Unstuck

For the past year, I've been stuck. 

I've been writing, yes, but perfection paralysis has become a real thing, and I find myself editing my pieces to excess, afraid to show up if my words weren’t polished to death. I’ve been hiding most of my words in reported pieces and research that I love at sites like The Washington Post (I still pinch myself every time I'm published there!), but there are ideas and phrases and paragraphs straining to burst free.

Sometimes, all it takes is adding one pebble to the stream to change the course, and for me, attending the Mom 2.0 Summit last week in Orlando, Florida was the event to push me in a new direction. Surrounded by change makers and women who inspired me, I could see that it was time to get moving. Sitting on some of these dreams I have and waiting for them to take flight on their own wasn’t going to happen.

My highlights:

#RealBeauty is not about what kind of beauty is better than another. It's about being YOU. Being real. 

#RealBeauty is not about what kind of beauty is better than another. It's about being YOU. Being real. 

1) Real Beauty

Dove's message of #RealBeauty resonates with me in so many ways. I attended the self-esteem workshop and met the lovely Ruth of Viva Veltoro, and we both got a little choked up talking about teaching our kids about what beauty means and what it doesn't mean. 

When my son was a baby, I was using an expensive organic soap on his soft skin, and he was constantly experiencing rashes. My pediatrician recommended Dove, and we've been using that ever since. Voila: no more rashes. Their new line, Baby Dove, is even more gentle than the Dove we already love, and their new logo is a great extension of their brand. 

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Dove

Dove brought a lot of women a lot of joy in their suite, giving us the gift of good hair. I gave my stylist, Whitney, carte blanche, and she came up with an intricate fishtail braid that made me feel like a grownup. 

2) Vroom

Kia is a brand I have grown to love over the past two years, and my friend Elaine and I continued our tradition of tandem ride and drives from last year's Mom 2.0 Summit and took a Kia Optima Hybrid EX for a spin. This brand makes automobiles that are thoughtful and comfortable, and the warranty is spectacular. 

For some reason, they didn't let us take the new twin-turbo V6 Stinger out for a joyride. It's billed as an all-wheel drive sedan with a sports-car feel, and I'm looking forward to trying it out soon. We look good in front of it, don't we? 

3) Sponsors

All of the sponsors at the exhibition hall were much appreciated, and each of the representatives took the time so speak with us and learn more about us. Special shoutouts to the men and women at:

- Smarty Pants vitamins (which I am now taking regularly - they convinced me why theirs are better than the ones I have been taking for most of my life); Fresh Wave and OxiClean, for making my house smell better; Prudential for the fun Jeopardy game; Similac for the friendly representatives who gamely played cornhole with us; TocaBoca and Treehouse, for teaching me about new apps to help my family. 

- I told the women at the Olive Garden booth that I have great memories of OG - on my 16th birthday, my family and I were in Orlando visiting Disneyworld, and we were looking for a place to have dinner. We stumbled upon our very first Olive Garden - a two-story delight on International Drive - and fell in love with it. 

- Amazon Free Time has been on my radar, and I really like the options for parental controls. Did you know that with an Amazon Prime membership, you also get unlimited photo storage? I'm signing up this week, finally. 

-  The Best Buy team showed us several great new products, including Google Home options and a kitchen setup that had me drooling for a new smart fridge and dual-load washer and dryer. I'll be dreaming about them. 

-  Facebook had a studio all set up for us, and I was a guest on Mary Katherine's Mom Babble page first, then hosted a Live event with Dr. Deborah Gilboa and Catherine Pearlman, both authors of excellent parenting books. 

- I had the rare opportunity to meet with one of the representatives at TarcherPerigee to pitch a book idea, and I'm getting started on that now. Briana was excellent points and ideas for me to consider. 

- I snacked on Babybel all the way home, got some new recipes from Eagle Brand like these super-easy apricot coconut treats (and discovered that it tastes great in tea!), and G. H. Cretors popcorn. I offered Arnebya some of my Chicago mix (cheese corn/ caramel corn) and she ate all of my cheese popcorn. :-D

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Thank you, Eagle brand!

Apricot coconut treats

3) Today Show Parenting Team

Working with the Today Show Parenting Team is not only rewarding all by itself, the editors and staff are fantastic. To celebrate and reward us, they took us on by bus on an evening trip to Universal Studios, with a surprise detour to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I was quite literally jumping up and down. 

My latest post at the Today Show Community site is about my mom. She was in the audience when I delivered it live at the Listen To Your Mother show in Austin this year. 

 

4) Friendships

The Iris Awards was an opportunity for us to dress to the nines in our gowns and fancy shoes, and even more importantly, watch some of our friends take the stage to collect well-deserved awards for writing, blogging, and content creation. I'm so proud of each and every one of them, whether they won their category or not. 

It didn't hurt to meet Andrew Shue, our emcee for the evening, either. 

Top left: Elaine Alguire, Leigh Ann Torres, Amanda Magee, Rachel Macy Stafford, Jessica Turner, and me.  Top right: when Mary Katherine Backstrom won the Today Parenting Choice Iris award, she was a little teary. Like a mom, I helped her dry her tears and then we posed with her (very heavy!) statuette.  Bottom left: Elaine and I tried to get a good picture with Andrew Shue of Melrose Place fame (1990s me was pretty excited - and does he ever age?!) but our friends photobombed us. Ha.  Bottom right:  Our time was short, but spending the evening with Rachel of HandsFreeMama is always an opportunity to refill my heart. 

Top left: Elaine Alguire, Leigh Ann Torres, Amanda Magee, Rachel Macy Stafford, Jessica Turner, and me. 

Top right: when Mary Katherine Backstrom won the Today Parenting Choice Iris award, she was a little teary. Like a mom, I helped her dry her tears and then we posed with her (very heavy!) statuette. 

Bottom left: Elaine and I tried to get a good picture with Andrew Shue of Melrose Place fame (1990s me was pretty excited - and does he ever age?!) but our friends photobombed us. Ha. 

Bottom right:  Our time was short, but spending the evening with Rachel of HandsFreeMama is always an opportunity to refill my heart. 

Finding my way with old friends and new friends is by far the best part of conferencing. I feel very fortunate to know so many people finding their way through motherhood and success together. 

I'm glad to be home - I missed my son and my husband and it has been a long week away from them. I'm also inspired to reach higher and be better in a variety of ways. There is a network of moms out there who support each other and help them find ways to take care of their families and themselves. This is a turning point. 

Perfection is overrated, anyway.