Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Do It Anyway

I'm going to Los Angeles - actually I'm going to Ojai - in mid October to attend Creative Alliance '10.   It's a blogging conference, of sorts, with an emphasis on creating authentic, meaningful alliances in the online creative community.   

I will know some of the people there - my good friends Heather and Robin will be attending, as well as other incredible women I met at BlogHer in New York City who I've gotten to know a bit better over the past several weeks. 

When Lee mentioned this conference to me at BlogHer my first thought was:  of course I'm not going.   Not simply because of the time and expense involved in getting myself to LA, but because my gut chimed in to tell me I'm not a good enough blogger -- I'm too small, too inexperienced, too inconsequential.    There are only 40 attendees, and the core group of organizers reads like a list of my most favorite bloggers ever.   I'm in awe of these women, of their raw talent.   

My ego began whispering in my ear:  you can't afford to take the time, you hate to fly, you won't fit in, you'll feel worse about yourself if you go, you can't afford to go chasing dreams right now,.   It's the same voice that whispered to me about my drinking:  go ahead, have another, you don't amount to much anyway.  

I'm so tired of that voice.   I know in my gut she's dead wrong, but shoving her away is more difficult than I'd like to admit.

See, I love blogging.   I don't know why, but I feel an embarrassed tug when I admit that out loud.   I mean, what good does blogging do?   How is it additive in the world?    It amazes me that I prattle away here on this space about whatever is pinging around in my brain, and people come read it?   Why does anybody care?   Why do I care?

I know the answer, of course.    I care because of the incredible people I've met, the inspiration and hope I get from reading other peoples' blogs, the healing I feel when I write, the connection I feel from comments and emails.

I'm intimidated because the women who will be going to Creative Alliance '10 represent, to me, the cream of the crop.    They aren't caught up in boasting rights for readerships, they aren't in competition with each other.   They cheer each other on, and have a balanced approach to what it means to be successful in this crazy space.

I want that.

If I want that, I have to set aside my fears and insecurities and just go.   If you want to learn to ski, you don't go join a class of people who ski worse than you do just so you can feel better about yourself.   You draft behind the really talented skiers and try to keep up, so you can watch and learn.

Here's how the core team describes their objective for the conference:
The Core Team of the inaugural CA ’10 will help facilitate discussions and encourage conversation so we can all share with each other our expertise and experience from our individual online journeys.  The goal is to have all of us engage in meaningful conversation in a relaxed environment so we can build lasting alliances as we each work to make our creative business ventures exactly what we dream them to be.
For me, blogging is only meaningful if it's building a community around a shared purpose.  In my case - both here and at Crying Out Now - it's a space to share humanity, struggles, courage and hope.   Whether it's about addiction and recovery, or the trials and tribulations of parenting, or weight loss, my objective is to create an honest, safe space for sharing our experience, strength and hope.   

Networking and marketing to promote my blog will always make me uncomfortable.   I'm not doing this to build popularity or validation (okay, maybe a little validation); I'm not focused on the numbers, I'm focused on the quality of the connections and friendships.  

I feel even more strongly about this when it comes to Crying Out Now.   But the path is clearer for me in that space:  I want more people to know about it, to come read, to submit their stories, because I believe in the incredible healing found there.    So I'm going to CA '10 to learn how to do this - how to stay true to the cause, build a meaningful community around a collective goal, but also grow this community safely and purposefully.    I'm thrilled Robin, who is a co-moderator of Crying Out Now, will be there to experience this with me. 

So I'm ignoring those whispering voices.   I'm going.   And I'm mostly excited about it.   I'm not the biggest fan of flying, so that is a challenge for me.   It's so easy for me to succumb to the irrational fears:  you have no business putting yourself in danger just to go to a blogging conference, what if something happens and you leave your kids without a mother?   You are so selfish.      THAT'S the kind of crazy that lives in my head.

But it's far too easy to take the cheap, easy, fearful way out.   In all aspects of my life I'm trying not to be driven by fear, but by hope.


  1. I'll be there and can't wait to meet you. We will have a good time. Guaranteed. Plus I'm local and know where to get the good strawberry shortcake!

  2. Ellie, what an amazing opportunity! You BELONG there. Thank that voice for sharing and tell them they can sit down now. So glad you're taking that leap and going. Can't wait to hear all that you guys learn from each other. Your personal blog and Crying Out Now both mean so much to me and both blogs touch more people than you can ever know.

  3. aw, don't you know YOU are one of the bloggers that little people like me would be terribly nervous and intimidated to meet? even moms need time otu to do something fun for themselves every once in a while. :) have fun at the conference!

  4. Ellie - you get on that plane and have a great time! I totally agree with 'Nobody's Nothing' that every Mom needs 'me' time. I put myself on a plane to CA in April to visit a friend. Just me - no kids, no husband...I was nervous but I did it and it gave me such a huge boost. Have fun!!!

  5. Amen sister. This is so awesome that you wrote this. Hell, I felt intimidated by the process of putting this shindig together!! But you just put one foot in front of another and well, good stuff happens.

    And I GUARANTEE you that you will NOT feel intimidated once you are there. I KNOW IT. It's gonna be way too mellow for any sort of intimidation to creep in.

    Yeah for putting fear in the backseat....

    Can. Not. Wait.


  6. I can't wait to see you again. P.s. I think if you saw my stats you'd feel better. WAY WAY better.



  7. I hope you have a wonderful renewing time. I think you have so much to contribute to the world, and you do.