10 years of BlogHer

BlogHer 2014: Four Reasons to Get Your Ticket (If You Haven’t Already)

This is a sponsored post for BlogHer, an organization I’ve been a part of for nearly seven years.

You never forget your first BlogHer. Or your second or your third. Probably not even your 10th, if you’re lucky enough to have attended all BlogHer conferences since 2005.

Yes, dear readers, the venerated blogging conference has its 10th annual gathering this summer, taking place in San Jose, CA July 24-26. 10 years of BlogHerI’m giving you four reasons why I think BlogHer is so worthwhile. What qualifies me to say?

  • As a blogging newbie at BlogHer08 in San Francisco, I spoke on a panel with Pamela about building bridges.
  • A bit more seasoned, I attended BlogHer10 in New York, met more bloggers in more circles and sought new technical information a blogger needs to know.
  • I spoke on another panel at BlogHer12, called Help — My Blog No Longer Fits Me!, help for a slumpy stage that can happen in the life cycle of a blog.

#1. BlogHer: The People

There is nothing quite like finding your tribe. When you’re in a room full of women who get your blogging passion, when you exchange bloggy business cards and feel “real” alongside your idols, when you finally embrace someone you’ve been dying to meet, well, you feel you’ve come home to something special. The people around you are ignited and energized by the same things you are.

You’ll have a perma-smile throughout the conference. speaking at BlogHer

Mel, Kathy, Kir, me

Me, Eden, Mel, KateyPie

#2. BlogHer: The Content

Uh, YEAH, there are actual workshops taking place. And they are AMAZING. Some are led by experts and some by your peers.

As always, this year BlogHer has an impressive line up of Keynoters: Jenny Lawson (a/k/a The Bloggess), Kerry Washington from the TV show Scandal, Arianna Huffington, and comedienne Tig Notaro.

Keynote at BlogHer2014

Kerry Washington, BlogHer14 Keynoter

Don’t dismiss the peer-led workshops. I have found them to be invaluable and interactive and I return to my blogging space with new ways to pursue my goals.

#3. BlogHer: The Fun

There are gatherings in hallways. There are parties in banquet rooms. There are myriad ways you and your new or old friends can have a good time, either at an organized event or an impromptu one. party at BlogHer conference

Sheri, me, Kristin

BlogHer party

Food and Life blogger Justine

#4. BlogHer: The Swag and The Brands

If you bring an extra suitcase, you will certainly be able to fill it with swag, goodies given freely by BlogHer’s generous sponsors. I love Eden’s story of her swag, considering her compassionate heart (and the alternative of getting her huge box o’ swag back to Australia).

Not only do the sponsors give away some really cool stuff (I’m still using a PUR kitchen water filter and a Crest electronic toothbrush), but they also underwrite the cost of the conference so that prices are kept affordable.

In addition, when you walk through the Exhibitor’s Hall, you have a chance to interact with brands and find those that you might want to work with via your blog.

BlogHer: Get Your Ticket

BlogHer attendance is capped at 2500 this year. So don’t wait to get your registration. Right now you can get 25% off with promo code BHMPCO (limited time). I wish I would see you there, but I’m committed to a family obligation. If you do go, please let me know afterwards how it was for you. — I’d love to hear your recounting.

You’ll never forget it.

This is a sponsored post for BlogHer, an organization I’ve been a part of for nearly seven years.

seven of hearts

Seven (And I Don’t Mean the Creepy Brad Pitt Movie)

Cards-7-HeartI’ve always loved seven, or, as Brad Pitt might type, se7en. It’s prime. It’s imbalanced, yet sturdy. It’s grounded but reaching. Other than zero, it’s the only digit that requires more than one syllable. Seven is special.

I feel the same affinity for the number 7 that I do for the letter L. I lo7e them both.

There are seven chakras, seven dwarfs, seven notes on the musical scale, seven colors of the rainbow, seven days of the week, seven wonders of the world, seven seas and seven continents. Some championships come from a best-of-seven series. There are seven sisters and seven samurai. I suppose there may even be some fun in the seven deadly sins if you have a measure of self-control.

In numerology,

Acute heptagram (blue)The 7 is the mystic and the philosopher, the number of creative, mental activity and spiritual evolution. The 7 relates to cycles of time and the movement of the sun and the planets as seen from Earth. Many vibrational things, such as chakras, colors, and musical notes, come in 7s. — Source.

Hmmmm….d’ya think that resonates for me?

Seven years ago, thanks to Melissa Ford and Daisy Orenstein, I gave birth to this blog. So, happy birthday to this space (on Mother’s Day, no less)! It’s had half-of-7 names, 137 x 7 posts,  1183 x 7 comments, and an estimated 90,000 x 7 words (seems like more. It has  brought me 70 x 7 new friends (at least) and the richness of getting to know readers like you.

Thank you, Friends, for joining me on this 7 year journey and celebrating my hepta milestone with me.

Wanna send me to seventh heaven? Tell me something about your favorite number. What do you like about it?

Playing card by me SVG Playing Cards  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Heptagram by User:Fibonacci. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

mother's day can hurt, infertility, adoption

How to Survive Mother’s Day if You’ve Experienced Adoption or Infertility

Flickr - Whiternoise - Dead flowers, Pére Lachaise CemeteryNot everyone gets warm Hallmarky feelings about Mother’s Day. While the maternally privileged (like me, currently both having a mom and being a mom) buy cards and flowers and/or receive cards and flowers, others dread this time of year.

Many of these Mother’s Day dreaders are connected through the experience of adoption, some also through infertility. Who are some of these outliers?

  • Women experiencing infertility
  • Women who are waiting to adopt or who have adopted
  • Women who placed a baby for adoption
  • People who were placed for adoption

Though the situations are different, healthy strategies for getting through mid-May with one’s sanity intact are similar (as excerpted from the book I wrote with my daughter’s birth mom, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption).

mother's day can hurt, infertility, adoption

3 Tips to Surviving Mother’s Day

1. Find balance. You don’t want to dwell on your pain or discomfort with the holiday, but neither do you want to deny it’s there, because denial gives it power. When emotions arise, acknowledge them — maybe even aloud (“OK. I’m feeling really angry that other people are celebrating what I lack”) — and release. You may have to do this more than once (ha, once would be too easy!). Maybe a dozen or a hundred or a thousand times between now and Monday, May 12.

2. Stay present and in your physical body. When we grieve our wounds, we are in the past in our emotional body. When we worry or are fearful, we are in the future in our mental body. So find something to do that keeps you in your body and present, like physical or creative activities or just plain stillness.

  • Move. In the remaining days leading up to Mother’s Day, plan to walk, run, hike, dance, mountain bike, swim, rock climb, do martial arts or yoga or another activity. Physical movement prevents emotional stagnation.
  • Create. Supplement all that movement with creativity. Write, compose, paint, draw, choreograph, mix a song, rap, blow glass, make pottery, or plant and tend a garden. Creating allows your energy and emotions to flow and not get stuck.
  • Find stillness. Meditate, do tai chi, or simply find focus in whatever you are doing — walking, cycling, washing dishes. Practice finding this place of presence, of uni-tasking and being where you are, of calming the chatter of your mind.

3. Connect with others. Find a tribe of people who have walked or are walking a similar path.

  • Infertility and Adopting: Melissa at Stirrup Queens tends a ginormous blogroll sorted by neighborhood (such as assisted reproductive technology, third-party reproduction, adoption, living child-free). Creating A Family is also a rich resource, both its site and its Facebook community. And Keiko Zoll from The Infertility Voice has compiled a helpful list of infertility support organizations.
  • Birth/First parents: Birth Mom Buds and Concerned United Birthparents are two of many online support group options. For in-person gatherings near you, do an Internet search of “birth parent support” plus your zip code.
  • Adoptees: Adult Adoptees Advocating for Change, the Child Welfare Information Gateway, and Adoption.com offer resource sections for adoptees. You may also conduct an Internet search for “adoptee support” plus your zip code to find face-to-face meetings near you.
  • Everyone: If you don’t find an in-person support group to suit your needs, why not start one?

More Tips from the Trenches

Let’s hear from experts, those who have been there, done that and survived infertility and adoption.

Tips for Women Longing to be a Mother

  • Keiko Zoll of The Infertility Voice reveals 3 tips on the RESOLVE New England website.
  • Cristy of Searching for Our Silver Lining shares her survival guide.
  • Melissa Ford of Stirrup Queens offers her advice and encouragement.

Tips for Women Waiting to Adopt and Adoptive Moms

  • Creating a Family lists 42 things you can do while waiting — any of them during the month of May.
  • Brandy, a Colorado adoptive mom, says, “Don’t let anyone steal your hope, joy or excitement. If it would make you feel good to receive a Mother’s Day card, drop a not-so-subtle hint to someone who would arrange for that.” Sarah, another mom via adoption, offers, “Avoid people who don’t understand or who make you uncomfortable. On holidays, be selfish and indulge in what you need, and not what others expect of you.”
  • If Mother’s Day is difficult because you feel guilty or sad about your child’s first mom (or even if you don’t), says Rebecca Gruenspan, “reach out to her and thank her. Let her know her child is doing well. Give her some peace of mind.” Being kind and respectful makes you feel good, too.
  • Michelle, adoptive mom of teens,advises that you expand your view from the short-term BECOMING a mom to the long-haul BEing a mom. Read a book about adoptive parenting. Ahem.

Tips for Birth/First Moms

  • Chanel Young, birth mom in Texas, says, “Be honest with yourself about how you are really feeling and dealing and if the situation permits be honest with the other mother. I am very lucky to have such an open and understanding couple, I don’t really know how I would deal with this if they weren’t as inclusive of me or if it had been closed rather than open.”
  • Ames Markel, who is an adoptee as well as first mom to a 13 year-old son, says, “It’s OK to cry! Mother’s Day is hard. Let yourself grieve, but always remember that your decisions were made from pure love. And love is a wonderful gift any mother can give her child.”

Tips from the Trenches for Adopted People

Last but perhaps most, for the children-who-become-adults at the center of adoptions…

  • Author Laura Dennis counsels adoptees (and first parents) to allow themselves to heal, especially if they are in limbo about reunion. “For anyone who may have emotional triggers about Mother’s Day, my advice is super simple, but not at ALL easy: Even if you are hurting, you can HEAL. You are not powerless. You can work on your own pain, your own hurt, to make yourself the most whole, ready, emotionally open, and secret-free person you can be, no matter what comes.”
  • Deanna Doss Shrodes, pastor and writer at Adoptee Restoration, says, “For adoptees who do have children and find this holiday hard to navigate with first mother or adoptive mother issues, I recommend shifting the focus to celebrating your own life as a mom.”
  • Cultivate kindness from within, says writer and adoptee JoAnne Bennett. “Feeling bitterness from the losses [of my birth mother and adoptive mother] has not been an option for me, but rather the ‘hard parts’ have strengthened my belief that being a caring and sensitive human being with a genuine love for one another is what is most important.”

If you’ve endured infertility or adoption, what coping strategies have worked for you around Mother’s Day?

Flower image by Joshua Veitch-Michaelis (Pére Lachaise Cemetery) via Wikimedia Commons 2.0.
Life preserver image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Open adoption parenting & mindful living