I learned 7 things from this experience:
1. I need to step out of my comfort zone more often.
I almost didn't go. I'm kind of shy and sort of reserved. I get a little lost in a large group. Going to something like this is soooo not in my comfort zone. at. all. Thankfully, I was given a little nudge from Traci from Beneath My Heart. I'm so glad I took her advice. I had a great time! I learned a ton! I would go again -no doubt.
2. I'm crazier than I thought.
So I know that all bloggers are just people - even the big bloggers - the famous ones - the ones that you feel like you know personally because you've been reading their blog for what feels like a million years - the ones that you talk to your hub about like she's your actual friend - the same way I talk about Kelly Ripa like we're besties, this is the way I talk about some of the "big blogs" that I read. Reading a blog is different from reading a magazine. There's a real person behind the words and the pretty pictures. More often than not as a reader you feel like you kind of know them; even if they have no idea who in the heck you are.
I had months to prepare myself for the fact that I was going to be in the same room with many of these big bloggers. Months to prepare to act like a normal person. But Katie Bower kind of smacked me in the head with a giant surprise. I had no idea she was going to be there - hence the non-preparation to act like a normal person when I saw her.
I ran into her while crossing the street from McDonalds (which was across from the hotel - seriously some people actually eat fruit for breakfast?!), and yelled out, "Oh My Gosh, I LOVE YOUR BLOG!" - That was my first act of craziness. Then it was relatively cool from there. I mean at this point she was carrying her son and Sherry's daughter so I just kind of said Hi and left it at that - not introducing my crazy self at all.
Then later on, we were both at the same session (no I didn't know she was going to be at that session - I'm not that crazy). The kids weren't with her this time, so I bee-lined it across the room to get a picture with her. Ummmm.....yeah......she was as nice as she could be, but I still totally forgot to introduce myself. Who does this? Me. Crazy lady me. I can't even tell you what a dork I feel like, but I did get this picture.
She'll probably remember me as that crazy women who yelled out her name while j-walking and then stalked her down for a picture later. Awesome.
3. Apparently, I'm not as loud and funny as you all thought I was.
This kind of relates to number 1 above. I'm kind of shy when I first meet people (unless you're Katie Bower -then I'm crazy). I write the blog kind of like I'm talking to a dear friend because that's honest to goodness how I think of you. Although, when/if you meet me in real life it takes a little while for me to warm up and get comfortable - then and only then do I unleash the crazy. ;) I guess I just like to dip my toes in the water first?
I spent the most time with Andrea from Oak Ridge Revival (we drove together and roomed together with Sarah, The Thriftress and Angie in the Thick of it). I think they know me pretty well now.
4. Sarah, Thrifty Decor Chick, is a mega rock star.
I knew Sarah was going to be there, so I was prepared to act normal if I met her. I've been reading her blog forever. On the first night I walked into a crowded room where there was a social gathering going on and my nerves were going crazy. Sarah looked at me from across the room and recognized me! Probably because of all the blog stalking I do over there. ;) She was so sweet and kind. She made me feel so incredibly comfortable and really helped to calm my nerves. If I wasn't already her number 1 fan - I am now!
5. There are about 100 million things that I might never understand about how this whole blogging thing works. SEO? Key Words? Layering Ads?
There's a lot to learn about blogging. The conference gave me tons of great info that I didn't already know. Apart from having a lot of fun socializing with my blog friends, the information I picked up will be really helpful too.
6. My online friends are real.
Hands down - the very best part of this experience was getting to meet these wonderful online blog buddies of mine in the flesh! I was this totally professional blogger taking nothing but phone pics. ;) The one day I did bust out my real deal camera - the flipping battery died! Bother! I didn't get a picture of all the wonderful people I met; I was too busy blabbing away. It's amazing how you meet someone for the first time face to face that you've only known online and it's like you've known them for a million years. The conversation never stops and you could swear you've been friends forever! I'm telling you that part alone was worth the travel and the expense.
Me and Vanessa from At the Picket Fence
Both Vanessa and her sister Heather (I couldn't find the pic we took all together) are absolute sweethearts! Heather's a Kentucky girl. so I'm sure we'll be getting together again sometime soon! I was really looking forward to meeting them, and I could have literally talked to them all day and night!
Do you know KariAnne from Thistlewood Farm?
She. is. FUNNY!
Oh my gosh - she's my new BFF - LOVE her!
Oh yeah - and she lives in Kentucky too! Kentucky was representin'!
I already knew her home was gorgeous - and her writing is amazing, but meeting her was a such a treat! She's the real deal people - I'm tellin' ya!
7. I know what I want my blog to be when it grows up!
I learned a lot, and I had a lot of fun. Although, the very best thing about this conference for me was figuring out what in the heck I really want out of blogging. I figured out that what I want is what I already have. I want this little blog of mine to continue to be a platform for me to unleash my inner crazy - a place where I can write in run-on sentences and ramble 'til the horses come home (I know it's cows but I like horses better) - a place where I can fuel my creativity and connect with other creatives- a place where I can talk about pillows, paint and ask for prayers for my plants (which have been working btw- the desk plant is a flourishing baby) - a place where I can be me, horse-loving, red-walls-loving, do-what-you-love-in-your -own-house-loving me. If it continues to grow - great. If it brings some cool opportunities - great. I'm not going to work any harder than I already am. It will always be a part time gig for me. I'm a wife and momma first and then I'm a blogger.
If there was a number 8 it would be - I learned that two nights away makes for some really good quality snuggling time!
So, have you learned anything new about yourself lately? Have you stepped out of your comfort zone recently? Am I the only crazy person that talks about other bloggers they've never met like they're your best friend? I really hope not.