Type A Takeaways

Type A Takeaways

I’m not known for my post-conference recaps. I don’t know that I’m known for very much, actually. But this year, after Type A Conference that was here in Atlanta a few weekends ago, I feel compelled to tell you exactly what I took away from it.

A list will do, right?

1. I love my friends that I have met online – through blogging, social media, and in person at conferences. This conference was the third one that Crystal and I have done together. It was great meeting her at arrivals in the airport, catching up with hugs and glasses of wine/liquor/beer, and having a slumber party late at night! Seeing other people I now call friends makes my heart full. Knowing that at least for some of them, seeing me makes them feel the same way, helps me realize that what I do online isn’t all stupid and worthless!

2. I love my new friends. Oh, where do I start with the new people I met this year. Finally getting to give a few people a hug in real life was great. Running into a few girls, striking up a conversation, and ending up wanting to become neighbors so we can hang out all the time, was even more amazing! You know who you are (yes, I’m looking at you, you, you, you, and you). I miss all of you and hope we meet again soon!

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3. It’s time to Just Write. I want to write. I wish I thought I could quit my job and write full time. But writing takes practice. I went to a session with Vikki and Heather that I thought was amazing. After a year or so of hosting #SOCSunday, and knowing that Just Write was also out there, I finally met Heather. Listening to her and Vikki talk, a little like watching a Delicious Dish sketch on SNL, about how to pull stream of consciousness writing out of your heart and soul and put it onto paper (er, the computer) was earth-moving. That session was worth the price of the ticket and a whole lot more to me. So thank y’all!

4. Sharing my city is fun! On Saturday night, a group of girls headed out to South City Kitchen. This is one of our favorite places in the city, so sharing it with people who “ain’t from ’round these parts” was a lot of fun. Fried chicken and grits, peachy bourbon drinks, and other Southern goodness abounded that night. The next morning was even more fun with a small group at Silver Skillet, a diner made famous in movies and shows like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. So thanks for reminding me, friends, that my city is fun and hip and worthy of showing off!

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5. Gary Buchanan should never work anywhere but Disney. He is the complete embodiment of Disney in a body that looks like a combination of Dana Carvey and Steve Carell. He reminded us all in his unbelievable keynote, that there are no rules. Creativity should be a fun process. Think like a kid. Ask questions. Collect them and save them or the answers for later. HAVE FUN.

6. Erika Napoletano has amazing boobs. And if I wanted some just like them, I could go to her doctor because she gave us his name. He does excellent work, by the way. So besides that, she basically told us to turn up the volume. Erika is no nonsense, but has a soft side, realizing her limits and realizing that saying no or changing plans mid-flight is ok. I’m not sure exactly what I took from her keynote, but it’s sitting with me. Which means there’s something there… I just have to figure out what it is. Thank you for that, Erika!

7. I know my limits. I had been a big talker on the Facebook group about getting together and running every morning with a group. I made it on Friday. By Friday afternoon, however, I realized I had apparently been without my arthritis medicine for a few days. I hit the pavement on Saturday only to realize after about 14 steps, I couldn’t do it. I know my limits. I’ve said it before while training for races (that still sounds strange to say), I listen to my body. If it hurts, I don’t do it. It’s not worth injuring myself or making my arthritis worse than it already is. Interestingly enough, Dorothy Hamill was on site preaching exactly the same thing. About osteoarthritis. Which I have. So of course, I stood in line for a picture and a chance to chat her up for a few minutes. For those with OA (and I’m on the young end of the spectrum they said – yay me!) check out the Get Moving, America page that was just launched. You’ll find lots of information about OA and ways to help ease symptoms.

It was a good weekend.

And I’m ready to do it all again.

Hello there, 2013!

Hello there, 2013!

Hey y’all! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

My Facebook feed and Twitter feed are filled with resolutions, revolutions, and promises to change for the new year. People are planning to lose weight, be more assertive, be healthier, save more money… all the usual suspects.

Then I’m seeing a “one word for 2013″ trend. This I like. A lot, actually.

The three of us sat down last night and have chosen our words. I won’t tell you who chose which word, but you can probably figure it out!

2013 words

Today begins a fresh year, brimming with possibility. New calendars and new files in the drawer at work. The tree is down and the fridge is cleaned out at home. All the laundry is clean and the toilets will be cleaned this afternoon.

2012

2012 was exciting. There were amazing things that happened to me and my family.

January: I decided on a new motto.

February: Henry went on a date.

March: I wrote this post that took about 5 minutes to put together as part of my friend Erin’s series, “Show Me Your Roots.”

April: We camped in the rain.

May: I earned a place in the Mother Hall of Fame when I carved a watermelon like the Death Star.

June: We went to St. Simons, I stalked Jim Cantore, I was chosen as a BlogHer Voices of the Year honoree. I also decided to start running and got talked into running a half marathon.

July: Fadra handed over Stream of Consciousness Sunday to me.

August: I danced with The Rockettes. I also went back to work for the first time in 8 years.

September: Henry got to go to DragonCon (even though he passed out and totally didn’t see the whole part we went for) and he got a dog.

October: NonCon. Enough said.

November: I took a picture. And it haunts me still (in a good way).

December: My boys (especially the small one) make me smile almost daily. Especially when they buy me finger monkeys!

2013

2013 is going to be a good year. If it absolutely kills me, it will be amazing! I’m not making resolutions (as such) but there are things I plan to do this year. Most aren’t any different than things I strive to do on a daily basis, though.

I will run a 15k in January.

I will run a half marathon (13.1 miles) in February.

I will strive to be graceful and gracious and someone who lives and loves with every ounce of her being. 

I will be proud of surviving for an entire decade without my Charlie and for helping saves lives because he lived (and died).

I will write from my heart. Maybe not every day or even every week, but I will write.

I will teach my son to be a gentleman and continue to allow him to be the amazing little soul he is.

I will strive to be the best wife and mom I can.

I will work hard and try to always “do unto others as I would have them do unto me.”

And in the words of my sweet friend Robin, I will “Be Love and Spread Love.”

belovespreadlove

Have a beautiful 2013, friends. It’s going to be a great one!

You say neesh, I say nitch. Now I want a banana split.

Niches are like assholes. Everybody has one.

Or at least they’re supposed to.

That’s always one of the first topics of conversation at blogging conferences or get-togethers. “What’s your niche?”

At the NonCon, where we did little to no actual Conferencing (ps: did I tell you already that you would HATE it? because you would.), one of the roundtable discussions was about just this. Now, I am normally NOT one to speak up in a group of people I look up to and be definitive and confident in my words. I usually give my answer in a singsongy question-type way. You know, with my adorable Southern drawl added in.

But then it happened. I just blurted out, “My niche is being Jana. I’m a well-rounded person and I write a well-rounded blog.”  That was the first time I ever really owned those words. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve never put myself in a (writing) box.

Both Jason and I are people who know a little about most things, sometimes just enough to be dangerous, but we are knowledgeable about a lot of things both inside and outside our comfort zones. My friends are a diverse group, and from them I gain knowledge and insight into different ways to live and love.

I never want to be in a box (or a corner like Baby).

I don’t want to be the woman whose son died. Or the girl who only posts recipes. Don’t call me the girl who only talks politics or religion (won’t see that happening).

I want to be me. Jana. I want to sit in this place, on this site, and write from my heart. My well-rounded, multi-faceted, happy yet broken, heart.

All of this has been swirling in my head this week and today at work, we started talking about what ice cream flavor we’d consider ourselves to be. We took turns making them up for the other people in the office. There was vanilla, chocolate, rocky road… all the obvious favorites.

They had a hard time choosing one for me because they said I had too many “flavors.” So everybody settled on a banana split because it had many components to it. It hit me that others see me the way I see myself.

And that’s flattering to me.

So you want me to have a neesh? Or a nitch? However you say it, Jana is all you get. You get me. In all my Banana Split glory.

Now, who wants to bring me some ice cream?

Stream of Consciousness Sunday: NonWriting at NonCon

I’m at Callaway Gardens right now at the Aiming Low Non-Con. If you don’t know about it, well, you probably won’t like it should. I really want to keep this conference a secret so it stays this small and intimate forever and ever. I also want them to have it multiple times a year. But enough about that for now…

Since I’m busy sleeping thinking about writing and all the amazing things I want to do, we’re going to have promptless, free writing today.

So set those timers for five minutes and pour it out of your head!

Time starts NOW!

stream of consciousness sunday

The love that fills my heart right now is making it want to burst. I’ve been blessed with so many friendships.

There are friends that have been around since I was an infant and friends who are just coming into my life. They’re all equally as important to me.

I’m reminded at this conference that even though time and space separates so many of us, our words connect us. They connect us in ways that often, our local friends don’t even understand.

There are women I want to just grab and hug and tell them that everything’s going to be alright. And there are people I want to sit for hours and talk about how we feel about our writing and lots in life. There are women I didn’t know, but who are now, I find, sisters of mine in the world of baby loss.

We’re all joined in ways, no matter our race, religion, political preference, or whatever, that evoke emotions I wish I could put into words.

But alas, this writer is out of words. They’re in my head and in my heart, waiting to be poured out onto the internet.

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This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post (in the sidebar). .
  • Link up your post below.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

Own The Room

Own The Room

A week or so before BlogHer, I sat in the tiny room of my energy healer with so much pent-up toxic energy I could have powered a steamship with it. She asked a simple question and I started talking. And I don’t think I stopped for 15 minutes.

When I was done and finally (quite literally) exhaled, she simply looked at me and said, “Wow. There are going to be tears today, aren’t there?

Life had been piling up on me in ways I can’t even explain. Nothing was bad but nothing was great. There was just a lot of excess stuff sitting on my heart and soul, weighing me down from the inside out.

I casually mentioned that I was going to BlogHer and the circumstances surrounding my decision to go. That was that.

After she did her magic (y’all, I swear this is better than an IV of chocolate during a marathon of Kate and Allie) we did our usual chatting. In the way that only Amy can do, she looked at me and told me to breathe. There was talk of a “major shift” and “boundaries” and all that other stuff I knew she would say when I went in.

What I wasn’t expecting her to say was this: “Even though you don’t get to read at the keynote, walk in there and own the room. Go buy a new dress and own the damn room.

Well, hmm. Easier said than done with 5000 people in one place. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t FEEL like I owned the room, right?

My friend Michele just happened to be coming to Atlanta for an appointment and I roped her into going shopping with me. She made me try on a dozen things — most of which I NEVER would have tried on myself.

We found the dress. It was comfortable, cool, ME and red. No matter how many extra pounds I have on right now, this dress made me feel amazing. Maybe Bill Blass was right when he said “When in doubt, wear red.

I knew I wouldn’t be reading. But I knew in my heart that being on that giant screen with the names of people I admire and long to write like was still a big deal. Crystal and I grabbed a place at the front with a great view of the speakers. Each of the readers did a wonderful job. There’s really something amazing about being able to hear a post read out loud, in the dialect, accent, and with the emphasis of the author. To be honest, I don’t know if I COULD have read in front of that many people if I HAD been chosen, so you know… yay for that!

After the Voices of the Year keynote and reception, Listen To Your Mother held an Open Mic Salon. Crystal and I were excited about the chance to throw our names and posts in the hat (bowl) to read but really didn’t figure we’d be able to.

I had chosen earlier in the week, Teach a Man To Fish to read if I got the chance. But at the 11th hour, just in case, I decided I really wanted to read my VOTY post. It was why I was even AT BlogHer, so it seemed fitting.

Damn if they didn’t draw my name to read second.

After I almost threw up and after I really wished I had a bottle of vodka handy, I stood up in front of a few hundred bloggers, writers, friends, and read my post.

For 5 minutes, I owned the room.

listen to your mother open mic night

I wore red, and I owned the room.

It was a rush I’ve never experienced. I felt the oxygen leave the room when a few hundred people collectively gasped when I read the words, “In 2003, our son died.” The hairs on my arms stood up when they clapped. And when people told me how lovely it was after, the tears fell.

My voice was heard.

And it felt good.

Lesson learned: When in doubt, DEFINITELY wear red!

Thank you Julia for taking this picture for me.
The haziness captured exactly how it felt in that room.
To read the other posts that were read at the LTYM Open Mic, see here.
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