Yesterday, I was part of a team of bloggers covering the Women's Conference for Los Angeles Moms Blog -- see my posts here and here (and I'm still working on one that will be posted over at MOMocrats.)
Last year was my first Women's Conference, and as a "WC virgin," I walked out of the place feeling inspired and energetic and on a contact high.
That was oh, so last year.
Don't get me wrong; this year's event was no less inspirational. I learned about new programs and social initiatives, and even did a little exhibit hall shopping (something I didn't allow myself in 2008).
Maybe it's the fact that last year's event occurred during the final weeks of the most exciting election year I can remember, and I was involved. Or maybe the events of this year have beaten me down. Maybe it's just the effects of my anemia.
The highlight of last year's conference was a keynote by Bono, who reminded the attendees that as bad as our economy was looking (and in October 2008, the future looked really dire)... we should not neglect those in poorer nations, whose future was looking even worse.
This year, conference leader Maria Shriver confessed that she is grief-stricken, after the very recent deaths of her beloved mother and uncle, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Senator Ted Kennedy. And I think this may have infused this year's event with a spirit that was a bit more somber.
Shriver made her confession as an introduction to this year's most memorable session, on grief and resilience. She led a panel that also included actress Susan St. James and Elizabeth Edwards (who both lost teenage sons)... and Lisa Niemi, whose appearance just six weeks after the death of her husband Patrick Swayze was surprising and courageous. The conversation was raw, real and devastating. It's hard to do it justice, but I think my friend Liz of LosAngelista succeeded here.
My personal conference experience this year was different, too. I was unable to arrange for someone to drop my daughter off at school, so I didn't get down to Long Beach until well after the opening session (thereby missing some of the best speakers). And I'm still trying to figure out how best to cover events like this. This year, I wanted to actually experience the presentations in the room (instead of watching on a monitor in the media tent), and I had access to great seats, thanks to being sponsored by the nice people at Lean Cuisine.
But this means I wasn't able to live blog. Instead, I used my Flip camera to videotape the proceedings. This gave me an immediate, accurate record... but I still needed to review it, edit it and write about it after the fact, which is what I did instead of catching the breakout sessions (again, causing me to miss out on a lot).
Ultimately, there is so much happening at the Women's Conference that it is impossible for one person to see and hear it all. That's why the organizers have so thoughtfully added video of the more memorable sessions on their website.
All in all, it was a terrific event, even if I didn't walk out of there feeling like I could take on the world. I hope I can go again next year, and if I'm fortunate enough to do so, I will probably try handling it in yet another way. Maybe by then, I'll have a nice, small, light netbook that I can carry into the sessions. It will be Maria Shriver's last Women's Conference, as we'll be electing a new Governor. She might be feeling pretty good about that... so I expect WC 2010 will have a more optimistic energy.