I got home yesterday from the whirlwind that is Blogher, the annual ginormous conference where bloggers from all over the country gather to learn, network and eat and drink for three action-packed days. This year it was held in New York City, which made going for me a no-brainer. It was fun to meet writers in person whom you immediately recognize from their websites. And it was especially great to reconnect with writers from Bloghers gone by. Here are some of the highlights:
- S-T-R-E-T-C-H: Blogher ’15 was chock-full-of-speakers, addressing everything from Internet trolls to maternal health challenges and featured an A-list lineup including “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, “Every Mother Counts” founder Christy Turlington Burns and the Goop-y Gwyneth Paltrow. But the story that resonated most with me was told by Teneshia Jackson Warner, a multicultural marketing expert, who spoke about those defining moments we all have in life. She told the Blogher audience about leaving a good job that left her wanting more and having the tenacity to land her dream job with hip hop mogul Russell Simmons. “When you have a moment before you, be willing to stretch into it,” she told us, and I knew just what she was talking about. I knew that to get what I want, I’d need to do some stretching of my own.
- Take what you want: “Selma” director Ava DuVernay is a badass. She’s really the very definition of a boss ass bitch. She closed the conference on Saturday with a great discussion about the dearth of women – especially those of color – in Hollywood and really gave the impression that she was kind of over putting up with bullshit. “Women have been trained to ask for what we want instead of taking it,” she told us. “We’ve been indoctrinated in a culture of permission.” I’m gonna stop asking and start taking, too.
- Divorced parents need to get over themselves: I lunched with Gwyneth Paltrow on Friday. Well, there were probably about 1,000 of us there, listening to her speak while we ate our turkey sandwiches and faro salads. Say what you will about Ms. Goop, I kinda like Gwynnie and think she gets slammed a lot by trying to be forthcoming about her personal life. Anyway, I was especially impressed by this portion of her conversation:
- Conferences are more fun when you’re part of a posse: Dudes, I went to my first Blogher in Chicago two years ago and knew ZERO PEOPLE. Like, not a one. Of the four blogger/writer friends I made that year, I mostly stayed connected with two — Carpool Candy and Em-i-lis — and both were there this weekend and it was, in a word, a lovefest. I’m really getting good at surrounding myself with solid people and we added a few more to our crew (Chew. Nibble. Nosh. and Smiles and Duct Tape) and it was lovely having a posse to pose with the weirdAquafresh guy and share a lovely plate ofburrata.
- Blogher makes me ballsy: In my regular life, I don’t like taking risks. I always feel like I’m bothering someone or acting needy. But for some reason, being at Blogher makes me nervy. I ask editors to meet for coffee. I go out to dinner with bloggers I think are funny. I tell writers I admire how much I like their work. And I’m not even drunk.
- Trust your instincts: I initially planned on staying in my room solo until I noticed a blogger I’d met online and chatted a bunch with put out on Facebook that she was looking for a roomie for the conference. It took about two seconds for me to decide that A: I could use someone to help split the hotel bill and B: She seemed like a great girl. At any rate, she seemed like someone who wouldn’t put a pillow over my face while I slept. And she’s also from New Jersey and likes cats, so how bad could she be? Err … But it turned out, Stacey Gill of One Funny Motha is not only funny but a pretty great all-around girl. She was friendly and inclusive and is a lovely addition to my growing blogger posse.
- Network like it’s your last day on earth: I got into Manhattan on Thursday afternoon and by late Friday night I was seriously tired of talking and I still had another 24 hours to go. Thanks to Stacey, I met a bunch of people I maybe wouldn’t have met at the conference and I had the great good fortune to shamelessly hand out my new super-gorgeous biz cards, compliments of Solari Creative and Moo.
- It’s all about the writing: Sometimes, I get distracted by all the bullshit. All the noise like networking and social media and forget what the whole point is: my writing. I was inspired this weekend to spend more time working on that writing and developing a larger project to start shopping around. I’m not getting any younger, for fuck’s sake.
- There will be bread: I went into the conference thinking I could just stick to my regular no carb/no sugar (or really the almost-no carb/almost-no sugar) diet. But that proved impossible. I mean, nothing is impossible but I’m just not a great committer and between all the sandwiches the hotel put out for our lunches and the loaf of very delicious bread I ate at our 10:30 p.m. dinner on the rooftop of Eataly Friday night after a super long day, I came home feeling less than skinny.
- Girls named Amy rock: What is it about girls named Amy? Why do I love them so much and feel such an affinity towards each and every one of them? They’re usually super awesome (although tread softly around ones that are amazing) in many respects. This weekend I connected with a great writer who blogs at The Amy Situation. You should check her out. I feel like this isn’t the last we’ve seen of each other.
I came home Sunday afternoon and ate a big bowl of kale at my favorite new eating spot to counteract all the bread and spent the rest of the lying on my bed to escape the heat and read the paper. I feel motivated and excited by my fellow bloggers and buoyed by all the support.
Time to stretch.