Talking to Strangers: BlogHer13 Random Shtuff I Learned

Well it has been over a month now since I attended BlogHer13 and this post is ohhhhh about a week late and I missed one of my four blog posts I had planned…but oh man life just took off and I was treading water…akaNoTimeToWrite.  Things have settled down now and I am not exactly floating along with a mini umbrella, fruit embellished drink in hand but I’m not gasping for air as my arms flail like a mad women just trying to keep from sinking.

So lets do this!

The last of my Talking to Strangers BlogHer 13 posts number three in a four three part series!


I had no expectations and no real goals for what I was going to accomplish when I headed to BlogHer13.  I was happy that way.  Going into a hugmongous conference I didn’t want any pressure on myself.  I knew the size of the conference, the number of bloggers there and the experience would be enough pressure.   As usual, I had no idea how much I would learn about myself!

Besides being knocked over the head by life with amazing lessons about myself and even with those two very moving experiences…Talking to Strangers: BlogHer13 A New Inner Beauty and Talking to Strangers: BlogHer13 Table of One (one would think that those would be enough) I found my days…and nights (BlogHer seriously is NON-stop) filled with fantastic random lessons from old friends and new ones too.

I give you…


I learned that now that I have met Kirsten from the Kir Corner and Mel from According to Mags I can not longer read their blog posts without  reading them in a strong Boston / New York accent.  Also, Mel texts with an accent too!

I learned I could just sit on a couch, on a beach, on a park bench and just…be with Kirsten.  Her warmth and genuineness and heart is as wonderful as you would expect!  Just being with her makes you happy!

I learned you never know who you are going to meet or what they are going to teach you.  Joanne from Tiniest Tiger  and Rachel from Preston Speaks  taught me that no matter how much you know or how successful you are people are willing to take time to talk to you,  get to know you and share what they know with you.

I learned to never underestimate where your greatest lessons are going to come from… one of my BIGGEST lessons came from Joanne  and Rachel.  I never in a gazillion years would have guessed or predicted that I would learn so very much from two amazingly fantastic bloggers who share their stories about their pets.

I learned that lessons can come from girl talk and a couch in the middle of the Verizon section at the Expo.  Jackie from a With Just a Little Bit of Magic laid back style and years of motherhood experience taught me that I need to keep embracing Olivia for exactly who she is and there are many different ways and activities that our children can do to teach them what we want them to learn.  Sometimes our way is not the only way…just go with it!

I learned that I can run farther then I thought I could.  Running the 5k along the Chicago lake front gave me a pace I never knew I had.  The pace to take me farther then just a 5k.  A pace that didn’t leave me sucking wind or doubled over with wobbly legs.  A pace that would take me on more and more runs, farther and farther, that would make running…fun!

I learned that friends I have met through blogging are just as amazing  as a I thought they would be.  The journeys I have taken with many of these woman on their blogs has all been worth it.  That the relationships we have built in this space are just as important to them as they are to me.  That the connections in this space can become in real life friendships.

I learned that I am a vault of Random SHtuff… from facts and tidbits (TONS of facts and tidbits) about people I have chatted with on twitter to random bits of information about bloggers to ooohhh she writes “this or that” blog  to ooo ooo ooo have you seen this new app or this new piece of technology that will do this or this or that on social media. Kim was never left moment that wasn’t filled with random information awesomeness overload (Think Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada when she is at the big event dishing facts about people Meryl Streep is meeting….yeah!)

FFFWWWEEEFFFF!!! I learned a lot!

BlogHer13 was an amazing event full of amazing strangers.  Some of them were strangers I had met through blogging that were friends.   Some of them were strangers I knew through twitter that I now got to meet in real life and some of them were strangers I had never known before.  Each moment of this event filled me with lessons and reminders about myself and this amazing place we call the blogosphere!




Talking To Strangers: BlogHer2013 Table of One

The hall where we were going to eat the first day was HUGE. So HUGE the energy fills you up, but too many tables to scan to find a familiar face or even new friends we had met and it leaves you linking…oh my lawrdy!

“There’s a table,” Kim said “Let’s go sit there!”

“Ok,” I smile and breath in deep summoning bravery to meet another new person.

We were trying to stretch out our comfort zones so we each sat on one side of her, not able to rely only on each other. We introduced ourselves. We made small talk. She was just finishing up her lunch and waiting for an appointment. Her gaze into the empty space in front of her told me her mind was somewhere else, preparing for what was to come. Soon two lovely women with big warm, smiles and a midwestern vibe sat next to us. Their smiles invited us into the conversation. It really was impossible not to talk to them. Then as quickly as they could share where they were from blogging worked it’s magic in just the way it it does unveiling that Kim, Dawn and Cathy were from exactly the same area, minutes away from each other to be exact.

“Can I sit here?” a voice comes from my left.

I look up to see young woman with a friendly and a laid back warmth.

“Sure” “Yes!” “Sit”, come from all the ladies at the table.

She sat.

We ate.

I checked to see what Kim was doing and smiled as she as she laughed and talked with the two women she had connected with.

“So how do you like BlogHer so far,”the young woman asked.

I told her about the two sessions I had been to, the energy and all the wonderful people we had met so far.

“What about you?” I asked hoping to learn more about her.

“I’m here representing a company, Find & Save. I don’t actually have a blog but after all these amazing stories I’ve heard here, it makes me want to start one,” she finishes with a smile and a long pause.

“Blogging is one of the most amazing things I have done. It has giving me a voice I never knew I had. It allowed me to meet and get to know the most fantastic woman. It’s incredible!”

“Oh I don’t know,” she answered looking down her food.

I pause and think maybe you overdid it. My passion is thick…or maybe just maybe that isn’t a look of no, but look I don’t know.

I smile at her and softly say, “You know you can be whoever you want online (and I shared my story). You can be and talk about whatever you want.”

“I don’t know,” she says.

“Start by writing about something simple… a trip to the park and then keep writing until you find your stories, your own voice.”.

We finish our food and it is time for Kim and me to leave.

My thoughts pause for a second…I wonder?! Should I?? So I take a deep breath and smile at her again, get up from my chair and walk over to her.

Kneeling down next to where she is sitting I look up to her and say, “Email me if you have any questions at all. How to get started, how to set up things, anything. I would love to help you with any questions you have. I mean it!” I smile again.

Taking the escalator down to the buses I smile at Kim.

“I’m ready. I’m going to do it! I was talking to that woman about starting a blog. It energizes me. It reminded me…again…. how much I love creating for others, talking to and working with someone until I am able to take their vision, mold it, bring the best out of them and make it oozz and shout who they are. I love it!!” I tell Kim (she listens, smiles and nods with a familiar duh! Laverne…I already knew that. Happy you could finally join me).

From that table of one a brand new confidence was found (I know…another…I can’t help it!). With a portfolio I am proud of, experience that makes me confident in what I can create, the nudge (who am I kidding it a full on shove) of several dear friends and that single conversation I am finally going to do it! I am going to open my very own Estys shop and really make my graphic designing a business. So with another reason to hold my head a little higher and my shoulders back a little stronger I am slowly working toward the goal of having the shop up and running by the beginning of the year.

Watch out Estys here comes Heck Awesome!!!!



There is more to come….


Talking to Strangers: BlogHer 2013 Discovering a New Inner Beauty

My husband barely stopped the car as I jumped out of the it at American Airlines terminal three.  I could hardly stand to surprise her by meeting her to help her with her bags.  I really couldn’t stand waiting to hug her and see her for real…in real life…standing in front of me!  I walked through the electric doors and scanned the baggage claim for baggage claim nine.  There it was.  There she was.  Jeans, long hair and a cute top.  Was that her? Should I sneak up behind her and squeeze her, because did I say I could hardly stand the wait.  What if it wasn’t her?  Also, do I really want to freak her out, the woman is going to spend four days in a hotel room with me.  I walked toward her and just as I was deciding to or not to surprise her from behind I turned to the right and spied a striking red haired, caribbean sea blue eyed beauty… GEEEEEEEE! KIM! KIM! {Hug} {Hug} {Hug} {Hug} {Hug} {Hug} I had finally, finally after two years (or is it three…I lost count) of getting to know her, learning from her, admiring her strength and growing with her during her blog facelift journey and then texting and FaceTime friendship…my goodness I was finally meeting her!!!!

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From that moment on two woman with a love for talking without waiting for a breath were each others wing woman, cheerleaders, the uhuh in each others extroverted problem solving session.   Our days at BlogHer were part local foods and enjoying local beer, part attending inspiring, go for it, dream big, take big risks sessions and part napping (seriously after amazing days and night of parties parties, then talking until 1 AM…2 AM…talking until we can’t stay awake anymore it’s exhausting!)

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Putting the finishing touches on my eye liner I stopped to make sure my line was smooth and a reflection caught my attention. The sparkle of my favorite sparkle top I wore. I smiled.  I added the finishing touches to my eyeliner and put on my lipstick. I stepped back to take a look at myself and smiled again. I was ready for a fashion show.  I sat on my bed as Kim finished blow drying her hair.  This was our last night of BlogHer and still, even after all that we had done and learned together I had no idea the biggest lessons I would learn at BlogHer would come at the Fashion Show and the simplest words.

Decked out in our sparkle tops, our favorite pants and heels as high as we could stand for the night (trying to wear cute, trendy foot wear and stand all night… it hurts! Bad!) We sat four rows back,  giddy about our good seats and about the fashion show.  In between my spew of the random shhtuff I know (long story…I’ll explain later) about bloggers we saw, tweets, giggles,  Kim’s night at the Roxbury sideways head bobs to the music playing and one of my hundreds of  “You know Kim…I think I…”  she leaned toward me, smiled and whispered softly looking me right in the eyes, “It’s always been there. You just believe it now.”

Days of learning to hold my head high and my shoulders back…

Days of learning (forcing myself) to make eye contact with strangers and smile…

Days of taking deep breaths and having conversations (wonderful ones…yes, another story) with strangers and not puking or dying in in nerves or failure…

Days of working on owning who I was and what made me me…

Days of talking to her non-stop (shut up! I told you I talked a lot but seriously Kim did a damn good job of keeping up… that girl can talk too!!!) being embraced for all of me…

…allowed me to finally truly love me and all the beauty I have inside.

So as I adjust to real life again and my BlogHer hangover has passed I find that ! have changed.  I carry myself differently.  My shoulder go back a little more when I walk,  I make eye contact and smile at strangers and friends more then before,  instead of shying away from conversations I jump in knowing I have something to offer and I walk a little taller.

All because a friend reminded me that “it” was always there!

Talking to Strangers: BlogHer 2013 A Four Part Series Because Just One Post Wouldn’t Do

TalkingToStrangersI’ve been talking to strangers for a long time here. It is no mystery to me the impact people I have met in this space and in social media have had on my life….treasured and unforgettable. On Wednesday July 24th2013 I headed to the largest blogging conference in the world. Suddenly many of the strangers that are friends would suddenly become real people (they’ve always been real people…now they’d be here in front of me in the flesh), in real life. Suddenly, I would be surrounded by other bloggers I know from their twitter or Facebook picture or from a post I read in passing. Suddenly, I would be surrounded by a whole heck of a lot of strangers! In real life stranger!

I have struggled to write my recap of BlogHer…hello it’s been three days…five days…oh my lawrdy too many days and I had nothing. Sure I had plenty of ideas floating around in my head but I could not come up with a way to tell you about it all without a long, very long, very very long post that was certain to leave you…zzzzz. So while I brainstormed and wrote rough drafts of my post (aka chat on twitter, catch up on others on Facebook, heart other fun fabulous pics on Instagram) I was suddenly inspired. Who said my recap had to be just one post? Did it have to be a recap? Did it have to be just one post and then a wise friend’s words found me…”because I’m the boss that’s why” and well because I do thing better when I do things my way!

Starting next Tuesday and then every Tuesday for the next three weeks I will be Talking to Strangers Laverne style…

Tuesday #1: Discovering A New Inner Beauty

Tuesday #2: A Table of One

Tuesday #3: A Cat, A Dog, A Pitch… Oh My

Tuesday #4: Random Shtuff I Learned

I hope you will join me the next four Tuesdays to hear the story behind each Talking to Strangers moment at BlogHer 2013!