I took a huge leap out of my comfort zone, and I attended my first blogging conference. In typical Jen fashion, I went all out to the largest blogging conference, BlogHer. This conference inspired, motivated and challenged me. I went into the conference with realistic expectations. I wanted to be inspired, and I wanted to hug friends that I had developed relationships with online and spend time with them. I was able to do both. Shout out to the warrior mamas I met this weekend: A’Driane, Cristi, Megan, Morgan and Amy. I also met many new people, including my lovely roommate, Jen. I kept myself as open as possible to meet new people and hear new and different ideas.
Find a BlogHer mentor. I thought that program was a fantastic idea. My lovely traveling partner, Alexandra, was a mentor, and I utilized her expertise and wisdom a lot this past week. I grilled her on the way down, and she patiently answered all of my questions and concerns.
Attend the Serenity Suite. The Serenity Suite is amazing. I met some of the most amazing women, and I had the best conversations in that room. It is a haven of serenity with snacks, soda, water, tea, coffee and conversation. I volunteered in there twice. Maggie and Heather came up with this amazing spot, and Ellie is also a constant fixture in there.
Attend whatever sessions speak most to you. Pathfinder is amazing. It is a more intimate group, and I spent valuable time with some of the most intelligent and resourceful women in the blogging community. I was able to network a lot, and I received suggestions and action items on realizing my dreams. My other must attend sessions of the conference are VOTY (Voices of the Year) and Listen To Your Mother’s Open Mic Salon. I met so many amazing and talented women and men. Amazing, provocative writing and storytelling feeds my soul, my brain and my heart.
Take time to relax and recharge. I spent time with my sister away from the conference, getting massages and pedicures. I spent hours in the Serenity Suite, just letting myself be present. In order to get the most out of my conference experience, I needed that downtime to reflect and relax.
I had so many highlights at BlogHer. My top two were meeting Katherine Stone and meeting Ann Imig in person. I have talked to both of these women online and via e-mail. I respect and love them both so much. It was my honor and privilege to announce Postpartum Progress Inc as Listen To Your Mother’s non-profit cause for the Open Mic Salon. I am so incredibly proud to be a part of these two amazing organizations. Katherine’s blog saved my life, and Ann’s organization helped me spark my creativity. I am forever grateful to both of them.
I ended the weekend with a brunch with about a third of the Listen To Your Mother producers and directors from the other cities. It was so wonderful to network and meet these women that I had been talking with via Facebook and Google hangouts for months. It was the perfect capstone on an amazing five days. I cannot thank the BlogHer staff enough. A mere staff of fifteen coordinate all the planning and logistics of a conference that had 5000 attendees. That blows my mind. The staff at the Sheraton in Chicago were gracious and welcoming. My advice to all of you thinking about attending BlogHer is take that leap of faith and do it.