There is something special about spending almost an entire week with people who speak my language. People who speak Online Storytelling and Sparkle. It’s a fairly specific language. Even better is how very different everyone is from each other. How – on paper – we shouldn’t click, shouldn’t like each other; but, somehow through this creative thing we all do, we fit. There are so many things I want to say about BlissDom 2013, but I will try to keep it somewhat simple.
There was so much really great knowledge shared in the sessions I attended and in conversations in the hallway. So much that I think they each deserve a post of their own. I’ll give you an overview of the brain part and then I’ll tell you the heart and spirit part.
Soaking Up Knowledge
There were so many opportunities for learning this year at BlissDom. The keynotes were fantastic and the sessions I attended were well worth my time. The keynote from Scott Stratten was entertaining and affirming (in the, I’m-glad-I’m-doing-it-right kind of way). I look forward to reading his book The Book of Business Awesome (which he gave everyone attending the conference). The next keynote, an interview lead by the wonderful Danielle Smith, was with Susan Cain. You might have heard of Susan’s new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (which I will be buying soon!) Her discussion about introverts and extroverts was fascinating. I’ve always thought I was more of an extrovert, but I’m finding that I lean toward the introvert side, and listening to Susan and Danielle speak was so interesting. The last keynote was with Jon Accuff, who I saw at last’ year’s BlissDom. He was great as usual, and gifted the BlissDom attendees with a special pre-press copy of his new book, Start.
I was really happy with the breakout sessions I was able to attend. Shelly Kramer gave fantastic tips for writing for the web, Wendy Scherer talked about using data for marketing, CC Chapman shared his view on living an amazing life, Lisa Leonard shared so many ways to tell your story without apology (and let Bridget and me take what may be the best speaker photo every), and Lucrecer Braxton gave us simple and effective tips for better portraits. I learned so many different things from these great people, and I love that I can use Shelly’s and Wendy’s tips at work in some ways. When you listen to CC you can’t help but be inspired, and Lu is the same way. I was really looking forward to Lisa’s session because I do a lot of self-censorship when I write, and it’s something I want to change.
Road Trips & Roomies
You guys. I can’t really put into words how awesome the roadtrip to BlissDom and my roommates were. I drove the 8 or so hours to Dallas. I was supposed to pick up Ellen (@BloomMaternity) in San Antonio, but she had to change her plans at the last minute, it was the only really bad part of the whole week. I did get to pick up Kim (@prairiemama) in Austin, so I got to spend some great time with her the rest of the way. Luckily, Bridget (@iveyleaguemama) was landing as we were getting in to Dallas, so Kim and I decided to swing by and pick her up and then head to the hotel. Y’all, this was the first adventure of the weekend. Pro tip: When you go to DFW, make sure you know the flight and/or airline your friend is coming in on. Because you can’t tell tollbooth guy, “Do you know where flights from Atlanta are coming in? Do you know Bridget? She’s a blogger?” So doesn’t work. The roadtrip back home wasn’t as eventful, but I learned so much from Kim about her faith, and I got to stop in San Antonio and visit with Ellen (and give her the fun bag of goodies from BlissDom).
My roommates were fantastic. I know a lot of people say that, but mine were truly amazing. I met Bridget and Katie (@motherbumper) last year at BlissDom and we connected right away. My abs still hurt from the laughing we did over the four nights we were there. Let me give you this list of words that describes our hotel room for those days: Canadian candy, maple syrup, cupcakes, laugh crying, ADD, cake, men-with-hooks, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Poo-pourri, Single White Female, needless apologies (Katie being Canadian and all), laugh crying, ending blogging, kids, bothering our neighbors with laughter, and awkward introductions to speakers in the hallways. And laughing.
Heads on a stick
There were so many wonderful friends who couldn’t make it to BlissDom, so we made some Heads on A Stick so they would feel like they’d been there. These girls got rowdy y’all. They were drinking and eating and feeling up the other attendees. Out of hand.
Handmade Marketplace, Entertainment and Sponsors
As it was last year, the Handmade Marketplace was fantastic! The lovely Sara Sophia did an amazing job getting all of those vendors together and offering such great stuff for attendees to buy and fall in love with. I have so many of the vendors marked as new favorites. The entertainment at BlissDom was a little different this year. I think I would have enjoyed the interviews with the All My Children cast if there hadn’t been so much talking around us. Chris Mann and Amber Riley did a fantastic job and have incredible voices. As a bonus, the Spazmatics were playing at the Glass Cactus on Girls Night Out after Chris and Amber and I danced my butt off while screamsinging songs from the 80s. At Girls Night In, we got to hear from Jeremy Sisto, Ana Gasteyer, and of the writers (I feel like a jerk for forgetting her name) from Suburgatory. Ana Gasteyer was accosted by Nichole and me while she was innocently trying to watch the episode of the show that was being screened for us. I love Ana. A lot.
As always, the BlissDom folks bring fantastic partners/sponsors who take the time to connect with the attendees. Please take a minute to check out the partners, as they really help make the conference one that I can afford to attend!
Reconnecting & New Friends
I love the time I got to spend reconnecting with people I’d met before and making new friends. I restrained myself from being a total fangirl in that I didn’t actually scream when I met Meagan Francis, Kyran Pittman, Christine Koh, Lisa Leonard and Laura Mayes. I did however, take a minute to get pictures with most of them as they are all women/bloggers/authors/entrepenuers who I admire.
That’s the thing about BlissDom for me, the connections. I met so many people I admire, whether they are a “big deal” or not. I met women who had fought hard to be there, women who were about to launch a new blog or a new business, women who “just” have a little blog whose biggest reader is their mom. I met Nichole who Robin match me with before BlissDom, and who made me snort laugh with her Sling Blade voice; and I met Piper in real life, finally, and she was just as wonderful as I thought she’d be! There are so many more people I wanted to meet, but just didn’t get a chance. I’m hoping to meet them at a future BlissDom, or at least get to know them online this year.
And now, here are way too many photos from BlissDom! And if these aren’t enough for you, I’ll be adding more to my Facebook page!