Bloggy Boot Camp. It was a refreshing weekend… not one that you typically expect when traveling to Las Vegas. The loud noises and the bright lights… The obnoxious people and poorly spent wages were all lost on me. It was a time of reunion. Reuniting with women that I began this journey with nearly 5 years ago. In Internet time… 5 years is an eternity.
On that first night, as we gathered in a small, tightly knit group… I made a statement: “We grew up together.”
And we did.
It’s with these women (and many more along my journey than I could possibly list)… that I’ve developed into the role I’m in today. Their friendship and advice has been invaluable. Their cross promotion. Their re-tweets. Taking chances on each other. Supporting new endeavors.
Women like Laurie Turk… who has been a dear, trusted, friend in the often unkind world of the Internet. Laurie radiates light. She is an example of one who gives of herself, but not one who is taken advantage of. She doles out advice, measured with friendship.
Or how about Tiffany Romero? She gave me my first speaking gig. I’ll never forget when a fellow blogger said to me…”Why do you get to speak?” Following that… Tiffany took me along on the Bloggy Boot Camp Tour in 2010. It was one of the best years I’ve had in this industry… traveling across the country, meeting my peers, and soaking in all the knowledge. Today, I know I can still call and text her for her opinion on things. I trust her. And… her voice is like that of a thousand angels. She should really be a host on QVC or HSN. (That was just for you T).
Tiffany introduced me to Cynthia Wheeler… also known as NapWarden. We roomed together once in Philadelphia and discovered we had lived these sort of parallel lives. She’s since redesigned 2 of my sites and I’m on board for more. She’s given me tips and tricks and helped when I’ve gotten stuck in coding. She’s irreplaceable. I always recommend her.
There’s Danielle Smith… who I first met as Extraordinary Mommy (she’s since become Danielle Smith TV). A beautiful, television journalist turned blogger… Danielle has gone through the same struggles many of us have in this business. Mainly, balancing family and work. This industry is 24/7. When do we find time to unplug? Danielle has been very candid about her experiences and shared a session on this particular trip about how she’s managed to make office hours. I admire that.
I remember the night I first met Theresa Seid. She was having a Wii Dance Party in her home. How did it come to be? I’m not sure other than discovering we had a mutual connection to the man who seems to connect everyone, my mentor, Ted Rubin. And it was from Theresa, that I met my karaoke singing soul sister, Mary Burt-Godwin. And from there… the dewy faced, gorgeous Stefanie Mullen.
I looked around the small table that night and realized how lucky I am to have fallen into such an amazing group of peers. Yes… I’ve taken a slightly different path. I managed to turn my knowledge of content development and online branding into a lucrative career in Community Building. But they’re still my peers. In fact… we’ve all taken a slightly different path since the day we wrote our first blog posts. From developing successful conference tours to sharing tips and DIY to millions each month, to vlogging, to consulting… I’d say this group covers it all.
It was an amazing weekend filled with new and old friends. There were fantastic sessions (and still much to be learned). There was time to sneak away for a diet soda with a friend and a chance to bounce new ideas off of one another. There were laughs and hugs… and even a few tears.
And what stuck with me the most? A compliment. One of the most heartfelt compliments I’ve ever received. I was told that I haven’t changed. That I’ve not become jaded or let the space change me. That I’ve not bent in order to conform. That I’ve not jumped on the latest band wagon. That I’m still me.
And you know what? I’m ok with that. In fact… I’m proud to know that is my legacy so far.
Thank you dear sweet friends for helping me to keep my feet planted. If it hadn’t been for you (and others like you along the way)… I’d long since have been bent and broken.
*Disclaimer… I wish I had the time to list ALL of the amazing people who have been a part of my life during this blogging journey but I wanted to focus this post on those bloggers who were there at this particular small gathering. I try to make an effort each day to let each person who impacts me know how very important they are to me. I couldn’t do it without my “core” peeps. Someday I will attempt to list you all… *much love*