A friend had suggested I attend BlogU, an annual bloggers conference in Baltimore, to help prepare me for marketing my book later this year. I signed up early, but then put it on the back burner until the day before the event.
Book editing, photography exhibit preparation (my first one ever landed on the weekend before the conference and another one is scheduled for the weekend after), and website redesign were already too much for me to do everything well, so I let BlogU go until hours before my departure.
Many of the other participants were busy networking weeks beforehand, sharing their links, out-funnying each other, posting multiple times a day on the BlogU Facebook page.
My website was getting a facelift, so I waited until just a week before the conference (when the new site went live) to step into the fray. It was really loud there so I retreated back into my safe little world.
The challenge for mindfulness writers publishing on social media is that we value and protect stillness in our lives. Our happiness is linked to stepping out of the fray and appreciating where we are in this moment. We do what we can to avoid drama and to quiet the crazy-making voice in our heads.
The blogosphere isn’t very conducive to these priorities.
Believe me, I wasn’t always like this. I used to be the loud, funny, often screaming drama-feeding mommy with a glass of wine in her hand. I just wrote a whole book about how I finally found peace and contentment in my life, so all I’ll say here is that, a few years ago, I would have been much more “fun” (to outsiders) at the BlogU conference.
The irony is, the theme for the Saturday night party was “Middle School Awkward.” At 8 p.m. the night before the conference, I went to the thrift store and found some high-waisted, wide-legged jeans and a peasant blouse (late 1970’s middle school). It wasn’t a cool hippy peasant blouse, but a just-off-the-fashion mark wannabe peasant blouse.
My awkwardness was further enhanced by my being 20-30 years older than most of the other people there. They all cheated, since none of them looked authentically awkward. Even the girls dressed in their Catholic school uniforms looked cool.
I got a cup of wine to try to look like I fit in, but I didn’t actually drink it since my oncologist told me that alcohol increases my risk of breast cancer recurrence. Yay.
Fortunately I had found a small clan of equally awkward — and thoroughly lovely — women from my generation. None of us have huge blog followings (which made us even more uninteresting). Terri writes about coping with the tragic loss of her son four years ago. Tracey writes about renewable energy. I write about how to incorporate mindfulness into our daily routine. And Justine, whom I had looked for but didn’t meet until the closing gathering, has a gorgeous blog called LiveNowandZen — right up my ally.
I came to think of us as the island of misfit toys. None of us came out of the conference with any prizes. All of us were overwhelmed. But we were all supposed to be there for one reason or another. Justine and I spent a luxurious, effortless afternoon together at the Baltimore Aquarium (the photo’s from the jellyfish exhibit) and had crab cakes at the waterfront before she flew back to Colorado. Establishing that connection was worth every penny of the conference.
For me, personally, the workshops taught me how much I still have to learn. With so many online marketing strategies to absorb, how does one do it without being connected all the time? How can I be an example of mindful living when I’m connected all the time? I can’t, so I won’t.
The good news is that I’m now comfortable with not doing and having everything all at once. Multitasking is a myth. It’s scientifically proven that our brains can only do one thing at a time. And there are only 24 hours in the day.
I will continue to protect chunks of my day for grounding myself, whether it’s through meditation, photography, connecting with nature, or exercise.
And I will pull out one thing at a time from the heavy file of BlogU information I’ve brought back. First on the list, Pinterest. (Thank you, Anna Luther! I started your online course before the conference so didn’t take your workshop there, but meeting you in person inspired me. Pinterest’s capacity to promote my writing and photography work at the same time appeals to my former economist self’s quest for efficiency.)
Hats off to the BlogU organizers for offering such a wide range of workshops and networking opportunities. Your passion, energy, and sense of purpose (“a rising tide lifts all boats”) made a difference in the world!
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