Mom 2.0 = Awesomeness

I’m not typically at a loss for words, but it’s been challenging for me to identify where to start when it comes to writing about the Mom 2.0 Summit. So I will start simple. If I were to use one word to describe this conference it would be AWESOMENESS. However, if pressed to expand on the Mom 2.0 = Awesomeness equation, I would edit it to read:

Mom 2.0 = Awesomeness = ((Happiness x Thoughtfulness x Quality x Meaningful Engagement)2.0) – (Excessive Quantity + Any Drama Whatsoever)

Can you tell I logged several years at Harvard and MIT?

Now, allow me to address each piece of the equation in turn:

Mom 2.0 = Awesomeness =

Happiness. Gretchen Rubin was one of the keynote speakers and she is truly amazing -- humble, smart, and kind. I bought a copy of the The Happiness Project at Mom 2.0 and started reading it on the plane ride home and adore Gretchen even more. Happiness truly matters, as was so very evident through the laughter and hugs translated throughout the conference. One night at a Mexican dinner out with friends we all laughed so hard that we literally were in pain. I welcome that kind of happiness pain any day.

Thoughtfulness. An extraordinary amount of thoughtfulness clearly was put into this conference. The details ranged far and wide (and some will be covered in points below). However, one telling example was a session led by Gwen Bell. She started by asking everyone to sit back from their laptops and smartphones, close their eyes, breathe deeply, and attend to the present moment. Though we weren't always meditating, that degree of awareness and thoughtfulness was pervasive throughout the conference.

Quality. Similar to the thoughtfulness component, quality was evident throughout. And I found it particularly well reflected by the keynote panel including Heather Armstrong, Maggie Mason, and Gabrielle Blair. These women discussed a number of issues related to bloggers and brands, but what I found particular beautiful was the closing message of quality over quantity, particularly given that I am a firm believer that metrics are not indicative of the full picture. In fielding an attendee question about influence and numbers (from the perspective of a “small” blogger), Heather responded that it doesn’t matter how many followers you have. If you are involved, you are powerful; if you are engaging at all, you are influential. And Gabrielle followed to emphasize that it is not necessarily about the numbers, it’s about the quality of engagement. So true.

Meaningful Engagement. Speaking of engagement, Mom 2.0 is about fostering an open conversation between moms and marketers. And I was impressed by the examples of brand engagement I participated in. First was the Nintendo Wii Fit PlusTM yoga suite, which offered attendees an opportunity to engage in self care while learning about the product in an impressively appointed space (note to self: Buddha statues go a long way in making a conference room feel zen). Second, I was impressed by the Barilla dinner event. Admittedly, I was a little skeptical before going, unsure of what to expect, but it was more than a schmoozing dinner. Not only was it fun to hear from the passionate Barilla team about their Share the Table initiative, but then we engaged in that very practice with one person from every table cooking a pasta dish for the other members of the table. I was our table’s cook and there truly was a lot of love and joy in being able to share the table with friends. All of the above raised to the 2.0 of course, minus:

Excessive Quantity. I adored that this conference was purposefully swag light. Yes, there were welcome tote bags with a few things inside, but it was compact and thoughtful and then it was up to the attendee to check out the expo if they were interested in samples. I did not want or need more stuff so I went through the expo simply to thank the sponsors and learn more about what they were offering. It was perfect.

Any Drama Whatsoever. A tweet by Mir Kamin inspired me to add this last piece (or rather, non-piece) to the equation. I actually hadn’t thought about lack of drama because the conference sailed along so smoothly free of it. The organizers of Mom 2.0 deserve huge kudos for constructing things so beautifully, as do the attendees, for focusing on what matters: content and conversation with others.

I have additional thoughts about interpersonal engagement that I hope to share soon in a follow up post. Meanwhile, I wanted to express my gratitude to my generous sponsor Care.com for making this trip possible financially, and also to my in-laws for taking care of Laurel while I was gone. And this photo -- taken by the utterly lovely Gabrielle Blair -- is a fitting close for this post. Awesomeness is what I asked Katherine Center to write on my arm at the Mom 2.0 art exhibit.

Image credit: Gabrielle Blair

Setting Intentions

Day 31 (a few hours early) of Gwen Bell's Best of 2009 Blog Challenge:"Resolution you wish you'd stuck with. (You know, there's always next year...)" I don't make New Year's resolutions; rather, throughout the year I set intentions about various things that need addressing in my life. But if I had to pick something that was along the lines of a typical resolution, I'd say that it would be to improve on the quality of my intake. I actually eat very healthfully -- lots of fruits and vegetables and I even cut out coffee this year, but my weakness is my sweet tooth. I went through a good stretch (about a month I think) earlier in the year where I cut out dessert. I had more energy and felt fantastic (and I trimmed up in a hurry between cutting sweets and exercising regularly), and then I fell off the wagon. I'd like to work on reducing sweets in the coming year as part of my general process of eating more mindfully and more cleanly.

(And it probably wouldn't hurt to cut sugar given that I no longer have dental insurance...)

Happy New Year's everyone!

Note to Advertisers: A Good Laugh Goes A Long Way

Day 30 of Gwen Bell's Best of 2009 Blog Challenge:"Ad. What advertisement made you think this year?" Though perhaps the Motrin ad debacle would be a better one to wax philosophical on, this Bruins ad is the one that truly stuck in my memory this year. It's a spectacular example of how a good laugh goes a long way. I don't even follow hockey but now here I am, posting about the Boston Bruins. The ad worked.

It's A Shame Jon Isn't Into Social Media

Day 29 of Gwen Bell's Best of 2009 Blog Challenge:"Laugh. What was your biggest belly laugh of the year?" I am lucky to live with one of the most clever and funny people on the planet. Seriously. Jon has the most hilarious sense of humor and I love that big deep belly laughs are a part of my regular existence.

I've subsequently told Jon that it's an utter shame -- a waste even -- that he isn't into social media. I think the world would be a happier place with his wit shared in 140 characters and Facebook status updates.

Social Web Moment

Day 27 of Gwen Bell's Best of 2009 Blog Challenge:"Social web moment. Did you meet someone you used to only know from her blog? Did you discover Twitter?" BlogHer Chicago was overwhelmingly awesome in that it enabled me to meet so many fantastic people I was "e-friends" with -- finally in real life. I adore all of these women and can't wait to see many old friends and meet new ones at Blissdom and other meetings in 2010.

The Universe Is Driving the Bus

Day 26 (one day late) of Gwen Bell's Best of 2009 Blog Challenge:"Insight or aha! moment. What was your epiphany of the year?" I can't pinpoint the exact moment, but my epiphany of the year has been to truly accept that the universe is driving the bus. This has not been an easy thing for me because the truth of the matter is that I want to be driving the bus. I'm used to being in charge; to setting goals and achieving them, but this year has tested me. The lesson has been two-fold; part of life involves letting go and the other part is putting faith in the universe - to either help you along to where you want to go...or not.

All of this probably sounds a bit abstract and woo-woo because I'm not quite ready to go public with some of the raw emotional things I've been dealing with this year, but trust me, I have learned that all I can do is set my intentions and do the best that I can, as well as I know how in this plane -- but otherwise, to accept that I'm just a passenger on this ride; the universe clearly is driving the bus.

The Power of Letting Go

Day 24 (a day early) of Gwen Bell's Best of 2009 Blog Challenge:"Learning experience. What was a lesson you learned this year that changed you?" There wasn't one pivotal Oprah-like moment, but the big overarching lesson I learned this year was about the power of letting go. What can I say...I've lived a lot of years as a Type A, perfectionist, control freak. But I have learned -- in large part due to many conversations with my excellent therapist and my excellent (um, also a therapist) husband -- to let go of a lot of things this year; everything from the emotional (e.g., anger and resentment towards people I feel have wronged me in the past) to the tangible (e.g., perfect housekeeping) to the self-constructed and self-destructive (e.g., desire for a zeroed out inbox at the end of each day). It's rather paradoxical actually; we have the power (i.e., control) to be less controlling...it's all a matter of shifting perspective and expectations.

At the end of the day, the important stuff rises to the top and gets taken care of. And the best thing? When I let go of the frantic, dissatisfied energy, it makes room for the creative energy to come in and all sorts of cool stuff results.

Finally, It's All About Me

Day 21 of Gwen Bell's Best of 2009 Blog Challenge:"Project. What did you start this year that you're proud of?" I know I've dedicated a lot of time to my Shredheads journey on this site, but it is deserved. As someone who tends to put everyone and everything -- family, work, friends, laundry, myriad errands, etc. -- ahead of myself, 2009 was remarkable because I finally had this challenge (project if you will) that was all about me.

I needed it. I was drowning a bit emotionally before I started taking care of myself beyond the occasional pedicure and I've since been sailing on the most even and happy of keels in recent memory.

My Mindful 2009

Day 17 of Gwen Bell's Best of 2009 Blog Challenge:"Word or phrase. A word that encapsulates your year. "2009 was _____." ...mindful. In lots of ways.

I started listening to my person and taking care of myself by exercising regularly, quitting coffee, meditating, and trusting in the universe more.

I started being more mindful about what I was eating; not rushing so I could get to the next thing, but really tasting and enjoying.

I became a more mindful mother by being more present with Laurel after school, allowing myself to enjoy the silliness and fun that is playing with a 5-year-old. Transitioning to her kindergarten schedule has been stressful for me because my brain definitely tends to still be in work mode -- and the emails continued to fly in -- after pick up. I'm not perfectly mindful every day, but I'm working on it. And the days where I have been 100% mindful and present have been such a blessing.

I became a more mindful wife, again, foregoing work at times (clearly, my major challenge) in order to enjoy time together; remembering what a gift I have in a partner.

I became more mindful in my relationships. This has meant stirring the pot at times and having some hard conversations. But I want to be present and mindful in my relationships above all else.