Monday, August 4, 2014

My first #BlogHer went a little sumthin’ like this…

The alternate title for this post is “I got a three-day furlough from baby jail.” … Hmmm, there’s a chance I’ve been watching a little too much #OITNB.

BlogHer ‘14 celebrated its tenth annual conference in my backyard (er, twenty minutes away from my backyard). I’ve only attended one other blogging conference. I’ve read so much about BlogHer over the years that the event was really built up in my head… and it did not disappoint. Here’s how it all went down.

White people can and SHOULD talk about race issues.
Whoa! Yeah, that’s right. I busted out with that doozy right outta the gate because that was my biggest take-away. In fact, I’m going to write a whole separate post about it because I feel like I have permission to talk about it now. No, more than permission – an expectation. Racism is a human problem, not just a people-of-color-problem. You’re a human. I’m a human. So I’m going to lend my voice and share all of your voices to help educate the masses. The closing keynote was a panel of extraordinary, diverse women talking about this very topic, and my note taking was fast and furious.

Herein lies the power of blogging. My little corner of the blogosphere is so small, yet I still write. Because words have meaning. Because if anyone happens to stumble upon my tiny corner, I want them to leave a different person. Or at least have more to think about. Whether I’m talking about our adventures in potty training (which I still need to share with you) or how male entitlement in our society still burns me, I want readers to walk away thinking that reading my words was time well spent.

Amazing women graced the stage
Friday morning started out with a keynote from Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess herself. She is hysterical. I’ve already read her hilarious memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, but then I found out that she narrates her own audio book. The only thing funnier than reading her book would be listening to her personally recount the stories from it. So, yeah, I’m now buying the audio book of a book I already read.

Saturday afternoon, Kerry Washington and I were in the same room. I’m a HUGE fan of Scandal – my peeps and I even wore our gladiator sandals in honor of her presence.

Kerry is smart, gracious, elegant and funny. She talked about her career (sorry, no Scandal season #4 spoilers!), new motherhood and balance. I’m not sure why I expected her to show up in a white Olivia Pope suit. Obviously she didn’t. Instead, she was more dressed down than half the audience. She wore jeans and casual top and no make-up. Okay, she probably was wearing makeup because I think celebrities are required by law to wear it all the time, but she looked flawless and totally natural.

Kara Swisher, CEO of Re/code, knocked my socks off. She is witty and clever and smart and funny, and her insights were dead on. Kara interviewed Melissa Barnes, head of global brands for Twitter, and their conversation about women in power roles seriously fanned some flames that have burned bright on this blog on a few occasions. I may have said “that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” out loud. More than once.

Alexandra Rosas, also known as The Empress at Good Day, Regular People, shared her blogging journey. She is a voice for moms suffering from PPD, and she and some colleagues started Post Partum Progress to help bring about awareness and provide support. Alexandra was such a lifeline to me after Quinn was born, and I was thrilled to finally meet her in person. And now we’re friends on Facebook, so everybody just be cool!

The 2014 Voices of the Year readings on Friday night left me humbled and sobbing. Twelve of the winners mustered up all their courage and shared their deepest emotions in front of thousands of people. Their raw, beautiful words brought us to tears, made us laugh, and drew us all closer together. Their stories are proof that we truly are spiritual beings sharing a human experience, not the other way around.

First, the Mrs. Band rocked the house…
The Mrs. Band debuted their first single “I’m Enough” on stage at BlogHer. If any moms out there atre looking for an anthem for their daughters, here it is. The “enough project” also dropped these mirror decals in our hotel rooms and asked us to upload our selfies with them to Instagram. I love this campaign so much, it’s well worth the awkward selfie. I stopped by their booth in the expo hall, experienced the Magic Mirror (wow…), and grabbed a few extra decals to bring home to my girlfriends.

… and then DJ Run brought it home!
Yes, as in Run from Run-DMC. Saturday night, my friends and I had a great time dancing to some old school hip-hop with DJ Run live on stage. It was a “throw your purses in the middle of the dance circle” kind of night!
Purse pic courtesy of Cheryl Stober from Busy Since Birth

One can (and did) have too much Red Bull
Before the conference, I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to pump and dump. There was no fridge available for my hotel room, for which I would have definitely paid extra. Lansinoh hosted a lactation tent and kept a fridge in there for us to store the fruits of our efforts, but they left the convention center at 5pm on Saturday. So I had nowhere to store all my liquid gold until Sunday morning. BOO!

While dumping it down the sink – along with my tears – was not enjoyable, I found the bright side. For the first time in a long time, I could have all the Red Bull I wanted. So I did. In fact, Hubs and the boys took the train downtown to the children’s museum on Friday (which stopped right in front of my hotel) and left a little care package for me at the front desk. What a sweet surprise to find a cooler full of Red Bull! Add his gift to the stash that I bought for myself, and you have one severely over-caffeinated blogger. Clearly, I’m not fit to be left to my own devices. 

Not about the swag
As a mother of two children, the last thing I need in my small-ish house is more stuff. Swag is actually something I least look forward to when attending conferences, and I only bring home items I will definitely use. At BlogHer, the expo hall was packed, and it was hard to be choosy about what to bring home.

Apparently, some other attendees are complaining about the swag this year. As a BlogHer newbie, I gotta ask – did they drop off bags of diamonds in the hotel rooms last year? Did little elves jump out of the reusable totes and give full body massages? I’m perfectly happy with my loot. But then, it’s not really about the swag for me anyway.

Being a BlogHer newbie can be scary and awesome
While appearing like an extrovert on the outside, the idea of being alone amongst a sea of 3,000 bloggers was enough to make me not want to attend BlogHer at all. Luckily, two fabulous ladies I met at my first conference in Boston were there, and they introduced me to more awesome women, and the circle grew and grew until we were a tribe of six. Please visit Red Shutters, Busy Since Birth, Napkin Hoarder, Another Version of Mother, and Squared Mommy because they are magnificent people and it shows in their stories. These ladies are the owners of the above pile of purses, and I’m honored to call them my friends.

Also, BlogHer hooked me up with a buddy who turned out to be none other than MomoFali! She is amazing, and she introduced me to so several other amazing people. Not to brag, but they called me The Best Newbie Ever. I hope if/when I go next year, the name still sticks.

My blogging tribe