The Allume conference…and a giveaway!

My long-held dreams of attending the Allume Conference for Christian women bloggers came true. Thank you, Workplace, for funding my opportunity! It was easily one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended: well-organized, substantial in content, deeply spiritual, and dang, girl. That goodie bag.

I will not weary you, dear readers, with a play-by-play of the conference like this is an entry on Cruisers Forum.

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I will, however, share one epiphany.

Growing up as a girlchild who knew she wanted to pursue a career someday that was heavy on the interplay of words and people, I felt as though I had a limited set of female leaders. You know those she-idols doing that thing to which I aspired. There was Katie Couric, Barbara Walters, Candy Crowley, Connie Chung and a select array of other women in media who held those coveted top seats. I learned that you had to work a small market for awhile, and then perhaps get promoted to a middle market and work crazy long hours and never get to read the new Judy Blume book, and eventually, if you were perseverent, talented, and incredibly lucky, you might score a top tier post. But this was never guaranteed and you’d have to work three times harder than male peers and you best not ever have an eyelash out of place or else!

Allume reminded me that the landscape has changed. The coveted top spots for women in media aren’t the only mansions on the cul-de-sac. There is a beautifully vast and seemingly borderless industry producing media in which women can creatively steer careers in whole new ways. They can be the CEO of Yahoo or the servant leader of a small cottage industry and it’s all within their reach. I met so many amazing women at Allume who are girl-bossing their way in the blogosphere, running happy homes, and leaning in to Lord’s unique calling on their lives. It was so encouraging, especially as a journalism professor trying to encourage young men and women to think beyond just the job offerings on mediabistro.com but to think of the lifestyle they want to lead, to envision the kind of philanthropic legacy they want to have.

To celebrate being filled-up full from Allume, I’ve got a little giveaway for you, dear readers. I received many a good thing at the conference, most of them priceless. Some were tactile, though, and they can be yours. Just enter the rafflecopter below and a winner will be announced on Tuesday. Woop!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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How to pick a life partner

I was thinking this weekend when I caught the worst barf bug in the history of barf bugs, Dang. I’m so lucky.

I was reminded as I hinged at the waist over that porcelain portal, how once upon a time at 19 years of age, a college boy I was dating would hold my hair back when I was upchucking for other unseemly reasons. Did I think at the time that he would make a good life partner for this and other attributes? Probably? Did I also like to stare at the groove in his two front teeth and imagine kissing them for, like, hours? Entirely possible.

Fast forward 15 years and I am nearly ralphing out all of my organs on Saturday night, while on a work retreat in the Smoky Mountains. Our children, fast asleep in the bed next to ours in a cabin in the remote reaches of northeastern Tennessee. They were tired, their little limbs in frozen flail, because while their mama was tossing her cookies, their daddy had taken them on a latenight rendezvous into Pigeon Forge parts where go-karts and other amusements could be found. But there’s more!  Their daddy was also among few–it has been reported–Asians for miles, in the face of a prolific supply of Confederate flags a-waving. That same good daddy also went on a reconnaissance mission for Gatorade the next early morning for his now-dehydrated and depleted wife.

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s a good man. The same boy-man who once held my hair back as we sowed wild oats.

We said our vows ten years ago, in sickness and in health, in poverty and wealth, but we could never have envisioned how truly practical they would be. The equity and humility of it all, how it plays out in an endless day of babies and barf and bottles of purple Gatorade. I have no idea how I fortuned in to such an amazing partner, such a truly exceptional life mate who always seeks to make our lives better. I only know that this is what Grace looks like, walking around in spikey black hair and flip-flops, carrying sleeping children up a flight of stairs to their room in a lodge where I lay barfing. Grace is getting more than we deserve when all we can do is throw up all the other good things we’ve been given. Grace is showing up, waking up, carrying up a flight of stairs what is heavier than we think we are capable because we are more than just good deeds. Grace is about being more than we think we can be, Grace is about getting more than we give because so much has already been extended to us by a Perfect Love.

I’m so grateful for Lovey Loverpants, who shows me Grace. Amen.

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photo credit: Garrett Nudd/Joy Nudd

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Romantic Getaway in #CLE

As an early 10th anniversary present, my parents offered to watch our monsters so we could get a fancy hotel room in downtown Cleveland. Our gratitude was basically incalculable.

Lodging
What can be calculated, however, is how great the hotel was. Allow me to recommend the Metropolitan at the 9 because, in addition to waking up in a monster-free king-sized bed, there were other amenities to enjoy.

To start, I want to highlight something that is minor but important. You will read a lot of reviews on Yelp, etc. and they will mention the paintings on the walls throughout the hotel. The paintings are somewhat sensual (see also: sultry silhouettes OW OW!). Dear readers, this is not the ambience that our family of four usually seeks when lodging elsewhere. But on this particular night, the paintings were sort of nodding at us with approval. They seemed to whisper, Yes, isn’t it great to be a grown-up! You can have candy for dinner if you want! And sit up on the rooftop deck! So while the reviews are accurate–the paintings could be kind of awkward if you were putting your grandma up for your rehearsal dinner– the Met is clearly a grown-up friendly establishment.

The hotel itself is modern but homey. Sometimes a modern aesthetic can be cold but the main hues of black, red and white are all hedged with wood and plants and even some old timey pieces like rotary phones and Art Noveau posters. Our room was modern, spacious and all the furniture choices were so comfortable. Speaking of airy and comfortable: you have to be comfortable with the air that basically sets you apart from your bunkmate(s) and the shower. The shower is in the middle of the room. Pro-tip: it will not generate enough steam for modesty’s sake. So shower free, travelers, or go home. 🙂

Wow. This hotel just sounds like the perviest place, doesn’t it?

View from our hotel room: I thought it was very mannerly that Lebron James turned around when I was changing.
View from our hotel room: I thought it was very mannerly that Lebron James turned around when I was changing.

You have to ask the front desk for the robes, FYI. Just didn’t want you to expect and not receive.

We did not patronize the restaurant at the Met but we did take full advantage of the Heinen’s that is literally next door to the Met in the gorgeously restored Cleveland Trust Building. Now that place is special. It was so lovely to be able to grab some top shelf chocolate and berries for a late afternoon snack while watching “Million Dollar Listing: New York” and not “Littlest Pet Shop,” per usual monster request.
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Dining
We had dinner reservations that evening at Crop. It was a beautiful evening so we walked across the Carnegie Bridge. I would not recommend this to my gal pals who are in stiletto heels, but it is a lovely bridge to traverse otherwise.

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Crop was impeccable from the cheese platter and truffle popcorn (swoon!) to the short ribs and beet salad. Be sure to ask the host/hostess for a tour of the vault if you are able. It will really round out the experience.
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Of course we stopped by Mitchell’s just down the street from Crop on W. 25th because the raspberry chocolate chunk as well as the campfire s’more flavors are near-religious experiences.19308443314_716b456d4d_m

Transportation
We Ubered our way back to the Met. It was our virgin voyage as Uberites so our ride was free. Isn’t that spectacular? You, too, can get a free ride. Thank you, Mr. Darryl, our first UberDriver.

When we returned to the Met, we wanted to check out the rooftop deck. The deck is really amazing–what a great spot for an afterwork apertif or a post-Tribe game libation. As we gambled around the deck, a very burly employee said, “Oh! You guys missed it!” He was stuttering and I don’t know if he had been over-served or had a speech impediment but he wanted us to know that the rooftop deck party was over. We had only wanted to catch a rooftop view, though, and he welcomed us to take a spin around. “You missed it!” guy was perhaps the most memorable encounter of the evening.

In the morning, we took advantage of the gym which is clean and fairly large but nothing spectacular. We put the bookends on the overnight with a mid-day trip to the West Side Market for procuring cannoli, coffee and other treats.

I would DEFINITELY book again at the Metropolitan, but only and especially sans kids.

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