What do you get when you put a group of more than 100 inspired and inspirational mid-life bloggers in a room together? More shared wisdom, passionate engagement, naked honesty, and belly laughs than you ever could have expected.
Midlife Boulevard founders Sharon Greenthal and Anne Parris chose Nashville, Tennessee as the Bloggers at Midlife Conference ground zero. Any why wouldn’t they? Nashville enticed them with its central location and the promise of spring-like weather in March, not to mention the possibility of a Deacon Claybourne sighting. The weather gods had other ideas. The bloggers braved some of the worst travel conditions of the season – icy roads, sub-freezing temps, closed airports, and cancelled flights – to gather at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center for the BAM Conference 2015, the first bloggers conference focused specifically on women bloggers in midlife.
Twas 1 amazing gathering of women, & @cabotcheese was proud to be a sponsor. @candacekaru reports from #BAMC15 http://ow.ly/K9nSe
Right off the bat, the notion was dispelled that “midlife” was a particularly limiting category. “I’m not sure I belong. I’m not really in midlife unless I live to be 125,” was how one blogger summed up her apprehension. Conference organizer Sharon Greenthal assured attendees that midlife was more a state of mind than a number. Though virtually all the bloggers were over 40, the age range went up from there. The common threads that bound the group together were energy, passion, and persistence.
The opening reception, sponsored by Stouffer’s was held under the Gaylord dome, where the lush vegetation and tropical temperatures belied the snow-covered Nashville streets outside. Old friends reconnected and new friends were made as bloggers relaxed before a full schedule the following day. Stouffer’s lived up to its tagline “made for you to love,” by hosting a sublime macaroni and cheese bar. Because really, who doesn’t love a nice dish of mac and cheese, especially when you share it with friends?
The day-long conference started early with a group workout session led by Midlife Boulevard members and twin sisters Alexandra Williams and Kymberly-Williams-Evans. Their blog, Fun and Fit, provides “active aging answers for Boom Chicka Boomers.” It also provides lots of fitness information served up with a side of sass. Kymberly led the first part of the workout, which concentrated on core strength and balance, entertaining the intrepid band of bloggers with her trademarked giggle-inducing patter. Alexandra hijacked the second half of the session with her amazingly energetic Drums Alive class – think step aerobics meets Sheila E. – a brain and body workout that set the group up for the rest of the day.
The conference was an intense, informative series of presentations and panels on subjects ranging from monetizing your blog to building a powerful media kit. Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of Blogher & Danyelle Little, known throughout the blogosphere as The Cubicle Chick, started the day with an emotional and uplifting keynote conversation; Food Network star Martie Duncan spoke about Midlife Reinvention. Expert presenters gave advice useful for every blogger in the room, from newbie to veteran.
More than once, bloggers heard the adage “a rising tide lifts all boats,” a perfect metaphor for a group of women prepared to generously share their hard-won wisdom and experience. Advice was given with concrete examples and action items, but sometimes even more valuable was the sense of support and understanding that permeated the discussions from beginning to end.
Breaks throughout the day gave everyone a chance to continue more intimate conversations, share details, exchange business cards, and of course, to fuel up for subsequent sessions. Sampling Cabot’s new Farmers’ Legacy Collection as well as fan favorite, Seriously Sharp Cheddar, was the perfect way to keep the bloggers’ energy up and appetites satisfied. Learning that Cabot is a farm family owned dairy cooperative and that all Cabot cheddars are 100% lactose free was a welcome surprise to many attendees new to the brand.
Some took time during the breaks to pose in front of sponsor Nissan’s impressive banner displaying its new Murano, a car that suited this group to a tee. Not only is the Murano one sexy beast, its comprehensive technology package makes it totally blogger ready.
The conference ended with impromptu dinner dates; quickly formed groups both large and small gathered to debrief and process the events of the day. Contact information was exchanged along with plans for future meetings. Later, back in their rooms, you could almost hear the clicking of a hundred keyboards, as blog posts were started.
If, as we learned in the seventies, sisterhood is powerful, imagine the power of sisters of a certain age, connected by technology and by their hearts. If the first Bloggers at Midlife Conference is any indication, there is nothing that can stop this group of powerful and empowered women.
Candace Karu reports on all there is to discover and love about food and farming as well as communicating Cabot’s mission to support community, volunteerism, and sustainability. Whether online, on air, or in person, her job is to amplify the passion and commitment of the 1200 farm families who own Cabot. When Candace is not representing Cabot, she lives, cooks, and works out in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.