What I did on my vacation

May they always look at each other like this
The crowd I spent my vacation with.

Team Mitchell was on vacation last week. We laid low at home and it was wonderful.

Highlights of the week include:

Sean’s birthday. We picked up dinner and had our neighbours over for dinner. I made a cherry cheesecake and it was pretty good for someone who doesn’t bake. I made it from a box, but still, I made cake! I should have made him wear the Dora party hat we have in the cupboard from Flora’s 2nd birthday.

Our ninth wedding anniversary. We didn’t do much to celebrate it, but we did acknowledge it.

I read six novels.Β  I have completed my challenge for 2013 to read 35 books. Now I need to up the number since there’s a lot of 2013 left. Some novels were trashy, but that’s what summer reading is all about.

I played with Instagram video. I’m not sure if I love it yet, but it is fun.

Embedly Powered

Embedly Powered

I took Flora to the ROM. The train trips to and from were big adventures, but an unexpected highlight of our trip was the bat cave. I was convinced she would be terrified of it, but we walked through that thing at least six times in a row.

Train ride
Pink Teddy enjoyed the trip too.

Lots of time spent outside. We went to the park, the splash pad and spent lots of time in the backyard. My favourite afternoon was spent in the backyard just enjoying my family, talking, hanging out and playing.

We’re back to our regular routine today – Sean and I at work and Flora at her school for summer camp. I think our return to routine was almost welcome, but I’ll still look forward to the next backyard party this weekend.

Hotel rooms, lists and friends that remind you to do what you said you were going to do

The following conversation I had with the lovely @OpinionatedLizz last week got me thinking.

(read from the bottom up to keep it in context)

Conversation with OpinionatedLizz, January 11, 2011
Conversation with OpinionatedLizz, January 11, 2011

I have never stayed in a hotel room alone andΒ the idea of it really appeals to me. Not for any awful reason – I’m not fantasizing about running away from my family and living a life of luxury in a boutique hotel by myself – at least I’m not right this minute. However, some time by myself somewhere I don’t have to clean up first to enjoy it sounds pretty appealing now.

I keep a lot of imaginary lists in my head: what I would do if I won the lottery, writing ideas, chore lists and so on. Turning an imaginary list of things to do in 2011 that I’ve never done before into a tangible, readable list sounds like a lot of work.

Fortunately, Lizz called me on it.

(again, read from the bottom up to keep it in context)

Conversation with OpinionatedLizz, January 20, 2011
Conversation with OpinionatedLizz, January 20, 2011

I had asked Lizz (who by the way also has a great blog that you should read) if I could use our conversation as screenshots for a post. She said okay and when I wrote my self-pitying, pay-attention-to-me tweet last night, she reminded me that I had planned to write this post. I hadn’t forgotten, but I hadn’t gotten around to doing it either.

All this preamble, and no list. How’s that for smooth?

I’m not sure how solid my list is. I wrote some lists for #reverb10 and some of the items could apply to be cross-posted to this list too. I spent a lot of #reverb10 pulling things out of thin air though so it’s a tough call.

Here are the things I want to do in 2011 that I’ve never done before:

  • stay in a hotel room by myself
  • get the house professionally cleaned (not sure if this would be a one-time or regular thing, but I’ll start small and call it a one-off)
  • Go to a sit down restaurant alone (I do fast food alone all the time, I’ve been to the movies by myself, but have never done a nice restaurant alone)
  • Get an evening babysitter that is not family for the occasional date night (which are currently few and far between because the family babysitters are 2.5 hours away so it’s a big deal for them to come)

This is a small, somewhat manageable list. I’m sure there’s other things I’d like to put on this list, but as the goals get more pie-in-the-sky the list becomes less realistic and easier to ignore.

So thank you Lizz for being a good friend and calling me out. Here’s hoping your trip that merited your solo hotel room is great and that we all try some new stuff in 2011.

#reverb10 – Day 16: Friendship

December 16 Prompt

Author: Martha Mihalick
Editor at Harper Collins
@curiousmartha

Prompt: Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

reverb10.com

I don’t think I can think of a specific incident where a friend changed me or my perspective. It likely happened, but nothing sticks out.

Edit: December 21, 2010, 9:35pm

So my husband read this post through Facebook and wrote me the following comment:

Weak sauce..you have friends on the Internet community that helped you be more social, friends that are pregnant that allow you to appreciate the miracle children give, a November weekend that allowed you to appreciate alone time and remind you that your still a woman and not just a mom..would you like me to write these for you πŸ™‚

I wrote the following back to him:

Point taken. Thanks for calling me on it. I have to admit, I haven’t been giving some of these posts the thought they deserve. I’ve been just trying to push them out. Not everything needs an over-the-top story, but that subject didn’t deserve such a weak response.

I think I’ll go back and edit a little later and incorporate what you’ve reminded me of. Thanks.

(For those playing along at home, I’m at my folk’s place right now so that is why Sean and I are talking about this here instead of face-to-face.)

So yeah, Sean was totally right. Hear that honey? You were right. We’ve since talked offline (well, technically online since it was a Skype conversation, but it was just a conversation between the two of us).

I was thinking about this the wrong way. I was thinking about how an individual friend had completely changed my life. I wasn’t thinking about the gifts that my friends have given me this year.

Each of the three things Sean mentioned are extremely valuable to me. I’m not a good friend. I don’t keep in touch as much as I should. I don’t nurture my friendships very well. Yet people still talk to me.

That is a gift unto itself.

I need to change my perspective and return that gift to them.

#reverb10 – Day 7: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010?

December 7 Prompt

Author: Cali Harris
caligater.com
@caligater

Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

reverb10.com

This article, posted yesterday on parentcentral.ca sums up some of my feelings on community:

First-time moms more likely to tweet and text than others

I was tweeting for over a year before I became a parent, but I found my usage really took off once I became a mum and was at home with the baby. I posted in other places too: Facebook, my “baby board” – a message board geared to mums with babies born in the same month as mine, my website, Flickr and so many places.

Having a baby just gave me so much to say to the world. I think that was because when I was at home, I was talking to myself or the newborn, who didn’t talk back yet. I needed an outlet for all the little things I wanted to say, but would forget by the time my husband returned from work. (By then, those little things weren’t usually as important anyway.)

Once I got out of the newborn haze, it was easier to reach out to the world and talk about things other than parenting a baby. I struggled with talking and posting about her too much, and reminded myself to talk about the rest of my life. Like most new mums though, my world was small and didn’t stretch much beyond my daughter. As she got older, my world got bigger, and now I feel like I’m part of the world as a person again, and not just a parent.

Two years ago, I never could have participated in this type of writing project. It would have been boring, repetitive and I wouldn’t have had the time. It may still be occasionally boring and repetitive now, but at least I’m not saying “ZOMG BAYBEEZ!” in every sentence.

I have been so grateful to connect with so many people online, whether they are parents or not. Going to Blissdom Canada this year allowed me to take that sense of community into the real world, and I hope to repeat that in 2011.

I find it easier to reach out online. Now I need to do a little more reaching out in the real world. I hope to do both in 2011.

My experience at Blissdom Canada 2010

I attended my first blogging/social media conference last week. I’m finally starting to catch up with the cool kids on the interwebs!

I even lived to tweet about it.

I went to Blissdom Canada 2010 here in Toronto. Billed as “Canada’s first social media conference for women” it came with a lot of hype, and some high expectations. Tickets sold out very quickly so I was extra grateful to get my earlybird tickets. I would have been kicking myself if I had missed such an event taking place in my own city.

The conference ended on Friday so I’ve been processing it for a few days now. I’m struggling with how to put my feelings into words outside of “I had a fabulous time and learned a lot“.

It was great to be able to meet women who care about writing – and writing online – as much as I do. Matching faces to Twitter avatars is always fun – I joked that people would recognize me if I turned my head a certain way. I met and spoke to so many people I hoped to meet. I met and spoke to people I didn’t know of until we met, and now I have tons more blogs and tweets to follow.

Watching the smartphones and laptops going nonstop during the conference was a neat thing to watch. Some people are really great at live-tweeting or live-blogging an event or panel, which is really valuable for those following along at home. I tried to keep that to a minimum because I’m not great at it – I find I tweet one thought and miss the next one. I wanted to be sure I heard everything so I tried to keep my communications to a minimum during panels. It was neat to check my email and discover that my table mates had already started following my Twitter account. An extra bonus is that I’m already finding that I’m having more conversations on Twitter. I hope to keep that up. The fact that so many people are still using the #BlissdomCanada hashtag days after the conference ended says a lot about how much people got out of it.

What I wish that I had done differently

I wish that I had spoken up more! I have a tendency to speak less and listen more when I’m around people or situations I don’t know well. This is not a bad thing but listening to a conversation without contributing more than the bare minimum doesn’t show my best side. Once I warm up a bit, I can usually jump in and out as necessary, but I may end up saying something stupid or awkward. I know everyone does this, but I’d love a few less facepalm moments in my life.

I wish that I had asked more questions at the panels! This is related to my first point. I tend to not ask the questions I want to ask until close to the end or not at all. I want to listen to everyone else and see if they ask – or answer – my questions before I have to ask them. That doesn’t always happen so I need to learn to speak up for myself, whether it’s a question or a point I’d like to make.

I wish that I had a better “elevator pitch”! People would ask me about hellomelissa.net and I would say “I’m a personal blogger”. The next question would be “how long have you been doing this?” and my answer would be “over ten years”. I’m a dinosaur by blogging standards (and to a lesser degree, by Twitter standards, seeing that I started tweeting in 2007), and sometimes it shows. I was a little embarrassed that I depended on my longevity in the medium to try and legitimize myself. (I’ve struggled with this for awhile now as the link to a post from earlier this year mentions.) I struggle with the whole “elevator pitch” thing in real life too though so this is not a new thing for me.

I don’t want to be completely negative on myself so here’s some good stuff.

What I’m glad that I did right (for me)

I’m glad I mingled. I tried to sit with different people for each session. I came alone (and got a smiley face sticker to prove it) so it wasn’t like I had a group of friends I could hang with by default. Since I wasn’t staying in the hotel (hometown advantage! or disadvantage depending on how you look at it), I didn’t have roommates or travel mates. That left me free to sit with and talk to whomever I wanted. I spoke to lots of people – many of whom I may not have gotten to meet if I had sat with the same people all the time. When I went to the panels, I always sat at an empty or near-empty table and welcomed anyone who wanted to sit with me. That’s probably a passive form of networking, but it was networkingΒ  nonetheless. If I wanted to go lone wolf and do things on my own, that didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings either.

RockersI’m glad I dressed up for Halloween party. I was having a hard time trying to figure out a costume for the closing party. A frenzied trip to Value Village on the Wednesday before got me the stuff I needed. It wasn’t a fabulous costume, but I made an effort and that’s what really mattered. The fact that I ended up accidentally meshing with a couple of other costumes was a happy accident. Rockers unite!

I’m glad I sang karaoke at the party. I love karaoke, and I don’t get to do it often. I could have taken the easy way out and let everyone else do the singing. I’m fine once I get up there but I spend the time until they call my name super nervous and wishing I had never signed up. Once I’m done, I’m dying to go up again. I’m not the best singer by any means – I follow the “if you can’t sing it well, sing it loud”Β  school of thought. But getting out of my sometimes shy, take a while to warm up, listening self to get up in front of people and potentially make an ass out of myself is a great way to get out of my comfort zone. That and I have a secret rockstar living inside of me.

In Summary

A+++, will attend again. You should come too.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.