What can you learn from a big-ass blogging conference? Like life, it’s best to flow downstream.
Last week I attended my first BlogHer convention with nearly 4,000 other bloggers, 98% of them women. I go to many, many conferences in my museum life, and I’ve been to several food blogging events. But this was my first big blogging conference.
One of the things I do on a regular basis is set intentions. I define what it is I want to get out of something—an experience, an interview, a phone call, a trip—and then focus on that positive intention. It helps to ground me, to release fear and worry, and to allow the Universe to do what it does best, bring me into alignment with others I meet.
Looking at a conference schedule like BlogHer (complete with iPhone app!) can be intimidating if you’re doing it on your own. But when I let all that go, trust that I’ll know which sessions are right for me and that I’ll sit at the “right” table, it becomes a different experience.
One of my teachers calls it downstream vs. upstream. If it feels like you’re struggling, paddling too hard, making things happen, that’s upstream. If it flows, and it’s easy (not to be confused with effortless), and you feel harmony or synchronicity or any of those groovy things, that’s downstream. We all know it when we feel it. We just tend to ignore it.
I was attracted to a particular session because I follow one of the speakers’ blogs. I had no idea who the other speakers were or that I would be blown away by them. I got there early (another excellent downstream tactic) and walked up to a table where the women looked up and smiled at me. Downstream.
I then had the most incredible conversation about being your true selves and following your dreams. No joke. I felt like I’d known all of them for years. Score! I felt like I could go home at that point and I would have gotten my money’s worth.
BlogHer had organized something called “Birds of a Feather” lunches, and had a table with two dozen sign-up sheets: Food, Moms, GLBT, Parenting, etc. No sheet for MidLifery. And no extra paper or pens. So I went to a bit of trouble to score some paper and wrote “Midlife/Menopause/Boomers” on it. As I left it on the table I thought, “What if no one signs up? How embarrassing.”
At noon I headed back over to the table, but all the sheets were gone. What was I supposed to do? In the humongous lunch room, I saw that they had typed up all the sheet titles and put them on tables near the door. Cool!
And then I found my group!
Not only was I not alone, but again I had an amazing time. And yes, we’ve started a Facebook group so we can stay in touch and follow each others’ work. Please join us if you feel so inclined. We were so engaged in our conversation that we sorta missed the super-cool flash mob dance.
While I only went to three sessions, I was impressed with the quality of the speakers and the presentations. The exhibit hall was a bit bizarre and overwhelming, with everything from sex toys to jeans to candy bars to breast pumps. There were chirpy people in yellow aprons wanting to feed you sausage, and highly scented items in the P & G pavilion. As an experience professional, it was fascinating and probably not that effective for the brands. But the attendees seemed to be having a great time. I met the California Raisin, got a sample of arnica gel, and learned which kind of Lee Jeans might work for my flat little butt.
All in all, I’d recommend going to BlogHer at least once if you blog. If you’re clear on what you’re looking for, you can definitely find it. For me, I realized that focusing my blog on being vibrantly healthy in midlife is where I’m meant to be. And that feels downstream.
Check out the blogs of some of the amazing women I had rich conversations with:
California Greek Girl: Mary
Look How Far We’ve Come: Amy
Musings of Midlife Mama: Michelle
The Chloe Chronicles: Chloe
The Dao of Doing: Kel and Tracy
The Huffington Post: Mona
The Succulent Wife: Audrey and Anne-Marie
Wannabe Hippie: Elaine