Listen To Your Heart and Blog Like a Maniac

Do you want to know a little more about how crazy weird I am?
Check out my latest post in which I tell you how I can smell a cat from a mile away.
So here I am posting.
Twice.
In one week.
Don’t be afraid, a robot didn’t take over my blog!
It’s me silly!
I just had such a busy Sunday that I really wanted to share it with you!
And yet, I still chose the cat smell post before this one.I got to experience something pretty great this past Sunday with my friend and fellow blogger Jen.
Have you ever heard of Listen to Your Mother?
It’s a show where real mom’s, not actors, but moms just like you and I stand up on a stage and bear their souls.
About being mommies.
Or being a product of mommies.
Or knowing mommies really well.

 

 

First of all, I want to tell you that I am friends with some of the cast members this year.
So I had an “in”.
I also am friends with the two co-producers as well.
Well, I consider them friends, I don’t know how they feel about me.
My friends Marianne,Melisa, Shannon and Tracey were amazing.
AMAZING.
I laughed, I teared up but I didn’t cry.
I was warned that I might but I didn’t.
Some of the stories were funny, some were heart wrenching and some were just plain awesome.
This is the gist, each year and in each city there is a different cast.
Once you have been cast, you will never get a chance again.

 

As to keep it fresh, new, exciting and different.
So if you go to Chicago in 2013 and then to Indiana the same year, it will be two different casts.
AND if you go in 2014, it will be an entirely different cast as well.
 Kind of like SNL or Menudo.

 

Or the green room backstage.
Oh and they don’t get paid.
OKAY so nothing like SNL or Menudo.

 

If you live near a city where this show is playing, I beg of you GO SEE THIS!
And bring your mom.

 

Can I tell you something random?
Do you know what made me get major mist in my eyes the most?
Looking around the theater at the dads, grammas, moms, aunts, sisters, daughters, sons and friends who were there to see their loved ones bear their soul on that stage.
That made me cry a little sitting there in that amazing theater.
And made me want to totally do this next year.
If I get up the nerve to audition.
* I did get the nerve! Here is my reading the following year:

My ensemble.
Polka dots, red, neon yellow and leopard print.
I didn’t want to stand out.
My blog outfit

The Athenaeum Theater.

 

So after the show, Jen and I had to scoot across Chicago to the loop where we were attending a Mini Bloggy Boot Camp at the Hotel Allegro.
First let me say that Jen did all the driving and played my “husband” all day.
Long story but lets just say if I needed a mint, she got it for me.
Anytime I needed to do something, she took my purse.
She graciously let me have the bigger bathroom stall.
Side note: holy hell the bathroom in the Hotel had stalls as big as an actual room. I even made jokes about echo’s, room service and being lost in my stall….all while in my stall….to which Jen laughed. See? Only a husband would get my humor.
Basically the Al Bundy to my Peg Bundy.
On the way to the hotel, we shoved McDonald’s food in our mouths while driving from the theater to the hotel.
And then the day started to kick in.
I got a little slap happy.
While riding in mid afternoon Chicago weekend traffic.

 

Kari– OOOH do you see what they are doing to the Chicago river down there???
Jen– Um no Kari. I am driving.
Kari- It’s so pretty, isn’t it pretty??
Jen- I don’t know Kari, again, driving.
Jen- Oooh that building over there is where I used to work!!
Kari- Which building?
Jen- That one right there.
Kari- The huge one with all the flags??
Jen- No the other one.
Kari- Ohhhh. That isn’t very impressive.

 

Really. It was funnier in person. I guess you had to be there.
Then we pulled up to the hotel and proceeded to try to do valet parking as it was free for us because of the boot camp thing.
Studly city driver that she was, Jen just pulled up, double parked and got out to talk to the valet, when she got yelled at by a senior citizen while trying to pull out of their parking space at the hotel.
As I said on Instagram (where I shared the picture shortly after the “incident”…. see, still slap happy), ah city life!!

 

 

SITS Bloggy boot camp

 

I was invited to the Mini Bloggy Boot Camp by my friend Jen.
I am gonna tell you this now fellow bloggers who are just getting started:
It will serve you well to have a friend who is well-connected and will stick their ever loving neck out for you.
This person for me is Jen.
I just met her in January and she has been in my corner and vice versa ever since that cold day four months ago.
Every blogger needs to have someone like this in their life especially if you are looking to make blogging your career or your “thing”.
I also have a circle of blog friends that I feel like have my back and I have theirs as well.
It is so important to lift each other up instead of putting down so if you have a blogging posse it makes it that much easier to ignore the bad things and focus on the good.
So in a nutshell here is what I learned at this mini Bloggy Boot Camp:
– that I am in over my head. And I mean this in the nicest possible way. I feel this way when I attend blogging events like, what the hell am I doing here anyway?? Majority of the bloggers at the event were typing on their laptops, ipads and phones. I could barely keep up with the notes I was writing on the notepad they provided with the pen they provided.
At one point I felt like I was in 11th grade math class looking around to see what everyone was doing.
Am I supposed to be tweeting?
Taking pictures?
WRITING SOMETHING DOWN???
I am getting the hang of these kinds of events but at times I still feel like the kid in the back of the class waiting for the lunch bell to ring.
– that I shouldn’t feel guilty investing in myself. I love my blog so much, it has become a huge part of me. I actually get sad if I think about never blogging again. And I have worked tirelessly to create this blog, keep up, feed and nurture it but I haven’t really spent a lot of money to build it up.
I want to do a blog overhaul sometime this year and take some steps to make it as nice as I envision it.
Do I love my personalized header?

Yes.

Would I like a more streamlined look without losing the personalization?
Yes.
But to do that you have to spend a little money.
So I need to invest in myself, as they suggested and not feel guilty about it.
I have done this for almost three years so I think this is more than a hobby and I want to take it to the next level as far as blog design goes.
-Knowing my worth as a blogger. For a long, long time I would take any offer that came my way to promote a business and most of those offers involved no compensation.

And I would do it because in the beginning, I really wanted to grow the blog and honestly didn’t have confidence in myself or my blog.

But now I realize that any time I take away from my family is time that I should be compensated for.
I work hard for this blog.
Yes, work.
It wasn’t until the past six months that when I refer to the blog with my family I say “work” instead of “blogging”.
Because as much fun as it is to blog it is also what I want to do when I grow up.
So starting today, I know what my worth is as a blogger and am for the first time not ashamed to admit that.
There was so much discussed and wont go into every detail but let me tell you the big news…..
I won something!
First though, I need to backtrack.
After the Listen To Your Mother show, I met one of the cast members (who I have “known” via myother Chicago blog friends but never “met” in person….lemme just say I love her already) Samantha who was also amazing in this show.
So I was talking with her and Jen when Samantha mentioned something about a giveaway she heard about at this upcoming boot camp and that it was an iPad mini.
And I was all, “well, that’s all fine but I just want to win the 50 dollar Sephora gift card”.
To which she just laughed at me and I think probably thought I was a little nuts.
But it was a self-preservation tactic.
Because I never win.

                                                                                           ANYTHING.

EVER.
Scratch off lottery tickets?
Never more than a buck.
Raffles?
Nada.
Stuffed animals at the fair?
Nope.

Therefore, I was pretty positive that this iPad was not in the cards for me.

So at the end of the conference we were told to hop on our phones and go to this survey.
After taking the survey, we would send it and then when all the surveys were in, they would do the random generator (all on the projector in front of us to be fair) to decide who the winner was.
I took the survey and hit send.
Then went to Facebook to comment on my status update that I had written earlier to my aforementioned LTYM friends.
Shannon actually was the one I was responding to when they yell out, “number 21!”.
So they counted down the list to figure out who ” number 21″ was while I was oblivious because I was busy thinking of something witty to say to Shannon on Facebook.

                                                      Because it takes serious concentration on my part to be witty.

When suddenly they say my name.
What the what?????
HOLY CRAPBALLS did I just win an iPad??????
It’s all sketchy after that.
But this I do remember, my friend Jen high-fived me and I said at least 10 times, ” I am gonna cry”.
I didn’t.
I can’t cry under pressure.
I would never make a good actress.
But inside I soooo wanted to.
Me and my new iPad Mini!

Here I am outside the hotel holding my newly won iPad!
I was doing a little dance but had to cut my legs out because my belly was showing through my tank top.
This is the honesty you won’t get elsewhere.
Oh and while she was taking this picture, there were two small white dogs with leashes running away from their owners in the parking lot next to that Honda.
So I was excited and yet also apprehensive in this picture.
And tired.
And hungry.

 

Ipad Mini I won at blog conference

Isn’t she pretty?
She is all mine.
In all seriousness, I never thought I would ever have one of these bad boys.
Really.
So this was truly a gift to me.
I wish they knew how much I appreciate this.

One last thing about that day, I missed my family.
That was the take away of the day.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my day out with my friends and learning some new blogging tools but at the end of the day, I am a stay at home mom.
My kids and husband are my world.
So an entire day away made me homesick to be quite honest.
I was alternately texting my hubs and my 13-year-old at the end of the conference things like, “whatcha doing??” and “I miss you guys terribly”.

Speaking of family, Jen also gave me this amazing children’s book that she got autographed at a book signing!

 

 

I love this book’s message so much.
I felt empowered after reading it.

 

Yeah it does.

It even came with a cape!

 

My daughter reading book

Ella loved this book so much that we read it three times within an hour.
And the cape was a huge hit.
She wanted to wear it to school.

 

Book from Blog

People, take note of those words.
Truer words have never been spoken.

After a beautiful and inspiring weekend, it was good to be back home in the role I love best.

Mommy.

 

22 thoughts on “Listen To Your Heart and Blog Like a Maniac

  1. Sue Diamond-Phillips

    I love this so much! you are worth a ba-jillion dollars in the blog world and real world to me, i would write you a check if i could:) This sounds like the funnest time ever – sometimes we need a liiiittle time away to realize how much we love our own life, way we do things, what we want to do next, and that we are allowed to get McDonalds. This post ROCKS:)

  2. Melisa

    Yay! Congrats on the iPad!

    And thanks for your LTYM support!

    ONE correction though: it's not necessarily a once-in-a-lifetime thing. We just don't allow people to submit an essay the year after they're in the cast! 🙂 Two years later? Submit away! 🙂

  3. pocketfulofjoules.com

    I love this post! And I too feel like the bad kid in class that is always unsure of what to do.

    Congrats on winning the iPad mini! We're holding a monthly contest at my work where I get to give them away and I really, really would love to keep one for myself.

    Also, I would love to see a full picture of your outfit because it looks totally adorable!

  4. Denise Davis

    This was SO incredible. And I am here at the gym, my other job besides blogging, trying to make up my next workout for my class but really I have all big raindrop style tears in my eyes. Cause you rock.

    Annnnd seriously. Bloggers need to get paid for promotions!!! What is up? Okay, review an ipad in exchange for ipad and no money? Fine yes, that's desirable. Review your eye CREAM in exchange for $5.98 eye cream and one for a reader? Do I look like I have no self worth at all? Okay sure, ill give you a $12 review. It'll go like this : this product is cool but the company totally sucks. They take advantage of their own potential customers. Mmhmm. Yeah. Sorry. Rant over. Loved it!

  5. Denise Davis

    This was SO incredible. And I am here at the gym, my other job besides blogging, trying to make up my next workout for my class but really I have all big raindrop style tears in my eyes. Cause you rock.

    Annnnd seriously. Bloggers need to get paid for promotions!!! What is up? Okay, review an ipad in exchange for ipad and no money? Fine yes, that's desirable. Review your eye CREAM in exchange for $5.98 eye cream and one for a reader? Do I look like I have no self worth at all? Okay sure, ill give you a $12 review. It'll go like this : this product is cool but the company totally sucks. They take advantage of their own potential customers. Mmhmm. Yeah. Sorry. Rant over. Loved it!

  6. Marianne

    So much to love here!! The show! Your winning! The book with the cape!!

    No matter.

    Look into my eyes.

    Er.

    Comment section.

    And say aloud:

    "I WILL AUDITION NEXT YEAR."

    This was MADE for you, my friend!

    xoxo Mar

  7. Alison in Arlington Heights

    I felt exactly the same amount of overwhelmed at the Mini BBC. My sister ditched me, I keep telling her bloggers are friendly but she doesn't yet believe me, I took the train down instead of driving. Which was a huge mistake as we ran an hour late, but I feel like a learned a lot.

    Total congrats on your Ipad!