After #BlogHer12: A Brain Dump…

I don’t even know where to begin with this post. I’ve been home for just about 20 hours and am still overwhelmed by all I did, all whom I met, and all that I saw.

And it was good. Very good.

From the time my nephew (and his mom) dropped me off at the airport on Wednesday…

To when my dad picked me up after a 5-ish hour delay because of weather. (Thank God my flight wasn’t cancelled!)

From being able to see the sights around New York…

To having lots of fun with friends around the conference and at parties.

From being able to sit less than 50 feet away from Katie Couric as she spoke about her new show…

To watching blog friends – new and old – speak their poignant posts.

It was an amazing experience. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I knew going in there would be little chance I would not see everyone I wanted. And that happened. I missed faces that were on my “must see” list.

So I’m about to go offline for the rest of the week and spend a few days with my family. I’ve never really taken this kind of time with them… and honestly never have been “offline” for more than a day here and there.

It will be good. Relaxing.

Just what I need.

And hopefully I can process everything that happened so that I can share how much it all meant to me.

12 Things I’m looking forward to at #BlogHer12…

As you know, I’m going to the itty-bitty little tiny conference called BlogHer in about 10 days. (Okay… more like massive conference with 4,500 in attendance!) In case you couldn’t tell from last week’s BlogHer post, I’m a little – like over the top – excited to be headed to NYC. I have good reasons to be excited… and here are 12 of them!

1. Seeing “touristy” things in New York. As of this writing, I’m planning to see a Broadway show… go to the 9-11 memorial… see the trading floor of the NYSE (Wall Street) if I can get in… head straight to the top of the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock… walk through the Museum of Modern Art… and possibly take a 2 hour boat cruise around Manhattan (of which I’ll see the Statue of Liberty… a must in my book.) I’m sure there are a million and a half other things that I’ll see and do in that day and a half before BlogHer begins and on the Sunday after, but that’s where my priorities are at the moment. {I just hope VodkaMom agrees since I’ll be dragging her around the city with me.) ;)

2. BlogHer Keynotes. Who would not be excited about these? Katie Couric. Martha Stewart. If you ask me, the BlogHer organizers went above and beyond this year… and I could not be more excited about attending. Also… if I get to meet Katie Couric? I might just pass out. (And yes, I’ll be the one playing total fan girl with her… as well as pitching an idea for a show for her to do. Um. What? I can be on TV twice… right??)

3. The sessions. While I don’t plan to go to a session during EVERY available time slot – in fact, right now am only planning to do sessions on Friday only – I do plan to go to ones that apply to me, this blog… and that i think I will be able to benefit from. I just wish that the “iPhoneography” class was not at the same time as “Blogging for the Love of It”. Obviously I’m going to have a hard decision ahead of me with that one. :(

4. Voices of the Year Keynote. This is one of those “events” you hear about through the blogosphere throughout the year with people constantly raving about it – and the quality of the people that are reading it. I’m truly blessed to personally know some of the nominees for this award – and can’t wait to hear those who have been chosen to read their posts.

VOTY - I'm Going!

5. The Official Parties. Can I just say how much I really want to go to all of the official parties? They look so fun! But right now these are the ones I’m planning on going to and dancing the night away. Maybe even with a bag on my head.

People's Party - I'm Going! CheeseburgHer - I'm Going!

6. And the non-official parties and events. While I was torn about participating in these after reading Cecily’s post, some of the companies I’ve been contacted by I truly want to get to know… and find out if they would be a good fit for my blog and where I would like to take it. So I decided I’m going to meet with them this year – and not pass up the opportunity to build a relationship.

7. The expo hall. I hear so many things about this. But what I’m looking forward to? Meeting brands that truly want to meet me and work with me. And maybe even picking up an item or two that will make my life easier… or would be a fun Christmas gift for the nephew(s).

8. The Serenity Suite. I really don’t know in this crazy thing I call a “schedule” at the moment where I’m going to find the time to visit there… but it’s bound to happen that I’ll somehow get overwhelmed and just need a quiet moment. At that point? I’ll probably drag someone there with me to chat in a peaceful place. :)

Serenity Suite

9. The random gatherings that I’m sure will happen. Whether a group decides to go to the Trailer Park Lounge (like Kim suggested) or just sit in a quiet hotel room… I’m sure that these are the times where friendship bonds will form and memories made.

10. Meeting some Blogging “idols”. I laugh as I write this. Why? Because these “idols” are just like me… but with lots more readers. How do I know this? Because I’ve met both Scary Mommy and Cecily in the past… and now count them as friends. We all write. We all live life. But if my fellow red-head Ree from Pioneer Woman sat down at my table, I might go speechless. #justsayin

11. My roomies! I am so so so lucky to be able to share a room (and maybe a bed) with VodkaMom, NapWarden and Megan from Best of Fates. Seriously. There will be awesomeness dripping from the walls of my room. And because of the size of the room… there may be some extra awkwardness too. But we’re all down with that. ;)

12. {Last but NEVER least} FRIENDS!!! I can’t wait to see so many people. To talk. To laugh. To dance. To cry. To smile. To share secrets. I’ve connected with many of you on twitter already… but if you want to meet up, just tweet me (@juliedutch) or send me an email (dutchbeingme@gmail.com). We’ll definitely try to make it happen!! (PS… if I could name here all the people I want to meet, I would… but I don’t have an unlimited amount of time, nor do I want to accidentally forget someone. Just know, I want to meet YOU. Yes, you… the one reading this.)

Finally… if you were around twitter at all this weekend, you probably would have been talking about me and my OCD habit to get a plan together and schedule everything that I want to do. Here’s a quick look at my little google doc so you can see just how crazy my life might be for 4 days.

…although I’ll probably be happy I planned.

On the plus side? I remembered to schedule sleep in there too. :)

Are you going to BlogHer? What are you most excited about??

#BlogHer12: What I’m hoping for…

2 weeks…

Until I arrive in New York City.

14 Days…

Until the whirlwind of being a tourist begins… followed shortly by one of the biggest blog conferences.

336 Hours…

Until I see friends that I talk to mainly via computer… whether it be Twitter, Facebook or just reading their blogs.

20,160 minutes…

Until I’m surrounded by 4,500 women (and some guys too) that all have a passion for this crazy thing we call blogging and social media.

1,209,600 seconds…

And it’s all going to pass so quickly.

I’m going to see friends. There are people that I want to sit in a quiet corner and talk to. People that I want to hug. People that I want to dance with. People that I want to learn more about. People that I want to cry with. But I’m not going to have enough time to see everyone. And I have to come to terms with that.

I’m going to connect with brands that I can work with and that will be beneficial to me on this blog (and I to them). There will be lots of goodies (or SWAG – stuff we all get) to be had. There will be lots of parties (both official and unofficial) to go to. But I’m not going to everything… nor am I going to be taking everything I can.

I’m going to learn things in the sessions that I hope will grow me not only as a writer and (iPhone) photographer… but also as a person. That I can come back home inspired to keep writing my story. That I can be fulfilled and feel like myself.

What I’m hoping for is to meet friendly people who will care and show me a way out if I’m lost or broken (literally or figuratively)… who will laugh with me when I do something stupid (because that ALWAYS happens)… who will hug me and tell me it’s ok after I trip or fall (because that happens too)… and who will be willing to tell me the truth about themselves and about me.

Even though I’ve been to my fair share of conferences… I don’t know what to expect here. I don’t even really know what to be afraid of (is there anything?)

But I do know that I’m going to be me.

The girl that shows up in jeans and comfy shoes because I know I get crabby if I am uncomfortable. The girl that is very insecure about herself and the weight gain I’ve experienced. The girl that just wants to be accepted by others and loved.

I hope to meet you. The real you.

And if I do? I know my life will be a little richer for it.

Come talk to me at BlogHer '12

Some #inRL thoughts…

Over the past couple of years I’ve been an (in)Courage stalker. Periodically reading a post here and there… finding nuggets of wisdom, being humbled and/or encouraged, as well as learning about myself – and that I’m not alone – along the way.

And then I heard about the (in)RL “conference” that would be held locally all over the world. That anyone could join in no matter where you lived. And then my friend Jen said that she would be hosting one in nearby Grand Rapids.

I was in. Even though I was skeptical about what I was going to learn and wondering who I was going to meet while there. And especially with how I’ve been feeling about my faith lately. {But that’s a whole other story for another time.}

Words cannot begin to express the gratitude that I did. Not only did I cry on Friday night… I felt a leading to do something and take a chance like I haven’t felt in a long time. On Saturday, I met new friends, reconnected with those I’ve known and felt a peace throughout it all.

There were wonderful words spoken by so many gifted women. There were stories of community, stories that brought hope and stories that brought tears. And there was chocolate. {An essential for any gathering of this type!} :)

The one big thing that I walked away from this all is that I need community. I need people surrounding me. Whether this is family, “in real life” friends or “online buddies”… I need people that know me and know my heart. People that understand when I say that I’m “fine” or “ok” that my world is silently falling apart around me and that confusion is reigning supreme. People that will rejoice with me in where I go next and cry with me about how scared I am. People that will assure me that all will be ok.

I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now. I may be here in Holland… in Grand Rapids… or maybe in another place somewhere around the world.

But I do know one thing.

I will always have my local community. My blogging friends. And the (in)courage community.

And I will be at {in}RL in 2013. I’m already looking forward to it.

A very special thank you to the team of authors and everyone behind the scenes at (in)courage and Dayspring for putting this together. And especially to Lisa-Jo for being on twitter Friday night, and for what seemed like the ENTIRE day on Saturday (and most of Sunday too)… the inspirational messages and tweets that she shared throughout the time online was uplifting to so many and each of us was blessed by the work that she did.

Did you attend an (in)RL gathering? What were your thoughts?

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