Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Finding Bliss

A little over a week ago, I crossed #9 off my 32 Things by going to Blissdom.  I've been unsure how to encapsulate my experience and hence have delayed writing about it.

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.
8. Getting to meet some of my favorite bloggers! It's so wild meeting everyone in real life. Sadly, I didn't get to meet everyone I wanted (ahem, Shell.) With so many people there, it was inevitable that some paths wouldn't cross.  Some people I met briefly and then we never got to reconnect, like 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...


  1. well, i'd say it was a win if you got to meet so many folks you might have otherwise met!

    glad you recapped it for us and i'm glad that you went so you could cross it off your list!

    and VERY COOL that you got a free social media consultation. glad you were encouraged, leigh.

    yes, definitely a win.


  2. Im really glad we got to meet, and Im glad to hear your thoughts on having been there. Some resonate with me, too, and probably with a lot more than you think. :)

  3. I can so relate! Except that I was only there for the workshops, so our paths didn't have a chance to cross. I'm a Nashville blogger too. Small world! I need to check out the "sorority" post you mentioned because that is exactly how I described it to a non-blogging friend. As you said, I learned a lot and felt inspired after Blissdom but I feel like the connections I made there (some that also started on Twitter) are my big takeaway.

  4. What you said is so true. It was overwhelming... but for me, so good. I had a post-conference let down: sad not to see friends & unsure of what to write... or even if what I write is good enough for the world to read.

    You are extraordinary... and next year when I'm in Nashville - we must get together one day!

  5. Woo-hoo! I made the list :) Yes, it was a nice break from all the mommy stories! Haha!

    I know what you mean towards the end of your post. Blissdom is all about making connections and meeting people. I don't really get much "blog worthy" out of besides the advice from people I talk to. If you're looking for a more blog intense conference, I'm looking into going to Type A. It's in Ashville, NC. I've heard it's more blog content based.

  6. Ohhhh, how I wish we could have spent more time together, Leigh! I'm with Staci and looking into Type A, because I want more hard-core learning stuff. I'm a nerd like that. :)

  7. @Mary Kathryn: Yes, total win! I'm sure you were hoping my recap would have more nitty gritty details so let me know if you want to hear more about the sessions.

    @Liz: Yay for another Nashville blogger! I think this town is exploding with us:)

    @Julie: I swear you were one of the queens of Blissdom- you owned that place. I know you're questioning some things but please keep writing and sharing your heart. We will definitely get together again!

    @Staci: Of course you made the list! It was so great finally meeting you. I haven't heard much about Type A but not sure I can swing another conference this year. I'd like to go on at least one "real" vacation...

    @Mary: Me too, friend! I hope our paths will cross again some day soon. It would be great just to sit down and have coffee and talk the afternoon away. We nerds must stick together:)

  8. It was great meeting you at Blissdom! I'm sorry that we didn't get more time to chat. And btw, I loved seeing you single ladies. You add depth to the blogging community. (((Hugs))) to you my friend!

  9. I wanted to add...Not only do you add depth, but others need to hear what you have to say. And since there are fewer of you, we need you even more!

  10. Waited to read this until I had a chance to sit and "read" the whole thing on a real computer (not my phone, lol) - Wonderful recap, you were such a sweet delight, I loved getting to know you on a very tiny scale.

    I'm amazed at how you were able to process the whole thing. Although my goals were very, very different - I didn't think I could do it justice putting into words. (I'm still processing and may be for a while...)

    I am so glad we met and I look forward to reading where God is taking you.

    Much love,

  11. Thank you for this :) I admire your courage and adventurousness. Great pictures!

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  12. @Alicia, it was so great meeting you! I'm so glad I landed at your table that day. I'm glad you see the value of us singles- if you ever need our perspective, you know who to ask:)

    @Amanda, aw...roomie! I think I'm still processing things but wanted to at least satisfy the people who've been wanting to know about this crazy experience. I'm so glad we met too!

    @Sarah, you're welcome:)

  13. Touched that our talk made the highlight reel. It was truly a pleasure getting to know you.

  14. Love your recap! You are so cute. Meeting you was definitely one of my highlights, Leigh, and I definitely want to keep in touch. And when you come back home for a visit, you MUST give me a call.

    I love, love, love your honesty here. I totally get it. You are such a delight, Leigh!


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