What are the best bits of BritMums Live?

Yesterday I told you all the worst bits of my BritMums Live weekend so here goes with the really good stuff in no particular order.

Best Bits Of BritMums Live

1. I got a night away with Him Indoors whilst the little darlings went to stay with my step-daughter.  So whilst other bloggers were out to dinner, I was making the most of the hotel bedroom and remembering why we got together in the first place and hoping the walls were thick.

2. I got to meet Ruby Wax and she signed my book and spoke my name.  Be still my beating heart.  How wonderful of BritMums to put Ruby and the issues of mental health right up there at the start of the event.  A brave decision and one I applaud.

3. I started to see that there are many opportunities in blogging that I may not have quite understood before.  The future starts here and I think it may turn out to be rather marvellous.  I learned a lot from the panel session on the first day.

4.  I worked out that I want to start making proper strides in my writing.  Attending the Getting Published and E-Book sessions proved fruitful.

5. I got ever so slightly squiffy at the  Brilliance in Blogging Party and met and fell in love with  that Hayley one before she became world famous with her keynote the next day.  I am putting her autograph on ebay as we speak.

6. I did not win a Brilliance in Blogging Award which I was so pleased about as did not feel I deserved to do so having seen the other finalists.  Plus I would have tripped up the stairs in my drunken state and the pink Crocs wellies I had won.

7. I saw some of my fave bloggers and Penny Alexander and Mummy Whisperer  in particular get their awards and was very pleased for them, huge warm feelings of thrilledness.

8. I discovered Katy Hill and found her so funny, engaging and true.  She tells it like it is and I love anyone who does that particularly about the challenges of parenting.

9. I started to understand more about social media and search engine optimisation.  

10. I heard the wonderful Sarah Brown and she changed my life right there and then. 

11. Despite myself, I moderated the Blogging for the Greater Good session with what appears to be quite a degree of success.  Working with the lovely Michelle from BritMums made it that much easier.

12. I spent a lot of time over lunch with Polly Gowers from Give As You Live.  She speaks so much sense and I have that chat as one of my absolute highlights of the conference.

13. The food was amazing and sustaining as the whole event really too it out of you in terms of over-excitement, nerves and the rest.

14. I joined Ellen Arnison and Mammasaurus for the Sod the Stats!  Blogging for Happiness session.  Having survived the first speaking engagement in the morning, I felt much more chilled.  I managed to be me warts and all.  Whether that was a good or bad thing is for others to decide.

15. Although I had plenty o f wobbly moments, I pushed through them and spoke to people and did not sit shyly at the back in workshop sessions.  I also remembered that other folks would be shy too and when I spotted people who looked that way went up and spoke to them. 

16. I laughed and cried in the blogger keynote sessions with several stories resonating deeply with me particularly Karin’s about post-natal depression and Ellen’s about not slating ourselves for being bad mums when actually we do out best.

17. Someone said to me “Oh, you are one of them, aren’t you?”  Turned out they meant I was part of the BritMums team.  I am never quite sure how I managed to become part of that wonderful team but am really glad I did.  Susanna and her lovely colleagues have truly changed my life for the better and I thank them for that.

18. I met some of my blogging heros but also learned that there are a lot more out there to get to know better.

19. I felt like a somebody rather than a nobody.  It is so easy to lose sight of yourself as a mum.

20.  I hugged.  Yes, me, the most hung-up person in the world found herself fuelled by wine throwing herself on unsuspecting bloggers.  What can I say?  It was emotional.

What do you hope are you best bits of BritMums Live 2017?

 

The F word as in Feminism seems to cause some women so much angst and I struggle to work out why.   I became aware of the word in the mid-to-late Eighties.  It seemed to involve women getting or fighting for a positive deal and as a big fan of fair play, I was ready to sign myself up to the cause.

I did not burn my bra but I hated it then and now.  I was apparently seen by some as sexually confident when hanging loose but the truth was I have sloping shoulders and just got bored of keep pulling up the straps.  I did join a women’s group at college and eventually became Women’s Officer to ensure that women’s views were heard by the college authorities (women were very much in the minority at my college).

There was a session on women’s voices in media at BritMums Live.  Helen from Actually Mummy, one of the speakers wrote a blog post about it.  She explained how the following tweet gave her confidence to share her vision.

 

Women can be intelligent even when wearing tiaras. #fact#britmumslive@ActuallyMummypic.twitter.com/3CG6Nfs3AX

— Claire Evans (@claireyfairey) June 20, 2014

Absolutely.  Women can be intelligent whatever they are wearing or not wearing for that matter.  Equally, some women may not be intelligent and/or may struggle to express their wants and needs particularly with those in power – employers, landlords, benefit agencies, the police and other organisations.  In the domestic arena, some will find it tough to get a fair deal in the home.  And some will die.

As an advice worker, I saw so many vulnerable women up against the authorities and who had made rash decisions “because I love/d him”   Any yes, I have seen the bruises and the emotional damage to female victims of physical and sexual abuse.

Feminism should never be merely a dinner party conversation or a specialism in a career.  That is a further abuse to those who are suffering. There are vital changes to be made if we are truly to feel proud of the society in which we live.

I do feel we should challenge men who act badly as women, men and as a society at a whole.  If I quote statistics on matters such as crime that make some men (and women) feel uncomfortable, if I think it is for the greater good I will keep on doing so.

I do think that if women are to be understood and heard, it would be helpful to see more of them in politics, business and the media.  I also feel think those women who have made that journey could do a lot for themselves and others by offering mentoring to others.

Blogging and social media give women the opportunity to have their say on topics that matter to them.  We can learn from each other too and it strikes me that sharing not only our story but those of others can be such a powerful force for change.  Which certainly makes me want to press those share buttons more often now that I have thought it through. Let’s share our truths and then those who do have power can make the right choices for a fairer world from an informed position.

Working together and supportively for a better world knowing that women are a valuable part of that world – now that’s what I call feminism.

Agree or disagree? – leave a comment and then I can start to understand your voice too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mum Muddling Through

What I learned at BritMums Live 2014.

I was keen to be in room 4 for all the workshops on offer at BritMums Live. I want to become a published writer. I know that video is probably the way forward but have bottled it to date. I know I could do more to understand technical issues.

I understand the speakers themselves and/or BritMums will be sharing the lessons from the individual workshops but these are the things I picked up that I hope will help me move forwards this year.

1. It is not unusual to put off writing when you love writing. You must find ways to actually write if you are to be successful. Some ideas will just come to you but others will take more work and people-watching.

2. You have to approach a literary agent in a business-like manner making it obvious with your first line and a few chapters on why they should take you on. Being different will help. You may need to be flexible and not react aggressively if agents and publishers suggest changes to your first manuscript.

3. Video is possible however inexperienced you are. You should experiment and see what works best. You can try things out on your family first before taking the leap into letting the general public or your blog readers in on the act. Keep videos short and engaging and don’t forget you can edit them. Be aware of the distracting mess in your background – oh that’s just my rubbish housework standards then! Just as in blogging, you are allowed to be you and to vlog it your way. There is good equipment that can help and there are generous spirits like @nigelcamp who are keen to share their tips.

4. You can acquire free pictures to use on your blog and thereby avoid allegations of photo theft.

5. Self-publishing is much more accessible and affordable than every before. I came away determined to write and publish an e-book and to see where that journey takes me.

6. You don’t need to be scared of the tech stuff – you just need a kind soul to explain it to you. Some of it is really important. I was not doing quite a lot of it! For me, it is always about the words but I have realised I neglect tech stuff to my peril.

7. Niche blogging can lead to success. I know this is true and plan a niche blog sometime this year. Having said that, I have managed to find work, readers and awards without having a particular niche apart from the life and times of a moody, middle-aged mum. I think sometimes being you works best and only you have the niche on that one! They say cream rises to the top and I think good content and genuine hearts do too.

8. I was reminded by Emma Freud that anything is possible if you work hard enough, use your creativity and resourcefulness and sometimes blag it a bit too.

9. Benjamin Brooks-Dutton described so well how very complex and fascinating journeys of grief can be. I agree that laughter is as much a part of it as the tears. Our lost loved ones must always be our lips.

10. The bloggers’ keynotes reminded me that life is a series of big ups and deep downs for lots of us. So many work miracles all the time. Let’s celebrate strong characters who keep on keeping on in good times and bad.

So as ever at BritMums Live, I learned things I did not know, I gained practical tips to move me forwards and I left humbled and that bit better in myself than last year.

BritMums Live 2014 – my worst bits

1. Heading North from home to London. Have I become a Southerner after all these years masquerading as a Northerner?

2. Wanting to be in two places at the same time over the weekend. Firstly the lovely Montcalm hotel was hard to leave even for the learning and social delights of the conference. Secondly, inadequate Mummy went and missed the children’s school fete on Saturday.

3. Forgetting my BritMums Live ticket and then finding it was in my handbag all along on my return home.

4. Getting the various wires/cables for my laptop and phone mixed up. Such a technophobe.

5. The absolute feats of engineering with tights and underwear I now need to hold all that excess flesh in even a little bit. What lies beneath – scary thought!

6. Not having enough time available to chat to all the bloggers I would have liked to. It is the nature of the beast when working and at such a well-attended conference but it is always a little sad when you miss someone.

7. Not realising quite how bad my roots were until I returned home and my 8 year old son told me in no uncertain terms.

8. Not remembering to pack my dress for Saturday properly so that the creased look was trending on Saturday.

9. Felt it was made pretty clear that some of my dinner companions were not happy with the dinner venue I had chosen. It was a shame and a little upsetting for me although I have to say I did enjoy the food and conversation.

10. Leaving whilst Benjamin Brooks-Dutton was speaking in Room 1. I went to look after room 4 but I still felt bad at not staying and honouring his story.

11. Not making the most of lunch in terms of eating so that by the evening, I suddenly realised I was very hungry.

12. Learning that I have missed out on some tricks when it comes to blogging and writing that I could have implemented years ago. I had so much to learn. Spinning that, it should make for an exciting year ahead.

The truth is I had my best BritMums Live yet and you can read about that in a post soon.

What are my reasons to be cheerful this week? Am I walking on sunshine?

1. Nearly two months after moving, I have the upstairs of our new home sorted. Everything is unpacked and put away sensibly. I do need a bedside cabinet for my teen’s room and another chest of drawers for ours but we are pretty much there.

2. My teen son got the most amazing report from his new school. He is in the top sets for everything apart from German which is fair enough seeing as he has never done it before. He is keen to pursue German so we are going to have to see how we can find him some extra help with that as we did not study German ourselves. Particular comments were made about his great talent for mathematics, science, ICT and his fabulous questioning and challenging contributions to class discussions. Very importantly, he is making new friends too. The new school is far better than his last one and they are looking into his issues with handwriting (I have been trying to get this nailed for almost 10 years).

3. I am really enjoying my 8 year old’s son company at the moment. I had missed a television programme I wanted to see and he was able to tell me all about it in such great detail. He loves word play as I do so we connect on that level. He brings me flowers from the garden most days. Today he told me the best thing about my dress for BritMums Live was me! This boy has serious charisma and I am sure will move mountains as he grows up. He got a special award from school for good work in science this week.

4. My daughter is growing up fast and I sense my little girl is becoming a young lady and a feisty one at that. It cheers me up that as she breaks away from the apron strings she still loves to snuggle up with me.

5. The children are enjoying their outdoor swimming pool at school and miraculously, I am remembering to send them with the right kit. On the way home, we often stop at the park and they get great exercise and I can catch up with the newspaper or a book.

6. We had a fantastic weekend in the sunshine celebrating D Day on Southsea Common.

7. The World Cup has started, My fella hates football but I like an event so we are having a pizza party for the game tonight.

8. I am enjoying writing my Dad’s memoirs – give them a go – they are a great read.

9. It is BritMums Live next weekend – time to reflect on a bit of a challenging year and to see amazing women all in one venue. Hoping to dine with some lovely ladies too. I am hoping it cools down a bit or that the Brewery has amazing air conditioning.

10. I have a new smartphone because Him Indoors decided I am so worth it.

That’s all folks. See some of you very soon!