Here are a few important messages I took away.
We are all BlogHer
I used to think of BlogHer as just the media company: its co-founders, its editors, its administrative staff. BlogHer ’14 showed me that all of us who read, write, and share blog posts are part of something so much bigger.
I was struck by how egalitarian it felt. A few of the speakers were high-profile people like Arianna Huffington and Kerry Washington, but most of them were bloggers just like me. The Voices of the Year writers, the 10×10 speakers, even Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess, were once quiet, still-in-the-shadows attendees like me.
It made me realize that I have just as much chance as anyone else of being on that stage one day, and I have so much more to contribute.
We are capable of more than we think
Alexandra Rosas of Good Day, Regular People spoke about how much she has achieved over the last decade, first by getting published for syndication on BlogHer, then by proposing and sitting on a panel at a BlogHer conference, to speaking at BlogHer ’14 as part of the 10×10 series. She was really inspiring. She encouraged us to “surprise yourself with what you can do,” and remember that “just because you can’t do something now doesn’t mean you can’t learn.”
The blogger behind Busy Dad Blog described the influence we can have. Whereas celebrities can create exposure or raise awareness, “Bloggers have the ability better than anyone to change the conversation.”
A closing keynote speaker urged, “People are waiting for you to make a difference.”
We need to take care of ourselves first in order to thrive
At the same time we support our families and our communities and be the force for change, we also need to care of ourselves first. A few speakers used the analogy from airplanes of “put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.”
Arianna Huffington talked about her book “Thrive,” which calls on us to “redefine success and create a life of well-being, wisdom, and wonder.” She recommends making more time for sleeping, detoxing from digital devices, and learning from other people’s “wake-up calls.” She pointed out that we pay more attention to the state of our digital devices than of our bodies.
Kerry Washington juggles multiple projects, including being a new mother, starring on “Scandal,” and working with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. She explains that she budgets 80% of her time on where she can make the most impact and 20% doing whatever brings her joy.
We’re all in this together
Even though there are a multitude of topics bloggers write about, whether it’s food, parenting, politics, elder care, or dog training, there are issues that affect us all.
Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress said, “You don’t need to be an expert to change someone’s life, you just need to give a crap.”
Feminista Jones said, “You don’t have to be black, gay, or poor to know when something is wrong.”
A person asked how to help when you don’t belong to a group that’s being treated badly. Kristen Howerton of Rage Against the Minivan said, “The first step is listen. The second step is listen. The third step is listen.” She said after that you need to “amplify” the group’s message, by sharing and retweeting their messages.
We are unique
Many speakers talked about focusing on what we love, the thing inside us that “glows or sparkles” and makes us shine. Elisa Bauer of Simply Recipes said, “Blog about what you love because life is too short to blog about anything else.”
Regardless of whether other people blog about the same topic, each of us has our unique point of view. We need to be who we are without apology. Courageously being ourselves, we can work together and achieve great things.
Please share your BlogHer ’14 stories in the comments below.