Word Camp Victoria 2013

I attended my third Word Camp in Victoria AKA #yyj this past weekend. It was another great event, where I learned lots about Word Press and the various functions of the platform. More importantly though, I got to see some of my students in action, as we sat on a panel together about blogging. I’m so impressed with these students and others and just want to send positive energy out there to: Renae Sinclair, Adrienne Sanders, and Alannah James. I’ve placed them in the order of our presentations. Way to go!

If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend a Word Camp, I would suggest that you do or look for a Word Press Meet up in your region. It’s good to bounce ideas off of others and to also hear about the plug ins that are tested or the favorites of the more advanced users. I’m really lucky to live in a tech saturated city–another name for Victoria is Tectoria. And, this May Social Media Camp will take place. Check it out!

Catching my Breath: One Week Post-Breathe Now

It’s been more than a week and I am still processing the magic behind the Breathe Now ( #breatheyyj ) conference that I co-cordinated with Angela Rafuse-Tahir, Janice Mansfield, and Yukari Peerless. We wanted to organize a conference that we wanted to attend in Victoria. Between the four of us we have attended business women conferences, social media conference, academic conferences, BlogHer, Blissdom, and other work-related conferences. We wanted something completely different that spoke to women’s need to balance work and life and remembering to take time out for yourself and breathe.

The conference was a resounding success from head to toe. The energy was pulsating at the various panels and workshops that the 100 delegates attended. I saw lots of smiles, tears, and heads nodding during the presentations. A common theme throughout the weekend was that it’s important to have balance in our lives. Many women spoke to how imbalance led to different types of crises and the need to reflect and reboot life. I was pleasantly surprised to hear repeated speakers talk about how important therapy, exercise, sleep, eating right, and taking time out for oneself was crucial to mental health and overall physical well-being. When the conference ended, I got sentimental and felt a little sad that the weekend was ending, but so many great connections were made.

I’m thankful for all the emails, coffee dates, and tweets that I’ve read since the conference. I learned lots about myself, my friends, and the various speakers. Our choice of keynote speakers was perfect, too. Rona Maynard and Bif Naked both spoke their truths and offered the delegates a chance for important reflection. We all left the conference energized and ready for everything and anything. I look forward to chatting with my friends about Breathe Now 2013!

Working in Man’s World: #Breatheyyj

It’s OK to be a Woman in a Man’s World! #Breatheyyj Really looking forward to this preso! Participants are: Marisa Goodwin @organicfoodme Anya Sereda @tinybean and Katie McDonald. What a great panel of woman who are working in male dominated fields. I just want to add that a great majority of the #BreatheNow meetings were held at Discovery Coffee, which Anya Sereda works for as their Green Bean Sourceress!

Sereda speaks to the coffee industry and refers to the baristas–the boys–as the show ponies, while the women are more apt to manage! It’s really interesting to hear about how so many coffee farms owned by women in the countries that she’s visited, but men run the farms. Interesting. I love that she admits to looking young. She’s 26 and looks like she’s 20. (Her words). She has a passion for beans, for coffee. And, after listening to her preso, she really knows coffee!

“Coffee has really taken me on a trip all around the world.” Anya Sereda

Her job sounds amazing. Out in the field doing her work… She noticed the ways that some people have treated her due to the issue of her youth and gender. She acknowledges her strengths and knowledge in the field and how it can at times be difficult for people to take her seriously. Happy sigh that my teen is here listening to this and hope it’s insightful to her and the rest of us in the audience.

The next speaker, Marissa Goodwin, reflected on her experience with her business Organicfair and the farm that she and her family run! She shared compelling stories about the level of sexism within the industry. We have more work to do! Looking at her bio it’s nice to see that their company includes 99% women employees. They are making change day to day in their work and their philosophy. Organicfair is based in Cobble Hill not too far from the Greater Victoria Region. Overall, Goodwin is another trailblazer! You, go!

The last speaker Katie McDonald is a mixologist who works at Veneto Tapa Lounge in Hotel Rialto. She has avoided thinking about being female in her career. She knows it’s there. “This elephant in the room.” I have to say that this is really common with lots of women—ignoring gender. But, she notes that we do need to think about gender. I like that she brought up equality and difference. Oh, those debates have not been resolved years later. Really? Some men call themselves, “Cocktailologist.” OK. She says that she’s a Mixologist or Bartender.

“It’s a dirty job. Lots of heavy lifting.” Katie McDonald

Interesting that for every one resume from a woman they field twenty resumes from men. And, this quote below also speaks to another binary in the job or industry. These quotes are telling. I’ll say it again and again: we have more work to do.

“If I’m the best female bartender on the line…you don’t have to compete with me.” Katie McDonald

She’s right, it’s an idealist view if we insist on saying that we’re all just people. This erases different components of identity. I do think that at times when people say this they are coming from a place of privilege and do not think that any difference exist at all. Again, this is in some instances and not meant as a sweeping generalization. And, McDonald notes that she wants to be just another Bartender and not the fact that she’s the “best woman bartender on the island.” On the flip side, she likes seeing women at competitions so that more women can/will attend these competitions. She’s sharing some honest, good points in her preso. I’m really enjoying the frank anecdotes.

“I do notice my gender.” Katie McDonald

Rona Manynard Rocking it at Breathe Now

I’m sharing my almost live tweets about Rona Maynard’s keynote today at #Breatheyyj. @ronamaynard Wow, great preso. Any keynote coach would say: Brava! #Breatheyyj Thinking about her comments about resentment. She grew up in alcoholic household, but on the outside everything looked fine. Maynard knew that she wanted more–a different type of life. Trailblazer.

She was part of the generation who was trying to do it all. Remember she was the Editor in Chief of Chatelaine. But, it was hard to do it all–hard to keep balance. Lots of head nodding in the room, as she shared these points. We think we have to be Super Women. This can be an issue in a hostile work environment. We will burnout. We will get sick or worse. Maynard left one job and worked at home and slipped into a depression. “With trembling fingers I made the call to a women’s mental health clinic.” I’m glad that she’s sharing this story with us today. We need to get rid of the stigma about mental illness, as it is so common.

“Say no to unreasonable demands.” Rona Maynard

This is really hard to do. People expect us to say yes. Oh, this is important to me right now. I’ve recently said no to a few things and stood my ground much to the surprise of those around me. I said no to protect myself and my integrity and refused to get bullied. Back to Maynard, I really want to read her book, My Mother’s Daughter: A Memoir. I want to read her life story, as I think I have something to learn from her.

“Saying no is not about fighting with people.” Rona Maynard

Her preso is reminding me that I’m not alone in parenting a teen. You do have to pick your battles. You do have to call a truce on certain issues with your teen. Boom. Thinking maybe a family meeting is in order to chat about things. Maynard’s speech is making me think of so many things.

“40 is a magical age for women.” Rona Maynard

Maynard shared that her articles led women to write her letters. She was motivating them. It’s refreshing to hear that she made a difference in so many women’s lives. I am impressed. What a perfect fit for @BreatheNow. I am so proud of the team of co-founders, sponsors, and volunteers in making this possible. This is our little slice of community building in Victoria #yyj.

“My gift is building community through stories…” Rona Maynard

I really love her comments about resentment. Makes me think of the resentment olympics. It’s important to protect your time, so that you don’t feel resentful. You need to keep the well-spring full. We need certain mantras to stay happy. It’s work. Can’t say, “Accio balance. Accio happiness.” You have to work on it and keep your boundaries in order to do it. And, I will be honest, I do keep the positive emails and when I need to–I will review them. It’s grounding after a tough day.

Thank you, Rona for giving me food for thought.

Remembering to Breathe

On Saturday, March 17th I had the distinct pleasure of participating in a Mom panel on Real Parenting with Shirley Broback and two of the three co-founders and organizers of Breathe Now. The interview was focused on parenting tweens and teens and what this means for us. It was a great interview and I was reminded how almost two years ago we decided that we wanted to organize a conference for women.

The idea was that we have all attended work-related conferences, mom conferences, and social media conferences, but we did not feel like there was a conference dedicated to the three in such a way that also dealt with issues unique to women. And, as I noted on Real Parenting the fateful meeting at Murchie’s was when we came up with the name, Breathe Now. We wanted to remind women that it’s important to inhale, exhale and breathe. We need to be nice to one another and more importantly to ourselves.

My involvement with Breathe Now has offered me opportunity to get to know the other three co-founders well. And, with that I’ve also met so many wonderful people in the local community. We see the conference as part of our project to build connections for women. We run the gamut, though, with a former government worker–turned personal chef, communications consultant, a hotel industry executive, and an academic. What we share with this conference is an acknowledgement of the importance of women supporting one another. There is so much knowledge that we can share with one another–but the only way this will be done is by taking the time to talk and chat.

Breathe Now offers a weekend of events that is sure to inspire. We are proud that Rona Maynard is our opening keynote and Bif Naked is our closing keynote. The array of our panels reminds women that it is OK to take time for yourself. We are also setting up our slate of panels to look at the theme of It’s OK.  For instance, it’s OK to take time out for yourself, it’s OK to be successful…this theme is important, as women often apologize for taking time out for themselves or for their success.

I’ll end saying that I hope to see you at the conference on April 14 and 15 2012 at the beautiful University of Victoria!

Fri Fun Fact: #YYJ

While I’m in the US, I’ve thinking of Victoria ( #YYJ ) and all the things that I’ve done during the last seven years. This Friday’s post is about Victoria. Friday Fun Facts about Victoria, BC.

1. You cannot complain about a lack of things to do in Victoria. There is a vibrant arts community. In early July, I saw Atomic Vaudeville’s “Ride the Cyclone” and a few days later attended a flamenco production, “Recuerdos” at the Royal Theatre.

2. Almost year round, Victoria hosts all sorts of music and arts festivals. Jazz Fest and Ska Fest both took place in July, as well. Then, there is Fringe Festival and Rifflandia. And, these are only a mere four that I’m noting in this quick Friday Fun Facts.

3. Victoria is definitely one of the most family friendly cities that I have ever lived in. The rec centres offer activities and care for kids of all ages. Sure, child minding hours are limited, but at least there are some. And, yes, I do realized (and remember) how hard it is to get a daycare spot. But, looking at the glass half full for this post.

4. Victoria has some of the healthiest people in Canada. We ride our bikes, walk, and engage in other exercise. You are bound to make friends if you get out and about!

5. Victoria is home to a world-class university, that is right—University of Victoria. OK. I’m biased as UVIC is my employer, but it’s no exaggeration to say that it is a well-respected university.

6. Victoria is the provincial capital city and related to this—we are a political community. There are lots of people engaged in all sorts of political activity. You can find great commentary on CFAX or CBC Radio. Then, the local TV stations also offer great local coverage—see /A\News and CHEK. Likewise, we have a great local paper, the Times Colonist where you can keep abreast of all the news in the greater Victoria region. The legacy media here is strong.

7. And, for my last point about Victoria…we are also one of the most connected social media cities in the country. Our meet ups/tweet ups are the most organized and well attended bar none. We’ve had two successful Social Media Camps (thanks to the great organization of local entrepreneurs Paul Holmes and Chris Burdge). If you missed the last one here is the URL: http://socialmediacamp.ca/. Related to my last point, the social media scene in Victoria is active.

In sum, if you’re bored in Victoria, you are not getting out to events. Pore through the paper or websites and you’ll find lots to do.