Why I’m Grateful On The Anniversary Of My Grandmother’s Death

So unbeknownst to me August 7th was Sisters day. While I missed this (made up internet) holiday, I did think it was a good time to reflect on my own relationships with my oldest sister, which has changed A LOT! In the past 2 ½ decades, honestly, it’s just really changed a lot in the last year since my grandma passed away last year on August 25th.

What a difference a year makes

Yeah, it was a year ago today I got the call that broke my heart in a totally foreign way to me.

It’s crazy to me that she has been gone a year. It seemed like she went from bad to worse to gone so quickly that last year and now she’s been gone a year. It really is crazy.

I miss that lady every day. I’m at a loss for words (which is a big deal, if you know me.)

My grandma was the foundation of our family. Serious in some ways she raised us all.

My grandma had a hard shell. We used to jokingly say she was “too mean to die.” And she used to tell us, “You gone miss me when I’m gone.” man was she right.Clearly coming to Starbucks to write this was a good idea as I am in the corner fighting tears.

I could sit here and regurgitate the details of her eulogy or tell you two decades worth of lessons she taught me or the different phrases she used that would have been a perfect Youtube video called “Shit southern grandmas say.” Like “I’ll slap ya blind.” But I think the one thing I’ll focus on is how she brought my sister and me together in her death.

A sister is a friend for life…..Or something like that

I don’t know about the first decade or so but a sister is nature’s given friend. I could say that we are different people but the truth is we just didn’t get along. There was probably some animosity between the fact that my biological father was an asshole and I always felt like she was the favorite but that literally all comes out in the wash now.

I mean we’d have our nice moments but it wasn’t really until this past year that I considered her a friend. We weren’t outlandishly mean to each other…okay maybe in Vegas. We just had different interests, a five-year difference and both a healthy helping of my grandmother’s stubbornness.

Look out for each other

My grandmother would always tell us to look out for each other. Looking back now I know she did always look out for me. Picking me up at Sonic at 1am when I got off of work. Letting me sweet talk her into paying for dinner. 

I think when my granny passed that kind of pain subconsciously made us hold on to each other because it was kind of like holding on to her in the parts of each of that we got from her.

It’s crazy because now anytime I have a bad day I know if I call her I’ll feel better. I know one day she had posted on Facebook some super basic melodramatic thing about needing to fight (sorry Alicia but that shit was a little basic, love you) and I called her, we ended up spending an hour and a half on the phone, ended up talking about my problems instead…. On the plus side, the drama happening in my life at that particular time gave her a really good laugh.

Sisters are your first friend. I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit on that. I’m sure for some of you that’s the case but I can tell you for a fact my first friend was Ashley McCoy. I think a more accurate assessment would be your sister is your first test in patience, in compromise, in sharing, and in the capability to love someone you think you hate. We may not have been besties but we always had each other’s back and we are constantly teaching each other.

So a year after my grandmother’s death I can say I am grateful for my sister.

~Rest in Peace Granny~

BlogHer 16 Recap Part 2

Disclosure: Posts on AllTheThingsIDo.com contain affiliate links. For more information see policy.

Earlier this month I was in L.A. for blogher 16, in case you missed part 1 of my recap you can find it here. On part 1 I stopped after a very crowded lunch featuring Sheryl Crow and Kim Kardashian-West.

Note: I’m so glad I decided to post this in two parts because I had a few comments that I’m glad I get to address in a related post.

A few people asked if the three hotels were worth the money I saved. This wasn’t my plan I planned to stay at the event hotel for all 3 days but sadly it was booked. The first night I stayed at a hotel that was about a 7-minute walk from the conference hotel. The second day I literally stayed at the hotel right next to the conference and the last day at the conference hotel. I was able to leave each hotel in the morning go to the next one, check my bags and then get my key when I needed it. It literally added about a few minutes to each day and I saved over $200. As a twenty-something paying student loans, car payment, insurance, rent, groceries, gas (you get the picture lol) $200 in savings is not something I’m going to turn down.

Now, let’s jump back into my trip. 

Freddie Prinze Jr.

After lunch, I ran upstairs to the expo to meet the one the only heartthrob and chef extraordinaire, Freddie Prinze Jr. I managed to get there pretty early and even got a free copy of his cookbook, “Back to the Kitchen.” When it was my turn he shook my hand said, “Hi, I’m Freddie.” Then my inner fan girl came out, “I’m Dia,” I exclaimed as he signed my cookbook, “You are so awesome, Sarah was so awesome! You both are awesome.” You could say meeting Freddie was…awesome! He told me a quick story about his child’s nanny having a similar name, then he handed me my book addressed to “Dea” (I don’t care I’m never getting rid of it).  

Kathy Kinney

After my life changing moment with Freddie, I decided to talk to the lovely Ursula from, Garden of Life (A company I’ve had the pleasure of working with more than once, you can read my product review, here and here) and who would walk up to the booth but Kathy Kinney! Her long life of work in television and book publishing and what do I talk to her about? The Secret Life of the American Teenager (yeah she was on that).

Related Post: Post Publish Checklist

Aisha Tyler

Afterward, I decided that I would go check into hotel #3 the hotel where blogher was actually taking place and take a break before the voices of the year ceremony. I’m walking down looking at all the blogher walk of fame stars and think, “I should take a picture of Aisha Tyler’s  star,” I look up and she was literally standing  4 feet away. I walk up to her, “Can I take a picture with you?”

“I’m running late but if you can take it while we walk.”

So I go to take a picture and she scolds me, “That’s a picture of me, not with me. Come here.”

So I ran up to her, she slouched down and we took a selfie. Then I proceed to thank her for being so awesome and such an inspiration.

Voices of the Year 

This is always one of my favorite parts of Blogher because it really showcases the human spirit and what we as humans are capable of emotionally. There were so many beautiful speakers and highlights from the past year. I also really love the reception because there is more free wine! I’m just kidding, I mean there is and it’s great but I love it because we actually get to talk and mingle with the winner and tell them how much their work touched us. Check out the video above if you’ like to see some of the winners.

Day 3

Breakfast/The Pitch

Thankfully breakfast didn’t have any special celebrity guests so it wasn’t insanely crowded. During breakfast they held the Pitch. The pitch is a competition where some amazing female entrepreneurs present their idea and brand to the conference and a host of judges. I love this because all of these women have an idea that started as a passion or a need they saw in the market. After the different contestants do their pitch we have the rest of the day to hop online and vote for our favorite. This year’s winner won $10,000 and $40,000 worth of marketing to help grow their dream. There were some really great pitches, this year the winner was Zahra Aljabri and her company Mode-sty

Session: Podcasting best practices

As I mentioned in part 1 I decided I wanted to start a podcast. This was super informative and dug deep into the particulars of podcasting. The host of this event included my new podcast crush and cohost of She Podcasts, Jessica Kupferman. So many programs and processes I had no idea about. I am so glad I went because this will come in handy very soon!

Lunch/ Mayim Bialik

Some of you know her as Amy from The Big Bang Theory, other’s may know her as a young Bette Midler in Beaches but for the rest of us, she will always be Blossom! All of her acting credentials aside Mayim is sort of an amazing woman! Not only is she an actress, mother, blogger and founder of GrokNation but a neuroscientist!  Mayim was inspiring, funny and really just a badass. Coming on stage in a flowery dress and pink converse, she just made you feel like you were listening to a friend talk to you about her interests and plans. She is a strong advocate for getting girls interested in math and sciences. I loved her as much as I expected to.

Expo Break/ The freckled fox

After lunch, there was an extended break where my friend, Elizabeth from Single, Not Sorry, and I decided to hit some of the sponsor suites and do a final loop at the expo. On the way, I ran into Emily, from The Freckled Fox. I may have fan-girled hard when I met her. She was so nice and actually wanted to have a conversation. If you haven’t heard of The Freckled Fox or Emily’s story, you should really check out her website. As I don’t want to try and tell her story, I’ll keep this short, Emily is a mother of 5 who lost her husband, Martin in June to a very aggressive battle of cancer. Since Martin’s passing, she has continued to be a source of inspirations for others. If you would like to help Emily and her family, you can make donations here.

Closing Keynotes Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Matt McGorry Heather Hardy

I seriously don’t even know where to start with this because this keynote was super inspiring. Hearing from Matt McGorry (How to Get Away With Murder, Orange Is The New Black), Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Full House, Eve’s Bayou, Cosby,  Friday Night Lights, Temptations: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, Parenthood, True Blood, Underground) and Heather “The Heat” Hardy (#1 Female boxer in the country, #2 in the world) was so inspiring.

To hear about the current feminist and race issues from 3 very different people who all are fighting for the same purpose was inspiring.  You have Heather Hardy, fighting for the world title and hoping to get $7,000 and some television coverage, while men competing for the same title in their arena are making millions. Heather informed us she does her own fight promotions and still has to work a day job to support her daughter. Then you have Matt McGorry a young white male who refuses to ignore the issues anymore and is doing his part with the platform he has to stop ignorance and injustice and spread tolerance and understanding. Jurnee Smollett- Bell has been acting most of her life (remember Michelle’s friend on Full House? That was her.) and instead of just taking roles that might be “hits” and enjoying her success she is an advocate for AIDS and a vocal supporter against race crimes in America. I left this keynote wanting to be more vocal about my beliefs.

Aside from the super inspiring conversation, this keynote was special because all 3 of the keynotes stayed, took pictures and had conversations with us. It wasn’t just one and done. They actually wanted to hear our stories and learn about our causes.

What’s next

So if you can’t tell from the two 1,000+ word posts I had an amazing time. I think it was really what I needed to get out of my blogging fog.

I got to remember that this is my platform, these are my words and this is my time! So what can you expect? I am still going to be writing on a bit of a restricted schedule because I am working on my new E-Course! I also have 2 webinars in the works, am working with some new affiliates and companies, putting the finishing touches on my e-book and working on an audio blog component. It sounds like a lot and it is but it’s all really been in the works for some time and this conference/ the blogging step back I decided to take in July have really given me the motivation and drive to make a game plan and hit the ground running with it in a way that won’t induce panic and blogger burnout.

 

blogher16 part 2 photos

 

So tell me, Did you attend Blogher? If so, what was your favorite part? If not, what speakers would you have liked to have seen? What are some things you are excited about as the second half the of the year is happening? What big blogging goals/projects are you working on?

Blogher 16 Recap Part 1

Disclosure: Posts on AllTheThingsIDo.com contain affiliate links. For more information see policy.

It was a little over a year ago I sat down to write about Blogher 15 and all the amazing things that happened that weekend. I remember it being hard because it seemed impossible to put into words  but I had to. I found myself with the same problem this year, this time last week I was in Los Angeles California for the first time for Blogher 16 and as awesome as 15, was 16 kicked last year’s ass. Being in the presence of so many powerful, inspiring and passionate woman has sent me on a high. I don’t know where to begin so I’ll start from the start. 🙂

Planning

I have no doubt that Blogher is getting bigger every year because I went to book my hotel room a month before and it was pretty much booked solid. If you read about my experience last year then you know I had an interesting travel story, between flying on standby and staying in 3 different hotels over the course of 4 days.

This year was about the same except I decided I’d buy a plane ticket and say my self the stress of last year.

Well, I started on the right track. I purchased my airplane tickets and conference pass months in advance.

I wanted to wait until it was closer to reserve my hotel…big mistake, I was only able to book it for one day but a few phone calls and hotwire searches later I managed to book myself 3 nights.. in 3 different hotels all within walking distance to each other… Was it a hassle? Yes, but at least I saved some money.

Day 1

I landed in Los Angeles exhausted, starving and excited. I checked into hotel #1, changed clothes and headed out. I knew I needed food so I stopped and got 2 hot dogs from Wetzel’s Pretzels then headed over to the convention hotel  for Gyn and Wine (yes, you read that correctly). A talk about the female body and sex while enjoying wine! I loved this event. So often the topic of a women’s sexuality or the female orgasm is treated so taboo but not here. We talked about vibrators, the g-spot and the importance of “me-time.” I really hope they bring this back because it was a great way to kick off the event.

Next I head to the expo to meet the different Blogher 16 sponsors, I wish I could name them all because not only was the conference amazing but so was the expo. As I stopped by the different booths (and bars) I randomly stuck up conversations with people and just tried to take it all in. I was lucky enough to meet several amazing women who kind of became my girl pack for the conference.

After the expo closed, we headed down the streets of L.A. for some real grub. Needless to say with Adele performing within walking distance and the slew of attendees at BlogHer almost every restaurant was packed. We ended up landing at this little Mexican restaurant called El Cholo, where the food was good and the drinks were strong! By the end of that meal and after examining our bags of loot it was past time for bed.

I headed over to my hotel with 2 other women who also happened to be staying there and was sound asleep within about 10 minutes.

Day 2

The next day I woke up bright and early to check out of hotel #1 and get to one of the conference’ pre-events hosted by Staples. Special guest panelist for this back to school event included Lori Loughlin and Gabrielle Reece! Not only did we get to listen to them talk about their views on family and getting ready for school, we got to take photos with them and left with $50 in staples gift cards each and a pretty neat swag bag! After my photo with Aunt Becky, I raced (With all my luggage in tow) to the main ballroom to listen to Sarah Michelle Gellar  . I really have to give it to Elisa Camahort Page because she really got to the nitty gritty with her. Including getting her to confirm that Cruel Intentions reboot should start filming in the next year, that if there was a Buffy reboot she didn’t see herself in it and that she is in fact “With her” in reference to the upcoming election.

Hearing Sarah speak was nice because unlike a lot of other celebrities who branch out into a new field she admitted she knew she had an advantage in starting her brand Foodstirs. She was as kind, inspiring and as well spoken as I hoped she’d be. Excuse me still fan girling out over here.

Session 1: Podcasting vs.Vlogging Smackdown:Which is right for you if you can only do one?

I was so excited about this because I have a past with YouTube, although I’ve done my best to delete my attempts at comedy from the online universe. I’ve been playing with the idea of starting my own podcast for a while so I wanted to hear the nitty gritty and make a decision for once and all. I can officially say that this helped make my mind up and I am in the process of starting my own podcast! You heard it here first!

Session 2: Grow your influence with a social media strategy and plan

As someone who is a blogger by night and a social media/search expert by day, I had to go to this session. It was incredibly informative. A huge issue with social media branding is trying to stay consistent and true to brand across all forms. It’s so easy to try to do what everyone else is doing but you really have to do what’s true to your brand so your image is consistent and not confusing to your followers.

Lunch

Ian Ziering

So I’m standing in what was arguably the longest line at the whole convention and there he is Ian Ziering! Yes, Steve Sanders from 90210! I’m freaking out and I guess everyone was too pumped about  Kim K. to notice. I took a few stalkerazzi pics from afar, got my food and sat down. While waiting for the speakers to start I notice Ian (yes we are on a first name basis) just sitting a few tables over. So of course, I got up and asked for a quick picture, fangirled some more and told him how awesome he was.

Sheryl Crow 

Sheryl Crow was one of the first people to speak during lunch. It really resonated with me hearing about how her cancer diagnosis changed her perception and way she was living her life. I can’t wait for the album she has coming out with some special guest stars!

Kim Kardashian-West 

Perhaps the most talk about keynote (and one of the most talked about people in general) Kim Kardashian-West was interesting. I won’t lie I had mixed feelings about hearing her speak, not that I have any personal issues with her but I was curious what someone in her position could really say to get me fired up. Say what you want about how she became known but I will hand it to her that she is a really hard worker and I admire any woman who can spin a sex scandal into an empire. It would have been easy for her to just try to live off of her family’s money but instead, she made her own money. 
Check out part 2 here.