Why I Love Type-A Conference

type-a parent conferenceOne of my favorite things about being a blogger is connecting with other bloggers. While social media indeed gives opportunities for connection beyond blogging, the real connections happen in person. I’ve been attending blog conferences since 2009, and the conference where I feel most at home is Type-A Conference.

Beyond BlogHer, which is definitely the most attended blog conference for women, most conferences have a large following regionally. I had never heard of Type-A Conference until early 2011 when my friend Gregory Ng announced on Twitter that he was speaking about videoblogging. For a while, I had a food review blog and I connected with Greg through his frozen food review site FreezerBurns. Not only was I intrigued to find out more tips about vlogging from one of the best, I was also looking for another conference to attend that summer. Earlybird tickets were still available, and I signed up to attend the 2011 Type-A Conference in Asheville, NC.

type-a frelleI loved the tagline for Type-A Conference: Engage, educate, empower, evolve. I knew is was more relevant for me than conference that were for people that are just starting out with blogging (since I started blogging in 2002, I don’t need the basics), and the conference topics were right up my alley. I made plans to room with Kelly (aka @childhood)  who I knew from other conferences, and Jenna (aka @frelle) who became a new friend.

The first year was a little awkward because I knew so few people. I recognized a lot of faces from BlogHer and Bloggy Boot Camps, but I had to go out of my shell to get to know people. And you know what? The people I met at Type-A were SO nice! Greg, who tipped me off the Type-A, was just as wonderful in person as he is in all of his videos (and I learned a ton about videoblogging in his session). I met Kesha, who had a vibrant smile and personality I couldn’t resist (she ended up being my roommate for BlogHer last year. I met Robyn, who I had followed online for years, and we became fast friends. Robyn and I roomed with each other at Type-A in 2012 (and I will room with again this year), but we’ve found a world of things in common and she’s become one of my favorite people in the world (seriously!). I met Nicole, who not only has an awesome name, but she forever has influenced the way I say niche (“It’s niche like quiche, not nitch like b*tch!”)

type-a friendsType-A was held in Charlotte in 2012, and not only did I get to explore another city, I made a GAGGLE of new friends (I love the word gaggle – it makes me giggle).

It’s one thing to say “I have a zillion friends on the interwebz!” but, you know they’re your friends when they’ll help you out on a second’s notice. I could namedrop until kingdom come with the wonderful ladies and gents I met in Charlotte, but the people who have really become very dear friends are Andrea, Jacqueline, and Anne. Whenever I need a favor online, these ladies are always eager to help, and I’m eager to do the same for them.

blogger-town-hall-partners2013 will be an exciting year for the Type-A Conference franchise. Not only will the main Type-A Parent Conference be held in a new city (Atlanta), there are two advanced sessions as well. I’m attending the profit-focused session in Philadelphia in April, and I’ll be speaking about SEO on an expert panel session. In October, Type-A Advanced will be held in New Orleans, and the conference will be focused on visual images.

You will likely hear me talking a lot about Type-A Conference this year because I have been selected as an Official Type-A Parent Conference Partner. I believe in Kelby and the amazing things she has been able to create through Type-A Parent, and I would love others to benefit from the experiences available through Type-A. The conference has a well-established reputation for outstanding learning with actionable takeaways. It features power networking with the best and brightest parents who blog, plus the major brands and firms who want to engage them. Type-A is where influential digital parents grow their business and connect.

If you’re interested in attending, I have a special discount code available for 25% off registration for Type-A Atlanta (for a limited time).

A lot of ladies in Utah have been sad that the EVO conference was discontinued, and I can assure you that Type-A is as high-caliber an event at Type-A – there’s a different feel, but the education and network is just as amazing.

And keep your eyes peeled…I will be doing a giveaway for a full conference ticket to Type-A in April!
type-a collage

 

Wordless Wednesday: Live Bands Tonight

live bands tonight

TMI Friday: Mormon Beauty, Modesty, and Shame

false modesty toy story memeSometimes you feel something, but it’s not an appropriate time to say it. For me, I tend to keep my mouth shut (literally), bring it up on Twitter, and then talk about it on my blog later. Now it’s time to talk.

Today’s topic: Modesty.

There have been many talks, articles, blog posts, and firesides given in Mormondon about modesty. I’ve noticed that it’s been an especially hot topic in Utah since I returned from living in California, Michigan, and Georgia in 2009.

On the official LDS Church website, it reads “Modesty is an attitude of propriety and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behavior. If we are modest, we do not draw undue attention to ourselves. Instead, we seek to “glorify God in [our] body, and in [our] spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:20; see also 1 Corinthians 6:19). Continuing on,

“If we are unsure about whether our dress or grooming is modest, we should ask ourselves, “Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?” We might ask ourselves a similar question about our language and behavior: “Would I say these words or participate in these activities if the Lord were present?” Our honest answers to these questions may lead us to make important changes in our lives. Prophets have always counseled us to dress modestly. This counsel is founded on the truth that the human body is God’s sacred creation. We must respect our bodies as a gift from God. Through our dress and appearance, we can show the Lord that we know how precious our bodies are.

Our clothing expresses who we are. It sends messages about us, and it influences the way we and others act. When we are well groomed and modestly dressed, we can invite the companionship of the Spirit and exercise a good influence on those around us.

Central to the command to be modest is an understanding of the sacred power of procreation, the ability to bring children into the world. This power is to be used only between husband and wife. Revealing and sexually suggestive clothing, which includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, and shirts that do not cover the stomach, can stimulate desires and actions that violate the Lord’s law of chastity.

In addition to avoiding clothing that is revealing, we should avoid extremes in clothing, appearance, and hairstyle. In dress, grooming, and manners, we should always be neat and clean, never sloppy or inappropriately casual. We should not disfigure ourselves with tattoos or body piercings. Women who desire to have their ears pierced should wear only one pair of modest earrings.”

black mannequins

Do I have a problem with what the official stance of the Church is? Absolutely not. Do I have a problem with the cultural implications? Yes, I do.

The specific clothing items mentioned in this official declaration are “short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, and shirts that don’t cover the stomach.” That’s it. No flagrant scolding messages about bare shoulders, knees, and toes (knees and toes). No finger-pointing about blouses that actually elude to the fact that women have breasts.

There have been many talks, articles, blog posts, and firesides given in Mormondon about modesty, and the DOs and DON’Ts of modesty seem to be very regional, all while teaching out of the same For the Strength of the Youth pamphlet.. When I was a young woman in Oregon, it was during the grunge era. Our discussions about modesty were usually encouraging us to set aside the dirty flannel, brush our hair, and act like a lady.

Then I moved to Utah and was often advised in excrutiating detail which exact clothing items were approved, and which ones would basically send me to hell. If I wore a skirt that showed a hint of my kneecap, or wore a v-neck tee that showed a shadow of cleavage, and it prompted a young man to formulate a lustful thought, his weakness suddenly was on my conscience. If I wore a dress that flattered my curves, and it turned on a boy’s “little factory,” I was just as much as fault for his actions.  I knew I was attractive and caught the attention of guys, and I’ll just say it – I had larger breasts than most girls my age. Even if I was in a bulky sweatshirt, I got attention for my chest. I hated knowing that if a boy acted on him impulses, it suddenly could become my fault. Needless to day, my mid-to-late teens were spent with unnecessary shame…and in skirts that were mid-calf to floor-length.
Mormon Modesty Meme

Some activities require a “less modest” appearance, such as swimming, bathing, exercise and physical activity. When I lived in California, there was a lesson where our Relief Society president told us “We’re in a heatwave, and if you need to take off your garments and put on a sundress to get your yardwork done, by all means, DO IT. No need to put yourself in the hospital to mow your lawn in clothes that accommodate garments. Men are taking off their shirts to stay cool, and you need to find a way to stay cool as well.” To me, that makes sense. Do what you need to do, and then change back into your normal clothes.

byu cheerleadersI’m frustrated by the inconsistencies of modesty within the church. One of the most iconic symbols of beauty in Mormondom are the BYU Cheerleaders. But look at the uniforms – they’re tight, show leg up to mid-thigh, and sometimes have a deep enough V-neck that little is left to the imagination. Nobody else on the BYU campus could get away with an outfit like that, yet the cheerleaders can. And are applauded with it. Obviously I’m no prude, and the BYU uniforms are more modest than other colleges’ cheerleaders, but it’s an inconsistency nonetheless.

I’ve always loved swimming, even thought it’s hard to find a comfortable, flattering, and modest bathing suit. When I went to BYU-Idaho, I was excited that there was a place on campus where I could swim and do other exercise. Shortly after I arrived in Rexburg, I went into the locker room with my own suit. The attendant said “All students must wear a school-issued bathing suit.” I rented a suit, put it on, and looked at myself in the mirror. It was unflattering, unsupportive, and so sheer you could see the detail of my nipples and areolas. I can only imagine how much more detail would have shown when the suit was wet. I showed the attendant how I looked, and she apologetically told me that it was my only option. I got dressed in my street clothes, threw my bathing suit into the laundry chute, and never went swimming on campus.

In this case, modesty was knowing that I was not comfortable in the only clothing that was offered, and choosing to not participate. I would much rather look at myself in a mirror and decide for myself if what I’m wearing makes me comfortable, attractive, and gives off a vibe that I respect my body. And as the excerpt from the Church website said above, I don’t leave the house in anything I wouldn’t want the Savior to see me in.

hooker boots new beginningsI feel like talks about modesty have been so frequent recently, and so much misinformation and false doctrine is given. My friend Shannon recently posted this picture on Instagram from Young Womens New Beginnings night. Does anyone see the irony in “Stand in Holy Places” when there’s a pair of sexy hooker boots right next to a statue of a temple?

As an adult, these presentations have stirred up the shame and frustration I felt as a teen. This week I attended a combined Stake Relief Society and Young Womens’ event titled “Beautiful.” While my first impression was that there would be slideshows of pictures to James Blunt, One Direction, and Christina Aguilera songs, I hoped it could be an event focusing on true beauty and divine nature.

Instead, it was a glorified standards night. There was a talk about lures of the devil, chock full of fly-fishing metaphors (I guess that’s to be expected in a ward in Lehi). There was a reading of an odd fairy tale book about modesty. There was a lot of emphasis on the laundry-list items of modesty – no skinny jeans, don’t wear two-piece swimsuits, etc. The had an oppressive feeling, and I felt scolded (even though I don’t wear the items that they essentially forbade). I’m sure it had the same feeling as meetings where the Priesthood men get the “NO PORN!” talk. Even those without a problem leave the room feeling like garbage.

I didn’t feel the spirit. I saw people crying, and I could tell it wasn’t brought on by the spirit. It’s a sensitive subject for many women, especially when the gist of a presentation is that modesty=beauty. For women who have been abused, neglected, and told that they’re not beautiful enough, or that they don’t deserve love because of the way they look, there was no inspiring message to help those sisters. As the cliche says, beauty is more than skin-deep, but that was not discussed adequately. Inner beauty is essential, not whether or not I buy clothing items from Shade or ModBod (For you non-Utah types, these companies were created to help women be more modest by layering). I was sitting next to Rosie, and she was judging my reactions through the night…and we had a good talk about why I wasn’t happy about what was presented.

Earlier this week, Rosie led a discussion on modesty with the combined Young Men and Young Women, so the topic was fresh on our minds. She prepared questions, gave examples, and talked about inner beauty as opposed to the things you wear. When I talk to Rosie about modesty, I’ve told her that the way she feels is much more important than looking at a checklist of forbidden clothing items. She knows that boys will be boys, and that sometimes they will think inappropriate thoughts, but if she feels confident and chooses her outfits wisely, she does not have to bear any amount of blame when a boy can’t control himself.

alpine plastic surgeryUtah freeways are littered with billboards of this type, which tell women that they’re not beautiful enough until they choose plastic surgery. I would venture to guess it’s harder for men to pass billboards like this on the freeway, than to see a woman in a form-fitting outfit. But instead, women are given lectures full of propaganda about why their dress and appearance will be the downfall of men…who are likely viewing loads of scandalous content online (whether or not they seek it out). There is so much inconsistency in LDS culture about modesty, beauty, and sexuality. And it’s hard to know that there’s not a clear message given by the church, so local leaders are left to teach about it at their discretion.

How do you feel about these discussion about modesty? Do you think emphasis is given to the right details? Should there be less focus on the clothes you wear and more focus on the woman you are inside? Let me know in the comments.

Narcolepsy, Necrophilia, and National Public Sleeping Day

insomnia and narcolepsyThis morning while trolling the interwebz, I found an article that caught my attention. Today is National Public Sleeping Day. According to the article, National Public Sleeping Day was established on February 28, 2011, and it is celebrated by taking a nap in public.

A 2012 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 40 million workers in the U.S. get fewer than six hours of sleep a night, significantly less than the seven to nine recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. 20% of vehicular crashes in the U.S. are caused by drowsiness, approximately 100,000 per year. Sleep deprivation is very often due to unrecognized sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, anxiety, and other social factors.

I’ve had a tough time with my sleep patterns since 2003, which is when I first began seeing a sleep disorders specialist. I was originally diagnosed with upper airway resistance syndrome. In patients with UARS, sleep quality is disrupted to the point of causing clinical consequences such as difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep (insomnia), non-refreshing sleep, or excessive daytime sleepiness. Further sleep tests, such as the multiple sleep latency test, confirmed that I also have 5 of the 5 markers for narcolepsy: Irresitable daytime sleepiness, sudden muscle weakness, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and microsleeps with automatic behavior.

provigilFor the last 8 years, I’ve been treated with Provigil (or Nuvigil, which I didn’t like as much, but has a much more awesome website.) As I gained weight, the UARS progressed into Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). In the past nine years, I’ve had 8 overnight sleep studies, met with 6 sleep specialists in 4 states, and came to the conclusion that the only thing that would successfully treat the symptoms of my sleep apnea was massive weight loss. All of my sleep doctors recommended bariatric surgery, which is one of the reasons I chose to have gastric bypass.

Most of the time, I feel like I can get enough sleep, either by medications, exercise, naps, or caffeine. But since the beginning of the year, my narcolepsy symptoms have been rearing their ugly head again. I’ve had several cataplexy attacks, microsleeps, and the neurological symptoms I often have when I’m having a particularly irresistible sleep episode mirror my episodes with reactive hypoglycemia. I have appointments in March with my sleep specialist, an ENT, and endocrinologist.

Many people have strange ideas about narcolepsy, and sometimes all they’re aware of is references in pop culture (like in the movie Patch Adams). One of the funniest things about telling people I have narcolepsy is when they reply “And that’s something you share publicly?” Apparently, many people confuse narcolepsy with necrophilia, which I indeed do not have. Phew!

So, here’s to a restful day. Fluff up those pillows and enjoy a nap for National Public Sleeping Day!

Wordless Wednesday: Kickboxing Bloggers

bloggers night at title boxing utah

Blogger’s Night Out at Title Boxing Utah

My 2013 CRV Honda Test Drive

nicole with 2013 CRVAs mentioned in some previous posts, I was selected by Ken Garff Honda of Orem to test drive a 2013 Honda CRV for a bloggers promotion called the Honda Test Drive (or #HondaTestDrive on social media).

I’ve been a Honda fan for my whole life. My parents owned Honda vehicles all through my life. They were driving a CVCC when I was born, they have a Civic and an Odyssey in the garage, and they’ve had several other Hondas in the 30+ years in-between. I learned to drive in a 1995 Civic. Personally, I’ve owned a 2000 Civic, 2001 Civic, 1997 Accord, and a 2006 Fit (and a 2000 Acura Integra, which is essentially a Honda). We currently drive a Toyota Camry and a Scion xB, but we made hard decisions against Accords, Elements, and CRVs in the past.

The folks from Honda of Orem brought the 2013 AWD Honda CRV EX-L to my office on February 4th, the day before my birthday. They came with a vehicle with 300 miles on the odometer, with a full tank of gas. They showed me all of the special features of the vehicle, set up my iPhone to sync with the BlueTooth system, signed some papers, and I was given free reign to enjoy the car. As tempted as I was to take off from work then and there, I had to stay at work a few more hours.

taylor in the CRVThe first thing I did once I got off work was drive home, pick up my family, and go for a joyride. We stopped by the 7-Eleven for a family #PDR, and drove around until we went out to dinner with my parents. My mom came in the car with us, and her comment about the CRV was “This seems just a little too nice for you.” Because she’s used to driving a 1995 Civic with windows that can no longer be manually rolled down, I could tell she was impressed by how posh the CRV was with all of it’s features.

During the week, whenever Taylor was with me, he took the driver’s seat. That meant that I had time to sit in the passenger seat, and the backseat…and was pleased with how comfortable every part of the car is for passengers. I’m 5’10” and very leggy, and didn’t feel squished at all.

2013 honda crv awd ex-l

Some of my favorite features about the CRV are as follows:

    • Bluetooth hands-free link: It was awesome to have my iPhone synced up for calls, navigation, and streaming music. The downside is that Bluetooth streaming is killer on your phone battery, so I kept my phone plugged in every time I was in the car. Bluetooth is only as good as it’s connectivity, so calls and music would drop out randomly…but that is more of a function of Bluetooth, not the system in the Honda.
    • Heated leather seats: The weather was below freezing for almost my entire week with the CRV, so it was nice to have the heated seats. The seats got warm a lot faster than the rest of the car…so I didn’t have to freeze when I went out to my car on frosty mornings.
    • Eco Assist: There’s a feature that helps you maximize your gas mileage, and you can adjust back to full-power at the touch of a cool green button
    • Beverage holders: There are EIGHT cupholders in the CRV. I typically have 2-3 drinks with me in the car (water bottle, protein drink, etc) so I never had to fight over cupholders with my family
    • Sound system: I’m a music junkie, and I always crank up the tunes in my car. The 328-Watt AM/FM/CD Audio System with 7 Speakers and subwoofer kept me rocking out in style as I sang along to my tunes in the car.

nicole bullock in crvI had the car for a total of 8 days, and drove approximately 500 miles. I started out with a full gas tank, and needed to fill it up after about 290 miles. I put in $65 worth of gas on my fourth day, around 18 gallons, and I was almost back to empty when the car was returned. Most of my driving was on the highway, and I averaged about 17 miles per gallon (95% of the time on Eco Assist). I know that new cars needs some time for the engines to wear in, and that fuel economy is compromised in very cold weather, but I expected slightly better gas mileage.

honda crv collage

2013 honda CRV and 2011 Scion XBI really loved the chance I had to try out the CRV and get to know the staff at Honda of Orem. It was tough to go from the the super cushy CRV back to my Scion, but I didn’t miss the CRV’s gas mileage when I filled up the Scion’s tank the next morning (I average about 28 MPG) in it. Breaking up with the CRV was hard to do, but I’ll always have the memories of my the magical week of my 33rd birthday.

FTC Disclosure: I was selected for this promotion by Ken Garff Honda of Orem and was given a 2013 Honda CRV to test drive for a week. I was not compensated beyond the free use of the vehicle for 8 days. All opinions are my own.

Flashback Friday: “One” by U2

U2-Achtung-BabyAs with last week’s Flashback Friday selection “Enjoy the Silence,” the song “One” by U2 also defined my early adolescence.

The first U2 song I remember listening to was “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (while actually knowing it was U2). I was having my 10th birthday party slumber party, and we had VH1 playing in the background (because MTV was forbidden – it was too “vulgar”). While my friends chatted about cute boys in our 4th grade class, I remember watching the video, mesmerized by Bono’s voice and alluring eyes. In the video, the band walks around Fremont Street in Las Vegas, and show a bit of a softer side to the rock band. Because it was in the days before YouTube, I didn’t have a way to just look up the video and watch more songs. But I always kept my eye out for U2 videos like “With or Without You.”

1n 1991, U2 released their “Achtung Baby” album, and that was the first U2 album I purchased. U2 has been my favorite band since 1992. Although I have other bands dear to my heart, such as Keane and The Beatles, I don’t always want to listen to the others. The song that immediately drew me in was “One.” The lyrics were so deep and could be interpreted in so many different ways.

Is it getting better?
Or do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you now?
You got someone to blame

Did I disappoint you?
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth?
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
Well it’s too late tonight
To drag the past out into the light
We’re one, but we’re not the same
We get to carry each other

u2 achtung baby 1991So what is the meaning behind the song “One”? The song was formulated right as East Germany and West Germany were reuniting. They recorded sessions in Berlin in late 1990. Bono recalls that “the melody, the structure—the whole thing was done in 15 minutes,” and the lyrics “just fell out of the sky, a gift”. “One” was inspired by the band members’ fracturing relationships, the German reunification, and Bono’s skepticism of the hippie idea of “oneness”. It was released as a single to benefit AIDS research. It is often used to promote human rights and social justice causes, and Bono named his charitable organization, the ONE Campaign, after the song.

“One” has been played at every single one of U2’s concerts since 1992. And it’s always a crowd favorite. One of my most special experiences with the song was belting it out with the rest of the crowd at Rice Stadium in 1997, during the Pop Mart tour.

One life, with each other
Sisters, brothers
One life
But we’re not the same
We get to carry each other, carry each other
One

Have you ever sung along to “One” at a U2 concert?

Wordless Wednesday: The Pie Pizzeria

the pie pizzeria
The Pie Pizzeria on Yelp

Flashback Friday: “Enjoy The Silence” by Depeche Mode

depeche mode enjoy the silenceWhen I decided to start my Flashback Friday series in 2011, I decided to choose music that was popular right around the time that I was my daughter’s age. So that meant choosing songs that were popular from 1990 on. The song that sparked my idea was “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode. I was listening to it in the car with Rosie on my birthday in 2009, and the radio station said something to the effect of “Did you know that ‘Enjoy the Silence’ was recorded twenty years ago today?”

Holy cow. One of my very favorite songs was released on my 10th birthday. February 5th, 1990.

It’s a song that defined my adolescence. It’s the song that made sense to me, and brought me into the underworld of alternative music. Once I discovered Depeche Mode’s “Violator” album, my music preferences forever changed away from traditional Top 40.

Not only did I love the rhythmic beats and soaring passionate vocals of David Gahan, the lyrics spoke to me.

depeche mode violator

Vows are spoken to be broken
Feelings are intense
Words are trivial
Pleasures remain
So does the pain
Words are meaningless and forgettable
All I ever wanted, all I ever needed is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm

depeche mode violator rose“Enjoy the Silence” was written and recorded in 1989, and the single was released on February 5th, 1990. It was the second single from their soon-to-be-released album “Violator.” It was Depeche Mode’s 24th single released in the United Kingdom, and many people consider it to be their signature song. The song one Best British Single at the 1991 BRIT awards.

It is one of Depeche Mode’s most popular and best known songs, and it has been recorded by other artists such as Tori Amos, Keane, Nada Surf, Breaking Benjamin…and even Susan Boyle. It peaked on the UK Singles Chart at number 6, which beat out their previous highest-charting single of “People are People” in 1984. The song reached number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and became the only Depeche Mode single to achieve Top Ten status.

The song was written by Martin Gore, and was originally going to be a slow-paced ballad in C minor. Eventually, the band added upbeat back track with lots of drum and bass. In 2004, Depeche Mode released “Enjoy the Silence 04” and it peaked at number 7 on the UK Singles Chart. Even over 20 years later, “Enjoy the Silence” is one of the most played songs on modern alternative radio stations.

I really do love this song. I had it as my cell phone ringtone for about 5 years, and still have it selected for certain contacts. I’ve remained a HUGE Depeche Mode fan through the years, and actually gave my husband a pair of tickets to a DM concert for our one year wedding anniversary. A lot of people my age think that Nirvana defined their generation, but I wasn’t as involved in the grunge scene as I was in the alternative/new wave scene.

Anyone else love “Enjoy the Silence”?

My Funny Valentine

taylor collage

Eight and a half years.
Four states.
Six moves.
Adventures galore.

And I still get excited every time you walk into the room.

So many people said that meeting a guy I met on the internet wouldn’t work out. So many people said it was a bad idea for a newly-divorced single mom to be dating, let alone falling in love and getting married again. I’m glad we took chances. I’m glad you’ve been able to follow your dreams. And I’m glad that I borrowed your Toad the Wet Sprocket CD.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Tay.