The Blissdom Canada 2011 conference was a fantastic event!
It didn’t have the best food I’ve ever tasted, the accommodations didn’t top my list of fav hotels…it wasn’t about that for me.
I went into Blissdom with an open mind and very little expectations. The buzz was created online via Twitter long before the event began. Often in the past when an event has created a huge buzz the actual experience has left me feeling deflated. I offer my Grade 8 graduation as exhibit #1; the much sought after fingerless lace gloves I wore did not actually change my life much as I had hoped.
Earlier this Fall I’d had the opportunity to meet many of the attendees at another conference and I knew that I would enjoy their company. The camaraderie at Blissdom was palpable; I’m sure each of us experienced some nervousness at some point but our need to connect seemed to outweigh our trepidation. Of course I must admit that some people were more eager to meet the “celebs” than most; exhibit #2 the moment when a woman 10 years my senior and a foot shorter than myself physically pushed me out of her way to get to a TV host I was chatting with.
Irrelevant of our difference, both in regards to our blog styles and our personalities, the majority of the attendees enjoyed making new connections and reuniting with existing ones.
Relationships were being made there people!
You know I’m all about relationships.
The opportunities for learning were quite large; with sessions which spanned from “The Business of Doing Business:Working with Brands and PR” to “The Revolution WILL be Tweeted: Using Social Media for Social Good” the speakers represented a diverse group of social media influencers. For me personally this opportunity provided much food for thought. The brands represented were also diverse, from baby gear to drivers education we were given the opportunity to meet and begin the dance of the PR end of blogging.(the swag didn’t suck either.)
My blog has been alive now for just under a year and I had reached the point where I wanted to refine my personal brand. What would SoberJulie be? Would I become a blog with reviews offered constantly, could I imagine selling space on my blog, do I have anything worth promoting? Would my writing be lost if I made efforts to grow? So many questions for one so young in this space.
In the wise words of Stuart Smalley here’s what I learned from my time at Blissdom Canada:
“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”
True enlightenment right there my friends!
Sitting there in the panel sessions I found myself reviewing what I’d like my blog to become if I had the proverbial magic wand. All of my dreams of lying on a beach, typing lazily while a cabana boy brought me drinks aside, here are the results:
I want to spread my message to the WHOLE WIDE WORLD.
Ok now onto what my message is…. I couldn’t come up with anything witty…..the catchy tagline which every marketing specialist recommends for a brand had eluded me until the moment when I was reflecting on the ride home. It was while I was ignoring my husband’s horrible choice in music that it struck me. There I sat in the passenger seat, perusing the writings of Rumi, glasses perched upon the end of my nose, my pungent cheroot tobacco stuffed pipe resting lazily in the palm of my hand (just ride my picturesque fantasy land moment) when the realization slapped me across the face.
You see, over the weekend at different points I had asked myself what my purpose of attending was. Socializing wasn’t enough to validate me being there. The panels were fantastic but I truly felt there had to be more. The way I live my life is so far from my old style of self-motivated actions that I knew I must be missing something.
The chain of events which led me to attend the conference were as close to miraculous as I’ve seen; a ticket gifted at the last-minute… a sponsor for the room…a babysitter volunteering…a clothing sponsor stepping up…the sequence and actuality of each moment perfectly timed to ensure I would go. God simply must have presented me with the opportunities He sent me there to experience at some point over the previous 3 days and nights.
There I sat blocking out the sound of Hubby’s caraoke, reflecting on each day.I went through the panels and my interactions with others. Excluding the wealth of information from the panels here’s what came to mind:
I had a GREAT talk with an amazing woman who encouraged me that my brand is actually clearer than I had thought
after a massage in one of the brand’s suites, the masseur enquired about my blog and disclosed she was an alcoholic/Christian who is on a board establishing a sober facility and asked for my card (seriously random because she said she doesn’t usually ask)
4 different occasions where fellow bloggers asked me questions or shared stories regarding their recovering family member
conversations with people who are concerned about a family member who is still an active alcoholic or addict
many questions from other bloggers on how I handle this sober life being surrounded by alcohol
an amazing conversation with a woman who is currently “lost”, offering her the hope I’ve found
And in each of these conversations I recalled saying what I believe may be my tagline, at least for today.
“Inviting others to stand in SERENITY amidst the chaos of this journey we call life.”
Yup there it is, in all it’s bold, italicized glory…..
Next I have to ask myself how I can best promote my message, how can I get it out there to those who think they’re able to control the world around them while it’s spinning out of control.
Will I do reviews, probably.
Will I accept payment, possibly.
(I really do love to receive quality items and spread the word….a trip to Disney or a sunny beach wouldn’t be denied)
The future is something I’ve learned not to predict (except that I’ll always have to fight not to pout when I don’t win a raffle or silent auction); yesterday is gone and tomorrow is out of my control.
For my purposes I don’t feel the need to perform statistical analysis on a daily basis, agonizing over how to grow my readership. Nor will I compare my growth or lack thereof to other blogs.
My measurement of success is vastly different.
In the past year:
I’ve received a total of 3 emails from strangers seeking help, provided them with support via email and phone
2 of those strangers have updated me on their lives, one is 2 months sober and the other is 7 months
One friend from high school contacted me directly and asked for help, he now has almost 2 months sober
I’ve been asked to guest post on blogs which have a much larger readership than mine about how to deal with stress and loss
A youth rehab facility found me via my blog and I speak there regularly
A TV show contacted me and I appeared on a show about Over Programmed Moms
My sobriety and faith have become stronger in part because of the blogs I read and the relationships I’ve made here in the blogisphere
This list could go on to an annoying length, I think my point is made.
My name is Julie and I am a Christian/Alcoholic/Wife/Mother/Bloggger/Speaker/Person with a disability…..and I hate defining myself by static labels.
Here I am, Sober Julie, it’s been wonderful getting to know everyone out here and thank you to all of you for impacting me on this Journey!!!
BTW: I have been quoting Stuart Smalley for YEARS, he was my favorite Saturday Night Live character and it’s only via linking him on this post that I found out : “The character was a spoof on individuals who are obsessed with twelve-step programs and become addicted to the actual act of going to therapy for addiction”~Wikepedia