Tag: Blissdom Conference

Nashville Under Water

When Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast and Flooded New Orleans, my mother-in-law watched the news with rapt attention. She was strolling Bourbon Street with her husband and my nephew just days before the storm. Like everyone who watched, I ached for all those who were lost and chaos that ensued, but I didn’t have the personal connection.

The flooding in Nashville while on a slightly different scale, impacts me on a more personal level. I’ve been to Nashville three times. I was JUST there in the beginning of February for a conference at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Opryland is now under ten feet of water. The pictures and the news stories are jarring.

In 2003, I organized a trip for a group of Adults with Albinism. We stayed near Opryland and took a fabulous walking tour of Nashville, that included Centennial Park, Fort Nashboro and First Avenue. We ate dinner at the food court of Opry Mills and enjoyed a cruise down the Cumberland on the General Jackson Riverboat. All of these areas have been affected by the floods.

Photo Credit Just Malia from Justmalia.com

I’ve returned twice since for Blissdom, a wonderful blogging conference. This last time Blissdom was held at Opryland. When I said I was going to Opryland, people rolled their eyes. “Have a guhd time y’all” they said. Opryland has a reputation for being a touch over the top, but honestly, I think it was a great place to hold a conference. It is the epitome of Southern hospitality and the lush gardens were a welcome respite from the raw New England Winter. Opryland was a back drop for such a wonderful event in my recent memory, it is hard to see the stories of the destruction.

I also think of the people of Nashville and their loss. So far, nineteen deaths have been directly attributed to the flood, but not everyone has been accounted for. Then there are the material losses. Most people don’t have flood insurance and flood damage is NOT covered under regular homeowners policies. That means a huge burden during already tough economic times. What about all the businesses? All the products lost? Facilities damaged? There will be some businesses that will not recover from this catastrophe.

Nashville is coming in to their busiest season for tourism. The long term economic impact of the floods, remains to be seen. According to the Tennessean, Opryland is home to twelve percent of Nashville’s hotel rooms that generate approximately one fifth of Nashville’s hotel tax revenue. Ouch! The Gaylord team is doing its best to reschedule smaller events with other Nashville hotels, but Opryland is one of, if not the, largest facility in Nashville. There are some events that will have to be cancelled or moved to other cities. As a former event planner, that gives me a headache just thinking about it. Other groups with events that are relatively close, but still months away are in a holding pattern until the water recedes and officials have a chance to assess the damage.

All of this said, not ALL of Nashville is under water. The airport opened yesterday and only Opryland and one other smaller hotel (a Hampton Inn) are closed due to the flooding. The honky tonks and the clubs on Second Avenue are open for business. I guess they really have a lot to sing about now.

If you want to help, you can make a donation of the Red Cross Chapters of Middle Tennessee.

If you want to help long term, put a note on your calendar to check out Nashville mid-summer, and into the fall. I bet you’ll find some awesome deals to be had as tourism officials work to remind the world that Nashville survived the rising water.

A huge shout out to the Tennessean.com for truly excellent coverage of the floods. Information was readily available and well organized. It has to be hard to report on the destruction, but their team has done a great job.

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Found My Bliss At Blissdom ’10

Images from the Blissdom'10 ConferenceI’m home, I’m jazzed and I’m really glad I went to Blissdom10 in Nashville.

I was fortunate to have an awesome travel experience. Unfortunately, some got stuck in Nashville unable to leave due to the massive storm that socked the mid-Atlantic region. Although I guess there are worse things than being stuck at the lovely Gaylord Opryland Resort, I know I was glad to get home.

Thanks to my roommate Jennifer Wilson. It was pure serendipity (and great luck on my part) that we ended up rooming together, but I couldn’t have asked for a more fun and considerate roommate. Jennifer blogs about digital scrapbooking here at Simple Scrapper and also about life and food at Midwest Neruotica. Pop over and see her and tell her I sent you.

At the beginning of the conference, Alli Worthington one of the conference organizers told the assembly of 500+ women “We decided to go big or go home” and I’m really glad they didn’t go home. Blissdom ’10 was a great event and their hard work showed at every turn. Hats off to Alli Worthington, Barbara Jones and Paula Bruno. Take a bow ladies, ya done good.

My roommate Jennifer came to the conference armed with a specific list of goals and questions. In hindsight, I did too, but I didn’t wasn’t conscious of them them in advance and they were more internal than external.

Of late, I have been feeling overwhelmed. I know I want to write, I know I want to blog, but making time to write, making it a priority has been a real challenge. As much as I was really looking forward to the conference, I felt guilty about going since I wasn’t blogging as much as I would have liked. I was also feeling put upon and weighed down by family responsibilities.

This weekend away surrounded by all things blogging, brought me to some important realizations. No one is going to make this happen but me and I really DO want to make this happen. No one is stealing my time to write but me. No one is asking me to put myself at the bottom of the list, but me. It was a disturbing, but freeing realization. Freeing because if there is one thing I am certain about in life, it is that I cannot change others, but I can change me. And, since I’m the one causing the problems, I can fix them too.

While I Blissdom, I generated a number of important questions about my blogs, and I also identified some next steps that must be taken. Lastly, I practiced some self care. I made sure I ate relatively well, I socialized, but I also snagged some alone time. Most importantly, to me, I exercised all three days. The first day, I walked in the gray 40 degree temperatures. I was nice to be outside with only a fleece. The second and third day, I swam in Opryland’s amazing indoor pool. It was an excellent kick start to the day.

Blissdom has given me tons of content for this blog. A few sessions provided some interesting writing prompts, which generated some writing that with just a little tweeting will be posted here. I met lots of awesome people some of whom I want to introduce you to. While I have a renewed focus my writing, there are still only so many hours in a day, and a large number of my hours are committed to nurturing my marriage, raising two beautiful kids maintaining our home, so I’m going to string you along 🙂 and share bits and pieces of information as I can.

Lest you think I am all talk and no action, I have made some changes. I committed to leaving the house twice a week to write. To that end, I woke up early Monday morning, early enough to dress, shower and even put on a little make-up before I woke the kids. I made conscious choices about the clothes I put on, maintaining comfort, but also insisting on style. I did the same things at Blssdom and felt like they were good habits to continue. After I put the kids on the bus I made a beeline to Starbucks. My husband did an awesome job holding down the fort while I was gone, but, there were piles on the island and laundry awaited. I was (still am) behind on my Facebook news feed and Twitter, not to mention my RSS feed reader, but I was there, at the keyboard writing and I can’t tell you how good that felt.

So, thank you to the producers of Blissdom, thank you to my tribe (more on that later) and thank you to my husband for his support. I am home, I am jazzed and I’m on it!

Blissdom highlights
Kevin Carroll’s inspiring presentation including:

  • “Your work can be your play if you always have joy.”
  • “How’s your want to? Can’t do anything with a broken want to.”
  • “Sometimes you need to resign from adulthood.”
  • I also learned the rules to the game toilet tag.

Learning the phrase “Brain Porn” from Megan Jordan.

The awesome media training session from Dan Barber at Fleishman-Hillard. I’ve been a part of media out reach campaigns before, so not all of his information was knew to me, but it was awesome to have all the important information included in one place and Dan related to the audience exceptionally well.

Bearing witness to a reader recognizing a blogger she reads regularly (BookieBoo) and smile of pride that crossed the blogger’s face when BookieBoo lavishly complimented her dress.

My awesome tote bag from Land’s End

My husband tweeting he wished I’d win a Roomba from iRobot.

The yummy Hebrew National Hot dogs in puff pastry (thank you ConAgra foods for your sponsorship).

I met LOTS of people.  I have a 1 inch stack of business cards to sort through, but it was cool meeting two bloggers I regularly read, Amy from Chicken and Cheese and Casey from Moosh In Indy IRL.

The pool at the Opryland hotel.

I had a “ME TOO” moment during the Striking Balance session when Megan Jordan admitted she was completely overwhelmed by the check list from the Building Community session.  I seriously gained some perspective when she explained what she was going to do to battle the overwhelm.

Watching Casey sit straddling a wall four feet high to get great shots of Harry Connick Junior.

All the cute babies that thankfully were not mine.

The flower arrangements for the arrangements Redenbacker pop corn break. The arrangements coordinated with the types of popcorn being served. (like Limes with Salt, or cheddar cheese).

The creative center pieces at lunch on Friday and discovering that I do like grilled eggplant. I might just have to go buy George Duran’s book. He swears I’ll like Brussels sprouts if I do. I’m skeptical, but after the eggplant, I might give it a try.

Southwest airlines calling ME to rebook my cancelled flights.

Watching Casey and Tanis sing redneck woman

Admiring all the little chubby cheeks and nummy toes but not having to deal with the smelly diapers or the cranky babies 😦

Watching Casey dedicate “I Want You To Want Me” to Heather Spohr (a.k.a Mamaspohr ) at Karaoke.  I don’t know the back story, but both of these ladies have been through there own personal versions of hell this past year and their friendship is inspiring.

I have a list of action items that I will be tackling slowly.  The truth is on a good day I have about 2.5 uninterrupted hours a day to work and very few days fall into the category of “good days” in that respect, but, I’m going to keep plugging away because I have recommitted to my passion thanks to the Ladies of Blissdom.

Finding My Bliss

Blissdom Conference ~ Nashville ~ February 4-6 2010

I knew I wanted to blog the first time I visited a blog.  Eventually, I knew I had gone as far as a solo event planner as I wanted to and it was time to move towards a career in freelance writing.  I thought I’d start in September of 2009, but it is amazing how much you can’t get done with an active five year old in the house.
So instead, this year is a building year.  Two of the three blogs that I want to write regularly, are up and running in their most basic form.  The third will have to wait awhile until I feel this blog and This New Hampshire Life are getting what they need from me with regards to regular posting and finding their audiences.
This weekend, I am heading to Nashville for The Blissdom Conference.  I attended last year and I’m really looking forward to attending again. The content was just amazing and I had such a good time meeting people. There were over 200 women and the facility was overwhelmed by all the attendees, this year, the organizers stepped things up a notch and we are going to Opryland Y’all!
As a recovering event planner, I completely understand what it takes to pull together an event of this caliber for 500 women.  Hats off to Allison Worthington and Barbara Jones for all their hard work.
I also want to extend my thanks to ConAgra foods and all the other sponsors.  As a family we are not a huge consumer of pre-packaged foods, but a quick peek at the ConAgra web site shows a few brands that inhabit my pantry including Hunts and Pam and Hebrew National (except I keep the hot dogs in the ‘fridge).
I made the switch to Hebrew National a few years back during the Mad Cow scare.  I like that beef is the first item in the ingredients list and water is the second.  With the remaining ingredients taking up less than 2% of the hot dog.  I’m not going to tell you that hot dogs are a healthy food, but in my opinion, Hebrew National is a healthier choice especially when dealing with two picky eaters.
Hebrew National is one of the few premium brands I purchase (we call them tube steaks), but I think in this case it is worth it. Some weeks, my five year old’s only sources of protein are American Cheese and Hebrew National hot dogs. Thanks to ConAgra for the coupon for the free package of hot dogs!
I’m looking forward to the trip as a learning experience, but also as a get away from day to day life. Along with the educational sessions, there are several official parties and many being run along side the conference.  I’m leaving my options open but as it stands now, I am looking forward to some quiet time in between the learning.   I’m looking forward to meeting new people, but and uninterrupted hour with my laptop sounds mighty appealing these days too. I’m also hoping to squeeze in some time to exercise.  That’s a lot to fit into 3 conference days!
Hopefully you’ll see the results of my attendance in this here space in the near future. In the mean time, I need to pack!