Breathing New Life into My Blog

Emerging flower

Remember that time more than 10 years ago when I sat down and wrote my first blog post? Well, you probably don’t, but I do. I was a new mom — my daughter Ava was just 8 months old — and I was on fire with a cause. The cause doesn’t matter much now, but my passion at the time did. I was a mom on a mission to make the world a better place and I had to start somewhere, anywhere. And so I did. I signed up with Blogger and “penned” my first post. And then my next post and next post and before long, I was hooked.

Over the years, I’ve shared so many stories with you — many of them very personal. I shared joys and laughter, so many firsts in my children’s lives. I shared my passions — my goals and dreams not just for myself and my family, but for our country and our world. And then I also shared the crippling sorrow of losing my sister in a car accident and the helplessness of trying to figure out my anxiety disorder and how to treat it.

And then…I kind of…faded away. After blogging for years, my children were getting older and life kept happening, and I found less of a need for my blogging outlet. And yet, it’s something that’s always been in the back of my mind. Calling to me softly.

And so I’m here now and if you are too then that’s all we need. Just you, me, some comfy chairs and a couple green smoothies (or a cup of tea if that suits you better). We’ve got some catching up to do, my friend.

Rather than write a lengthy post that sums up all that’s been going on in my life for the past few years, I will simply start blogging again — perhaps flashing back here and there, but also just recounting life as it currently is and writing, as always, about the things that matter to me. So that is where we begin. Stay tuned.

photo credit: Ava Gates

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On BlogHer’10 and Writing

A week and a half ago, I attended my second BlogHer conference. It was many things to many people. For me it was inspiring, thought-provoking, educational, interesting, fun, exhausting, exciting, frustrating, troublesome, inspiring, surprising, exhilarating, awesome, and (yes, I’ll say it for the third time) inspiring.

Unlike my first year of attending BlogHer, I made a point of pacing myself this year. I decided to only attend a few of the panels and some of the keynotes. I made plans to do things outside the hotel (like sight-seeing with my friend Heather from A Mama’s Blog). I made sure I had some downtime in my hotel room each day. I made sure I ate a lot of vegetables and fruits. I didn’t try to meet and network with as many people as I could, but instead decided to spend quality time with smaller groups. (Not that there’s anything wrong with networking, but my heart just wasn’t in it this year.) I feel like I’ve been living a slower, simpler life at home lately and wanted that kind of experience out of BlogHer too. I wanted to take it easy at BlogHer, have fun, and be inspired. I think I succeeded in doing all three.

The three panels I chose to attend (and it was tough deciding because there were many I would’ve liked to attend) were Writing Inspiration: Stoke Your Creativity, Radical Blogging Moms: Don’t Even Think About Not Taking These Bloggers Seriously, and The Mega “Mindful Monetization” Session. I took something away from all three of them, but the one I’ve been thinking about the most lately is the Writing panel.

You may have noticed that my post count has gone down significantly lately. No? You haven’t noticed? Aren’t you sweet. ;) As always, its not that I don’t have anything to write about, its that I’ve been lacking the motivation to just sit down and write. The writing panel gave me some ideas on how I might “stoke my creativity” and work on getting in the habit of writing – even for just 20-30 minutes – every day. (And ya know, I actually took notes with a pen and paper in that panel and now I can’t find my notebook at the moment or I’d mention more specifically some of the ideas shared. I think I’ll write another post down the road with those ideas.) Now that doesn’t mean I will crank out a blog post every day, but I am hoping that the practice of writing every day will encourage me to blog more frequently. The more I write, the easier it will be for me to write a post when I want to. At least in theory.

Anybody want to commit to writing 20-30 minutes a day with me? :) We can do this together.

I will write more on what I found so inspiring (there were a lot of things, mostly people) and what was troublesome and frustrating (not too terribly much, which is a good thing) in a later post.

Also later this week I will be blogging about drinking alcohol while pregnant and whether or not pregnant women should be served by restaurants and bars. It should be a good post and I expect a lively discussion to follow. ;)

Photo credit: Flickr – Adikos

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Addiction, choice and serenity

It’s a new year and a new decade, so I figure why not jump in with both feet and tackle a heavy, possibly even taboo, topic? :P Sometimes ya gotta strike while the iron is hot. And right now? It’s smoking hot.

I mentioned the word addiction to my 5 1/2 year old daughter Ava the other day. I can’t remember exactly what I was saying at the time (probably grumbling about my husband Jody and World of Warcraft), but I wondered later if using that word with her was the “right” thing to do (not to mention that I was grousing about her dad – a whole other issue).

Ya see, addictions have been a part of my life since I was born. In one way or another I’ve been exposed to them throughout my entire life. If I wasn’t around someone who had an addiction, I had one myself.

My addictions have varied over the years, but I just recently discovered how far back my propensity toward addictive behavior goes, think a little older than Ava’s age. And now here I sit nearly 30 years later, on my computer (another addiction), typing about it. Ironic, huh?

Jody and I were talking a couple nights ago about the excessive computer use in our household and he said something like, “I wonder what our lives would be like if we didn’t have the computers?” And the first thing out of my mouth was, “That would make a great blog!” :P So then we joked that I’d have to write my blog entries in a notebook – old-school style – and then take a picture of the page and post it on the ‘net, presumably all from my iPhone since computers would be out of the picture. (Though I’m not sure how I could justify having an iPhone if I was swearing off computers, but anyway…) We got a good laugh out of it, but seriously, my life revolves so much around computers.

I’ve been feeling kind of depressed about my computer usage lately too. It’s not that way when I’m writing and actually feeling productive, but it’s when I sit here for a stupid amount of time and walk away not having accomplished anything and not having made any real connections with anyone other than “liking” someone’s status on Facebook or commenting on a random Tweet or two. I’ve started feeling like I’m being sucked into an abyss and I’m not sure how I’m going to get out of it. It’s not having a blog that sucks me in. The blogging, the writing, the researching, and reading thought-provoking/entertaining posts, etc., is all of the stuff I enjoy. The things I’m proud of. It’s the mindless drivel that’s been sucking the life force out of me. The hitting refresh waiting for someone to say something. Waiting for someone to talk to me. Waiting for anything. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

And the irony (there’s that word again) is that Jody and I are trying to work on our marriage. In the evenings, at least, I have another adult here in the house (Jody) who I could be interacting with. We could be speaking to each other instead of interacting with the “internetz.” Yet we both feel this pull to the internet. After all, as we talked about at our couple’s therapy session yesterday, it’s because of the internet that he and I met in the first place. Here’s that word once again. This time say it with me – irony!

I digress. The point is I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching the past several weeks and discovering a lot about myself. Some of those things make me proud of myself, while others make me feel pretty craptastic.

Life is all about choices. I want to make smarter choices, not only because I think the future of my marriage depends on it, but I believe my children’s futures depend on it too. (Oh and there’s also that pesky thing known at my happiness – another thing I’m still learning about.)

That brings me back to talking about addiction with Ava. There’s a history of addiction on my side of the family and some tendencies on Jody’s side as well. However, I want the cycle to end with Jody and me. I don’t want my children to have to carry it on (in whatever form they may) as they get older.

Right now I know that I need to find the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, but I also need to find the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. By changing what I can – what I actually have control over right now, which is only me, myself and I – I have hope for the future. My future. My family’s future. I can’t change the past, but I can change the present. And I’m going to work on it one. day. at. a. time.

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Confessions of a first-time BlogHer attendee

My first BlogHer experience is over with and I’m left wondering how it can already be done. While at times it seemed like the weekend would never end (or rather that I would never sleep again), it also seemed to go by in a blur. I already miss the women I got to know better over the weekend – women who are more than just blogging buddies, but who are friends. I decided to compile a list of sorts with some of the things from the conference that surprised me, made me smile, had me laughing out loud, saddened me and even made me cry. Without further ado, here are my BlogHer confessions.

Once my husband and kids dropped me off at the Denver airport Thursday afternoon for my trip to BlogHer ’09 in Chicago, I didn’t really have any anxiety the whole weekend. I did take 1/2 Xanax Thursday night, but only because, after lying in bed for hours, I could not fall asleep and I was hoping it would make me tired enough to finally crash. It did.

I don’t usually dress the way I did at BlogHer. I rarely accessorize, but I wore a necklace every day I was there – sometimes two different necklaces in one day. I bought nearly everything I wore there new (or second-hand) before the trip. I definitely used BlogHer as an excuse to get myself some new duds.

Thanks to Twitter, I found another BlogHer attendee to share a cab with to the Sheraton and, during the drive, discovered we had quite a bit in common.

Annie from PhDinParenting and me
Annie from PhDinParenting and me

My roommate Annie was much taller than I expected her to be. She was also very nice, considerate and quiet as a mouse when she woke up in the morning before me.

Allie from No Time for Flash Cards, Casey from The Beautiful Letdown and Jenni from Zrecommends
Allie from No Time for Flash Cards, Casey from The Beautiful Letdown and Jenni from Zrecommends

Three of the women I hung out with the most (other than my roomie) were Jenni, Allie and Melissa, although there were so many others that I met up with for a couple seconds, to a few minutes, to several hours. In other words, way too many names/blogs to list. Just know I enjoyed meeting every single one of you. I have no complaints!

I often felt torn on who I should spend my time with. There were so many fabulous women and so many places to go and only so many hours in the day/night that it was hard to pick where to go and who to hang with.

When “they” tell you you don’t have to go to every session and you should take time to just chill and relax during the conference, believe it. The weekend, while amazing, was incredibly exhausting and I wish I would have purposefully scheduled in a nap or two.

I confess I didn’t recognize some people who introduced themselves to me. However, upon going home and seeing their Twitter avatar or going to their blog, it then clicked who they were. A-ha! I think everyone should have their Twitter avatar on their name badge. It would make identification so much easier. :)

I approached a few women thinking I knew them, but it turned out I did not. It was fine though. I’d rather say, “Hi, do I know you?” than regret never asking.

I didn’t take nearly enough pictures, but I’m happy with the ones I did take.

Katja from Skimbaco Lifestyle and me at Bowlher
Katja from Skimbaco Lifestyle and me at Bowlher

I teared up after running into Katja on the elevator and then having a chat about our past struggles with anxiety in the hallway (after she teared up). Chatting with her was one of the highlights of my trip.

I dripped “juice” from my chicken sandwich down my shirt and into my cleavage while enjoying room service on my bed Friday night. Even though my bra had dried “juice” on it, I wore it on Saturday too.

I woke up with a killer headache and threw up once twice Saturday morning and didn’t emerge from my room until noon. I don’t see how I could have been hungover (since I only drank two and a half glasses of wine the night before), but I think the combination of getting very little sleep for several days, not eating the kinds of food I’m used to, and having so much going on just all caught up with me. Thankfully, once I got a little food to stay in my belly, I was fine the rest of the time.

Sommer from Green and Clean Mom and me
Sommer from Green and Clean Mom and me

I was surprised by how much fun I had with Sommer and Jennifer Friday night. They were both a riot! I laughed so hard my face hurt.

I was kind of disappointed by some of the breakout sessions I attended. I walked out of one of them (I felt the content was seriously lacking) and felt another one I went to was rather lacking too.

Inspiring green bloggers - Maryanne from MCMilker, Beth from Fake Plastic Fish, Lisa from Condo Blues, and Lynn from Organic Mania
Inspiring green bloggers - Maryanne from MCMilker, Beth from Fake Plastic Fish, Lisa from Condo Blues, and Lynn from Organic Mania

I surprised myself by raising my hand to talk into the microphone during the Green Blogging session. Public speaking didn’t kill me! (Though it did make my heart race for a few minutes.) I hope to write more about the green blogging session (which was easily my favorite) at a later time.

I packed way more clothes than I wore, but forgot to pack my toothbrush and razor. Thankfully, the front desk had both.

I didn’t have to pump the entire weekend, but I did manually express milk a couple times. Never got engorged – thank goodness.

I didn’t make it to either of the BlogHer sponsored cocktail parties.

I watched too much HGTV on the plane ride home and have all kinds of projects in mind for myself (and ones we will need to spend good $ on) on how to stage our home for selling next year. Just what I need – more projects!

I was surprised by how excited and crazed some women seemed to get about swag (free stuff). The consumption and waste I witnessed at times throughout the weekend saddened and frustrated me.

Although I rarely drink soda (pop), I had a Pepsi at lunch on Saturday to help me recovery from my headache and upset stomach. It was one of the only things that sounded good.

I was pleasantly surprised that a few women deliberately checked in on me to see how I was doing (with my anxiety and all). I thought that was super sweet of them.

I was also surprised that The Blog Frog wanted to do a short video interview with me.

I didn’t really truly miss my kids until I was on the plane ride home. Then I missed them terribly and couldn’t get home fast enough. (For the record, Jody and the kids did great without me.)

A small piece of me hoped my 2.5 year old son Julian might forget how to nurse while I was gone. He remembered and I was honestly relieved.

Jenni from Zrecommends, me, Ivy, Steph from Adventures in Babywearing, and Tara from Feels Like Home
Jenni from Zrecommends, me, Ivy, Steph from Adventures in Babywearing, and Tara from Feels Like Home

I was surprised by how many amazing, talented, funny, inspiring, sweet, eco-conscious, adorable blogging women (including several local bloggers from Colorado) I kept running into and yet I still left the conference with a long list (in my head) of more I never got to meet. (Next year, right?)

Annie - PhDinParenting, Jenni - Zrecommends, and I on the red carpet at Bowlher
Annie - PhDinParenting, Jenni - Zrecommends, and me on the red carpet at Bowlher

Someone told me that as soon as BlogHer ended this year, I would already be looking forward to doing it all over again next year. She was right. BlogHer ’10 is in New York City (be sure to register early so you get in before it’s sold out) and I’m already planning on being there.

For those of you looking for more pictures, check out my BlogHer09 flickr stream.

Lastly, thank you sooooo much to my sponsor Stonyfield Farm and their organic Oikos Greek Yogurt for helping me with my trip expenses. I really appreciate it! (And everyone I gave an Oikos Greek Yogurt coupon to was thrilled.) :)

Edited to add: Oops! One last thing! I got so many compliments on my photo cuff bracelet at BlogHer and I wanted to tell anyone who’s interested in getting one where you can buy them – Check out Wonder if I can get them to sponsor me next year. Ya think? :)

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BlogHer 2009 or bust???*

BlogHer '09 In Real Life
*Alternately titled: My Neuroses About BlogHer
Last year, as a blogging friend of mine and I sat at home on our computers attending BlogHer in Second Life instead BlogHer in real life in San Francisco, we made a pact that we would do whatever it takes to get us to the BlogHer Conference in 2009. Neither of us have yet to experience the awesomeness that is the BlogHer conferences. Sure, last year we participated in some of the BlogHer in Second Life events and that was a lot of fun, but nothing, I can only imagine, like actually attending the conference IN REAL LIFE, WITH REAL WOMEN.

Unfortunately, life circumstances beyond her control have made it difficult if not impossible for my friend to attend BlogHer this year. I really wanted to go with her, but I understand that there’s just not anything she can do to change it for this year.

I, on the other hand, was told yesterday that CEs (BlogHer contributing editors) had just one day left to register for the conference. Still unsure whether or not I would make it to Chicago in July, I filled out my registration, held my breath, and hit send. For all intents and purposes I could be at BlogHer in July. I’m now registered! But I can’t say with 100% certainty that I will be there.

I’m still working on some health issues and while I’m definitely seeing improvement and am pretty sure I will be doing a lot better by July, it’s always a crap shoot, ya know?

Also, due to the fact that my good friend can’t attend, I have no idea who I could room with. I wanted to stay with someone I’ve known in person, who really knows me (more than just what I put out on my blog). That’s not an option at this point, so what do I do? Post a BlogHer roomie want-ad and hope that I get someone I’m compatible with? Am I making too big of a deal out of the roomie situation? Does who you room with really matter?

I worry too that going without a close friend will leave me to fend for myself, something I’m not the best at doing. I’ve never been a social butterfly. I worry that everyone will already have their groups of friends they hang out with and that I won’t find a group to be a part of. Again, it’s probably silly, right? But it’s a fear of mine nonetheless.

My other concern is over how my son (who will be 2 1/2 at the time) will do without na-na (nursing) for the several days I’ll be gone. It will be my first time ever being away from my kids overnight. We’re working on night weaning with Julian right now and I don’t think that will be an issue come July, but what about nursing during the day? Maybe he’ll decide he’s done while I’m gone. Maybe that will be OK. Maybe he will start back up again when I return. Oh, there are so many questions.

And then there’s the question of how will I pay for my trip? Should I try to secure a sponsor or two to help with airfare and hotel? It certainly would make going a lot easier if I had some help paying for it. It all just seems so overwhelming.

I know, logically, that my kids will be fine, that my husband Jody is totally capable of caring for them in my absence. I know too that I could be fine at BlogHer. I might be nervous. There might be some uncomfortable moments for me, but I think that overall it would be an amazing experience. I mean, that’s why I wanted to go in the first place, right? To experience the awesomeness of it all. To meet the many women I’ve corresponded with only virtually over my past 4 years of blogging. To learn more about writing and to be inspired to be a better blogger (something I could really use as of late).

So what do you all think? Am I up for a trip to Chicago this summer or should I just lock myself in a padded cell? Will you be there (at BlogHer, not in my cell)? Do you want to sponsor me? And does anyone need a roommate? ;)

Lastly, please welcome Crunchy Domestic Goddess’s newest advertiser Turtle Park Tots. Jennifer, the owner of Turtle Park Tots, is a mom of two boys (similar in age to my two kids) and lives near me in Denver. Please stop by and check out her selection of organic bibs, changing pads, and baby and toddler blankets.