I Met My Tribe at BlogPaws, and Parting Is Sweet Sorrow

So, the 2014 BlogPaws conference is coming to an end. The last workshops are going to be starting in about an hour, and this evening the winners of the prestigious Nose to Nose Pet Blogging Awards will be announced.

JaneA and fellow cat bloggers at BlogPaws 2014

Me with Vicky Walker of Catster; Angie Bailey of Catladyland, Whiskerslist and Texts from Mittens, along with two other blogging pals

The end of the conference is bittersweet for me because through this conference I’ve met people who have become my best friends — fellow cat bloggers whom I never would have met in real life if it hadn’t been for a conference that brought together pet bloggers from all across the U.S, and all over the world.

This year I had the pleasure of working with Kate Benjamin of the amazing cat lifestyle and design blog Hauspanther in the Cat Style Lounge, which showcases some of the greatest and coolest new cat products she’s discovered. It’s always hard work to set up and staff a booth — let alone a BIG booth — at an event like BlogPaws, but it’s hugely rewarding.

The Cat Spool bed

The Cat Spool bed is made in Maine, my old home state. It’s high-quality and very pretty, and it would be a great addition to any home It comes in two color schemes; visit the website for more information.

I also got to meet a few celebri-kitties, including Coco from Curlz and Swirlz, Waffles from Glogirly, and Zeki the Pet Safety Cat. Zeki assists her mom, Arden Moore, in teaching pet caretakers about animal first aid and making their homes as pet-safe as possible.

JaneA and Zeki the Pet Safety Cat

I get to share some love (and a cat fix) with Zeki the Pet Safety Cat.

There are some people I really missed this year, who couldn’t attend because of reasons ranging from being on kitten watch to simply insurmountable vacation and finance reasons (it’s not cheap flying to Vegas from the East Coast, let me tell you — even from Seattle it wasn’t cheap). I missed seeing Robin Olson from Covered in Cat Hair and Kitten Associates, Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat, Deb Barnes of Zee and Zoey, Tamar Arslanian of I Have Cat, Dorian Wagner of Your Daily Cute, and many others.

Which brings me to my next point. I never would have imagined when I went to my first BlogPaws conference five years ago that I would have met people I now have the honor of naming among my best friends. I guess I should have known something like that would happen, though. Hanging out in a hotel full of pet-loving bloggers was like finally finding that island where I actually fit in.

Yoga Cat Mats and toys

Other cool Cat Style Lounge goodies: Yoga Cat Mats by Feline Yogi

Feeling like I belong somewhere is something I’ve struggled with for pretty much all of my life, and even when I find people with whom I share an instant bond, I still feel kind of tentative, like maybe even here I won’t find kindred spirits. Until just recently I’ve felt like an outsider pretty much anywhere I’ve gone, and that first BlogPaws conference was no exception. I didn’t know who to talk to or how to go about meeting people — but fortunately there were others who were not as reticent, and they found me.

As I continued to attend BlogPaws conferences, I’ve done my best to pay it forward and help new attendees feel welcome. I hope I’ve been that welcoming spirit to others who feel like strangers in a strange land. This is a great conference, not just for the learning and the networking, but for the chance to feel like you have found your tribe! And that’s why I tend to feel a bit sentimental and tearful as BlogPaws winds down.

If you’re new to the pet blogging world — or even if you’re not but you’re looking to make some new connections — do yourself a favor and register for BlogPaws 2015. It’s going to be in Nashville, so it should be super-cool and fun! And you bet your bootie that I’m going to be there, assisting with the Cat Style Lounge and welcoming anyone who looks like they could use a friend.

  • http://www.darlenearden.com Darlene Arden, C.A.B.C.

    It’s nice to read about your experiences at BlogPaws. I’m one of those who couldn’t be there this year but I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed it! Before you know it, the next one will be here. I was at last year’s conference and can’t believe that an entire year has passed!
    You deserve to feel welcome everywhere. I’m glad that you finally do. Sometimes life just isn’t fair and childhood isn’t that happy little picture that most people paint. Enjoy your last hours at BlogPaws!

    • JaneA Kelley

      Thanks, Darlene. I’m so glad that I’ve not only found my tribe at BlogPaws but in my new home city. Seattle is a place where I feel welcome to be truly me, and that’s been huge for me. Yeah, childhood isn’t as happy and rosy as some people would like to think — but I often think that if it hadn’t been for all those years of feeling isolated from others, I might not have come to know cats as well as I do, and I might never have launched Paws and Effect. Sometimes flowers sprout through cracks in the pavement. :-)

  • http://www.sparklecat.com Sparkle

    Janea, my human says that you are always a big part of the conferences for her and she always enjoys seeing and connecting with you! And she is kind of envious that you a) got to help the awesome Kate from Hauspanther and b) got to hold Zeki, who is one of MY personal heroes!

    Paws up to you for everything you do, and my human looks forward to seeing you again!

    • JaneA Kelley

      Awww, I really love seeing your human every year, too. Zeki really is an amazing cat, and I was grateful to be in her presence. :-)

  • http://consciouscat.net Ingrid King

    I missed being there so much this year. Even tough the veterinary conference I attended while you were at BlogPaws was wonderful, it wasn’t the same as being at BlogPaws. Next year for sure!

    • JaneA Kelley

      BlogPaws really is a special environment, and it’s awesome not just to see you and my other great friends but to meet new bloggers and invite them to become a part of this wonderful experience, too.

  • http://www.blogpaws.com Tom Collins

    Ooops! I spaced out and thought I was leaving a comment, but posted to G+! I plead conference overload!

    JaneA, you’re a great example and a big part of why BlogPaws conferences are so different from other business or even social media conferences — you and of course the cats, dogs, ferrets, capybara(!) and so on! Thanks again for being there and being you! ;-D

    See y’all in Nashville, y’all.


    • JaneA Kelley

      Thanks so much, Tom. I’m so grateful to be a part of the BlogPaws family. :-)

  • http://www.mochasmysteriesmeows.com Melissa

    That is the kinship that I feel with our little pet blogging community as well. Being very introverted I always feel like I’m on the outside looking in, but when I’m around wonderful people who love their pets as I do I feel able to come out of my shell. Attending a BlogPaws Conference is #1 on my bucket list and I hope it becomes a reality for me!

    • JaneA Kelley

      Melissa, if you get to a BlogPaws conference, please look for me. I’ll be happy to welcome you, introduce you to some awesome people, and show you around.

  • AnitaB

    People who love animals and work with them are the best. I, too, have made many new friends working with a rescue group. I wish there were more people who would give their time to those who need the love and attention and less to the frivolous things in life that never really fulfill your soul.

    • JaneA Kelley

      Amen, Anita!

  • http://oliviashuman.blogspot.com Lida (Olivia’s Human)

    Nashville will be my first! I already have my ticket and I’m super pumped, but you’re right it is a little nerve racking and I think I’ll be a bit worried about going alone (with my dog Olivia of course) and trying to meet people. I hope I can be brave and make new friends!

  • http://www.felineyogi.com Feline Yogi

    JaneA it was so wonderful to meet you in the Cat Style Lounge and get to know you better. You made me feel very welcomed and I so appreciate your work in making the Cat Style Lounge a success. And thanks for including the pictures of my Yoga Cat Mat Toys above. It was so much fun being a part of the Lounge! Meow and Namaste! Paige

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