That's OK, I don't like you either.....

We have to say what we believe...whether it is popular or not. ~Howard Dean

There is a lot of animosity on the web these past few days. At least in the mommy world. And specifically in the "I am a breastfeeder" and "I am a formula-feeder" world. Now, I am not going to go into this debate again, because, well, A) you all know how I feel about it and B) it is kind of "useless, never-ending round and round we go saying the same things and not hearing each other" conversation.

This latest round of "She said, She said", has just solidified a thought that has been brewing in my head for a long time. And likely in a lot of other's heads too...

So I am just going to say it.

NO, we DO NOT all have to get along.

It's true. I may not only not agree with you, but I may genuinely not like you. And you may not like me.

And that's OK.

I had the pleasure of sitting in a room full of 200+ women last week. We were described by some as a 'sisterhood', digital women from all walks of life coming together to learn, to network, to connect. Some of these women are moms, some are not, some are more successful than others, and some were 'working the room' like an E-Talk reporter clamoring for sound bites on the Emmy Red Carpet!

And each and every one of us was sizing up the person next to us and figuring out if they were someone we wanted to get to know, someone who is 'competition' or someone whom getting to know would somehow get us further along in the game. THIS is human nature people, it is not a judgement of anyone, it's just a plain and simple fact of life.

You know the sayings..."Like attracts like", and "Birds of a feather, flock together", well, they are true. Just look at your own life. Who is in your 'tribe'? Your core group of friends? They are most likely people who share your beliefs, your values, and who give YOU validation for the choices and decisions that you make in your life.

I met some really amazing women at the ShesConnected Conference. People that I want to get to know better, that I think can offer me something in my life and people to whom I think I can offer something as well. And yes, I also met some people who I was immediately turned off by. People who made no effort to get to know me or who were perhaps just as turned off by me as I was by them. And so I moved on to the next person...

Which brings me back to the 'She Said, She Said' battle again.

And I will use myself as an example.

I believe in living as close to a natural, chemical-free, and so-called 'crunchy' life as possible. Especially when it comes to parenting. I use cloth diapers and practice elimination communication, I wear my babies in beautiful baby carriers, I do not believe in letting them 'cry it out', and I have breastfed each of my children to the ripe old age of three years. I am not opposed to home-schooling and I also believe in a delayed vaccination schedule.

In doing all of these things, I have met a lot of other mamas that feel the same way as me and that share my parenting philosophies. And I have met a lot that do not.

And while I respect all people and all parents to make decisions for their own families....

...who do you think I am more likely to hang out with?

I am not saying that if you don't do things exactly as I do that we can't be friends. Personally, I love diversity in my life and I learn so much (about life and about myself) from people who are NOT like me.

What I am saying is this. Respect others, yes. Agree to disagree, very likely. But do I have to always like everyone and everything they say or do? Absolutely NOT.

I liken this to the nursing in public argument. If it makes you uncomfortable, than JUST DON'T LOOK!

So if I see or read something that I don't like, or meet someone I just don't click with, then I do not have to click on their link, share it, or if it is a person, engage with them, either online or in real life. MY choice. Simple as that.

So with all the talk this week of Mom Vs Mom and more about how we are shaming each other and blah, blah, blah, all I have to say is...

...SUCK IT UP LADIES!

This whole line of 'dialogue' (and yes, I am using the term lightly) is getting us nowhere.

Please just OWN your choices, your decisions, and your opinions. Share your knowledge and your insights if you so choose, but know that once you do this, you are opening yourself up to scrutiny and other's opinions too. Be prepared for what may come, don't take it all too personally and know this.

Not everyone is going to like you or what you have to say...

I will leave you with the words of a brilliant man.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

 Steve Jobs, 1965-2011 

Not 'giving it up' for just anyone.....

Well, I did it everyone. I HAD too!

ALL the cool kids are doing it, so it was just a matter of time.

Yes, that's right...

I popped my blogging conference cherry this week!

I had the privilege of being one of 200 women from across Canada invited to this year's ShesConnected Conference. So I packed my laptop, iPhone and suitcase, hopped a {very} early morning flight and headed to Toronto. This two-day conference is all about connecting digital women and brands. BIG brands, brands that want and yes, even need our collective voices to compete in this digital, social media age of consumerism.

Why do they need us gals you ask? Well, as I learned from Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of Blogher and one totally cool chickita, 78% of the online population use social media, and blogs are now a close second to internet searches when it comes to being influential about purchasing decisions.

Not only that, but 60% of the female population make buying decisions based on blogs. That is power people! And brands are starting to recognize this power and they want to harness it!

But....

With great power also comes great responsibility.

And this may be the biggest lesson that I learned this past week. Everyone wants to make more money. Brands are out to make money and increase their bottom line. Bloggers want to get paid for their time and efforts and are looking for more than a box of cereal as payment for a post. Or as Ann-Marie from Momstown.ca so succinctly put it to one of the panels, "I like chicken, but I can't pay my phone bills with chicken."

But the bigger question that emerged {even more} for me at the conference was, what do I WANT?  As a blogger, a writer, and a business woman. How do I marry the concept of writing with integrity and authenticity with the reality that is blogging as a business model? How do I maintain my responsibilities to you, my readers and use any power that I do have for good and not fall into the very transparent, "I am writing a review post and it is so blatant it is bad" scenario?

My biggest fear in the whole "monetizing' of the blog, is that I will lose my voice. My true voice, the voice and words and stories that I share with all of you. As you may know, I have pretty high standards and a firm belief system. I believe in and advocate for doing things a certain way and I want to make sure that any and all advertisers or sponsors that I deal with are in line with what it means to be a Natural Urban Mama.

I did connect well with at least one of the sponsors and brands at the conference and it was Ford Canada and their head of Social Media Marketing Ammar Khan. If you take a look at Ford over the past few years, they really are doing things right. They weathered the recession far better than the other domestic car-makers and this year Ford Canada was named the No. 1 auto maker in Canada. They also hire people like Sheryl Connelly. Sheryl is the Manager of Global Trends and Futuring for Ford Motor Company and she is one smart lady. She gave the opening keynote speech for the conference and taught us all about the way key trends are changing the face of consumerism globally. Things like an aging population, ethical consumption, careful consumption and safety & security are key drivers that impact how and why people make purchases these days. And companies like Ford are paying attention. And they are paying attention to the blogging and social media communities too and using this medium in their marketing strategies. I will not give away too much just yet, but let's just say that I am looking forward to working with Ford Canada in the near future! (And a little background for you, the very first car I owned was a Ford Taurus and that baby saved my life-for reals!)

I met some amazing women at the conference. I got some ridiculously awesome words of advice from a few of them. I got to go to a party at a shoe store (and I have the sweet new boots to prove it!) and because I am who I am and I do what I do, I even managed to get myself a brand new baby carrier {the much coveted Girasol Amitola woven wrap} and the chance to break it in with some babywearing with the sweetest little baby girl (and give her mama a little break)!! Oh, and did I mention the swag? Yes, there was a lot of that too!

So all in all, it was a good 'first time'. I have no regrets. There are definitely things that I would like to do better next time, more people I would like to hang out with and get to know and most certainly there is so much more to learn and bring home and share with all of you.

Good thing I have Blissdom Canada coming up in T-minus 10 Days!!

Cheers all,

Natasha~