Last weekend I attended my first ever blogging conference. In many ways, it was my birthday gift to my blog. At the end of April, I will be celebrating the 5th anniversary of SMART Living 365. But what does any of that have to do with you, my dear readers? Just like with so many other SMART topics, when we think about it, we can learn and grow from any situation we experience. Even better, when we open our minds and our hearts, there is a good chance we can also have a fantastic and fun time. With that in mind, I jotted down a few things I learned over the weekend that I thought might prove SMART for us all.
The conference I attended was Bloggers at Midlife, or #BAMC16 as it heavily broadcasted on social media. With millions of blogs existing on the internet, it can be challenging to find your niche as a blogger. It can also be isolating and lonely. Fortunately, the founders of BAM decided to throw a conference and bring over 150 midlife bloggers and sponsors together to learn from one another, be encouraged and have fun. What did I bring home with me? Here are a few of the takeaways:
Find your tribe or your BFF (Blogging Friend Forever!) Like most everyone there, I
had never met any of the other bloggers in person before I arrived. Of course, I follow and read some of them on a regular basis, but that’s not the same as knowing them in person. However, one blogger named T.O. Weller and I had SKYPED and emailed several times before arriving. T.O., or Tracey, is the author of NeverTooLateToWrite.com and from the first time I read her work I resonated with her message. Fortunately, she appreciated mine, and through the internet we became friends. When I heard she would be attending #BAMC16, I knew I would have at least one friend there to connect with. After spending four days together, laughing, talking and sharing ideas, I now consider Tracey my BSF, or my blogging sister forever.
Happily, I also connected with about a half-dozen other women who I have always read and admired. While I may have considered myself their friend before our meeting, the act of looking into each other’s eyes while talking, whispering in their ear with a private thought, and hugging them one-on-one is a priceless advantage. Before the conference, I would have called them friends. Now I call them BFFs!
The thing is, it doesn’t matter whether you or I connect with each other at a conference or anywhere else. What is important is that we reach out and form close relationships. I’ve written plenty about how vital community is to our health and happiness, and this is a perfect example. Is it risky? Yes, it can be. Any of these women could have ignored me, or even worse, rejected me after meeting at the conference. But without risking the possibility, I would never have been given the opportunity. Do it!
Never stop learning or growing! I know, I KNOW that I say this frequently here on SMART Living, but it really is a 365-day challenge. A huge part of an exciting, fulfilling and meaningful experience here on planet Earth is continual growth. Even after five years of blogging SMART Living and three years before that on another site, this conference offered dozens of tips and ideas to explore and consider. While a big part of me is proud of what I have created in the past, if I stopped now my blog, my writing, and my life would begin to shrink and atrophy. Instead, in the months to come I am challenged to integrate a new blog design, some video, and possibly a closely-aligned sponsor or two. Who knows? What I do know is that everyone of us, no matter what our interests and passions, needs to continue to grow and learn for as long as we live in order to live SMART 365.
Break your routine and get out of your comfort zone! Like most of us, I can get pretty comfortable with my routines. Spending a bunch of money to go to a conference where I really didn’t know anyone, to learn things I wasn’t sure I needed to know, and spend time doing who knows what, can be challenging. Did I go anyway? Absolutely. And isn’t that the SMART message we all need to hear on a regular basis? As we’ve all heard before, I doubt there will be a time at the end of our lives when we say to ourselves, “I wish I stayed home and surfed the Internet more.” Get up, get out, and get moving!
Laughing and having fun is a big part of a joyful life. In case you are wondering, this conference was far from a two-day work intensive. The #BAMC16 organizers made sure to include ample and delicious food, generous and creative schwag from the sponsors, and a 70’s Disco Party with a DJ on Friday night. While laughing and dancing with 50 new friends might not be something that makes your heart sing, it highlighted my weekend. What is SMART, of course, is finding and then doing what makes each of us tingle deep inside with joy.
Going to this blogging conference and connecting with other creative and powerful bloggers was just what I needed to celebrate my blog now and in the days to come. Of course, many of the ideas I took away from there aren’t really new or unique. Instead, I was reminded of some simple and SMART ideas that make for a great life. Whatever you do, and wherever you go in the days ahead, I encourage you to make them part of your SMART life, 365.
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