Friday, June 17, 2011

Conversations With Coca-Cola

On Sunday I boarded a plane headed for Atlanta to take part in Conversations with Coca-Cola. What I did know is that I am a fan of both Coca-Cola and McDonald's and I was looking forward to learning more about both companies. I know it's not popular to admit that you are a fan of McDonald's or Coca-Cola, because, you know, obesity! Fattening! Sugar! But you know what? There is a thing called "moderation" and it is wonderful because it allows you to enjoy things that you love, that may be fattening or sugar-y every once in a while.

True, yes?

The event started bright and early Monday morning with a lovely breakfast inside the World of Coca-Cola building. After breakfast, the lovely Elisa of BlogHer led us in a Vision Board Exercise. Let me tell you, nothing stresses me out more than having to "craft like" things. I am the worst, THE WORST! With a little help and guidance from Jenny, who lovingly demanded that I stop tearing photos out and start cutting/gluing, I was able to quite accurately represent, through old magazine clippings, what was holding me back from being successful with my blog (in my life) and a clear visual of what I hoped to be able to accomplish with both in the future.

We were asked to stand in front of the group, explain our vision boards and choose one word to represent it.

I couldn't do it. I couldn't think of just one word because, you guys, life is stressful for me right now and I'm feeling lost, overwhelmed, guilty, stressed, and like I'm doing it wrong. I stood up there, shaking and trying so hard not to cry as I explained my board. I tried to make sense of it all, but I couldn't. And right then I realized how very lost I feel in my life, both online and offline right now. And right then I realized that I needed to be there with people who could relate and who could offer words of support and encouragement. It probably sounds cheesy, but it was pretty awesome.

Shortly after that experience, we were introduced to four incredible women who were part of the women's leadership council. I was still feeling emotional about my near break down during the vision board session when Jenny asked the panel a question.

"How do you balance it all?"

I will never forget the response.

"Balance is a false goal. I am unwilling to put a job I love against a family I love."


She spoke about managing your life in slices-- work, kids, home, marriage. I hate to go All Oprah on you, but that was definitely an "a-ha moment" for me. I have been trying to balance it all-- my job, my time with my children, household chores- and have been failing miserably. Her words helped me see things from an entirely new and wonderful perspective.

That session alone was worth the trip.

Later that afternoon, we were treated to a tour of The World of Coca-Cola lead by archivist, Phil Mooney! Mr.Mooney was a wealth of information and a pure joy to listen to and learn from. I have to be honest, I did not know that The World of Coca-Cola existed. What a fun place! I would love to be able to take my family there some time. If only so that I can get my chance on the machine where you get to try to replicate the Coca-Cola logo. (Didn't get a chance while I was there, two little adorable girls were hogging it up the entire time. I may still be bitter.)

After the tour was over, we got to enjoy samples of Coca-Cola products from around the world. THIS IS A REAL THING! WITH REAL BEVERAGES FROM AROUND THE WORLD! What a great place.

Day number two was spent a Coca-Cola headquarters where we learned about the company and some of their community and health initiatives. The most discussed program was Sprite Sparks Parks.

Sprite Spark Parks Project to invest $2 million to construct, refurbish and refresh more than 150 neighborhood parks, athletic fields, playgrounds and basketball courts in 2011

While in a session while we were learning about things like "aspartame" and how the body processes it, I noticed some rumbling on Twitter about the event. I was confused because no one from Coca-Cola had made any health claims about their product other than "it was safe to consume in moderation." Which is true! I do not allow my kids to drink Coke or any soda on a daily basis, but they are allowed to have a glass/can occasionally. It's the same with candy or cake or cookies.

I was impressed with Coca-Cola's willingness to answer our questions, to provide us with their research, and to allow us to have a frank and honest conversation. They were definitely there to engage us in conversation, not sell us a product. It was, dare I say it, I'm going to say it, refreshing.

(I would love to share with you all of the information that I learned about their beverages, including research on aspartame, but their informative website- TheBeverageInstitute-- will do a much better job than I can in this blog post.)

I would like to end this by telling you that this event was inspiring, informative and well, fun.
I enjoyed the company of the other women in attendance (who are all way smarter than me. And if you don't believe me, go read their posts and you'll see what I mean.) Many thanks to Coca-Cola for inviting me and to BlogHer for making this happen.

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