First of all, when Julie and I came home on Saturday night we were both totally exhausted. I personally haven't walked that much in a long time....BlogHer's Conference took over four floors of the Chicago Sheraton & Towers Hotel. Even with the escalators and elevators, there was a lot of walking to all the rooms for the sessions, etc. Hey, it was good exercise, but my legs sure felt it that first night. I immediately unpacked my stuff, organized things, went through all of our 'swag' with Julie, and then tried to catch-up on things on the BlogHer site....YIKES! With everyone on staff at the conference....it got pretty busy again on the site. Julie and I both checked the internet for news of BlogHer 09 posts, etc....and already found quite a lot written. Julie checked out Twitter and read me a few. I thought I'd die when she actually read one that said, "Saw Joy and Julie Des Jardins on the escalator." Is that adorable or what? After catching up a little in Twitter while Julie worked on something of her own and made a call home to talk to her kids, we watched a movie and pretty much called it a night. Julie would be leaving around 12:30 pm to go to the airport to go home on Sunday. Next shift.....
Sunday, July 27th....with Julie gone I was checking out all the articles, posts and pictures I could find about BlogHer 09. I do it every year for myself...and for Jory. I save certain articles and pictures in files for both of us. Sometimes I catch things that Jory might not get to see, but that's pretty rare. I even checked out Twitter again to see what they were saying. I couldn't believe how much they were 'tweetin' about BlogHer...it was everywhere. I'm not a Twitter person, I just haven't made the time for it, and now I think maybe it's a good thing... but it's really interesting to check out for a while. Checked out more posts and articles; but there were so many that I stopped and did a little work in between. Then it was time for Jen and I to pick-up Jory and her husband, Jesse, from the Metra train station.
For the next two days we talked BlogHer....as we always do after the event every year. We looked up more articles that Jory had been interviewed for...or that her partners had been interviewed for. Jesse checked out things as well. This is what happens....BlogHer consumes us all for a while. We sat and talked about a lot of things actually...not just BlogHer. Jory and Jesse went down to the lakefront to take a walk on Monday and then went out with friends for dinner that night; so they did manage to fit in some nice things in this 'down time.' Joe and I took them to the airport yesterday afternoon to catch their flight home.
And now...here I am finally writing my post about how wonderful BlogHer 09 was. Out of the five BlogHer Conferences there have been, this was the second I've been to, but just in the two years that I last was there...I'm astonished at the growth of this amazing event. It blows my mind....and I heard that very same thing from many, many people. The women of BlogHer run this event so beautifully. They just don't miss a thing. It really is a well-oiled machine. Now that I have gotten to meet the staff in person...and not just through e-mails...WOW, they are really something. Elisa, Jory and Lisa couldn't be more blessed than to have these wonderful people to work with. I'm not even going to name all of their names because sure enough I'll forget one of them...but you all know who you are. I just can't tell you how incredible you are and what a fantastic job you all did and continue to do. You made that conference work....and walking through those doors of that hotel and looking around at all that was to be seen (and it was overwhelming)....that was no small task. Congratulations to you all.
The conference itself....well, where do I begin? I again want to thank sweet Lori for getting Julie and I a room at the last minute...it was great. Check-in wasn't until 3:00 so we had to check our bags in a baggage room until then. It didn't take long before people were coming up to Julie and mistaking her for Jory....immediately, in fact. We expected it...and it was no big deal...at least not to us. But we wish we could have made all those people feel better. Some of them felt terribly embarrassed, and there just was no reason to. This has happened all their lives...they're twins for cripes sake.....and it happened the entire conference, even when Jory made an annoucement at the end of the breakfast on the first day that her twin sister was there....'JUST SO YOU KNOW.'
Somehow Jory found us right away when we walked into the main registration. (I'll never know how she did.) She looked so great...all ready for the Welcome Breakfast. We sat at the BlogHer staff table in front so we didn't miss a thing. The ladies looked wonderful....and filled us in on everything we needed to know. They always make everyone feel comfortable and at home.
There were so many wonderful sessions to go to during the two days of this conference. Of course Julie and I didn't make all of the ones that we would have liked to. We did see Jory's session, "Business of You: Brands and Bloggers." That was a great session....really interesting, and a lot of participation. I also got to see my pal Denise's session (also my boss)...just because I had to go see her....."Beginning Basics 101 - Getting Started." She was great and certainly knew her stuff....she's funny to boot. Julie and I made it to several other sessions over the two days, but we missed a couple of the ones we wanted to go to because they were filled by the time we got there.
The Food....oh dear lord. I did everything in my power not to overdo. Oh my poor diet. Thank God for all the walking around. The food was really good, and there was plenty of it....at least I certainly thought so. I never saw anybody run out of anything. It really was quite delicious...from breakfast to lunch and even the cocktail parties.
After the sessions on the first day there was the Community Keynotes. These were essays/posts by 21 members who got up on the stage and read their pieces. OH DEAR GOD! And me with only my one stupid piece of kleenex. Denise was sitting next to me and must have rubbed my arm a dozen times. She was taking pictures and videos of some of it for the BlogHer site. Sitting in front of me were Julie, Jory and Jesse...and I could see the girls passing a nice big handkerchief between the two of them....I was jealous as I held my crumbling kleenex. But for maybe two or three, these keynotes were either so hysterical or so terribly touching and emotional that there wasn't a dry eye in the ballroom. The bloggers chosen to speak were perfect. I personally didn't know any of them...but for one who we call TW, but who's name is really Tarrant, and I just love her. She was wonderful. These keynotes really touched everyone and capped-off what was already a wonderful first day of the conference.
The BlogHer Expo Hall where all the wonderful sponsors and vendors of BlogHer 09 were exhibited, was just amazing. There you could find sponsors like PepsiCo, Wal-Mart, GM/Chevrolet, Tide/Bounce, Ann Taylor, PBS Kids, Michelin Tire, Picnik, Clorox Green Works, to name just a smigeon. They were giving away all kinds of wonderful 'swag,' and you could sign up for give-aways everywhere.
Then there were the CELEBS....some pretty terrific ones too...and they all were so down to earth, friendly and gracious to everyone.
Tim Gunn was there from Project Runway and Tim Gunn's Guide to Style. He signed autographs and took pictures for hours....he was as nice as they come and stayed well past the time he was suppose to. Here's a pic of him with Jory and Elisa. Some lucky blogger will win a private style consultation with Tim as a result of a Tide-sponsored blogging contest that asked BlogHer attendees to post what they would be wearing during the conference.
Here's Paula Deen, Author and Chef from the Food Network, who was at the Wal-Mart booth...."Hi Ya'all." She's always a delight; but I never got a chance to really meet her.
There was Carson Kressley from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and How To Look Good Naked. I never got to see him either, but heard he was a riot.
And last, but not least was Dave Lieberman, a chef from the Food Network. He was a very popular guy with the attendees.....and pretty adorable too. He did a food demo session the second day at the breakfast session. He is such a sweet and friendly guy....very accomodating to everyone. Took pictures with a lot of the bloggers.
So another successful BlogHer Conference is over. These two days were truly wonderful for Julie and I. We met some terrific ladies and we connected just as we had hoped we would. Julie made some wonderful and surprising connections with some women regarding her book. She had been passing out some promotion pieces from her book publisher; but some women had already known about her new book and sought her out. Jory told her that's exactly what she needed to do at BlogHer. This conference is meant to connect people...to bring voices together. It's a platform that lets everyone express themselves in great conversation...and often in those conversations we share great laughter, emotion and tears. What could possibly be better than that?
Early into BlogHer 09 they announced at one of the breakfasts in the Ballroom where BlogHer 2010 was being held....New York City...in August. The room erupted into cheers. Julie was very happy to hear this. It will be right in her backyard next year. I guess a lot of people have been waiting for BlogHer to finally be in NY. I'm very happy for them...but for me, Chicago is still MY kind of town. Congratulations again ladies on a wonderful conference....