How To Pack For A Conference & Free Packing Checklist

I am about to head to my tenth conference, and this week I am heading to my fifth Mom 2.0 Summit conference.

Over the years I’ve really been able to turn packing for a conference into a craft and have picked up many tips along the way. I’ve also learned hard lessons from real life situations, like forgetting all of my makeup once, so now I rely heavily on a checklist. Which you can download here:

On my last trip I was told to check my carry-on at the gate because there was no room and the airline lost it! No more carry on case for me.

I filmed me packing for my trip to Austin, Texas and have added lots of packing tips, including what to bring to a conference. Enjoy!

(Video) Mom 2.0 2016 – While Mom’s Away, Dad And The 4 Kids Will Play

Mom 2.0 Summit 2016

Going to blogging conferences is so important for not only me, but my whole family. It gives me an opportunity to step away from parenting and my work, and gain some much needed perspective.

I always walk away with new insights as well as new opportunities. Although I miss my kids and my husband Mike, I head back into our home refreshed and ready to dive back into the trenches.

Mike also really enjoys the one-on-one time with the kids. Although it is a lot of work, he really loves the change of pace and is so encouraging for me to go.

This was my second year attending the Mom 2.0 Summit, while my husband stayed home with our four kids. This year took place at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel. There, I was inspired listening to and learning from other bloggers, vloggers, celebrities and influential women with powerful careers.

Although I was inspired the whole time and absolutely loved being with my tribe, my mind often wandered to my family, wondering what they were up to.

So Mike decided to set up a GoPro so that I could see what they were up to.

You will see in the video that Rita Wilson was one of the speakers and also surprised us by singing a song from her self titled album, which you can find on iTunes and Amazon. Also, we had a surprise guest MC the Iris awards. You will have to watch to find out who it was!

Thank you to Kia Motors America for helping us arrive in style. Also thank you to Carter’s for the generous and tasty dinner, with the breath-taking views at the beautiful Montage Hotel in Laguna Beach.

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Finding Inner Peace, Embracing The Mom Guilt And Simplifying My Future

Mom 2.0 Summit 2016

Blogging is an emotional job. My career is centered around me being vulnerable to the world on an regular basis. I measure the success of my career based on constant feedback from strangers on the internet and occasionally in person. Sometimes you know you are really hitting a nerve when you receive some controversial feedback. It’s part of the job.

I am an open book by nature, always willing to share. I have learned over time that I am a very strong person, and aside from the occasional comment that stings, I am able to let any negative energy that comes my way, bead off of me like droplets of rain.

I take in the positive energy and continue to pour it all out, in hopes that I can reach that mom that is struggling, and longing for a connection, so they feel a little less alone, and a little more normal.

Heading into my second Mom 2.0 Summit, I made the conscious decision to have a few small goals: make one perfectly fitting brand connection, meet a few of my heroes, and foster friendships while building others up. I completed my list. But the biggest goal was to walk in open. Open to feedback, open to learning and open to friendships, but especially, I would be open to being inspired and find my direction for the next phase of my career.

On day one I think I was so exhausted from travelling from Toronto to California that I was emotionally numb. I went through the motions and hopped into bed that evening ready to recharge and prepare myself to be inspired and take it all in.

That’s when it began. That morning sparked a theme that stood out to me for the next two days and ended in a (positive) emotional breakdown on the final day.

The first story that really impacted me was listening to Lauren Bayne, the founder of Offspring Advertising Agency interview Alli Webb, the founder of Drybar. The entire discussion was masterfully conducted by Lauren Bayne, including the surprise interview she had secretly recorded of Alli Webb’s boys discussing her success and how they view her. Yes, I was a blubbering mess.

Allí Webb - Drybar

But listening to Alli Webb describe her humble beginnings, how Drybar took off, and balancing a busy career and motherhood really impacted me. Her unapologetic success left me feeling so much more secure in the success that I have already experienced, and the path that lays ahead of me.

Later that day, I soaked up every word from a panel of powerhouse women comprised of Catherine Coleman, Christine Lu, Shannon Marby-Rotenburg, Yifat Oren and Jennifer PrinceGo ahead, click on those links, I dare you. Your mind may explode from how accomplished they are. Hint: one is an astronaut.

Inspiring women

Listening to these motivating women talk about how they both run their incredibly demanding, but rewarding careers while still being mothers, was so important for me to hear. Some days they find the balance and other days they want to cry. But it always takes a village, lists and support from their spouse, or close friends. They have messy closets that they can never find the time to clean, and they often struggle with re-entry when they arrive back home after work.

Each agrees that their career makes them feel happy and satisfied, and ultimately a happier mom. Everything they said resonated so much with me, and I walked away realizing I am doing a pretty damn good job of balancing my career and motherhood. Even if there are days that are a little rockier than others.

The truth is, the week leading up to leaving for California, I was struggling with a lot of guilt. I not only try to live a guilt-free motherhood, I preach it. I experienced so much mom-guilt when I had my first child and promised myself that I would let it go and be secure within my parenting experience.

But I was embarrassed, and frustrated with how much guilt I had been feeling. It finally dawned on me after listening to all of these other successful mothers. Maybe a bit of mom guilt isn’t such a bad thing.

I had lived in a state of survival for years. From the days that our son struggled with a language delay. To our second (surprise) baby, to the ultimate surprise… twins.

This constant scramble and barely keeping my head above water, left me at times, feeling robotic, always wanting to escape for a break. Yes I loved my children, and they have always been my world. But I was always craving me-time so badly, that whenever I was away from them, I was emotionless. I didn’t miss them.

Part of me was hiding this lack of emotion from everyone else. Was I a monster? No, I was a burnt out mother.

Now, having found our stride, being done having kids and finally moving out of survival mode has unlocked that part of my brain and my heart I was so carefully protecting.

So, this time when I went out the door, with my feelings of guilt fighting with my feelings of freedom, left me confused and uncertain.

It finally dawned on me that that feeling of guilt, was a good thing. I had re-emerged from the murky waters of survival mode, and could actually feel again. I was missing my children and longing for my husband while also enjoying the independence of travel and being with my tribe.

On the final day, many of the layers on the onion had been peeled back. I felt exposed and vulnerable. I was feeling many emotions, something that was fairly new to me.

I decided to walk into a panel about work/life balance, thinking it would be the perfect fit. This panel was moderated by Jessica Shyba and it included Ryan Hamilton, Christina Brown, Danielle Walker and Roo Ciambriello. Again, click links = mind blown.

IMG_2604

Then each, again described their triumphs and failures while trying to create some kind of balance in their parenting/career journey, all with incredible stories to tell.

But then they said a few things that hit home so hard, it was like a hot spear had been shot into my chest. “Look at everything you are working on. If there is something there that is not making you feel happy, then it’s not the right fit.” Also, “learn how to say no,” and “no,” can be a complete sentence. “Don’t apologize and never use the word just.”

Well, let me start by saying that the apologetic Canadian that I am really needed to hear that.

As the panel concluded, and they opened the room up for questions, I immediately shot my hand up. They asked me to head up to the front and hold the mic. Oh shit. Here we go.

I could feel my cheeks getting hot and my voice shake. Damn these new emotions.

I started by adding what I have learned the hard way. When success started to put my husband and I on separate pages, we started dating again. Going on a date every week has been huge for us and has created a safe-guard for our marriage.

Then, I launched into some more difficult areas of the business that I have sometimes found hard to navigate. Each of them were so kind and quick to give me practical advice that I really needed to hear.

I was told later, by one of that panelists, that I almost had all of them crying.

After this session finished, the tears came. By the time I got back to my room and watched the video my husband had sent me of my son getting his yellow belt in tae-kwon-do, I was sobbing. I felt like Jerry Seinfeld; “What is this salty discharge? Oh my God, I care.”

I finally regrouped, but it took so long that I missed the red carpet for the Iris awards, so this quick selfie in the elevator will have to do.

Mom 2.0 Iris awards bcbg

I left California changed. Okay with my parenting and career decisions, embracing my mom guilt and having a clear focus for my blogging future.

Sometimes you can be so in it, so in your bubble that you loose all perspective and become numb. It is so important to step away for a bit and soul search. Let your guard down and be ready to be inspired, motivated, encouraged and pushed… even if it causes you to shed a few tears.

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Why Leaving My Family (For Three Days) Was AMAZING!!!

Mom 2.0 SummitLeaving my family for a few days to head to Mom 2.0 Summit was the best thing to happen to our whole family. Before leaving I was done. No more patience, no more sparkle, just done. My husband Mike and everyone in my little world could see that I needed to get away and recharge very badly.

Mom 2.0 Summit  2015, in Scottsdale, Arizona was the first of, I am sure, many more blogging conferences for me. Not only did I get to listen to, meet and talk with some of my biggest heros, I gained clarity for the future of Nesting Story. I was able to process the journey I have been on and reflect on how incredibly humbled I am by my loyal followers, you!
Women HerosHeres from top left: Amy Morrison of Pregnant Chicken, Molly Ringwald, Heather Armstrong of Dooce, Bunmi Laditan of The Honest ToddlerPhoenicianBeyond being inspired by my heros, I met some of the most incredibly strong, smart, beautiful and inspiring women, that I can now call my dear friends and mentors.
New Friends And MentorsFrom left: Annie Stow of Stowed Stuff, Luly Balepogi of Luly B and Aimee Helmand of Baby League.

Although in the back of my mind, I was wondering how my four little ones were doing back home with Mike, I knew that I would be back home again soon enough and to enjoy every second… which I did.

Upon arriving home, the kids were thrilled with all of the cool swag I had brought from Firefly, Dove, National Geographic Kids, Lansinoh and more. Each of my kids seemed a little older, especially Mia and Everly who seem to be growing up a little too fast. Beau is a little under the weather now, so the timing of my arrival home has been perfect, because we all know we only want our mamas when we are sick.
Kids

I can’t thank Mike enough for not only supporting me going, but cheering me on. Even sending me texts reminding me to “live it up.”Mike's textAbove all, I was able to focus on myself, which is rare when you have four kids. I was able to dress up and feel pretty, have nerdy blogging conversations with like-minded people instead of boring my girlfriends at home once again and rediscover who I am in this stage in life.

I come home feeling full of confidence, direction, joy, patience, inspiration and… sparkle.Joanna Venditti Nesting Story

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