Yesterday I attended the third annual Minnesota Bloggers Conference. It wasn’t the sessions that made me want to go: it was the community. I wanted to meet real people with real blogs. And I did! And it turns out that the Twin Cities are a little small (not a surprise) and I recognized a lot of faces! Which was great. Really, truly.
But what was missing for me was the personal connection to one’s blog. Sometimes I try to be a food blogger, or a craft blog, or a travel blog… But mostly I’m just a girl who wants to remember the awesome parts of her life. I want to remember what makes me excited and inspires me. And I want to share! In a way that says, “Here, world, I did this amazing thing – and I’d love to know if you’ve done it, too.” Let’s exchange experiences, you know?
Sometimes I struggle with exactly how much to share, though. Because, of course, I have struggles that maybe it’d be nice to share – to make things not so difficult to talk about. To release secrets can be cathartic – and why do my frustrations need to be secret when I probably could connect with someone who’s been though the same thing?
That’s what my blog is about. I want to share and remember. I want to connect. I want to get excited and nerdy! I want to let go of stress and trouble.
So, I don’t post very often but I always have the intention. Almost every day I find something I’d like to write or photograph and share, but then I get distracted or give myself an excuse not to do that. I need to quit that.
By the way: thank you to the other Minnesota bloggers I met yesterday. You are fabulous people! You inspire me.
i got to attend minnewebcon again this year because i’m a lucky girl!
whitney hess was this year’s morning keynote speaker. she spoke about user research, but some of the thoughts i jotted down can apply to any job:
Empathy builds empires.
In order to solve a problem, get away from your desk. Get out into the world: explore, learn, understand.
Talk to people about something you’re trying to understand until you stop hearing new things — then analyze and process.
See the problems that other people don’t see (and be part of the solution).
when whitney flipped up a slide about soft skills a ux researcher needs to have, i found myself wondering if i have these skills and bring them to my professional (and personal!) life. i would like to think i do, but i could get better in some situations.
He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.
after lunch, i attended a session hosted by tonya oaks smith in which she prompted us to think about our own communication networks. we are agents of change, but who do we know as opinion leaders? who can help us get our message out into the world?
this was right around the time that i started to realize that i needed to stop being my usual quiet self and get chatting with folks — networking, man. i often let my antisocial homebody-ness take over my brain and i forget that talking to strangers can be a good thing. then tonya pointed me towards a recent blog post she wrote — networking doesn’t have to have a defined expectation! networking is just getting to know people, finding people who have similar interests as you. maybe someday you can help each other, but at the beginning it is just for fun.
have more fun!
and then i went to abbey tosic’s session about standing out and moving up.
don’t be afraid to brag — no one will be a better advocate for yourself than you will be. (related: always have an answer for that dreaded small-talk question, “what have you been up to?”)
figure out what’s holding you back — then conquer it! one success brings confidence to create more success.
don’t forget to include the things that bring you joy on your “to do” list.
get out of your comfort zone more often.
“If you’re not feeling a little uncomfortable, you’re probably not pushing hard enough.”
at the happy hour that night, my friend, bertine, and i were talking about sessions we could present. what topics are we confident enough about to share with everyone else? because being an active part of a local (maybe someday global?!) team of web professionals makes me feel excited. (even just writing about this little personal journey i had on monday is making me feel excited.)
and then i asked the geek girls for their autographs on their new book and they remembered me* despite brief meetings in the past and i didn’t want to go home because then i was over-the-moon excited. (i can easily get starry-eyed about people i think are amazing, but hopefully i can also maintain composure in their presence.)
* i should note that meghan remembered me because of my twitter name, @pork_chop, which actually pleases me even more after all of this inspiration. it just reinforces that my personal brand is working! i’m doing something right so far, antisocial or not.
What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before? I got to see a little bit of California’s wine country! So lovely, I want to go back.
Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don’t usually make real resolutions, but in 2012 I’m going to continue improving my domestic diva-ness: canning my own food and sewing my own quilt.
Did anyone close to you give birth? My friend, Erin, had her daughter, Lillian, last New Year’s Eve.
Did anyone close to you die? Jason’s uncle (aka Dad #2), Fred, passed away in August. My mom’s uncle, Roger, passed away in September.
What countries did you visit? I decided to stay in the US this year… (I should use my passport more.)
What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? Paint on the walls in my home, a comfortable crafting room (“lady town”), and my dream bathroom. We have a lot of housework to do in 2012! (And thanks to my generous siblings, we have a very good head-start with our home improvement funds.)
What date(s) from 2011 will remain etched your memory, and why? Over the 4th of July weekend I photographed a very lovely half-Indian, half-Scottish wedding. August 21st was the day Uncle Fred lost his battle with cancer. July 29th was the day Jason closed on the house. (There were a lot of good days mixed in with bad days this year.)
What was your biggest achievement of the year? Advancing my career as a web chick (aka web developer)!
What was your biggest failure? Not paying off more debt.
Did you suffer illness or injury? Excellent timing: I was diagnosed with an ear infection about two days prior to my insurance ending with my previous employer — and I would’ve had to wait another month for my insurance with my new employer to kick in!
What was the best thing you bought? Movers really helped me out mid-August (as did my fantastic brother-in-law).
Where did most of your money go? I’m honestly not sure — a lot of little things really add up, I guess.
What did you get really, really, really excited about? Moving into the house with the man I love! Also, becoming more of a domestic diva: cooking for Thanksgiving dinner with friends, canning, gardening (next year), knitting, and sewing.
What song(s) will always remind you of 2011? Cloud Cult’s “Running with the Wolves.”
Compared to this time last year, are you:
happier or sadder? Happier!
thinner or fatter? About the same, though my new employer feeds me a lot and I haven’t been walking or standing as much.
richer or poorer? A little bit richer, but still working on paying off that pile of debt!
What do you wish you’d done more of? Crafting, reading, hanging out with friends.
What do you wish you’d done less of? Wallowing in depression about money.
How will you be spending/did you spend Christmas? Over the last couple days, Jason and I were in South Dakota with my family. This afternoon we’re celebrating Bertine & Zach’s wedding. In another two weekends, we’ll be celebrating with Jason’s family in Iowa.
Did you fall in love in 2011? I fell more in love, if that’s even possible.
How many one-night stands? I try to stand at least once every night.
What was your favorite TV program? The Walking Dead. It makes me nervous and I can’t watch it without Jason being around, but it’s so well written and acted!
Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I try not to use this word/feel this emotion.
What was the best book you read? The only book I read this year was The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom, but I did very much enjoy it.
What was/were your greatest musical discoveries? Florence + The Machine is probably my favorite from this year.
What did you want and get? For the last five months or so, I’ve been dying to trade in my Android for an iPhone, but it was never financially feasible. I was going to wait until next month to take the plunge, but my sweetie did some sneaking around and got me an iPhone for Christmas! I may or may not have cried (just a little bit). (Excitement, you know?) (Who am I kidding? I cry at everything.)
What was your favorite film of this year? Harry Potter!
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 30 this past November. I had a couple friends visiting, Bridget and Lindy. We went to brunch at Fat Nat’s Eggs, visited the Museum of Russian Art and IKEA, then for dinner (with Jason and Kristi joining) we made Tater Tot Hot Dish and watched both of the final Harry Potter movies back-to-back. It was a great day!
What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If our girl kitties would just (at least) tolerate each other.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? Too poor to shop for clothing, make do with what I have.
What kept you sane? Jason.
Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I very much enjoyed watching Will & Kate’s Royal Wedding (and seeing what she wore and her jewelry and etc. etc. etc.)
What political issue stirred you the most? I don’t know, I’m not really very political (out loud, I guess).
Who did you miss? Friends from South Dakota (I didn’t make it home enough this year).
Who was the best new person you met? I met a lot of new people this year — my new team at work, friends’ friends, or people just passing through my life’s adventures.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011: Just breathe. Everything will work out.
Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: Then lights they fill the air, or were they always there?
I finally see it. I finally see it.
And I heard the captain say, I heard the captain say,
“You’re always close to it, so very close to it.”
There’s so much energy in us.
This is the prettiest bobbin case I’ve ever laid my eyes on.
I held Kethry for a while before I left. That was the easiest job of the day — she was sleeping the whole time! (What do babies dream about?)
I wanted to stay for the final product, but had evening plans with my mister. Luckily, Bertine posted a photo of the quilt top after everything had been sewn together — so I stole this from her Facebook page to share with you. Looks great to me!
My first quilt pattern (which cost a whole $1.50) arrived in the mail over the weekend. Hopefully I’ll get it made for sharing in early 2012!
how does this song make you feel? tonight it makes me feel a little blue, though i still like it a lot.
i heard it on my way home tonight, after attending my company’s holiday party. i’ve only been working there for a little over a month, so i don’t know many people beyond my immediate team. unfortunately being an introvert got the best of me tonight — trying to socialize while there’s a loud blues band playing? not happening. i just can’t stand trying to yell conversation at people.
i guess i’ll just have to keep trying. a little bit at a time.