Looking Through BlogHer's Rear-View Mirror: The 2009 Edition

BlogHer Original Post

As we celebrate the fifth year of BlogHer.com and start cruising toward BlogHer '10, we thought it would be a nice time to do a bit of looking back through the rear-view mirror. We haven't stolen Marty McFly's DeLorean, but we are going back through the site archives and pulling up some posts that struck a chord with us. Stick your feet up on the dashboard, roll down the window and let's take a drive through 2009.

I remember well joining BlogHer back in 2006, shortly after the site launched. I was here because a friend told me I should be and while I like the writing, I found I wasn't really quite sure what I was supposed to do. I was a little intimidated, to be honest. I keep plugging away, and now BlogHer is my Internet home. But I've been there, we all have, so I can't even begin to tell you how much I loved Wilma Ham's post about her early days on BlogHer.

Dear BlogHer, I have two voices itching to let you know how it has been for me getting to know you.

Ego: Yeah, I start; it is about time to have my say about your BlogHer site and what you do to innocent egos. I tell you, you had me cringe with private and public mistakes many a time in those early days and to be honest sometimes your site still does trip me up after 2 years and 5 weeks!

Heart: Don't worry BlogHer, ego bruising is not such a bad thing, you know.

If I say, "All the single ladies!" I probably don't have to say much else, do I? Except maybe if you liked it you should have put a ring on it. Years from now, you will mention 2009 and I will think of that song, the same way that Nirvana will take me back to the house parties of my youth. The only thing catchier and more fun than Beyonce's hit song were the video parodies, lovingly compiled for us by Megan Smith.

I plowed through hundreds, if not thousands of "Single Ladies" video parodies and came up with a unique cross-section of talented and er, sort of talented individuals who with a video camera and a dream decided they too could be Beyonce. If just for three minutes.

I know we all think that we know exactly what we'd do if we won the lottery, right? Well, one BlogHer got a unique chance to see what happens when a family member wins tens of millions of dollars. It's been years since Denise's sister won the lottery, and she shared what she's learned being the big sister of a lottery winner.

My answer to the "What would you do if you won the lottery?" question has changed quite a bit because I've watched my sister make choices that I both agree completely with and disagree completely with. I've seen her change and I've seen how she has stayed the same.

Sometimes the stuff that sticks with us is part of a discussion in one of the BlogHer groups. Marie's post cracked our hearts a little as she wrote about the thing no one wants to talk about -- the death of a child.

Only those who have been to the Valley can comprehend all that you are thinking, feeling, physically suffering through.

Even so, each journey through death is singular and solitary. One of the first questions after a while that you will ask is, who am I? Who you once were is gone. Who you are now unknown. Who you will be in the moments, hours, days and years ahead are yet to unfold, so very distant in some future you can not and will not realize yet.

Even before the FTC announced changes to its guidelines on product reviews, blogger compensation was a hot topic. How should bloggers get compensated for the promotional work they do? BlogHer co-founder Jory Des Jardins weighed in on blogger compensation, asserting that the keys to success are context and disclosure.

We don't believe that the discussion is being framed properly for organizations to come to their own best conclusions. It's time to look at the finer distinctions between compensated programs that have emerged as social media enters awkward adolescence. To us, the question is not whether anyone should ever compensate bloggers, it's under what circumstances should you compensate them? And if you do compensate them, what are your obligations, and theirs?

The Internet and social networking has changed how we catch up with people who play a role in our history. I know many a person who uses Facebook to peek in on what their exes are up to these days. But Shannon de Roches Rosa opened up another way of looking at those important people that aren't in your life right now when she talked about Facebook stalking her birth son.

Of course I stalk my birth son on Facebook. How could I not? His barely-open adoption slammed shut fifteen years ago after his mother suddenly took ill and died, and the gods of irony handed his father the closed adoption he'd always wanted. I spent years hoping for information but listening to cricket chirps -- until two years ago, when a cynical Facebook search turned fruitful: he had a limited public profile! I've been checking in on him weekly ever since.

When you go on vacation, do you shut down? I'm sure like many of us you set your out of office notice and then dread the first day back to work when you have to slog through the emails that you missed. Or maybe you have a smart phone and you take "just a few minutes" on your vacation to check your work e-mail. Just in case. What if it didn't have to be like that? Could you turn off your e-mail for two weeks? That's the gift BlogHer co-founder Lisa Stone gave herself for Christmas in 2009. You must read about how she did it.

Okay, I'll admit: My inner Emily Post is keening with horror. But I can live with her. What I cannot live with is the thought of returning from a two-week vacation to ten zillion emails that will build minutely, hourly, daily, until they explode into the last weekend of my break, harshing my zen and winding me into a resentful little ball of why-did-I-even-bother?

We've heard about the mommy wars, but what about the non-mommy wars? Laurie White struck a chord with the BlogHer community when she wrote her reaction to a blog post that listed all the things lacking in the life of a woman without children.

I am tired of people being drawn into strange camps based on parenting status. Parenting choices and circumstances are among the most personal in our lives, at the same time the most obvious and the most difficult to explain. They're inextricable from our biology and our chemistry and our cultural identity, a point I'll argue all day long, because as a single, childless woman in this country I know things.

BlogHer member Mamanongrata taught us an important lesson in 2009. She reminded us that life isn't about what we can't do, it's about doing what we can. Sometimes all we can do is unravel.

I can't knit any more. Too many decades of constant computer use have left me with repetitive strain disorders and carpal tunnel syndrome. From my fingertips to my shoulders, I’m essentially a train wreck, a bundle of tingling nerves and sulky muscles that rebel any time I type more than a few sentences or click my way through too many Etsy pages.

Have you taken a really good look in the mirror lately? Do you know the person staring back at you? When you look at them do you see the places she's been and how she got to be where she is? I've been looking in the mirror a little bit differently after reading Thursday Drive's post "The Map".

But if all of those roads lead somewhere new, they also lead back, sometimes very far, to other places. If all the rough roads were closed to me, I think how much I would have missed. And if I'd only ever taken the smooth, easy ones? I’d be a little less road weary, maybe, but not me at all. I don't think I’d like that girl as much. And if I have a few traces on my face to show for it? I’m not sure I mind.

Our roads don't always lead us where we think they are going to. Sometimes they merge with other roads, with other lives. Thank you for sharing yours with us.

Did we miss a BlogHer.com post from 2009 that you especially enjoyed? Please share it in the comments so that we can all enjoy it. And be sure to look out for our 2008 edition, coming next month.

Contributing Editor Sassymonkey also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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