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It’s been a little more than five weeks since I went to the Blissdom blogging conference in Nashville, which means that I’ve basically had the same cold for six weeks. Or possibly three different colds, I can’t tell. I got it right before Blissdom, it got better then worse again, then better in time for Disney’s Princess 1/2 Marathon, then worse again last week. I can’t seem to shake it. Since Kleenex sponsored my trip to Blissdom, it’s appropriate that I’m sitting here writing this Blissdom post surrounded by used Kleenex.
I got a lot of great technical info from Blissdom about blogging that most of my readers probably wouldn’t care about (that stuff gets dumped onto Behind the Screen). But more importantly, I always leave these conferences with advice and inspiration that help in many other areas of my life. I left Blissdom with a new outlook on what it means to be productive and valuable versus loud and dramatic. I sometimes lean towards the loud and dramatic (no, really) on purpose, for effect, but more often it’s because I’m insecure or have nothing real to say. It’s like trying to yell a funny joke at people but having no joke.
Tone down the drama, at least some of the time. It can be fun to be the loudest one in the room, the one who always has some kind of problem or issue. And some people have built a following on it. Those drama-queen success stories are the exceptions, though. People like Meagan Francis and Liz Gumbinner are the ones who really inspire me: always thoughtful, always solid, never shouting to be heard – which is probably why so many people listen to them.
That’s not to say that you can’t have a twitter stream full of snarky complaints or be the one dancing on the table at a party. But if that’s all there is to you, all the time, you’ll burn out. Or people will get tired of you. Either way, no fun.
Don’t let the drama get in the way of commitments. Shelly Kramer gets the credit for this one. I believe her exact quote was “Don’t let your personal life get in the way of doing the job you told me you could do.” I fall into this one all the time. Or I used to. I’m trying hard to change that. Freelancing and working from home is a double-edged sword: the flexibility to work around your family can be wonderful, but that also makes it easy to slip into using them as an excuse. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve sent that started “I’m so sorry I haven’t sent that thing to you yet. You wouldn’t believe the day I’ve had…”
As if they care what kind of day I’ve had. I mean, on some level they might, but they’ve got a boss or a client to answer to, and they really aren’t going to get anywhere passing along my excuse that my internet was out and I couldn’t go work in the coffee shop in the morning because there’s this delivery I’d been waiting for and I live in a really bad neighborhood and if they’d left it by the door it would be gone by the time I got home and then by the time the delivery got here my daughter was home sick so I still couldn’t go anywhere… Drama. My drama, not theirs.
Do fewer things. Do them better. Meagan Francis, my hero. She gets the credit for that one. That was a post she wrote after Blissdom. I felt the same way, although she put it much better than I could have. I think I only went to four sessions total. I wasn’t running from thing to thing (and the ladies who put together the Blissdom programming get most of the credit for that, building in plenty of breaks). And yet I got more out of that conference than any other, ever. Blissdom did fewer things, and did them better.
In the weeks since I’ve been much more careful about what I’ve said yes to. That was the easy part. I often say yes to things out of fear: fear that I’ll hurt someone’s feelings, fear that I won’t get asked again. But letting go of that fear is very freeing. It’s not about saying no, it’s about making room for the right opportunities.
The hard part is that after really committing to that decision, I still had a lot of open projects to wrap up. I’d said yes to some things that I just wasn’t very enthused about anymore. It didn’t mean at all that they were bad events or projects – in fact, a couple of them I truly loved – but they just weren’t the right things for me to write about. Still, I’d made commitments, I just had to bite the bullet and get them finished, right? Shit. I was being completely irresponsible to several companies that had put their trust in me.
I was doing a little background research for my son’s latest science experiment, checking out parents’ guides on how to survive science fairs. One piece of advice struck very close to home: “Frequently procrastination is a sign of insecurity – not knowing what to do next.” Good lord, were they talking about Jake, or about me?
And I circled right back to this post. I’d come home from Blissdom more than a month ago. According to an agreement with Kleenex that I’d willingly and happily signed, I owed them one more post in exchange for paying for my trip. I’d given them every excuse in the book why I hadn’t posted it yet. But the simple fact was, I didn’t know what to write. I’d started the post three or four times and gotten lost after one paragraph. I’d already said all I wanted to say about the truly cool Softness Worth Sharing program – which is over now anyway – and I didn’t know what to write, how to tie Kleenex into another post. I use Kleenex. I love Kleenex. But the real value to me of Kleenex at this point was that they’d helped me be a better blogger and freelancer and person by paying for my trip to Blissdom. That’s what the post could be about, and maybe I could help some other people in the process instead of just writing another post about how great a product is.
So, those were my main takeaways, the three broad, can be applied to almost anything lessons I had to go all the way to Nashville to really learn. I hope I can continue to put them to good use. And thanks once again to Kleenex for not only supporting bloggers, but for being so great to work with.
I’m going to go blow my nose now. Consider it a sponsored blow.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 7. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, and Momtourage, and podcasts with The Blogging Angels.