When I heard the 2013 BlogHer blogging/writing conference was in Chicago, I was all BOOM. I could slip in a visit with family we have there, then pop on over to learn and love my head off at the conference.
Since a lot of fun stuff happened, I’ll break my Chicago trip down for you: The Friends, The Learning, The Voices of the Year, and The Book Signing. Let’s DO this!
I’ve been reading blogs and blogging, in some form, since 2003.
Let Me Start By Saying is only 3.5 years old, but I’ve “met” so many amazing fellow blog lovers and bloggers during that time, and conferences give me the opportunity to actually meet them in person.
These bloggers and commenters have made me laugh, cry, think. To get to see them in person is like finding someone you’ve been looking for all along. You already know them, their stories, their honesty. Now you get to shake hands, hug, or carry them around a little in your arms (sorry about that Janel…and Leslie…and Rebecca…and anyone else I forgot I picked up).
In this collection of pics, one isn’t mine – I think Anna took the one at the bottom right. This was Sunday morning, after the conference was over. Most people had already left by then, but a group of us rallied for breakfast. And lingered as one after another had to leave for a train, a long car ride, a flight.
We were exhausted, but didn’t want to part. Because this explosive scene of Kerry and I laughing hysterically at something the divine Leslie said (I don’t think I was actually making any sound – it was THAT laugh) captures exactly what the whole weekend was about: telling stories, making new friendships, and sharing experiences that bond us in our individual journeys.
I laughed like that every day of BlogHer, and look forward to doing it again next year.
If you’re not familiar with BlogHer conferences, basically there are 4 long blocks of sessions over 2 days, each one has a theme like Writing or Technical or Social Media. You choose your sessions like you’d choose college courses: which would give me the tools I need to become more successful in my job?
“I believe in the power of the personal narrative to change the writer and the reader.”
In other words, a good story changes the reader AND the writer.
I was all calm and cool, taking notes, but when she said this tears popped into my eyes and I got chills. She is so right. This is why I write. I want to change. I want my words to change others. That is the dream.
I took home ideas, inspiration and tools from the sessions, the Keynotes and the interaction I had with the fellow conference members. I love learning, and BlogHer feeds that love, that need. I feel full now that I’m back home, and look forward to implementing what I’ve learned over the next year.
THE VOICES OF THE YEAR
A very, very cool thing happened the morning the conference began.
I was doing a blogger version of Speed Dating, and came across a fellow VOTY honoree named Katie…who then told me not only that she loved my piece, but began to essentially recite it to me right there, on the spot. I heard my words on another writer’s lips, and realized that they left an imprint on someone. I was rocked.
I was already so, so excited to be named a 2013 BlogHer Voice of the Year for a post I wrote that was fairly controversial to others, but that was simply about love – love for a daughter and self-love – “Her Future Fat Thighs” on www.InThePowderRoom.com.
There was a very nice surprise for us 100 honorees at the reception: each of the honored posts was blown up HUGE and lined up around the reception room. Seeing my words that big – mine was the 1st set up upon arrival – got me emotional.
It felt real, and I felt honored.
THE BOOK SIGNING
A few months back, I emailed Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throat, the force behind the book I JUST WANT TO PEE ALONE, and said “Ummm…there’s, like, a bunch of us that will be in Chicago at the same time. Why don’t we take over my in-law’s restaurant downtown for a book signing?”
And so we did.
Because of lame things like “Fire Codes” and “laws” we had to limit the number of tickets, and we totally sold out to a crowd of fun, kind, excited, camera-loving friends, family and fans. The energy was high and a little spritzing of rain couldn’t get us down.
I have to say that that evening not only energized me (despite a migraine I was trying to hide from everyone), it made my husband realize that I don’t make you all up. Just ask Kelley, who almost tackled him in an attempt to finally meet him…which, for the record, didn’t even make him flinch. Because he’s married to me, and is used to tall loud bedazzled people lunging at him. But I digress.
Highlights of the night were:
- Seeing all the co-authors from all over the country all lined up greeting, smiling, shaking hands with, hugging, and sharing stories with the people who came to get books signed
- Having the 1st thing I said to my mother-in-law that night be “One of my friends has a big vulva cupcake poster, so you might want to tell your husband to say inside.”
- Meeting a ridiculous amount of people who made LONG trips to come to the event
- Reading my words to an interactive crowd, when I’m used to just staring at my laptop for feedback
- Seeing my fellow co-authors basking in the glow of admiration of their work. I know how proud they are of what they put out, and to hear others recognize them for it felt fantastic.
- Watching everyone fall in love with my adorable in-laws…and their delicious food (SERIOUSLY, if you’re ever in Chicago, go to Bongiorno’s – it’s next to the Trump Tower downtown)
Here’s all the ladies that came to sign books, many of whom you’ll see in the pictures above:
Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throat
Patti of Insane in the Mom Brain
Karen of Baby Sideburns
Tara of You Know it Happens at Your House Too
Andrea of The Underachiever’s Guide to Being a Domestic Goddess
Anna of My Life and Kids
Kelley of Kelley’s Break Room
Kim of Let Me Start By Saying
Rebecca of Frugalista Blog
Nicole of Nicole Leigh Shaw (fmrly Ninja Mom)
Kerry of HouseTalkN
Robyn of Hollow Tree Ventures
Keesha of Mom’s New Stage
Rachael of RachRiot
Johi of Confessions of a Corn Fed Girl
~ ~ ~
Thank you to my friends – new and old – that made me laugh so hard this weekend I did actually pee my pants in the elevator right before checking out of the hotel. (My apologies to those who were betting that I’d be able to go accident-free this time, and to the hotel staff member who had to empty that trash can with my discarded skivvies inside. I blame Leslie. Again.)
Thank you to everyone who made me feel cared about, respected, and heard at the conference. The fact that anyone knows my name, blog, or writing blows my mind.
Thank you to those who led the sessions, took the time to organize your information and hand it over to me, to us. I want to be better. You took the time to help me be so.
Thank you to those on the BlogHer panel that selected me as a Voice of the Year. I feel it, I really do.
Thank you to all who came to the book signing, who are my co-authors in the book, and who support us in this project.
And thank you to those of you who actually read all of this. Holy crap, that was long.