BlogHer 2013 Highs and Lows (mostly highs)

I returned yesterday from the BlogHer 2013 conference in downtown Chicago. The weekend was blissfully exhausting, full of emotion, learning, and connecting. My roommates (and honorary roommate) and I spent a small snippet of time each day discussing our “highs and lows” (terminology credit: Jen). So, I will use the same method to recap my BlogHer experience as it seems the only way my brain can filter through this amazing mess inside my head. You will notice a certain imbalance between the highs and the lows, as I was mostly high all weekend.

Wait. That didn’t come out right.

BlogHer 2013 Highs


My Roommates

Having a few safe people to share your highs and lows (and toilet, shower, and bed)  makes putting yourself out there into the blogging abyss a bit easier. I am so grateful to Kari, Jen, Jeanette, and (honorary roommate, Marianne) for being my people.

All of the PEOPLE

Okay, maybe not ALL of the people. Whenever, you get 5,000 people together, there are bound to be some jackasses, but almost all of the people that I encountered blew me away with their kindness, warmth, and welcoming spirit. It thrilled me to meet some of the bloggers I have followed since  starting this whole journey, and some new (to me) bloggers, as well. I wish I could have sat down with each one of them, had a cup of coffee, heard their stories, and learned all of the things.

If this was all BlogHer was, if this was the only perk, if there was no swag, no keynotes, no sessions? This would be enough.  The people would be enough. Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for all of the other parts of this conference, but the PEOPLE, the relationships, are the reasons that I hope to return next year.

The Voices of the Year

By far my favorite keynote. Hearing the stories of others feeds my spirit in a way that very little else does. Having Queen Latifah emcee was a bonus…

Queen Latifah

I actually stood right beside her, but forgot to bring my phone on stage to take a photo with her (insert hand smacking head).

…but I am afraid she was a bit overshadowed by the readers. I couldn’t pick a favorite, so don’t even ask.

Then there was this:

BlogHer mounted all of the VOTY honorees’ stories in a massive way and put them on display in the reception hall.  I’m not going to lie. Seeing my story in all this big, bold glory gave me a bit of a rush.

Read This Story

Okay, so I was walking through the expo hall and I hear someone say,

“Hey, are you from Celina? Are you Shannon Duffy?” The voice came from a woman working inside one of the sponsor’s booth.

She informed me that, when she was eight years old, she watched my high school basketball team win the State Championship. She told me how it was a big deal to her and that she had even gotten my autograph. We spoke briefly about our lives, then and now, and about our shared coaches and history. I cannot begin to tell you how much this chance meeting thrilled me and shocked me.

First of all, I am thrilled and shocked that she recognized me. After all, I looked like this when she last saw me.

Big Hair

Secondly, that 20+ year old experience is still so important and fresh in my heart and it makes me happy to know that it meant something to others as well.

Thirdly (is that a word?), my post that was honored by Voices of the Year was about winning the State Championship and basketball’s role in my life. It was part of the reason that I was there, at that conference, strolling through the expo. I don’t know if that’s serendipity or fate or what. I’ll just call it awesome.

The Sessions and the Swag

I attended a session during every available time. Most of my sessions were in the writing track. I enjoyed seeing inside the creative process of other people and learning about their motivations for sharing their stories.

I came home with a small bag of swag from the expo hall. I am not one who likes a lot of stuff. Not a minimalist, but tilting in that direction. But who doesn’t like a can with your face on it?


Sorry I kept looking at the screen rather than the camera, Melisa.

And the other best swag item that never made it into the bag? Ice cream sandwiches. When I told Cheerio that there was a freezer full of free ice cream bars, her response was:

“I want to be a blogger.”

BlogHer 2013 Lows

I got nothing, really.

There were several people that I really wanted to meet that I either couldn’t find among the masses, or I was too shy to approach. I won’t make that mistake next time. This event bolstered my courage.

I didn’t take enough pictures and the ones I did manage to take were pretty blurry. Next time, I will bring a better camera and make a point of using it.

That’s it. That is my BlogHer 2013 experience in less than 1,000 words.

I offer my genuine gratitude to every person there who offered me a smile or open arms.

It was an honor to meet you all.




  1. You’re so adorable. So proud of you and the VOTY, too!

  2. I was honored to share a room with you and loved every minute of it.
    Especially barking Jingle Bells.
    Right up there with flashing Ree Drummond.
    And the free ice cream.
    You are officially my blogging idol by the way, Shannon from Celina.
    I love you.

  3. Shannon Duffy, you’re my hero (said in BFF Cameron’s voice from Ferris Bueller).
    I loved spending every laughing, smiling, stressed out, forcing you to take Excedrin, hilarious moment that we spent together. You rock as a roommie (clothing garments lying about aside). I will NEVER head jingle bells and not think of the barking version (and the other, uncensored operatic version). xoxoxoxo

  4. One of my highs was barging into your room thinking it belonged to someone else, only to recognize you and be offered refreshments. That pretty much sums up the awesomeness of BlogHer, right there.

  5. It was great meeting you and hanging out!

  6. I missed Blogher this year but will not make that mistake again! Glad you had such a great time. And huge congratulations on being a VOTY honoree!

  7. I LOVED meeting you, finally. It is so great to have face time with those who have become good online friends. xo xo xXO xo small o little x bigger O bigger X

  8. SO nice to meet you!!! I had an amazing time this weekend and enjoyed getting to hang out with you a bit in the craziness of it all. =)

  9. it was SO good to get to meet you!! I agree with you that the people were the real reason I loved the conference. the other factors were great, of course. but there’s nothing like meeting great people!

  10. I so loved spending time with you, although I apologize if I talked to much!

  11. Too. Too much, dangnabbit.

  12. I’m sad I missed you, but so glad you had all highs. (I was also THRILLED to see everyone’s beautiful words blown up larger than life.)

  13. Meeting you was one of my major highlights! You’re amazing! xoxo

    • Reading that made me smile really big. I hope that there will come a time and place when you and I can sit down and really talk. BlogHer was such a blur and I want to really get to know all of the people.

  14. How awesome. I wish I had been able to go to BlogHer this year. Oh- wait, I did go! Firstly, I’m sorry I refused to take a can picture with you, secondly, I’m glad to have been there when you were recognized in all your celebrity glory, and thirdly, you’re a super bedmate!

    • And I’m sorry I woke you up on multiple occasions. Someday, in this life, I will get my face on a can with the great Jeanette Nyberg. I’m adding it to my bucket list.

  15. Living vicariously … sounds like you had a wonderful time. It’s a rush for ME to see your words up big like that, I can’t even imagine how awesome that felt. Richly deserved (in my humble view) Bravo! xox

  16. Because I love you, love your blog – I nominated you for the Liebster Award 🙂 spreading the small (not so small :)) blog love!

  17. Thanks, RoiAnn. I’m not sure what that is, but I appreciate the love!

  18. Congrats on the VOTY nom! How cool that they had the stories up mounted like that. That’s is for sure a HIGH! I hope to get to BlogHer one day. Was great to read about your experience and I love your positive attitude in finding mostly highs.

Speak Your Mind