Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why Am I Here?

On this blog, writing, I mean.

Why I Write - Writing!
I started my blog last spring right after Ella got diagnosed with Aspergers as a way to process and vent, and to seek counsel from other moms of children with Aspergers.  As time went on, I also discovered that blogging regularly was also helpful as a writing exercise.  I have never really had aspirations of being a writer, but it is something I was always good at in school.  It certainly keeps my mind from turning to mush with the endless stream of chatter from four young children!

I have several mindblowingly creative daughters who have given me great children's stories.  In fact, Annelise, my four year old, dictated a storybook to me as we drove on an errand one night.  An entire story.  I just have to find someone to illustrate it!  My oldest has an amazing idea for a children's novel, one I would be interested in reading, and I know that she and  I do not have the raw talent or the skill to craft a good book.  I know that daily/several times a week writing will help me practice, and that learning more about the process of publishing will help me get a correct vision of how to proceed.

photo courtesy of http://it.coe.uga.edu

Why I write - Connecting!
One of the things I have tried to learn about during the blog conferences I attend is the heart of writing.  I still don't know a whole lot about the mechanics, but being almost totally right brained, why be concerned about mechanics when I can pay an editor for that someday?  Just kidding.  Right now, I am writing for pleasure.  To express my heart, and to connect with you.  I told you in my last blog post that I thrive on connecting.

I am so grateful to those of you who have found and read my blog.  My little tiny speck of a blog in this great big blogworld.  I am going to try to make it more worth your while to stop by.  I write best from my heart, stream of consciousness, and not written, re-written, polished, spellchecked, reviewed and re-reviewed before posting.  Not that there's anything wrong with that (*cough* Jana *cough*) it's just not what I have ever done.  In high school and college, I was the worlds worst procrastinator and my first draft was my only draft.  Some things never change.

How do you want to connect?
Speaking to the desire to want to connect more with you and get to know you better, I have set up a facebook fan page.  I would love for you to friend request me if you haven't already.  And if you have a facebook fan page or a networkedblog page, please let me know!  I have most of you with blogs on my google reader, but some don't show that they have blogs, and I know I am not great at keeping up with reading and commenting.  I am also trying to figure out how to install disqus comments on my blog so I can more easily comment back.  I am not making loads of effort to turn my blog into this big "thing", it is an outlet for me, and a way to express creativity and to converse with other people I might not otherwise meet.  I can't imagine having ads and sponsors and things like that.  I'm working over at SpecialMomTalk with that, though!

(I hope I made the link right for the facebook page.  You can search for Pursuing Harmony fan and find it that way.  I may be a geek wife, but I'm not to be counted upon for my personal tech-savvy-ness.)

So tell me why you're here!  On your blog, I mean :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Blissdom 10 - Friday Recap in Pictures

Opening Keynote - Kevin Carroll
photo courtesy of cheeriokeeper

Steps in Resigning from Adulthood

Kevin's Red Rubber Ball
You Should Know Better Full Session, speakers Susan Getgood, Liza Barry-Kessler, Kristen Berman
Notes provided here by Miranda at Keeper of the Cheerios

George Durant Makes Lunch!!!
photo courtesy of Casey at Mooshinindy

photo courtesy of Dawn MHSH

Lunch catered at Volare by Hunts
personal opportunity to meet Kevin Carroll from the keynote speech
photo courtesy of DawnMHSH

Eggplant Parmesan
photos courtesy of secretagentmama

photo courtesy of Heather Sokol

Personal Branding - Defining "You" Online
Shelly Kramer V3 Integrated Marketing @shellykramer, Liz Strauss, Successful Blog, @lizstrauss, Alli Worthington @alliworthington
photo courtesy of secretagentmama

Connecting With Your community of Readers
Connecting With Your Community of Readers Session with speakers Laurie Turk, @TipJunkie, Amy Clark, @momadvice, Stephanie Precourt, @babysteph, Mindy Roberts, @themommyblog. Notes from this session taken by Heather at justheather.com

photo courtesy of Rachel at A Southern Fairytale 

Community Chest, Learning from Community Powerhouse Sites
Janice Croze @5minutesformom, Holly Hamann @hollyk, Debba Haupert, @girlfriendology, Rachael Herrscher @todaysmama, Jennifer James @mombloggersclub, Erin Kane @emkprgal

Striking a Balance - Peaceful co-existance between your online and offline life
speakers Christine Koh, @bostonmamas, Deb Rox, @debontherocks, Megan Jordan, @velveteenmind, Carmen Stacier, @mttsm. Notes from this session taken by Heather at justheather.com

tweets from balance:

It's not weakness to say I can't do it all. It's real. -Carmen Stacier

Opportunity can be dangerous, it's not always The best thing . -Christine Koh

@VelveteenMind "I just-a-seconded my kids out of a whole day. Does that make me a bad mom? I think you feel me here"

RT @peapodsquadmom: i may not be on a top 50 blog list but i'm on my kids' top list. that's so much more important.

RT @MomStart: When you're on twitter, promote your friends 80% and yourself 20%, it will help you grow

RT @ExtraordMommy: "If you don't ask for help you are denying someone else an opportunity" via @velveteenmind

@VelveteenMind "not only do you not have to do it all, you probably shouldn't "

RT @DExtraordinaire: You can't say yes 2 everyone else, because it will benefit everyone else, but does nothing to help me http://twitter.com/mttsm

Harry Connick, Jr. in Concert at Fuse
you can watch his opening comments to the crowd here

photos courtesy of Heather at justheather.com

photo courtesy of Dawn at MHSH

photo courtesy of secretagentmama

Tastemaker Cook-Off

photos courtesy of @secretagentmama

photos courtesy of @DExtraordinaire

Incourage Afterparty

photo courtesy of frelle

Friday, February 12, 2010

What Did We Learn at BlissDom? Wisdom Workshops Notes and Information

Last September, I had the pleasure of attending the TypeAMom Blogging Conference, and it certainly whet my appetite for attending other blogging conferences as often as I could.  I made several posts about my experience there, including on that was very information heavy with links to notes taken at the sessions: TypeAMomCon Recap, Part 1

I have a feeling I will be making several blog posts about Blissdom, but I wanted to make sure a few were the sort that brought together as much educational information as I could find for you!

Blissdom 10 - Wisdom Workshops

Wisdom Workshop 1 – Say What you Want to Say
What’s Your Story?

photo courtesy of Mishelle at Secretagentmama
Shortly after arriving, I attended a media training workshop called "Say What You want To Say", given by Dan Barber and Jessica Smith @jessicaknows from Fleishman-Hillard International Communcations.
notes provided by Sami Cone at Econemic Living

 Message Points
Message points are a few carefully prepared, concise and memorable thoughts that closely align with your brand and business objectives; the thoughts you most want your audience to remember – above all else. 3 or 4 bullet points

-Message points are your brand – use your brand
Your messages aren’t just for the media; every form of communication is an opportunity: flights, elevator rides, cocktail parties
*About section of blog/website
*Partnership/business discussions
*Speaking opportunities

-Purpose of Message points:
*Define your agenda and help you focus
*Once you have the cues down, you have them in place to tell your story
-make it easy for you to “tell your story” and for others to remember it
-Give you a life raft to cling to if the waters turn rough
-Ensure you’re delivering a consistent message over time
*If you want them to work, you have to stick with them

Good Messages are:
-Concise, simple and specific
-Memorable, genuine and personal

Strategic (Call to action)
*Why are you doing an interview? What do you want someone to do after hearing you? Media is just a means to get to the audience you want to reach
***Talk to local media about shared content – create stories with a business objective in mind
***Paid to Pitch – Product Reviews by bloggers Draw Scrutiny – Blogola: The FTC Takes on Paid Posts***
(AP – press releases)
Key to paid relationship: even though there’s compensation involved, you still have to believe in it. Find your own voice and the way you feel most comfortable

Media Relations: The foundation
-Reporters are looking for “news”
*Controversy and conflict
*new, unique and unusual
-Your job: make your messages stand out
*Have an agenda for every interview
*Be ready for the well-prepared as well as the ill-prepared reporter
-Be smart
*There’s no such thing as “off the record”
*If you don’t know, don’t speculate (Never lie to the media)
*Don’t confuse media relationships with friendships

Setting up the Interview

-When you contact them
*Do your homework
*Remember the “New, unique, unusual” – and local!
*Think of what’s in it for their readers/viewers/listeners

-When they contact you
*Never leap in, start by asking questions
--What’s your deadline? What’s the story you’re pursuing? Who else are you talking with? I want to make sure I can help you and I’m the right person for you

*If it’s a good opportunity, then buy a little time
-“I’m wrapping something up…” What am I going to say? Take advantage of this opportunity. Collect your thoughts
*Prepare and practice
*Call them back or meet them when you said you would – do what you say you’re going to do
The interview: anticipate the questions

*Be ready for:
-The first question (softball question – hit a homerun! Set a table of contents for the rest of the interview with your message points)
-The “Gotcha” questions
-The dreaded questions
-The last question
*Use blocking and bridging to get from the question to your message points
“Does anyone have any questions for my answers?” –

-definition: The use of smooth connecting phrases to move the conversation from an off-agenda area (unproductive, hostile, irrelevant, etc) to your messages
***Tonality is the key to effective blocking & bridging***
“The great thing about all the attention is….” (What you want to talk about is great because it allows me the attention to talk about what’s important to me…)

SAMPLE Blocking and Bridging Language:
-“I think what you’re really asking is…” (rephrase the question)
-“That speaks to a bigger point, which is…” (when they’re in the weeds, talking about something miniscule)
-“That demonstrates how complex this can be, but I think what it all comes down to is…”
-“You’d have to ask them, what I can tell you is…”
-“Those things are true, but I think the real news here is…” “What I think is really important….”
-“I’m not the right person to talk about those issues, but what I can address is…”
NEVER SAY, “no Comment”

Another way to think of using messages:
-Tell them what you’re going to tell them
*Take advantage of the opening ?
-Tell Them
*Follow up with your proof points (why you’re unique and uniquely effective
-Tell them what you told them
*Take advantage of the closing questions to bookend the interview
*Never give them anything you don’t want to use

More Interview Specifics
*Control your answers
*Be repetitive, but not robotic
*Use easy to understand examples or stories to illustrate your point
*Say what you want to say and then stop talking! – Enjoy the pause
*You can call a “time-out”, it’s OK to pause
Control Your Answers
-Remember, if you don’t know, don’t speculate
-Be careful with humor and sarcasm (often lacks context-Always keep your cool
-Never repeat a negative
-Think of an interview as a business transaction – be polite but firm

-Let others know a reporter is coming
-Limit distractions as best you can
-With video/photos think of the backdrop

-Clothing neutral unless it helps to tell your story (don’t wear something to distract from the interview)
-Body language:
-Make eye contact
-Find a good balance between enthusiasm and calmness
-Gesture naturally: let the camera and microphones find you

Tweets I noted that were sent out during this workshop:

@AngEngland    "If your message doesn't fit in less than one page you aren't ready to put yourself out there."

@HeatherSolos   "Even when given a message to relay, as a spokesperson you must believe it yourself"

@RealLifeSarah  "Never confuse media relationships with friendships!!"  Dan Barber

@debontherocks  "Thank interviewer even interview was antagonistic. You may get to follow up & have a long relationship w/that interviewer"

@JennFowler   "If you have time, research the reporter so you know their veiwpoint."

@DomesticChicky "Want to get your blog noticed? Start local-let your local paper know what you're doing."

@AngEngland    "The second credibility goes out the window, the value goes out the window"

Herstory - Wisdom Workshop 1, Writing Track

The first of several Wisdom Workshops I attended that day was the HerStory Wisdom Workshop – The Powerful Art of Telling Your Stories.  This is the writeup done by Aliza Sherman as a descriptor for the workshop: 

"As girls, we were taught to be quiet, polite, not draw attention to ourselves. As women, we often fail to acknowledge our own achievements, especially in public. Based on the storytelling arts of indigenous peoples, this interactive, inspirational workshop guides us to tell our stories, to articulate our successes. You have the power. Let’s hear you roar!   Led by Web pioneer and motivational speaker Aliza Sherman, founder of the first three web sites for women – Cybergrrl, Webgrrls and Femina - and still making HerStory online every day."

These are Aliza's notes from the workshop that she and  Maya presented for us.

Go around the room and ask people to introduce themselves in 1 sentence.
Explain afterward: Women always define or limit ourselves by our occupations. But it will be interesting to see if anyone breaks ranks, meaning that if the first person says: Hi I'm Jane and I'm a writer" then chances are each woman will define themselves by occupation. If someone says "I'm a mom" then many will identify themselves by familial ties. The challenge is to see if anyone introduces themselves by their dreams, aspirations, personality, qualities, etc. If not, point this out.

Have women fold a piece of paper and then write on the outside what they do for a living today.
Then ask them to open the paper and inside write what they dreamed of being when they were a child.
Then fold the paper again and look at the outside. Then open and look at the inside to contemplate how close or how far to their dreams they are.
How many women wrote the same thing on both sides?
How many women are happy with where they are?
How many women would like to take a new path in their life or work?

Write where you are today on left side of a piece of paper (Point A) and on the right side (Point B), where they want to be by the end of this year and have them makes 3 dots in between then to NAME the dots from point A to point B.
1. What internal obstacles must you overcome?
2. What external obstacles must you overcome?
3. What single action can you take to move forward?
These 3 points become the arc of a story line.
Homework: They can craft their FUTURESTORY. It is up to them to fill in the words.

To think of something they did, heard, saw, felt or learned as a child and how it still impacts their life and work today. My story that I tell is of a candle. Short version: I used to love lighting a candle at night when I was quite young - maybe 9 or 10. One nite my dad woke up and I blew out the candle and hid it under my bed. He turned on the light and asked what the smell was. And I lied. His reaction has stuck with me to this very day and had kept me from lying since a young age, so much so that I'm almost too painfully honest, even in business and yet I firmly believe in the power of honesty.
Tell your childhood lesson story.

If you were to write your life story, what would your title be?
Aliza's Title: "From Gunpoint to Motherhood: Moving from Fear to Acceptance".  Maya's Title: "Learning to Love Myself: Letting Myself Fly and Sharing the Flight With Others"

photo courtesy of Aliza Sherman

Inspirational Writing - Wisdom Workshop 2 - Writing Track

photo courtesy of Casey at Mooshinindy
Sarah Mueller – @HallmarkSarah, Casey Mullins – @MooshinIndy, Molly Wigand – @hmkmollyw, Stephanie Precourt – @babysteph.  

SEO and Counting What Counts- Wisdom Workshop 2,   Geeked Out Track 
Speakers Kelby Carr @typeamom and Angela England @angengland

Writer's Craft - Wisdom Workshop 3, Writing Track

 Writer's Craft - Wisdom Workshop with speakers Amber Haines @amberrunsamuck, Megan Jordan @velveteenmind,  Deb Rox @debontherocks, and Arianne Segerman @tothink

Social Media and the Women Who Love it (Advanced Social Media), 
Wisdom Workshop 3 - Business Track
speakers Susan Getgood @sgetgood, Shelly Kramer @shellykramer, Lucretia Pruitt @geekmommy

Notes provided by Sami Cone at Econemic Living

Google timeline-  Who, what, when, where, why, how
Use multiple tools to reach multiple people – 
consistent voice (twitter, facebook, newsletter) – 
be the same everywhere
Facebook is where the fish are – always fish where the fish are
Group vs. Fan Page (business equivalent of your profile)
-anyone can start a group
Email newsletter
Constant contact, mail chimp, blue sky factory
Free email newsletter through feedburner

Huge thanks to all those who spoke at these workshops, to Casey and Mishelle, the photographers who captured the moments, and to Aliza and Sami  who submitted notes for the sessions!

If you attended these workshops and have notes you would like to add, please email me at frelle4@live.com and I will link them in the main body of this post.  I am hoping that this can be a resource to share!  Thanks!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Initial Impressions of Blissdom 10

Blissfully Domestic is an online magazine and community of women.  For the last three years, there has been a blogging conference put on by Allison Worthington and Barbara Jones, this year also organized by Paula Bruno.  The magazine is very diverse, and the women who attend the conference are likewise all over the spectrum.  Women from 21-75, bloggers and non-bloggers, those active in social media, those involved in public relations for companies who want to reach out to women who are using blogging and social media... all ethnic and cultural backgrounds and from varying locations around (mostly) North America.

Freak Out!
 photo courtesy of Casey at MooshInIndy

After the Harry Connick concert Friday night, (which may get it's own post on my blog) there was a moment in the club during the Black Eyed Peas song "I Gotta Feeling" when about 50 of us, and several of them were women I'd really connected with, were jumping, hands in the air. Women who were diverse in every way just throwin the heck down in this moment with no self consciousness and loving who they were and where they were.  I knew I was going to remember that moment with absolute crystal clarity. I am so excited that it was captured on camera for me!  Bless you, my Caseymoosh!
photo courtesy of Casey  at MooshInIndy

Many of that same group were shutting the post-Blissdom movie and pajama party down with me, and having a fantastic time with karaoke!

1) @secretagentmama and @mooshinindy singing "I'm Too Sexy" 

2) @redneckmommy and @mooshinindy sing "Redneck Woman", 

3)  @birdonthestreet, @lovethatmax, and @momtriedit sing "Material Girl"
4)  @redneckmommy, @busydadblog, @secretagentmama singing "Love Shack"

photo 2 courtesy of Julie at Angry Julie Monday
photos 3 and 4 courtesy of Miranda at Keeper of the Cheerios

At the end of the karaoke performances, the DJ happened to put on "I Gotta Feeling" again, and many of us had remembered the electricity in the crowd from the night before.  Several others have identified the song as the unofficial theme song.  I don't know that it would have been a favorite of mine without the memory of my sisterfriends at Blissdom sharing in it.

photo courtesy of Heather at Just Heather

We didn't learn all weekend how to be better home managers or learn new skills about being domestic. At the Blissfully Domestic conference, the focus was way more on the bliss than on the domestic.   We heard a whole lot more about finding bliss and joy and centeredness by being real and authentic and meaningfully connecting with others...
photo courtesy of Casey at MooshInIndy

photo courtesy of Erica Mueller at Erica Says

photo courtsey of Dawn at MyHomeSweetHomeOnline

We were encouraged to be authentic in connecting with businesses to partner with, other bloggers, other women where we live and online. We were encouraged to step out of comfort zones, we learned how to express ourselves better in writing, learned more about what companies want to hear from bloggers who advertise for them and work on campaigns..

We also learned more about owning your voice ... That what you write from your genuine passion for it is what others will be the most impacted by. 

 This conference was exactly what I needed, for so many reasons.  Time to get my own groove back as a woman and a separate entity from my family, time to remember how much I enjoy connecting deeply with others, networking for myself as well as helping others connect with one another, being reassured that my innate desire to be authentic and genuine and real is exactly what resonates with others, and so very many more things that my "words of affirmation" love language needing self needed to hear.  And I'm pretty sure the other 499 women at Blissdom needed it too.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Gearing up for Blissdom 10!

This Thursday begins an amazing blogging conference centered around the website Blissfully Domestic.  The site was started by Alli Worthington, author of the blog Mrs Fussypants.  Blissfully Domestic is a site about everyday living, and contains articles and interactive forums for everything from Bible Study to vintage clothes, microwave meals to financial advice, green living to kids crafts.  It's really a site for all women, not a section of apron wearing artificially happy housewives.

I attended the TypeAMom blog conference last fall and had a fantastic time meeting women I had interacted with on twitter and in the blogosphere, women who love to multitask and who were taking notes and on twitter, adn updating facebook and talking to someone at their table all while a session was being given.  Women who "get" how you can find a real authentic connection with someone you've never met, and how you can hug the stuffing out of someone you've never actually laid eyes on. 

I am planning to mostly attend the writing workshops at Blissdom, but will probably get to a few of the business ones as well.  I am planning to attend a few of the afterparties, and definitely looking forward to the Harry Connick Jr. concert on Friday night!!!

The conference is being held in Nashville (my old stomping grounds) at the Opryland Resort and Convention Center!  I am looking forward to staying with my friend Jennifer the night before the conference, and then rooming with MultitaskingMe, HighImpactMom, and AmyLynnAndrews while we are at the conference.

There are SO many women I am excited to see again and to meet for the first time at this conference!  Also, I am going to be away from all four of the kids for the first time EVER.  I have alwys had at least one child with me wherever I have retreated to or conferenced at.  So this is a true getaway.  Complete with 10 hour roadtrip alone with my music to and from the conference!!!

I will keep you posted on all the stuff worth reporting, and promise to dive into writing here with some renewed vigor and purpose.  A blog redesign is probably forthcoming, too.  Hold on to your hats!


Party 2nite! Come to @TrueFemme 's #TrickorTweet Party & don't forget to visit her stop on the scavenger hunt! http://bit.ly/ZJ0ms

Pursuing Harmony | Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial License | Dandy Dandilion Designed by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates