I knew I’d be a little out of my comfort zone, attending Blissdom Canada -the big conference for women in social media in Canada. I didn’t know anyone. I don’t like new situations where I don’t know anyone. The first night there was the new comers meet up, at 6. Since I was commuting for the first two days, and not sure how long the drive would take I got there early and had to wait for things to really get started. Awkward. I did meet a few people, and tried my best to be friendly, and meet some new people. I headed home around 9, and was home by 10 or so, but I felt really tired. I didn’t sleep well, it was a night of nervous dreams and I kept thinking about my to-do list in the morning. I woke up and spent about an hour working on making more business cards because I wasn’t able to get them printed in time. I also had to finish packing, since I’d booked a room at the conference hotel that night. Oh the pressure of wearing something cute and blogger-ish. I got there late and started attending the sessions. I didn’t really like them too much. I was really looking for some practical learning about how to be a better blogger and grow my blog. I felt like the panels and speakers were just giving pep talks to everyone. It was kind of like hanging out with a bunch of cheerleaders. The big topic of the day was the Social Etiquette panel discussion, sponsored by Tetley Tea and Pure Via Sweetener.
I did enjoy elements of it, and it’s always an amazing thing when people are willing to share their stories, and be vulnerable. But, I did feel like it wasn’t too relevant to me. The main topic was being nice on-line, not saying mean things, and realizing the damage that can be done with social media.
I’m not generally a journal type blogger, I don’t generally comment about current events on my blog. I felt like the main point was to be kind, but felt like I was kind already. Thanks, but I’m good. Good message, but preaching to the choir. That night there was another big party, but it seemed like everyone had found their group to hang out with. I’m not a big drinker, and I felt tired. I did connect with one new friend, and chatting with her and hearing her story was the highlight of the day-thanks Natalie. I went to bed that night at the hotel with mixed feelings. I felt like I’d paid a lot to be at the conference and really wanted to get out of it all I could, but I was struggling with some negative feelings and not sure if I would ever attend a Blissdom Canada again.
The next day started off with small micro-sessions, where a table of about 10 people had a chance to learn from an expert about something very specific for a half an hour. There were three of these and I felt like a learned a lot. This was the highlight of the conference so far for me. I felt like I was finally learning something I could really apply when I got home. I also had a few great connections that day with some bloggers in my niche -another one of my goals for the weekend -thanks Angie and Jo-Anna. One of those connections was made in the Collective Bias Suite. Tetley and Pure Via Sweetener supplied lovely tea and sweetener, and a relaxing environment for conference attendees to connect with one another. Over tea I talked with a fellow blogger about ideas on how to make my blog better.
The afternoon was spent in a hands-on workshop. There were three different session tracks throughout the conference: work, create, and change. I’d been attending work all weekend, so I kept going with that track. The workshop began with the all too familiar message of the weekend, that we could indeed do anything we set our minds to. But let’s just say I was taking it all with a grain of salt, like I had for the whole conference. I started working on my workbook about what my goals for Life is a Party are for the next year, or two. Putting pen to paper made me really ponder if I could indeed do it. I’d been to another conference a few weeks ago, and filled with the question in my mind and heart of “is my blog really good enough to turn into a profitable business?” but as I worked through this conference my focus was shifting from am I good enough to what must I do to be successful, to make it good enough? Throughout the workshop I felt like I wanted to say to the facilitators -mombiz.com, you’re telling everyone they can be successful, and they can’t. But, as I pondered it more and more, I started to believe that maybe everyone could be successful if they were willing to work hard enough. Which meant, I could be successful if I worked hard enough. I loved that the workshop forced me to think about what steps I needed to take to get where I want to be. One of the facilitators even challenged me to do one of the first steps when I got home and let her know. She said something else to the whole group that really struck me, it was “you deserve success as much as anyone else.” I felt filled with hope.
The final session of the day was with Drew Dudley . It took on the familiar pep talk feel, but this time, partly because the speaker was so gifted, I starting believing it. He talked about leadership and kindness, and instead of thinking “that’s great, but I’m good”, I felt challenged this time. Maybe I’m not as kind as I think I am. Am I really kind when no one is looking? By the end of the session, the organizers of the conference took the stage with tears in their eyes. They said that they set out to focus on helping to create a kinder community. I got it. Those things that I felt un-interested in, and disappointed in because they weren’t the blogging skills that I was looking for that first day, those things that I thought I understood already, or didn’t need to hear, I finally got, heard, and understood. I understood and respected that they wanted to do more than send us away with a better understanding of SEO, they wanted to send us away believing in ourselves, and committed to being kinder, better people. Thanks Blissdom Canada, I was reluctant and resistant to your message at first, now I’m grateful for it.