Hey guys! Remember me? I’m still alive. I’ve really enjoyed having almost three weeks off, but I’m secretly ready to go back to work. Don’t tell anyone! I mean, if I could work one week and be off a week that would be optimal, but that’s not going to happen. Not in my lifetime! So, in between weeks off I went to a little thing called Haven Conference. I’m a sophomore this year, not a freshman, but I was still a teeny bit nervous about going. If you recall, we actually started this little blog at Haven Conference LAST year! (We know of a few people that started one while at Haven this year too – we set a good example, apparently.)
Last year, I only went to DIY sessions at Haven. This year, I leaned very heavily towards the blogging sessions – in fact, I think I only went to one DIY session this time! Last year, I spent all of my time with our group that went to Haven together and had everything planned out. This year, as much as it pained me, I didn’t make ANY dinner plans at all. If you know me, you know how much I love planning trips and all that comes with it. For several reasons, I just didn’t do it this year. My goal was to eat dinner with strangers (now friends!) and I did it! Every single meal was shared with at least 1-2 people that I did not know before we arrived in Atlanta. Last year, I was too chicken to walk up to bloggers that I admired and introduce myself. This year, no one was safe (especially during the Ryobi/Home Depot party – I’m sure the other girls will cover that in great detail…) but you know what? I met SO MANY PEOPLE that I never would have even had the nerve to LOOK at last year! Walking into a room full of tables half full for breakfast is very intimidating, even at 35 (almost 36. Sheesh. In 1 week.) – flashbacks to elementary school ran through my head. One of the things I love most about Haven is that everyone is either really nice, or they’re really great actors/actresses. I don’t hear that about most conferences, so I think we Haven Mavens must just be extra super awesome badasses.
Photo courtesy of Ballard Designs
Our flight out of Dallas left at 6:15 AM, so we just stayed in a nearby hotel (shout out to Quakecon – that answered SO many questions about all the people we saw there) and got a ride to the airport at the ungodly hour of 4:30 AM. We landed, somehow made it through the Depths of Hell relatively unscathed, got our rental car, and got the heck out of there.
We had lunch, picked up some snacks and water (and wine if we’re being honest) and finally arrived at the hotel for the conference! The hotel will get its own post later, but I’m reserving judgment right now. We rested for a little bit, and then went downstairs to register and get our awesome swag bags! Ballard Designs really went all out for us – I love the bag AND everything in it.
After that, it was time to get real. Get real nervous, that is. Tarah and I went down to socialize while Sars had to take a conference call for work (work schmerk) – it was so intimidating. Luckily, Jennifer from Celebrating Everyday Life broke the ice for us. She was so nice and she has her own freaking magazine, y’all!
That night there was a cocktail party put on by Homes.com and Forrent.com – our friend Megan ended up winning an iPad mini! We went to dinner with some new people and went straight to bed. We were whooped!
The next day was a blur. Ana White was the opening speaker (she was great) and she just set the tone for the whole conference – if you are not passionate about what you’re doing, people will be able to tell. I think we’ve all been guilty of that, whether it be blogging, working, anything – I can tell you I have blogged many times when I didn’t really care, and guess what? It is SO obvious to me in those posts. In my opinion, if you need to take a break, you should take a break (much like I did recently). Don’t do something JUST to be doing something. Do it because you want to and because you enjoy it. People will notice and people will remember you.
I took a few blog classes that day (those of you that don’t blog will not even care about this part, I promise) – Google Juice + SEO Tips with Brooke from All Things Thrifty and Court from Blog Builders – cutest brother and sister team ever. See, I have proof:
Okay, so that isn’t Court’s sister, that’s me. I took this picture to make Tarah jealous. It worked. Sorry not sorry.
THEN I got to participate in the Ballard Designs Bookcase Challenge – I was so nervous! Our team totally had the best bookcase and we won for the first day. Now I have $100 to spend at Ballard Designs.
Next, I took Designing Outside of the Box, led by Lindsay of Makely School for Girls, Mandi of Vintage Revivals, and Ashley of The Handmade Home. After that, I took Profitable Advertising with Myra of My Blessed Life, Sarah of Thrifty Decor Chick, and Beth of Home Stories A to Z.
We had a few minutes to change, and then rushed down for the Rustoleum cocktail party. Right after that, Ryobi threw a dinner party for all of us. It was a blast! We made lots of new friends and took lots and lots of pictures and had lots and lots of drinks. Ryobi sure knows how to throw a party! They are honestly the nicest company to work with – so friendly and so responsive. We were talking to them, and I told them how before Haven last year, I was scared to death of power tools – but after I got home, I bought myself a Ryobi Deluxe Combo Kit and love it. They mentioned that they were going to be in Texas the week after Haven, and of course they were going to be in Fort Worth (hello!?) – so once we discussed how close it would be to us, they asked what the next tool I wanted to buy was. Duh, a nail gun. They have a brand new one out and I NEEDED IT. The Big Boss Bill told me if I showed up on Thursday for their meeting, he would give one to me. GIVE me a nail gun. He made my week! (You better believe I showed up Thursday morning and they remembered me AND what I wanted – you can’t get any better than that!) I just love those guys and think they are the absolute best. I’m so happy that I’ve gotten to meet them and hopefully we can work with them in the future! I just can’t say enough nice things about those guys. (And obviously, they are goofy like we are…)
So, if you follow us on Instagram, I’m sure you’ve figured out that I had a little (lot) too much to drink, so here’s one picture. I reserve the right to delete any pictures that Tarah and Sars post, just FYI! Also – don’t let those girls tell you they weren’t drinking We needed to cut loose a little, and cut loose we did!
Sadly, this wasn’t my only run-in with the lovely Atlanta Police Department. Story to come later on THAT one
The next day (oh, the headache – was it worth it? TOTALLY) was a full day of classes. My first class was I Heart Organizing with Chris from Just A Girl and Jen from I Heart Organizing. Then I took Working With Wood 101, led by Ryobi and Kreg Jig. That’s where I fell in love with the nail gun. I didn’t want to give it back to them! My last Haven 2013 class was Advanced Advertising with Beckie from Infarrantly Creative, Cassity from Remodelaholic, and Rhoda from Southern Hospitality.
We had a wonderful closing speaker, Bob Johnson from Habitat for Humanity. He made everyone cry a little (if you didn’t cry a tiny bit, you have no soul) and encouraged us to go out and
Haven could not have had a better speaker to send us off. I have had that quote running through my mind almost nonstop since he said it. He is so right – we all have influence, no matter how big or small – and we should use that influence to do good. And lots of it. We are thinking about how we at RCHOTX can make an impact and involve all of you as well – if you have any specific ideas on how we can do good on a grand scale, please please please leave it in the comments or if you would rather email me, do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Haven was a success. You get out of it what you put into it, plain and simple. I am already so excited for next year, and feel like I made so many new friends. I miss everyone so much and can’t wait to see you all next year! As Mandi would say, LOVE YOUR GUTS.