#reverb10 – Day 1: One Word

December 1 Prompt
Author: Gwen Bell
gwenbell.com
@gwenbell

Prompt: One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

Reverb10.com

So it’s Day One of #reverb10. I thought the first one would be easy. And it is, sort of. Come up with two words, one to describe 2010, and one to describe 2011.

I’m not a one-word thinker. I think in paragraphs, not bullet points. I’m a bit of a talker, and it sometimes takes time for me to get to the point. This one word thing seems to be following me. I came up with my one word from the conversation about it at Blissdom Canada earlier this year. It only took me nearly two weeks to come up with it. And I’m supposed to come up with two “one words” tonight?

Can I use the same word? I don’t think so, they don’t seem to match.

2010 was an interesting year. We saw lots of milestones in the Mitchell household. Flora moved further away from babyhood and into toddlerhood by learning to walk and talk, having her one-year anniversary at daycare and having her second birthday. Of course lots of other things happened to her this year, but these are the big ones.

But this isn’t about my daughter’s year, it’s about my year.

I’m having trouble separating them though. I’ve written and erased several sentences of clichés about my life as a working mum of a toddler. It pisses me off that I’ve become that clichéd image of a working mum. I’m not high in the office pecking order, so it’s not like balancing these two parts is any more difficult than it is for most parents.

But it is really hard sometimes.

So I guess my one word to describe 2010 is “blended”. I’m certainly not balanced. The scale tips this way and that depending on who needs me more when. Sometimes it’s Flora. Sometimes it’s work. Sometimes it’s Sean. Sometimes it’s family.

Sometimes – and not nearly often enough – it’s me.

No one is balanced. I’ve learned that no matter what I’m doing, I’ll always feel guilty I’m not doing something else, everything else, all at the same time and to as close to perfection as I can get. So, everything gets blended into one big thing. I’m lucky that my job doesn’t require lot of take-home work. I don’t travel anywhere and I like the people I work with.

Still, it takes a lot of energy to keep the machine running sometimes.

I don’t expect 2011 to be much different. I’ll still have a toddler (an older toddler, but she won’t be three until September) and I’ll still be trying to manage everything all at the same time.

To be clear, I don’t manage everything on my own. Sean is a great dad and a hard worker and I know he feels as pulled in as many different directions as I do. I’m grateful that we’re in this together.

I try to remember that you can’t make everyone happy at the same time, so you need to make yourself happy first. I don’t always succeed in living by that motto, but remembering it is a good start.

So my ideal 2011 could be summed up as “prioritized”. I’ll do better with picking my battles – I can’t pick all of them at the same time. I’ll try and make the right choices that best take care of my family, and of myself. I will make Sean and my marriage a priority. I will make myself a priority. We can’t all be Priority One all the time, but we can’t all be left off the list either.

One word

An off-the-cuff remark made during the closing session at Blissdom Canadagave many attendees their homework assignment from the session.

“What’s your one word?”

The one word in question is the word you’d use to describe your brand. Your online persona. Yourself.

Like a lot of people, I struggled with what I thought my one word was. I wanted one that represented who I am and who I want to be, both online and in the real world.

I also wanted a word that hadn’t been taken by anyone else. Why yes, I’ve got a touch of the special snowflake disease – doesn’t everyone?

The word I chose for myself is…

Perceptive

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, perceptive is defined as:

1: responsive to sensory stimuli : discerning

2a : capable of or exhibiting keen perception : observant

2b : characterized by sympathetic understanding or insight

I pride myself on paying attention to the little things, the details that make life great. I also do my best to think about those details so I can understand them and share my insights with others.

Seems to me that that is a lot of what personal blogging is about.

Now it’s time to up the perception and insight up in here. I gotta live up to this one word you know.

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 networking  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”  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.

Need inspiration for your blog posts? I have an idea.

Like many personal bloggers (and probably more than a few professional ones), I sometimes have trouble coming up with good ideas for interesting posts. When I used the now-defunct Vox blogging service and two of my favourite features of that service were the Question of the Day and the Vox Hunt. Both features provided prompts that encouraged users to write or share media related to the subject they posted. The questions were often user-generated so there was usually variety. You can see from my previous posts in these categories (QoTD , Vox Hunt , and several more posts that didn’t get categorized when I moved) that I answered several of them and they often led to writing on a topic I wouldn’t have considered had I not followed the prompt.

I also really enjoyed reading other people’s answers to the same questions.

I’ve been searching for similar writing prompt sites and my Google-fu is failing me – I keep coming back to the same sites over and over. They are usually static or long-abandoned and often only consist of one person’s ideas. The 30 Days of Truth meme going around right now intrigues me but that’s only 30 days worth of questions, and some of the questions on that list don’t interest me, which is why I haven’t started participating in it myself. I’ve enjoyed reading those posts immensely.

I’d like to create a site devoted to reader-generated blog prompts (in word or picture/media format), but I’d like to figure out a few things first:

  • I want lots of people to contribute ideas, because more ideas equals more content. If I opened up a site and asked for contributions, would you consider contributing an idea or seven? No idea is too small or too silly. Those are often the easiest to answer quickly.
  • If you looked at this potential site and found a prompt interesting, would you write about it and link back so everyone else can read what you wrote? Would you consider leaving a comment saying “hey! I wrote about this on my site!” or would you want to use one of those link widget things? I want to be able to read any posts that come out of this and it’s always nice to have a little promotion somewhere, right?
  • What is the best platform for this? I want this to be easy to manage for me as an admin and easy for any contributors that may want to share content. I also don’t want to spend a pile of money on hosting if I didn’t have to at this stage. I love the flexibility of WordPress and the simplicity of Posterous. How would you do this?

What would you do to make this work? I’d like to keep it fun, low-pressure, full of variety and completely opt-in. If you participate in every post, that’s awesome. If you participate in only one, that’s awesome too.

I’m always on the lookout for new things to write about and you probably are too. Would you participate in something like this, at least once in awhile? Let me know in the comments.

…where I realize I may need a kick in the pants

Lately, I’ve been full of ideas. Lots of ideas. Big ones, small ones, work-related, life-related, web-related – they run the gamut.

I haven’t really tried to act on any of them.

Sure, I’ve done a lot of “research” – manic Googling about the various things I’m thinking of but don’t know much about. I’m starting to realize that all this research, reading, whatever you want to call it, is just a form of procrastination and I just to need to figure out what I want to actually do and *do it*.

These last few sentences were hard to write, and I must have interrupted myself at least ten different times while writing them. Analyze that, will you?

I like ticking items off of lists. Maybe I need to write some new ones and start with those things. A little focus would probably go a long way.

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.
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