But I did have my favorite, classic navy-colored, go-to, confidence-exuding wrap dress that I’ve worn to anything important over the past few years. I could make it work. I packed the babies into the stroller and trekked a few blocks down from our apartment to TJ Maxx. I grabbed some nude-colored wedges, a not-too casual, not-too-fancy nude purse adorned with a little trendy fringe, and decided to save some money and go with some mint-colored earrings I already had lying around at home. Lastly, I swung by Albee Baby to snag a simple hand-pump (yep, Hilton prepared a suite to be used as a lactation lounge for nursing/pumping women at the conference). I was ready!
Friday night, I browsed the BlogHer website to see how everything had gone down that day and what I had missed. Are you kidding me?! President Obama did a surprise live video blog with the women and men at the conference?! And I missed it?! This thing was a big deal. Much bigger than I’d anticipated.
Saturday morning arrived. I stepped out of my apartment and stood on my stoop feeling fresh, put-together, and independent. As one of the women I would meet later that day put it, my cool-factor had gone up a notch walking the streets of NYC knowing I had become part of the city. I was a Manhattanite! And I felt like one. I took in the fresh air along the sidewalk of Central Park West as the breeze slightly billowed through my dress. I ventured down into the muggy subway station to jump on the C train to Columbus Circle where I would strut through the streets and skyscrapers of Midtown to the Hilton New York.
As I picked up my conference/party pass at the registration desk, I looked down.
Momma’s Ruby Slippers
I felt so important!
I headed straight for the lactation lounge to make sure I could work my pump (of course I hadn’t thought to do that before arriving). A few moms began to trickle into the suite here and there.
Anna of Girl With Blog was the first person I met. She writes with simple honesty about the beauty and difficulties of faith, family and day-to-day life. We chatted a bit about parenting and she asked if I had pictures of my babies. What a great way to begin a conversation, right? What mom wouldn’t jump to show off pictures of her babies? After I expressed my anxiety about the day and Anna offered some tips on how to approach the conference, networking, and getting my blog off its feet, she gave me her card and asked for mine.
Wait, card? It was my first major amateur mistake. Do not show up for an event based around networking and not have a business card. She was totally understanding and reassuring, though, and asked for my Twitter handle. Phew. I had that, but had composed maybe five tweets and didn’t really get the whole concept of it. So she tweeted me and gave me some pointers. Such a wonderful person to have met.
The day passed incredibly quickly and I was able to meet so many other lovely women. There was Lisa of The Parent du Jour, who I met in the bathroom. She’s doing a project through her online magazine to tell the stories of today’s families—one day, and one parent at a time — and anyone is invited to participate. Check. Participating!
There was Kim of Find Your Fit who, as a nutritionist and fitness specialist, blogs about nutritional counseling, exercise advice, and help in becoming more wholly healthy and happy. (I definitely picked her brain for longer than she was probably hoping for!)
I chatted with Rachael of The Variagated Life who writes beautifully and artistically about finding balance as a work-at-home mother, parenting, feminism, and making small changes toward living in accord with the environment. We lunched together with her 5-month-old baby boy as we watched and listened to Katie Couric, the day’s keynote speaker, talk with BlogHer’s cofounder about motherhood, her career, womanhood, balance, and the upcoming Katie Show which debuts in September.
I attended an incredibly thorough, organized, and all-around delightful session about video blogging (aka vlogging) headed by the charming Catherine McCord of Weelicious, who vlogs about fresh, fast, family-friendly recipes, and CJ Bruce of the video commerce network, New Antics. They totally made me excited to try my first vlog post, so I’m thinking I might give you a tour of our new NYC apartment (and ask for some decorating tips in the process!) as soon I can get the final unpacking touches together.
At the vlogging session, I hung with Elizabeth Wilkins, editor of Empowering Parents, an online magazine that helps parents change their children’s troubling behavior. She introduced me to the bubbly Meredith of Meredith & Gwyneth, the New Yorkie. Meredith writes about how she and her doggie make NYC feel like home, from style to decorating to recipes and DIY. It’s a crazy addicting site and I’m hoping to get to know her a little better since we’re both NYCity dwellers.
And, to serendipitously go full-circle, I ended the night meeting the lady who led me to this awesome conference: Mom-101 herself, the lovely Liz Gumbinner. This woman is just truly an inspiration to me. Publisher and operater of three different extremely successful online businesses including Mom-101, Cool Mom Picks, and Cool Mom Tech; vice president and group creative director at the advertising and digital agency, Deutsch; freelance writer contributing to every smart and successful parenting site out there, frequent media guest and conference speaker; mother; wonderwoman; the list goes on; she does it all.
And, yet, she still had time to have a very down-to-earth conversation with me about being a newcomer to the city, introduce me to the lovely Isabel Kallman of the popular and successful site, Alpha Mom, who also gave me helpful and genuine advice about the city, answer my emails within hours of my sending them, and extend an offer for advice or help if I ever need it. And she’s a New Yorker!
I’m so grateful to have met such an authentic, welcoming group of women in just the second week of being here. I can’t wait to see what other amazing opportunities this city has to offer.
And there is no doubt about it. I’ll be attending BlogHer ’13 next year in Chicago. The whole conference. And I’ll bring business cards. And maybe even wear some ruby slippers.