My trip to BlogHer '09 was a birthday gift -- from me, to me!
As I headed back home on Sunday, my actual birthday, after two full days attending a conference with bloggers from all over the country, and the world, I thanked myself. What better gift to give me, I thought, than something that will keep on giving, with the potential to make me better at what I do. That's because the best thing I took away from BlogHer ’09 was a challenge. Well, several challenges, actually -- plus a few mini USB flash drives.
First was the challenge to put myself out there. I am too easily overwhelmed by crowds and my instinct is to retreat into a safe and quiet corner to observe, rather than participate. I know from my first BlogHer mini-conference last fall that bloggers are warm and generous people -- my kind of people. However, just the thought of spending two days with 1400 other bloggers tends to kick my corner-seeking instincts into high gear. But just showing up to sit and observe is not enough, so my food blogger friends became my safe haven, allowing me the necessary comfort level to move into the crowd and join the conversation at the conference. Now to carry that through to my blog.
Second was the challenge from the Keynote Community Speakers, who were all bloggers, selected to read one of their posts for the hundreds of us seated in that enormous ballroom. Their words stunned me and compelled me to become a better writer – a much better writer. I was also challenged to look into my own world more objectively, more passionately, more tenderly and more openly. I was moved beyond my own lexicon -- just when I wanted perfect words to describe the feeling their words stirred inside me. This was the highlight of BlogHer '09 for me!
Third was the challenge facing my own blog – to find my focus, my niche and my readers. I’ll admit, there is a tendency to think I must be doing something wrong if I don’t have the legions of readers of, say, Ree at The Pioneer Woman. Or the depth and breadth of recipes of Elise at Simply Recipes. Or the discipline and devotion of Kalyn at Kalyn’s Kitchen. Or the curious mind and generous spirit of Lydia of The Perfect Pantry. Or the multi-tasking skills and kindness of Kristen at Dine and Dish. Or the youthful exuberance of Maris at In Good Taste. Or the travel and cultural intrigue of Sara in MsAdventuresInItaly. Or the energy and business sense of Jaden at Steamy Kitchen. But spending time with these women, and so many others like them, is exciting and encouraging. And the food blogging panel discussion led by Elise from Simply Recipes generated a brainstorm of much-needed ideas for my own food blog.
And, finally . . . the technology challenge! I’ve recently shared my personal failures, and now limited successes, in the world of technology. Daily challenges continue to bombard me from all sides in a world full of computers, iPhones, Twitter, Facebook and others evolving in the blogosphere. I was delighted to be able to identify all the mini USB flash drives in my swag bag, but somewhat intimated by all the social media terminology that zoomed past me like, well, foreign languages. My MacBook Pro is my faithful companion. I’m waiting for ATT service in my area before I get an iPhone. I’ve dipped my big toe into the social media pool. And now I want to concentrate on my camera skills, or lack thereof. I love taking pictures! And, with the help of Kristen Doyle’s new Culinary Snapshot blog (and maybe a photography class or two), I see improved skills in my future.
So that’s why I went to BlogHer ’09 – to go face to face with my personal blogging challenges.
Attending BlogHer ’09 was my birthday gift to myself. And I came away with new friends, a few ideas, renewed energy and more confidence in myself and my blogging future.
Wow! I give really great gifts!
P.S. – Behind this successful blogger is a man who chauffeurs me to conferences, buys me cute hats (in my absolute best color!) for my birthday and hands out my cards to curious onlookers at the Navy Pier embroidery shop (and any co-pilot who happens to land in the seat next to him in the cockpit) -- just a few of the many reasons why he is My Favorite Husband!