BlogHer14: My first blog conference.

Last week, I went to my first blogger’s conference, BlogHer14 in San Jose, a three-day affair. For my readers, BlogHer is what I call the BIG BLOG in the sky, a website home to just about any type of blog imaginable in one place-- a directory and community of mostly women bloggers, founded by three women. It’s been sixteen years since I’ve done anything “professional” or traveled by myself.  I was a little nervous heading into a big unknown.

 

BlogHer Founders
BlogHer Founders

Getting ready for the conference felt overwhelming: outfits, business cards, documenting family itineraries for teens and Dad.  Arrival was scary too: Where do I go? Who will I eat with? How do I talk to other bloggers so I don’t seem overanxious or naive? Will they want to talk to me? Will I learn anything? Except for the fact I left half my wardrobe at home in a hanging bag on my bed, it all worked out. Luckily t-shirts look great with skirts. I learned. I was inspired. Empowered. Enlightened. Exhausted.

 

Celebrity Speakers

I had no idea so many famous women were coming to speak at this conference. It was probably stated some place I didn’t have a chance to read before hand, so it was a nice surprise. BlogHer has grown into a powerhouse. I knew this, but I didn’t really know because I rarely look up from my own blog to “the big blog in the sky.” That’s a lot of street cred in my book.   I felt like I was at a live marathon Oprah show.

Kerry Washington
Kerry Washington: "Fund the Arts."

 

Kerry Washington is a doll, really down to earth. Twice she looked out to the audience after hearing a baby cry; new moms do that, even Hollywood stars. Of course she is a big believer in funding the arts. Scandal wouldn’t be the same if she didn’t have drama classes to keep her out of trouble in the Bronx as a teen. Arts are the first to go in schools, a tragic loss. To me, they provide a therapeutic outlet and make the world a more beautiful place, just ask my sixteen-year-old who plays piano for study breaks. She promotes presidential candidates too, Obama and hopefully Hillary Clinton. I like how Kerry gives back to her craft and to politics.

 

I’ve only recently come to know about Tig Notaro the comedian. She had a terrible two years, a breast cancer diagnosis the biggest blow. Out of her trouble, she found a way to make breast cancer funny. She cursed her A-cups for years, only to have them turn on her, “Kill her,” Tig told us. I loved just being entertained over my lunchtime salad. Although Tig made it clear working the lunch crowd was out of her comfort zone.

 

Arianna Huffington:  Get more sleep.
Arianna Huffington: : "Get more sleep."

My biggest surprise, how much I loved Arianna Huffington. I only vaguely remember her with her husband and the run for governor of California. She was full of funny, wise one-liners. It was all Guy Kawasaki the interviewer could do to keep up with her. My favorites: “Get more sleep. Sleep your way to the top.” And, “High heels were invented by men who hate women.” As I mentioned, I live under a blogging and motherhood rock, so I was pleased to learn Arianna wants to hear from us bloggers and promote us on her site, The Huffington Post. My tablemates commented on how “writing for free” is getting old. The flip side, if your blog post goes viral, that’s a very fair trade.

 

BlogHer Celebrities

BlogHer has its own celebrities. Since BlogHer celebrated ten years, veteran bloggers were invited to speak about how blogging changed their life. The most inspiring of the entire conference for me was Alexandra Rosas. She is like me, a mom who didn’t know what she was getting into with blogging. She didn’t believe she had the experience or know-how. Her blog gave her confidence to make her mark on The Moth, a Grand Slam Winner; Listen To Your Mother, show director and NPR, a regular contributor. I kept thinking with every statement, “me too” or “I want to do that.”  She makes me excited to be a blogger and to reach out more with my writing.  Anything is possible.  I feel like she is who I hope to be in five years.

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