My garden is full of life lessons. Just this week, it helped me understand what I'd learned from attending BlogHer 12 last week. When I googled to find out why the squash and cucumber seeds I'd planted had not produced fruit even though their leaves are ginormish, I learned there are parallels between that unforeseen( but foreseeable) garden result and my growth as a blogger.
A Google search suggests the first flowers of my veggies are male. Given the heat and overdose of storms along the Jersey Shore, it could be the female flowers have not have been pollinated by the male flowers or the bees. Thus I have greenery climbing walls but no actual squash or cucumbers. Google say I need to hand pollinate the plants with a small paint brush.
It dawns on me that cross pollination may be the best strategy to use when I attend conferences. Because when I went with a predetermined expectation that was not met in precisely the way I saw it in my mind’s eye, I experienced disappointment.
I went alone to my first BlogHer conference in 2010. I noticed that people were going to private parties, that many of them knew each other and the exhibitors seemed focused on one target market. I wanted some of that light but was feeling only shade.
Feeling this way I ran into Elisa (one of the BlogHer co-funders) in the hallway. She asked me rather sincerely how things were going and I responded emotionally. I do not remember her exact words, but I remember she did not "tsk-tsk" me or the way I was feeling. She acknowledged my discomfort by listening. And as a result, I was able to continue throughout the conference day like the child-I felt-I-was on the first day of school. Her response to me speaks to the warmth she, Lisa and Jory exude.
Unlike the expectation that I would grow squash and cucumbers that look like their picture on the seed packaging, I have learned to temper my expectations about any conference goal that overrides my ability to enjoy myself. Veteran that I am this year, I attended BlogHer12 totally relaxed. I refuse to run around like a banshee, to chase sponsors, brands or PR people or to pile up on swag. Understand, I am not judging with that last comment.
I was stoked by President Obama’s kick off to the conference. I had a blast at all 3 official parties Thursday evening. Friday morning I started the day in The Writing track with “Turning your Blog posts into Publishable Essays. Panelists Jennifer Armstrong, Susan Goldberg and Rita Arens helped us understand the publishing industry is no longer open to publishing books composed of blog posts that have already been published. Further they tried to help attendees understand that a blog post is the anecdote bloggers should use to express what is universal when they write an essay.
The very larger-than-life Martha Stewart was our keynote for the day. She did not disappoint and she is in her 7th decade. I am one of those early Martha followers who feels that Martha improved after she went to jail. (Note: I didn't feel she should have been punished in this way). She refused however to be broken and I am not mad at her. Vitality is her middle name.
I had a fun afternoon at the Strategic Content Development Across Multiple Media: Onstage, Onscreen, and Online. Dr. Goddess, Franchesca Ramsey, Issa Rae, and Luvvie Ajayi were our panelists. They are hysterical accomplished comedic actors/entrepreneurs. My takeaway from this panel included identification of the tools that allow one to measure a site’s social reach across platforms. Beyond google analytics, I first heard of tweetreach that pulls reports from hashtags and crowdbooster. Loved it!
I started Saturday morning with the panel Erotica Out in the Open. So if you haven’t heard of Arielle Loren Lauren Marie Fleming aka Queerie Bradshaw, Sienna Jae Fein orTawanna Hines, google them. No I will tell you. See www.corsetmagazine.com, www.funkybrownchick.com, www.datingseniormen.com, and www.queeriebradshaw.com
There was an openness to the panelist’s conversation that was refreshing and the room was filled with laughter. What about this thought: women who are older are entitled to and deserving of sex vigorous and vital, so says Sienna of www.datingseniormen. The other panelist took the conversation to other thought-provoking levels. I was expanded by the conversation.
By 11 am I became a panelist on the Blogging into Midlife panel. With me were Ann L Dunnewold, PhD., Darryle Pollack, and Lynn Forbes as moderator. The room was full and there was much audience participation. It seemed we midlifers were validated to have a forum that valued our life experiences. I felt pretty good that our panel was able to share some specific ideas for making and embracing change.
The joy of BlogHer is really in the interaction you share. From my first foray alone into the blogging unknown in search of knowledge, an audience, community and reinvention, I learned you plant your seeds for a conference: decide who you might want to meet, which sponsors you want to have a face-to-face with, what you want to learn and who the specialists in this area are. But once you arrive, you have to stay loose and go with the flow.
Just as I must hand pollinate my squash and cucumbers to yield fruit, I also need to spend more time cross-pollinating ideas with other attendees. Sometimes the fruit yielded by this kind of interaction is not immediately obvious. But it is a wizdom practice.
I have yet to find better all around programming at any conference than what Blogher produces. The Conference staff was awesome. It was my first time interfacing with them because it was my first time speaking on a panel. But they were so professional. Big shout/out to Polly and Shannon and the entire crew. Each year you can see that they have worked to have relevant topics and truthfully the programming showcases many voices.
I return each year because without fail the conference has enhanced my life personally and professionally. Not always in the ways that I thought it should but over time I recognize there are always clear takeaways if you plant those seeds. Those of you who know me know this conference was a big deal for me. Thanks for hanging in here with me even though it may not make sense to you. Ask me anything :D
Cross posted at www.boomerwizdom.com
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