I am now safely ensconced in my seat on a crowded Amtrak train, somewhat wistfully leaving Chicago following an incredible few days that flew by all too quickly – days of spending quality time with friends old and new, taking part in the amazing experience that was BlogHer ’13, and scratching the surface of the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of a new-to-me city.
After nearly a week away from my husband and our three cats, I am ready to return home to my regular life and our daily routines… yet at the same time it’s difficult to say goodbye to the wonderful people I was privileged to meet, to reclassify in my mind the week to come to the week that was, to leave a beautiful city that now has me, quite successfully, under its spell.
My seat on the train to Chicago faced forward, but this trip I’m looking toward the back of the train, watching the skyline disappear into the past as the same scenery I saw on my way into the city speeds by in reverse. If only I could, I’d give a gentle tug and pull it all onto the train along with me!
It really has been a whirlwind of a week, and I’m sure that over next while I’ll be processing my thoughts and experiences and, hopefully, sharing some of them here in more detail – but for the moment, these are a few of the highlights that stand out in my mind.
Friends, Old and New
I was so, so happy to reconnect with my roomie from BlogHer ’12, Sabrina (Much Needed Advice), and to once again have the opportunity to share both accommodations and time with her. Sabrina is a true delight with a keen sense of humour and wise insight, and I feel blessed to be able to call her my friend and to have spent these past few days in her company. If you haven’t already discovered her blog, you need to check it out!
This year Sabrina and I shared our space with Robin (Sunbonnet Smart), who we both met last year at BlogHer ’12… and let me tell you, I’m surprised our neighbours didn’t complain to hotel staff about the shrieks of laughter that must have penetrated the walls of our room at various times throughout our stay! The three of us certainly had a ton of fun together, and Robin even took some time to generously share her expertise with me by way of an introductory crash course in the art of quilting and pattern design. Stay tuned for further developments…
I was delighted to see another blogger I met for the first time last year – Melissa Ford (Stirrup Queens) – as well as catch up with a few friends I’d only previously known online – Neil Kramer (Citizen of the Month), Sharon Greenthal (Empty House Full Mind), and Sandra Tyler (A Writer Weaves a Tale). Being able to put an actual, real-life face to the name and the writing was such a joy… and the hugs were lovely as well!
While last year it seems as though I personally met a larger quantity of people, this year I feel that the vast majority of my interactions with fellow bloggers were all about quality time and real connections. I’m really looking forward to reading the blogs of some of the new friends I met over the past few days – such as Connie (My Creative Journey), Anne (Anne About Town), and Ananda (Author Ananda Leeke’s Blog) – and getting to know them a little better through their writing and online presence.
BlogHer ’13 Highlights
For me, one of the highlights of BlogHer ’12 was the Voices of the Year Keynote – and after hearing the funny, moving, thoughtful, intelligent VOTY posts read aloud this year at BlogHer ’13, it’s evident that the tradition has been maintained. Such an uplifting evening! Though I have never been a VOTY myself (something to which to aspire?), I do feel a little bit of pride by association, just knowing that I am a part of the blogging (and BlogHer) community and have a platform to speak my truth to the world. It’s a powerful privilege.
It was a great experience to participate in my very first Lean In Circle following a keynote address by Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO and author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead)… and a huge thrill when Sheryl herself chose to join our table and contribute as part of our group of six! How lucky were we?! I can’t tell you what we discussed during our time together – “What happens in a Lean In Circle STAYS in a Lean In Circle!” – but I will say that it was a very meaningful and encouraging experience, and I’m glad I chose to take part in that particular session.
You know, I must confess that I had never before heard of Lourds Lane… but after taking in her performance at BlogHer ’13 and having a couple of chances to chat with her in person both before and after, I can definitely say that I will not soon forget her! She is a strong, talented, vibrant woman with such a positive and empowering message, and I look forward to seeing what she does next.
I am a big fan of train travel, and so was pleased to find that a one-way trip to Chicago would only take around five hours and cost somewhere in the neighbourhood of $35. How could you beat that?!
This was my first visit to Chicago, and I have discovered that I LOVE it! While I was only able to do a little bit of exploring in my short visit – part of the Chicago Riverwalk, the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise, “Cloud Gate” (AKA “The Bean”) at Millennium Park, and Navy Pier – I can already tell that it’s a city I’d like to revisit in the future. And the pizza… oh, the pizza!
As an aside, I could get quite used to concierge service. I’m just saying.
While no announcement has been made about the location of BlogHer ’14, I am desperately hoping that it’s going to be in a city I can easily and inexpensively reach… because I treasure being a part of this incredible group, and this year’s gathering – just like last – was over far, far too soon.
But in the meantime, on to the business of blogging!