Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Admit

So I attended the 2017 Bloggers Bash here in London earlier today, but I must admit to taking only one photograph while I was there, with my phone, and that was a badly-exposed image of the huge window of the hotel meeting room – epic fail on my part, especially with a blog based as much on photography as writing!

Anyway, I had a really great time today (even if my camera didn’t), and if anyone out there is wondering what the Bash is actually like and is maybe thinking about attending next year, please do seriously consider it as everyone is so friendly and welcoming, even for socially inept introverts like me – first and foremost it really is a fun event.

I caught up with some of the wonderful bloggers I met last year, and also met some new friends along the way. The best thing is when you start chatting with someone you’ve never met before and suddenly realising you already know them from their blog, and they’re exactly the same in real life as they are in their posts!

Overall the Bash is the perfect mix of semi-formal structure and informal mingling – neither a full free-for-all nor a fixed lecture-style format. There was an interesting presentation on monetising your blog (and the importance of using multiple social media platforms) and another on making the most of Pinterest in order to drive traffic to your blog, as well as an open panel discussion with various blog-related questions taken from the floor.

The ongoing presentation of the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards (the ABBAs) was also interspersed intermittently across the day, with lots of extended breaks in between for coffee and chatting – and also for each of us being collared individually by the lovely Hugh to say ‘hello’ on video. (Resulting film clips to follow in due course, no doubt!)

Hats off once again to the most excellent Blogger’s Bash committee for working so hard for the third year in a row to organise such an amazing event, their commitment deserves so much more than a mere ‘thank you’, but it’s the best I can do – big hugs all round guys, sending lots of blog love your way and I hope to see you all again next year… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Admit

 

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Bloggers Bash Tomorrow!

I’m going to be attending the Bloggers Bash here in London tomorrow, and as ever I’m feeling slightly nervous – I’m not the world’s most natural socialiser and I do tend to struggle a bit in groups, but I did enjoy myself last year so hopfully this year will be no different.

I’ve got my golden (well, purple) ticket, I’ve got a reasonable idea of how to find the venue (thanks to Geoff’s directions), and I think I know what I’m going to wear (but knowing me I’ll change my mind in the morning and will turn up in something completely different) so I’m all set!

Looking forward not only to catching up with Sacha, Hugh, Ali and Geoff and all the lovely bloggers I met last year, but also meeting everyone else who will be attending this year too. Expecting lots of hugs (just like you promised, Hugh) and I’m perfectly happy giving lots of hugs in return to anyone who wants one.

Safe travels to everyone coming from afar, take care and see you all tomorrow!  🙂

Daily Prompt: Notorious

I am notoriously bad at attending social events. I don’t ever mean to be so flaky about it all,  but although my intentions are generally honourable when I initially say to people ‘Yeah, sure, I’ll come if I can make it…’ I frequently find myself finding a last-minute excuse that allows me to back out of whatever it is I’ve agreed to, and I just don”t go.

The thing is I truly want to feel OK about large gatherings, whether formal or informal. So I keep agreeing to attend in the hope that this time it will all be fine. I tell myself that it’ll be OK so the thought of looking lost and lonely and stupid standing in the corner all on my own won’t freak me out too much. But usually I freak out anyway and avoid the risk.

Yet here I am for the second year in a row planning to attend the Annual Blogger’s Bash to be held in London next month – and I’ve even bought my ticket, so I’ve committed myself to putting my money where my mouth is. I stressed and fretted so much before going to last year’s bash, but in spite of my reservations once I got there it was absolutely fine, everyone was really friendly. I met so many lovely people, and this year I hope to meet many more.

One of the things I found most heartening was that everyone in person was just like they were on their blog – in one sense we were complete strangers, but in another we knew each other quite well. So blogging for me has become so much more than just an online space to explore my creativity – it has turned out to be not only about being an individual blogger but also about belonging to a wider blogging community, which is an amazing gift.

So hopefully I’ll be seeing some of you at the bash next month – you’ll easily recognise me, I’ll be the one standing alone in the corner freaking out, slightly flushed with nervous red blotches, waiting for the floor to open up and swallow me whole… 🙂

Daily Prompt: Notorious   

Cold Feet… Warm Hearts

Cold Feet…

So I’m off to my first Bloggers Bash

Feeling nervous with blotchy red rash

Meeting people for real

Feels like such a big deal

Hope I don’t get cold feet, or I’ll dash…

Historically I’m not the world’s best joiner-in of things, and the thought of group social situations usually stresses me out big time – so for me to be planning meeting up today with a whole gang of new people I’ve never met before feels like a really big thing.

Logically, I understand that blogging is, after all, an inherently social activity, so surely if I can interact comfortably enough with people online, why not in person too? I tell myself that I’m an adult woman living in a busy city, dealing with multiples of people on a daily basis, and that bloggers are by nature a friendly bunch so there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.

Emotionally, however, I can’t help but feel exactly as I have done throughout my life; scared of being on the outside looking in, on the periphery of everything, not feeling good enough. I worry that perhaps people won’t like me, won’t speak to me; that I’ll feel too awkward and so over-compensate by talking too much and making a complete fool of myself.

But however nervous I might be feeling right now, I refuse to let myself get cold feet – I’m going to the Bloggers Bash today and that’s that! 🙂

 Warm Hearts…

Met so many great bloggers today

Lovely people in every way

We’re all strangers, yet friends

A real Bloggers Bash blend

Our shared pastime gives us lots to say…

What can I say! In spite of my earlier nervousness I had such a lovely afternoon meeting everyone, although it certainly felt a little strange to start with – but strange in a good way!

I mean, usually you meet someone for the first time and only then do you get to know anything about them, but I found I was meeting people for the first time yet we actually knew quite a bit about each other from reading each other’s blogs. And even with those people I didn’t previously know of at all, the fact that we are all fellow bloggers always gave us a common starting point to our conversations.

But I have to say that regardless of whether or not we recognised each other’s blogs, and for whatever the prime reason behind each of us starting blogging in the first place, everyone I met and chatted with today was just so friendly… what a wonderfully warm-hearted bunch we bloggers are!  ❤

Seven weeks in, and still smiling

Seven weeks ago today I decided to return to blogging after a seven month break – and rather than pick up where I left off, I created a whole new blog! I’ve been around WordPress for just over two years in a couple of different guises that, looking back, I suppose I simply grew out of. Instead of picking something specific that suits the moment I wanted to find an altogether more straightforward blog name that can grow and change with me over time, however I’m feeling –  so here I am on Image & Word: Life the way I see it.

Sometimes I think that beginning again was maybe a bit of a rash decision as it takes time to build up a following and I effectively let everyone go by starting afresh – but I have no regrets, and still feel it was the right thing to do. Some of my old crowd have found me, and of course I’m making new blogging friends as I go along so I’m happy enough overall just to let it all grow organically. The important thing for me is that people are still interacting with me in my new creative space, which feels great – thank you so much.

Starting out as I did with the 2016 April A-Z Challenge meant I gave myself no option but to hit the ground running, and so far I’ve pretty much kept up the pace throughout May. Things are likely to slow down soon as we’re off on holiday for the next couple of weeks and blogging will be taking a back seat for the duration – but I’m hoping to take lots of photographs and top up my creative coffers with fresh new ideas while I’m away.

And after I get back from holiday I’m planning to attend the Annual Bloggers Bash here in London. I’m not one of life’s natural joiners-in of things, so it’s a big thing for me to choose to do, to meet new people en masse, but I’m looking forward to it – bloggers seem to be a friendly bunch and it’ll be nice to be able to put some faces to names. Pushing myself to step out beyond my comfort zone has been a common theme with me since turning 50, and is something I’m keen to continue with… so watch this space!  🙂

 

Annual Bloggers Bash Awards

Woo-hoo! Voting is now open for the 2nd Annual Blogger’s Bash Awards 2016 – please do take the time to check out all this year’s nominees here and cast your votes for your favourites.

It’s a great way not only to find excellent new blogs to follow but also to say thank you to all those lovely bloggers out there who each in their own way help make blogging more fun for the rest of us.

I’ve already voted, and am really looking forward to finding out who wins in each category – winners are to be announced at the Annual Bloggers Bash to be held here in London on Saturday 11th June – hoping to see some of you there! 🙂

 

Discover Challenge: Raison d’Etre

Hmmm… this week’s Discover Challenge is asking about our artistic raison d’etre… so as my blog is effectively my personal creative space, why do I blog?

I’ve been blogging on WordPress for just over two years now. My first blog Quietcalliope: The Ever-Hopeful Depressive was started anonymously not long after my fiftieth birthday with the main purpose of giving myself a voice after years of shameful silence – an attempt to try to explore and share in words my experience with recurring lifelong depression. I was delighted that anybody at all was interested in what I had to say, and felt my confidence grow. I soon added my first name to my ‘About’ page, and even felt brave enough to share a picture or two of myself.

Although initially I found the whole blogging experience to be refreshingly liberating, after a few months I felt my blog content to be moving too far away from my initial intention, and when my self-imposed remit started to hamper my potential posting I decided to leave Quietcalliope as it is and create a new blog, Mad Meandering Me: Going with the Flow of Life, taking a far more relaxed approach to my intended content. I posted regularly for the next year, working on building up my new blog following and joining in with several blog challenges set by others until I reached a point where the pace of real life moved up a notch for me and my ongoing committment to blogging began to get in the way, so I decided I needed to take a break and effectively re-prioritise my time.

Seven months passed before I logged on to WordPress again, and I knew immediately I needed to start all over again with a much simpler blog name that far more clearly indicated the content. Like Quietcalliope before her Mad Meandering Me had had her day, and so Image & Word: Life the way I see it was born. One month on, and I’m finding I’m really enjoying using my blog simply as my personal creative space – no more, no less. I still take part in various blog challenges when the mood takes me, and I’m loving catching up with everyone I missed while I was away. Seeing what everyone else posts whether photographs, creative writing, personal musings, or informative articles inspires me to be more creative myself.

It’s early days so far, and I don’t have a huge following with my new blog, but I really appreciate whatever interaction I do have with everyone in our lovely WordPress community. I find I’m far less concerned about stats these days and appreciate that the quality of my interaction with other bloggers matters far more to me that the quantity. I’m even hoping to attend this years Annual Bloggers Bash next month here in London – something I’m really looking forward to! 🙂