Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blissdom, part 2: Giving back, hanging with the Harry Connick Jr. band, 10 ideas and someone get me out of my pj's

Ever since I came back from Blissdom, I have been experiencing a phenomenon called Bliss Brain: My head is so full of ideas and gotta-dos, I don't know where to start. So I'll just do the world's longest Blissdom recap of tips, ideas and eye-openers:

Seek out encouragers. A motivational coach by the name of Kevin Carroll gave the crowd a big pep talk (and wow, was he peppy), and this was one of my favorite rules of success. It's all about having what I call a Team You—people who support what you're doing, who motivate you, who are proud of you. Dave's on my team, of course. And then there are my friends Wendy, Hedy and Paola who regularly give me props and encouragement. And then there are new friends like writer Mare Henderson, who leaves messages on my Facebook page such as "Max = superhero." And mentors like the lovely and talented Jo at Cup of Jo who is always generous with advice; social media pro Kim Moldofsky from Mom Impact (go register at her site to be share your opinions on new products); and Nancy Martira at Ketchum, another social media guru who recently helped Twitterfy my little brain. FYI, I regularly answer emails from some of you, but if any of you ever need advice, just say the word. And then I can hit you up for some. Like, would any of you want to come over and help organize my basement?

I may have been separated at birth from someone else. Because, and Katy can vouch for this, approximately half of all the people I met at Blissdom thought they knew me from somewhere. That includes Nobu and Calvin, two guys from Harry Connick Jr's band who Katy and I bumped into after they'd performed. Calvin said, "You look familiar" and I cracked up. I did not tell anyone that I was recently featured on America's Most Wanted, let's just keep that between us. The guys were supercool, we talked with them for an hour and a half.

Give back to your blog pals. OK, here's a mea culpa: Lately, I have been so sucked into blogging and work that I have not been very good at commenting on other blogs. After this conference, I promise to be much better about that. I will not, however, be able to come to all of your homes to organize your basements. Laurie from Tip Junkie did a great seminar called "Connecting With Your Community of Readers" and here's a recap.

There were 500 people at this conference, and I was psyched to meet up with a bunch including the lovely Megan from Sweet Sadie Marie, Kim from Mom Tried It, Debbie from Vodkamom (it is hard not to like a woman with the name Vodkamom), Allie from No Time for Flashcards, Elizabeth from The Write Elizabeth, Sibi from Pearls & Grace, Rachel from Hounds In The Kitchen and Bridget from The Ivey League, who I first met at BlogHer. At one sessionI sat next to Jen from 4tunate, mama to quadruplets, and I have to admit I stared and wondered how she looked so amazingly good. I also met up with a few outstanding long-time bloggers: Deb from Deb On The Rocks; Megan from Velveteen Mind (whose sweet girl inspired severe baby lust); Catherine from Her Bad Mother, Michelle from Scribbit, Carmen from Mom To The Screaming Masses, Cecily from Uppercase Woman and Tanis from Attack of the Redneck Mommy. Also, shout out to Jessica Smith, a woman who talks as much as I do (and that is no mean feat). And the fabulous Lisa Leonard, who makes exquisite jewelry and has a seriously huge heart.

Give back to the world, too. At one seminar, I met Louise B. from Mom Start. She pitches in with a site called Bloggers Give that's all about getting giveaways...for charity. Idea being, when you get giveaways from a company, ask for another one for charity. Such a simple idea that could have a lot of impact. I am going to start doing that, then donating the giveaways to local and national charities. I also met the Kristen from We Are THAT Family and Robin from Pensieve, who are part of an incredible group, CompassionBloggers.com. Compassion Bloggers are women who use their influence as bloggers to help children in the most poverty-stricken parts of the world. Kristen is headed to Kenya next month; Robin went to Calcutta last year. Amazing women, amazing effort.

If you need help, just ask. The awesome Melanie Nelson from Blogging Basics 101 answered a bunch of questions for me and then yet another one when I saw her in a hallway. Jill from The Diaper Diaries called her husband to get advice for me on how to Twitter from BlackBerry, further enabling my web addiction. Corvida Raven of She Geeks told me about two good apps: Fotobook (a WordPress app that imports photos from Facebook) and Zemanta, which suggests photos and links for you as you blog.

Kim from CraftyMamaof4 kindly snapped this picture (alas, trumpeter Shamar Allen was not pleased) and offered words of wisdom on having kid #3 (I swear, I have nothing to report).

I may seem like a "firecracker" (Katy's description) but I am weak. Very weak. Me in the Blissdom sponsor area: I have a nice chat with Nicole at the Weight Watchers booth about doing their online program, then head over to the ConAgra area and down my body weight in their Alexia Onion Strips Crunch Snacks.

Step away from your computer. I practically have mine chained to hand, because I blog and do freelance writing. But during the "Inspirational Writing" seminar I attended, Stephanie Precourt from Adventures in Babywearing urged us all to get out there and live life. Which I basically know yet sometimes neglect to do. Today I stayed in my pj's till about 2:00, when Sabrina came home from school and said, very reasonably, "Mommy, why are you still in your pajamas?" I had no good answer, so she gave me a time out.

Want to grow your blog? Try the new product Blog MiracleGro! OK, kid-ding. Here's what to do, some of which you probably already knew: Comment on other people's bogs. Link to other bloggers. Network with bloggers who are way bigger than you, bloggers whose blogs are about your size, bloggers who are smaller than you. Offer to clean their basements. Have good photographs. Write well and write compellingly; the words "content is king" kept coming up. Also, see if you can get Harry Connick Jr. to guest post for you. Last, don't obsess about how big your blog is. In the words of Blissdom founder Alli Worthington, "The traffic to your site doesn't define the quality of your work or limit the possibilities to shine."

If you're worried about privacy, quit blogging. Because everything is transparent on the web. From the get-go, I decided to use my kids' real names. I started this blog, in part, to raise awareness about kids with special needs, and I felt that using the kids' names had to be part of those reality checks. I've had fleeting concerns about exploiting them, but was reassured by something Catherine from Her Bad Mother said at the "Memoir Writing" seminar: "If you're coming from a place of loving your family and being fascinated by them, then you're good." That said, this also came up at the seminar: If you're at all worried that something you're going to put up will later embarrass your child or your family, don't put up that post. In all fairness, I haven't really told you much about myself. I am not really a fugitive of the law or a man or anything, but I am a longtime magazine editor who's worked at Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, YM (remember that?), Self. Lately, I've been freelancing for magazines and consulting/writing for sites including Parents Connect, MomLogic and babble. Also, I am wearing the same pajamas I woke up in and it is 1:26 a.m.

It just doesn't pay to be a control freak. Despite the very specific list of instructions I left about the care and the feeding of the children, this is what happened. I called home on Saturday and Sabrina announced, "I watched TV all night with Daddy! And then I was grumpy in the morning!" Then on Saturday night Dave zapped me a picture of Sabrina and sure enough, she was wearing the same shirt she was wearing when I was left on Thursday. I guess not changing your clothes runs in our family. While I was away, Sabrina developed an addiction to some dumb-ass game called Cluck-It Chicken, Dave developed an addiction for ordering dumb-ass stuff off ebay and Max is still addicted to purple (surprise). But, Dave gets props because when I came home the house was in decent shape and the kids were totally happy. And I was one blissed out mom.


  1. What a fantastic recap--I feel like I was there right along with you. It sounds like you had a WONDERFUL time, and got some good ideas and motivation as well!

    I don't blog, I don't have the computer skills, time, energy or inclination, to say nothing of the wonderful talent you have (I love your topics and the way you write!) but I am an enthusiastic member of your audience! And you've given me some good leads on other blogs with interesting topics, too.

    How happy you must have been to learn that your family managed while you were gone--I'll bet they had fun breaking out of their routine and staying up too late and eating the wrong stuff...don't we all enjoy that at times!

  2. Wow, that was a busy few days and a lot of information. Thanks for sharing it, a lot of valuable tips there. Nothing at all wrong with wearing PJ's until 2pm, not in our house anyway. I wish I could do it more often :) Jen

  3. You are so cool...Glad you finally came out of the closet about who you REALLY are! Sounds like you had a blast! One day I will figure out how to keep up with the blogging, because I really enjoy it, but for now I just don't have the time! Although I have some really good stories to share...so maybe I just need to stay in my pajamas and get back to it! :)

    And I really mean it...you are really cool!

  4. Ellen,
    I asked Katy if she packed H.C. jr up in her suitcase but I don't think she did. Did you? I think that's the least you could have done for all of us stuck at home! LOL! It sounds like you had a great time! Glad of it...

  5. Thanks for sharing all that info! It is really helpful stuff.

  6. Great recap! And I must admit, it's hard for me, too, to take my own advice (I freelance, too) but there is so much more life to live out there than online. It's just hard to see sometimes!


  7. Great post - very interesting!!! I think it's a little overwhelming even for some people that didn't go to Blissdom! Most of the blogs I visit have link to many other amazing bloggers, and I've visited (and bookmarked) way too many for me to really follow lately!!! There are so many great people out there, and IRL too :-) I remember (and used to read) YM!

  8. Thanks so much for sharing this. It sounds like a fabulous conference. I may be one of the people picking your brain on some of these ideas. Thanks again! (hope you'll post links to your writing pieces when they're published, too!)

  9. It was great connecting IRL. I'm sure we'll see each other at other conferences in the future--sounds like you are hooked.

  10. God, Ellen, you are funny! I am glad you had a blast. Love to hear about it. I am off to check out some of your links:)PS: I can't let my husband near ebay. I have forbidden him to ever get me a present off of ebay.

  11. How stinkin' cute are you?! I love seeing pix of you.


  12. Love the recap...sounds like a great time!

  13. Thank you for allowing us to live life through you.

    Your blog works for me b/c you write with such a degree of vulnerability, and openness.

    I remember the very first posting I read of yours...don't recall how I came across it, wish I could.

    But I remember it clearly: you wrote of the marital disagreements and stresses that occur when you have special needs children.

    I thought, "wow, so true, I live that, but NO ONE ever writes about that. No one."

    And that tradition continued: the honesty with which you write. We all want to feel that we're not alone, and you have become my friend, even though you don't know that. And that is enough to keep me coming back.

    I love how you ferociously fight for Mac, and love him, and are so proud of him. I also love how you tell it the way it is: there are indeed hard, discouraging days.

    I predict BIG things for you. I still say you need to publish all these postings..b/c we need something to hold in our hands, when we feel beaten down somedays.

    You are fantastic, Ellen. Thank you for writing. AND for the pictures of Max and that smile...time stands still when I see that boy smile. Pure joy, bliss, and all in the moment.


  14. wow. this is so great, and it looks like you had a lot of fun. thanks for the tips. I'll check out your links and the other blogs you mention. I'm also going to post this on my press blog, Medusa's Muse, because I think your ideas will help all bloggers, not just mommy-blogger.

    You ROCK!

  15. Wow! What a wonderful experience! Thanks for sharing!

  16. I love that picture of you right by the stage! For the record, some of us were taking bets on whether or not Ellen would be in Harry Connick's lap by the end of the night--she kept getting closer and closer to that stage.

    I forgot about "find you encouragers"--that was a great piece of advice.

  17. "Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." ~Anäis Nin

    My husband & I made a pact that when we had children of our own we would only allow them to look up to authentic heroes on Earth... We have 2 boys now and among the heroes we support + cheer on + look up to... is Superhero Max!

    Zeke (our 5th grader & youngest) queries me each day (after school, hwork, sports...) at dinner table talks,"what's up with Superhero Purple Max today?" I explain about his Superhero Mom's blog & how her actions & words + Max's = inspire others (& us)... later at night, we also say our blessings/prayers/wishes & give thanks before lights out & of course as you might guess... we without fail include those TRUE Superheroes like Purple Max & his awesome family!

    In my 43 years of life thus far, I have learned that life is too short to waste time tearing down... time should be used only to build up... others & including those Superheroes like Max = who have more strength than any Superman, Spiderman or Batman imagined!!!

    Thank you Superhero Mom Ellen for building up old friends + new friends like me!

    "Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." ~Anäis Nin

    Mare H.

  18. It sounded like so much fun and that you learned a lot! Thanks for the tips. I am starting to blog but there is so much I don't get..

  19. I'm so glad I got to spend some time with you.

    Here's to blogging conferences and special kids!


  20. It was an absolute pleasure having a moment to talk with you. I didn't tell you this, but you remind me of my favorite cousin, so it was next to impossible not to love you.

  21. It really does sound like you had an amazingly fun (and well deserved) time. :) I'm on my way to check out some of the bloggers you linked to and other sites. I love finding new people to read but am often hesitant to comment most of the time. Maybe I'll change that because of your words of wisdom on how to grow your blog!!!

    Oh - I've been doing Weight Watchers online for about 3 weeks now and lost 10 lbs!!! It's not amazing results (and I did have one day with an upset stomach and no appetite) but I'm enjoying it and finding it pretty easy. The one habit I've noticed I don't do anymore is sneaking bites of my kids food - or eating what they leave on their plates. I never realized how many points the crust of a PB&J really is!

  22. Sounds like you got a lot of great information this weekend.

  23. It was so great meeting you at Blissdom - and I apologize for being one of the dorks for saying, "I swear I've met you before!" Love your sense of humor and honesty, and looking forward to getting to know you and your family better through your blog.

  24. that was an EXCELLENT recap.

    xxx I'm exhausted just READING this. :-)

  25. I got to your blog via @chambanalaura, whom I met at BlissDom. Had I found you earlier I would definitely still be in my jammies too b/c I've been here reading your entire blog. Wow! I look forward to being more up to date now, I'll put you on my RSS. I'm in awe!

  26. You compliment made my night (if not my week)!

    Such an awesome recap and memories! So glad I was able to meet you. You are a gem!

    Keep in touch.

    Love your blog. So much hope.


Thanks for sharing!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...