I just returned from Blissdom and will be recapping the (stellar, in my opinion) take away points from my Striking a Balance panel over at Boston Mamas this week. Meanwhile, I wanted to share some of my favorite personal moments here. It was a remarkable conference in so many ways and in particular, I wanted to call out some of the awesomeness more specifically -- Blissdom reminded me of how utterly grateful I am to traverse this space alongside so many talented, funny, and kind people.
In vaguely chronological order:
The very first person I hugged on arrival (as I wandered the giant Opryland trying to find the hotel lobby) was Jennifer James. How appropriate. I adore Jennifer; she is so smart and kind (unbeknownst to her, she’s in my unofficial brain trust of People Who Always Know What To Do When I'm Suffering A Major Brain Cramp). She also was rocking vibrant colors and accessories over the weekend. HOT.
I admit that I'm one of those people who squeals at a seemingly impossible frequency when I see friends or meet new and awesome people. At Thursday night’s parties (and through the weekend), I squealed my brains out as I bumped into awesome person after awesome person, such as Isabel, Cooper, Elizabeth, Amanda, Jo-Lynne, Catherine, Christy, Susan, Melanie, Allison, Marie, Sarah, Janice, Kim, and Renee. It was also extremely fun to meet new friends, such as the adorable Jim (Asians representin' yo!), the lovely and ever-fantastically dressed Alicia, as well as Holly, Amy, Rachael, Jyl, Dina, and Amy. (And a lot of other people I'm likely and regretfully omitting due to lack of sleep.)
Also, have I ever mentioned how much I love Amanda? She carries such a lovely energy. Every time I saw her at the conference I felt compelled to hug her. I usually went ahead and squeezed her.
And have I discussed Isabel's enviable shoe collection? All weekend long she was inspirational in her pairings of vibrant colored dresses and killer shoes. I especially loved her mustard colored dress and multicolored sparkle platform heels on Saturday.
I roomed with my friend Erin. She's awesome. She's just as funny in real life as on her podcast, and she is incredibly smart and candid in discussing work things. We outlined a plan for creative world domination. We just need to sign up the minions to help us and then we're going to rock that party.
As some of you may know, I was on a prestigious academic path for 10 years (actually, I realized yesterday it was 11…I suck at math) before I jumped ship for the freelance world. I did this because I was tired of living a life of work suckitude and wanted to experience joy and fun on a daily basis. The keynote by Kevin Carroll -- about rediscovering play and bringing fun and passion to work and life -- spoke to me. You also gotta respect a guy who's willing to travel with an enormous crate of red rubber balls.
Two words: Audrey McClelland. I adore Audrey -- her warmth, her generosity, her loveliness, her hot triceps. She is such a wonderful friend and I loved being able to have several moments with her through the weekend. (And no, I'm not just talking about when we abused that poor videographer on the dance floor.)
My panel with Deb, Megan, and Carmen was, if I may say so, amazing. When we conferenced in about the panel before Blissdom, we were all on the same page about not wanting an "achieve balance by getting up earlier and getting more organized!" type of panel. It was real. It was passionate. I unexpectedly dropped the F bomb (um, which I have never, ever done in my life during a speaking engagement). I think we broke new ground with balance panels.
I loved meeting Leah from Bookieboo. That chick is crazy! Crazy with enthusiasm, crazy with energy (she lost 170 pounds, people), and crazy about Sir Mix-a-Lot. Actually, speaking of lost pounds, oh my word Renee Ross looks spectacular. I mean, I've always thought she is gorgeous, but she's seriously rocking her fitness challenge.
I’m still not sure whether the smoky eye works for those without eyelids (sob), but I did love waiting for my Cover Girl makeover because it meant I got to chat briefly with Katja and also meet the lovely Erika Lehmann.
Apparently I only see live music when I go to blog conferences, and it was awesome to see Harry Connick, Jr. and his band play. Harry (we’re on a first name basis of course) was gracious enough to pose for photos and shake hands with everyone. I was next to him in the group photo and he put his arm around me and squeezed my shoulder. I nearly passed out.
How great is it to rock a dance floor with friends and people you don’t know? How much am I hoping that the video/photo evidence of me and Audrey dancing with the videographer isn’t too damaging?
After dancing, I wanted to go support my friends at the Tastemaker potato challenge. And boy did those bloggers rock the humble spud. The energy at this event was fantastic and I loved the make your own potato bar (nothing comes between me and a cocktail glass of mashed potato + condiments). My hats off to the competitors (Amy, Jen, Jim, Jo-Lynne, Jodi, Lindsay, Melanie, Melanie, and Rachel) for rocking the challenge with humor and enthusiasm, and to everyone present for supporting them. I also loved seeing Jessica rock the lawnmower. You can never have enough lawnmower at a party.
Despite the fact that it was frigid out -- even with a few snowflakes coming down -- Audrey, Marie, Allison, and I made it outside for a 2-mile training run for Eat. Blog. Run. These chicks rock. And I’m impressed we could run at all after the suffering our feet endured on the dance floor the night before.
I loved finally meeting Lindsay, Michelle, and Tanis. Lindsay is so lovely and ridiculously stylish. I can’t wait to peruse her new style blog in more detail and follow up on her tip about wide shaft boots. And Michelle, what can I say? She’s hilarious and I want to hang out with her more. Unfortunately, Tanis and I didn't get time for more than a quick hello -- possibly because the call of the karaoke stage was too strong -- but it was great to connect.
How awesome is it that amidst the various traditional sponsors at the expo there was a Blissdom Loves Anissa table? I left Anissa the following message for Anissa's video montage: “YOU MAKE US CRAZY ASIANS PROUD! KEEP KICKING ASS!” And I meant it.
Some of my favorite moments were over meals. On Saturday I had a double dose of awesomeness. At lunch I finally had a chance to catch up with the lovely Arianne and just laugh endlessly over various things with her, Renee, Emily, Jennifer, and Cooper. (Renee, Emily, and I made a bloodless blood pact to do the Disney tiarathon next year…hold us to that will you?) I also loved meeting Esther and having dinner with her, Steph, and others. I’ve known (and utterly adored) Steph for a couple of years now, but just recently connected online with Esther. Both of these chicks have amazing mojo.
I was truly, truly flattered to have several people compliment me about my writing and tell me I should write a book. It’s something that has crossed my mind, but honestly, I hadn’t thought much about what that book would be. And then while I was sitting in the book publishing session, I had my lightbulb moment. I even bought the domain for the title. I need to think it all through more, but I’ll share more once I gain some traction with the thought process.
The end of event festivities (closing keynote and come comfy night) were perfect. I laughed and cried at both. My only regret is that I let down Asian Nation by not participating in karaoke, but Jim did us all proud.
The only fitting way to close this post is with awe and admiration for Alli Worthington and Barbara Jones. I met both of these women in the last year and was immediately drawn to their humor and kindness. But to see the incredible efforts that went into providing top notch programming, entertainment, and amenities was more than a little mind blowing. These women have my utter admiration and I now bucket them in my mental category of Would Do Anything For Them if They Asked Me To (…Even Streak). Thank you for an amazing conference Alli and Barbara!