Thursday, August 9, 2012

Taking Risks at BlogHer 12

My personal and unintentional theme for this year’s BlogHer conference was Take a Risk. I am grieving my dear Blitzkrieg and worried about leaving Husband alone.

It took everything I had pry myself from the house, put on semi happy face, and join 5,000 people in New York for the conference. Husband lined up time out with friends so I wouldn’t worry. He reminded me how important it is to thank as many of you in person as I can for your love and support during our cancer journey. He reminded me I paid for my BlogHer conference expenses months before Blitzkrieg got sick and made the investment in myself long ago. I spent the moola. I had to go.

I brought a little security blanket with me. I made and wore a pin with Blitzkrieg on it backed by the canine lymphoma ribbon (red ribbon with paw prints) on my conference lanyard. The American Cancer Society saw it and asked me to add a pledge to their More Birthdays wall. 

Blitzkrieg donated tissue to the vet hospital’s research tissue bank where any researcher in the US can use it. Husband and I feel it is particularly important to donate because Blitzkrieg’s lymphoma did not play by any of the cancer rules. We hope our donation will keep another family from reliving our cancer story.

I didn’t realize until I arrived in New York, that I had two extra mornings to explore New York before the conference began. I grabbed my camera and took the subway (my favorite type of green transportation) all over the city. I went to the Bowery, Chinatown, the Garment District, Midtown, the Theater District, 5th Avenue, and Central Park by myself. I usually do this with Husband, the former New Yorker, so there isn't a risk of getting lost.  I got lost a couple of times which included accidentally taking an express train to Brooklyn (which is lovely this time of year) but I kept my head about me and did it. How will I learn if I don’t allow myself to make mistakes?  

I never took a cab to or from an event during the conference either. GO ME!

Central Park is as fresh air country girl as I like to get.

I took in wonderful strangeness of New York and allowed it to help heal my broken spirit. It may seem strange to you that walking with purpose in crowded streets calms me instead of a leisurely stroll in the country, but it does. Apparently it worked. I had 7 people ask me for directions during my stay (which I gave because I already knew how not to get there.) The locals said to take it as a compliment because it means I fit in.

The next morning, I put on my cute but comfy Fresh Produce dress, grabbed the matching sweater for the cold conference rooms (seriously, even polar bears would find them freezing) - it was time to go to work learning, meeting, and networking with my fellow bloggers.

Thank you Fresh Produce for sponsoring my outfit. Their clothing is everything I look for in vacation clothing. The jersey wads up in a suitcase and travels like a dream. I switched accessories to transition it from a casual dress to night - note the glow necklace headband :) All this AND made in the USA yay!
  
I tried to follow the advice I give to conference newbies: when I walk into a room and have a First Day of New School Moment because I don’t see anyone I know, I take a risk, walk up to someone and say hello. No one ever says I am not cool enough to hang out with them (although if they were smart they probably should) AND because I did that at Blissdom last year and I met Nerd Mom who I didn't know was going to be at Blogher until I saw her tweet during the conference.We met up for a great gabfest and impromptu lunch because we both realized we were at the conference, didn't have a lunch partner, and needed food. TAKE THAT RISK FOLKS!

Top left: Me and Sommer Green and Clean Mom, Katie Couric and Lisa Stone, Calley The Eco Chic and I. Middle left: Me and Ree The Pioneer Woman, HGTV's Summer Baltzer and myself, Me a giant banana Anne from Green Talk and Laurie from Groovy Green Living, my favorite author Beth Terry signs my copy of her book  Plastic Free How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and You Can Too . Bottom left: Jessica from Scribbleshop and myself, Plucking Daisies sources craft supplies at the Sparklecorn party, The Lorax is so infatuated with me he followed me from Blissdom to Blogher. I'm flattered Lorax but I'm happily married. Sorry. 

I also attended sessions on subjects that are out of my comfort zone. I’m glad I took the risk. I learned about book promotion from none other than Kathy, The Crafty Chica herself. 

Kathy is as positive and bubbly in person as she is on her blog.

Will there be a book in my future? I don't know. I've been dancing around writing a book for almost a year and wanted to know what I'm getting myself into first. I learned that it's not as easy as writing and sending the manuscript off to the publisher and making the New York Times Best Sellers List. It's up to the author to promote and sell books, not the publisher and authors rarely make a ton of cash on the first book. However, if you do it right you can lay the groundwork in order to write more books. Good to know.

The biggest risk I am most proud of was not taken by me but by my roommate and real life BFF Christina from A Mommy Story. Through post baby weight, nursing school, graduating, mommy hood to two awesome girls, third shift nursing gigs, and a lot of personal left turns at Albuquerque, Christina spent years working towards her goal of losing enough weight to move into the healthy weight range for her BMI (Body Mass Index.) If you are interested in her journey, check out her blog Losing My Hind (I love the name.)

Christina reached her goal right before BlogHer. Then she faced her fear and rocked her new body (and confidence) in the BlogHer Fashion Show. Bloggers of all shapes, sizes, and religions walked and rolled down the catwalk Saturday night. Listen up Madison Avenue, real woman have curves and we work it!

 Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Arden

I cannot tell you how excited for and proud I am of Christina. While she was nervous, (who wouldn’t be?) you wouldn’t know it from the way she worked the runway like a seasoned supermodel. She was amazing! Update 8/10/2012 7:32pm: Christina wrote about her experience on A Mommy Story and you should read it right now here because taking this risk allowed her to see "and what was reflected in that mirror wasn't just makeup, hair and clothing, but also an inner beauty and self-confidence that had been hidden for most of my life."

People go to blogging conferences for many different and valid reasons. To learn, to see friends, to network with bloggers and sometimes brands, to discover a little nugget of information that makes your blogging life better from a hallway conversation, to experience some unexpected pampering or kindness, or to be silly with a group of people who are the only ones on Earth who understand you have close friends and allies you’ve never met in real life because all they live in your computer are a few.

This year I also learned, sometimes, if you are brave enough, personal magic happens because you also decided to take a risk.

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