I was at the Blissdom 2012 blogger conference from Thursday till Sunday, being all blissed out and trying hard not to wonder if the kids were eating ice-cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner and wearing the same clothes for three days in a row. (They were and they did.)
Once again, the conference was at the planet known as Gaylord Opryland, in Nashville. I was a community leader for parenting/family/special needs, which meant I got to help people out and lead discussions and generally spread bliss. Blogger conferences, especially this one, typically have a mix of inspirational and informational sessions; often, they're both at once. A few choice tidbits I picked up:
• Be present. Motivational speaker Jon Acuff kicked off the conference; his new book is just out, Quitter: Closing The Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job. Jon spoke about the time his little girl placed a napkin over his iPhone as he was talking on it. On it she'd written "Daddy pay atenshon!" (As in, pay attention!) Some days, it's easy to get so sucked into work and chores that you forget what matters most: paying atenshon to your family. We all know it, but it's a good reminder to back away from the iPhone and Facebook. And if you have a serious problem tearing yourself away from tech stuff, a tool called LeechBlock will block time-sucky sites for you whenever you program it to. I for sure need to LeechBlock Pinterest.
• You can help end child hunger. ConAgra Foods has a campaign to help the 1 in 5 children in America who don't know where their next meal is coming from. They donated 40,000 meals during the conference. Meanwhile, when you buy foods from participating brands—including Healthy Choice, Hunt's, Orville Redenbacher, Chef Boyardee and Marie Callender's—and enter the code on the back of the product at Child Hunger Ends Here, you can donate one meal.
• Helpful writing tip: It pays to come up with the headline before you write a post; once you have the title nailed down, it can help you focus your post (props to Amy Graff from BabyCenter and The Mommy Files for a stellar presentation). Also, it's best to keep headlines to five to seven words (pay no attention to me).
• Need good music for your videos? At a session given by Diane Cu of White On Rice, a film and lifestyle photographer and filmmaker, she mentioned a few sites for finding free or low-cost music to accompany videos: With Etiquette, Triple Scoop Music, Free Play Music and Vimeo. Check out this beautiful video she and her partner, Todd, made:
• Word, if you take pictures of Joe Jonas performing, you will bliss out a lot of teen girls on Twitter. Yes, Joe Jonas performed at Blissdom. So did Rascal Flatts. And Chris Mann. And Nathan Pacheco. The music was stellar. And I really was thisclose to Joe.
The entertainment was generally spectacular. Saturday night at Girls Night In we saw a preview of an Oprah's Next Chapter episode, her new OWN TV show, in which she visits with Paula Deen. I've never watched Paula before. She makes some sinfully good food (I could practically feel my cholesterol levels rising as she prepared it) and the woman is a hoot. At one point, she and Oprah were oversharing about how they pee a bit when they laugh or cough. "What do you call that?" asks Gayle King. "Multitasking!" said Paula.
• Blogger conferences make your ovaries ache. But in a good way. The babies. Oh, the babies!
My Blissdom crush: Dylan, whose super-cool mom, Issa, blogs at LoveLiveGrow.
• Take time to tell friends you care. One of my favorite activities—no joke—is picking out cards for friends at stores. I'm usually doing eleventy zillion things at once but when I'm browsing birthday, new baby or wedding cards, it's a zen thing. I was psyched that the Hallmark peeps set up a Get Carded suite where you could send cards to friends at the conference. I think maybe they were a little astounded by how many I sent. As they say, life is a special occasion.
My friend Sara at Saving For Someday sent a message that gave me the warm fuzzies
• Swag sneaks rock. Famous Footwear handed out Dr. Scholl's Jamie sneakers to everyone there, and they may just be the comfiest sneaks I've ever worn. Sabrina was mad that I got a pair and she didn't. I think she should start a blog called "It's Not Fair!"
• There's no place like home. I love going to conferences—the mingling, the spirit, the learning, the parties, the hotel room to myself. By the time I was en route home, though, I couldn't wait to see the kids. I kissed them so much Sabrina informed me that my kisses for the day were "all done." But then when the kids were sleeping, I snuck in and kissed them some more.
What's blissed you out lately?