Bloggers at Midlife, BAMC15: It’s the People, Stupid!

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Opryland Resort

A view from inside our suite at the Cascade Lobby of the Gaylord Opryland Resort.

Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending and serving on the staff of an extraordinary conference, called “BAM Conference 2015“. BAM stands for Bloggers at Midlife. The jury is still out on exactly ~where~ midlife will be for me. I guess I won’t truly know the answer to that until I croak. (If I die today, midlife will have been the year I got married!) . Nevertheless, since I’m somewhere between the cradle and the grave, let’s call this my midlife. 

I attended for several reasons. 

  1. I’m a blogger…possibly at midlife…(see me work my way through that concept in the preceding paragraph).
  2. I’m the member of a dynamic group of bloggers called Women at Midlife, which is hosted by the founders of the online magazine, Midlife Boulevard. The women who founded it are Sharon Greenthal, and Anne Parris.
  3. I’m the food columnist on Midlife Boulevard, so I feel a huge sense of loyalty to that publication.
  4. The event was hosted in my own beloved city of Nashville.
  5. If I hadn’t shown up, I think my dear friend Anne Parris would have formed and sent a posse of laptop wielding women parachuting to my front porch here in the Boonies to hurt me. Or maybe she’d just hire them all to tweet ugly things about me. In any case, not showing up was a risk I couldn’t take. She knows where I live. 

    Anne Parris

    She would have gotten me back. You know she would have. Look at her!

  6. Even if it hadn’t been in Nashville, I HAD to get to this event. I knew, in my gut, that I *thought* these women were my tribe. I *wanted* these women to be my tribe!

I had one goal going into this conference, and that was to love well. Just like Bill Clinton reminded himself, “It’s about the economy, stupid!”, for me, it’s all about the love. 

Love can look a lot of different ways, (as demonstrated by these women in Hug Me Blankets, provided by Stouffer’s) but here was my way of looking at it.

Fearless Leaders

Women of Fearless Vision and Valor…and also Snuggly Warm: Teresa, Beth, Sharon and Anne

I wanted my friend Anne’s event to be a success. (I needn’t have worried about that, but, going in…you never know…) So, love, for me, meant doing my utmost to make sure that she and the rest of the event organizers, Sharon Greenthal, Teresa Kindred, and Beth Rosen, had what they needed. I was privileged to serve as staff with Elizabeth Barnhart, Julia Robinson and Cathy Chester. Each one of us did our best to make sure swag got delivered and hauled, people got registered and welcomed, and details got covered.

Volunteers at BAMC15

These women have been friends far, far too long. Top row: Julia and Susan; Bottom row: Anne and Elizabeth

Apart from serving them, my personal goal, still involved love. What I wanted, more than anything, was to connect with the women of this vibrant community. I wanted to see their faces, to look into their eyes, to see that spark – that sparkle – that was so uniquely them, and to hear their stories, as many as I could. 

So most of my most significant moments happened in one-on-one, and small group conversations. So if we talked, know that I *mostly* mean my conversation with YOU. 🙂 

Lori Moreno

I brought cookies, and this lovely woman, Lori Moreno. called them crack. I owe her a recipe.

Danyelle Little

Danyelle Little only *thinks* her Goo Goo Cluster is safe.

Debbie Bookstaber and Julia Robinson

Saturday night dinner companions: Debbie Bookstaber and Julia Robinson

Malia, Anne and Teresa

The other side of the table: Malia Carden, Anne Parris, and Teresa Kindred

I think I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the caliber of the women who spearheaded this conference: Sharon, Anne, Teresa, and Beth. With leaders like these, I see no boundaries on our future as a tribe. They strike me as women of strength, integrity, and vision, determined to not only do their best at a task, but to absolutely SLAY that task. I recognize this when I see it in others, because that’s my goal, as well. Plus, they’re fun. And funny. They are…in short… My People!!!

Martie Duncan

One of my Sheroes: Martie Duncan.

The icing on the cake, for me, was Martie Duncan‘s session. Martie was a personal  favorite of mine on Season 8 of Next Food Network Star. (I’m a food blogger, after all. A total Food Network addict.) In fact, while I’ve never voted on a reality show before, in Martie’s case, I finally made an exception. She was a woman of my age group, full of personality and drive, and I so loved her story: her willingness to take a risk and pursue her dream. When Anne told me Martie would be speaking, I was positively GIDDY! Her session at the conference did not disappoint. She challenged and inspired me to keep on pursuing my dream, even at this stage in my life, despite setbacks, and challenges. Having dinner with her after the event was nothing short of a gift. Martie, if you ever come to Nashville again, we ARE going to cook together. Or, at least, eat together. I have spoken it into the universe. May the Good Lord make it so! 

Tracey Beckerman Martie Duncan

Having dinner with these lovely ladies was as much fun as it looks like it was: Tracey Beckerman and Martie Duncan

I’m a storyteller myself, and I thrive on hearing people’s stories. So, while yes, I wanted and needed valuable information that would help me grow my blog, what I also longed for, and what I suspect many of us crave even more, is that personal connection. We are a diverse group. Different ethnicities, religions, political views, economic circumstances and ages divide us. But our hearts are touched in that moment where we discover that the things that we have in common are so much greater and more important than the differences that divide us. Sisterhoods are formed through experiences like that. Tribes become more diverse, more inclusive, and are better for it.

So, thank you to the sponsors who made this event possible: Stouffer’s, Nissan, Collective Bias, Cabot Cheese, Always discreet, One2OneNetwork, Vibrant Nation, Albertini International, Grown & Flown, College Financial Aid Advisers, 1010 Park Place, and even my Nashville hometown candy, GooGoo Clusters. What you did was bigger than you might even realize. You helped make it possible for the lives of 100 women to connect.

Nissan Murano

Thanks to ALL our sponsors! You’re the best!

But they weren’t just any 100 women that you helped.  You helped 100 women with strong, powerful, insightful voices to connect. And in so doing, we are changed. And when that happens, we, in turn, use our voices to change our world, for the better.


Yum
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Comments

  1. So glad this first conference was a great success! Here's to many more BAM Events!
    My recent post Elm City Market March 2015 Event Schedule

  2. Fifty Jewels says

    What a wonderful post, Susan! Thank you for sharing our story so well. It was a pleasure to meet you and I look forward to BAMC16!
    My recent post Today’s List

  3. tbellkindred says

    Susan I love this post! Will share it as many places as I can! You hit the nail on the head with the focus being on love. You are one of the sweetest southern belles I have ever met. Looking forward to picking blueberries with you (in the early morning cool). I just did a post about Goo Goo Clusters–sort of BAM related .http://nanahood.com/gaga-for-goo-goo-clusters
    Thought of you when I wrote it!

  4. It was so lovely to meet you, Susan!

  5. Candace Karu says

    One of the highlights of this incredible conference was finally meeting you IRL. You were more fabulous, more beautiful, and more badass than I could have imagined. Loved reading your take on #BAMC15!

  6. Wonderful, heartfelt recap. And like you said on my blog my big regret was not having a chance to spend more time with you chatting one-on-one. I really wanted to do that! You are a sparkling person, Susan, and when you smiled while introducing yourself as THAT Susan, I was thrilled. Here's to more opportunities to cross paths. In the meantime see you on Midlife Boulevard and Facebook!
    My recent post The Gift Of New Midlife Friendships: #BAMC2015

  7. Helene Bludman says

    Great post, Susan! I am so glad we got to meet. I feel like I had waited forever to meet you IRL! Next time we must carve out some time together — can't wait to see you again!

  8. Alicia Searcy says

    Well said, Susan. Now if we could only convince everyone that the chances of snow in Nashville are NIL by April 30th we may get them to consider having BAM 2016 here as well. I feel like Nashville needs a little redemption!

  9. It sounds like it was so amazing! You found your people … what could be better than that?
    I'm still sad I didn't get to go this year, but I really hope they're planning another one for next year?
    My recent post Friday Fun: Places where Famous Writers Do It

  10. Elizabeth Lee says

    Hey, Susan!

    It was so much fun to catch up with you at the conference. I think the love in those rooms was palpable and you were a big part of it. I'm so happy and proud to be a part of this wonderful group of women.
    My recent post 7 Things I Loved About BAMC15

  11. southmainmuse says

    Yay. Great post. And such a cute pic of Anne. I'm like you — not really sure where I fit in this midlife puzzle but I know I'm there. It was fabulous to be around such positive women. Like you.

  12. Glad you got to attend. My husband was a keynote speaker at a tech conference at the same time, so I played taxi mom here at home. But I am just thrilled for those of you who managed to make it work. Maybe I can make the next one?
    My recent post The Leisure Seeker: Book Review

  13. I definitely felt the love at BAM and I came not knowing anyone except those I met in the couple weeks I was a member of the Facebook page. Everyone was so open and easy to talk to. It was very cool!
    My recent post Midlife Girlfriends and a Weekend in Nashville #BAMC15

  14. elaine396 says

    Wonderful memories, Susan, and so fun to relive them through your post. I hope we meet again.

  15. Great pictures, thank-you. I loved your post, a thrill of feeling the conference through your words!

  16. You all did a great job and it was so nice to meet face-to-face with members of our virtual community of midlife women.

  17. Great recap Susan!! I loved it. These felt like my “peeps” . Everyone was so accepting and loving. Anne doesn’t look like she could hurt a fly:)

    I only wish I’d had time to personally visit with every woman there. Maybe next year it could be longer?

  18. Sounds like fun! I'd love to attend events like these too. Meeting people face to face for a change is refreshing. Plus you learn something from them.

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