I'm still trying to process what I learned. And I'm not really even sure that learned is the correct word to use. Most of what I heard was not necessarily something that I needed to learn so much as something that I needed to hear. It validated why I blog, and it even confirmed that the way I blog is the way I need to continue to blog. Hopefully I'll expound on that more this week. So while I sit here and sift through thoughts and notes and inspiration, I give you all of the pictures that tell the story between the words.
We stayed at the Gaylord Texan. When we pulled up, Heidi and I both remarked that everything must really be bigger in Texas. The hotel was GINORMOUS. This was the view from our balcony, which overlooked the atrium. This is INSIDE. I wish I had had a wide angle lens to truly capture the awesomeness. Also, I'm not sure I've ever walked so much in my life. I feel like I need a double hip transplant.
These were the girls I roomed with: Becky, (me), Leah and Heidi. I loved rooming with these girls!
the first night there, April took several of us out to dinner. April sells the cutest bows and hair ties and they are extremely affordable. If you have a girl, or like the trendy hair ties that are popular right now, you should definitely check out Polka Dots and Posies. (She didn't ask me to say that. I just did. Because I think she's cool, and I like the stuff she sells).
the improv group that has produced stars like Amy Poehler and Tina Feh was there. And they were hilarious.
I got to meet a lot of celebrities. Who also happen to be cool too. That's like a double bonus. Or something.
Jon Acuff. If you ever have the chance to hear him speak, or to read his book(s)... do it. You won't regret it. He was SO inspirational and SO SO SO funny. Also, I feel the need to apologize to Heidi, as she was DYING to get a picture with him and I totally photobombed and forgot to get one of just her. I'm sometimes a lousy friend like that. Thank goodness she's forgiving.
Scott Stratten. I'm going to be honest. I had never heard of Scott before the opening keynote. But considering he about made me pee my pants at least 5 times during his keynote speech, I'll go ahead and put on record that I am a fan. Can't wait to read his book.
One of my favorite sessions was Lisa Leonard. She talked about telling your story without apology. It was soothing for me to hear that it's OK to blog about things that aren't pretty. I'm sure I'll write more about this in another post :)
two actors from the show, Suburgatory, came one night. I don't watch that show, and so at first I wasn't that spell bound. And then I realized that the girl (Ana Gasteyer) was someone I had loved from SNL in the 90s. And then I got to take my picture with them. FUN!
all of the Arkansas women bloggers. crazy that so many people in arkansas blog... and these were only the ones that came to the conference!!!
And probably one of my most favorite stories of the weekend.
My friend Melissa and I were talking and I had asked her if she had gotten certain swag items that were being given away. I mentioned that Dr Smiths was giving away a $2500 baby nursery and that she should enter (I had already entered). She didn't even know about the giveaway until that point. So imagine my surprise (and excitement) on the last day, when Heidi came and told me that Melissa had just been told she had won!!!! I was (and still am) SO SO SO excited for her! Honestly, I already have all the nursery stuff I need for Tyler. But Melissa hadn't gotten anything for Brooks' nursery yet, and now she's decked out with the coolest one ever. So. Fun.
Like I said earlier, I'm still sifting through my thoughts. I feel like going to Blissdom was like standing in front of a fire hydrant on full blast, and I was thirsty and dehydrated. It was just what I needed, yet it was overload at the same time. Most importantly though, I felt like I was able to legitimately connect to people that, until last Thursday, I had only known as a twitter name and avatar, or a blog title and words. We were friends that talked every day, but I had never gotten to give them a hug, to talk to over a cup of coffee, or laugh over a hot meal. I got to do all of those things with some of my favorite people in the world. And it ended up being so much better than I had ever dreamed it would be. So I sit here tonight, completely drenched in amazing tidbits of information, and smiling because I am so grateful for the online community that God has so clearly placed me in. For the clear purpose and opportunity He has given me to write my life and connect with others. I love where I am at. And that, my friends, is beautiful.