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At Blissdom '11 with Matt Kearney, Michelle Branch and some fabulous women!

For the past four years every February I have packed up and headed down to Nashville to find me some bliss: Blissdom, ya’ll! (For the non-blogging amongst us, Blissdom is a women’s blogging conference.) And every year I have found it, each time in a new form from the year before. Yet even though I am a veteran Blissdomite (is that a word? Oh well, I’m making it one!) every year without fail brings a level of unease and nervousness as I prep for the conference. Even after four years of working with TV and radio, of meeting thousands of amazing people in my coupon classes and standing on stages to teach, I still get hit by nerves. Those age-old questions come racing in, the questions that have lingered in our psyche from high school, the ones that plague so many normally strong and confident women. Will I have someone to sit with? Do I have nice clothes for it? How does my hair look? Is my look trendy, classic or outdated? Will I make friends or will I be the one in the corner hiding behind my iPhone? Does my butt look too big?

And every year, without fail, I have gotten there and found Blissdom…well, it isn’t like that. Everyone worries about what they will wear. Even if they tell you they don’t, they do. But once there, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed what someone was wearing, because I was too busy laughing and marvelling at their fabulousness. (Okay, I’ll confess I have noticed what they were wearing–when I noticed that we were all in cocktail dresses and they were in jeans. I went and changed! Comfy is in baby!!) I was never the odd woman out, in the corner with my iPhone–unless I wanted to be. There is always someone to talk to. Always. No really! ALWAYS.

Still, even though I’m the type of person that has never met a stranger, I have difficulty walking into a room full of people already chatting away. I’m not really shy, but I learned long ago that I’m not comfortable walking into a group of women already clearly in love with each other. So I created a conversation starter. I ask people to sign my laptop! Last year I wanted a laptop skin that said something about me, something that would help me break the ice in sessions. Something that helped my tablemates know who I was and could help me get over that initial moment of awkwardness. But nothing seemed to fit. It was too artsy, or too blah, or too…well, just not ME. I sat down with my daughter who was happily creating away on her chalkboard and it struck me–why not let people sign my laptop? A few minutes on Amazon and voila! A signable laptop, skinned with chalkboard paper and chalk markers.

So if you sit by me, help a girl out! In the photo above you can see the signatures from a blogging conference I went to last summer. While they’re a bit faded now, every time I open my laptop I smile thinking of the amazing women I met that week. I’ll wipe them off on Wednesday before Blissdom, ready for a new set of amazing women to grace my laptop with their creativity and brilliance. (Don’t worry, I have photos of the old signatures so I’ll never forget who they were!) Grab a marker and get creative! Sign your blog name, your real name, draw me a picture–whatever makes you fabulous, do it! You’ll not only help me decorate my very bland laptop, but you’ll help me get beyond that instant awkwardness that always strikes the moment I walk into a new room of people I don’t know.

While this might be my fourth year at Blissdom , I think I’m more excited this year that I have ever been before. I have a new camera. I have the start of a new passion in blogging…and I just know that this year, even more than the others, God is going to reveal things to me at Blissdom about where he is leading me. I have this sense that when I step out the door on Wednesday I won’t just be going on a road trip–I’m going to be starting a new adventure. That is both exhilarating and nerve-wracking at the same time.

It’s Blissdom Ya’ll!!

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