I could write an entire post on the weirdness of getting on a plane alone, on how un-a mom I (felt like I...) looked on the outside, compelling me to awkwardly reassure all and any stranger's that I do in fact have kids at home and I never do things like this and I even homeschool!! and I'm leaving my baby home alone for the first time CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?? (blink blink blink blink)
I could write about the excitement I felt to meet some dear friends that I've only ever e-known. Or how I jumped right into boundary-less friend mode by wearing Grace's dress AND bra AND using her deodorant the very first night. Or how I slept through the Saturday breakfast even though my roommate swears she try to wake me in her "loud voice." -__-
(dress cred: Grace P., bra cred: Grace P., deodorant cred: Grace P.)
I could write about the genuine loveliness of everyone I encountered, or the food (the foooodd), or the talks, or the swag, or drinking champagne and trying on clothes in the presidential suite with Kendi... um..... . . ! I was impressed with every detail. It was as if this conference had been honed and perfected over years. It was gorgeous. Gorgeous.
Because, I felt a little like a 68. I felt a little in over my head. A little lower on the totem pole, and even a little silly at times. I wasn't a 1 or even a 20. I was a 68. I was a blogger who was having a relatively new experience, I was (am) fumbling and unaware of what I'm doing or why. I found myself responding with "Oh, just this little mom-blog, it's not a big deal" when asked what my blog was all about. I felt like I should probably be standing at the end of the line.
Do not get me wrong. This weekend was filled to the brim with information, and interaction, and countless other incredible things. It wasn't The Hundred, it was me. (Except for that I wasn't breaking up with it.)
I heard words like brand and niche and audience and it made think about how I have nooooo idea. I have none! In fact, this whole blogging experience over the past few months has felt a bit like a wave I am trying to swim towards without dipping under or running out of steam. And I love it. I love hashing things out here and sharing our life and ranting and typoing. I love it. But I don't quite know how it fits just yet, I don't quite know what it is.
If I were in any other scenario- fashion blogger, style blogger, blogging for business, not being so unaware, etc- I think the terminology would have inspired me. But, honestly, it scared me at first. It made me wonder if I had stepped into this other world that I just wasn't ready for. I knew Monday morning would still be a pot of oatmeal, and organizing curriculum, and googling "how to remove beach tar from skin." It would just be life. And this blog would be a part of it, but it would be a second part. I wondered if conferencing meant it was more, and I didn't think I wanted that even if it were true.
But I should have seen it sooner.
What I realized over the course of the weekend was that mostly everyone there would face a pot of oatmeal on Monday morning. That we were all there trying to sort out the exact same thing. Who to be, as a blogger. And how to be it.
I'm not extra special because I'm number 68. I'm just the number after 67 and the one before 69.
And the conclusions I came to are these: authenticity is really super easy to preserve because all you have to do is not be a lame jerk. I don't have to do anything I don't want to do. I can keep doing whatever I want to do. I can never have a brand. Or care. And that's fine. I will still make oatmeal on a Monday morning.
This weekend also got me thinking about partnering with brands here and there. And that's another layer of scary and yikes and teeth-clenched and should I do it? I didn't know if it would fit or if it could fit here, but then I remembered (again) that this gets to be anything. And what matters to me is that it is authentic and that it's awesome. I'm realizing that what I want is not so much a sponsor me for as it is something rad for you. If someone, somewhere wants to give me something because of this blog- I want to give it to you. Because you're the ones here, moving this whole thing along.
It's not an original concept. It's just what I saw Lauren, Grace, Megan, and Bridget do when they told us to pop those balloons on Sunday morning. It was a thank you.
So, this week I am brainstorming and thinking hard about how to incorporate some thank you's into this little slice of internet. I'm contacting a few awesome brands and putting together my own little swag bag for you guys, inspired by what I learned in Dallas. I promise it'll be things I actually care about. Products that are really, really great by people that are really, really great. If my plan unfolds how I hope it will, I'll have a swagged out table of awesome for you all to grab from from time to time. It should be good.
Other concrete goals include 1. Continued not-lameness, 2. Getting myself to The Hundred again next year 3. Convincing you to come, too and 4. Taking better photos.
Here is my first go at #4. My laundry room on Monday morning. YOU'RE WELCOME. @__@
(all other photos by Awake Photography and J Noel Photography)