My mind is WHIRLING after all I've experienced, and I'm still playing catch-up from being gone, but I had to take a minute to record what I've learned and share just a tiny bit of the vision I've been privileged to see this weekend.
I'll start with a few photos, share some of the main themes of the conference, and then I'll explain what I'm going to do as a result of this incredible time with BlogHer.
First, the photos.
My point-and-shoot never quite recovered from its recent dunk in the toilet (long story), and my big camera was frustratingly heavy, but here are the images I DID capture:
This is the entry hall at the San Diego Convention Center. Heart beating fast.
Here is the first panel I attended, featuring four talented women, including Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project and Brene Brown at Ordinary Courage. (I need to do a separate blog post on this panel--it was wonderful!)
Me and Gretchen:
The Sails Pavillion where we gathered for mealtime (and even got to watch a flash mob that broke out during lunch).
Friday evening, I joined several energetic, darling women who have been part of the ONE Mom Project, and we watched an advance copy of an ABC news clip that aired later that evening.
It was a joy to meet Morra Aarons-Mele (left) and, of course, spend time with my dear friend (and BlogHer roommate!) Chrysula Winegar (right), whom I've only met once before, but who has become a treasure to me as we've worked on The Power of Moms together. Chrysula is our Director of Social Media and Marketing, and we LOVE her!
I also need to post a photo from my hotel window (it's kind of torture to be in such a beautiful place when you're spending all your time in artificially-lit conference rooms, so I soaked in as much as I could get).
A huge highlight of my trip was meeting Stephanie Nielson, of Nie Nie Dialogues. I've been following her blog for years now, and she absolutely radiates love and beauty. There is so much I want to learn from her, and we're hoping she'll be able to keynote at a Power of Moms Retreat in the near future.
These photos only represent the very tip of the BlogHer iceberg, but hopefully they provided you with the basic idea.
Now I'll move on to the main themes of the conference.
In order to see all the classes and speakers, you can look check the BlogHer website, but these are the underlying themes I sensed there:
(1) Blogging allows each of us to have a voice. BlogHer encourages women, particularly, to share their passions and perspectives, teach what they know, and enable their voices to match their influence.
(2) Blogging fosters powerful conversations. There was a HUGE variety of interests represented at the conference--people blogging about pets, food, social issues, books, fashion, motherhood, politics, travel, entertainment . . . it was quite overwhelming, but what I loved was that there was no "wrong" topic. As each of us write about the topics most dear to our hearts, and as we engage respectfully in conversations with those who are different from us, we develop compassion and understanding, which flows into every other aspect of our lives.
(3) Online communities can unite to create change in the world. I will NEVER underestimate the power of a group of committed individuals. Twitter, Facebook, and blogs might easily be lumped into the category of "mindless wastes of time," but not if they're used well.
(4) Brands are very interested in working with bloggers to promote messages and products and receive feedback from their target markets. I spoke with representatives from some of the largest corporations in the world, and it was powerful to see how solid companies, well-connected bloggers, and some creativity can yield fantastic results.
The people from King's Hawaiian bread were there, for example, with new packaging supporting breast cancer awareness. My children love these rolls, and were so excited that I brought some home.
The Johnson and Johnson company recorded interviews with bloggers on how they are using social media to do social good. You can see mine here if you'd like.
There were also dozens of fun booths set up, like the one by Hot Wheels that featured their new wall-mounted tracks. Brilliant.
(5) Although the Internet is still a relatively new frontier, the tools we have available to us today make it simple to raise our voices online. (Right now I'm on my backyard swing, typing on an iPad while my boys wrestle on the trampoline.) It's not easy to balance all I am doing with the needs of my family, but I've never felt so compelled to do so.
And now, here's what I plan to do as a result of my experience at BlogHer:
(1) Reach out. I don't want to spend my life on the computer, but I do want to invest some time and energy into building relationships with the amazing people out there. Wow, my eyes have opened.
(2) Write as much as I can, as well as I can. I know not everyone wants to read what I write (and that's okay!), but my commitment to families and motherhood can be a blessing to others, and I feel a responsibility to do my part.
(3) Build Power of Moms' offerings. We are in an interesting spot at The Power of Moms because we are both a brand and a blog. Saren and I have huge plans to grow this organization, and while we won't put it before our families, we are doing everything we can to work smart so we can reach these goals and make a difference.
I've written this blog post in bits and snatches, and now all my children are tucked in bed. I missed them terribly while I was gone, but now that I've told them all about BlogHer, they want to come with me as soon as they can. Alia and Grace, especially, are excited about building their blogs, and they want me to teach them everything I've learned. It's darling.