I’m Going To BlogHer and You Should Know This About Me

Last year, when BlogHer came around, I was this bundle of nerves. I spent  too much time wandering around my house practicing what I would say when people talked to me. I practiced being witty, and funny, and interesting. My outfits were planned, and executed with much thought and deliberation. There may have been daydreaming that included making so many BFF’s and being recognized as the oh-so popular blogger I am (I’m not). It was exhausting, and I spent so much of the time when I was there not being myself because I was terrified of being judged, of not being liked, and I took some things far too personally.

I learned a lot about myself at that conference, as well as the amazing things I learned regarding what I wanted as a writer.

This year, while my nature is to plan, plan, plan, I’m not overdoing it. I’ve made lists. I’ve thought about the lists. I’ve crossed off the items on the list. There has been no pre-conference conversation planning, or worrying about not being noticed by certain people. In short, I’m not being neurotic this time.

Okay, maybe I am, just a little but I swear, it’s much better this year. This year, I’m going to just be me. No apologies. Unless I trip over you, or spill on you, because I’m a klutz.

If we meet at BlogHer,  here’s a couple of things you should know about me. I should come with a warning. In fact, I think everyone should. I think it’d make everyone a little more user friendly.

 

1. I Suffer From Resting Bitch Face

My roommate was talking to someone. I felt awkward, so I wandered away and took selfies instead. Because.

My roommate was talking to someone. I felt awkward, so I wandered away and took selfies instead. Because.

I do. It’s how my BFF in high school and I became fast friends. We both thought we hated each other. We didn’t, and both admitted almost in unison that most people think we’re snobs because we like watching people. We really liked each other, in fact, we really liked each other’s handwriting. So if you see me sitting at a table and I look like I’m planning to kill someone, I’m not. Likely, I’m thinking about whether or not I should go get another muffin, if that person over there is who I think it is, or if I remembered to put on deodorant.  Just don’t tell me to smile, then I’ll actually be suffering from WTF Did You Just Say Face?

2. When I’m Nervous, I Ramble And Say Incredibly Stupid Things

This also causes me to look like a bitch too. Mainly, because I’ll just sit and observe. Meanwhile, my mind is going a mile a minute trying to think of something to add to the conversation. When I finally get it, sometimes I have enough decency to check if the conversation is still on that topic, sometimes I don’t. And that’s when things get incredibly awkward. So I start fumbling to make up for the fact that I’m lagging worse than a dial-up connection.

3.  When I Say Something Funny, I’m Super Proud of Myself 

If I say something that makes you laugh, don’t be surprised if I look like a child on Christmas. It’s not that I’m not funny; I am. When you are married to a guy who loves the spotlight and is known as the “funny person” in your relationship, you don’t always get a chance to shine. And I love making people laugh.

(I should add, I have a bizarre sense of humor. Sometimes, it’s dark. Sometimes, it’s punny. Sometimes, it’s quick and clever. Mostly though, I find things funny. Like calling my best friend a stupid whore for being able to lose a million pounds and still eat copious amounts of chocolate. I hate her. But not really. Not at all, actually). 

4. I’m A Crier

Sometimes I tear up in regular conversation because something you said or did really made me have all the feels. I cry during commercials. I cry when my kids do sweet things for me. I cry when my husband remembers my favorite wine and surprises me with it. I cry when I read, and when I watch movies. In fact, tomorrow, when I’m flying out, I’ll probably cry because I’m leaving my kids, and OMGI’MGOINGTOBEALONE.  If we’re talking and I cry, don’t worry, I’m fine. Just tell me if my mascara is running, please.

5.  I Don’t Like Talking About Myself

Huh, why would you go to a blogging conference where you pretty much have to talk about yourself? Because I’m a bit of a sadist, I guess. If you ask me questions, I’ll answer, as fast as I can, and then ask you something. Then,  I’ll ask more, and more. Until, you catch on (if you do) and then, I’ll  feign innocence. I find other people fascinating, and I feel like I’m not as interesting as you are. Maybe I am, and maybe I’m not. So, if you like to talk about yourself, I’m your gal.

6. Hmm, I Also Have No Filter

filterleanin

And sometimes I IG my lack of filter, for your enjoyment.

Even though I want to talk to you about you, don’t talk about yourself too much, because I will tell you that you do. In a nice way, because I’m not really an asshole. I’ll make a joke about it, and redirect the conversation. If that doesn’t work, I’ll move on. Did you sit with me during the Lean In circles last year? I think I pissed a couple of people off, including my roommate. I don’t know why I stayed. Even a year later, I’m still annoyed that I skipped a session I really wanted to go to so I could participate in those damn circles. If it’s not clear, I hated the circles. I found them elementary. Pedantic. And gross. I felt like they were insipid, and manipulative. Ahem.  I could go on, but you get the point. I have no filter. I could have, and probably should have just stood up and left. I didn’t because I had some cohorts at the table who were sharing in my distaste, and it was fun to be snarky.

If you already follow me on Twitter, you already know what I’m talking about when it comes to my filter. Two glasses of wine, and it’s almost gone entirely. I’m sorry. I try not to be mean, because I’m not Mean Girls (though, OMG, I love that movie and really wish that Lindsay Lohan would go back to being that version of herself. Did you watch Oprah’s documentary on her? She’s a hot mess, seriously).  Wait. Where was I? Lindsay Lohan. Cocaine? No. Oh, I’m not mean. Nope. I’m not. I swear.

* * * * * * * * * *

Please come say hi. I promise, I am awesome. I’m really nice, I don’t bite, and I’ll probably buy you a drink if you make me laugh until I cry (I also do this version of crying).  I probably won’t say hi first, unless I’m really feeling brave or have accepted that knot in my stomach. Just be nice if I say something really dumb. Or drop the f-bomb and I’ll know you are my people.

 

Broken Promises

lonelyroadSomewhere between then and now, I stopped taking care of myself. It started out slowly, because life got busy, and I do this thing where I avoid myself and care for others in the same way I wish I cared for myself. Get me alone, and mostly, I’d rather talk about you. Talking about me means feeling things, and digging deep, and admitting that most of the time, I’m just a goddamn mess.

I’d rather not discuss any of that over wine. I don’t want to be the one to drag the conversation down in the depths of Dark & Twisty. Yes, yes, let’s talk about you, because I’m just fine. 

There was always an excuse for why I wasn’t taking care of myself. I needed to be strong for my daughter. I needed to keep it together for the family. I needed to bite my tongue so I didn’t disturb the dysfunctional but kind of working relationship with my parents.  I needed to grit and bear the busy season for my husband’s work. Then I needed to get through the holidays. I needed to get through the anniversary of the adoption closing, The list, it doesn’t stop there. I’ve tumbled from one obstacle to the next, always in survivor mode. Always numbing myself, and powering through, ignoring the thoughts that rage like fire through my brain during a bout of insomnia.

There is no time, I tell myself. Sure, the hours in a day are never enough, but do I really truly believe that I cannot possibly make time for myself, especially when things are stressful? Especially, when someone like me, someone with an illness requires self-regulation and care, needs to make that time.

I haven’t taken my medication for over six months. For someone with Bipolar Disorder, that’s a terrible, no good, horrible idea.

I haven’t seen a therapist in at least three years, probably more.

I haven’t been executing the so-called tools that I’ve collected over the years, because, I just don’t care to.

I haven’t cried since Christmas (maybe I’ve cried over television or a book). When my toe was ripped to hell in the garden, internally, I kept telling myself, “Don’t you dare even cry. Don’t you dare.” On The Kiddo’s birthday, I didn’t feel a thing and I tried. I wanted to, but I’m so far into removing myself from myself, that I just can’t even feel when it’s appropriate to feel. This is my thing, my go to, the outlet I used as a child when my abusive home just became too much. Back then, I’d prompt myself to stop feeling, to repress the memories, meditating them deep into my soul.

Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know. Sound familiar? Except I don’t have magical ice powers or Idina Menzel’s amazing voice. I want to say that it’s easier to be this sort of emotional zombie. I’ve put myself in a sensory deprivation chamber and I have no idea how to get out of it….Do I want to get out of it?

Sometimes, before I got to bed, and because I hate the telephone, I promise myself that I will, absolutely, without a doubt make a phone call for a doctor or a therapist. Sometimes, I’ve even done the research and have the numbers ready. I promise myself over and over again until sleep finds me. I’ve broken this promise so many times that I don’t think, even when I repeat myself, and have the best intentions, that I really mean it anymore.

Or maybe, it’s just that I don’t care.

Who cares if I can barely get out of bed because the crushing weight of depression arrests me in the fetal position? Who cares if I don’t take care of me? Who cares that I regard myself with such little respect and love? Because, lately, it feels like not very many people do care.  And, I know, it’s not because they don’t. It’s simply, I’ve drawn myself into the comfortable isolation that is repressing all of my feelings, which means I don’t even feel or see reality. It means when my husband tells me he loves me, I roll my eyes. It means when he tries to hug me, I pull away. That all feels foreign, and wrong.

Maybe tonight, I’ll make another promise, and in the morning, we’ll see if I can coerce my fingers to dial a number. Maybe I’ll speak the brave words of asking to make an appointment. Maybe I’ll write it down and actually go to it. Maybe I’ll feel relieved, and riddled with anxiety all at once.

Maybe.

The “Experiment” (Or My Kids Went Crazy so I Took Away Technology)

My kids went insane in June, guys. It was so bad, I can’t even openly admit how much wine I consumed to dull the pain by the end of the day. It was “The guy at the liquor store knows me by name and I wish I was kidding, but I’m not” bad.

MessFirst, it was The Not Listening. My husband would come home at the end of the day, and without fail, I’d say, “I’m tapping out. I can’t even with them today.”  Before long, he began calling before he came home, I’m assuming so he could spend the commute home, preparing for the chaos he was about to walk in on. And it was utter chaos. Picture me with frazzled unwashed hair, crazy eyes, while clutching a glass of wine that I may have poured the minute it became 5pm.

Nothing in our so-called parenting tool box was working for us. We tried everything; More outside time, more quiet time, grounding from certain privileges, bribing with ice cream, ignoring it, joining on it…Nothing was helping.When they weren’t behaving as though they’d never been socialized at all,  they were melting down over everything. Turn the television volume down? Tantrum. Apologize to your friend for throwing their ball at their face? Tantrum. Water not cold enough? Tantrum. Water not in specific cup? Definite tantrum. Have a bath because you were pretty much rolling in dirt today? Epic tantrum.

I won’t lie, I may have had a tantrum or two myself that included a slammed door and a trip to a parking lot just to sit in the car, and listen to loud music. Because, my god, it was awful. There is nothing like your kids behaving like mine were to make you feel like you are the world’s worst mother.

Then, I snapped. I don’t even remember what it was specifically, but I was finished. Done. It was not happening anymore. One night at dinner, we sternly told them that all of the shenanigans were over. We discussed listening, not pouring water all over your bedroom because fun, (do not even ask ) and respect in general. They nodded, and added in their own points, expressing some of their own frustration, and ideas.

Since I suspected that we may have a case of Technology Overdose, we gave the kids two options: They could have 30 minutes a day on whatever device they wished, or they could go without any Monday through Friday, and basically have a free for all on the weekend, given we weren’t doing anything, and that they didn’t kick up a fuss when we asked them to turn it off.*  Both of kids decided on the free for all weekend. For good measure, we warned them if they didn’t start respecting their room, we would separate them, and some of the toys would make it into the dreaded storage room.

They had a week to get it together.

Two days later, because maybe they didn’t quite believe us, we started to move them into separate rooms.

The room switching was a lot of work, but the no technology bit? That was hard. There was negotiations, and a lot of asking when the weekend was. There were tantrums over the lack of television, which only solidified my belief that we were doing the right thing. There was a disgruntled husband who didn’t love the idea that the television needed to stay off until the kids were in bed, and possibly a couple of heated words about having each others back in the thick of this mess.

But then!

Suddenly, my kids started playing outside more. They started playing together more. They started talking to each other, instead of at each other. We weren’t always yelling, or fighting about the volume on the television, or which mess belonged to who. We were riding bikes, and playing at parks, willingly. They were asking to read books and do work in their workbooks. There wasn’t any tantrums over a simple request to turn the television off, because it wasn’t even on, and at some point, they stopped asking about it. They began to eagerly clean their rooms before bed, and the messes in each respective room did not look like an atomic bomb had detonated.

It worked. It actually worked.

Let me confess: Technology, be it the television, iPod, or XBox, had become a crutch for me. I was the one offering it in the morning just so I could get a moment of peace with my coffee. I was the one using it as a reward.  Somewhere along the line, I allowed these pieces of entertainment to actually become entities in our lives. Before we instituted this experiment, I truly believed I couldn’t parent without these devices. It had gotten that bad, and I’m so happy to say that once I relinquished my hold on the idea that I needed them, it became easier.

Maybe technology wasn’t to blame for the entire crazy situation we happened upon, but I cannot ignore the fact that over a month into this “experiment”, something absolutely switched in my kids, and in this family.  I have my kids back, and confidence that parenting can be done without all the extra gadgets.

*I can’t take credit for this idea or set up. Jenna @ Stop, Drop and Blog wrote about her experience going tech free including the setup of it. 

Getting Ready For BlogHer 2014

BlogHer 2014 is now less than two weeks away. The plane ticket and hotel is booked. I have a lovely, fabulous roommate. I ordered, but maybe not enough, business cards. I’ve made my list of things to do, and have semi-planned out my outfits. I mostly know where my passport is, and the suitcase is still out from our trip to Lethbridge in May, because, of course, ahem, I did that on purpose (it had nothing to do with the fact that we left it unpacked for an embarrassingly long time, nope).

And yet, I’m still feeling like I’m flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to this trip. Last year, a combination of nerves, zomgexcitement and overzealous planning made me feel like the days before Chicago were inching slower and slower. This time, I’m sure the night before I leave I will be doing a mad dash of “OMG I FORGOT ALL THE THINGS”.

I’ve been on the fence since April about whether or not I wanted to attend the conference again. It’s not that my experience last time wasn’t great; it was. I enjoyed the sessions I attended, the parties were fun, and I met some great people. This past year, when it comes to this blog and writing in general, it’s just been hard. Like, really hard. For the last few years, I’ve been rather blessed to find my posts either being shared relentlessly, syndicated or published on another site, or I was freelancing.  July 2013, the first day of BlogHer, marks the last time I was actually published anywhere, save this blog, and ironically, it was a piece about not letting rejection get the best of you.

Foreshadowing, it sure was. I’ve had to figure out if I’m capable of taking my own advice, especially when I’ve hit a drought. It’s been a long year full of a lot of rejection, a lot of self-doubt, and admittedly, a lack of writing because my confidence has taken a hit. Personal circumstances have played a small role, undoubtedly, but mostly, I just haven’t seen what the point of trying to be a so-called “writer” was. When it came to attending this conference, I wondered why in the hell I was investing money into something that was not paying out, or benefiting me in anyway.

Then, my husband basically told me to stop with the self-pity. Because, he’s good with being blunt, and he was totally, incredibly, unfortunately right.

Last year, I walked into BlogHer with this idea that the conference would be The Golden Ticket. That somehow I’d magically wind up with a line up of fans, countless friends, and begin to rake in all the money from blogging. T0 say that I was naive would be the understatement of the century. Maybe some people do find that at BlogHer, but I didn’t and I’m actually glad I didn’t. What I did find was that I have this incredible passion for writing, and sharing.  I came home from Chicago on this high that I hadn’t experienced for years, and I was motivated to finally write my novel.

That’s why I’m going back. Not to connect with brands, or learn to monetize my blog. I’m heading to San Jose simply to find that passion again. I want to reignite that love affair I had with words a year ago. I want to sit down at my computer and not fight with myself every. single. time.  BlogHer delivered that love of writing, the confidence that I could be a good great writer even if I didn’t have eleventy billion sponsors or a crazy amount of traffic hitting this site. I came home with this belief that my story, all parts of it, the good, the bad and the ugly, were worthy of being told, and that someone, somewhere, wanted to hear them.

When I began blogging over a decade ago, I wasn’t doing it for fame, or for recognition. I was doing it for the sake of writing, to use it as a form of self-care, and to just share my life story. After a year of feeling sorry for myself, I’m ready to set myself straight and get back to the organic form of blogging.

Writing for the sake of writing.

 

BH14_talk

 

***Will you be in San Jose in July for BlogHer 2014? If so, tweet at me (@danielleb_c) and say “hi!” I’d love to meet you! ***

 

The End of Soccer Season

After the long, brutal winter we had, I told the kids they had to pick one outdoor activity to participate in. Since we live in a relatively smaller town, the options were limited to soccer and baseball. Potato, being the kind that likes to stick with the familiar, chose soccer, even though the last go round with it wasn’t necessarily enjoyable for any of us. Of course, because she adores her brother, Girlie followed suit.

I signed the up with the impression that we’d be doing two games a week, one for each child. That’s what it was when we lived in Lethbridge. Lesson learned: not all recreation leagues work the same. When I got an email with the schedules, I may have twitched a little as I soon realized that we’d be doing soccer four times a week. Four. Times. A. Week. With my husband’s work schedule, I soccerknew that I’d be on my own for most of the games, four times a week. At least we didn’t have to travel, I said. My prayers were answered when it came to practices: there weren’t any.

I was, I realized, being initiated into the world of Soccer Moms.

For two straight months, we lived, breathed, and worshiped at the feet of the soccer gods. It took us a week or two to find our bearings with the new routine, though we never did figure out how to make sure all the soccer gear was left in one place to save us from the last minute screeches of, “WHERE ARE MY SHINPADS, MOOOOOOM?”  I learned fast that snacks must be kept in my purse, an extra water bottle is necessary on the hotter days, blankets need to be in the car in case of a colder evening game, that I should always check the snack schedule in the morning(rather than maybe an hour before the game…oops) and bug spray was mandatory if one did not wish to get eaten alive.

If I’m being honest, mostly, it wasn’t that bad. We did have an incident near the end of the season that got me a little riled up, but mostly, the other parents were just like us- wanting the kids to get out and play for a bit. This schedule got us out of the house and in the sun for an hour four times a week, which meant easier bedtimes on those nights (usually).

Most of all, it was incredibly awesome to watch both kids come into their own, gaining confidence with each passing game. Girlie went from death gripping my neck at the beginning of the season to wandering out to her coaches and skillfully being able to drill the ball. Potato went from hanging back from the play, to getting right in there during the game, without much fear. One game, he took a ball straight to the face, and I feared that it might mean that the rest of the season would be a battle of anxiety for him. He proved me wrong, and was out playing again, within ten minutes. It did help, of course, that both the kids had amazing coaches.

It was a good season. soccer2

Soccer wrapped up this past week; the kids have proudly displayed their medals in their respective rooms, and are already talking about the possibility of indoor soccer come the fall. I can’t even think about it right now. Mostly. I just want to bask in the beautiful nothingness of our evenings.

And of course, no dreaded snack schedule.