Recaps of any type are typically my least favorite thing to write, ever, but because I've included you all in my mission to learn more about blogging and get serious in this business, I consider it my bound duty to write a little about our weekend adventure! Aren't I just a dutiful little blogger?
Angel and I took a detour en-route between our home and Indianapolis, and visited a dollhouse museum (for me) and Panda Express (for Angel). It was only then that we arrived, and walked 1.5 miles from where we were staying to the hotel at which the conference was held. We found a very interesting memorial fountain on the way.
I'd previously heard that one fun aspect of conferences is the random stuff they give you to take home, and Influence Conference definitely exceeded my expectations when it came to the gift bags and random gifts that seemed to keep showing up throughout the conference.
I may not be a big fan of spending money often, but I'm known for being easily impressed when people give me interesting things that I didn't expect to receive. Here are a few of my favorite books and other pretty things from the gift bag:
To put it simply, the conference was jam-packed with activities and speakers. I think, if I counted correctly, I listened to at least 10 speakers over the course of two days. That's a lot of info. Some speakers were more geared towards blogging, while others simply seemed to be of a generally inspirational sort. I'm still contemplating how I may and may not adjust my blogging strategies based on information from speeches--but rest assured, I'll definitely be remaining very much myself.
The highlights of the conference for me were probably the evening spent getting together with a couple other young wives to chat....and also the after-lunch session when a bunch of blogger husbands got up on stage to speak. Turns out that Angel isn't the only funny husband of a blogger--these guys really kept me laughing.
And I think the highlight of the conference for Angel was getting recognized by a couple ladies as "Rachel's husband."
As far as logistics go--this is the only conference I've ever been to at all, so I don't know how it compares to others in practical aspects. I found the overall tone of the conference to be very laid-back, the organizers were approachable and friendly. I would say that there wasn't quite as much food provided for breakfast and lunch as I would have liked--but perhaps I forgot I was going to a women's conference. I'm guessing that women in general don't tend to be known for eating excessively large meals?
There were definitely moments when I felt like I was standing with a frozen smile on my face, surrounded by a sea of women who all seemed to know someone else in the crowd. I have a feeling it's somewhat of a disadvantage to attend an event like this without already having a very close relationship with a couple other bloggers in attendance. Of course, I'll honestly admit that when I'm not on my own home turf, when I'm in a completely new environment surrounded by lots of people I don't know, it's a big stretch for me to not attempt to run away. Angel can attest to the fact that when he dropped me off at the hotel every day, I was whispering silly things to myself: "I will be brave. I will be friendly. I will smile and say hi to people. I will not be scared." Leaving the conference, I am proud of how brave I was, even if my version of bravery isn't nearly as outgoing as other peoples' versions. I'm very grateful for the ladies who did adopt me, who invited me to sit with them at meals and to come and chat during breaks. I'm not that great at inviting myself into existing conversations, and I'm grateful for the people who saw that and took it upon themselves to invite me in.
This conference was a growing, stretching experience. A weekend of identifying myself as a writer and coming out in public and admitting my word-filled plans to the world at large. I may not have learned anything earth-shattering from the speeches, and I may not have returned home saying, "Oh my goodness I met my new best friend in the whole wide world!!!!"....but I'm glad I went. It was an exercise in courage.