One day a few months back my friend Oliva asked a question about blogging conferences. The wall of the Facebook group filled with responses, starting a long thread of a conversation. Women mentioned the conferences they had attended in the past and ones they hoped to attend in the future. They discussed what they had liked about the conferences they'd been to and what they found lacking. Cost, speakers, faith-based or not, break out sessions, meeting other bloggers face-to-face - we chatted about all of it and it was really interesting.
And then someone mentioned that what they really wanted from a blogging conference was something small, intimate, 20-maybe-30 women. Laid back, low key. No swag bags, nothing fancy, and a nice, low, affordable cost. Fun but informative, with plenty of opportunity to chat with and learn from one another. Sandwiches for lunch, spiked coffee as pick-me-up in the afternoon. Being surrounded by women who blogged and were Catholic and didn't think there was anything weird but everything wonderful about both those things.
Funny enough, there were a lot of women who wanted the same thing and by the end of the day Olivia's question had produced several regional blogging conferences for Catholic women.
Last weekend was the first one, held at Notre Dame University, and filled with women from Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
It was great. So, so great.
Katrina from Cedars and Tiny Flowers did most of the heavy lifting for the event, with a little help from Ana at Time Flies When You're Having Babies and the aforementioned Oliva from To the Heights. So mad props to them!
I was supposed to emcee the day, didn't realized there was a time zone change, and walked in 30 minutes late instead of 20 minutes early. oops.
We began with a prayer and then Rhonda took it from there, sharing lots of great graphic design tips.
My new pink shoes photobombed the spread.
One of the ways we kept costs low was asking ladies to sign up to bring a dish. Costco provided the salads and sandwiches and then sweets, fruits, and hummus all came from the attendees.
It was so cool meeting all these women whose blogs I read. What a thrill.
Lots of group photos and selfies were taken, of course. You can find the selfies under #CWBNIndiana.
There was plenty of time for chatting and sharing ideas and encouragement with one another.
And it was a really special treat for me to look around a room and think, "I read her blog, and her blog, and her blog, and her blog." All those women who usually live in my computer were right in front of me!
I was even able to rope two of my friends to come along with me for the day. I don't have a picture of Katie, but Nancy is the one on the right in the picture below. Everyone was gushing about Nancy - how sweet and wise she is - and Katie and I were like, "I know. She's our friend." Instant status boost. ;)
After lunch Nell from Whole Family Parenting did a great presentation on social media and building relationships with brands. She nailed it and did a great job talking about the importance of supporting one another as bloggers.
Then we chatted. We sat and shared. We talked about why we blog and the focus of our blog. Some of us went back to the classroom and gave one another feedback on our blogs.
We closed in prayer and then most of us headed off for dinner out on the town.
On our way off campus Katie, Nancy, and I made a couple of stops to admire Notre Dame's beauty...
It was such a great day, and if you were one of the women who attended: thank you! It was such a joy being with "my people"! I want you all to know (if you all even read this, who knows) that you doing your thing and being so authentically YOU is so inspiring to me. Your writing, crafting, blogging is making a difference. Thank you!
Back row, left to right: Amelia: One Catholic Mama, Annie: Annery at Home, Nell: Whole Family Parenting, Michelle: My Domestic Monastery, Katie: Look to Him and Be Radiant, Elizabeth: Copper Top Kitchen, Kathryn: Through a Glass Brightly, Katie: Sugar Salt Straw, Katrina: Cedars and Tiny Flowers, Melanie: Virtue and Veuve, Jacqui: Mexican Domestic Goddess, Nancy: Reading Catholic, Mary: Couch of Red, Cat: Cartwheels and Windmills
Kneeling, left to right: Ana: Time Flies When You're Having Babies, Sarah: Fumbling Toward Grace, Cammie: A Woman's Place, Me!, Amy: Motherhood & Miscellany, Anna: The Heart's Overflow, Theresa: Little House in Chicago, Caitlyn: Harvesting Home, Rhonda: Real Housekeeping, Giedre: Walking Dot Photography