Adventures From BlogHer; Chapter 1

31 07 2013

BlogHer, the world’s largest blogging conference for women was a remarkable event to be a part of. 5000 bloggers there equaled 93 million followers and Midlife Bloggers was among the most mentioned topics.  I kept trying to be profound while attempting to write this and then I’d just start laughing thinking about all the adventures I had. I started writing and then kept writing. This post got real long, it’s turned into a novella, so I’ve decided to break it down into three chapters. I learned blogs shouldn’t be as long as a novella. This is Chapter 1 of 3. 

Business Cards are big at BlogHer. You start handing them out to everyone you encounter from the moment you step off the plane.

Business Cards are big at BlogHer. You start handing them out to everyone you encounter from the moment you step off the plane.

Thursday’s Adventures
I started blogging last summer. A few women I sincerely respect told me I needed to go to BlogHer.  I saw some buzz on the Generation Fabulous  Facebook page and decided on the last day of the early bird special in January to sign up. Virginia Sullivan, First Class Woman and I had met in the virtual world and only know each other through this fabulous blogging group we’re a part of. (I learned that’s how you introduce yourself at BlogHer; your name, your blog name and a very quick sentence that says everything about who you are and then you hand out your card.) We were both looking for roomies.  Two other women decided not to attend after agreeing to room with me, so the universe kindly put Virginia and I together.

I wasn’t concerned with rooming with someone I didn’t know. She was from wine country, so I figured, hey, I bet she’ll at least have a glass of wine with me.  We arrived at the hotel within 30 minutes of each other and immediately agreed to get out and walk Chicago on that beautiful, cool day. It was my first visit to the windy city and it is beautiful. Our hotel was within sight of the blue waters of Lake Michigan. We found an outdoor café and by the end of lunch we had become instant friends. We’re both extroverts, view life from the same lens, are the same age, empty nesters, happy in our lives, we’ve been blogging around the same amount of time, both have corporate day jobs and were newbies at BlogHer. And yes, she liked that occasional glass of wine too.

After a brief adventure of “where did Connie lose her glasses”, we made it over to the exhibit hall, which was Brand Mecca, all the vendors wanting to be in fellowship with you. All had fun, clever ways to interact, sample their product, tweet their message out and were eager to have real conversations with you.

Before and after eating a Snickers bar.

Before and after eating a Snickers bar.

Virginia and I are both talkers.  We whispered to each other as we walked past the AARP booth that we were a bit in denial about the age thing and that we put their direct mail in the trash. We couldn’t help ourselves and started talking to them anyway, we even confessed our ageist attitude. They laughed and said everyone throws their mail away. But they weren’t only about people in retirement homes; they were also for working women like us who had to care for those parents. It made me look at them differently, and next time I may actually open their mail. This was a turning point for me about this exhibit hall. It was about connections; just like what all of us bloggers are trying to do. Connecting to others in a real, authentic way, not just grabbing Snickers at their booth, which BTW was yummy.

That evening was the “non-event” event that all the GenFab women who were attending had set aside to meet each other. We packed the bar. It was great to see faces light up when recognition struck. We hugged, we talked, we laughed. I was a little jealous of someone who had just been interviewed by a dominatrix (who was not a GenFabber).

Virginia’s BFF status was sealed when she came back looking a little dusty from the ladies room. Apparently the lock had broken and she had gotten stuck in the stall. The only other person in the restroom was a young woman whose only help was to say that she wouldn’t Instagram her crawling out of the stall.

So ended my first day in Chicago, hours past my bedtime.

Blogher b cardClick here for Adventures From BlogHer; Chapter 2 

Click here for Adventures From BlogHer; Chapter 3 

Hi, I’m Connie McLeod of My Creative Journey, I write about my creative life.  If you like my adventures I’d love for you to follow me. I promise no spam. Here’s my card (imagine I’m shaking your hand). 

I’m proud to be a GenFab blogger!

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Guest Blogger: Lisa Froman

28 07 2013

Lisa and I have run in the same professional circles since we were new in our careers. But it was only this year through a bit of serendipity that had us both becoming bloggers and discovering a great group of women at Generation Fabulous that caused us to meet in real life. We have been friends and supporters of each other ever since. This spring the Dalai Lama visited New Orleans and we both blogged about it from our different perspectives.  I know you will enjoy my friend and guest blogger’s words as much as I do. —Connie

The Dalai Lama, Non-Violence and Gun Ads

by Lisa Garon Froman

Mardi grasNew Orleans is lovingly called the city that “care forgot.”  And for good reason; its love of revelry, rhythm and blues, and deep-fried everything, is legendary.

Yes, that city. The city that was nearly swallowed up and spit out in pieces by the punishing wind and waters of Hurricane Katrina.

Yes, that city, the one that inspires hope and loss in the same breath; the city that spurs the kind of violence that leaves you heart sick and slack-jawed from the shock and soulless brutality of it all. Like when two young males well-schooled in violence casually open-fired on a Mother’s Day parade wounding 20 people, including several children.

This was the city that the Dalai Lama came to visit recently. A city badly in need of healing.

This was the Dalai Lama’s first visit to New Orleans and he came to deliver a commencement speech to Tulane graduates and speak at several other engagements in the city.

Not surprising he spoke of peace in his speeches. To the Tulane graduates he said,   “Please pay attention to securing your own inner peace. Our hopes for the future rest on your shoulders. Please think about how to make this a more peaceful, compassionate century.”  

dalai

Speaking at a separate event at the New Orleans Lakefront Arena, he talked about non-violence and peace and compassion.

He said, “It is not our job to disturb the peace and then it’s God’s job to restore it. Violence isn’t created by God or Buddha; it’s created by human beings. So logically, the responsibility to eliminate it belongs to us too. Here in America there’s been a lot of discussion about gun control. But the real source of control is in our hearts.”

Wise words from a wise monk.

Violence and poverty and abuse all stem from a lack of compassion. The need for guns and the need for gun control is all the same to me. It’s all rooted in fear and violence in my book.

Look, I’m from the South. Guns are serious business here. This isn’t a subject that makes friends–unless you’re on the right side of the argument– if you get my drift.  It’s a subject that I usually stay away from because I’m a peacemaker at heart and it almost seems counterintuitive to me to argue about guns.

“…Please think about how to make this a more peaceful, compassionate century.” I think of the Dalai Lama’s words to the graduates about securing peace, and working for a more peaceful world. I wonder what I can contribute to the cause.

I think there are a lot of us who are confused about how to walk in this world more peacefully.

I’m of the opinion that it starts with finding inner peace. Not an easy task. But I believe that meditation is a good start here. Finding compassion for ourselves, for our faults, and loving ourselves so we can better love others, is another strategy.

I think when we’re brave enough to do the inner work, to look at all of the places inside of us where we are at war with ourselves, where we focus on what’s wrong with ourselves, with our lives, is a good place to work on non-violence. Perhaps that’s the foundation of the saying, “Love others as we love ourselves.”

Maybe the idea is that we should love ourselves a little more, so we learn the capacity to be truly compassionate, truly kind to others. So that we can love others.

I think prayer is also a gateway to compassion. Praying to God, Spirit, Buddha or to your higher spirit for guidance is a good way to open up the heart. The older I get, the more I pray.

If we’re honest, we can admit that light and dark both exist in this world. But light, including inner light, can be the beacon that disperses the darkness. Within us and around us.

When we actively focus on non-violence, maybe we will lessen the violence in the outside world. Maybe we won’t have to live forever with the duality of seeing this:

His Holiness featured in an article about his visit to New Orleans in The Advocate with a gun ad on the opposite page.

His Holiness featured in an article about his visit to New Orleans in The Advocate with a gun ad on the opposite page.

A full page article in the Baton Rouge paper featuring the Dalai Lama’s visit to New Orleans with an ad for a gun shop placed on the opposite page from it. I’d like to think this was an accident. But the truth is, I’m not sure.

Which leads me to the truism that “there are no accidents.” Maybe there’s a message here about our society’s conflict. About how we all wrestle with the light and the dark.

267-2About Lisa: 
Lisa Garon Froman is a writer, poet and an award-winning communications professional. She lives in Baton Rouge, La., and is the mother of one son, Alexander.  
If you’re interested in more thoughts on compassion and grace, particularly at midlife, read her book Tao Flashes.  Visit her blog: Tao Flashes, a woman’s way to navigating the midlife journey with integrity, harmony and grace or follow her at www.facebook.com/taoflashes or twitter @taoflashes. 

Lisa and I are both proud to be GenFab bloggers!





The Box

21 07 2013

boxes
Does life push us into a box? You know the box, that safe, sometimes boring place that’s not known for creativity and innovation. But it feels comfortable, reliable and safe. It keeps you dry when life rains on you. It’s a place of lists of to do’s and should do’s. You play by the rules because you have responsibilities and the world looks at you funny if you get out of the box.

Youth doesn’t yet know what the box is. This is why so many entrepreneurs are young, no responsibilities, and free to be whatever they envision. Time passes and life moves us forward. Relationships, mortgages, parenting happens—all good stuff—but with it comes real grown-up responsibilities…and grown-up bills. It’s harder to take a big risk because you don’t want to risk your child’s tuition bill or the roof-over-your-head bill. I certainly found myself deep in this box.

And then before you know it, you have an empty nest and you’re smack dab in mid-life. Wow, you realize you can get out of that box. You may miss its safety and it may feel strange to be out of that comfortable box or it may feel strangely familiar. It may make you feel young because the last time you felt this way you were young. You may be single again, dating again. You remember those fluttery, sexy, feelings of desire again. You desire to get out of that safe box.

But it’s different from your youth because you have life experience. You know what’s important to you. You know that the safety of being in the box is an illusion. By midlife, you’ve lost loved ones who played by all the rules. You know that life can unexpectedly and suddenly change in an instant.  So now instead of the safety of the box, you’re out, you’re back in the exhilaration of free-fall.

Maybe your risks are more grounded than in your youth. You know if you’re starting something new, it’s not a bad idea to have a plan. And if you have a plan, you know when it’s OK to make a change when something is not working. You know to grab that opportunity when it presents itself, because if you wait too long, it may not wait for you. You also know that life should be savored and you know there has to be balance. This is the gift of mid-life.

Out of the Box

Screen shot 2013-07-19 at 1.03.03 PM

Some people call it a coincidence, others call it synchronicity, and I call it a cosmic happening. That moment when the universe aligns and sends you a sign that you are exactly where you are meant to be. As I’m writing this blog post, I check my email inbox. It has a delete box, as well as folders for rules and junk. Could this inbox be a metaphor for life in and out of the box? I just got a deal for skydiving. It came right after an email that reads, “Go for it”. Hhhmmmm, I’m exactly where I’m meant to be, out of the box. I’m going for it and I know I’ll land safely.





A Journey to Another Culture

14 07 2013

I love to experience the new and unexpected. New sights, experiences, smells and tastes from different places broaden my view of what’s possible. Malaysia is a beautiful, tropical, country that is a hodgepodge of cultures that have blended together to form an exotic culture. I was married for 19 years to a man from that culture and I made the journey half-way around the world to his homeland.

Inside a Buddhist Temple

Inside a Buddhist Temple

Malaysia has been a travel crossroads since man set sail. It’s a colorful blur of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and British. My ex is Chinese and his large, multi-cultural family is scattered throughout the Malaysian peninsula and Singapore. He is the 12th of 13 children; he was born to the second wife. The two moms, his father, a grandmother and all the children lived under the same roof. His grandmother was born in China. I heard the story of her broken, gnarled feet because of having them partially bound as a very young girl. This was the custom in China before war caused her family to move to Malaysia. His grandmother, father and the first mom had long passed away before we married.

This only child was warmly welcomed into his large family. My Mother-in-Law spoke no English, so there was lots of smiling and nodding when we met. Family life centered around mealtime and generations came together to laugh, gossip and eat. The Kitchen God’s image hangs in the kitchen and is fed sticky food so he can’t slip away and repeat the overheard gossip.

Adults eat first, the teens clean up and everyone plays with any available baby. After dinner, the kids go outside to play and climb the fruit-laden trees while the adults play mahjong. The only Chinese I had leaned were the curses that my then husband would mutter under his breath. He had no idea I had learned those curse words much to the delight of his family when asked if I had learned any Chinese and I proudly said them.

My daughter at Chinese New Year

My daughter at Chinese New Year

Our daughter is named Jade, a name to fit in both East and West. When we returned a few years later to visit with her, it was hard to realize that my baby girl would have been the age of her great grandmother when foot-binding would have been the norm. My little exuberant American—who talked as an equal to the adults, not something the other children did—was embraced and welcomed just as I was. I have sweet memories of her curled up in her grandmother’s lap watching TV…in Chinese. Their understanding of each other transcended language. Fortunately she did not learn those Chinese curses.

Cousins

Cousins

While life in Malaysia is more similar than different from my American life, there are differences. His family all went to British schools. So while English is their first language, they speak English/Malay/Chinese; it’s whichever language has the best word for what they’re trying to say. Malaysians often end a phrase or a sentence with the word “la” which gives conversation a lovely lilting sound.

An intricately carved Temple roof

An intricately carved Temple roof

Each day the heavy tropical dawn air carries the beautiful sound of prayers being chanted from a nearby mosque. Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and Hindus all live side by side. Shoes are taken off before you enter homes or temples. There’s always a pile of shoes at doorways. There are warning signs at temples that say “Beware of Shoe Thieves”. One memorable sign said “Beware of Shoes”. I wear a size 7, which is huge over there and probably why I never had my shoes stolen. I’m 5’4”, which made me the size of most men. My ex is 5’8” and played center for his high school basketball team.

The timeless Raffles Hotel

The timeless Raffles Hotel

I love curry, dim sum and mangos because of first tasting them in that tropical crossroads. I’ve walked on a rope bridge high atop a rain forest, eye-level with the tropical birds and monkeys. I’ve stood on Penang’s breathtaking island shores–shores that a devastating tsunami would one day flood. I’ve slung back a Singapore Sling at the timeless Raffles Hotel in Singapore, the same place Somerset Maugham, Hemingway and other ex-pats drank and told their stories.  I’ve stood atop the world’s tallest twin towers in Kuala Lumpur  and seen the sunset on a distant horizon. A sunset that was becoming a sunrise back home. Life is indeed about the journey and not the destination. Savor every step.

If you like My Creative Journey, I’d love for you to follow me. My posts will then arrive in your email and I promise no spam.





Salut! It’s My One-Year Blogging Anniversary.

6 07 2013

Salut

This month marks one year of blogging! WOO HOO! It has been an amazing year and this little blog ‘o mine has taken me to unexpected places. I started it because I needed to have my creative voice out there. A few months into blogging, I stumbled upon this fabulous group of women at Generation Fabulous. They were remarkably supportive of one another and read my blog and even commented on it. Then GenFab bloghops were in the freakin’ Huffington Post and there I was!  This led to writing for another group, Better After 50 and more amazing writers. GenFab has grown in just the few months since I joined and  now has a website featuring the powerful voices of midlife. I was a featured blogger and had a video interview with Chloe Jeffreys for her feature Coffee with Chloe. I still am surprised when I look back on this past year and see where My Creative Journey has taken me.

Another surprise is that I didn’t expect that each post I’ve written would become a blog child. I must admit while I love all my blog children I do have favorites. So in honor of my one-year anniversary I’m going to tell the world my favorites and why.

These are what I consider my 3 best posts:

the jump

Taking the Leap
This is about my attempt to become fearless.

Me and my sweetie, Steve

Soul Mates and Angels
Even though I wrote this, I can still tear up when I read it. It’s me and Steve’s love story.

Full view w detail

If You Give Connie a Glass of Wine
This chronicles the birth of my business, Greenview Designs in that meandering way that is my creatve processs. It’s written in the style of, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” a book I loved reading to my daughter when she was little.

These are about where I live:

katrina-08-28-2005

Bread, Batteries and Booze
Big shoutout to my buddy Juan Simoneux who posted it on at The Cajun American.  It’s because of his fans that this remains my most viewed post ever. It’s about living in hurricane country.

Flyin Alligator waterfront lounge

Luzianna Friday Nite
I love where I live. OK, I don’t love hurricanes (see above).

These are about my family:

  My mom dresses just like the Cosmo Girl.

Wild Woman
This is about my Mother. You’ll need to read the post to understand why that’s all I can say about this one. 

My Mom and me, 1961

The Sandwich Generation  
What make The Wild Woman story so special to me is where my Mom came from. This post tells that story.

letter

Large and Purple
My Dad, Lloyd McLeod, was a local character and a really great father.

My first apartment

Argo, the Ayatollah, Eudora Welty and First Apartments
Connections I share with my daughter.

These were unexpectedly popular:

mcleodyardwork

Timeless Tips From a Fashionista
This was inspired by the GenFab bloghop on epic fashion fails and it also made the Huffington Post. It proves I don’t care about embarrassing myself if it makes a good story.

Teresa from the Housewives of New Jersey flipping a table screaming Prostitution Whore!

My Guilty Pleasure
I was a little surprised how many other people admitted to the same guilty pleasure. Ssssshhh, it’s our little secret.

Sometime in the last year I heard about this amazing blogging conference called BlogHer. So I will be flying off to Chicago soon and rooming with a new friend from GenFab. I could never have imagined this a year ago. I’m sure a blog child will be birthed from this adventure. Time will tell if it’ll become a favorite.

Thanks to all who have read and supported me in the past year.

If you like My Creative Journey, I’d love for you to follow me. My posts will then arrive in your email and I promise no spam.

I’m proud to be a GenFab blogger!