I've talked before about why I chose blogging as my outlet. I started blogging right before I found out Dean was on his way and from there, it became a permanent fixture in my life. I've transitioned over the years from a typical "mommy blogger" into something else. As Tanis pointed out at Type-A last weekend, if you have a uterus and use it to reproduce, you are tagged a mommy blogger. End of story. I pretty much agree with her. I'll always use this space to talk about Dean, but he's four now. He's not hitting milestone after milestone and some of the things he says and does just don't have a place on the internet. He understands privacy now, and I have to respect that. My husband is also a private person. While he provides me with at least 10 belly laughs a day, most of the things he says are better kept between us.
So why blog?
I do it as an outlet. I do it as a release. I do it for the relationships.
I spent the weekend at Type-A surrounded by people who blog for a myriad of reasons. We all took sessions and workshops to make us better. I stretched my brain by attending sessions like "Breaking Into Podcasting," which did the important task of letting me know I do NOT want to break into podcasting. (It's important to know your limits, right?) The sessions I liked most were "Pitch and Pitchback," which talked about working with brands, and "Blogging Ethics," which will help me in my real life job as much as my online doings. Kelby Carr, who literally wrote the book on Pinterest, and who founded Type-A Con, inspired me with her humor, ease and incredible knowledge. I talked to a few brands, a couple that I'm excited by the possibility of working with, not necessarily to make bank, but to see how I can incorporate their products and services into my life.
Blogging, for me, has always and will always be about the relationships. I rode down from DC (we were visiting our family) to Charlotte with Alissa, one of my all-time favorite blogging friends. The hours flew by as we talked excitedly about our plans for the conference, our boys, our husbands, our jobs. We bonded over our mutual adoration of Diet Coke and giggled over stories from our youth. The hotel was great, a very comfortable place to spend 4 days, save the talking toilet in our room (It made sounds. It was weird.) and the ice-cold shower our first day. (It eventually warmed up, thankfully.) There was a Panera right across the street where I could get my hazelnut coffee fix. We met up with Kelli, who fit right into the dynamic. The three of us had a fantastic time together. We laughed like 7th graders, talked about very deep life issues, ate fantastic food, danced, and just had some pretty awesome girl time.
Alissa made us "Bmore and Bama t-shirts. They sparkle. I love them muchly.
I saw people I had never met, some that I had seen at BlogHer, and some who before the weekend were just Twitter avatars. I'll talk more about the people, the parties and the actual conference later. For now, though, I'm still riding the high of being with my tribe, the people who truly get why we do this.
FACT: Bloggers LOVE cannoli.
I blog for community. I blog for myself. I blog for sanity and clarity and to have my voice heard by someone.
This weekend was incredible. I jumped into my assignments as a Type-A Conference volunteer first thing, stuffing swag bags, moving products around, working registration. I was nervous and excited as I went down to the opening keynote. I quickly settled in because I was with people that get this part of my life, the part that consists of words written on a screen. I always feel a little out of my element with bloggers, mostly because I consider myself a hobbyist at this. At a theatre conference, I am very much in my element. Here? I was scared I'd feel like a junior varsity athlete who somehow ended up on the varsity bench on a Friday night. So many folks make a living on blogging or have these amazing relationships with all these brands, but that's never been what it's about for me.
I started blogging to belong to a community. And this weekend, I was with that community.
There is a lot to talk about, and I will talk about all the aspects of the conference and the knowledge I took away from it, but today I want...no, I NEED to tell you about my favorite part. On Saturday morning, I was fortunate enough to sit in a room while three incredible women, women whose words I've read for years now, reminded each of us why we do this. In a panel discussion called "We Still Blog," Cecily , Tanis, and Katherine touched my heart in a deep, deep way. Their presentation was the single-best thing I have ever seen at a conference, blogging or otherwise. They reminded us that no matter how many hits we get, no matter how many brands are courting us, no matter how many Facebook fans or Twitter followers we have, our words are what's important. If you care enough to blog, someone cares enough to read it. Even if you have three followers you don't even know about, that is three people you are touching with your stories, your experiences, your words.
These three incredible women read their own blog posts aloud to us. There was not a single dry eye in the room as they shared their hearts, their fears, their joys and triumphs with us. It was a great reminder that at the end of the day, it all started with a blog. It all comes back to the words and stories and to the people telling them.
I got up from that session with the greatest desire I've ever had to write something. I wanted to immediately get something on this space that would be read by someone, anyone. I look back at my early blogging days and I remember the people, women like Katherine, Cecily and Tanis, plus so many more, who got me through the dark spots with their humor and understanding, and by just proving that there was someone else out there who got it. As a parent, I'm on new ground every day, rolling with the punches as their thrown, trying so hard not to "break" my son. As a woman, I continue to rediscover and reinvent myself. As an artist, I continue to challenge myself and grow. As a blogger, I continue to wander outside my comfort zone.
I'm so glad there are others out there in the same boat who get it and know that having a voice to talk about these things matters so much. I"m so glad to be a part of this community.
So I challenge you, as these three ladies challenged us, whether you're a blogger or just a person (hey! we're all people! we win!), remember what you set out to do with your blog or your life and do it. Tell your story and tell it proudly. Someone IS listening.
On Thursday, I get to see my friends. These are the people whose faces normally appear in my everyday life as Twitter avatars or Facebook photos. I keep up with them through Instagram and, of coruse, blogs. It's a rare treat to get to see them in person. I am so looking forward to feeding my creativity this weekend. There are a ton of programs and sessions from which to choose--narrowing it down will not be easy. I'm volunteering, so I get to work with the lovely Shannan on setting up the Expo Hall. The sessions I'm jazzed about include ones about Pinterest, Vlogging, Podcasts and Facebook Fan Pages. There's a Blogger Town Hall meeting and several fantastic keynote speakers. And the cherry on top of it all? The Ubisoft Just Dance Party with an 80s THEME! I'm a part of Team Run B.L.O.G. and we're gonna be rockin' the 80s wear.
Will I see you at Type-A? Watch my Twitter feed starting Thursday for updates from my epic road-trip with Alissa.
I would have called this post "The Boys Of Summer," but that phrase and the Don Henley song bearing that title both remind me of this so-horrible-it-was-funny sex ed video they made us watch in University Seminar class my freshman year of college.
Dean and I went to the pool yesterday with some good friends. We had such a blast! I was very proud that a lot of the things we worked on last year, like putting your face in the water and exhaling when you jump in, stuck. He wore his arm floaties with no complaints and swam around like a fishy. He even asked to jump into the deep end. I caught him (tightly), but he did it. There's a pool at the house where we're staying on vacation. I have a feeling we'll be spending much of our time in it.
I was the good mom, diligently reapplying sunscreen to Dean, who was wearing an SPF 50 swimsuit and rashguard. We started swimming at 10:15. When we got out of the pool at 3:00 (we took a break at noon for lunch in the shade), his cheeks had the tiniest kisses of pink on them. When we got home and changed into our dry clothes, however, I looked in the mirror to discover that my own face looked like a raccoon, big white circles outlined in red. My shoulders are the color of a lobster with some very snazzy strap marks. It huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurts.
I have not had a sunburn in YEARS. I think the last time was during one of my summerstock gigs. We spent all day on a party barge promoting our shows as we cruised down the lake. One of the girls I was with suggested I rub Preparation H on my burn. I did. (If you think of what it's for, it kind of makes sense.) The burn instantly felt better and the red turned brown overnight. Score. I remembered this trick last night and quickly ran out for a tube of Prep H. GUESS WHAT DID NOT WORK!?!?!? Marcus, ever helpful, recommended soaking a washcloth in white vinegar and blotting my burned parts with it. I thought he was messing with me and that it would be horribly painful. Turns out, it's pretty soothing. The smell, however, is another thing. Our entire bedroom reeks of vinegar. Dean even noticed. He walked in and asked, "Mama, you making Easter eggs?" I got some aloe gel today, which has helped. I just can't believe I let this happen. I know better. Alas. Battle wounds and all.
We've been enjoying our summer so far. It has involved movies, popsicles, fireflies, some educational games, lots of playing with toys, stickers, painting, picture-taking, water fights and books. Dean has spent a lot of time in his underpants. (Oddly, right now he has on 2 pairs of shorts, but no shirt. I don't know.) We've all been trying to relax and just enjoy being at home. We hit the road next week for twenty fun-filled days with family and friends. We'll head to DC to visit our family, with whom we'll hit the beach for a week. On the 21st, I'll hop into the car with Alissa and head down to Charlotte for Type-A Con. There are no words to tell you how excited I am about this conference. I haven't been to a blogging conference since 2010 and I am very ready to recharge my battery and see my "tribe."
I hope each of you will have the time to enjoy the special things summer has to offer. Or at the very least, to eat a popsicle.