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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blissdom Bliss Part II: The Definition of Mom It Forward  

Changing the World One Mom at a Time

As you, my lovely readers and friends, are finding out, I have been a bit busy lately with a new endeavor called Mom It Forward. Some of you may be wondering what the heck this Mom It Forward thing is and why it would have so wholeheartedly caputred my heart and subsequently, my focus!

Mom It Forward is the newest trend in mom groups and makes giving back fun, sociable, accessible, and stylish—the new “in crowd” of moms where "mom" is a verb. IT RAWKS!!! Not only is it fun, has the benefit of forming new friendships, but it is all for a good cause.

With its unique niche, the Mom It Forward community is the perfect mommy gathering place or group—both online and in real life—to talk about something moms have in common—our passion for making a difference. Members of the Mom It Forward community join for strength and friendship—you know, the adult interaction all of us moms are craving—but leave with so much more... feeling strengthened, uplifted, excited, and with ideas for and a call to action to give back in fun, creative, meaningful ways all while balancing their role as a mom.

One of the many benefits of being a part of this group has been the benefit of meeting such great people and serving alongside them and on some occasions, serving together with our families. Attending the Blissdom Conference and subsequent Mom It Forward service project was one of those opportunities.

The most amazing part of Blissdom was seeing the old addage "all's well that ends well" taken to new heights with "all's extraordinary that ends extraordinarily."

I am referring to the Mom It Forward service project at the Nashville Rescue Mission sponsored by Scanpan (who donated 5 sets of high-end cookware to the Mission, nearly making me wish that was my kitchen—the pots and pans were AMAZING).

Five Fabulous Things About Momming It Forward Nashville Style

What was so extraordinary about this experience you may be asking yourself? Let me touch on five highlights:

  1. Influence and reach is more important than numbers! We learned at the conference that blogging traffic is not as important as reach and influence. We experienced the same concept in a different way at the Nashville Rescue Mission. Our team was small in numbers—7 to be exact (Carissa, Kim, Josh and Rebecca, Ghennipher, Marie, and moi). But we helped prepare lunch for upwards of 1500 people. Now that is reach!

  2. Shared meaninful experiences builds community. As we Mommed It Forward, our team experienced one of the most vital parts of building community: shared meaningful experiences. We may have been chopping vegetables or mixing in dressing on salads—ordinary tasks done daily for a mommy. But these ordinary tasks became extraordinary when we performed them while working together for a common goal and great cause—to help those who truly were not able to help themselves. It was an amazingly humble experience!

  3. Stepping forward and out of your comfort zone is key to Momming It Forward. We got out of our comfort zones. Not only did we Mom It Forward in terms of serving, but we took a step forward from an area in which we may not have been entirely comfortable—from our comfort zones, helping us all to embrace a very important step to Mom It Forward—taking action!

  4. Partnering makes Mom It Forward possible. This entire experience would not have been possible without a lot of creative connections. Specifically... the wonderful people behind the Blissdom Conference, who brought all of us together; the amazing Nashville Rescue Mission organization; our small, but influential team of Mom It Forward moms and dad who sacrificed sleep or fought headaches/sickness to participate; Nancy Martira, the lovely and brilliant PR professional and now friend, who introduced us to Scanpan; Scanpan for their generous donation and sponsorship (you've got to check out their cookware... as Alli Worthington of Blissfully Domestic says, "It's Lickable!"; Jessica Smith for introducing us to Nancy Martira; Abdul (I wish he had a blog I could link you to) for being our amazing taxi cab driver (no! he's no relation to Paula. I asked! LOL!); and most importantly, the people at the Nashville Rescue Mission—for their strength and goodness, however limited or ill understood.

  5. The Mom It Forward mission is alive and kickin'. We have heard a few times that the Mom It Forward mission to "change the world one mom at a time" is lofty. What the Nashville Rescue Mission experience taught me is that it is possible. Mom It Forward can accomplish this mission one day at a time, one person at a time, one location at a time. We already are, including the partner that sponsored the opportunity, the organization that made it possible, the team members that provided the service, and the amazing people who received it.

If you'd like to learn more about Mom It Forward or get involved, please visit our Mom It Forward blog. If you have questions or partnering ideas, please e-mail us at momitforward [at] gmail [dot] com.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Did You Make a Difference at #Blissdom09?  

Where in the World Have I Been?

To my amazing followers who think I've dropped off the face of the earth, I have been over at Mom It Forward for the past 4 months, creating—in tandem with Carissa Rogers and a wonderful group of women (too many to mention)—an amazing community called Mom It Forward.

Instead of catching you up on 4 months of Jyl history, let me get you current, starting with now!

Last Thursday, I dusted off my cowboy boots, practiced my best southern drawl, and headed out the door to the Blissdom Conference in Nashville, Tennessee hosted by Alli Worthington from Mrs. Fussypants and Blissfully Domestic and Barbara Jones, founder and president of One 2 One Network. (To learn more about everything shared at the conference, click here.)

Now it's Tuesday! I'm home where my southern drawl has been replaced by withdrawal—withdrawal from a weekend rollercoaster ride of nothing but happy, meaningful emotions!

What Did I Learn at Blissdom?

I learned that happiness abounds. It abounds in spite of having to leave the comfort zones we are all so accustomed to. It abounds regardless of age, social media endeavor, or how closely you resemble your avatar. It abounds in spite of a struggling economy. It abounds for apprentices and mavens. And, it abounds plentifully at that!

(Sugar Jones, me, Dwan Perrin, and Carissa Rogers. Photo courtesy of Flickr and Dwan.)

What caused all those endorphins to release and keep me chitting and chatting on only a few hours of sleep (combined!)? Why you, of course, dear readers. Yah! You! Right there... behind this screen. You're the one. How, you might ask, did you achieve such a task? Well, by making a difference in my life, plain and simple. If you wondering how...

(Photo courtesy of Flickr. Amy, Kim, Friend, me, and Linda (back) & Dwan and Janine (front).)

You Know You Made a Difference in My Life at Blissdom09 If You...

  • Showed genuine interest in meeting me or getting to know me even when you may have never heard of me prior to this weekend (don't have enough room here to shout out to the entire conference, but know I appreciate you!). Your smiles and hugs and squeals and genuine love are now a part of me!
  • Roomed with me (Carissa Rogers, Sugar Jones, Rachel Ferruci, Jessica Smith).
  • Made me blush when you said you were "crushing on me" ;) (Pensieve Robin).
  • Told me you loved my wild eye shadow (Arianne and Alli).
  • Received a Mom It Forward mom award and made me nearly break down in front of a room of 50+ women as I handed it to you (Dwan).
  • Served with me at the Nashville Rescue Mission (Josh and Rebecca Unfried, Ghennipher Weeks, Marie LeBaron, Kim, Carissa Rogers).
  • Caused me to miss a guess of your age by 10+ years. WOW! You hot thing! (Beth)
  • Helped get us sponsorship and/or donations for the Mom It Forward girl's night out after party and Nashville Rescue Mission service project (Nancy Martira and Krista Parry).
  • Sponsored or donated to the above-mentioned events (Scanpan and Park City Mountain Resort).
  • Attended the Mom It Forward girl's night out after party for 3 hours after putting on an amazing conference and being extremely exhausted (Barbara Jones).
  • Twittered with me during panel discussions (Renee, Amy, Jessica, Nancy, and any others I missed due to internet issues!)
  • Sat next to me on the plane during the flight out (Marie LeBaron).
  • Chatted with me in the Food Court while we waited to board our flights back (Roni).
  • Shared with me your career and life goals (Chris Mann).
  • Gave me a Venezuelan kiss on the cheek and shared experiences about our Alma Mater, BYU, after singing and talking to us regarding your Yanni experiences. (Ender and Nathan)
  • Shared your beautiful red shoes and chocolate coated jeans with me in the lobby late Saturday night. (Jo-Lynne)
  • Took amazing pictures of the entire event (Secret Agent Momma).
  • Played board games with me during Mama Mia (all 10 of you... yes! you, Lucretia).
  • Danced with me after Mama Mia (all of you know who you are, especially you Danielle, AKA Miss Bunny/Kitty Slippers!).
  • Socialized and shared/brainstormed social media strategies with me one on one—sometimes over chopping vegetables (John Andrews, Barbara Jones, Josh Unfried).
  • Brought out the real tears by allowing me to participate in a humbling, awesome, rewarding service project (Nashville Rescue Mission).
  • Made me feel included and loved (Colleen).
  • Were out on the dance floor with me at the closing cocktail party and put up with my forgetfulness when it came to the Electric Slide moves! (You know who you are.)
  • Made me realize I am far too conservative in my shoe selection and caused me to seriously break the "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's shoes" commandment—not to mention being incredibly nice (Rachel).
  • Being one of the most abundant people I know—and not just because you shared a room with me, but in all the ways that really matter! You got character, girlie! (Jessica Smith)
  • Got me to ALMOST love country music after watching you karaoke it up in the Pink Slip Lounge (Casey).
  • Made me LAUGH OUT LOUD during your skit at the Mom It Forward girl's night out #blissdom09 after party! (You all know who you are... even our booed ta ta gals led by Sugar Jones.)
  • Were an instrumental part in getting said party planned, especially in lining up all the wonderful prizes (Jerri Ann).
  • Hung out with us during our extended stay post Blissdom (Michelle, Roni, Colleen).
  • Helped me get a better grasp of PR (I want to link to the entire panel??? what an amazing, influential group you were).
  • Talked to me about college days, living over the Tennessee state line, etc. (Christi)
  • Made me want to lick your baby's face (Alli).
  • Became my #gno friend IRL (Renee, Sugar, Rachel, Jessica, Kim, Josh, Rebecca, Ghennipher, Linda, Dwan, Julie, Amy, ahhhhhhh! so many.... you all know who you are and how much I love and appreciate you.... sorry I can't shout you all out from the rooftops!)
  • Always had a smile for me (Amy).
  • Offered your Mississippi home to me (after I invited myself for a visit ;))! (Megan)
  • Were amazingly accommodating: Brought me room service at 2:30 a.m. when it had closed hours before, shuttled us to the dollar store and waited patiently for us for 25 minutes, prepared the party room to our precise requests and expectations, and simply went above and beyond in every way (The Hotel Preston).
  • Gave me free swag!!!! (Blissdom Sponsors)

Wow! I seriously could go on and on! Wait! I just did. LOL!

Thanks to all of you, mentioned or not, for making this a wonderful weekend for me. You made a meaningful difference in my life!