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Tomorrow I’m heading to Nashville for the Blissdom Conference. And while I’m there I have a list of workshops and discussion sessions I’m planning to attend. Oh, and I’ll be leading one of those fancy-pants sessions too. (no pressure!). I’ll be meeting up with people I met last year and haven’t seen since. There are also a few that I’ve seen at other conferences and always love to see. And, of course, there are those I only know because of their blog and Twitter.
I’ll be surrounded by fabulous bloggers. Women I admire for all sorts of reasons. Some for their ability to face difficulties with grace and elegance, others for being at the other end of Skype whenever I’ve typed in ‘Hello’. I have about 100 different blogs in my Google Reader, many of them that no matter how frequently they post or what it’s about as soon as I see it I click on it and go to their blog because I know that whatever they write will be as if they’re talking with me.
There are two women I met at Blissdom last year that left such an imprint on me that I often wonder what I had done to deserve their friendship. I was, after all, only about a month into this blog. But each of them, rock stars in their own right, welcomed me like I was family.
Meeting people at a cocktail party can be a bit unnerving. You’re standing up (in heels!), starving and dying of thirst. Yet trying not to slurp down your drink like you just finished the Ironman or pile your plate high like you’re practicing for some Fourth of July eating contest.
So there I was, knowing no one, saying hi and trying to fit in when Heather Sokol puts down her drink and asks me what’s good to eat. That’s gluten free. Lucky me! Because I know the answer and I could actually have a real conversation. So even though Heather is this big time blogger about money saving ideas, she’s talking to me! And talk we did. And have ever since. Heather’s one of those bloggers who is confident and sure of herself, and it shows in her posts. And while Heather can talk about SEO, how to budget, and make a grocery shopping list seem like something all the cool kids do, she is the epitome of the down to earth midwestern girl she strives to be. She has been a mentor and a friend not only to me, but to quite a few others. She definitely puts the social in social media!
And there I was with Heather at the Jack Daniel’s Saloon at the Opryland, talking like we’ve known each other for, well, for definitely longer than 20 minutes and up walks Mary Anne. Wearing gorgeous shoes and sporting the most welcoming smile, I had to say hi! And there we stood for the next half-hour or so talking about all kinds of things not related to blogging. So much so that all I knew was that her name was Mary Anne, until we were about to leave and exchanged business cards. I had been talking to The Stiletto Mom! Mary Ann is fabulous because she makes this blogging thing look so easy. She doesn’t stress about who’s reviewing what or taking a trip to awesometown this week. She writes because it matters to her. And that’s why it matters to other people. And while I will try to act all cool when I see her at Blissdom, I really want to tell her that she’s like my fairy blogmother and that I’m glad she helps me focus on why I blog.
Now, what if you find out that the authors of a magazine column you read have a blog. Well, you go read the blog too. Right? I no longer needed to wait for my monthly lawyer magazine to read about lawyers and work/life balance. Every day (or almost everyday) I could get my own personal little article from Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple from their blog The New Perfect. Hollee is a lawyer like me. She’s also a professor of law (like me in my dreams). I’ve gotten to know both of them through their blog and twitter and it’s like we’ve been friends for years. They’ve spent years encouraging women to allow themselves some breathing room. And not be so hard on themselves. I felt like they were talking to me. And, well, now they do!
Had I not gained the confidence these four women encourage in my blogging, I’d never have met Annabel Candy of the internationally read Get In The Hot Spot. Like Hollee and Becky, Annabel encourages her readers (and friends) to ‘empower your life‘. I met Annabel in Las Vegas, which is nearly halfway around the world from her slice of paradise in Australia. At a party where I was the least recognized person, Annabel embraced me, laughed with me and encouraged me to make this, my Year of Awesome, one where I would ‘get the life you want‘. She lives half a world away but she still finds time to send me encouragement. She’s honest and blunt, but never to make you feel bad. She truly does want me (and you!) to succeed, not just in blogging but in those areas of life I choose to focus. Annabel knows that we don’t go it alone in this world. Meeting her and becoming friends is one of the highlights of my Year of Awesome.
I could go on and on with a long list of fabulous blogger. But what I’ll do is for the next several weeks I’ll introduce you to the bloggers – both men and women – that I find interesting, inspiring, funny, smart, and are good people. But before I close, I have one other blogger I’d like to add to this, my first list of bloggers I think are pretty fabulous.
With readers on every continent (and probably other planets even), Darren Rowse definitely puts the pro in Problogger. An unassuming gentleman, I had the pleasure of meeting Darren (no, we’re not BFFs but I do’t think he’d mind my calling him Darren) at Blog World Expo in Las Vegas. I actually met him twice there. The first time was at a private party that CycleGuy was invited to attend for his media company. There were a bunch of ‘big time’ bloggers there. I recognized Darren because he looks like he does on his website. The second time I met him was at a party he hosted. Just a casual get together to thank his readers and hang out with his friends. And while I’m a lurker and attempt to implement all of his blogging tips, I’ve also had the chance to tweet with him socially. I’m up late and because of the time zone I’ve found myself exchanging tweets with Darren periodically. He’s is what every blogger should strive to be. Not the monetization stuff or the blogger with mega stats. I mean, the genuine and real person. A rock star who replies to tweets from someone with a few hundred followers. Someone who when meeting a total stranger makes you feel like you’re important. And Darren is fabulous for any number of blogging-related reasons. But for me, he’s fabulous because he made me feel that I belonged in the blogging world. And for that I will always be thankful.
It was so difficult to limit this to just 5, which is why I’m turning this into a series. Who would be your Fave 5?
Don’t forget to enter the 50 Fabulous Wishes contest for a chance to win $1,000 to support a friend’s wish. I was selected for this Tropicana Trop50 sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do. I received compensation to use and facilitate my post.