One of the most surprising aspects of blogging has come in a form I least expected. Since I didn’t know a thing about blogging when I first started plucking away on this keyboard, I assumed I would draft a few sentences here and there thus having preserved some memories for my family. Little did I know that an entire world of wonderful relationships would open up before me.
Strong friendships, accountability partners, not to mention business opportunities have all been forged through this on-line world. My friends in real life don’t really get it. I know when I mention a “friend,” they think to themselves, is this her “real friend or a fake friend?” In fact, my niece was in conversation with my daughter, and mentioned, “Aunt Jen’s ‘friends’ in the computer,” making sure she did a quotation mark with her fingers around the word, “friend.”
I understand. I thought the same exact thing until I met those fake friends in real life at my first blogging conference, nearly three years ago,  and all of a sudden, those superficial friendships forged on line became times of sharing our hearts and connecting on a deep level in real life. We were able to skip all the “get to know you” stuff that typically takes months, because we already knew it from each others blogs, just got on with a deeper friendship. I love that about blogging. Now, granted, that doesn’t always happen. There are those “other times” as well, but I still love real life better.
Now my blog is completely me. What you see if what you get. That is all I have time for…no pretenses.

I break all the rules of blogging. I rarely edit enough (which is the #1 no-no that I always tell my writing class, so shhhhh), I have no editorial plan like other bloggers, I have never touched photo shop, and even though this is a work at home business, I still share because I love to encourage and connect with you, my readers. If you have read my blog for any amount of time, I am fairly certain that if you meet me, you will think I am the same on line as I am in real life – the good, bad and ugly.
That’s one reason I love blogging conferences. It brings my two worlds together with other women who get this crazy work at home lifestyle. This week, BlogHer, the largest women’s blogging conference, is taking place in California. Many of my blogging friends are there, and it’s hard to sit on the sidelines hearing all the fun that’s going on, but it just hasn’t been my season to travel this summer for blogging.
Blogging conferences offer opportunities to learn more about your craft, meet brands that you may be interested in working with, have an excuse to spend time with your best girl friends, and if you are lucky enough to have amazing food sponsors, then sample lots of yummy foods.
For instance, all week I have been getting invitations to these amazing parties and events. Even the booths set up draw you in because everything is free (covered with your ticket). I’ll share Hillshire Farm’s booth description since you know I love them, and their Facebook page!.

The Hillshire Booth: Stop by booth #100 for a chance to meet “Bridesmaids” comedienne Wendi McLendon-Covey while dining in style at the only eatery at BlogHer ’11!  Take a seat at the So Good Bistro and place an order off of the Hillshire Farm menu featuring a variety of delicious dishes made using products including slow roasted lean cuts of lunchmeat and perfectly seasoned smoked sausage.  Snag an exclusive for your blog and be among the first to sample new and tasty products from the kitchens of Hillshire Farm, debuting at BlogHer! Bring the live action of BlogHer straight to your blog by hopping into the Hillshire Farm video booth to create a digital recording that can be uploaded directly to your site.  Hillshire Farm wants you to share the day’s experience with us and your fans while revealing that little something extra you get when you create a great meal. The booth is open: August 5 (8 am to 6 pm), August 6 (8 am to 6 pm)

So here is my question for you.
Some of you may remember I mentioned  hosting a conference next weekend, Becoming 2011. We were overwhelmed and thrilled at the number of you joining us next weekend and can’t wait to take that “blogging friendship” into real life. I wonder if that seems scary to some people? We hope not. You should have received a welcome email, and our agenda and sessions have been updated on our conference site. We already have dates for next year, so all of you on the waiting list will definitely get to come in 2012.
It’s not a blogging conference. We aren’t talking the business of blogging. We are talking the business of life, being intentional with it and encouraging each other on the road.
Yet,  it’s also a ladies night away. So, we have lots of fun lined up and I am just curious. If you were coming for something like this, with only one night away, how would you want to spend from 9 – 11 pm?
So, at a conference, are you a “go back to your room” to regroup from the crowd kind of girl;  a “let’s watch a chick flick” with some coffee kind of girl, a “let’s mingle and meet new friends over food” or “let’s play some fun kind of games” kind of conference girl?
I would LOVE to know. Ours is a much more casual conference, but all planners try to meet the needs of everyone, even though we know that’s not possible.
Does meeting blogging friends for the first time seem nerve wracking?
I sure would love to hear what you all would think would be fun for Friday night.

P.S. And please, if you are at BlogHer, since I love my wonderful sponsor, stop by the Hillshire Farm booth and sample some yummy things for me.