I knew it would be overwhelming and it was. I hoped I would make good connections and I did. I wanted to learn something new and in some ways this happened. I wanted to leave inspired and I did, although this really had nothing to do with the conference itself.
My personal highlights:
1. Much has been written about the keynote speakers: Brene Brown and Scott Stratten. Yes, they really are that amazing. Scroll through some of these recaps if you'd like specifics.
2, My roommate Amanda from They Hold My Heart. First, she made me these amazing cookies- Sweet Bella Bakery is going places, my friend.
Second, she rounded up an "entourage" before I'd even arrived at the hotel Wednesday night and included me, the sole non-mom, right from the beginning. Thanks, ladies!
Third, I so enjoyed getting to know her better!
3. Connecting with so many of my Twitter friends. I'm not going to even try listing everyone- you know who you are. Again, I'll say I can't imagine going to a blogging conference if I hadn't joined Twitter this past fall. It helped form relationships pre-conference and it helped us connect while it was going on.
4. Discovering that amid a sea of 700 bloggers, it's still a small world after all. Shelly and I recently found each others blogs but it wasn't until the Wednesday night cocktail party that we discovered she lives in my hometown. She even used to shop at the bookstore I worked at for 7 years- who knows how many times our paths unknowingly crossed when I still lived there! Getting to know Shelly was a gift.
5. Hanging out with fellow singles Julie at DutchBeingMe (forgot to get a picture with you!) and Staci from SimplyStaci. Staci made a point to seek me out the first night, which warmed my heart. With all the mom bloggers there, it was crucial to have a break from the labor stories and debates on various parenting methods. I seriously wish you both lived closer!
With Staci at the (in)courage party
6. Hands down, one of my favorite moments was meeting Amy from Bradford Avenue. I stumbled onto Amy's blog over the summer, when her friend Jessica mentioned her in a post. Amy is rehabbing a house and doing absolutely gorgeous things over there- and she lives in Nashville! I had no idea that she would be at Blissdom. Shelly and I were looking for a place to chat during one of the breaks and sat down in some free chairs by a girl. She looked over at me, noticed my name tag, and started squealing. "You're HopefulLeigh?" Now, I had a few people recognize my name but this was an unprecedented reaction. She told me who she was and then I started to squeal. Instant friendship.
7. Bonding with friends over the randomest things. Here I am with the newly formed Scarf Brigade.
Ashleigh and Mary.
9. I won a one hour session of Social Marketing consultation from Stephanie Bryant. This is why I'm glad I went to Blissdom. We ended up talking not just about my vision for my blog but my longtime dream of writing a fiction book. Stephanie challenged me and gave me much to think about. She believes in what I am capable of, which meant so much to me. As I recently shared, I'm starting to believe that my outlandish dreams aren't that outlandish at all.
10. Before the conference, I wasn't sure whether I viewed myself as a blogger or a writer. Maybe both. The last writing session, which vastly outshone the others, helped me see myself as a blogger, writer, and storyteller. I have ideas of where this is going to take me. There will be some changes ahead for this blog, which is exciting, and I hope you stick around for the ride!
11. Seeing Michelle Branch and Mat Kearney perform!
12. Showing off my Hope necklace from The Rusted Chain (lost my picture wearing it) and earrings from Flawed Perfection Jewelry. I've worn both items since and they always put me in a good mood. Even though I was provided the jewelry in exchange for wearing it at Blissdom, I really did love both and that's no lie.
13. Meeting so many Nashville-area bloggers! And I know I didn't meet all of them, which makes me think there should have been a #NashvilleTribe. Well, maybe a #TennesseeTribe- I'd hate to leave out CrayonWrangler, PenseiveRobin, and BelleBeanDog.
14. Talking faith and politics with Chris from GoodenessGracious. This kind of conversation might have seemed out of place during the Friday night performances, yet it was perfectly paired with wine and pizza.
15. Meeting Toni Birdsong and Tami Heim, authors of @StickyJesus, one of the Read-Alongs I've been doing. A lunch tablemate came back with their card and I knew I had to track them down right away. We chatted instead of eating the peanut butter and jelly bread pudding (which I did find to be an interesting and delightful combination). Such a God moment to connect with them!
You might read through those highlights and conclude that Blissdom was the best thing I've ever gone to. However, I can't say that it was. There's no point in running through the reasons why because I don't regret going. It turns out I didn't need a blog conference to find my bliss. I wouldn't trade this experience because of connecting with so many wonderful people. That made it worth it.
I'm glad I went but I've realized blog conferences just are simply not for me. MollyinMinn wrote a fantastic post comparing blog conferences to sororities. I told her it was the post I wish I'd written, although my analogy would have ended up different as I never participated in Greek life.
I don't plan to be back next year (unless I just do the Wisdom Workshop? From what I heard, that might be the more "serious" conference that I was looking for) but this is not the end. Now that I've met so many of my online friends, I look forward to the next time we can hang out. So long as Blissdom is in Nashville, I'll be able to see y'all when you're back at Opryland next year. Now accepting reservations...