BlogHer’14: When Worlds Collide and Friends Connect

Because I am an Introvert…

It’s the Saturday night of BlogHer’14, and unlike 90% of the attendees, I am holed up in my hotel room, the events of the past 3 days finally having caught up with me in a big way. Not being much of a party girl I have opted to pass on the closing celebration.

I hear you all gasping.

How could I miss it? That’s just the way I am. My co-founder of Midlife Boulevard, Anne Parris, is most certainly dancing up a storm with the hundreds of women who will be there. It’s just the kind of thing she loves. And that’s why we work so well together – we are different in all the right ways.

midlife-boulevard-co-founders

Anne and me at the Sangria Sundown Soiree #namastEPPA.

What I Did

Thursday night found dozens of midlife women at the Fairmont San Jose Lobby bar, fanning themselves in an attempt to get cool and trying valiantly to talk over the music. It was not nearly enough time, but I did get to see, among others, Midlife Boulevard contributors Vikki Claflin, Elaine Ambrose, Adela Crandell Durkee, Suzanne Stavert, Kim Tackett, Nancy Fox of Skinny Kitchen and Kay Lynn Akers.

midlife-women-blog-san-jose-fairmont

Just some of the Women of Midlife at BlogHer14

I was honored to be asked to be a Newbie Mentor for BlogHer’14. I started BlogHer’14 by attending the Newbie Breakfast, where I sat with women who, for the most part, were young enough to be my daughters. It didn’t matter, though – the one thing we all had in common is that we’re bloggers, and they had lots of questions that I was glad to answer.

I also was happy to have the chance to talk with Lisa Stone, one of the 3 founders of BlogHer and its CEO. Warm and friendly, I was also very impressed with her $59 dress from Nordstrom Rack. That’s what she told us.

blogher-14

Friday morning at the opening breakfast I sat at a table with the coolest kids on social media, my IRL BFF Jodi Okun and the amazing, talented and dynamic Peg Fitzpatrick. Also at the table was Cliff Obrecht from Canva.com, my new favorite graphic design tool, and Matt Cherry, founder of iBlog Magazine, where all the best bloggers are interviewed. Anne and I are waiting to hear from you, Matt!

Cliff clearly got into the Selfiebration mood!

 

It’s All About the People

My primary goal for BlogHer this year was to connect with as many of the women from the Women of Midlife Facebook group, especially those I’d never met,  as I could, and to see friends.

midlife-bloggers-at-blogher

With the hilarious Alexandra Williams of funandfit.org

I had dinner on Wednesday night with Midlife Boulevard Mental Health Columnist Dr. Margaret Rutherford and contributor Treva Brandon, who blogs at The Late Blooming Bride. Two and a half hours after we sat down, barely knowing each other, we felt like we’d been friends for 100 years.

Thursday I had lunch with Judy Freedman, who blogs at A Boomer’s Life After 50. Yes, we talked a little about blogging, but mostly we talked about our lives, our kids, and traveling.

Thursday night I was so happy to be with Darryle Pollack and Lynn Forbes of WHOA Network for dinner. I look to them both not only for lively and interesting conversation, but for wise advice and brainstorming. I consider them not only business connections but good friends.

Friday night was a wonderful dinner with my dear friends Lisa Heffernan, Mary Dell Harrington and their photographer Theresa Kilman of the amazing blog Grown and Flown. Also with us at dinner were Anne and Jodi. We went to Santana Row, the place to be in San Jose, and ate at Lark Creek Blue. As always, dinner with Lisa, Mary Dell and Theresa is the highlight of BlogHer for me – since they live on the east coast and I live on the west coast, it’s one of the only times I get to see them during the year.

lark-creek-blue-restaurant

 

When Worlds Collide

Saturday, though, was the best day. On Saturday, my daughter accompanied Kerry Washington, the star of the hit show Scandal, to BlogHer, where she was a keynote speaker. My daughter is on Kerry’s publicity team (she has the most awesome job).

My daughter and me at BlogHer

To say that the coincidence of having my daughter at BlogHer while she was working was wonderfully surreal would be an understatement. I have always been proud of her, but watching her do her job with confidence and professionalism, interacting with the powers-that-be in the BlogHer community, was an experience I’ll never forget. My world and hers, colliding most excellently.

The lovely Kerry Washington and me.

As an added, extra-special bonus, I got to spend the morning with Kerry Washington and my daughter before Kerry did her kickass interview with the charming Demetria Lucas. I have to say, Kerry Washington is as lovely and delightful up close and personal as she was during her interview. And astoundingly beautiful, too.

  • A special mention must be made of Morra Aarons-Mehle’s 10×10 speech, in which she referenced herself as unf*%kable (quoting comments made about her when she was an on-air personality) while quite noticeably pregnant. It was one of my favorite moments of the weekend. Take that, trolls!!
  • Also notable was Kara Swisher, on whom I now have a mad girl crush. They don’t come much smarter or funnier than Kara.
  • The interview of Arianna Huffington by Guy Kawasaki was as lively and entertaining as could be. I had no idea Arianna had such a great sense of humor, and Guy played right into her sound-bite -peppered conversation. Her advice to turn off your devices, take them out of your bedroom and get a good night’s sleep is one I’m taking to heart.
Arianna-Huffington-Guy-Kawasaki

Arianna Huffington and Guy Kawasaki. A dynamic duo.

Finally, Saturday afternoon was the Boomer and Beyond minicon, led by Darryle Pollack, Cynthia Samuels and Patricia Patton. We discussed community, monetization, identity and so much more. There’s one thing that’s absolutely certain – the midlife community of bloggers is growing every day, and will continue to grow long after I’ve aged out of it. Whether at BlogHer or elsewhere, the women of midlife are finding our voices and sharing our stories on our blogs, in videos, on websites, and through social media.

 31% of Facebook users are women 35-54, and that number grew by 41% since 2011. Even more astounding: 15.6% of Facebook users are 55+, and that number grew by a whopping 80.4% since 2011. – istrategylabs.com

Which brings me back here, to my hotel room, and this blog post. Another BlogHer, another year gone by. I am so grateful to be part of the BlogHer community.

Sharon Greenthal

Sharon Greenthal is a managing partner and the editor-in-chief of Midlife Boulevard. Sharon's blog, Empty House Full Mind, focuses on observations of the world from the midlife empty nest. Sharon writes for the Huffington Post and Purple Clover. Sharon is the mother of two grown children - a daughter, 24 and a son, 22. She lives in Orange County, CA with her husband and their perfect dog, Lambeau. Instagram: sharongreenthal

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for sharing this Sharon. I need to bookmark this and come back to it so I can follow all of the great links you’ve included.

  2. says

    Thanks for sharing your BlogHer 14 experience. I was so delighted to finally meet you and Anne at the Midlife gathering along with many of the other fabulous women in our group.

  3. says

    Sharon, the community is the best part of BlogHer (okay and seeing a couple of celebrities!). I lost one of my high school BFFs to cancer over the weekend and know there is no greater treasure than love and friendship.

  4. says

    Thanks for calling me hilarious. Guess my new code word is “Spanx.” I loved seeing Kerry, as I love “Scandal.” I also got very excited when she mentioned “Luther,” which I know your daughter is also connected with (call me, Idris). But if I had gotten to meet Peg Fitzpatrick, I would have felt like my entire weekend was a bargain. You are one lucky (as in, You have made your own good luck) woman. I had a great time meeting so many of the WoM, and wish I had met more. I never did find Carol Cassara or Princess Rosebud.

  5. says

    Sharon, Lisa and I will always be grateful to BlogHer for giving us our first opportunity to meet you in person, way back when in NYC ’12. Seeing you in ’13 in Chicago and ’14 in San Jose have been the highlight of the annual conference for us, too. Thank you for organizing our dinner and, along with Anne Parris, for leading the charge of midlife blogging. Xox, MD

  6. says

    What a great wrap up post about the conference!! I was sorry I missed it, I would have loved to finally meet so many of the amazing midlife women I have gotten to know online. I love that your daughter was there because of her work and you were there for yours!!! And, your daughter is just gorgeous!!! Thanks again!

  7. says

    Thanks so much for the update. I’m definitely one to hide in my room during evening events at a conference. Introverts Unite! In our own rooms! Alone! Lol. I’m definitely putting BlogHer on my list of possible conferences next year!!

  8. says

    Sharon,

    Thank you so much for being my Newbie Mentor! It was an amazing first time for me and I do wish we’d had more time to get to know one another! You can bet I’ll be following you going forward! I was mixing so much business and pleasure that I didn’t have time to do 50% of what I wanted, and I’m exhausted and exchilarated. I appreciate your being there for me and making me feel welcome and, believe it or not, you relieved quite a bit of my pre-show anxiety, just by being there on Skype to answer questions. Thank you so very very much! :)

  9. says

    Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful experience! I hope to attend one day – mostly to meet some of the wonderful ladies here, and maybe to learn something new too :)

  10. says

    Sharon, THANK YOU for sharing this and most of all, for starting your post with an admission that you’re an introvert. I, too, am one, and have always wondered how someone like me can survive a conference like that. I’ve attended several conferences before in the academe but that was different. I was with people I knew and worked with every day and more or less, the groups were homogeneous. It’s great that you went with your real life friend and I bet that helps a lot. But I can imagine how after 3days, you may feel drained and would need to reboot and decompress in your room. I can completely relate to that, haha! Anyway, thanks again for showing how it can be possible to survive these things in spite of one’s predisposition towards introversion! :-)

  11. says

    What a fantastic wrap up! So awesome chatting with you too on Friday at the Fairmont. Truly the best part of the whole conference was being able to meet and talk to those I work with online.

  12. says

    Thank you for sharing your experience at Blogher, it looks like a wonderful event. I enjoyed reading about your experience… I’d most likely be like Anne, dancing up a storm at the closing gathering..

  13. says

    Saturday Night “Hotel Holer-Uppers” unite! I am glad to be amongst such fine company as I also decompressed alone in my Hilton room during the closing party. But I am sad that on Thurs night, I never made it to the midlife lobby meet-up in the Fairmont hotel because you all seem like such a great group and I was honored that an invite was extended to me. Would it be possible to join your Facebook group? At least that one, I don’t have to stay up late for…. (Menopausal Insomnia kicks my butt some nights and the evenings it takes off, Exhaustion fills in for!) This was a perfectly splendid recap and I look forward to following your blog from here on in!
    Stephanie

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