≡ Menu

First Thoughts, Post-BlogHer ’13

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.


IMG_0243My 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.


Travel Notes

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!

Laurel Storey, CZT – Certified Zentangle Teacher. Writer, reader, tangler, iPhoneographer, cat herder, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, needle felter, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.

{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Skyring July 30, 2013

    Wow! The enthusiasm just bubbles out there! I know the feeling when something superb comes to an end. All of a sudden, the magic is still there, but it’s no longer spread around, it’s all concentrated in you, your memories, your emotions.

    And you want to share it!

    Chicago is a fabulous city. Once just a name in a distant land, now I’ve lost count of the times I’ve visited. So many interesting places – The Bean, that incredible skyline looking back over the lake, Marshall Fields, the architecture boat cruise, Route 66…

    Not a city to tire of easily.

    Thanks for sharing your impressions. On this as in so many other things in the many years I’ve been reading your blog. You sparkle!
    Skyring recently posted… We’d Love to Take You for a Ride!My Profile

    • Laurel Regan
      July 30, 2013

      That’s pretty much exactly the way I’m feeling right now! BlogHer ’13 and Chicago were simply wonderful, and I’m finding it rather a chore to get back to real life. Thanks for your kind words! 🙂
      Laurel Regan recently posted… Questions on self-imageMy Profile

  • Sabrina July 30, 2013

    Wow, we were together most of the time, however, your pictures and words captured so much more than my memory. I’m amazed. You mentioned that sometimes pictures don’t capture what you see as you see it. Well sometimes it captures and transports add much if not more. Well done

  • Linda July 30, 2013

    You have no idea how much I enjoyed reading this 🙂 Glad you had such a great time.
    Linda recently posted… 2013 Re-enactment of the Battle of Santa CruzMy Profile

  • great synopsis with just the write blend of generalization, detail and enthusiasm
    melanie jean juneau (motherofnine9) recently posted… Housework and Parenting: The ConundrumMy Profile

  • sandra tyler July 30, 2013

    sounds like you’ve made some really cherished connections via BlogHer. I was thrilled to meet you, as I met so many bloggers, but most didn’t see again in the vast BlogHer sea. Enjoyed your highlights here!

    • Laurel Regan
      July 31, 2013

      Sandra, I SO enjoyed meeting you at BlogHer, and am really glad I got past my shyness and crossed the floor to talk to you (even though I wasn’t totally sure it was you)!
      Laurel Regan recently posted… Questions on self-imageMy Profile

  • anna
    July 31, 2013

    Hi Dawn,

    Great recap! Even though this was in my hometown, I still felt like a shy new kid in a new school at the conference. But you and Sabrina were the most genuinely sincere gals I had the pleasure to meet. 🙂

    • Laurel Regan
      July 31, 2013

      Anna, you are not going to believe this, but I had JUST messaged Sabrina asking for your contact info as I hadn’t got a card from you… when I received an e-mail notification of your comment! Talk about synchronicity! Thank you for your kind words… I really enjoyed meeting and hanging out with you at the Expo, and hope we have a chance to get to know each other better in the days to come. 🙂
      Laurel Regan recently posted… Questions on self-imageMy Profile

  • Sabrina July 31, 2013

    Heyyyyy, Anna! Seems we talked you up. I really enjoyed hanging out with you as well. Shy or not, you put (another) good spin on ChiTown. 🙂

    • anna
      July 31, 2013

      Hello ms. Sabrina! did i tell you, you are a hoot?!

  • Anna
    July 31, 2013

    Connected we are. Even though if it was a short time. You ladies are awesome! Yes, I was one of the lame ones without a decent card. LoL. Hello hello Sabrina! I don’t know about you ladies but I definitely needed a full body massage with the Expo haul. Hope to keep in touch more often!

  • Frances D July 31, 2013

    I’ve been blogging for 14 years, but have never attended a conference. Your post/photolog really has me thinking about taking the leap. What’s stopped me? Thinking that I am not a BIG enough blogger.
    Frances D recently posted… Daily Prompt: Pat on the BackMy Profile

  • Frances D July 31, 2013

    I have not attended a conference because I never felt I was a big enough blogger. You know the kind with thousands of followers. I need to get over it. Enjoyed your post very much.
    Frances D recently posted… Daily Prompt: Pat on the BackMy Profile

    • Laurel Regan
      July 31, 2013

      Definitely don’t let that stop you! My blog doesn’t have a huge following (and I suspect a great many of the people at the conference were in the same boat), but I got so much out of the conference and I’m so glad I attended. I hope you’re able to give it a go yourself – it’s well worth the time! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
      Laurel Regan recently posted… Questions on self-imageMy Profile

  • Corinne Rodrigues
    August 2, 2013

    Thank you so much for sharing, Dawn. I got quite caught up in it all. Someday, I hope to meet you there! 🙂

  • HouseTalkN August 2, 2013

    Great recap! I can’t believe how quickly it zoomed by! Thank you for linking up!

  • Connie McLeod August 2, 2013

    Dawn, I’m so honored with your shoutout. Thank you! I’ve been missing everyone’s smiling faces and their laughter. What an incredible few days. It’s been hard being back at work and I’ve spent way to much time looking at everyone’s posts and trying to stay connected. I was delighted to discover that the online friends turned into real friends. Take care!
    Connie McLeod recently posted… Adventures from BlogHer; Chapter 3My Profile

  • Andrea B (
    August 6, 2013

    Sounds like an incredible experience. I did not attend this year but Chicago looks beautiful through your eyes. I hope to get there again someday (went years ago) and really see the city. Thanks for sharing!
    Andrea B ( recently posted… Dusting off the shelves.My Profile


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Next post:

Previous post:

%d bloggers like this: