Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cancer and God

I just found out that another family I love is dealing with cancer.  
For those of you who don't know me in real life, I have spent most of my adult life being an advisor to young people at church.  I am a  Presbyterian flavored Christian.  I worked as a youth director before I got married to my youth director husband.  I relished the move to volunteer status, or in theological matters, maybe I should say amateur status.  Because I have worked for churches, some people think I have answers, BIG answers to BIG questions.  I don't. 
I struggle with things I don't understand.  I don't get the pain and suffering in our world when I believe in such a benevolent God.  Cancer is at the top of the list of things I don't understand.  Cancer doesn't discriminate.  All races, genders and ages are affected.  The best I can do goes like this.  There are things in our world that are just not of God.  I do not believe that God chooses who gets cancer.  I do not believe that God punishes, or my very favorite, tries to teach someone by giving them cancer.  I do not believe (with all love and respect to Mother Teresa) that certain people or families get cancer because God knows they "can handle it".  Cancer is one of those unknowns in our lives that we are not going to understand.  We aren't going to know why or how. 
I do believe that God's heart breaks right along with ours when we are suffering.  I believe that God is there, sometimes when no one else is.  I believe that God works through amazing and often unexpected people to help and comfort us.  I believe that no matter how mad we get at God, God still loves us with a love that is beyond comprehension.
I wish that I could end here.  There is one more question that I have to address any time I think about God and cancer.  Why do some people get better and some don't?  I wish I knew the answer to this question.  The medical answer is it depends on what kind of cancer, how far it has spread, and frankly, how much time and money have been spent on that particular cancer.  The best faith-based answer I know of right now comes from the mother of a little girl dying of cancer.  You can find it here, but I will warn you, don't click on it unless you are ok with crying.  
So no, I don't have answers.  I know what I believe and I have to close this post with a plea and a promise.  My plea today, if you are given the opportunity to support efforts to cure cancer, please do so however you are able, whether it is with your time or your money.  My promise today and every day is that God is with us in all of this.  I hope you feel God's incredible presence in your life, no matter where or what you are experiencing. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ugh, Uggs are Ugly

I know they're ugly.  I had written them off the first time they came around, so their resurgence a couple of years ago didn't bother me too much.  I did like my young friend Bryce's Carolina blue ones, even though I'm a fan of NC State.  But they're ugly.  and clunky.  and they look like they would be hot (my feet are always hot.)  and my size 9 feet don't need to look any bigger.  AND they're expensive. Nope, no Uggs for me, no way, no how.

And then someone bought me a pair.  Holy soft warm insoles Batman!  The seductive lure of these soft, warm, comfy boots during one of our coldest yuckiest winters on record was irresistible. I have restricted them to mostly at home wear.  My feet were not happy with that decision and have snuck the uggs out for morning drop-off at school and a couple of breakfast dates.  I even debated about taking them on my recent trip to Disney World.  Florida, right?  My feet were so grateful for those boots after long days at meetings and ventures to the parks.  (not to mention the unseasonably cool weather that week, too).

So no, Uggs had nothing to do with this post.  No product provided or review requested.  My toes are just so happy I felt compelled to write and tell you how they wore down my resistance.  My suggestion, get a pair.  My better suggestion, find someone to buy you a pair.  Your toes will thank you!

Thanks to Linda Sellers at for sharing her great buttons!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Disney Experience

In addition to the fabulous speakers that we heard at Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, we had several other fun events. Disney was celebrating volunteer families as a part of their focus on volunteerism in 2010. On Thursday morning we attended a media event where they unveiled the world's largest canned food structure, certified by Guinness Book. There were volunteer families representing all 50 states at the event.

As the volunteer families were walking in, someone caught my eye. Sue, who lives not 5 minutes from my house, and her family were the volunteer family being recognized from North Carolina! Holla! They have always been a civic-minded family so it was exciting to share this celebration with them.  The canned food structure was incredible. The Disney Parks Blog has great photos, and even a time-lapse video showing the structure being built. 

For the rest of the afternoon there were volunteer opportunities in Epcot.  Health kits were assembled for Haiti, trees were planted with Disney's Friends for Change, and the canned food structure was disassembled and the food packed up so it could be distributed to Florida shelters and soup kitchens.  I love that Disney doesn't just talk about volunteering but they are trying to offer families ways to start.  Several Disney Channel stars participated in planting trees with Friends for Change.  I love this initiative because it's directed at kids and tries to show them the big impact small changes can make. 

Thursday night we joined the volunteer families and other media for an amazing dinner and concert.  Our dinner was prepared by Chef Robert Irvine and the Dinner Impossible crew from Food Network.  The food was so creative in dish and in presentation.  The episode is supposed to air sometime in April, I'll be sure to let you know so you can tune in!  After dinner, there was a concert starting with music from All Star Weekend.  Another thing I love about Disney is they give new young artists exposure.  After All Star Weekend, we were treated to Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato singing.  They introduced a new song for Friends for Change, "Make a Wave".  The song will be coming out in March.  My true excitement Thursday night was who I shared a table with.  My husband and I  sat down and were waiting to explore the food tables when another couple joined us.  My husband will tell you that I will talk to a door, so of course I started a conversation.  She turned out to be Deborah Way, a Senior Editor at Family Fun magazine.  Let me say it again.  FAMILY FUN MAGAZINE!!  I cannot even begin to tell you how many times Family Fun has saved me with fun ideas of things to do.  We have used their ideas not only with our family but with various groups at our church.  I was a complete fangirl and gushed all over her.  She and her companion were thankfully very gracious.  The last thing we did that night was sit down and enjoy the nightime spectacular, "Illuminations, Reflections of Earth".   Illuminations has a message about how we are all connected which is especially poignant when you are attending a social media celebration.

After our day of speakers on Friday, the Social Media Moms Celebration had a closing party.  They took us by bus to the back of Hollywood Studios.  We had a dinner set up at the Backlot Express quick service restaurant.  They also had a dance floor with a dj, but I was having too much fun talking to other moms to dance.  After we had all had our fill, we were led over to the Toy Story Midway Mania ride.  We were allowed to ride as many times as we wanted.  This ride has been crazy popular since it's opening, so it was a thrill to ride it with no line.  We only rode it twice because I thought my arm might fall off it was so tired.  It was a fun way to close our celebration.

While some of our events were media related, and not intended to teach us about social media, there was something to learn.  It is no secret that I love all things Disney.  One of the reasons I love going to Walt Disney World is because of the Disney difference.  Disney pays attention to EVERY detail, even the smallest of the small detail, that no one may ever see.  Disney is all about telling the story and living the story.  That's what we are doing in social media with our own stories.  We can learn from Disney about telling our story with attention to detail, and attention to heart.

I am grateful to have attended this conference, and thank everyone who helped put it together.  I have put up just a few pictures on Flickr, you can find them here.  My next post I am going to wrap up what I have learned about social media conferences!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration

Wednesday, February 10- Saturday, February 13, 2010 I was honored to attend the first Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.  I had registered for another conference the first weekend of February to learn more about this blogging world I was entering.  I happened to see a tweet from Maria Bailey , @momtalkradio, that said if you would like information about this celebration to email.  I sent an email not really expecting a reply because I am a newcomer.  I was surprised to receive an invitation and as I looked at the details, I knew I wanted to attend.  It is no secret that I am a huge Disney fan, but I was so interested to hear the speakers, Guy Kawasaki, Maxine Clark, and Chris Brogan.  It was the perfect combination for me, Disney and learning about something I love. (I have been a social media addict enthusiast for a long time)

In the interest of time I am hitting highlights.  In this post I am going to hit the highlights of the Social Media Moms Celebration, and later I'll tell you about the larger experience at Disney.  We had a breakfast Thursday morning at the American Adventure with Guy Kawasaki.   I sat at a table in that beautiful building thinking how great it was to be a part of this slice of America.  The time with Guy was well spent. He shared his theories for optimizing Twitter as a tool.  I think that people appreciate directness and if we are going to commit to marketing our brands, we have to be direct.  It gets weird because for most of us in that room, we ARE our brands.

Our next workshops were on Friday at the Contemporary Resort.  It felt like there was pixie dust in the air all day.  That feeling might have come from our first speaker, Maxine Clark, the founder of Build a Bear Workshop.  She was amazing.  She completely understands community and has sought to provide it for her customers and her employees.  Maxine is a role model for entrepreneurs everywhere.  She wrote in her blog about her experience with the celebration, you can find it here  Maxine was followed by Marissa Jaret Winokur.  Marissa opened in the role of Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray on Broadway.  She won a Tony for the role, and while she left the show, she went back 6 years later to close the show.  She has had several television roles.  Marissa is height challenged, and she is curvier than most women you see on television.  She shared very honestly about her struggles in the entertainment industry.  She was easy to relate to as a working mom.  After a great lunch, we had a surprise guest, Kathy Ireland.  Folks, Kathy Ireland is smoking hot.  She has built an empire and she emphasizes that faith and family have to come first.  She encouraged us all to make dates with our kids so that they all get special time.  She encouraged us all to follow our dreams and work hard.  She brought a great energy to the room!  Our last speaker was Chris Brogan.  Believe the hype people.  He gets social media at it's core.  It is all about relationship and he demonstrated it beautifully for us.  I am all about the love and Chris Brogan showed us the connections with relationship, community, and love.  If we are involved in social media without that trifecta, we are hollow, and people do not want to connect with hollow. 

I learned so much, but this celebration was so much more than workshops.  Next post I'll share the rest!

Why I had to stop vlogging from the celebration!

I had some technical difficulties, I need to head over to pronto because Jendi is a master of the form.  For now, it posted, HOORAY!  I have more posts upcoming about the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.  Yes, I said posts.  So much happened in such a short time I am going to have to break it up.  And yes, I got some laundry done(my least favorite chore) so that after the kids go to bed I can get back to the blog (my favorite, YAY)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration

I am going to try to post a video response every day so please check by! A huge thank you to everyone involved in putting this together, so much goes into an event like this.   My site is so new that I don't even have a disclosure policy up, so here goes.  I purchased this trip at a greatly reduced rate, however any and all opinions expressed are mine.  I will always be honest in my opinions.

Quick Follow Up To Blissdom Post!

There is so much more to say about Blissdom but most of it will have to wait until after I get home from Disney World. (see my upcoming post for that story!)  I read my last post again and realized it sounds like we sat in a circle and did each others' hair and nails, and sang Kumbaya.  No friends, that was not the case.  Yes, everyone that I encountered was friendly and kind, but we didn't have any drum circles going.  There were groups of women who had forged close connections through their online relationships, and they were eager to spend face to face time with those friends.  My point is that even though there were groups, they made room for others.  They tolerated interruptions for introductions with grace, and answered questions and engaged, even though they were excited about the time they had with friends.  From the most experienced to the least, everyone was encouraging and there was a solidarity about this strange online world we find ourselves in.  My point is that even though you have a group that you are so excited to be with, taking the time for a stranger (or a newbie) can make all the difference in the world!  The women at Blissdom did this well, and I want to thank Alli Worthington, Barbara Jones, and Paula Bruno for setting such a great tone for the conference.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Myth of the grown up Mean Girl

Our world conspires to make us believe that women do not support each other.  The myth begins in reality.  The worlds of middle and high schools are filled with "queen bees" and "mean girls" and the "misfits" who are deemed targets.  We are led to believe that this behavior continues into adulthood.  We are led to believe that women are more interested in tearing each other down and criticizing each others' fashion choices.  I want to tell you all that if you believe that is the way the world operates, it might be time to find a new group of women.

I am currently attending Blissdom 2010, a blogging conference.  I am new to the blogging world and was very nervous about attending my first conference.  I am just figuring out what to focus on in this blog.  I haven't written regularly in years and my writing shows that.  I don't know the language these women speak.  What I have found here surprised me.  I have found interpreters.  I have found women ready to share the wealth of knowledge they possess.  I have found women encouraging each other to tell their stories.  I have found women who want to see other women succeed.  I have found women forging communities in new ways.  It is educational, challenging, and incredibly encouraging.

I was afraid of not being accepted here.  A large group of women is intimidating.  However, instead of harsh critics I have discovered a nurturing community of women.  They are here to learn and to encourage everyone to develop and refine their unique voice.  I am excited to add my voice to theirs; tshirt, jeans, and all!