Posts Tagged ‘BlogHer’

BlogHer 12: An Evolution

I’ve read a lot of BlogHer recaps this week (as have many of you). Many of them share a common complaint. BlogHer, they say, is getting too big.

If you ask me, that’s a really short-sighted view of things.

people in the main registration area of blogher

Yes, with 5,000 people running around the Hilton, things did get a little zany.

And sure, making connections in a group that large was more difficult than it was in the more intimate gatherings of the past.

And yeah, it was harder to get into some of the headline sessions.

But, you know what? That’s a good thing.

It’s a testament to how fast the women-centric blogging industry (and yes, it is an industry) is growing.

This conference started because a handful of women were concerned that the voices of female bloggers weren’t being heard. That there was no place for them to gather. And that first year, only a few hundred showed up.

That was only what? Eight years ago?

This year, there were thousands of us. And we were wooed not just by traditional, female-oriented brands (like Lysol and Hillshire Farms), but big technology companies, car manufacturers, and hell, the president of the fricking United States.

Martha Stewart and Katie Couric took time out of their schedules to talk to us.

PR companies and advertising agencies threw elaborate, fancy-pants parties to get our attention.

In other words, we are officially a force to be reckoned with.

So, excuse my French, but stop the bitching. Celebrate what we’ve accomplished instead.

Those newbies who fluttered around, getting in your way and ODing on swag? They want to be you. Give them time to grow up. Who knows what they’ll become?

Those coupon and deal bloggers, who write only as a means to an end? They’re feeding their families, paying their mortgages, and making a career for themselves. And that’s only possible because of what you’ve done.

You paved the way.

You invented a new economy.

Do you have any idea how awesome that is?

The words, and the love of writing, will never go away. People will always read your blogs. You are storytellers, and the world loves stories.

But we have to make room for new people, telling new stories, in new ways.

If we can’t embrace change, who can?

And So She Danced.

Once upon a time, I moved to the beat of an invisible drum, swaying and twirling whenever the music took me. I sang without shame and danced with abandon, moving for the sheer joy of it.

But all too soon, the music screeched to a halt.

I became aware of my body. Ashamed of its awkwardly moving parts and lack of rhythm. My goal became to blend in at all costs. To never lose control where anyone could see—and in seeing, point and laugh.

And so I stopped dancing.

Sure, there were a few exceptions. I politely shuffled at a few school dances. Swayed during slow numbers at a few more. I danced a bit at my wedding (where no one would dare laugh at me) and a bit more at those of friends.

But I always felt…stiff. Awkward. Unnatural.

Fast forward a decade or two. I’ve spent the last four hours making new friends on a rooftop in San Diego. Had a glass of wine (or three). And maybe even a whiskey sour (or two).

I enter a dark room pulsating with the bass from the sound system on stage. Hundreds of women are gyrating on the dance floor, spinning their glow sticks around their bodies as they twirl.

Photo credit: Zaneology

Laughter swirls up to the ceiling. Delighted, half-drunken hoots and screeches are swallowed by the night air, but not before they light the smiles on the faces of those around them.

For a moment, I hover on the edge of the seething throng, standing motionless. After all, I may be drinking, but I’m not drunk. And there are people here. I can’t dance.

But then someone grabs my hand and pulls me into the vortex.

I look around. At the heads thrown back, the arms flung wide, and the grins spreading from face to face. And I realize it’s okay. No one’s judging me. No one cares what I look like or how I move. They’re all lost in the joy of the evening. In the power that comes from being surrounded by a few thousand women who understand you.

And so I begin to move. Tentatively at first, but then more freely. Then as Lady Gaga’s voice rallies the women around me into another rendition of the lunchtime flash mob, I give up any remaining sense of propriety and surrender to the music.

I dance. I dance and I dance and I dance, smiling and laughing and waving at my friends. And somewhere deep inside me, something shifts. The wound that’s been festering since that first tumble to earth so long ago begins to heal.

For a few hours, I am free.

Eventually, I stumble back to my room and tumble into bed. But even as my mind escapes to dreamland, a smile remains on my lips and a song plays in my heart.

Because now I know. I can still dance.


What BlogHer Is Really About.

I know. I promised you a new post. But you know what? Getting ready for a trip without my family is more work than preparing for a vacation with them. Because, you know, I’ve got to make sure they have everything they could possibly need while I’m gone to make up for the guilt I feel about leaving them…

So, instead, you’ll get the post I wrote immediately after returning home last year. Because this? Is what I’m most looking forward to.

Right now, hundreds of BlogHer posts are going up around the blogosphere. Some will tell you about this year’s swag drama. Some will tell you about the parties. Some will tell you about the sessions.

And there’s lots to say about all of that (and I’ll tell you about it later)*.

But at the end of the day (or weekend) BlogHer wasn’t about any of that. Not really. At least not for me.

It was about nervously taking a seat next to a stranger and getting up 30 minutes later with the warmth in your heart that comes from meeting a new friend.

And the spirited debate that happens when women from different walks of life sit down at a lunch table and start talking about what matters.

It was about the massive waves of energy that emanate from a ballroom filled with 2,000 bloggers pooling their personal power to make something big happen.

And laughter-filled conversations with friends before returning to the room at night.

It was about the passion that fills hearts and lights up minds when women get together to change the world.

And margarita-fueled dinners that you wish would never end.

It’s about exploring a new city. Immersing yourself in the blogger culture. Taking risks and learning things about yourself in the process.

But ultimately, it’s about connection. About wrapping your arms around the blogging community and coming away with a slew of new friends.

It makes you feel like you’re part of something. Something big. And reaffirms your belief that together, we’re changing the world, one blog post at a time.


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