videos VOTY

My Voices of the Year Video: The Bridge That Is Any Bridge

I’ve been reluctant to share the video here and elsewhere for various reasons.

There’s that thing where you’re looking down and reading something and you end up with approximately eleven chins even though you don’t have eleven chins. You know this on a logical basis; you know this on an “it doesn’t matter how many chins I have” basis. But still, you look and you see chins. And you listen and you hear your tiny little child voice and think, “Why didn’t my voice age with me?” And your hair keeps falling in your eyes. And your posture is kind of off, and you know your Grandfather would look at you and yell, “Pull those shoulders back, Wren!” And your lips are a little pursed, but that’s just because you’re working really hard to keep the tears behind the eyes. You practiced so hard, so many days and nights and in front of the people who matter most to you, to not cry, so dag-nab-it, you’re not going to cry now.

Chins and All

And then you take a deep breath and glimpse at the words sitting next to your desk in your office, placed there to remind you to come back from the space that is any space, and you realize none of those things matter. Not the green dress. Not the jewelry. Not the alleged chins or the childlike voice or anything other than the words.

The words.

Here’s my piece, “The Bridge That Is Any Bridge,” read aloud at BlogHer ’14 at the Voices and Photos of the Year Community Keynote.

I’m always more comfortable writing my words than reading them. But as I arrived at the Grand Ballroom that afternoon, deer-in-the-headlights nervous, Elisa Camahort Page reminded me that my words needed to be read aloud as they were written, for someone else to hear as someone else needed to read.

I received an email from a beautiful soul since BlogHer ’14. She shared the piece with her daughter, and her daughter shared something about a friend. Together they reached out to the other girl. If that one young girl knows that she is not alone on her figurative or literal bridge, I’ll take all the chins in the world.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for receiving. Thank you.

Please check out the other video from the conference, which includes Keynotes, 10×10 Presentations, and Voices and Photos of the Year. All are amazing and worthy of a watch.



BlogHer ’14 Selfiebration: I Brought My Game

Last year at BlogHer ’13, I ended up with a total of four pictures of myself with my friends. And five of myself with my husband. While pictures with my husband are always welcome, I felt pretty peeved with myself that I didn’t take more photos with people who mean a lot to me. And with total strangers, because conference!

And so I brought myself Selfie game to the Selfiebration at BlogHer ’14. Let’s take a look.

We start out traveling where we got caught in the air above San Francisco because Air Force One hadn’t cleared the airport. #thanksobama It was a tiring, long day of travel, but then we went to dinner with our besties, woke up early to hit the gym, and then I started working.

From the Beginning

The Selfiebration at the Expo was awesome and I maybe pledged to “write the damn book” by the age of 35 at The Timeline Project booth. But here’s the thing: the book changed and I know it did, so I have to start all over. Womp womp. Anyway, the new picture is now hanging over my desk where I will ignore it until I am 34.75 years old.

I don’t have to tell you how amazing VOTY was. Oh wait, I already did.

On Into VOTY and Saturday

One important selfie, or uhm, groupie, needed placement of its own. It belongs chronologically on the night of Voices and Photos of the Year. As I sat back stage, blubbering because my Burgh Baby wasn’t there and it just didn’t freaking feel right because we did all of this together for so stinkin’ long, I remembered that she was with us. She won a PHOTY. So those of us that love her so posed with her photo. And then I maybe cried a little bit more.


The end of the conference came much too quickly, but the closing party was EPIC. And a HALF! Times 87!

Let's Close This Mother Down

Content wise, the keynotes were just absolutely amazing. If you haven’t seen the Kerry Washington selfie yet, you need to go look. I enjoyed every single 10×10 presentation by our long-time community members. I felt inspired to do things and write things and go places and be more and so on. The killer for me was the opening video. Go watch it.

I am a birth mother. I am BlogHer.

Yeah. That happened. And yeah, I cried.

My deeply personal moment came during The Future of Personal Blogging Mini-Con. I attended as I write a personal blog and am deeply invested in what the future holds for me, for the people like me, for our genre, for our online lives. I listened with great interest, held a few side conversations at my table, accidentally made my table snort laugh, and really enjoyed the topic at hand. But I had a question to ask. So I asked it.

“How do you know when you’re done personal blogging? And what do you do when you get to that point?”

The room was kind of quiet. It’s a big question, an important one. Some of the technicalities were discussed, like what to do with your online spaces and the like. But then Elan Morgan, otherwise known as Schmutzie, answered me with this important line:

“When your community is no longer feeding you, maybe it’s time.”

And I maybe blinked a few tears.

I’ve been searching for confirmation that I did the right thing in yanking down Chronicles, my now defunct adoption blog, last year in the hasty way that I did. I didn’t seek advice. I didn’t ask questions. I didn’t even fully think it through enough to realize that pulling it down, the hosting and all, would mean a blog I was hosting for someone else on the domain would be negatively affected. I just pulled that sucker down. Gone.

And after hearing Elan’s comment, it was the right choice.

I do still write about adoption here, as it makes sense in our daily life. But the adoption community was no longer feeding me. They were strangling me, suffocating me, pigeon-holing me. I was am so much more than they wanted me to be, than they allowed me to be. And in doing so, they were also negatively affecting my other writing, both at work and here in this space that I do cherish and love so much.

I have, over the past year, moved a couple of favorite posts into the chronologically placed archives of this space. But that community stopped feeding me. And maybe I stopped needing being fed by them. So thank you, Elan, from the bottom of my heart.

I stepped outside of my normal shell a little bit this year, taking pictures with people, talking to people I don’t normally talk to (meaning anyone outside of my immediate safety zone). I stood on a stage and poured my heart out. I worked hard. I danced. I laughed. I snorted. I ate amazing crepes and missed my grandmother so much my heart ached; but she was there with me—I felt her. I had conversations in hotel hallways. I made new friends. I left San Jose with the knowledge that I am a different person than the one who discovered BlogHer in 2006.

And that I’m pretty darn okay with who I am in 2014.

Thank you, BlogHer, for a great experience.