Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

BlogHer 2014: One of the Flyest Conferences

My selfie at the Selfiebration. 
My journey to BlogHer 2014 began with a 2-piece chicken dinner from Popeye’s Chicken (see the very bottom). It really did. I had NO desire for Popeye’s Chicken, until I stopped at the grocery store on the way to San Jose for BlogHer and saw a restaurant. 

My chicken dinner was great but BlogHer was even better. I was very grateful to join their “Selfiebration” and participate in the 10th annual conference. I’ve wanted to go for a long time. I went there open with no expectations. I didn’t see everything, nor try to,  because I didn’t want to overwhelm myself. Plus I wanted to catch up with some blogger buddies I hadn’t seen in a while. And I’m glad I took this approach because I had a great time. I met great women and left praying for the day I could do this full time without a financial care. 

I got my BlogHer weekend started right with the Sangria Sundown Soiree hosted by Eppa Sangria. The dress code was, get this… yoga clothes! Yes, yoga and sangria. I took off my work clothes, slipped into my black yoga pants, and enjoyed my glasses of sangria, surrounded by palm trees in the summer sun. I was getting my Soiree on with my rookie, respected blogger, life coach, yogi  and soror pictured above-- Ananda Leeke. Their party was my favorite. Eppa knows how to chill and party. Their white Sangria is delicious, very refreshing. I missed the swag bags they were giving out, but I didn’t go home thirsty. 

BlogHer conference is very large, I believe around 3,000 people. But the good thing is that most people are friendly.  And they’re really friendly to newbies. I only attended one workshop because most of the workshops being offered, I already knew the information. I’ve been blogging since 2004. But I’m planning to write a book, so I attended a workshop on publishing. From what I heard from those new to blogging, the BlogHer workshops were 
extremely beneficial. 

Kerry Washington!
Photo by Daniel Tsi Photography /Artistic Shutter Photography

Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress has saved many lives.
Photo by Daniel Tsi Photography /Artistic Shutter Photography
The speakers were GREAT! Both the bloggers and celebrities delivered awesome messages. Arianna Huffington, Kerry Washington (Ahhhhhhh! I’m still excited), bloggers Deb on the Rock and Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progreess were some of my favorite speakers. Kerry Washington was in new mommy mode. She stopped speaking mid-sentence when a baby started crying. 

Deb Rox of Deb on the Rocks kept it real
about bloggers using our voices.
Photo by Daniel Tsi Photography /Artistic Shutter Photography
BlogHer is great for networking with other bloggers and friends. I still feel like many of the brands are more for parenting bloggers. But there are still plenty of opportunities for people who don’t blog about parenting. 

On the final day, there was a discussion of diversity and intersectionality. I thought it was great that BlogHer wanted to address this issue. I was disappointed that this was on the last day at the end of the conference. There were a lot of attendees at the discussion,  but could’ve been more. People were tired and we had a light lunch so I imagine people were either resting or eating during the panel. But I loved the panelists and am glad we had the discussion. 

Photo by Daniel Tsi Photography /Artistic Shutter Photography

Rev. Run on the ones and twos.
Photo by Daniel Tsi Photography /Artistic Shutter Photography
BlogHer knows how to par-tay. We ended with a party hosted by McDonald’s. Rev. Run from Run DMC brought the old school jams. I was getting my dance on! So my journey started with Popeye’s chicken and ended with Chicken McNuggets. Just so you know, I rarely eat fast food.  All you can eat Happy Meals is dangerous but I didn’t get too out of control.  

After the show some of us kept on partying in the Marriott Hotel. There I met a man who told me I was beautiful. He was traveling with friends who were cameramen for UFC matches. When I asked him what he did for a living he said, “I have a job but just don’t know what it is.” 

Sigh and BYE! I finished our dance and headed back to my room. You get a lot out of BlogHer, just maybe not a love connection. 

If you’re serious about blogging and have never been to BlogHer, it’s a must do. BlogHer is fun for everyone, whether you have 100 followers or 100,000+ followers. BlogHer Pro which is a smaller conference that’s more narrowly focused on business is a great conference too. My only complaint is that there's so much to do in so little time, but I imagine a three-day conference would be really pricey.

Fingers crossed I’ll be taking a sponsored trip to BlogHer 2015. 

Below are a few other cool photos from my experience. 

The fruit tarts were soooooooo good. 
I met tech evangelist Guy Kawasaki. 

Great theme and message from the all-female rock band
The Mrs. Yep, I'm enough. 

A beautiful time with black bloggers at the conference. These
women are all doing amazing things in media. 

The dream I keep working on. It will come true.
Or maybe it's in the process of coming true. 

Actress, comedian, blogger Franchesca Ramsey is funny and
sweet. A few years ago her hilarious video "Shit White GirlsSay to Black Girls" went viral.  
I couldn't resist snapping this photo. Twisted Shotz
gave free shots to BlogHer attendees. 

All of the free goodies I brought home. Big thanks to
Angel Soft for the free toilet paper!  I was down to 1/2 a roll. 

And this is where the trouble started. So wrong, but so good.