Imagine spending two days around the some of the brightest, most talented women in the world. I spent this past weekend with more than 3,600 of my closest friends (mostly women) at the BlogHer ’11 conference in San Diego, CA, where the high temps were in the mid-70s. (I flew out of—and back to—mid-to-high 90s. I’m still not sure why I left SD. Oh, yeah—I have a husband and a job.) But I digress.

What the Heck is BlogHer?

If you’re reading this blog, you probably read several other blogs written by women. You might even write a personal blog or a blog for and about women. BlogHer is a web site that connects women bloggers, empowering us, exposing our passions, and reminding us how much we influence the world around us.

Describing this conference in single words—diverse, energizing, fun (at least two or three spectacular parties every night!), educational, inspiring, congenial, fattening, profitable and memorable. Even with those words, I’m sure I left several out. Let’s take them one at a time.A

  • Diverse Women came from as far away as London, Brazil and beyond. My hotel roomie, whom I’d never met before we both sought a roommate on the BlogHer site earlier this year, is from India, but she now lives in the US, 30 minutes from my house. Small world. We’re now friends! She met her husband here in the states, but they got married in India–1,200 wedding guests, and that ain’t all. Expect a post with pics in the near future. As diverse as we were in nationality, that’s how many different roads we travel as bloggers—food, fashion, family, politics, pets, health, sexuality, beauty, activism, environment, and so many more, including weddings, of course. Name an aspect of life or an issue, and you’ll find a woman (and probably dozens of us) blogging about it.
  • Energizing The vibe in the convention center was palpable. Women connecting on so many levels, learning from one another, meeting bloggers whose posts we read on a daily basis, realizing that together, we’re changing the world. (I’m not just blowing smoke here. Stats show women bloggers are the most powerful agents for influence and change on the ‘Net.)
  • Fun I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Women know how to throw a party! Music, dancing, food, drinks, favors, photo booths, green-screen photos, puppies, drinks, glo-sticks, flash mobs, unicorns, self-decorated McDonald’s bag hats. Did I mention drinks? I’ll leave it at that.
  • Educational Both days of the conference were filled with sessions on everything from Putting the “Professional” in Professional Blogging to The Essential Blog Content Development Workshop to Humor Bloggers (hilarious!). Truly something for everyone. Fifty-eight topics in all, with ten different sessions going on simultaneously during every session block. I had to narrow 58 provocative topics down to six. The panelists for every session are at the top of their game. They know their stuff!
  • Inspiring I sat in the front at the closing keynote, and I was about 15 feet from actress and talk show-host Ricki Lake, who sat on the panel. She was one of several women who shared their stories and ideas with us. FYI—Ricki’s working on another talk show for 2012. Very different from her previous talk show. She’ll get deeper into women’s issues. Sounds wonderful. Huffington Post senior editor Willow Bay interviewed Indra Nooyi, the CEO of Pepsico, and she’s in a class by herself. An extraordinary woman. I wish I could tell you about all the incredible women who took time out of their busy lives to share their wisdom.
  • Congenial Three thousand six hundred-plus women, and not a hint of animosity. Pure estrogen nirvana. United we stand.
  • Fattening Though we never left the port of San Diego, this conference was a cruise ship on steroids. Food and drink greeted us wherever we went! I probably wouldn’t live long enough to tell you all the tastes this event offered, but between the meals, the breaks, the parties and the Expo (which I’ll tell you about next), I’m surprised the plane could take off with me on board. The last party of the event was the Cheezburger party (icanhascheezburger.com), catered by McDonald’s—all the hamburgers, cheeseburgers and fries you could fit in your mouth and stuff in your pockets. Do NOT come here to diet. Just give your inner pig its head and bulk up for the winter.
  • Profitable I estimate my luggage when I left the conference weighed five times as much as it did when I arrived. Why? SWAG. It was here at the Expo I learned what swag stands for—Spectacular Winnings And Giveaways! Here’s a partial list of companies that had booths at the Expo, and every one of them was handing out amazingly cool (like Dove Ice Cream Bars!) stuff. Sponsors included Proctor & Gamble, Pepsico, Johnson & Johnson, Knorr, Ford (no, they weren’t giving out cars, or I would have driven home), HTC, 3M, Glad, McDonald’s, Verizon, PlaySkool, Best Buy, Intel, Yankee Candle, Brawny, Lowe’s, Dannon, Snapfish, Hallmark and so many more. We filled up bag after bag after bag with stuff. So much stuff that UPS was offering free boxes and packaging so attendees could ship their swag home. Oh, yeah—there was food all over the place in here, too.
  • Memorable Besides all the gifties and extra poundage (worth every ounce!), I came home with a new friend, dozens of new acquaintances, invaluable tips, ideas and information, and a renewed appreciation for what I do! I got fabulous exercise (walking around the Expo and weight training, carrying bags of swag!) My airline experience? Totally forgettable, but that’s another blog post.

I’d like to thank everyone connected with BlogHer. You guys are masters at what you do. I don’t know how the weekend could have been better (perhaps if you had your own air line). To the panelists and featured speakers, you made me even prouder and more grateful to be a woman. To my fellow attendees, where have you been all my life? And to my new friend, Gayatri–I’ll see you soon at Alon’s!

 

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