Be Blogalicious Weekend ’11 was so thought-provoking and so packed full of information, it’s taken me three months to write about the conference.

Is that believable? It’s true. And when I think back to the presentation on “balance” by Jessica Smith (@JessicaNow) and Jeannette Kaplun (@Jeannette Kaplun), I’m okay with it. In fact, I’m taking Jeannette’s advice to stop seeing myself as a victim of circumstances. “The life you’re living is the sum of the choices you’ve made,” she said. “Make peace with that. Look at yourself as someone who has the power to change what is not working in your life. Shift your priorities if you have to.”

The Blogalicious conference was all about empowerment. Jeannette and Jessica’s presentation was a gift: two amazing women looked at their lives and worked to figure out what feels right. In Jessica’s case, coming the conference forced her to admit to herself that she really had decided to stop blogging for now. As a result of going offline, she’s found more balance with her home life and freelance career.

With so many options available to us these days, perhaps the choices are overwhelming. There’s always another way you can market yourself. There’s always another strategy for generating income from what you love, and many of the Blogalicious speakers spoke to those, inspiring great ideas. I’ve already made some changes in my routine because of them and plan to implement more come now that we’ve rounded the corner in the the new year.

However, as someone who tends to pursue volunteer passions and pro bono work more than money, it was also useful to hear Jeannette say, “It’s okay to miss out on things. Pick what brings you the greatest joy. If it hasn’t hurt you to not do whatever it is, then you’re fine,” especially in light of how crazy fast our kids seem to be growing.

There are moments, though, when you want to capitalize on choice and opportunity, as Rene Syler of Good Enough Mother (@ReneSyler) spoke of in her “Reinvention ROCKS” keynote speech. I’m pretty sure no one walked away from that one feeling resigned or cynical; we all wanted to go out and conquer the world!

We also got clear on what’s important, in sessions like Jeannette and Jessica’s and in the moving Birthday Party sponsored by the American Cancer Society and its “More Birthdays” campaign.  Remarks by Susan Niebur of Toddler Planet (@WhyMommy) brought much of the room to tears as we heard about her daily fight against metastatic cancer, having first been diagnosed when her second son, now almost five, was just an infant. Many Blogalicious attendees pursue passions related to health issues, social justice issues and other causes, and connections made here are powerful professionally and personally. (Case in point: as noted by the Washington Post, the online community is rallying for Susan right now with a WhyMommyLoveFest that includes an amazing e-card on Facebook).


Conference organizer Stacey Ferguson (aka Justice Fergie) said that conference’s main goal every year is to “connect bloggers and social media enthusiasts with one another to inspire, re-energize and foster success for each attendee – whatever that means to them.  We also strive to connect bloggers with brands and to help develop partnerships that benefit both marketers and professional bloggers.  This year’s theme of ‘Making Masterful Connections’ embodied these goals.”

This year’s conference welcomed 340 attendees (up from 275 in 2010) and had a waitlist of over 60 people. Months after the event, Aimee of Smiling Mama blog still has a lot to smile about. “One of the first things I did after Blogalicious was finally create a Facebook page for one of my blogs! I took Ronnie Tyler’s advice and named Out By Ten’s Facebook page Family Friendly Prince George’s — a much more clear description of what that blog is actually about!”

Aimee also won a Wii Fit Plus from Kmart/Sears Dirty Santa gift exchange, and she said her extended family “had a blast playing Wits and Wagers over Thanksgiving thanks to the folks at North Star Games!” Some other treats participants enjoyed at the conference were makeovers in the Cover Girl suite and neck and shoulder massages, courtesy of Kmart and Sears.

Throughout the weekend, special events kept everyone abuzz. The Food Network’s Aaron McCargo (Big Daddy) gave a live cooking demonstration sponsored by Aunt Jemima, and another highlight was the Gain #Scentalicious event, which featured readings by TheDCMoms’ own Amy Mascott of TeachMama and Thien-Kim Lam of I’m Not the Nanny.

Blogalicious is committed to “celebrating diversity in social media.” If there were 340 participants at Be Blogalicious Weekend ’11, there were no doubt 340 different and equally wonderful experiences. Mine is still working on me a veritable season later, like a slow-seeping marinade.

 All photos copyright Carol Cain, used by permission.

Jessica Claire Haney blogs about natural family living at Crunchy-Chewy Mama. Thanks to all The DC Moms for coming together to support Susan Niebur and for reminding this slow-to-publish writer that, while we all hope to have lots of opportunities for reinventing ourselves, each moment counts.