BlogHer: I Won the Best Swag Ever
I am a huge BlogHer lover. HUGE. BlogHer San Diego was my second blogging conference that I had ever gone to after BlogWorld back in 2010 and I had been blogging for 2 years at that point. In San Diego I met amazing brands, left with some insane swag, but more importantly I left with the best swag ever – amazing friends. I then followed BlogHer to New York and visited a city I had only dreamed about and met brands and new friends that changed my life. It wouldn’t have been an epic road trip last year as #GirlOnTheRun without hitting Chicago where I took my cousin, Dr. Trevor Miller and introduced him to this crazy blogging world. This year though, I really wanted to go as it was in San Jose, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump from my absolute favorite city, San Francisco. What I hadn’t expected was to fall in love with Alaska so much that I had to figure out how to physically get my butt down in time.
But I wanted to. I needed to. I needed what BlogHer does for me every year.
I love going to the sessions and learning new tips and tricks to bring to my business. For me, blogging is my business. It is my sole source of income for while I live on the road. I came to BlogHer with only one goal for my blogging education – learn how to Pitch a Book and how to Pitch for Magazine subscriptions. The only thing that is on my negative list this year was that I went to these sessions and did not walk out with any valuable takeaways. I was frustrated that the panelists talked more about their blogs and ambitions than on the topic at hand. It made me not want to attend any more of the sessions as I had very little time and I made the decision to find what I needed by reaching out to specific friends instead.
The keynotes always make me think and ponder my place in life. I went to all but the Closing Keynote. I purposefully left my laptop in my room so that I could give my tablemates and the speaker my full attention. I wanted to stay in the moment.
There were two key things pieces of Swag that I took away from BlogHer that no conference price tag could cover. My swag though wasn’t a material item from a brand’s booth. I wasn’t looking for that. I wasn’t at BlogHer for that.
The first piece of the best swag ever, and the most impactful to me, was seeing friends from around the world. As I traveled this last year for 202 days, over 38 states, and ran in 10 half marathons, I often couch surfed with fellow bloggers. At one time there were four bloggers around me who had welcomed me into their homes with open arms. I would never have met them if it hadn’t had been for BlogHer. This year while in Alaska, it is these same women who have reached out to me to let me know I am not alone and that I am still important to them even when I am thousands of miles away.
I love these women: Beach Mama, Heather Stephens, and Stephanie Quilao
Friendships like these are priceless. One such friend that always blows me away is Heather Stephens. I met her at my very first BlogWorld and she was more than a little overweight. Throughout the years I have gently, and not so gently, asked her when she was going to do something about it. Only she could make the decision to change. Last year in Chicago she bitched me out the whole way, but she ran her first 5k! In one year since Chicago, Heather has lost over 80 pounds and just biked 100 miles!! Now, that is what I call inspiring! Heather is more than that though – this woman has a heart and soul that continually lifts me up and never tries to push me down. I would have flown around the world to spend a few days with her. My friendship with her is the Best.Swag.Ever.
She always knows how to lift me up. Thankful for Heather’s friendship.
Then there are My Canadians. Yep, they are all Mine. We met at that first BlogHer in San Diego and I visited them in Ottawa and Vancouver this past year. We have hung out at each of the BlogHers too across the US. I have never met a group of women who are more genuine and caring then these five – Krista House, Krista Gray-Donald, Beach Mama, and missing this year, but still way loved, Brie and Megan. These women can make me smile and see things through a different perspective that I often cannot. They are my sounding board, My Canadians. I love them so.
Yep, they make me very very happy: Krista House, Beach Mama, Krista Gray-Donald aka My Canadians.
There were many many more friends that I saw and an awful lot of new friendships made. I realized early on that my soul yearned for this time with these blogging women. It yearned to be around people that were like me – who wrote their lives out on the Internet for the world to see. Who chose their words to make a living. I have missed being around women who get me, who know me, who I don’t have to tell my story over and over too. As someone who travels full-time, it is a huge thing to be able to spend time with friends. Saying goodbye is really freaking hard for me, as I know I’m going to miss them terribly while I go in pursuit of my dreams.
The famous Jennifer Kelton, fellow world traveler and wine lover!
Old and New Friendship sandwich: Nicole Brady and David Murphy
The second thing that really made an impact on me was reading the submissions to the Voices of the Year. I had submitted my piece on my mom, but wasn’t selected. But I needed to read others. I openly cried reading some of their words, others made me laugh, but all of them made me realize I had lost my voice.
When my laptop was stolen and my finished manuscript (that wasn’t backed up properly) was gone. I couldn’t write for weeks. I replaced writing with tears. I lost clients because I couldn’t write, I was SO behind in everything. I felt like a loser, pathetic, a horrible businesswoman. I was in a full on funk. My writing was mechanical. There was no life in it. As much as I tried, I couldn’t open up my heart to let the words flow out of me. I was scared to write and lose it all again. I am so tired of losing things.
BlogHer Closing Party: Best.Night.Ever
Couldn’t have asked for a better BlogHer roommate. Monica Barnett and I will be friends for a very very long time. Love her!
BlogHer gave me the motivation to go back to Alaska and write. Not only write for my clients and my blog, but also more importantly, rewrite Girl On the Run: Unstoppable. Who knows, maybe I can get a jump-start on this book about Alaska while I am inspired.
My new Alaska friends! Jenny Fast is still in Anchorage and Molly Hutchins now lives in Phoenix. Funny, I know.
Thank you BlogHer for giving me my voice and motivation back. I truly won the best swag ever. I know I am enough. I am all I ever need to be.