5 Things I Learned at BlogHer 2013

Aug 03


I’m glad I went to
BlogHer 2013

One of the big things I learned at BlogHer 2013 is that I forget to take pictures when I’m really engaged or when the room is too noisy. I had planned to write a lovely, fully-illustrated post about the wonders of all I saw and learned at BlogHer 2013.

Instead, I find that I have a random collection of photographs. Some of them are lovely. Some of them are terribly blurry. Argh.

So, without further ado, here’s what I learned.

1. Don’t bother to take your nice camera on out of town trips. My iPhone did a fine job and it’s THERE. It’s always in my hand or in my purse or in my pocket. It weighs almost nothing. I never took my good camera out of the bag. I could have lost or damaged it. From now on, the good camera stays home when I fly and I’ll think twice before taking it when I’m driving.

Chicago from my hotel window     Anne and Dresden     Gluten free food just for me!

Chicago from my hotel window…… Anne and Dresden…… Gluten free food just for me!

2. Parties aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. I joined this amazing Facebook group about two months ago where I learned about parties at BlogHer. (Thank you, Valerie!) In that group I met some lovely people and learned about how to get invitations to parties.

I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself in to. I have been to all kinds of conventions and events over the years. Some of them were huge and some of them were tiny. I’ve been to conventions where I was among a select group of people invited to small, incredibly expensive dinners.

However, I’d never heard the term “outboarding” before. Outboarding is when potential sponsors of an event refuse to participate on an official basis, but they invite attendees to separate parties, dinners, meetings, etc. during said event.

In the event planning world, outboarding is considered highly unethical. The non-sponsors are taking advantage of the fact that the official event has gathered this group of people into a city and then they steal them from having face-time with real sponsors who have paid for the privilege.

In the case of BlogHer 2013, one of the official sponsors was White Cloud, the toilet paper people. Cottenelle, another toilet paper company, was a major sponsor of an off-site party. I spoke to the White Cloud man at the expo. He wanted to interview me about my toilet paper use. I declined, but I got a picture of him in his toilet paper hat. I went to the party with Cottenelle. They sent me toilet paper in the mail before I arrived and had staff on hand at their party doing hair and nails. I got my hair put up. It was a nice party but so incredibly noisy that I didn’t stay all that long.

I went to an official party at the convention hotel sponsored by Visit South Walton. The party was beautiful and classy. They had a great band, Dread Clampitt, and when I couldn’t eat ANY of the food the staff rustled up a plate of gluten free food just for me. If you’re planning a beach visit, check out their website.

Visit South Walton is the official tourism site for 16 beach communities in the Florida panhandle, and they represent some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Seriously. Go if you get a chance. I grew up in north Mississippi, and to me, going to the beach means going to the South Walton area.

But back to the parties.

I went to some that were too loud and a couple that were a complete waste of my time. On the other hand, I walked out of some official BlogHer events because they were too loud. If I can’t have a conversation I don’t want to be there. The next time I go to BlogHer, I will be much more selective.

Parties and Toilet Paper

Parties and Toilet Paper

3. It never hurts to ask.  BUT

4. Don’t believe everything they tell you.

So, I keep mentioning on here that I have a problem with gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, and rye. I can’t eat gluten. It makes me sick in an unhappy-digestive-system kind of way. That’s all you need to know.

Everywhere I went I had to ask if the food was safe for me to eat. Sometimes there was almost nothing I could eat. I found myself asking if they could provide gluten free food. At a few parties the staff went out of their way to accommodate my needs. I’m so glad I asked.

OTOH, at one meal I was told by the Sheraton staff that the couscous was gluten free. Umm, the definition of couscous is that it’s made out of wheat. I didn’t believe them, and I didn’t take that chance.

5. The best moments are unexpected. I went to BlogHer 2013 with a plan and a schedule, but I knew that I needed to be flexible. I found myself wandering away from a party because it was too noisy and instead I had a delightful conversation with the developer of Raved. I went downstairs to find a taxi and bumped into my dear friend Anne of NotaSuperMom fame and met her friend Dresden. I went to the AARP cocktail party and had a long, deep conversation with a young woman about emotional abuse.

All in all, I’m glad I went to BlogHer 2013. I met people that I’d only “known” on the internet. I learned a few things about blogging. I got to spend time with a few old friends (Hi, Julia, Chloe, and Anne!) and made new friends. I accomplished what I set out to do even if I didn’t always follow my planned schedule.

Mostly, I hope that I’ll always remember that the best moments in life are unexpected. I need to slow down and look for the joy in the moment as well as how those moments fit into the big picture.

Best Moments Small

Savor the Moment

What did you learn in July? Please share in the comment box!

Elizabeth Siggy

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  1. Love the pictures! Of course the White Cloud guy is my favorite just cause it’s unexpected! Thank you for your input…blog partner Barb also has issues with gluten and she, too, needs to wind her way through that path. Thanks for sharing!

    • Elizabeth Lee /

      Wasn’t the White Cloud guy fun? I talked to him for quite awhile. He’s single, but doesn’t tell potential dates about the toilet paper hat.

  2. I agree with you on the parties.. the way they were talked about… the way they were hyped up, invite only? I was a little let down by some.. but I have to be honest.. the awesome party lived up to it’s name. I wish I would’ve stayed there and not gone to any of the others.

  3. Hi Elizabeth! We sat next to each other at the #GenFab breakout session. So glad I got to meet you and those EYES!!! You could light up a room!

    • Elizabeth Lee /

      Hey, Cheryl! I loved meeting you. Wasn’t that session great?

  4. Thanks for the insight about BlogHer. It sounds like such a rich and complex phenomenon. I enjoyed reading bout your unplanned moments. Cool!

    • Elizabeth Lee /

      Hi, Karen. Thanks for stopping by. BlogHer is quite an experience.

  5. I was thrilled you were there. You made it so fun! I’d thought events had come further with regard to gluten-free food. I’m glad to hear people at least tried, even though it sounds like some education is still needed.

    • Elizabeth Lee /

      Hey, Anne! I’m glad we got to spend some time together at BlogHer. See you again soon.

  6. It must be terribly difficult to go to an event like that where you have almost no control over the menu, and find things that are safe to eat.
    I know you’re used to it by now, in a way, but meal after meal, in a big city, without easy access to a grocery store, it must be tough.
    Good for you for being open to the unexpected events.
    Most often, I think THOSE are the divine appointments.

  7. What a great list! I hope you will make it to BlogHer ’14! 🙂

  8. Ann it’s your amazing eyes that always get me. What a color. I think you’re right about parties etc. Just go it the flow of what you enjoy and then be up for surprises.

  9. Why does my picture show up as a ball with bandaids? Anyone know?

  10. What a great recap post! This was my first conference and it was rough for me since I went alone. I was wondering how people get invited to those private parties. I’m not on Facebook so I don’t know if I’d even figure it out for next time. I heard others complaining about the lack of gluten free options too. More and more people need to eat GF and I have no doubt that next year they will be more accomodating. Great pictures!

  11. It sounds like it was a great trip. I have played around with going a couple of times, but never have made the commitment.

    • Elizabeth Lee /

      Rumor says that it will be on the west coast next year. Maybe you could visit your kids and hang out with the ladies of BlogHer? I hear that it’s GREAT fun for men who attend. Everybody remembers who you are.

  12. Lois Alter Mark /

    Great piece. I wish I had spent less time at the parties, too, and more time getting to know YOU! Next year, for sure! xo

  13. I agree with number 5! And so glad I met you.

  14. Sounds like overall you had a positive conference experience. I’m sad to hear the G-free issue was so prevalent. I had high hopes that places had jumped onto that need and started recognizing it. Sigh. The more they know, hopefully, the better they’ll be in the future.

    • Elizabeth Lee /

      In some ways the gluten problem is easier since there are so many GF foods available, but it some ways it’s worse. So many people have jumped on the gluten free bandwagon because they think they’ll lose weight or be “healthier.” And then those same people will eat a croissant because it tastes good. Those of us who must eat GF lose credibility in the eyes of people in the food service industry. Makes me sad/mad.

  15. I loved spending time with you during dinner at “the pub”, Timothy O’Tooles wasn’t it? And I can’t believe I didn’t see you again, so many people!!!! We’ll always have Thursday night!!!!! x Michelle

    • Elizabeth Lee /

      Hi, Michelle! That was a fun night. You are coming next year, right?

  16. Great wrap up. It was a pleasure meeting you at BlogHer, though our interaction was far too brief. I look forward to another gathering where we can all just CHAT not party. Cheers!

    • Elizabeth Lee /

      I propose that next year we all arrive a day early and have a GenFab playdate. We can do touristy things and have a lovely lunch before the madness begins!


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