they feel as #BlogHer13 approaches. They’re sharing their clothing choices and purse and shoe options. I haven’t even thought about clothes right now except that I’m the fattest I’ve ever been and most of my cuter clothes don’t fit. I’m relegated to some generic looking shorts and tops. I’m not even worried about what I’d wear. To me, people will either take me or leave me and wearing something cute won’t make them like me. At least I don’t think it will?! If it does, do I want those type of people to interact with? I don’t wear makeup and most likely won’t be getting my hair cut prior to going (if I do). I wanted to get a new pair of sandals but to me, it won’t be the end of the world if I wear my old black pair that has duct tape on the inside.
 
Looking at it from both sides, every time I remove one obstacle or realize something isn’t standing in my way, I lean more towards going. Then when I start having problems with something else, I take it as a sign that I shoudn’t go. Sunday night I had made up my mind that I would go. I wanted to order the Moo cards first, then figure out transportation, then register and pay for my ticket. Making the Mini Moo cards turned out to be more difficult than it should have been! I picked a picture of my 3 dogs and when I sized it to the cards, there was white space left on both sides. If I made it bigger, I cut my dogs’ ears off. The other (text) side I was pleased with but the colors I chose (black background with pink, purple and dark pink print) clashed with the dog pic. On top of that, I saw there was 30% off Moo cards only through that night. I was going to do it that way, then I saw they were giving 100 free mini Moo cards to anyone attending BlogHer13. I found this out after I’d entered all the info but not paid. You have to go in through a special link to do that so I’d have to start it all over again. I wasn’t happy with it anyway so I had a sample sent to my email so I’d remember what they looked like. Either I’m too much of a perfectionist or just terrible at design but I’m left with nothing at this point.
 

First try at making Mini Moo Cards

First try at making Mini Moo Cards

Checking into the transportation is when I found out about the bus and taxi options. I STILL don’t know how many blocks between the Clark/Lake El stop and the Sheraton Hotel!! If it’s 90+ degrees and I’m walking 10 blocks or more, am I going to just look like a hot MESS?! I saw on Twitter that Jennifer Evers shared a coupon code to get 20% off a BlogHer pass. So I decided to take the plunge and started filling out the online form. Then I was kicked offline and lost it. So I went on the desktop to do it over again. I put in the coupon code and the next page is the credit card info. It doesn’t show any discount! It also says that there are NO Refunds. Well, I know how my luck goes and if I “assumed” that the 20% went through and sent it, then it didn’t, they wouldn’t refund the difference. There I’d be and pissed off to boot. At the bottom of the page there was a note about if you need help filling it out to email or call this number. Hubby saw what trouble I was having and called for me. The person didn’t answer and he left his name and number. He thinks they *may* call Monday. I would think they’d be available pretty much all the time when the conference is less than 2 weeks away.
 
To make a long story short, I didn’t sign up yet because it seems like it wasn’t meant to be. One thing after another is going wrong and I’m not even trying to get there yet!! I can only imagine what kind of trouble I’d have if I made it there, not knowing anyone! Hubby couldn’t believe it either. He just kept saying “you can’t catch a break!” It’s no picnic being me. Take my word for it. With this kind of stress already, I wonder if it’s worth it. If I should just forget it, put it out of my mind and move on. I wish I had a fortune telling Magic 8 Ball that has all the answers to life’s questions. It could tell me “Outlook good” or “my sources say no.” At least it would take the decision making out of my hands! 😉 Feel free to weigh in one way or the other. There’s still 11 days left to figure it out.
 

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