I decided to attend my third BlogHer at the last minute to go to one event: The Voices of the Year Reception.  Even though I wasn’t chosen as a speaker (thank goodness because my nerves couldn’t have handled it), being an Honoree was so exciting, and I had promised myself last year that if I were ever chosen, I wouldn’t miss it.

The reason why I made that promise is that last year it was absolutely magical.  Curated by Kirtsy, there were about a dozen amazingly creative events and opportunities going on at once.  But the one that stood out was how they chose to memorialize the Voices of the Year honorees: they had commissioned works of art to be created for each individual blog post (over 80 pieces).  They were all displayed in art gallery format, portraying our love of blogging in a different and fabulous way.

What was even more special to me personally is that all of the artwork was auctioned off to help my state and it’s neighbors recover from the BP Oil Spill.

I remember mourning for my fellow Alabama blogger, Country-Fried Mama, who had been chosen as an honoree but couldn’t attend at the last minute due to medical reasons.  The moment was so amazing, the artwork portraying her post so touching – it was a tragedy for her to miss it.

…Which is what made my final decision to attend this year.

This year’s Voices of the Year reception was to be curated by a different organization, and the only description of the event on the BlogHer site was one sentence that started with “There’s no way we’ll be able to top last year’s event, but…”

So I tried to downplay my expectations.  It’s probably a good assumption that there won’t be personally commissioned artwork depicting our blog posts.

But even before the reception arrived, I had an awesome day at BlogHer.  I learned a lot, I got many wheels spinning in my head with regards to my blog, and I got to hang out with my awesome blogging friends Rhoda, Lisa, Heather, Angela, and Kate.  I really enjoyed myself, despite my last minute planning.

But I was really waiting with anticipation for Friday night.

The Voices of the Year posts that were read at the Keynote were moving as always.  I laughed, I cried, I laughed, and I cried again.  They were fabulous, and the experience was one I’ll always remember.

As it ended, they announced the reception, which is where all of the rest of the Voices of the Year were honored last year.

However, this year, there was good food, but there was no artwork, and not even a single mention that there were any other Voices of the Year honorees besides the readers.


The fact that I had traveled 2,000 miles to not be mentioned made me giggle.  To signify the momentous occasion, my friend and fellow honoree Kate and I quickly snapped a photo with the backdrop – at least we’d have that.


I could have been disappointed, but I really wasn’t – at all.

If I hadn’t chosen to come,

…Chris and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to fly alone together for the first time in our ten years of marriage, which was unbelievably fun and romantic.

…We wouldn’t have gotten to have a magical date on Saturday, biking on Coronado, walking the Gaslight district, and in general reconnecting after a hectic year of having a new baby.


…We wouldn’t have gotten to see San Diego from this vantage point:


…Or this one:


…Or this one:


…and Chris wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have what he definitively awarded as the best run of his life, 12 miles down the beaches and around the city of San Diego.

The truth is:

The reward of blogging is not awards or recognition.

The reward of blogging is the opportunities and perspectives that it gives me and my family.

…We do things we wouldn’t otherwise ever do, like take a last minute trip to San Diego, or perhaps make a bouquet of meat flowers.

…My kids have a carefully and thoroughly documented journal of their life – they will get to enjoy reading and re-reading every crazy, kooky, and hilarious thing they ever did, at least until their jaded adolescent years when they will roll their eyes at the mention of the word “blog”.

…It allows Chris’ Aunt Kitty and Uncle Leo, who are basically another set of grandparents for our kids, to be a part of our everyday life even though they live four hours away.

…It has taught me how to appreciate the mundane, and even the nasty, awkward, smelly, disgusting, and revolting parts of life.

There. Pep talk done. That feels better. And with renewed humility, I’ve already registered for BlogHer 2012.

27 thoughts on “What I Learned at BlogHer.

  1. That is a real bummer. So sorry for you! But, on the upside, that first photo of you and Chris is SUPER! Wow! You guys look great! Glad you had fun despite that disappointment.

  2. I know the feeling, sometimes I will literally spend days preparing my presentations for work conference and only have 5-6 people stop at my poster, usually three of whom already know about my work and at least two who are just commenting on my dress, shoes, haircut ect… BUT getting to go to all those cool places I wouldn’t normally visit, stay in nice hotels and eat food on the university’s per diem makes it all worth while (I’ve never taken my husband as we have only been married a month and a half, but I am looking forward to that too!). Sounds like you had a great time. Congratulations on being an Honoree!

    1. I hope y’all get to go on a trip together very soon! My Sister-In-Law worked for the University of Florida right after she and my brother got married, and he got to go on some fabulous University trips with her. It was a fun way to spend newlyweddom – Chris and I were too broke to do much traveling when we were newlyweds, and now it’s much harder with kids! So travel together as much as you can afford to now (or get the university to pay for!!) while you have the chance!!

  3. At the very minimum, you deserved to be an honoree! I would have bumped you up to nominee though! :)

    And I shall rest in the comfort that I’ll see you next year for sure!

  4. Sounds like it was a WONDERFUL time! We LOVE San Diego and you touched on many of the reasons why! I already told Hubby that we (or at very least I) am going to BlogHer next year! The only other city (besides San Diego) that could make me want to go would be NYC! Which is where it is at – go figure!

  5. What about a photo of your broken nose?? Just kidding:) I love reading your blog, Rachel, and I’m glad it is so fulfilling for you, regardless of all the perks that have come with it. If I didn’t know you, I think I’d still read your blog for the sheer enjoyment:)

    1. The photo on the ferry with San Diego behind us is post-broken nose. It’s hard to tell but it was basically just a lot bigger that day – I had a true Greek Nose!! Over the weekend it bruised up and swelled more, but now it’s pretty much back to normal – in looks anyway!

  6. Looks like you guys had a great trip!

    I was just wondering about how the oil spill recovery was going…how are your beaches now that it’s been awhile?

    Oh, and I would give you all my votes since you are definitely the best blogger I have ever come across!!!

    1. We did have a great time together!

      As far as the oil spill, I think at the major beaches, it’s better than expected – it appears to be totally gone. However, in the marshes and wildlife areas, it’s still a major problem. And I can’t say that I’m not concerned about lingering carcinogens in the water, too – I’m afraid of what might come up in 10 years in the health of those of us in the area.

  7. Yes, as a fellow honoree, I was surprised, too, but you’re so totally right, the conference wasn’t ruined because we weren’t mentioned, the reception was lovely with a gorgeous view, I found some new bloggers to stalk, err, read, I hung out with many friends, including you, experienced some wonderful events and took part in things one would consider “once-in-a-lifetime” moments, and enjoyed myself quite thoroughly. And I’m totally jealous of hubs being able to run in that gorgeous weather and scenery, my feet/blisters/calf totally defeated me.

    All-in-all, it was more than excellent.

    1. I forgot my sunglasses for the reception, so I couldn’t see the view!! :)
      So glad I got to hang out with you and pick your brain at lunch – thanks so much!!

  8. Hi, Rachel, so glad we got to hang out some together, we had to go 2000 miles to do that, when we live 2 hrs. apart now. :) I’m so sorry they did not even mention the other Voices of the Year, that doesn’t make sense. But I am glad you have a good perspective about it. So glad you & Chris had a great time too. I missed the reception cause me & Heather went over to Coronado for about 3 hrs. So glad we did, it was a highlight!

    1. I’m so glad we got to hang out too! I miss you in Birmingham! I’m glad you and Heather went to Coronado – I think that was an excellent choice! One thing I’ve learned about BlogHer is to never pigeonhole myself into attending every bit of the conference, but enjoy the trip, too, and see the sights!!

      So do you think you’ll attend next year? Do you feel you got a lot out of it?

  9. I do not know if I could go on without your blogs. It does make me feel close even though I am four hours aways. If you stop you will have to get me those yellow roses everyone has promised.

  10. Glad you had a wonderful date weekend and yes, that first picture of you and Chris should definitely be framed because y’all look amazing! You are a fabulous blogger even without fancy awards and whatnot. And, when I tell my husband about something you’ve written about, you’ve gone from “Rachel, that girl from B’ham whose blog I read” to simply “Rachel” =)

  11. You have a delightfully Proverbs 31 sweet spirit. I would have told someone to stick it after that. Which is why I am not anyone’s Voice of the Year :-)

    1. Aww thanks!! You totally could be a Voice of the Year. You’d be an awesome humor reader, too. Your in-person delivery is everything that mine lacks!!

  12. Great post, Rachel! I just finished my post about the trip and I wrote about our picture moment too. I am SO glad I wasn’t there last year, because I had no idea about all the fabulousness I was missing out on. Oh well – at least we had fun. :) And it sounds like you and your hubby had an amazing weekend (other than the whole broken nose thing). So happy that you got to spend some quality time together in San Diego. You’ll treasure those memories forever!

  13. You definitely deserve to be a nominee. Your blog is my favorite. You and Chris DO look fabulous in that picture.

  14. I was at Blogher….there were so many people there (I later found out) that I never ran into. I guess with 4,000 people that could be expected, huh? I’m glad that you had a great time with your husband. San Diego is beautiful. My husband and daughter were with me and had a blast.

  15. Wow Rachel – this is a great perspective and a fascinating history. I had no idea there were individual pieces of artwork commissioned several years ago! NOW I REALLY FEEL CHEATED. ;) No, it’s okay. I think the VOTY program has just grown to the point where it must be absolutely unmanageable. Thanks for stopping by today and reading my post. When are we going jeans shopping?!

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