Oops, I think I'm the last one that attended to recap The Hundred Event. Two months after the fact.
When I first heard about The Hundred from Grace, I couldn't believe how the stars aligned in such a way that I could actually attend such a jackpot of an event. It was happening in Dallas where Chris' generous and welcoming extended family lives, it was happening a weekend we would already be driving home from San Diego, it only added a few hours to our drive home and it was happening when Chris had no commitments whatsoever so I could go kid free. Without all of that and Grace's kind support, there is no way I would have been able to go.
Now back in April, when we were in Dallas for Chris' cousin's Confirmation, we asked Chris' uncle if he could pick us up from UD because I wanted to meet one of my blogger friends, the lovely Martha Reilly. All the uncles joked that we were going to meet a chubby old man. It was pretty funny. I'm guessing their inspiration came from this song. Well, I'm here to say that the real life Martha is an even lovelier woman in person and more beautiful, if you can imagine that. In fact, I haven't been let down by a blogger meeting yet. Meeting a blogger makes me love her blog even more.
So I was really excited to see old e-friends and new friends, buuuuut I was nervous about the same thing - meeting so many people at once and having to be "on." I think sometimes people can think I might be snobby or stuck up when I'm quiet in person, but really I'm honesty just shy and kind of terrified of speaking to you. I mean, last night when it was my time as the hostess to move everyone from the tea and biscotti chit chat part of book club over to the living room last night, I asked Ana the Outgoing to do it for me.
Lauren, Megan, Bridget and Grace know how to throw a blogging conference. The whole event was useful yet fun, elegant yet easygoing and really, it was just a luxury weekend. Dinner complete with swag bags at the Melrose Warwick Hotel sponsored by Joules, breakfast at Breadwinners, lunch at Cane Russo sponsored by Twine Interiors, dinner by Ruthie's Food truck and Steel City Pops for Saturday night's block party hosted by Peacock Alley, and Sunday brunch at the Aldredge house during which I won this dress. It sure beat the Sonic that I had more times in a row than one should. I learned from Kendi, THE fashion blogger (I have to note that I felt nerdily cool when her husband, Bryan, remembered the time in April when Ryan was being quite the toddler in their old store), Curt Steinhorst, Stacey Reeves, Jenni from J.Noel Photography, Tara from the Dillettante Collection, and many other wonder bloggers and entrepreneurs. Best of all, I got to spend almost two full days becoming real-in-the-flesh friends with many of my oldest blogging friends and have the privilege to many meet new-to-me bloggers that now enrich my precious (ha) blogging time. It wasn't scary after all, although I'm sure I could have put on my big girl panties more and been more outgoing.
It really was amazing. There is a recap link-up here, if you are interested.
But it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows (at no fault to The Hundred itself). When Blythe and I were walking back to the hotel room at the end of the Saturday sessions, she asked me how I was feeling. It was hard to explain, but I answered that I felt kind of blogged down - the blog version of bogged down. Now that I've had some time to mull the feeling over, I know it came from a few factors. I was tired and probably a little over socialized. Next, I have a knack for being an insecure person. I remember crying to my mom when I was four because I thought my skin looked green (what?? I know). A lot of what we were learning about growing your blog stemmed on being confident and being able to promote your own blog and content, which is a tall order since having a tendency to being insecure does not exactly breed confidence. Will my whatever-is-going-through-my-head-crumbs-awareness-bless-this-mess mom blog tie work well? That lack of confidence in my current and future ability to be a blog worthy of your time just added to my confusion of whether or not I wanted to venture past the sticker shock of quoted desired social media stats with monetizing the blog.
But then I had an epiphany while pumping (of all times), and that epiphany was reaffirmed when I returned downstairs to the lobby for another night hanging out on swanky hotel couches with women I felt like I've known for years and years. This was why I love blogging. This sitting around sharing stories was the blog actualized in a real life setting. These women and the solidarity they offer have helped me be able to boast that I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have felt alone in this crazy and lifelong gig called motherhood. Yes, my mother-in-law always helps. But when she isn't available, and it's been a day and I have zero desire to run the marathon of getting little ones out the door to see my friends in town, all I have to do is read about Blythe defending the mess of being a mama while making me pump my fist while holding back tears. Or Grace talking about the rigors of raising saints while still being funny. Or Ana being real. Or Britt discussing the extreme vulnerability of being a parent. Or Joanna sharing about her decision to stay home. Or Nell, being the motivational lady that she is, cheering me on with her wisdom. Or Katie telling me how to replicate the s'mores pizza we ate at Cane Russo. Or Olivia calling for an end to the stupid mommy wars. Or Kate typing yet another relatable post about being a wife. Or an email from the best readers in all the e-land telling me about their day. Or any lady kind enough to let me see a peek at her experiences. And I love supporting them whether it be commenting, emailing, clicking on links in sponsored posts, ordering through affiliate links or just praying for them.
The book club I'm in just read Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry. Community constantly jumps out as one of the key themes. Now, I'm 100% sure Mr. Berry was absolutely not thinking about mom blogs and internet as he was writing about rural Kentucky, but the blogging world is one of my communities. This community, as overused as that word is in life and in this paragraph, easily outweighs the drag of social media stats and the like.
But where is the happy medium? I'm in a fortunate position to delve deeper into the partnership with sponsors world and earn (a very small) amount of money to supplement my other part time jobs while having fun with my e-friends, bloggers and readers included, but I don't want to become a blog robot blindly after one more Instagram like or Twitter retweet. As Blythe perfectly wrote, I want my opportunities to host giveaways to be a well-deserved THANK YOU to you, the community that keeps me sane and inspired. I want my chance promote products via sponsored posts to benefit you not bore you.
So I think the happy medium is up to me. I promise to keep the blog what I have always hoped it would be (although I feel uncomfortably presumptuous that people even might consider it to be - see? confidence problems) a pleasant and rambling virtual cup of coffee, hot chocolate, tea, what have you, whether it be for the mom, the yet to have children, the wife, the happily single, the friend, the great aunt, the rugby player, the invisible lurker, the person who googles, "scarily messy kitchens," etc. I promise to only promote products that I actually think are of high quality and worth spending money on and that go well my stories. I want those to be the gravy to the meat, the whipped cream to the pie, the parmesan to the pasta. I really would just be honored if you could pray for our family. If you click on sponsored links, order through my Amazon ad or affiliate links, awesome. Gracias, merci, grazie from the bottom of my heart. But prayers are always welcomed with open arms. You can never have too many of those.
And comments. I love comments.
This was supposed to go up last night, but here I am at 7:45am ... okay now 8am ...editing this while listening to Everything is Awesome from The LEGO Movie and kids spinning my chair around. Check back later today for an AMAZING giveaway as a thank you to YOU.
Photos by Awake Photography and J Noel Photography or snagged from Nell's Instagram. Purple dress and all shoes from my sister-in-law, Meaghan.