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We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!

That’s pretty much how I would sum up the Blissdom Conference.

This was my third year attending, and over the years I’ve watched the conference evolve, as well as the blogosphere. These days there are a lot more sponsors, a lot more new faces, and a lot more opportunities. Even though I sometimes miss the simplicity and the intimacy of those early blogging days, I can’t help but be excited about where things are going.

Like I did after BlogHer, I am going to write one mega post on Blissdom and then I promise not to speak of it again for at least six months, or when it’s time to purchase my plane ticket for next year!

It was surreal landing in the Nashville airport last week.  It was starting to feel like my second home there for a while. I arrived at the Opryland Hotel under the dark veil of drizzle that soon turned to snow and checked in like an old pro. They handed me the familiar map and showed me the path to my room.

I literally had to walk as far as a person can possibly walk in this mammoth hotel to find my room.

Look.

Opryland Hotel

See what I mean?

I joked with the bellman that this ought to be some room for that walk, but alas, it is just an ordinary room with 2 queen beds and barely enough room to walk between them. But it sufficed, and I got my exercise without having to darken the door of the gym.

The week was full of hugs and squeals, speakers and panel sessions, parties and pictures and late-night pow-wows with my 3 roommates. Okay, well it wasn’t that late. I think we were in bed by 11:00 every night. I guess that’s what motherhood will do to ya.

While the parties were fun and the sessions were informative, my favorite times were those spent with small groups of the people that are most important to me.

shelly jordana jolynne
Hanging out with my roommate, Shelly, and long-time friend, Jordana

Photo credit: AngryJulieMonday

christina and romy
Christina and Romy
jill robin jolynne
Jill and Robin and me
Amanda and me
Shelly and me
Melanie, Jill and Robin
so bummed this is blurry
friends
Sarah, Katie, Hillary, Donielle, Emily

All those ladies up there? They are why I go to Blissdom.

I had dinner one night with a big group of women, and we were asked to go around the room and tell what we think “real beauty” is. I was pretty sure that it was going to bomb. I mean, how many different answers could there possibly be? I only hoped that I could take my turn towards the beginning, before there was nothing original left to say.

Fortunately, I was able to have my say in the first group and get my 2 cents in early, but imagine my surprise when we went around the room and every single woman had a slightly different take on “real beauty.” It never got old, it never felt contrived, everyone shared from the heart, and I couldn’t help but think, THIS is why I return to Blissdom year after year.

Sure, we all like to put our best foot forward, especially at events like this. We take extra time in the morning to put on makeup and fix our hair, we plan outfits with accessories and pack our cutest shoes. I won’t deny that appearance matters. But this is what I tell my daughters, and I truly believe this:

No matter how pretty you are on the outside, and no matter how cute your purse is or how stylish your haircut is, a real beauty is the woman who is kind and gracious, the one who makes everyone feel welcome and loved. That is the kind woman I want to be, and those are the women I try to surround myself with. It’s not hard to do at Blissdom.

Friends

One new thing that Blissdom did this year was form tribes.  The point was for everyone to feel like they had a place to belong.

I was asked to be one of the Fashion Tribe leaders, but going in, only one other person had come forth and claimed our tribe.  Allison and I sat alone at our Fashion Tribe table during the opening keynote, assuming that we might be a tribe of two. But afterwards, when everyone was encouraged to join their tribe for a time of networking, we ended up with a table that was overflowing with women who share our love of style. We had a great time meeting and greeting and I even made a few new friends and possibly a new contributor for All Things Chic!

Tribe leaders were encouraged to plan an event for their tribes on Saturday morning, so the fashion tribe went…

shopping in franklin
Shopping!

It was only four of us because most people were traveling home on Saturday, but we had a blast. It was definitely a highlight of my trip.

fashion tribe at blissdom
Jo-Lynne, Romy, Jamie, Valerie
shopping at blissdom
Valerie fell in love with these knitted boots

We ate at 55 South, where they describe their food as “a rustic take on down-home Southern comfort food.” That pretty much sums it up.

Valerie presented us with these adorable friendship bracelets at lunch cause she’s sweet like that.

friendship bracelets
friendship bracelets

Finally, I can’t finish this post without giving a shout out to my HYPER LOCO panel!

Sarah, Laura and me

We had a great time, although we could have used another hour.

Blissdom 2011 Wisdom Workshops
Hyper Local Blogging Panel

Photo credit: Emmie’s_Mommy

I truly appreciate everyone who came to hear us, and hopefully next year we will have a hyper local tribe!

Big shout out to Barbara, Alli and Paula for another huge success. And I particularly want to thank Therapon for sponsoring my ticket.

Till next year…

I linked up to my own Blissdom Recap Link Up as well as Melissa’s at The Inspired Room.

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24 thoughts on “We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!

  1. That hotel is amazing. We were just there for a Stampin’ Up! convention. You get alot of exercise while you are learning. Enjoy!

  2. This is such an awesome recap! I loved meeting some of those women. I wish I would have been able to chat with you more! Valerie is a hoot. One heck-of-a-dresser too! It’s fun to be an iVoice with her. Your pics and recap were awesome…thx for sharing!

    Joey

  3. Great re-cap Jo-Lynne! When I first saw the picture of Romy and myself – I HATED it. I look so tired (Romy looks great – she ALWAYS looks great!) but I reminded myself that is what makes BlissDom so awesome! Yep – we are ALL tired – but meeting up with friends and making new ones is priceless! So now I LOVE the tired picture – because it reminds me of learning new things, seeing old friends and meeting new ones! So jealous I had to leave and miss the #fashiontribe – looks like you guys had a really great time!

  4. I was just there for the workshop day in the beginner’s track (where I belong!), but I hope to get better at this and go for the actual conference next year… especially since it’s in my own beloved state! You really bring it to life with your pics and your recap. It’s refreshing to know that a large group of women can come together and be so genuinely interested in listening to and encouraging each other. That must be what makes it so… blissful 🙂

  5. It was SO great to meet you in person but hopefully we can talk more next year (if I go…) but you’re right, the wonderful women who attend really make it what it is. Love all your pictures and smiles and general love for your peeps! 🙂

    P.S. your room WAS far – dang!!

    1. It was great meeting you too. When I get home there are always people I wish I had more time with. You are definitely one of those! I hope to see you there next year!

  6. i remember when you sat down w us for a bit in the hallway upstairs, i thought, hmm… i’m gonna like her! i didn’t even know there was a fashion tribe.. ??? where was i??
    i love your take on beauty… a friend and i are embarking on a project {with little direction, as of yet} to encourage self-esteem in girls… i would have loved to have been at that table when the question was asked.
    loved BlissDom, and loved meeting you.
    until next year? 🙂

  7. so glad your tribe worked out!!! i’m sorry we didn’t get to chat, things were so crazy. looks like you had a great time though 🙂

  8. It was so FABULOUS to finally meet you, JoLynne!! I agree, the reason conferences like this are so wonderful is the people. (That’s what my recap post was all about too!) And like you, I was in bed early every night. I think that’s why I’m having such a hard time finding pictures of me there 🙁 Pictures or not, it was an amazing time!

  9. Ugh…I hate I missed the shopping trip. Looks like ya’ll had a good time! Good to see you again and be in your tribe 🙂

  10. Ladies I just want ya’ll to know I was in bed with a magazine by 9:30 Thursday night! LOL

    Jo-Lynne I’m so glad we got to go shopping on Saturday. Thank you for adopting me as part of the Fashion Tribe. 🙂 (Hey I write about fashion…occasionally!) 🙂

    I agree…it’s the friendships and all the fabulous women that make Blissdom a success.

    Until next year!

    1. Hey, no one said you could only be part of one tribe! It was so nice having an official Nashvillian as a tour guide, and of course I was happy to have more time with you. xoxo

  11. That’s one huge hotel! You could train for a 5k just going back and forth from your room. It looks like you had a fabulous time. I love your take on real beauty, very true.

  12. Hi! Is the Blissdom Conference a conference that teaches you how to blog, gain blog viewership, etc? I am looking into going to a blogging conference to learn more and was wondering if this would be helpful for me? Looks like you had fun. Oh and that is a long walk you had! I wanted to stay there last year but we end up staying somewhere else because of the price at the time. I regret not staying there.

    1. Crystal, there are lots of blog conferences, and yes, that is one that will help you with those skills. There are many others, so look around and find one near you. Coming up in the next few months aare EVO, Type A Parent, and Mom 2.0.

  13. Thank you! I was not aware of those conferences. My friend has attended one that is in Colorado, but I am in Georgia so I am looking for one a little closer (no plane preferably). I see the Blissdom one has already passed obviously, so I will look into those you mentioned. Thanks again for your help!

  14. Ooh, I made quite the appearance on your recap!! I LOVE the pictures of us and the one you took of Robin, Melanie and me. So glad we got to hang out so much last week. I always love time with Jo Lynne 🙂

    1. LOL, I know, I didn’t think we spent THAT much time together but you were always there when I had my camera out, evidently. 🙂 It was SO much fun to hang out with you!!! xoxo

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