…hung out this weekend. And that’s my contribution to the misleading headlines you might or might not click on today in the triple w.
Actually, there’s truth to my claim. I was at BlogHer14 and Kerry — as we all called her — was a keynote speaker at the lunch on Saturday. I was very close to the stage, which was a very cool place to be to take everything in. This was the first conference I’ve attended as a blogger. I’m pretty sure it was the first conference at which I’ve been an attendee. I’ve worked conference events on behalf of companies, but never walked thru the doors as an individual that the conference organizers hope to reach and engage.
If you attended BlogHer14 with me via Instagram, you know I was initially very nervous. Before I identified the event and where I was, some of you thought I might be speaking and you wished me well. Which I loved. I totally felt supported, so thank you! I had to ask myself why I was feeling so nervous when there wasn’t really anything on the line. Oh wait. I’m totally laughing over here. Yes, of course what was on the line was the fact that I’ve authored this blog for 6 years now and have only shared pictures from my shoulders down. I could possibly meet fashion bloggers at this event! My full identity exposed! A few people, including my husband, asked what I was going to do about that. I don’t even know what to call “that.” Disconnect would probably be the best description. When I analyze why I’m blogging, what I want to say and when I think about how or why to continue blogging, I get a strong urge to walk away and not write in this space again. What am I contributing anyway? Clothing reviews. How important is that? It’s absolutely what I feel is important to share in this space, but I know the Internet will move along at light speed whether I participate by blogging or not.
Another reason I entertain walking way — (Don’t worry, I’m not baiting you to beg me to blog. I don’t have plans to stop.) — is that I’ve carried the sentiment this blog was started by accident. However, if I think about it, my personal philosophy doesn’t really allow accidents. I know that I often approach things from a side entry, like my sun sign Cancer the Crab. Never moving in a straight line. Some of the events that have happened in my life appear to be chance, but if I look back I know that’s not the truth. When I started Gigi’s Gone Shopping, I needed an escape. It started that way and I’ve chosen to keep it that way. I didn’t think about what I have to offer in my own, unique voice and valiantly begin blogging. I just thought it would be cool to share reviews of clothes. So I did. It was an escape. Once in awhile I’ll talk about different topics with more layers (slaps knee). But mostly I simply share what clothes look, feel and fit like.
Any time I’ve been asked how I started blogging, I always say that someone from J Crew Aficionada (JCA) asked me to take pictures of a jacket and I chose to drop the photos in a blog, instead of putting them on Flickr or PhotoBucket. When telling the story, I go on to say that I don’t know why I started a blog vs just using a photo hosting site. For some mysterious reason, I simply felt compelled to write the initial post. The story doesn’t include my desire, from about 2 years prior, to have a review site. I’d always wanted to have a review site, but didn’t really flesh out a vision for it or think about what I hoped to gain should I try to create one. I don’t think you have to have a mission statement or business plan to start a blog. My desire to review was just so generic that I couldn’t truly get started and sustain it. My first attempt was thru LiveJournal and I did all of one post. It felt unfocused, so I gave up and never really thought about trying again. When my mind was ready, I guess, I started this blog. Therefore, the updated version of the story would be that a review blog was always something I’d wanted to do and finally made it happen after finding JCA. Not an accident at all.
Now I’m sitting here, wondering what my point is. Ah. The conference. BlogHer14 was a 3-day event. I skipped the intro day and did the main 2 days. I feel like I was gone for 2 weeks. I stayed overnite and the three nites I was there was the longest I’ve ever been away from Mini G. I left my guilt at home and didn’t take it with me to the event. I know she’s always in excellent hands w/George and that my mom was going to keep her one night. I was also prepared for Mini G’s refusal to talk to anyone on the phone on demand, including her parents. I was put on speaker phone for her to hear my voice, but she gets upset when we ask her to talk thru the phone. I didn’t feel hurt when she wouldn’t say anything. Not even to mama. The guilt that I left at home was…How dare you take 4 days/3 nites for yourself? Are you really worthy of spending that amount of money? An event you impulsively decided to sign up for a week before it began? An event that takes you away from your family and responsibilities!? You should drive back-and-forth. No hotel. You’re going for the hotel room? Alone? That’s indulgent! You’re not even part of the BlogHer network. There isn’t even a lot of fashion on there. There’s humor and thought pieces. What do you have to offer? Cue the unintelligible wah-wah-wah voices from the adult characters in Peanuts. The barrage of guilt laden questions went on and on in my mind and I had to cut off the noise. It was unproductive. I told George I was nervous. He gave the best advice: “Be a sponge.” I knew I wanted to be open and receptive. The sponge analogy seemed to cut off the doubting voices.
So how did the conference go, is the main question, right? It was a really emotional time for me. I had an emotional breakdown the first day around 4:55p in the Expo Hall. I chalked it up to trying to get everything together for the trip…food for the house, get packed, the hotel was a few miles away from the convention center, so I wondered if I should drive to the event or figure out how the light rail works, etc… I figured I was finally having a “release” of all of that stress. There I was, sitting at a small cafe table across from a life coach and every time he asks me a question, I begin to answer but can’t because I start crying. I was really hoping to get my tarot cards read for fun at the table next to his, but there were two women ahead of me and I knew the expo would close before I’d get my chance.
I sat down at the life coach’s table because it was open. Now and even at that time, I am sure it was no accident that it happened that way. I was really trying to keep it together, but it was a struggle. So I reached in my bag for the napkins I’d tucked in in case I got something on my dress. I never expected I’d be crying, but there I was, sobbing away. I felt a little bad, thinking people will think this guy is really good or they’ll be completely afraid to sit down with him. I was also thinking…I cannot believe I am having a breakdown in the middle of this convention! He invited me to come back the next morning since the expo was closing for the day and we weren’t really finished. I made my way back to the hotel and called a friend once I got to the hotel. I also talked to George right after. I told them both about the experience, still welling up with tears from time to time. When recounting the the experience, it occurred to me that when I was sitting with the life coach, I had 3 bags with me. A 7 lb laptop, tote bag and a convention bag. It was all very, very heavy after a long day. Such accurate symbolism of how I’ve been feeling for a long time. I have a lot of ish. It’s heavy. How do I carry and manage it all? Oh, plus I want to do it perfectly and look good awhile doing it. Wave your MLK fan if you’re with me.
Solid, positive themes resonated from the conference within me. In contrast, some women felt alienated, disconnected from the event. A few told me they didn’t like the first day, but things really opened up on the 2nd day for them. Not everything went perfect for me. My internal GPS is dyslexic, so there were logistical issues. I felt like I was running late at times even though any strict adherence to clocks was self-imposed. I pushed the little bumps aside and kept the sponge goal.
As a result, what resonated with me is to be authentic. Be yourself. I pretty much never take time for myself, so maybe that’s why I’ve felt so fragmented for so long. Because there is no me right now. It’s been a long time since I’ve cultivated the core of who I am outside of being a mother, wife and daughter. One obstacle that makes it hard for me to feel confident I’m being myself is that I often try to see myself thru others’ eyes.
What will they think if I say x? There are thousands of sentences I’ve typed over the years and deleted before posting here. What will. they. think? As my friend, Kerry — cuz of course we’re like that now — would say….it’s none of my business what anyone thinks of me.
I sure hope I can get there.
p.s. At the conference I bought keynote speaker Arianna Huffington’s Thrive, which is all about self-care & well-being in the digital age. I got it signed, too!