Monday, June 25, 2012

7 Things I Learned From the Haven Conference

Well, I got back home from the Haven Conference on Friday night, spent Saturday washing-cleaning-and packing clothes for our vacation, and on Sunday morning flew out to Southern California.  It was a whirlwind - but oh so worthwhile.  I wanted to share my Haven experience with you all because even if you're not a blogger there's still something to take away from stepping out of your comfort zone which is exactly what attending this conference was for me.  This was my very first blog conference and I can say, without a doubt, it probably won't be my last.

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!
I missed my babies!

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.


  1. i am going to link to this when i finally do my post- you summed a lot of it up perfectly and i am with you on number 7. i want my blog to just be what it has been and nothing more, nothing less. i am content as it is. :)
    um, and i told john my dog was missing when i saw him with berger, so we are equal nut jobs. and love karianne, too- she is hysterical!!!!!! can't wait to see you again soon, friend!

  2. Great post! I so wish I could have gone to Haven, as I would have loved to meet all of the bloggers whose blogs I read regularly, and feel as if I "know". I'm glad you had fun!

  3. I am so glad you went to Haven. We are bummed we couldn't make it this year and it sounds like a good time was had by all! Next time I am in Lexington visiting the family hopefully we can have a quick meet and greet. Enjoy your vacation!

  4. Awesome recap, Carmel!! So glad you had a great time and met so many cool bloggers! Love what your blog wants to be when it grows up - ditto!!!! You've got the right priorities and I love ya for it!!

  5. OMG I think I would have done the same thing if I saw a blog idol. Only I would have made a complete fool of myself, tripped, spilled something and said a swear word by accident. But thats just me.....

    I love these kinds of posts after conferences! Its so fun to hear the stories and see the pictures!

    Glad you had fun!

  6. Carmel it was beyond awesome to get to meet you!!! You were exactly how I imagined you to be...warm, friendly, funny and beautiful! :-) I hope you are having a seriously amazing time in Napa lovely lady!

  7. Carmel...meeting you was seriously a highlight of the entire conference!! When we first got there Vanessa and I wandered around saying, "Where's Carmel?" lol I think we spent the rest of the time saying, "Carmel is so seriously gorgeous. GOR-GEOUS!!" It was a joy to spend time with you and Andrea and getting to know my Kentucky gals better! There is definitely a kentucky blogger reunion in our near future. love ya girl!


  8. Girl I am so right there with ya! I was so freaked out by all those ladies and really just wanted to run and hide in a corner. I am sooooo glad you stopped me in the hall and introduced yourself-it was so good to meet you and wished we could have chatted more---next year --right?!

  9. You took the words right out of my mouth! That's exactly what I love about you and your blog, you are who you are and you aren't afraid to show it. I sure hope Katie didn't take out a restraining order against you. ha!

  10. I'm with you in the uncomfortable around large groups department. Sounds like you faired well, though. :o) I went to two "blogger socials" last month for bloggers just in our neck of the woods and I was having serious anxiety about it. But once you're there and find a buddy to hang with, it's not as bad as it is in your head. lol
    Sounds like you had a great time.

  11. Hey girl! It was so wonderful to meet you, I'm such a huge fan of your blog. I'd been looking for you for a whole day!

    Awesome list of what you learned, I have to say learned a ton as well, I hope I can fit into one post :-)

    We'll be in touch soon!

  12. What a great recap and so true to you! Because, clearly I feel like I know you, just like I also "know" Katie Bower and John and Sherry and I would have been right there with you screaming and being incredibly un-cool if I hadn't been nursing a baby and trapped at home:) Amazing how blogging makes you really feel like you know someone...


  13. Carmel,

    I was JUST telling Kelly at View Along the Way how much I ABSOLUTELY adore you. Seriously. I told her I awarded you the most beautiful person at Haven award. And I mean beautiful from the inside out. Thanks for making my Haven conference so special.

    Kentucky girls rock!

  14. Carmel - I am so SO glad we finally had the chance to meet after years of being friends! I wish we would have had more time together. Next time! ;)

  15. So bummed we didn't get a pic together girly!!! Let me know if y'all Kentucky bloggers get together!! I will drive;) xoxo

  16. Carmel, I have been following your blog for a few months now and I wanted you to know it's one of my favs! I look forward to the your posts everyday:) Thanks for sharing your creativity and your honesty as well.

  17. I enjoyed reading your post and it sounds like everyone had such a wonderful time! I wish I could have gone but we had just been away a couple days before. It was nice to hear your thoughts about how you want to blog. Sometimes I don't feel like a "real" blogger because I only post a few days a week - basically when I have something to say...but you are right that it is important to stay true to who you are! Have a great week!

  18. What an awesome recap! And someone said you were at the same long table at the Twisted Taco that I was for dinner. WHAT?!?!?

    I left so inspired and exhausted. lol Love your realization on what your blog will become. :)

  19. Don't worry, you're not the only one that talks about blog friends as just friends...I stopped referring to them as "blog friends" and just say my friend so I could stop getting the weird looks (c: Love this recap, what a blast! Nothing better than taking a leap and landing on your feet, right? So fun!

  20. Well don't you know that the entire time you were talking, I was completely mesmemorized by your perfect complexion and makeup that all I could think was...please dear GOD, don't let this girl look at my face because one of my zits might pop her in the eye. Seriously. You are my new girl crush :)
    xo - kb

  21. Sounds like an absolutely awesome experience!

  22. Hands down one of my very favorite Haven recaps! Seriously. And I heard such fabulous things about you ... so beware. Next conference you attend I'll be the one pulling all kinda crazy on you!



  23. Carmel, I wish I had gotten a chance to say hi. I came down to meet others for dinner since I live 45 minutes from the hotel. Would have loved to meet Andrea, too. I will most likely attend next year.

  24. Sounds like you had a great time and learned a lot! I definitely want to go to Haven next year though! It'd be so great to meet some of my blog friends finally! :)

  25. Carmel, I really enjoyed reading your recap. Your encounter with Katie is so funny! So glad you had such a wonderful experience.

  26. It was an honor to meet you at Haven.....You are just as gorgeous in person.....!
    Thanks for coming to our "talk" was so much fun seeing some familiar faces in the crowd.
    I was also a little overwhelmed with all of the SEO and advertising talk....I think I will just keep it simple :)

  27. Congratulations on having one of the most sophisticated blogs Ive come across in some time! Its just incredible how much you can take away from something simply because of how visually beautiful it is. Youve put together a great blog space –great layout. This is definitely a must-see blog!
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Be nice or I'll tell your mom! xoxo -C


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