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.
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.
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.
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 peoplebI 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.
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.