Sunday, 27 Sep 2009

Saying No and Setting Boundaries

I recently canceled my trip to the Type-A Mom conference in Asheville, NC. I was really looking forward to it as a way to re-connect with some of the fabulous ladies I met a BlogHer. I booked it while still on a BlogHer high, but over the next few weeks I was asked to speak at another conference and to do some workshops out of town and my fall schedule started to look a bit overwhelming.

I started trying to justify my trip to Type-A as a networking opportunity, but in the back of my mind a little guilty voice was telling me that I really didn’t NEED to go. So, as Big Guy started to look a bit more anxious about how long I was going to be away this fall, I considered canceling the trip. Canceling my flight (and re-depositing my frequent flier miles) wasn’t cheap and I knew I’d probably have to just eat the registration fee. I finally accepted the trip as a special treat for myself and let it go.

As the conference grew closer, I started to feel more stressed about the money, the time, and the travel. And then, I got a sign. As I was confirming my flight less than a week before my departure, I realized I had booked it into the wrong airport. This is unheard of, by the way. I have traveled literally around the world and have never booked a flight into the wrong airport. Perhaps my subconscious was sending me a message. Or maybe my kids have finally destroyed my mind, but whatever… I scrambled to find a ride from the airport, as my anxiety grew and grew.

Finally, when my entire family came down with colds (and Bug was on a nebulizer for asthma) and I was trying to put together some important articles for my site on About.com, I gave in and canceled the trip. It was hard to do, even though I had no doubt that it was the best choice for me. I was sad to miss my new friends and to miss out on what I knew would be a good experience, but I also knew that something had to give.

Instead of heading to Asheville (or to NY, where there was another conference I wanted to attend), I rented a beautiful house on a lake and took some time for a writer’s retreat. It was less expensive than either trip and meant that I was close enough to home if anyone needed me. I also had time to get some work done and reflect on where I am in my life.

I have been watching my fellow bloggers get caught up in frenzy of opportunities. Trips and speaking engagements and freebies and this and that. It’s seductive to be courted like that by PR companies, and it’s hard to say no and possibly miss a fantastic experience, but I have had a wake-up call this week. I don’t want to become a media whore (I’m sure this is going to draw some interesting search engine traffic to my site!) or a pseudo-blog celebrity. I don’t want all of my opportunities to come from being a mom who blogs a lot. Instead, I want to be recognized for my writing and speaking talent, for my creativity and for my other areas of expertise. The good news is that some of that has already started to happen. Now I just need to nurture it.

I’m not sure what this means for me going forward, but I want to make sure that I remember what my long-term goals are and to make sure that I hold on to those opportunities that move me in the right direction. And I need to let go of those that don’t contribute to my future dreams or that aren’t right for me “right now.”

In the meantime, I did miss all of my fantastic ladies at Type A Mom and I hope to see you all soon!


5 Responses to “Saying No and Setting Boundaries”

  1. Holly Bowne Says:

    Good for you! It’s so tough trying to fit everything you want to do and everything you need to do into each day, isn’t it? I too struggle to find balance, and make the right decisions based on my long-term goals. Thanks for a great post that reminds us all that there is a season for everything! And great idea to give yourself a writer’s retreat instead!

  2. Yakini Says:

    Oh my goodness, this post seemed to speak directly to me. I too can relate to feeling conflicted about which opportunities to take, which to pass on, and the feelings of guilt/anxiety around some of these choices. Egad!!! Whoever thought something that was once such a fun, light-hearted, and solely personal past-time (blogging) could become so stressful and almost larger than life!?? So funny how life is that way sometimes…

    I chuckled when you talked about how seductive it is to be courted by the PR companies and all the opportunities that present themselves. So true! You are sooo right in having to pick and choose what is best for you AND your family. Sometimes it’s hard to pass up an opportunitiy that seems so \perfect,\ but we have to keep in mind that other opportunities WILL arise.

    This is a great post – thanks for this! Looking forward to meeting you at Blogalicious in a week!

  3. Angela at mommy bytes Says:

    Great to hear that you are making peace. Speaking of whore, I may have accidentally set off a firestorm a while back around the time of the hubbub, I put out this tweet:

    http://twitter.com/moonfever0/status/3239992404
    “I have only one comment on the mommyblogging ethics debate: Don’t be a PR whore.”

    Julie Pippert of Using My Words apparently took offense to this statement and wrote a lengthy post on it here:
    http://theartfulflower.blogspot.com/2009/08/why-playing-whore-card-in-reference-to.html

    I only skimmed the contents and the comments and elaborated on my tweet in a comment towards the end. Oh the discontent! Christine Koh put it in much more tactful words in her interview with NPR.

  4. Christy Says:

    Angela, I thought your response was fantastic. I agree that there is a line somewhere between building a business/hobby and selling yourself out. And I also know at least one blogger who has stopped adding any interesting content to her site because she’s busy jumping on one PR campaign after another. Then again, some people are in it for “fame” and it doesn’t seem to matter to them what form that fame comes in. To each their own, but I don’t want to be one of those people.

  5. PunditMom/Joanne Bamberger Says:

    I’m so sorry you couldn’t make it! It would have bee fun to hang out again.