Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chicks Who Click Kansas City: Network your way to social media empowerment!

"Chicks who Click- Minds that are creative, connected and looking to collaborate – with dynamic women- to be the best in their fields utilizing social media. At this conference we hope to achieve new heights by listening, teaching, experimenting, and networking. We will educate on the importance of upcoming generations of women to pursue careers in technology, we will share how to make your relationships count, we will empower you to use your social toolbox and how to refine your personal brand."

So describes the mission of Chicks Who Click, an organization founded by Denise Smith, an event planner with Metzger Associates. CWC has held sessions in cities all over North America, and blows into town this weekend with an exciting lineup of local social media gurus and an interactive livecast keynote from BlogHer's own Erin Kotecki Vest.

Fellow Blogger/Tweeter Celeste Lindell will be featured as a panelist at the conference on Saturday. I first met Celeste at Kansas City's first official "Tweetup" held at Barkley, the firm where she works as a social media strategist, last May. When asked why she is attending, Celeste revealed, "I'm speaking on a panel at the KC CWC event, but even if I weren't, I'd go anyway. I love opportunities to meet other women who live in social media as much as I do. I'm largely going to network, but I hope to have the chance to learn some useful things from other social media experts."

One of those experts is Zena Weist, Senior Manager of the Interactive Brand Team at EMBARQ. A moderator and speaker at the event, she has this to say about a previous CWC conference she attended:

"The Boulder's CWC weekend in January was an amazing networking opportunity. I was surrounded by inspirational women from diverse backgrounds, ranging in all ages and having various aspirations--but all passionate about online! Do not feel like you need to be a power blogger, a Twitter diva or a Digg junkie to long as you want to learn more about the social web, you are going to love this conference.
As a time-starved woman, I walked away from CWC09 with several nuggets of valuable information such as socmed tools for optimizing my social web experience."

Speakers/panelists include Christina Maki and Jenn Bailey of the Social Lites, Mark Logan of Barkley, Lisa Qualls of LightThread, and a host of others.

As a relative newcomer to social media, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in this amazing gathering of intelligent and inspired people, many of whom I have met at various local SMCKC events and tweetups. I look forward to renewing existing relationships and creating new ones, all while learning something very important to both my personal and professional life. What could be better?

Still haven't signed up? Register here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The "Big D."

Here is my recent response to a friend's blog:

Thanks for writing this, Log. I’m happy that you have been such a great source of support for your friends.

Speaking from experience, I agree that getting married in your early twenties is not the best idea. Most of us are still finding our way and forming our identities at this time.

I also believe, as you do, that communication is key in any type of relationship. If you don’t tell someone what you want or need, you certainly won’t get it.

I have to draw the line, however, at your comment about abuse being the only reason to end a marriage. I, for one, know that I was not the best parent, nor the best person, I could be towards the end of my relationship. As I grew and changed over the years, my spouse stayed the same, and became unable to meet my needs on any level. My heart turned away from him as a result. No amount of counseling can fix that. It is extremely difficult to be with someone who cares about maybe half of what is meaningful to you at any given time.

Should I, a passionate, intelligent, purpose-driven person, have forced myself to stay in a marriage that was killing my spirit a little every day and sending me spiraling into depression? Should I have resigned myself to the fact that I would never again experience love or fulfillment or let’s face it … intimacy, just because I wasn’t being “abused” by someone else’s definition of the word?

While I don’t want my children growing up to think that they should just give up on any relationship without trying, I also want to raise them in the knowledge that they can always strive for more. I want them to have a strong female role model, someone who can help them become well-rounded people because SHE is one.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Embrace the darkness.

When your eyes are tired, the world is tired also. When your vision is gone, no part of the world can find you. Time to go into the dark where the night has eyes to recognize its own. There you can be sure you are not beyond love. Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.

~David Whyte, from “Sweet Darkness”

There are so many, many things I have yet to say. There is so much I want to do to make up for time lost and for opportunities squandered. I have so much to teach, and yet so much to learn. There is so much time to be spent cultivating the garden that is my heart.

I wished for freedom, and I can almost taste it. Almost. Until then, I embrace the darkness while I wait for the sun to rise over my new life.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A heart shaped box

A few random thoughts I had tonight, while reveling in the glorious silence of my living room:

Love is a gift, given as a representative of the giver's esteem, admiration and affection. The receiver can tear off the paper, excited only about what might be inside the box, never noticing the time and effort the giver has put into its trappings, or it can be unwrapped slowly and savored, bit by bit - the perfectly measured cuts, the careful creases, the ribbons and bows chosen thoughtfully - every lovely gesture noted, appreciated and treasured as much as the actual token itself.

Like a delicate rose, when tended with the utmost care, love can bloom beautifully and weather each season for eternity. When neglected however, beware its thorns. It will wither and die on the vine, never to be seen again.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

TwestivalKC is tomorrow night. Are you going?

Have you heard? 1.1 Billion people on our planet don't have access to safe, clean drinking water. That's 1 in 6 of us. That is surreal, and certainly unacceptable. Now, imagine if one of those 6 people was your grandparent, parent, sibling, niece, friend, coworker. Would you do something to help that person? You bet your bottom dollar you would.

It is time for change, people. We cannot continue to sit back and let someone else do it. We have to step up to the plate and hit the grand slam out of the park.

The Kansas City community, along with 160 cities across the globe, has organized a very important event tomorrow night, February 12th. It's called Twestival, and 100% of the proceeds go to charity:water, an organization that contributes all donations received to clean water projects around the world.

TwestivalKC is taking place at Tower Tavern from 6-9pm. Tickets are $25 (ask about our student rate) and can be purchased here. Once inside, you will have access to complimentary pizza, Boulevard beer and some rockin' live music, not to mention exposure to the energy and passion of other like-minded individuals. The first 50 people in the door will receive a charity:water bracelet as a momento. If you can't make it to the gathering, you can still donate.

Did you know that $20 will give one person in a developing nation clean water for 20 years? If you're still not convinced we need your help, please take a minute and watch this video.

Come join us tomorrow night. You'll be glad you did. See you there!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Mom Song, or, my life in a nutshell.

My SIL passed this to me today, and I literally laughed so hard I cried. Even if you don't have kids, I guarantee you will still be amused. My son is only 5 years old, but this has already started. Welcome to my world.

My "25 Things You May Not Know About Me"

I have been tagged recently in Facebook about the latest fad: the "get to know me list." I am not sure if this is because the people were actually interested in finding out more about me, or if they just needed that one extra person to send it to. I, of course, prefer to think it's the former. Regardless, I finally caved after several people I either really care about or who (or is it whom?) I actually would like to get to know wrote theirs. You know, because it's only fair to reciprocate.

1. My full name is Kerstin Robyn. My parents decided to call me "Robyn" because I use to chirp a lot when I was a baby. Either that, or my dad was throwing me up in the air one time and said I appeared bird-like. Neither of them can really remember. People in my family still call me by my middle name, which caused a bit of chaos (and a major identity crisis) when I moved here two years ago--because they didn't know how to introduce me to others. I switched over to my first name in high school, when there was another girl on my basketball team named "Robyn." My mom thought it was hilarious to nickname me "Kerbyn."
I have a brother who is 2.5 years younger than me.

2. I was born on an Army base in Wurzburg, Germany. My first word was in German: " heiß," (hot). I have lived in South Carolina, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Nebraska, Hawaii, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and now Kansas. I went to 4 different colleges before I finally graduated from University of Pittsburgh with a degree in History.

3. My most vivid childhood memory is being at Niagara Falls with my parents when I was 5. My dad woke me up in the middle of the night and we went for a walk along the Falls. There were dew drops on the bushes that were illuminated by the street lights. We stood at the railing, watching the water cascading. It's the first time I consciously remember my dad telling me he loved me and it has stayed with me my entire life.

4. I went straight from Montessori school into first grade. I was once considered "gifted." My 2nd grade teacher told me I wasn't allowed to write in cursive because none of the other kids had learned it yet. I graduated high school at 17.

5. I learned to read at 4 and I have always been a passionate, voracious reader. I love multicultural literature, especially when it's written by women. When I was in junior high I used to write alternate endings to books I had read.

6. In 10th grade, I was chosen to sing a solo during a swing choir concert and forgot one of the verses to "I Can't Say No" from Oklahoma!. Prior to that, I used to love to perform. I sang in church services, weddings, and at parties. Since that experience, I can't sing on my own without throwing up--either before or after or sometimes both--unless I drink significant amounts of alcohol or unless I am hiding behind the piano, singing while playing.

7. I participated in three Varsity sports per year in high school: cross-country, basketball and track. I used to throw up after every cc race. I was supposed to run for Nebraska Wesleyan but I blew my knee out before the season even started.

8. I went on a summer choir/band tour to Europe when I was 16. We visited and performed in France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Lichtenstein. I sang a duet during our performance in Notre Dame, which we we almost didn't get to do. When we were in Paris, a group of us snuck out after curfew and sang songs on the lawn of the Eiffel Tower.

9. My first car was a dark green, 1976 Camaro, which my parents bought for $900. It didn't have the cool spoiler on the back, but it did have a faux-sheepskin steering wheel and seat covers. We called it "The Tank." It got 9 miles to the gallon. In the winter, I would have to leave it idling in the driveway for at least 10 minutes to keep it from stalling. If I hit the stoplight leaving my subdivision, I would delay traffic because it would lurch and die. Wash, rinse, repeat. At one point, the brakes were so far gone that I still rolled into the car in front of me despite my foot being pressed all the way to the floor.

10. I flunked out of Nebraska Wesleyan University my freshman year, despite being an academic/athletic all-state award winner in high school. It was my rebellious phase. I rushed a sorority and apparently I was bringing their GPA down so they tried to hire me a tutor. I told them to go f--k off, that I didn't need a tutor--I needed Prozac. Which I subsequently took for a year while attempting to get my act together. That same freshman year, a fellow student approached the school counselor with the opinion that I was drinking too much. Shortly after, I was nominated for, and went on, a weekend retreat for students who show leadership on campus. When I walked through the door, there was an audible gasp from my peers. I met my first husband there while playing a pickup game of 3-on-3 basketball. He was the president of a fraternity and widely admired on campus. I felt vindicated when he asked me out on a date.

11. I spent 3 months in Finland when my ex was doing his final semester of college as an exchange student in Turku. We traveled all over Finland on the train, took the Silja line back and forth from Helsinki to Stockholm several times, spent a week at a friend's summer place on the island of Oland and took a bus trip to St. Petersburg, Russia. I have a picture of me standing next to Tchaikovsky's and Dostoevsky's graves. I ate lunch in the Hotel Astoria, where Hitler had planned to hold his victory party.

12. I have been married since I was 19 years old. My first marriage was annulled after 5 years because there was no evidence of a partnership present (but that's another story). I had to write a summary of my request and it ended up being 20 pages long. I have only lived on my own for a cumulative total of 6 months, and, despite myself, sometimes I really regret that.

13. Both my children were born feet first and I am very proud of my scar from two c-sections. My son is complimented on his manners every time he goes over to someone's house and my daughter is already very independent. I am fiercely proud of them.

14. I am also proud of the laugh lines on my face. Laughter serves many purposes for me. I use humor when I am uncomfortable but it's also a way for me to show my appreciation for something that I think is really funny. I have several different laughs. Making others giggle gives me both joy and confidence.

15. I love to watch foreign films. I have suspension of disbelief with most mainstream movies. Unless I am completely wowed, you probably won't ever want to watch one with me. I will annoy you with my constant questions, like "Why didn't she just do X?" but afterward I will talk about the characters as if they actually exist.

16. I have rock star fantasies, which is why I love to sing karaoke. If I could, I would do it every night of the week. I get a secret thrill when strangers tell me I did a good job. The experience never seems to live up to my expectations because the residuals from #7 kick in, but I keep going back for more because I think, "Next time I'll sing that note differently or I will make this movement and it will ROCK!" I have a list of songs I want to try and every time I get in the car by myself, I try to sing as though I was performing.

17. I am obsessed with music. I can't breathe without it, and even when I am not listening to it, I hear melodies in my head. It's what I turn to when I am happy or sad, when I need consolation, motivation or inspiration (or most any other "ation"). I feel every ounce of emotion an artist puts into his or her music as if I wrote it myself and my mood can change on a dime because of it. I will listen to a song over and over until I know all the words and can play the piano part, if there is one, in my mind. I have never attempted to compose anything because
I am afraid of failure. My brother and my father write and play songs on the guitar and I am insanely jealous that it comes so easy to them. I have only spontaneously played my own music on the piano once, and it was while I was in a dark place in my life. Otherwise, I have to use sheet music. This depresses me greatly.

18. I have serious word association issues. If I spontaneously laugh at something you say, it's likely because I am thinking of either song lyrics or a quote from a movie with that word in it.

19. I often dream about jumping off the side of a large cliff and flying. Most of my dreams lately are spent hovering above ground, watching myself interacting with others. For several years, I had a recurring dream of falling and breaking my right arm in various ways. Slipping on the ice, falling down the stairs, tripping over something--you name it, I did it.

20. I need a certain amount of alone time or I have a meltdown. When I am upset or unhappy, I will just get in the car and drive. If it gets bad enough, sometimes I don't even tell anyone I'm leaving. On these trips, I like to smoke cigarettes and listen to angst-y music. Loudly. It reminds me of college, when a girlfriend and I used to drive around in her beater, listening to Depeche Mode, smoking Virginia Slims and drinking Diet Coke. We thought we were bad asses.

21. I am, and always have been, a tomboy. I love to play sports--especially football. I can be extremely competitive. I am the one who has taught my son to throw and hit a baseball. I still don't consider myself a very feminine person, though I am acutely aware of it in the moments when my femininity decides to magically appear. Intelligent women who act dumb to get attention really annoy me, especially when it's solely to get out of doing things like changing tires or squashing bugs. That being said, I hate spiders in my house and I ask my husband to relocate them instead of doing it myself. If I hadn't watched "Arachnaphobia" 20 years ago, I would be fine. I still check the lamp switch before touching it without thinking sometimes.

22. I am fascinated by both bugs and birds and could sit and watch both for hours.

23. My mom is an English teacher and my grammar was corrected a lot during my childhood. As a result, bad grammar and bad spelling are like nails on a chalkboard to me. Mine may not always be perfect, but I make a serious effort. I will revise an email countless times before sending it and it drives me crazy when I realize I've missed something.

24. I see beauty everywhere and often get choked up at the most random things.

25. My capacity to love is enormous. It happens quickly and whacks me over the head every time. You'd think I'd be used to it by now, but I can never get enough. I love the feeling of loving someone and being loved in return.