My “Hot” Topic: BlogHer’13 Reflections

BlogHer '13

I suppose this should really say I WENT

BlogHer’13 has been a hot topic in my life these past few weeks. I’ve posted about it here, here, and here; tweeted the heck of out it; and Instagrammed my way through the conference. I haven’t truly reflected upon it, though; there has not been enough time, with the rapid re-entry into “real life.” But the experience has been bouncing around my head, bumping into work and family commitments, calling out to be written about. Calling out to be shared.

Before I do, though, I have to correct an oversight in my Voices of BlogHer post; I neglected to include four wonderful writers I learned more about at the conference. Please take some time to read them:

I Got Saved at Jesus Camp from Life With Roozle – The author was one of the Voices of Year presenters, and the title alone makes you want to read it, doesn’t it?

Please from the Extraordinary Ordinary  – Shared during the open mic session, I fell in love with the beauty running throughout this post.

Life is a Stuffed Seal at Show and Tell from Renegade Mothering – Another post that was shared during the open mic, I was blown away by how the telling was filled with raw emotion.

Dear Less-Than-Perfect Mom from Becoming Supermommy – Open mic night rocked. Here’s another must-read.

The other part of BlogHer’13 that was so very special was the people I met: smart, kind, funny, enthusiastic, and talented women (men were there, too, but I primarily connected with the ladies). I met them everywhere: on the shuttle to and from the convention center, in the elevator, in the hotel lobby, in the convention center lobby, in sessions, at lunch and breakfast, and at parties. I came home with more than 80 business cards, mostly from other bloggers.

I met people whose work I follow like Dresden (this post she wrote really spoke to me), Stacey, Casey, and Cecily; I made new friends like Kelli and Sarah; and I spent time with my “conference buddy,” the fearless Cheryl. I discovered what is truly a gem of the conference, the Serenity Suite, where I met a group of women that included Ellie, Heather, and a host of others whose blogs I am now thrilled to be reading and whose humor and kindness made me feel welcome in the large conference community.

These are only a fraction of the positive interpersonal exchanges I had. I could tell you about the great group of women I lunched with on Saturday, the Canadians I sat with during one of the parties (many whom are now filling my Twitter feed–oh Canada!), and on and on. I cannot list everyone I connected with here—as soon as I hit publish on this post, I’m going to be kicking myself for not including this or that person–but I think you get the gist: the people are awesome.

There’s a high social element to BlogHer’13 that extends beyond the one-on-one conversation. The conference features a number of parties, both official and unofficial. As a first-timer, the distinction between the two was lost on me, and I was bit out of the loop on the “outboarding” controversy that erupted at the start of the conference. I went to a few parties that were lovely and informative (the Healthy Child Healthy World event to which I was invited by Lori and the Vision Council session on UV and skin cancer prevention), and fun (Sweet Suite, a toy extravaganza that gave me plenty of ideas for Christmas), while others (that shall remain nameless) were not as enjoyable for me for reasons that had a lot to do with attending a large and loud party by myself. I also attended the conference events, appreciating some of the BlogHer traditions (the Fashion Show!) and a community that really likes to celebrate.

The content of the sessions I attended were, largely, helpful. I attended a humor writing session that highlighted the need to be genuine. The anatomy of a story session reminded us that writing well is hard work. The unmarketing session illustrated the effort it can require to find your place in the sea of brands and bloggers. The social media leadership session called for each of us to define and embrace our leadership style, and the work-life balance session introduced me to some impressive women who shared strategies for career and family (and it included Lisa Belkin from the Huffington Post whose work I have followed for some time). The keynotes by The Pioneer WomanSheryl Sandberg, and Gale Anne Hurd had great parts that have me thinking about the future of Red Shutters, work-life balance, career success (Lean In is now on my bedside table to read), and, unfortunately, zombies (but more on that in another post).

When people talk about BlogHer, they inevitably get to the swag. And, peeps, there was a lot of it. My suitcase (and life) couldn’t contain it all, so I visited the Swag Exchange twice. This was the place where you dropped off swag you received during the conference and didn’t want or couldn’t bring home. People also waited there to pick up items that had been discarded.  The “stuff” of the conference was a bit much, and I hope the exhibitors hear about what was left in the Exchange, so they can avoid the items people didn’t like. It would be wasteful otherwise.

I am excited about my goals from BlogHer: write better and write more often. And, of course, follow up with the lovely people I met.

I’m hoping to go to BlogHer’14, though I’m waiting to see when and where it will be. Next time, I’ll look forward to seeing my new blogging friends, I’ll aim to share a post during open mic night, and I’ll pack my dancing shoes.

As noted above, one of my goals from attending BlogHer’13 is to write more often. Writing is a muscle, one of the speakers explained, and the more you use it, the stronger it will become. So, to that end, I’ve joined NaBloPoMo this month. NaBloPoMo is a daily (weekends are for free writing) blogging exercise centered around a theme. For August 2013, it’s, appropriately, hot, hence this “hot topic” post.

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