It’s already been three weeks since I attended Elevate blog conference in California, and I’m just now getting a chance to write about it! This was my second year attending, and I have to say that it was so much nicer not being 8 months pregnant at the event. I told everyone who would listen that I felt light as a bird, being approximately 500 pounds lighter than last year.
selfie on the way
Last year we left the little ones behind with my parents (there were only two of them then, that’s crazy!), and my husband spent half the day at the beach and half the day running around to put together this awesome Mother’s Day gift for me. This year I brought the entire gang with me, and Daniel and the kids spent the morning on the beach at the Dunes, just steps away from the conference. He did an awesome job watching all three kids, all day, and I was relieved to see that the beach was actually on a bay, rather than the ocean, so there were no waves, and the kids happily played in the water without me worrying about them!
We left Arizona on Friday night and drove a few hours to just over the California border, and spent the night in Blythe. The next morning we drove the rest of the way, and arrived just as the conference was about to get going. Last year when I arrived, people were already playing a game, and winners had already been established. Well, I’m ridiculously competitive, so I got there earlier this year so that I could have a chance to play. Which I did. And yes, I won.
The game was Blogger Bingo, and it had us going around to find people who fit the different descriptions on the card, such as “I’m pregnant,” or “Came from out of state,” etc. I kept signing everyone’s spot for “I blog on WordPress.” Seriously people, you need to make the switch, and I can help you do it (that page is under construction- will look pretty soon)! The prize was a gift bag with lip gloss and nail polish, and lots of Starburst candy! Since I couldn’t eat the candy, I started passing it around to the people sitting near me, which caused one blogger behind me to say, “Oh my gosh, you are a beautiful human!” #sugarstarved
Backing up for a moment, as soon as we parked, before I even walked over to the conference, Pam from MacDonald’s Playland was walking past, and she stopped and said hi, and we walked over together. She was so friendly and sweet, and I really wish I could have spent more time getting to know her. I guess there is always the interwebs!
Then I saw my besties Renee, Kristine, and Megan, and I finally met Alissa, of Diary of an Addict and Weave Made Media, with which I just started working. At some point in the first hour I also met Tausha, Camille, and Deidre, all of whom came from Arizona, and all of whom are part of my blogging FB group, and all of whom I can’t believe I met for the first time in California!
Soon it was time for the first speaker, and as I walked into the room, Megan ushered me over to the row she had saved for a few of us. This was the second year in a row that she did something to make me feel welcome and wanted (last year she ran up and hugged me as soon as I got there)!
We were sitting and chatting, and since I was turning toward them, I felt like I was leaving out the girl who was sitting on my other side, on the end of the row. I wanted to turn and include her in our conversation, but I got kind of shy, so I just tried to not turn my back completely on her. Next thing I knew, she was getting up to be our first speaker! It was Desiree, and she killed it!
Desiree started her talk by handing out doughnuts to everyone (the second of many, many sugar encounters that day), and then she told this beautiful and hilarious story of how she came to terms with her heavy (but seriously awesome) accent. She told us that “everyone has an accent” and we need to embrace the things that make us US. She said, “That is my first tip. My second tip is…Pinterest.”
She did this beautiful thing where she talked about how important pinnable pictures are, and how you need the right kind of lighting and balance for people to notice them. Then she talked about how we need to have light and balance in our own lives, and she said that if we can’t find the light, we need to BE the light.
I have to be honest. I don’t really go to blog conferences to be inspired. I go to learn, make connections, and hopefully bring back solid practical lessons that I can apply to my blog and make it better. But I was so engrossed in Desiree’s talk, and I was truly moved while also learning helpful tips, so when she sat back down next to me, I told her that hers was the best talk I had ever heard at a conference, and I meant it!
The day continued with lunch, more speakers, crafting, and dinner. I love that Elevate has the crafting time built in, because I never have the time or creativity to do crafts at home. But when it’s already laid out for me, and I don’t have children competing for my attention, I love to do (easy) crafts! I sat and chatted with Lauren of Pink on the Cheek for awhile, and I really enjoyed getting to know her. I wish I had found time to chat like that with more of the other attendees.
Photo Credit: Chrissy
We heard from Cara of MaskCara, and I super wish I had had a chance to get her to do my makeup, since I’m totally hopeless when it comes to that. She also spoke again later, along with Alissa and Ashley, each of them giving a mini talk and advice on different blogging topics. Ashley sat next to me at lunch and dinner, and I got a chance to tell her how much I enjoyed her talk from last year. She remembered me once I mentioned that I had been pregnant last year. Ha, #goodforsomething…
ALMOST bought one of these Sage and Harper bags, and totally wish I had!
Before we knew it we were listening to the last speaker of the day, none other than Miss Lisa Leonard! She told us how her business got started and a little about her family, and she gave us lots of great advice. At one point during her talk, she casually mentioned how much easier things got for her once her kids were in school, and I threw my head back and said, “YES!” I love my kids, I want to have more, and I will enjoy this time while they are little, but I daydream about the freedom I’ll have when they are all in school!
Soon it was time for the games, and I was pumped because my team won last year, and I wanted to retain the title! I think I scared my teammates a little. We were deserted by most of the people who were supposed to be on our team, as they went to see makeup demos and browse the vendors, but the four of us dominated and eventually won!
Photo Credit: Chrissy
Then it was time to hand out some delicious (I’m sure) doughnuts and send us on our way! Except the fun wasn’t over. People hung out talking for a long time, and then Renee drove Kristine and me over to Alissa’s for some snacks and chatting around the fire pit. Finally, I got dropped off at my hotel and joined my sleeping family!
I should also mention that I was the lucky recipient of this lovely “Be Brave” sign from Salty Bison, but when Renee told me how much she loved it, I had to give it to her! So that’s why you haven’t seen any grateful photos of the sign hanging in my house. I’m very grateful, but I wanted her to have it!
Photo Credit: Chrissy
It was a very full, fun day, and I’m glad I made a second visit to Elevate. At the same time, there is this depression that I get after every conference that I attend, which is hard to explain. Maybe it’s the feeling of being overwhelmed. I seriously want to do and know and be everything in the blogging world, and with goals that huge, I fail constantly! I’m always telling myself to slow down and just do as much as I can in the time that I have. Maybe it’s the feeling that I’m missing something. I always come away from conferences feeling like I didn’t do enough or meet enough people or make enough connections or learn enough…or something. Like I said, hard to explain.
I’ve read other people’s recaps and comments, and I keep seeing how people made these deep connections with new friends, and how they cried when it was time to leave, and part of me is left wondering why that wasn’t me. I mean, I know that I have walls and don’t exactly wear my heart on my sleeve like some people do, but I think I’m friendly enough, and I do have the desire to have those deep connections. I honestly would love some feedback on this, because I really want to be able to make friends beyond a superficial level. I don’t know how people go from meeting to sharing their deepest secrets in a matter of a day. When I meet someone and start talking (at a conference, and in my regular life), I tend to wonder if they really want to be talking with me, or if they are wishing they were somewhere else. At the conference, this was mostly my fault for sticking to the people I already knew all day, but those same people ended up making new, real friendships, and I didn’t. I don’t know exactly why, but I do know that if I go again next year, I won’t worry about winning games or taking so many photos. I will make it my goal to make connections, because that’s what is most important.
</rant> That’s a little html joke for all you non-geeks.
So that was my time at Elevate. It was a lovely little weekend getaway, and I enjoyed the time I got to spend with my family, as well as all the awesome bloggers at the conference. Until next year…!