Knock Knock Little Sucker: aka 'What I learned at Blissdom Canada.'

Blogging conferences are funny things. They are full of opportunity. They are fun. They are chalk full of women {and men} who are looking for connections and who are, for the most part, notorious over-sharers and gregarious huggers.

They are also terrifying and overwhelming and can send even the most seemingly extroverted person off to a far corner to hide from the hulabaloo and constant "who, what, where, when and why"?

Four weeks ago I made a snap decision to go to Blissdom Canada this year. The stars aligned one day and within 24 hours I had a conference pass, a roommate and a plane ticket booked. I guess it was a kind of conference kismet.

And then ALL of the self-doubt started to seep into me.

Why was I going this year? What did I hope to get out of it? I don't really fit the blogger target market of conferences like these and the sponsors who support them, so again, what was the point of me going exactly?

I convinced myself that this was going to be a glorified girls weekend with some fabulous women that 95% of the time I only connect with online. I registered for all the required sessions at the conference and chose the Creative and Change tracks versus the Business ones. I didn't even bother getting business cards made, since I don't really see what I do as "business" anymore.

With all of that done and a typed-out, page-long "how to be me for four days" instruction sheet for my husband taped to the refrigerator, on October 3rd, I packed my suitcase, valet parked my car at the fancy lot at the airport and hopped on a plane to Toronto.

Maybe it was because I did not have a lot of expectations going into this conference. Maybe it was because I was being more of an observer and listener than a talker this time around (I know, I know. WHAT??). Maybe it was because I avoided the whole monetizing side of things and spent time spending money at the Handmade Market instead. Or maybe it was because I wasn't worried so much about what people thought of me and I was just being me. Unapologetically Moi. Whatever it was, in the end, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the conference, getting to meet so many new faces and spending time with my beautiful peeps, Annie and Alex and Tillie!

One moment truly defined the conference for me. No, it was not the opening keynote, although Eric Alper's ability to make everything and anything relate back to music is simply amazing and somewhat uncanny. It wasn't the incredibly powerful "Social Media Etiquette" panel, that included the stupendous {in my squealing fan-girl opinion} Glennon Melton of Momastery fame and the quiet strength of Rehteah Parson's dad Glen Canning, even though that session did make everyone in the room think REALLY HARD about what they put out there (online) and what the universe inevitably gives back.

My moment came during the aptly-called "Power Hour". An hour of mini presentations à-la-TED-style that were inspirational (@Schmutzie), motivational (@CanadianDad) and hilarious (@sharonDV). I was standing at the back of the room absentmindedly scrolling though my Twitter feed when a speaker I had not heard of before was introduced.

I was still engrossed in some silly Twitter convo, when this speaker's words started to register in my brain and they pulled me away from my phone:

"The woman rolled down the passenger-side window and asked if I needed a ride with the same tone one might use to ask someone naked if she needed pants.

I pushed my hands deeper into my armpits and looked at the pig walking the fence line back to Calgary. I turned to the woman, teeth chattering as I contemplated my answer."

She wasn't giving the usual kind of presentation. She wasn't telling everyone in the room to be authentic and to find our voices and to tell our own stories. SHE WAS TELLING US ONE OF HER STORIES.

A story that she had written. On her blog. A story that was at once hilarious and crazy and so incredibly vivid and beautiful, that she had a whole standing-room-only conference room hanging on her every word.

And it was this moment, the simple act of Shannon Fisher telling us her crazy pig story that made my whole Blissdom Canada experience worthwhile. Her words sucked me right in and I felt like I was on that cold snowy road with her and the asshole pig. And having found the post afterwards, I have read it no less than three times already.

Then it hit me, a full week AFTER the conference ended. Why I went, what I needed from this conference and why I still want to continue over-sharing in this wacky world we call the 'Blogosphere".

I needed to redefine what blogging was for me. I needed to know that it is OK to be the blogger who doesn't work with brands, that it is OK that I am not blogging for the almighty dollar or the not so mighty, yet still lovely box of nice smelling bum wipes. I needed to know that MY stories matter. That my stories ARE making a difference for someone out there.

And the way that I learned that was through listening to someone else tell one of their stories. A big bonus was getting to sit down with Shannon at the after-after party on Saturday night to get to know her a bit too. She really is one cool chickita and I feel like I should leave you with another of her posts to read, just in case the pig story didn't already hook you.

Shannon's reading of her post out loud, the actual embodiment of the advice we often hear at blogging conferences about finding and using our authentic voices, THAT was my Lollipop Moment at Blissdom Canada.

And it took me this long to actually realize it!

Oh, and second epiphany...

@clippo and I take awesome Half-Ducky selfies!!




P.S. You really need to watch this video and listen to Drew Dudley, who had the original Lollipop Moment, and hear his message. He was the amazing closing key note speaker at Blissdom Canada this year and blew us all away with his message about true leadership!



On writing... {oh wait, someone else already wrote that}

Reading usually precedes writing and the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.

~Susan Sontag

Yup. What she said!

There truly is nothing more inspiring than reading someone else's really great writing to get your own writing juices flowing. And right now, I feel like a flood-swollen river is raging through my brain.

I have just finished reading all of the Five Star Friday posts from Schmutzie's  weekly weblog round-up and all I can say is...

OH. MY. GAWD. It was one helluva good week for the writers of the interwebs!

I can't possible recap all of it, so just head on over there and read them all! It is well worth your time, I promise. (Also, I may be full-on fangirl crushing on Schmutzie right now, she really is kind of super-duper awesome!)

And speaking of WRITERS.

I said it last night.

Someone asked me what I do and I said, " I am a writer."

I am not sure that all would 'technically' agree with me on this one, but it is how I feel about myself. It is how I want to feel and think  about what I am doing with my life and since it now is what I am doing (in between all the mothering, wife-ing and life living stuff), I am going to say it again.

I am a writer.

I may not be a particularly GOOD writer just yet, but I am getting there. I am truly focused on becoming better at this craft and am right now setting new goals for myself in this regard! I have made the very tough decision to forgo any major blogging conferences this year in favor of taking a few creative writing courses and finding a great writing retreat or seminar to attend. I am getting serious here people!

And something else happened today. An idea popped into my head. One that has never happened before. A fictional idea.

A BOOK idea.

I have never thought of myself as a fiction writer (well, let's be honest, I have not really been thinking of myself as a writer at all until very recently), so the fact that I had this little brain toot today kind of came as a surprise to me. And I just can't stop thinking about it.

That must mean something right?

Now before I start getting WAY too ahead of myself, I figure I am going to need a few things to get me to the point that I (and others) can feel more comfortable identifying me as a writer. To that end, I am arming myself with some tools of the trade recommended to me by some amazing writers that I love and respect.

First up, On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE that I know, who has read this book has said that it is life {and craft} changing! I have just finished reading the first two of his three forewords and I can already see that this will likely be the case for me too.

And because Mr. King said so in the second of the aforementioned forewords, the other tool of the trade that I am arming myself with is Strunk & White's The Elements of Style. I figure if I am to be any kind of writer, it is probably a good idea to have THE essential book of writing at my disposal. I am sure I am breaking all the basic rules of writing left, right and centre every day here, some of them I recognize, others I do not. Let's hope this helps me recognize the really awful ones and remedy what I can!

Writing is a funny thing. It is freeing, it is strangely addictive and it is incredibly empowering. It taps into that part of me that I often keep hidden deep inside. It lets me exercise my brain, work out my thoughts, ideas and feelings and it is something that is mine. ALL mine. I mean, I share it with all of you of course, but these are my words, my thoughts, my prose.

What I write may not always be that important or interesting to everyone, but for me, every sentence that I type is one step further into this world of words and thought and imagination that makes me feel whole.

And for the last few days all I keep thinking about are the books and blog posts and essays that I have read that have changed my life and I am wondering what it would feel like to be the one who wrote the words that actually did that for someone else....



Testing, testing

Just a quick little post to see if this is working properly. I just enabled Wordpress on my iPhone so that I can write my posts all weekend from the hill at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. And I also downloaded the free Folk Fest app (just search for it in the App store) for the weekend. I am gonna be one connected folkie!

I will have both my little folkies with me too! Dancing and playing and living our weekend of music!

This is my "I am getting excited" face! And see? I can even do this all one-handed with a sleeping child on my lap!

See you on {or from} the hill!