Blogging with the pros

Last week I attended my first blogging convention, BlogHerPRO. It was a mini-convention, lasting only one day — something that made me more willing  to try it. That, and its location in San Francisco enticed me — for a “local” such as myself, it was only an hour away. Although I was intimidated to enter the room, I found the experience invigorating, even transformative. Let me tell you why.

 

Blogging w the pros_SanFrancisco_BlogHerPRO2012

 

Blogging as a hobby

I started my blog in 2010 as a way to practice my writing. Also because I was fascinated by blogging technology and the fact that anyone could become a publisher just by putting stuff out there on the Internet. I figured blogging would be fun. Plus, it would be another outlet for me to “share” my opinions, in addition to offering them alongside grilled chicken at the dinner table.

Now, after two and a half years of blogging, I still tend to consider it one of my hobbies. My self-talk goes: “I’m a mom, an almost-empty-nester, a tennis player, sometimes a writer. Oh, and I have this blog. Check it out, it’s kind of cool.”

 

Enter: BlogHerPRO

But last week, I began to think of myself as a Blogger. The BlogHerPRO speakers included women who’ve built exemplary blogs and offered practical tips from their own experience. I absorbed an information-packed day with presentations by folks like Maria Ross of Red Slice, Catherine McCord of Weelicious, Carly Knobloch of Digitwirl and Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes.

For me, however, the highest value in attending BlogHerPRO came from conversations with other attendees. Although I felt intimidated going into the day, it was probably the most welcoming large-group event I’ve encountered. I’m bad at estimating crowd sizes, but I would guess over 200 women attended. Two hundred more bloggers, all of them female, than I’d ever seen in one place before.

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Flaws meet faith at a family wedding

A family wedding lets us reconnect with relatives, revisit memories, and reflect on the bond that draws families together.

That’s what I did last weekend, when I attended the wedding of my husband’s cousin’s son. While neither of us knew the groom well and had never met the bride, we were happy to visit with so many relatives gathered in one place.

Goin’ to the Chapel

The wedding itself was a suburban Los Angeles affair. Held at a wedding chapel on a trafficked boulevard, the event was relaxed but efficient, a bit impersonal although personalized. The “chapel” had a front room with wooden folding chairs and stained glass windows. Adjacent to it was the dining room, where guests retired immediately for the reception and dancing with a DJ.

Like any wedding, this one had its “moments.” Face it: planning (and paying for!) a wedding is hard. For example, it’s tough to find a bridesmaid dress that suits the array of figure types most weddings entail. Selecting soloists can also be tricky — there were three long minutes last weekend when I focused on the carpet design and thought about serious things in order to keep from giggling. But that was me. Most likely there was a reason behind choice they made.

Weddings can be particularly dicey occasions nowadays, when multiple sets of parents and blended families are the norm. This event was no different, as the groom’s parents divorced years ago. Both halves of his family, plus the bride’s relatives, spent several hours in the same building, but we barely interacted. Photos and table assignments gave us individual versions of a communal event.

This wedding was a notable day for our family, an unforgettable one for the bride and groom. No matter whether the setting is a wedding chapel in California, a cathedral in London, a courthouse in San Francisco or

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