BlogHer this year was hard. Being in the middle of 5000 mostly women bloggers at the world's largest social media conference kind of freaked me out a lot. The only way to combat this fear was to nurture myself by doing things like biting into a delicious biscuit that contrasted nicely with my pants.
Waiting for Katie Couric to talk, I found myself sandwiched in-between Aussie bloggers Laney from Crash Test Mummy and Fiona from Mummy Daze. (Technically Laney is a Kiwi, but we claim her as our own. Like, pavlova.) We had a rich, substantial talk over lunch. About step-parenting, blogging, women of influence. I had a cry and they rubbed my back.
It was a huge inspiration to hear Katie Couric speak, about everything. Her stellar career, her hot legs, amazing guns ..... her pain and anguish about losing her sister to pancreatic cancer and her husband to bowel cancer. At the age of 55, Katie has a new TV show launching in one month simply called "Katie." I love this, and could have listened to her all day. I thought of the recent axing of one of Australia's best TV shows, The Circle. We need shows like this, shows with strong, smart, intelligent discourse from women of all backgrounds. (There's actually a huge demand for them, TV producers. Somebody should do something!)
One of my favourite sessions was Blogging the Fine Line Between Your Identity and the Issues ... with three extraordinarily strong and opinionated women. I love women who are not afraid to express what they believe and who they are in the world. Because usually, that kind of strength is borne from some rough times and heavy lessons. Kelly from Mocha Momma, Faiqa, and Deb Rox - THANK YOU for reassuring me that women can hold big conversations in this space. We're allowed .... and actually, it's often a waste when we don't.
Because what happens when a bunch of people converge - on or off line, to talk about their lives, their real issues, the problems they face? Well, there's a huge chance that they get listened to.
President Obama addresses BlogHer attendees live, 2012.
Recently, a group of prominent Australian women online were invited to morning tea with the Prime Minister of Australia. I was lucky to be among them ... to have the opportunity to ask PM Julia Gillard any goddamn thing I wanted. So I did - twice. There were rumblings in the press afterward, that she'd targeted "the soft vote." Which was laughable - she wouldn't be so stupid as to be so condescending. She gets that the collective power of online voices is rising, and she wanted to know more about that.
The last panel was one of my favourites - Laurie Writes and the beautiful soul Schmutzie spoke on the fate of personal blogging and the perils of honesty. By then, the #BlogHer12 hashtag was confusing the hell out of me with opposing tweets on blogging, how to make money, doing it for the love of it, maintaining boundaries, and has anybody found a breastpump please RT. I decided to hire a car and drive to a recovery meeting in Detroit .. see if Eminem was around, bump into him accidentally.
But I didn't. Because I can't drive on the wrong side of the road but mainly because I'm married to an amazing guy who waited patiently and went out exploring all on his own while I was in the conference.
And when I finally got back to our hotel room, he had a delicious present for me.
Inside was this ....
A hunk of rectangular silver with words on it ... like, a talisman.
I don't know how he knew I needed this particular permission at this moment in my life but I do. It's good to stride the world doing and saying things that mean things and make a difference ... but a lot of us can't because we hold ourselves back.
Imagine if we didn't?
A huge, MASSIVE thank you to Maybelline NY for partnering up with me on this trip to NYC for BlogHer. I'll have posts spilling out for a while about the people and conversations, the realisations and what I learnt. I really appreciate the opportunity.