Posts Tagged ‘Cybher’

Cybher 2013. A grand day out…

June 6, 2013

Saturday was Cybher Day, the women bloggers conference that I first wrote about last week with mounting trepidation.

On the day it was end to end fab. Of course. All my pre-conference nerves were un-founded. Of course. Everyone was lovely. Of course. And I learned loads. Of course. It’s easy to know all this in retrospect and I look forward to the day when I can cut straight to the exciting part, but for now the nerves travel with me.

As for my account of the day I’ll begin near the end, if you don’t mind, with a little incident that still makes me chuckle and somehow sets up the day. But I’m afraid it involves me going to the loo. Can you bear it? That’s a clue.

When in the loo I heard a disembodied male voice addressing me through the walls. Was it the God of Blogging speaking to me directly? It had been a pretty amazing day. I listened harder and realised eventually I was being treated to a Paddington Bear story. Well of course. I loved Paddington when I was little and had there not been great conversations to return to in the bar I might well have stayed for a whole story.

Of course Paddington is a stranger in a foreign land and on Saturday I felt rather like that little bear: abroad and slightly confused, nervous but also hopeful and very curious. Like Paddington Bear on his first visit to a stately home, I had my “duffle coat…freshly ironed” and my “Wellington boots had an extra special shine to them”. I climbed the steps of 8 Northumberland Avenue feeling a little overwhelmed and a lot excited. I did not however, as I’d thought I might, skulk around the corner before going in. Result.

Imagine my surprise when the first item on the agenda was a present! For me. For all of us. A lovely new pod satchel from the Leather Satchel Company. It would definitely fit a whole round of marmalade sandwiches. Given the significance of last year’s Cybher bag for me – a random charity shop find that led me straight to the conference – this shiny new Cybher satchel was a wonderful start to the day. Oh my, what a lucky girl!

Paddington books and Cybher satchel

All my Paddington books, back in the limelight for a moment!

Paddington Bear, on his stately home visit was overwhelmed by all around him; “it really was like another world” and so it was for me on Saturday. As a novice blogger it was quite something to be surrounded by so much blogging expertise and experience. And having blogged ’til now on a virtual island it was pretty amazing to be in the same room as 200+ other people doing the same as me.

I spent the whole day watching, listening and learning – eyes and ears wide open to it all. Of course social media offers a virtual world of meetings, conversations and exchanges, but for the likes of me (I’ve still got a lot to learn about online connectivity) there’s nothing like a face-to-face meeting to bring everything and everyone truly to life.

Zoe Margolis’ opening speech set the tone for the day. Zoe is the woman behind Girl with a One Track Mind. She wrote this controversial blog about sex and her experiences of it under a pseudonym. Then in 2006 she was ‘outed’; pilloried by the press, sacked from her job and forced to go into hiding. Zoe’s keynote was inspiring and eye-opening as she described her experiences during that nightmare time.

Revenge when it came, was delivered by others in the blogosphere who dropped a Google bomb on the journalists responsible for calling Zoe ‘a slut’ and worse. A Google bombwhat?! Who knew there was such a thing? This was an online uprising by fellow women bloggers; a focussed attack to right a wrong. It shows the power of group intervention and the importance of mutual online support. Listening to Zoe I realised how little I know about this virtual World I’ve tentatively joined and how much I’ve under-estimated its potential strength.

Mutual support, community and online friendship clearly sustained Zoe during those dark days and they became key themes for Cybher Day. I enjoyed the conversations as much as the sessions and learned so much from both. I met some great people that I hope will become firm blogging friends. I won’t give a roll call here (I’d hate to miss anyone out), but what matters is that the ice is well and truly broken and I look forward to lots more conversations with my new blogging chums. Doubtless you’ll meet them all in time.

Collage of dolls group

My daughter making Cybher friends*

*Monster dolls by Pete Fowler

I realise by the way, that this account sounds very gushing. It is. With good reason. It was a fine day that became about much more than top tips and friendly people. For me it was about becoming part of of a supportive community that feels right. Sian and her Cybher team deserve every credit for pulling that community together and inspiring its members.

Alongside a desire to make blogging friends and learn, I also went to Cybher with a specific question in mind, that could overwrite all else. In the midst of all this should I really carry on blogging? There are some fabulous blogs out there and at Cybher I watched some of them projected on big screens. Seeing them up there added to my nagging fear that I have nothing valuable to add to the online conversation.

But during the day I came to realise that while we’re all blogging in different ways and for different reasons, all of us have a tale to tell and we’re all entitled to contribute. Including me.

Caroline Criado-Perez from The Women’s Room told us in no uncertain terms to see the value in what we do, to focus on the positive and not the negative that we women tend to dwell on. Moi?! I shrunk into my chair but took heed. I am beginning to realise that I need to stop pulling myself down and comparing myself (unfavourably) to others. I’m very good at it I might say. Is it fear? Or is it just a bad habit I need to shake? Work in progress.

In pursuit of further evidence for myself I also undertook a little poll in my head each time I spoke to an experienced blogger. And my survey said…  that all those beautifully crafted blogs are the result of years of effort. Well of course they are. What was I thinking? It’s too early for me to expect to tell a coherent story. Forget the blog stats, I was advised and just enjoy writing – it’s the secret to success. So I’ll try.

So now I have permission from myself and all those lovely Cybherites to continue my unfocussed ramblings for the time being. Hurrah. Permission is something I clearly seek from others; it’s a subject I’ll return to another day, but for now: permission granted Burgess.

So I daresay there’ll be a pic’n’mix of posts to come: musings on being a woman and a mother who is trying to re-arrange herself and re-emerge in midlife. There’ll be plenty of carefully teased navel fluff for your consideration and in time, when I put myself back in the job market proper there’ll be the trials and tribulations of that process. I might also produce the occasional plate of food for you to savour, though I’ll need to be careful not to gunk up the camera. And I’m tempted to rave about my favourite kitchen gadgets (teaser: my aunty’s potato peeler, see NOW you’re excited) and maybe sometimes I’ll move the clutter aside so I can photograph some of my charity shop finds and pretend I live like Candy Pop, although of course you’ll know the truth!

So here I go. Cybher 2013 has opened this new door a little wider for me and I’m looking forward to pushing it a bit further. A round of applause to the good ship Cybher and all who sail in her.

hands in the air clapping

Woo hoo!

Postscript: Oh and by the way many attendees have posted comprehensive and really helpful posts that you can peruse on Cybher’s website so you too can learn from the day’s sessions, should you wish to join this wonderful world of blogging. Go on. It’s good to have a voice.

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Serendipity

May 30, 2013

One fine day in early Spring I bought myself a bag. A lovely leather satchel, purchased from our local charity shop, I mean boutique, from whence I get most of my treasures, clothes and junk. It was one of those really lucky finds – I couldn’t believe it was in a charity shop. Big smile.

Luverley...

Luverley…

On the bus home I surveyed my booty and was intrigued by the word ‘Cybher’ embossed on its luminous yellow front. A quick snoop online led me straight to the Cyhber bloggers conference. Seeing as this was around the time that I embarked on this blog of self-discovery and new beginnings, it was clearly meant to be. So naturally I enrolled. Immediate excitement.

And now Cybher has finally rolled around. It’s this Saturday…

Cybher badge

So right now, this minute, I’d like to be writing about my growing excitement and deliberating about the outfit I’m going to wear (as many others are), but instead this is what you get from me:

Since booking my place at Cybher I’ve thrown myself around on an oh-so familiar roller coaster of destructive thoughts about going – I won’t know anyone, everyone else will be online savvy, super cool and younger/prettier/sharper/wittier than me. Should I even go?

…in a situation like this you can rely on me to imagine the worst case scenario in vivid detail – its one of my greatest creative skills you know.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Tie ourselves up in knots and focus on ALL the things that might go wrong, however UNlikely, while forgetting or choosing not to consider the things that will probably, almost certainly, definitely be great. Of course fear is a crucial emotion with a vital purpose. It prepares us for danger and prevents us from throwing ourselves into perilous situations. But this is an exciting women’s blogging conference, not a tank full of hungry sharks!

I’d like to think that by now, in my middle years, I’d have shaken off fruitless fears like this and be focussed instead on the really important things in life, like my fambily and enjoying life. Our cat has it sussed – I often look at her and wonder at her wisdom. She might have a small brain but she focusses it on all the most important things. Food, comfort and sleep, basically!

And note that my Cybher bag matches the kitchen. Natch.

And note that my Cybher bag matches the kitchen. Double delight!

I’d like to be able to say that I no longer worry about such things as Saturday, but that’s not how it is. Not yet anyway. No, unfortunately I still do worry; too much. My brain continues to work overtime on matters that it should not concern itself with.

So my current tactic is to question these automatic thoughts – the negative ones that spring up without any encouragement. I am trying to challenge their validity. Exactly when did that worst case scenario ever come true?

I’ve been helped on this occasion by social media, Twitter in particular. Who’d have thought? Well not me 6 months ago. Following @Cybher on Twitter I have learned that of course there are other first timers and that there are other nervous delegates. Sharing our fears in little bite-sized pieces has been very helpful as has tw(m)eeting beforehand and it has made me realise how mad we all are to dwell on negative thoughts.

All of this online social media lark has been such a fascinating learning curve and attending Cybher has already opened my eyes about the virtual social world, and I haven’t even got there yet! I wrote here only last week that I might not blog for much longer. I hope though that I might come away from Saturday full of ideas of how to continue writing a blog that is relevant. If not, it will be the right time to stop.

In any event I am pedalling fast towards Cybher Day now. On Saturday morning I’ll be lurking round a corner with a coffee, hiding before I go in. Either that or I’ll be running horribly late due to a last minute fashion crisis, because come the day I will still have NO idea what to wear. But either way I WILL be there. And I sincerely hope that all the other worriers are there too.

Meanwhile my phone is pinging beside me with new tweets. So while I’d normally be happy to continue analysing the inside of my head, I shall sign off now and get back to the important matter of virtual pre-meets. Hello Cybher and fellow Cybherites, one and all. I look forward to meeting you. Honest!

A tiny piece of guerilla street art

A tiny piece of guerilla street art to end with…


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