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Month: July 2011

The BlogHer’11 Quit Freaking Out Edition!

The BlogHer’11 Quit Freaking Out Edition!

Because I am speaking on the Old School Bloggers session at this year’s BlogHer’11, I am going to go all Old School on you.

Here are some fears you may be having. Maybe I can help you relax a bit about them. I take the fears one at a time and go year by year with answers.

1. What if I see a group of people that look fun but I am sure they must be a clique and I want to talk to them? Relax. They aren’t a clique. They are probably a  gang. Watch for the tell-tale signs like them throwing down gang signs. When you see this, throw down your own to show you’re down with them and go over and talk to them. I know that seems intimidating.   You just might find they aren’t as scary as you first thought they might be.  They’re probably very nice gang members. (Who really aren’t very good at throwing down gang signs come to think of it.) But don’t worry about “cliques” because what you should really be worrying about is gangs.

2. What if I see someone I like but they are stone cold to me? Yes, even at a blogging conference, sometimes you come across a cold attitude. What should you do? Be nice. Show kindness. Oh, I don’t know, maybe hug them tight to show that “Hey! It’s all good! I’m a nice person!” Then? Make sure it is not a statue because boy will your face be red if you see a picture in the morning of that mean blogger and find out it was really a nice angel statue. Not that that has ever happened. But it could. Maybe. Either way, if someone is cold to you they are either 1) overwhelmed just like you are or 2) really cold because they can freeze you out in those rooms with the air conditioner down so low or they are 3)  pod people with no soul who just might show up in your room at night and eat your brains out much like zombies. Maybe they are just meanie heads. Do you really want to hang with that? Nope. See #1 and find your gang. And? Make sure you aren’t trying to dance with a statue. That would be mortifying.

3. What if I have a really mean friend who plays jokes and I end up being on the receiving end of it? Now chances of that happening are slim to none but let us go with a “that would never happen” scenario. Let’s say someone’s roommate received a cheese basket from their husband. And? Let’s say that your friend thinks it is hilarious to hide that cheese in your room. Did I mention this is the worst smelling cheese in the entire world? Ever! Then, lets say, you and your roommate spend a small portion of an afternoon wondering if the other has some serious intestinal issues because nothing is right about that smell. But *whew* you and your roommate figure it out when your “friend” decides to let you off the hook and reveal the hidden cheese. But only after she hears you both are about to demand to switch rooms because surely something died in your room.  Do not even fret over it. What do you do? You pass the cheese along to some other poor unsuspecting person all day long. Make it into something fun. But whatever you do, do NOT be the last person with the cheese. The cheese must stand alone. Of course, that would never happen, right? So don’t worry. Pranks never happen.

4.  I’m afraid it will be all business and no fun because I didn’t get into all the good parties I hear about. What? Make your own party. Where ever you happen to be. No worries there. If you see a pole (whether on a pavillion or a trolley car) wrap on and smile. I mean, it isn’t like you would be the first person to do it. I’m not saying I condone that type of behavior or that anyone else would. In fact, maybe you should resist this urge. I mean, you really don’t want pictures of that on the Internet for all to see, do you? I know I certainly wouldn’t want to look like a pole dancing, trolley girl.

5. Is there really anything to fear at BlogHer? YES! Oh, for the love of all things horrifying, yes. Now, I only tell you this because I don’t want you to be frightened if you are approached. Sometimes some sponsors can do things that are, well, less than normal. In fact, they are down right wrong and should be illegal. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but someone should. There are usually some unsavory characters walking around FREELY who will actually come up to you and TALK to you not even taking into consideration that you may stand there and scream while wetting your pants. (I didn’t say that was me. What have you heard?) But be warned. This type of behavior is considered acceptable from sponsors. I know! That is just insane. But watch your back or one of these could sneak up on you and you may not want to be remembered as the woman who ran out of the expo hall screaming. I’m just saying.

5. I don’t have the “right” clothes and am afraid I might stand out and that worries me. Really? You think anyone cares? No one cares what you wear. They care about what they are wearing. They are worried about their outfit. They are probably cussing because they thought it would be a great idea to wear something uncomfortable with shoes that are giving her a blister. It’s not like you’re going to run around a conference with a neon pink feather boa on your head. You are in public afterall. So all things considered, just be yourself and dress yourself (like I hope you have been since you were very young) and for the sake of my ears not hearing your whining–be comfortable. But, if you want to stand out, feel free to ask for a neon pink boa.

6. I’m not going to BlogHer and I’m sad/pissed/tired of hearing about it. Really? You can’t go? Suck it up. I’ve been every year except last year due to a family emergency. Of course it broke my heart but you know what? It’s a conference. They’ve had this one since ’05 and I am pretty sure they will have one in ’12. So make your own conference. Have a sleep over with your friends/kids/spouse/alone and put things into perspective. Life goes on. There is a reason you can’t go this year and I am guessing that reason is more important than whatever you might gain over the few days in San Diego. You can still connect online. You can still see pictures. There is live blogging. Seek out your friends online and enjoy yourself that way if helps. If that makes it worse, stay offline and….oh, I don’t know… get out of the house or read a book or watch a movie. Perspective. And? Know your friends will miss you but you will be just fine. Scouts honor. (Just don’t call me on the fact that I was kicked out Scouts, okay?)

I hope this helps. BlogHer has changed over the years. It has become something so different from the first year but as it grows one thing stays the same: There are real people behind the twitter names, blog titles and Facebook pages. Be kind. Be real. Have fun.

And for the love of all things horrifying, protect me from the stuffed characters if you see me screaming and peeing myself in the expo hall.

Through the broken places…

Through the broken places…

So cradle your head in your hands,
And breathe… just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe…

2 AM and I’m still awake, writing a song post
If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to
—Just Breathe lyrics–

I’ve been thinking a lot about my Mom lately. I wonder what she would say to me if I could lean on her for advice. I’ve been in a broken place. It built up over the past year. It’s a lonely place walking through the broken places. I was hoping I could find solace when I went to the beach. I always find peace there. But it was elusive. There was a lot of crying and some yelling and a few choice words shared. (Sidenote: If you find yourself in a parking lot with someone who has only known you a couple of years and has only been with you 3 or so  times in person and the two of you are yelling at each other so loud and with such profanity that a nearby mom covers her daughter’s ears, something is not right.)  We yelled with passion. We threw a few verbal punches that hurt worse than any physical punch ever could. “YOU are the one who invited yourself along.” We cried an ugly cry. I blurted out something no one should ever know about me and better stay that way. And then we hugged it out.

But something is not right when you are on vacation and that happens. Something is wrong when you feel like a stranger around people who should be your comfort and your extended home. Something is not clicking when you feel like an imposition (and are basically told that) when you go to visit family. And most definitely something is not right when you don’t or can’t stand up to your (*extended) family and tell them what you want and what you need.

In my eyes, I was doing all I could to be accommodating. It came off as not being decisive. In my heart I would try to please everyone and in the process pleased no one, hurt some and ended up being accused of creating drama. And when the one person who has never said a harsh word to me in my adult life looked at me and said I was creating drama, it broke my heart. We don’t speak often and he has never spoken to me that way.

So basically, on a vacation that I prayed would heal me, broke me. I hurt people I love. I fractured or maybe even broke relationships I have always striven  to make stronger my entire life. I lost a lot of confidence and faith in people I looked up to. I lost a lot of confidence and faith in myself. And I ended up realizing that the person they have always known does not exist anymore.  I am not a child anymore. I am no longer someone you can tell what to do and when and I will happily agree because I look up to you. I am an adult with a life so different from most of my (extended) family. And whereas I love my life, I am broken hearted over seeing things in a new way and losing what I have always wanted.  The truth is, I will never have the relationship I have wanted all my life with some people in my family. I will never be “one of them” no matter what I try to do or try to be. I will always be the “one who invited herself along” and not the one who is invited.

And I have to make peace with that. It will take time. But to quote a friend of the family, “Live the life you love and love the life you live.” That is my plan. With or without support.

That is what I want to talk to my Mom about. How would she help me walk through the broken places? What would she tell me to do? Why can’t I just curl up with her and let her tell me that it will all be okay and that I am perfectly me and that is good enough? Oh,what I would give to hear her tell me “This too shall pass” as she always did when things felt horribly wrong in my life. What would Mom tell me to do to pick myself up, dust myself off and move through the broken places? Where would she tell me I fit in? And can I ever?

I’ve been blessed that I can share this with my Dad. He and his wife have been so supportive. For that I am forever grateful. And I know they will always be there for me as I walk through this. As for the rest…

Well, I just don’t know. It’s hard to see clearly through the broken places.

Moving On

I know all the faces
Each one is different but they’re always the same
They mean me no harm but it’s time that I face it
They’ll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don’t belong
I’m movin’ on

 

—-

*By “extended” family I am just differentiating between those who are not my immediate family like my husband and 3 kids.

How email brings friends together again and brings back the laughter!

How email brings friends together again and brings back the laughter!

Thank you to Yahoo! Mail for sponsoring this post about staying connected. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Email. When you have been blogging as long as I have you tend to get a love/hate relationship with email. On a typical day I receive hundreds of emails.  Some days it can get overwhelming, but some days it can bring people into your life that have been away for so long.  I admit there are times that I have let relationships drift away. In fact, I have let that happen entirely too frequently. Yet, there are times when you least expect it you receive an email that brings you such joy you actually laugh out loud. I am blessed to have friends who can come to me through an email– whether they live down the street or across the county. When I’m really blessed is when old friends are brought back into my life through email.

Take for instance one of my dearest friends from high school. I’ll call him Harvey.  We were kindred spirits.  He was even in my wedding. Time passed and we lost touch. I thought about him often but I had no idea where he was or how to reach him. You see there wasn’t a person on Earth who could make me laugh like Harvey. In fact, people used to be around us just for the laughs. No matter how bad things were, we could laugh.  You know that comedic duo that can just play off of each other all the time? That was the way we were. We hung out on weekends, during school and pretty much anytime we could. Many times I would come home to find him there with my mom laughing and I wasn’t even there. We were just that close.

It had been well over a decade and I had no clue where Harvey was or how he was doing. Time had passed. Life had been lived. I now had three kids and lost my Mom. These are things he should know. He would love to hear about the kids and would remind me how funny Mom always was and how much she loved him. He would laugh at my motherhood predicaments and cry with me over my Mom (if I needed it) but mainly, he would make me laugh just by being the man I adore. I missed Harvey. I really wanted him in my life again.

Then, one day in my Yahoo! email box- as I am scanning through so many emails I need to attend to– I see the subject: “Harvey sends his love!”

I knew it was my dear sweet friend. I immediately replied. That started a chain reaction of emails that kept me laughing, crying and feeling so close to my dear friend. Email brought us together again.  Now, we will send each other emails, chat or just remind each other that we will always be in each other’s lives now that we found our way back to each other.

For that, I am forever grateful to email. Yahoo! mail brought my comedy BFF Harvey back to me.

This video is more about people in love being brought back together, but when Harvey was brought back to his Vicky, all was right with the world again.

 

Email kisses are just a click away

Email kisses are just a click away

Thank you to Yahoo! Mail for sponsoring this post about staying connected. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

I am most definitely an email girl. And a pack-rat. Added together that means I can show you emails from my Yahoo! mail account dated over a decade ago. It’s like my own personal time capsule all in one neat and safe location. I recently went back to see what I could find and found emails that make me laugh, made me get a bit teary eyed and some that just took me back in time to a place where I had tiny kids in the house and couldn’t wait to share every milestone with everyone I knew.

A kiss for Papa!

Using email to keep in touch is so important because my family is scattered across the country. It was a bit like the old saying “teach a dog a new trick” but we were able to get my Dad hooked up with email so I could send him updates on the kids– especially his only granddaughter who was just a baby at the time we brought Dad into the digital age. I did get more than a few emails that simply said, “HOW DO I KEEP THIS PICTURE?”  My immediate response (as is with many geeks) was to lay off the caps lock first. Step by step I showed Dad how to download the pictures I sent to him of the family. From updates on “the baby” to pictures of the boys’ latest Lego creation. It was as if he was there to share in these moments with us and not hundreds of miles away.

Even now, I send him emails with some of my favorite pictures of the kids. Of course, these are more rare in nature as it it much harder to get teens and a tween to stand still long enough for a picture than it was when they were younger.  Yet, for me it is like a time capsule of my children growing up and a wonderful way to share it with their Papa. Without even knowing me or my kids, you could go through my Yahoo! account and see the significant as well as everyday moments of my family’s life over the years. Email is priceless to me! And the ability to share the special moments in my life and the life of my kids is priceless!

This video is the perfect example of what I am talking about. With Yahoo! mail, my family is not  hundreds of miles away. They are simply a click away.

 


Vacation- All I Ever Wanted. Vacation- Had to Get Away

Vacation- All I Ever Wanted. Vacation- Had to Get Away

Ahhh, the bliss of going to the beach. No matter what is going on, I can find peace when it is just me, the ocean and a quiet mind.

My morning started like this:

My morning coffee

But I couldn’t stay on the deck all day so I eventually wandered down to the ocean to bury my toes in the sand and enjoy the calm of the waves while the kids played in the waves- laughing and having the time of their lives.

Toes in the sand...

Every night at sunset all 22 of us would gather either on the beach or on the deck to enjoy the beauty of yet another glorious sunset. There is nothing more beautiful than a beach sunset! (Even the night the woo-hoo girls went out to party. Since I know some of you were following the “would she go or wouldn’t she”  conversation on Facebook. No, I didn’t go. No, I do not regret it. Peace at the beach was more my desire but I was happy they went and enjoyed themselves. They really deserved their fun night out partying. )

Sunset

And of course, there had to be a night peace time. Oh, the middle of the night when everyone was asleep and the beach was quiet and dark was my favorite time. Just me. No stress. Nothing pulling at me but the waves as they crashed ashore. And each night I would sit in silence or tears on that upper deck alone and let the pain I was carrying crash through me like the waves hitting the shore until I found the peace I needed to crawl into bed to sleep.

My peaceful moonlit nights

The time seemed too short to be able to have the conversations I wish I could have had with my family. There were things I wish I had done but nothing I regret. I do know the kids loved spending time with their papa, cousins, aunts, uncles etc. It was a great time at the beach for everyone. (There is so much more to say about the good times we all had, but that is for another post. If I get around to it.) I will always cherish my time spent at this beach house over the years as we wind down this family tradition. It was bittersweet. The not knowing when I will see my family again is hard. Of course we have plans. We make them every year, but I know as well as anyone if not better that nothing is ever a certainty. And that? Breaks my heart. My family has always been my support in my past. And for that I am thankful. Okay, so… enough about the sad.

How do you cheer yourself up when you need a BIG SMILE? Is there a way to be even happier than at the beach? I think there is!

What better way to end a week at the beach than with a trip here:

The Happiest Place on Earth

To be continued…