Good evening, and happy my last night as a 23 year old!! Before you know it (less than 3 hours from now!!) EDIT: Post started last night, and published today! Ooops.
I’ll officially be 24 years old. On August 24th. That, right there, is a Golden Birthday, y’all. I spent the eve of my 24th birthday where I’ve spent the past 4 birthdays (at least at the start): The living room of my fraternity. I enjoyed my 20th Birthday there hosting a “That’s So Jordan” Birthday Party. Yup, a theme party themed after myself. When you ask yourself “What Would Jordan Do” like I suggested in last night’s recap post of the HLS Cocktail Party, well, that’s a great answer.
After the hijinx of the cocktail party (broken umbrellas, tummies full of tacos [in Ali‘s case], bellies full of beers [in my case], and exhaustion), we crashed hard at Chez Ali. I was snuggle buddies with Krissie, but we kept things pretty PG, so don’t think you’re gonna get any of that type of hijinx in this post.
Though I have cereal nearly every morning at work (mostly that Fiber One 80 calorie goodness that I talked about before), it’s really not my breakfast of choice. I’d always prefer a warm morning meal with a bit of meat to start things off. I totally recognize the decision to have the food options they had, but that hard boiled egg and cereal certainly left me wanting some eggs of a more scrambled nature. The Lehigh Valley Dairy milk was, IMHO, the star of the show, and as a Pennsylvania native, it was glorious to enjoy a tiny carton of real, local milk.
First on the agenda was an Icebreaker, sponsored by Glam Media and Bliss.com.
I’ll shoot you straight: I. hate. icebreakers. This one, while active, didn’t really break too much ice for me. Basically, we all walked around demanding to know who doesn’t eat dairy products, who was over 6′ tall (that one was an easy one to find…. and it was me), and who composted at home. The funniest part of this event was when someone at my table REALLY broke the ice by telling us the tale of a neighbor who composted their poop. Can you even imagine? Just considering the idea of visiting a neighbor, seeing them outside washing a giant bucket, and wondering…. did they just poop in there? Yeah, that resulted in some belly laughs.
Anyway, I didn’t win a Lululemon gift card. I wasn’t too upset.
Once the ice was thoroughly broken, it was time to get to the sessions. The best part of this whole “conference made up of bloggers” thing was ABSOLUTELY keeping up with things through live tweeting. As I mentioned to Allison, it was like the most public note passing of all. And it helped keep things light and funny, which can be tough to do sometimes with panels on negativity and how the “numbers game” can drive you crazy.
There have been countless recaps of the sessions. I’m a little late on the game when it comes to HLS recaps, so I’ll just include a few pictures of my favorite moments from the rest of the day, followed by some major takeaways.
Not to be confused with the Annexation of Puerto Rico.
And here’s a shot of my accommodations waiting for my ride home:
Having just filled out my HLS Questionnaire, I have a lot of thoughts about the Summit as a whole.
- It’s amazing to meet new people, but can be really hard to do that when other folks are less interested in branching out than you are. Being a newbie (and proud of it), I wanted to soak up EVERYONE! But many people were there to reunite with friends that they’ve known forever and maybe only get to see once a year. I totally understand that, and this isn’t a pity party by any means because I had a good time. But it almost made me wish that I could only have a conference of folks who’d never met before, just to level the playing field.
- There are a lot of stereotypical “healthy living blog” cliches that are totally real. I’ve never seen people go so crazy over cereals and nut butters. My feelings about both of these: decent. But not life-changing. And honestly, before this weekend, I don’t think I’ve eaten a nut butter in over 6 months.
- I was surprised by how many people believed they could be or should be professional bloggers. The presentation given by Katy Widrick on Monetizing Your Blog was so eye opening at what it would take to become a professional blogger. I talked to a few people, at the summit, IRL, and online, who seem to just expect that they’d start writing about their lives and they’d start having companies flock to them for product reviews and sponsorships. If you work long and hard (let’s say…. 2-3 years, and make blogging your fulltime career for some), maybe you’ll get enough readers to make blogging financially support you. But it’s just not the norm.
- I really wish that there had been more guys there. Now, let me explain this. I was NOT coming to Philly for a manhunt. Trust me, I get to date this stud:
But I really get the feeling that if there were more males around other than the 4 that I’m aware of (oh, and Mark, one of the DrinkChia sponsor folks, who was just the BEST!) maybe it would’ve felt less like a lady sleepover party and more like a summit of likeminded folks coming together and discussing something they love. Then again, this is another thing I can’t control because the HLB community ITSELF is dominated by women. I just couldn’t help but think it.
- The sessions were all good, but I especially liked the ones that felt like they were truly from the heart. The one regarding Rising Above Negativity illustrated issues that each of the panel members had experienced, and something that everyone experiences in their lifetimes. I was also touched hearing Lisa‘s story in the numbers game presentation because you could feel her emotions in her words. Even Katy’s post on Monetizing Your Blog felt like she was so passionate about wanting everyone to make bank that it resonated. I didn’t feel like that with all the presentations. Action Mantras, while effective, can feel contrived and hokey. The Flexitarian Diet… I just don’t think it’s for me, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s just definitely not HERE (meaning on my blog).
- For me, the point of attending HLS was as an adventure. I wanted to challenge myself to meet new people, to step out of my comfort zone, to do something I’ve never done before. I came, I talked about myself, I talked to strangers, I walked around Philly (well, actually, I have done that). And I actually did get a rush, like a lighter version of my skydiving trip.
- But I still felt out of place. And I couldn’t help but read all the tweets from the Beer Blogger’s Conference in Portland and miss those folks who enjoy the carbonated suds I love so much. Too much of a good thing can be quickly become a bad thing. And I felt like this nonexistent “formula for a healthy living blogger” was followed to a T by some folks who were trying so hard to present themselves in this light that I missed out on getting to know the true them. The point of meeting bloggers IRL is to see what maybe you don’t get to see on their blog. To go deeper than the internet’s surface. And while there were definitely a few folks there who did this well, there were enough folks that looked like they were trying so hard not to mess up that I never really felt like we even approached that level.
I’m so glad I went. I had fun, I met folks, it felt like blogging became real to me, and not just this random online Xanga or something. I don’t know if I’d go again… if it were as convenient as this year, definitely. There’s much to be learned, there’s much to be shared, and maybe I’d find some sort of friend group to bond with. It wasn’t what I expected, though I’m not sure what I DID expect, and I have LOVED reading the recaps from others. But I’m very glad that I was “me” the entire time (even though a few times, the moment I mentioned beers, peoples eyes glazed over as their interest immediately waned.)
I’m not ending with any type of action mantra or any wise closing words. I guess I’m ending vaguely, which is sort of how I feel like I left HLS. Like a vague, hazy daze where I wasn’t entirely sure what happened. But regardless, it was a great early birthday present to myself, and I can’t wait to fly right back to PHL in 2 days for another crack at the Northeast.