I’m back and boy does it feel good.

standard October 12, 2015 2 responses

I haven’t been to a blog conference since 2011. When this happened. I’ve been to a writer’s conference and to some small blogger events with never more than 50 people. So it was with some trepidation that I prepped for this conference, packed my bags, and set out for Atlanta.

I was excited to go. I was going to speak about setting goals and expectations at the start of the conference. I was going to sign books*. And I was going to pitch the new business** I’ve been slowly building over the last few months. Oh yeah, and I was promoting my blog and social media consulting business.

And I think that’s why I was pumped.

Last time I went to a blog conference, I was barely holding on to my purpose for blogging and being there and I was struggling with what was happening at home and the challenge of finding myself in the maelstrom that our lives had become.

I was, in short, a hot mess.

Well, friends, I’m back.

No, but really, that’s what it felt like this weekend.

When people asked me what I was working on, I had things to share, things I was crazy excited to share. When people had conversations about our industry, I had things to share, things I was crazy excited to share and discuss. And when I shared what I was working on, people were receptive and had great advice.

I got on the plane Sunday, exhausted beyond measure, but with my head spinning at a million miles a minute with ideas and plans.

And this morning, when I asked M if he was serious about helping me build my new business, I think I impressed him when I laid out, in detail, the plans that were already mapped out.

Life seriously tried to wallop me out of the game. Life failed.

I’m stronger, more focused, and more determined than ever before. I’ve learned more about myself by making it through the last 4 years, than I ever thought possible. I’ve become a true expert about my chosen industry and about what it takes to start a business and make it thrive than I would have if I’d gone down the path I thought was meant to be mine, back in 2011, before everything went to hell in a hand-basket.

I am back.

I never thought I would be.

I couldn’t be more excited to be proven wrong.

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*You can buy Aloha Also Means Goodbye in paperback or for Kindle. Or you can message me and let me know you want a signed copy and buy it directly through me.

**Sign up to be one of the first to know when The Zen Pencil launches in just a few weeks. You’ll be glad you did!

 

 

Getting out from behind the camera. Literally.

standard September 18, 2013 Leave a response

In some 20 days or so I will be boarding a plane and heading east for the only conference I’m attending this year.

I needed a year off from traveling, from shmoozing, from networking, and from trying to fit myself back into the mold I had made for myself before working for Tiny Prints.

Sometimes you just need time away to find yourself. 

I had plans to only attend Type A Parent Conference in Atlanta, then I learned about Click Retreat and decided I could stretch myself and attend two. As life would have it, something came up to make my trip to Atlanta impossible and, once again, there was just one.

I loved the thought of Click because it’s 100% focused on photography, which was something I truly wanted to work on this year, and 0% focused on my blog, which is something I really like to do sometimes.

A whole weekend spent behind the camera taking pictures in a beautiful place, surrounded by great people. Sounded like a dream come true to me.

That the delightful Grace Duffy is coming with me is both the whipped cream and cherry on the cake.

I’ve been counting down the days.

Then, this week, we received some pre-conference homework. We have to write about what “season of life” we find ourselves in and take (or have someone take) self portraits representing that season.

The homework was assigned by Me Ra Koh, one of my all-time idols, so I was all “squeeee! selfies! introspective work! yay!”

But reality has smacked me upside the head and now I’m definitely all “ack. I haven’t lost all the weight I said I’d lose. I don’t want pictures of me. I like being behind the camera. ugh. what a drag. how does one even represent a season in a photo?”

So, what’s a girl living her year of “brave” to do?

I’m asking my most no-nonsense, ‘cut the crap and just get on with it’ friend to take the photos. He’s an amazing photographer so I’m confident that the photos will look great. But mostly I’m counting on him to not let me weasel out of the homework.

After that I can go back to enjoying being behind the camera, right?

There was a time I loved going to BlogHer

standard July 25, 2013 5 responses

A year ago I saw the Facebook posts and tweets about BlogHer scroll by and felt nothing but overwhelming relief. I was so glad to be here, at my desk, in my pajamas, not worrying about sessions or getting dressed up or going out and meeting people. I was glad to not have to deal with organizing care for the kids, or being away, or any of the stress that goes with heading out of town without the family. I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to be here.

BlogHer the year before had caused one long week of angst and stress and I think I was still scarred.

This year things are different.

The pre-conference events have begun and the posts and tweets have started scrolling again, and instead of relief, I’m feeling mild angst and remorse.

There was a time I loved going to BlogHer. A time I couldn’t wait to hop off the plane to hug my long distance friends. A time I was thrilled to peruse the schedule of events, to decide what sessions I’d attend, to make plans for lunch, drinks, or dinners with new and old friends.

Today I wish I were there to hug the people I know have already arrived in Chicago. I’m feeling pangs of jealousy as I see photos of friends gathering without me. We all live scattered across the country, across the globe even, and there are so few occasions for us to hug, talk, see each other in person.

Yes, BlogHer is overwhelming and intense, but these are people I love, people I value. These are the people who inherently understand what it is to be a blogger, to work in social media. I can be myself with them in a way that I can’t with the people I know in my day to day life. There is a certain comfort to being around other bloggers, a sense of belonging I don’t feel anywhere else.

The remorse over not being there comes from an obvious place. So, why the angst?

Well, I think it boils down to this. There was a time when people would ask me what I did for a living and I’d know exactly what to answer. These days I have no clue what to say.

This is usually what comes out: I’m ah…. a blogger, who dabbles in social media consulting and blogger outreach for various companies, oh yeah, and I have a novel coming out this winter. The confusion in my answer is almost always mirrored on the face of the person asking.

I just don’t know who I am any more.

I used to blog daily. It was an intrinsic part of my day and my life. Now it’s miraculous if I post four times a month.

I used to run a thriving digital media agency with three close friends. Now instead of pursuing clients, we take just what comes our way, and precious little comes our way. (Not that we aren’t grateful for what does!)

The book stuff is real. The consulting stuff is real. It’s what fills the parts of my days that aren’t focused on the kids. But it’s not the stuff that makes me feel like I fit in at events like BlogHer.

Two years ago I had trouble letting go of what was going on at home and immersing myself in the BlogHer experience. I felt apart. Like I didn’t really belong in the crowd of happy, excited conference attendees. This year I feel like I would have felt just as apart, but for a different reason.

I have a blog, but I don’t think of myself as a blogger any more. And while I know for a fact that I’m far from being the only person who feels this way, I worry that it would have really impacted my experience at the conference.

It feels like there’s a natural lifecycle to the life of a blogger. BlogHer and other conferences cater to those in the earlier part of the cycle. Being around those people makes me feel… old. It makes me feel tired. I am envious of their excitement and energy, but at the same time sadly jaded about the entire process. I know. I’m pathetic.

So instead of stepping off a plane with a suitcase loaded with cute dresses and shoes, I’m home, at my computer, in my pajamas. In a minute I’m going to drag my kids to the YMCA so I can work out some of this angsty feeling. Then I’m going to come home and try to remember the great story idea that came to me last week. And I’ll try not to be too envious when I see photos of my friends hugging and laughing in a place I once felt I belonged.

What’s on your life list?

standard August 10, 2012 3 responses

“What makes you happy?”

That was the question Karen Walrond, leader of the EVO’12 conference session on creating your life path and blogger/photographer extraordinaire, opened with that afternoon.

Blank faces stared back at hers while the thought “tea, tea makes me happy.” swam through my head.

“Don’t let your inner gremlin tell you it’s dumb. Just make a list of anything you do that brings you joy.”

So we did.

Obviously my list was topped with “drinking tea,” but it ran on and on for four pages beyond that, with items ranging from “making my friends laugh,” to “getting into a well made bed.” As the list grew the well of gratitude in me deepened. So many of the things that fill me with joy abound in my life. Simply taking stock like that reminded me of just how good I have it and how powerful it can be to just take note once in a while.

The session progressed, leading us from the catalog of joy to the categorizing of these things and eventually to the creation of another list, our life list, or rather, as Karen suggested, our Life Menu.

“Think of it like you would a restaurant menu. Much might sound tasty, but you wouldn’t eat all of it.”

All of a sudden the heavy responsibility and seriousness of a creating a life list was gone.

This list wouldn’t be a list of things we had to do, just a list of things we wanted to do, something to give us inspiration as we went about the day to day living of our lives.

“Make sure you put things you love to do on that list,” Karen suggested. “Put easy things too, so it doesn’t seem insurmountable.”

My pen flew over the page, writing things that surprised me, things that delighted me. Some items gave me mild twinges of anxiety, others were filled with longing, pure and simple.

This is no bucket list, no 40 by 40 list, it’s just a suggestion list for those days when you feel like life will forever be predictable, when you start to wonder how and why you should keep pushing on.

It’s a list for the things you know will make your heart beat a bit faster, that you know will push you, challenge you. A list for the forging of memories.

I haven’t yet finished creating my list. Halfway through I got sidetracked by another conference attendee and got drawn into a great conversation. But it’s ok, the list isn’t something static that needs to be completed in one sitting, it’s something that will grow and evolve with me as I keep embracing living life to its fullest extent.