Finding my Blogging Bliss

Two weeks ago I went to my first big blogging conference.

And I learned a few things about myself.

I am a writer.

And a business woman.

And a mom.

And a wife.

A friend. A fan. A partner.

A very bad singer.

And one hell of a One Man Wolf Pack.

I was very excited about going to Blissdom Canada 2011. I bought my ticket the hour they went on sale and suspect that I might have gotten THE last one available that day!  And fresh off of my time at ShesConnected two weeks prior, I thought I had a 'plan' going into this one. Yet once again, what I came out with was so much more and not really what I had planned at all. And to be perfectly honest, in reading some of the other attendees posts after the conference, I have learned and discovered even more. About myself and what it is that I want to give and get in this world we call the "blogosphere".

First and foremost what I want is hours and hours more to sit and talk with a few very special people who I met. I have been doing a lot of back reading this week of some pretty amazing blogs and wishing with all my heart that I had more time with their writers. Thank goodness for Twitter and comments and all the multiple ways we can still 'talk' to each other online. Otherwise, I think I might descend into a deep depression!

Secondly what I want or maybe what I got was perspective. As in, what we think we want is not always what we need. On day one of the conference at the CBC Live Welcome Reception, I was interviewed by Social Media Week and was quoted in their #BlissdomCanada post this past week. In it I am referred to as the Healthy Business Blogger and when I spoke to the interviewer I was focused on my 'plan', I talked about how I was at Blissdom to build momentum for my blog and interest from the brands and sponsors present to get them to venture West to the great Prairie plains that we blog from! This may still be part of the plan, but after the two days of sessions, the screening of the documentary MissRepresentation and the many conversations with my fellow bloggers, with the brands and sponsors present and with other small business owners like myself that walk a fine and often very different social media line that others, the 'plan' has been refined.

I think there are some really great companies out there that I am very excited to work with. And essentially what I took away from Blissdom and from reading some great post-conference posts from the likes of Alex from @Clippo, @BonStewart and Annie from @PhdinParenting, is that at Natural Urban Mamas, I am here for YOU. And I will NEVER compromise my voice, my talent, my writing or my opinions for the almighty dollar. If and when I do work with brands, they will be in line with my values, they will ADD value to you, my readers and they will be fun people to work with!  You know...like you and me! ;)

Once I wrapped my brain around this and took a step away from the "Business" track of the conference, I was able to connect and get to know some rather amazing women and a few cool dudes too and focus on the 'why we do what we do' part of blogging.

I ended up attending more of the Art Track sessions at the conference than the Commerce Track (not what I thought I would do, but these were the people and rooms that I was drawn to). The 'Social Media for Social Good" session was a very big reminder of how we can change the world and how a simple harnessing of the power of social media and directing it to "do good" for others can really affect change. I had a hard time keeping the tears from streaming down my face as I sat at my table with the incredible Heather Hamilton (@tjzmommy) and watched a video of her sweet baby boy Zach, who is gone now, but who lives on in the hearts and on the Twitter avatars of so many with that tiny little Elmo. The most powerful message that I got from that session was that it is not always about doing big things and changing the world, sometimes it is simply about doing something to change even one person's life. And we can all do that.

Next up was the session on 'Taking your Craft to the Next Level'. This session appealed to the perfectionist in me. Spelling and grammar matter to me, and it seems that I need to get myself a writing Style Guide too!! Seriously--if you ever find a typo in my posts, please send me a DM or email so I can fix it! The panel consisted of some great writers, including the very funny Karen Green (@Karengreeners) who had one of my favourite lines of the day..."I am not interested in winning the internet, I want to win a Pulitzer!" and the every witty Aidan Morgan (@palinode) who gave us a fabulous 30 second writing for search engines tutorial (which we all made him repeat very s-l0-w-l-y). And yet another of my online super-crushes, Elan Morgan, Aidan's wife and the woman better known as Schmutzie, was sitting at the table next to me. Needless to say, I felt like the kid who just walked into the "gifted" class by accident. I may have also Googled one or two of the bigger words used that day! Thank Gawd for the Merriam-Webster online dictionary!

I then managed to squeeze into the standing room only session about "Defining Yourself and Your Creative Work", the beast also known as 'personal branding'. This particular panel did not disappoint their audience and kept their moderator, Julie Cole from Mabel's Labels on her toes! Dee Brun (@CocktailDeeva), Gail Vaz-Oxlade, Kimberly Seldon and Patti Sullivan all showed us just why they are who they are and why we love them so much. The overall message I got from this session is that it is OK to be you, just know then that YOU may not be what everyone is looking for. Having conviction, knowing who YOU are and not compromising your integrity, your values or your voice matters, not only to those hearing or reading you, but to your kids, your community and most of all to YOU! This was a good session for me and um...why yes, it did end with Gail giving me a big old smooch...right on the mouth!!!

I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to some of the great women I met that weekend. The highlight for me may have been meeting and spending time with a woman whose writing, whose insight, and whose activism is an inspiration to me every day.. yes, I am talking about the amazing Annie Urban of Phd in Parenting. And she is one heck of a dance partner too!!

To Hollie Pollard (@commoncentsmom) for welcoming me with open arms first at #SCCTO and then for being the first familiar and friendly face I saw when I arrived at Blissdom Canada. This woman is truly one of the kindest, most genuine human beings that I have ever met and I am honoured to count her as a friend! Thank you Hollie for taking me 'under your wing' and for facilitating some very important introductions!

To Tilley from @Preshusme for giving me my baby and babywearing fix while away from my littles! Seriously woman, you make some damn cute babies and that little Peanut of yours practically stole every heart at Blissdom Canada this year. I swear I can still hear his crazy babbling and sweet baby laughs!!

And finally to my incredible friend and fellow Edmonton Blogger, the amazing Jennifer Banks (@JenBanksYeg). Thanks for being my roomie, for kicking me under the table when I was talking too loud, for being the Yin to my Yang in practically all that we do and for well...just being the ever so awesome YOU! I am so glad that we got to share this experience together and were able to actually have time to just hang out, meet some great people and come away with a whole new plan for our little corners of the interwebs!

Refreshed and with a new plan,

Natasha~