Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The secret sauce to my sanity and Mom 2.0

For the record, the secret to my sanity does not have anything to do with the communal shower room at the Versace Mansion in South Beach, even though that's where I'm standing here and it wouldn't suck to have one. You know, in my very own mansion.

Staying sane also doesn't require a visit to this beautiful hotel, even though it seriously helped.

This woman, actually, is part of the secret to my sanity. Her name's Ellen (wahoo!) and she writes over at Confessions of an IT Girl. She's also mom to a kid with special powers and one of the funniest women I've ever met, the kind who give you an incontinence problem.

The secret to my sanity is this: having a passion other than my family. For me, this blog is that passion, and I love discussing what I do with other bloggers and hearing how they spread the word about what's important to them. Last Sunday I got back from the Mom 2.0 Summit in Key Biscayne, and I've been on a high ever since. It's a wonderfully intimate conference (about 400 bloggers), and welcoming to both newbie and seasoned bloggers.

My ride to the hotel: the 2012 Honda Odyssey, with Cecily K of Uppercase Woman and Babble's Mom Crunch in the front seat. Behold the super-wide DVD screen; it can be split, so the kids can each watch their own shows. If we got that car, Max and Sabrina would never, ever leave it.  

If you ever decide to run away from home, head straight to The Ritz Carlton at Key Biscayne  

One of my favorite spots: Rumbar, with its Old Havana vibe. 

One night, we set out to break a world record for the most widespread social network message in an hour (Justin Bieber fans hold that honor). Hundreds of women stood around a courtyard, tweeting the message "You inspire me. #DoveInspired." (If you got that tweet from me, that's why and if you didn't, my thumbs got tired and I'm sorry). That's Emily of The Motherhood and Betsy of Thinking Cap Creative Solutions going at it, above, with Liz of Mom 101 in the background. If we scored, Dove was going to donate $15,000 to Girls Inc. We came close, but the dang Bieber fans took over.

I spoke in a Hot Issues of 2012 panel with Kristen Howerton of Rage Against The Minivan and Samantha Ettus of Personahood; Buffy Wicks, National Operation Vote Director for Obama's re-election campaign, moderated. The conversation centered around advocating for what's important to you, and sharing perspectives through personal stories. Kirsten told of a post she wrote recounting her family's experiences getting denied healthcare, and calling for reform. I mentioned my video about the word "retard" and how it got attention for an issue important to me and many other parents. And of course, we got into a lively discussion about ye olde work/family struggles.

Listening to other speakers at the conference was both inspiring and tearjerker-y.

• "Think about what's pleasurable, not just what's possible," said BrenĂ© Brown, Ph.D., a professor of social work and motivational speaker, talking about what's next for women. She always gives me food for thought and courage, especially when she said "The most connected posts are the ones that make you nervous to hit publish and sometimes you just need to put it out there." (Check out her powerful TED talk).

• "They represent the deep breath that we often forget to take" is how entrepreneur Lee Rhodes describes the handmade glass candleholders her company, Glassybaby, produces. Back in 1998, she had three young kids and lung cancer; dropping tea lights into candles gave her serenity and hope. So far, she's given $911,000 to funding cancer research—a beautiful thing.

• "Whenever you launch something new, you can't succeed unless you're crazy passionate about it, emphasis possibly on the crazy!" said designer Liz Lange, who used to personally answer customer service calls and emails when her company started. Screech if you relate to "crazy!"

• "Companies need to invest in working moms. Even if moms work shorter hours, they get things done."—Brilliance from Kat Gordon of Maternal Instincts in her panel on using social media to make change happen.

• "My mom launched a company"—that's what this little girl's message says. Her mom is Kathryn Tucker of Red Rover, an app that helps you find local friends and activities. As Kathryn spoke of her angst about juggling her business and her family, she teared up and suddenly a lot of us were reaching for tissues. As a working mom, I know exactly what it's like to get caught in that tug of war.

I made some new friends including Charlotte, a mom of five who writes Handmade Charlotte (of course her business card was super-cool); Jessica of Project Night Night (a nonprofit that delivers blankets, books and stuffed animals to kids in homeless shelters); and Melanie of Coupon Goddess, a mom of four (and a very funny goddess). Meeting moms of four and five kids makes your own life seem instantly more sane.  

Mom 2.0 has a rep for awesome parties, and they rocked. At Friday night's White Party, even New Yorkers like me gave up black. Saturday night: party at the Versace Mansion! It's now a private hotel (rates start at $800 a night, though you get your own butler), and as over-the-top as I expected. My lovely date: Jennifer of Life's Dewlaps. My dress: a turquoise MaxMara wrap dress (also Not Black!) that Kimberly Garrett of Plush Fashion Styling helped me pick out. 

A former part of the celeb dressing team at Polo Ralph Lauren, she's also worked with wardrobe designers on Gossip Girl and Sex and The City 2. These days, she lends her expertise to New York City moms (including me)! Now I need to hang out at the Versace Mansion more, because the dress matched the color of the pool.

The 1000 Mosaics Pool  

The main courtyard

The Velvet Lounge, next to the shower room

So there you have it, Mom 2.0 2012: fun, glamour, glitz, information and inspiration. Mom 2.0 2013 will be at California's Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. It seems like a fab place to pursue your blogging passion (and preserve your sanity). And, wow, would I love to meet you there. 


  1. I loved being your date! What a great night and what a great conference. My mind is still on overdrive from that weekend.

  2. Loved chatting with you Ellen! and that dress was smokin'!!

  3. Wow, you go the best places! Jealous!!!!

  4. Ok, you talked me into it! But why do we have to wait a full year? ::Pout/foot stomp::

  5. That looks amazing! And so do you in that dress!

  6. Thanks for sharing - looks like this was a very informative and fun-filled event. You look absolutely fabulous in that turquoise dress and I hope you had as good a time as you look.

  7. Wow! Looks amazing! YOU look amazing! I love riding your conference buzz :) It makes me dream of being less of a dabbler...

  8. So cool to know that there is a forum for creative conveyors of information like you to gather and share your expertise. And - I love Brene Brown. Thanks for the prompt to review her TED Lecture.

  9. First of all, that dress (and you in it) is stunning. Thanks for bringing the mansion (and your date to Jennifer) alive (was sorry to have missed that part!). Fabulous recap--what a whirlwind few days!

  10. I am still kind of bummed about missing that party (your dress! WOW!). I LOVED spending more time with you, as always. You are one of the most magnificent people I know.

  11. How did I manage to miss the communal showers?!

    And that dress was fabulous on you. What a color! Wear it to school pick-up today, just to freak everyone out.

  12. So glad y'all like that dress! Kristen, how DID you miss the showers? They were insane. Gold showerheads—and I think it was 14k! Love your school pick-up idea. Might have to try it.

    Shannon: Come to a conference! There are all different kinds throughout the year, and as you can tell they are totally inspiring.

    Felicia, you are someone I would LOVE to meet at a blogger conference. But then you'd maybe have to get yourself a blog. Or a talk show. I think you need a talk show.

  13. I've always thought that the encounters I've had at conferences trump any scheduled session. They are priceless.


Thanks for sharing!

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