Food Blog Forum Orlando, Magic Moments and an Inedible Recipe

Friday, March 23, 2012

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I’ve sat on this post for three whole days, debating whether or not to publish it.  It seemed like a good idea at the time I wrote it, but then I started to get cold feet.  I suspect that there are at least a few of my fellow food bloggers who have struggled with some of these same issues.  So, I decided to put myself out there, warts and all, in the hope that my observations may be of some value.   Consider yourself forewarned. This post is not like the ones I usually write here on SGCC.    There aren’t any gooey chocolate chip cookies or other tasty treats waiting for you at the end. But, if you happen to have any cookies or cupcakes or muffins handy, now might be a good time to grab one to munch on as you read.

Last weekend, I attended the Food Blog Forum conference in Orlando. The event was held at Walt Disney World; and was probably one of the best blogging conferences I’ve attended. I’m not going to spend time in this post waxing poetic about all of the lovely and wildly creative bloggers I met there – although there were many. Nor am I going to rhapsodize about all of the marvelous food that I enjoyed – although there was quite a lot of that too. With over a hundred attendees at the conference, I’m confident that posts about those things will abound. Disney World is already a magical place all by itself. However, I found a deeper, more meaningful magic of my own there, and that is what I feel compelled to share with you. 

FBF-speakers-collage

Like so many of us do, I’ve spent the better part of my life defining myself by what I represent to others – wife, mother, daughter, blogger, friend. But, the one question I never ask myself anymore is “Who am I really?”. I’ve been wearing so many different hats for so many years that I can’t tell which one fits me anymore. If I close my eyes tightly and think really hard, I can almost conjure up the shadow of a memory of who I once was before responsibility and obligation clouded my vision. I remember being eager, enthusiastic and full of big dreams. I was bright and talented and fun! What I also was (and still am), is a great big “scaredy cat”. I was afraid of failing because I couldn’t measure up; and afraid of succeeding because then the world might expect more of me than I was able to deliver.

anxiety

I’ve carried that fear like a scarlet letter. It’s always there, lurking in the background – slowly chipping away at the shiny veneer protecting my self-confidence. The funny thing about fear, though, is that it can paralyze you. Doing nothing eliminates the risk of failure – and success.  At some point – I’m not sure exactly when – I must have decided that it was safer to follow the path set out for me by others, rather than forge my own way. That way, my foibles would be on them. I don’t think it was a conscious decision. I don’t even remember making it. What I do know is, that once I started SGCC, I suddenly had to guide myself – be myself. For better or for worse, it was all me. And I think that scared me most of all.

lunch-collage

Don’t get me wrong! I dearly love this little blog of mine. For almost five years, I’ve cultivated and nurtured it, and watched it grow. It’s given me the opportunity to share one of my passions, as well as a venue to rant and ramble, when I feel I need to. SGCC also introduced me to this wonderfully supportive food blogging community. Through it, I’ve forged some lasting friendships and rubbed elbows with many brilliant chefs and writers whose work I respect tremendously. (I mean, I got to meet Dorie Greenspan for heaven’s sake! How cool is that!?!?) And, it’s even led me to a new writing career. But, I sometimes feel as though I’m still trying to find my own voice, while at the same time worrying that once I find it, it won’t be loud enough to be heard over the din.

dessert-collage-2

We food bloggers are famous for sharing recipes, both our own and everybody else’s. However, the kind of recipe I’ve been craving lately isn’t edible. When I decided to attend FBF, I was looking for some photography and writing tips, SEO tricks and a little inspiration. Secretly, I was also hoping for a magic recipe that would help me better clarify who I am as a blogger, where I want to go with it and how to get there. Easy peasy, huh? Yeah, right!

pixie-dust-1

During the morning session of FBF, somewhere in between David Leite’s fabulous presentation on how to write badass blog posts and Dawn Viola’s illuminating talk on moving your blog from hobby to professional, my magic happened. Jaden’s charismatic and adorable husband, Scott, who spent several years as a motivational speaker with Tony Robbins, shared his simple strategy for getting what you want from your life. I think I heard angels singing! Seriously. It was so logical and straightforward, that I wanted to thump myself on my head for not getting it sooner. It was exactly what I needed.  And because I love you, dear readers, I want to share it with you. Here is Scott Hair’s magically inedible recipe for success:

1. Know what you want. Be very specific.

2. Make a list of the reasons why you want it. Again, be specific. (You must know why you want something in order to obtain it.)

3. For each reason you list, identify actions that can get you closer to your goal – and take them.

4. Be prepared to make the adjustments necessary to get to #1.

And, because I can never leave any recipe alone, here’s my little tweak on this one: Don’t let fear stand in the way of your goals. Throw it out the window and let it fly away so that you can soar.

Do you sometimes get frustrated trying to find your own voice? Have you ever been distracted from your goals by fear or anxiety? Do you ever not take risks for fear of failure? I think most of us probably have these issues from time to time.  We bloggers are especially vulnerable, because we are so exposed.  The important thing is to keep moving forward and not beat ourselves up over every little thing.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend a FBF conference, do it.  It is so much more than a seminar on the mechanics of blogging.  It was an enlightening experience in a supportive and nonjudgmental environment.  I found it to be a breath of fresh air compared to most of the other conferences I’ve been to.  There were no clique-y, exclusionary events to feel bad about not being invited to.  There was no jockeying for position by frantic bloggers trying to make sweet deals with major brands or book publishers.  There were no “cool kids” there.  We were all treated the same way – like we had value.  I came home feeling like I could achieve anything I wanted if I was willing to do the work.  And, I didn’t have one single stiletto print on my back from someone trying to climb over me to get to the top!

winding-road

The path on my journey may still be a little crooked, but I’m trying to navigate it as best I can. I’m still a work in progress. But then, aren’t we all? I do, however, think I know what I’m looking for, and have my magic recipe to help me find it. And now, so do you.

If you’d like to learn more about FBF, check out some of these  other excellent posts:

http://www.katiescucina.com/2012/03/food-blog-forum-2012/

http://www.sweetbitesblog.com/journal/2012/3/20/food-blog-forum-orlando-round-two.html

http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/2012/03/food-blog-forum-orlando-2012-wrap-up.html

http://penniesonaplatter.com/2012/03/22/food-blog-forum-orlando-2012/

http://mysweetzepol.blogspot.com/2012/03/day-of-food-blog-forum-orlando-2012.html

http://fifteenspatulas.com/2012/03/21/orlando-food-blog-forum-2012-a-recap-of-food-blogger-heaven/

http://onecurlyfryinaboxoftheregular.com/2012/03/22/food-blog-forum-orlando-at-walt-disney-world/

http://www.bigbearswife.com/2012/03/food-blog-forum-orlando-disney-trip.html

http://www.merrygourmet.com/2012/03/the-food-blog-forum-orlando-disney-edition/

http://www.ingredientsinc.net/2012/03/food-blog-forum-orlando-disney-fun/

http://thevillagecook.com/food-blog-forum-12-part-1/

http://www.lifebythespoonful.com/2012/03/lessons-learned-at-food-blog-forum-orlando/

http://sarahscucinabella.com/2012/03/21/looking-back-on-food-blog-forum-orlando-2012/

http://www.tablefortwoblog.com/2012/03/20/food-blog-forum-orlando-2012-in-pictures/

http://creativekitchenadventures.com/2012/03/23/food-blog-forum-orlando-walt-disney-world-resort-day-1/

51 responses to Food Blog Forum Orlando, Magic Moments and an Inedible Recipe

  1. On March 23, 2012 at 11:25am, Aly ~ Cooking In Stilettos said...

    Susan – as always – you summed it up perfectly! FBF was a magical experience and the advice, the sessions and the knowledge learned there was priceless :)

    • On March 23, 2012 at 11:33am, Susan said...

      Thanks, Aly! It came from the heart. It was so good to see you there and have a chance to visit a bit! :)

  2. On March 23, 2012 at 11:35am, Sarah Caron said...

    Great post, Susan! I came home with much of the same feeling as you — this was the best blogging conference I’ve been to and I learned so much. Also, I too have the scaredy cat gene, and it’s something I try very hard to defy. It would be easy to let it rule my life and to make all “safe” choices … but where’s the fun in that?

    • On March 23, 2012 at 11:57am, Susan said...

      So true, Sarah! Scaredy Cats Unite! BTW, it was great to meet you at FBF. Looking forward to it again!

  3. On March 23, 2012 at 11:37am, Scott Hair said...

    Bravery is not the absence of fear, but rather taking action in the presence of fear.

    Step onward down your path. Be brave and each step brings you closer to your dreams!

    -Scott

    • On March 23, 2012 at 11:58am, Susan said...

      Well said, Scott. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

  4. On March 23, 2012 at 11:42am, Rosa said...

    A great event! I really enjoyed reading your post. I am often paralized by fear and feel weak… Great tips!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    • On March 23, 2012 at 11:59am, Susan said...

      Thanks, Rosa! I suspect more of us feel that way than are willing to admit. :)

  5. On March 23, 2012 at 11:42am, jen @ one curly fry said...

    What a wonderful write-up! It was a pleasure to meet you and I hope to see you at another event soon!

    • On March 23, 2012 at 12:00pm, Susan said...

      Thanks! It was great to meet you too, Jen! :)

  6. On March 23, 2012 at 11:49am, Joan Nova said...

    Your post is very thoughtful and well-illustrated. I’m sorry we didn’t get to meet … I went last year, you went this year. I’m glad it was beneficial.

    • On March 23, 2012 at 12:01pm, Susan said...

      Thanks, Joan! I’m sorry too! Maybe the third time will be the charm. :)

  7. On March 23, 2012 at 12:11pm, JulieD said...

    Susan, I’m so glad you were able to join FBF this year and glad you had so much fun. A lot of what you’re saying in this post I have felt and I know countless others have felt in the beginning, along the way and will in the future. Don’t beat yourself up…just do what you believe in and what you love. Thank you for sharing this…and having the courage to hit publish.

    • On March 23, 2012 at 12:32pm, Susan said...

      Thanks, Julie! And, thank you for all your hard work in putting the conference together. It was fantastic! :)

  8. On March 23, 2012 at 12:45pm, Robin @ Simply Southern Baking said...

    Susan, thanks for sharing your heart with the rest of us. It was such an eye-opening and inspiring weekend for me too. Sad we didn’t get to meet, but I’ll see you at Techmunch next month!

    • On March 23, 2012 at 10:06pm, Susan said...

      Thanks, Robin! It’s a date.

  9. On March 23, 2012 at 12:54pm, Laura said...

    OMGOSH!! I am so in tune with you on this!!! Sometimes even trying to figure out what you want can be scary. I get stuck at that question out of the gate. Guess I will have to take baby steps!!! Thank you!!!

    • On March 23, 2012 at 10:06pm, Susan said...

      My pleasure! :)

  10. On March 23, 2012 at 2:28pm, Katy said...

    Susan, I’m a seventeen year old girl who loves to bake and cook and I’ve followed your blog for a long time, trying your decadent recipes and sending prayers in times of need. I’ve never had the guts to comment before, because I’ve always believed my thoughts would just be a waste of time that no one would want to read here. I had to comment on this, though.

    This moved me to tears because I know exactly what this fear feels like, and suddenly you’ve made me want to try to change that about myself. Even better, you’ve given me a recipe for it. Thanks.

    • On March 23, 2012 at 11:09pm, Susan said...

      Thank you so much for sharing, Katy! Your comment moved me to tears too. As the mom of a girl your age, I know how challenging this time in your lives can be. The anxiety and insecurity alone can drive you crazy!. It’s a much tougher world than it was when I was a teen! The good news is that you, me and anyone who wants to, can change the things we don’t like about ourselves.

      I always tell my own daughter that every year is a new opportunity to start fresh. We can reinvent ourselves to be whatever we want to be. If you imagine yourself as a strong, confident young woman, then that’s what you will become!

      I’m very happy to know that my post helped to motivate you in a positive way! It was a hard post for me to write, but it was worth it. Please, please, please don’t feel that your comments aren’t important. They are! And, I look forward to more of them. We can all learn from what each other has to say.

      Thanks for the time you spend here at SGCC, and for the prayers. They are very much appreciated! Please keep in touch. :)

  11. On March 23, 2012 at 3:58pm, Corinne said...

    Susan, I have enjoyed your blog for several months now, not only for your recipes, but for your “style” of writing, which is engaging, highly readable, and just plain FUN…! I am much older than you, a “career” Mom, and a person NOT unaccustomed to the fear of failure…When it is all said and done, your greatest joy will be in being YOU…knowing where you came from, being able to enjoy your successes, and being able to move on from things that you attempted that didn’t go as well as you had hoped…You want to do well to FEEL GREAT about yourself, but just know that you are not in competition with anyone else…your view of the world is different from anyone else’s, and as a result, it is precious…there are many with whom that view will resonate, and that is the frosting on the cake, and for those with whom it doesn’t, it just is that way, and you are NOT diminished in any way…!! Just keep up the great writing, the great cooking and baking and the great photography of your efforts…they are wonderful, they will evolve, and they are YOU….

    • On March 24, 2012 at 12:27am, Susan said...

      Thank you very much, Corinne! You are a wise and wonderful cheerleader! :)

  12. On March 23, 2012 at 5:05pm, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    So glad you posted your “recipe”. I have loved reading your blog over the years. You have humor, kindness, warmth, and delicious recipes! It makes me happy to have “known” you over the years.

    I think sometimes you shouldn’t have to overthink things so much. When I think of just how great your blog is, I see that you are truly a success and while your blog shouldn’t define who you are, I definitely feel “you” in every post. Never stop doing what you’re doing exactly the way you’re doing it.

    Over the years I have come to accept my own blogs are what they are, and while it’s never going to bring me fame or fortune, they are first and foremost just a way of expressing myself. If I stop being true to myself, true to who I am, true to my own style and to my own voice, then it’s time to pack it in!

    • On March 24, 2012 at 12:29am, Susan said...

      Aww, Rachel! You were one of my very first blogger buddies. Thank you so much for your support, and for sticking around! Xoxo! :)

  13. On March 23, 2012 at 9:34pm, Wanda said...

    Susan, what can I say that hasn’t been said already. You did an amazing summery of what FBF meant for you. Let me tell you something, you taught me a great lesson. When I signed up for the conference it was with a goal in mind, to learn how to improve my blog. But, then again my summery was about what I experienced during the weekend. Even though I did include some tips I learned, your summery is what most of us really felt even before getting to the conference. Fear, anticipation, high expectations & the magic words of how to make our blog be noticed from so many out there. Your summery is very real & I loved it.

  14. On March 24, 2012 at 12:39am, Susan said...

    Thank you, Wanda! I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the post. When David Leite said that “the more personal our writing is, the more universal it will be”, I took it to heart. That’s why I decided to address the issues I did. I suspected that a lot of us felt this way and could relate. Can’t wait for FBFOrl 2013! :)

  15. On March 24, 2012 at 8:12am, Monica said...

    Susan, we did not have a chance to meet in the conference, but, after reading this I wish I did (if you are coming to TECHmunch, we need to hook up!) because you capture so many thoughts that fly around in my own mind every time I sit and the computer to write my little heart out and worry over every single sentence.

    Be so very proud of this post, because you did put yourself out there and you were true and passionate. A quote from John Wayne comes to mind “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway”. Girl, you saddle up!

    • On March 24, 2012 at 10:34am, Susan said...

      That was the one problem with FBF – it wasn’t long enough! I’ve been invited to speak at TECHmunch, so I will be there. And yes, we must definitely hook up.

      Thank you for the kind words. It means a lot to know that others appreciate my effort and can get some good out of it! :)

  16. On March 24, 2012 at 10:31am, merry jennifer said...

    Susan, this was a wonderful post, and I’m so glad you decided to hit that Publish button. I really enjoyed sitting with you at lunch and learning more about you and your life. It was a highlight of the experience for me. And, I just want to tell you how excited I am that I’ll see you again in April when we’re both at TechMunch in Tampa!

    • On March 24, 2012 at 10:46am, Susan said...

      Thanks, MJ! I really enjoyed getting to know you at FBF too! I’m really looking forward to meeting up again at TECHMunch. I’m sure it will be a blast! :)

  17. On March 24, 2012 at 10:47am, pamela rizzo said...

    I loved this blog. From scardy cat to inspirational! You are an amazing woman!

    • On April 02, 2012 at 9:58am, Susan said...

      Thanks, Pam! :)

  18. On March 24, 2012 at 12:43pm, Robyn Lindars said...

    Thanks for sharing with us- like many said before, I think it is very hard to find and demonstrate real voice. I think this blog post does just that! Very inspirational- thanks for putting it out there for all of us to see! ;)

  19. On March 24, 2012 at 5:33pm, Denise @ Creative Kitchen said...

    Susan,

    I’m so glad we were able to meet, but like you wish the conference had been longer. Your written word here is universal…we can all relate. As I approaching the BIG 4-0 two years ago, I felt a desire to change, to find myself again. As a homeschool mom of 3 girls, I feel I can definitely get lost in the mix. I decided I was going to push past the “fear” myself and stretch myself out of my comfort zone. It has only done wonders for ME. It’s been amazing!! And I’ve experienced many opportunities and taken chances I never thought I would.

    Thanks for sharing this. It spoke to me…..

    • On April 02, 2012 at 10:02am, Susan said...

      I’m glad we were able to meet too! I’ve also found that there is a definite satisfaction that comes with pushing your limits. Onward and upward! :D

  20. On March 24, 2012 at 10:43pm, Jeanette said...

    Susan, it was such a pleasure meeting you in person last week. I am so happy that you decided to publish this post. Life is like a wild ride, and as I get older, I feel as if the twists and turns are getting sharper, but I also feel better equipped to manage the asteroids that are thrown my way. I think it’s human nature to want to fit in and try to emulate other people. It’s hard to find our own voice, but I too was inspired coming out of last weekend to really focus on what I want and come up with a plan on how to get there. Hoping to get to know you better so we can continue on this journey together.

    • On April 02, 2012 at 10:08am, Susan said...

      The pleasure was all mine, Jeanette! I love your analogy. Life certainly is a wild ride, and sometimes you have to hang on for dear life! It’s nice to know that I’m in such good company.

  21. On March 25, 2012 at 7:45pm, bellini said...

    Very well said Susan. In this blogging world we each have our own voice and each of us has value. I have never been to a Florida conference but the best I have been to was in Washington DC. I was not a number but made to feel an asset.

    • On April 02, 2012 at 10:11am, Susan said...

      Thanks, Val! Fortunately, FBF isn’t limited to Florida. They present these conferences in several locations. The next time they have one near you, you should try to attend. It really is worthwhile. :)

  22. On March 26, 2012 at 4:22pm, Mary Kay@Just for Cooking said...

    Great post. I so wanted to go but couldn’t this year.

    I love your blog. I just nominated your for “pay it forward” blogger Award. The post will be up there later on tonight if you want to take a look. I thank for you being my inspiration to do better with my own blog. Isn’t it funny sometimes we don’t see how we help others just by being there? You sure do just by being yourself and doing your blog thing here! Keep up the great work!

    • On April 02, 2012 at 10:12am, Susan said...

      Awww! Thank you, Mary Kay! I’m honored for the nomination and grateful for your kind words. :)

  23. On March 26, 2012 at 5:48pm, michelle @ The Village Cook said...

    Susan! I loved this post… It was so beautifully written & true. I really wished we had more time to chat; like I said, you were one of the early bloggers that inspired me. (I remember when you burnt marshmallows!) ;) I’m hoping to hear you speak at Tech Munch~ you will be AWESOME! xoxo ~ Michelle

    • On April 02, 2012 at 10:14am, Susan said...

      Thank you, Michelle! I’m so flattered that I was part of your early inspiration. That is one of the reasons I keep plugging along. I can’t believe you remember those marshmallows! Lol! Not my finest moment! ;)

  24. On March 28, 2012 at 3:18pm, Karen@Mignardise said...

    I’m really glad you did publish this post. It makes us smaller bloggers feel better knowing that even the “big girls” have the same fears! When you write blog, whether it’s about food or something more personal, you’re really laying yourself bare. It takes a lot courage. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done, Susan!

    • On April 02, 2012 at 10:18am, Susan said...

      I hardly think of myself as one of the “big girls”. Maybe, one of the “old girls”. ;) But, I do appreciate the sentiment, Karen. I always try to keep it real here, flaws and all.

  25. On March 29, 2012 at 12:43pm, Jenni said...

    What a wonderful, real, honest post. Honestly, when I stopped in and saw your post was about FBF, I almost didn’t read it because most of the posts just Gush and Gush about the Awesomeness. I’m sure it was awesome, but thank you for sharing some of the reality of the conference, not just the schmoozy parts. What a wonderful recipe for success shared by Jaden’s husband. No wonder SK does so well. With her at the helm and a Tony Robbins-trained husband by her side, she can’t go wrong!

    I will definitely take this to heart, as sometimes I get paralyzed, too. I’ll also share w/my Beloved. I think he’ll be able to put that recipe to good use, too. Thanks so much for posting this, Susan, and continued success w/SGCC–I love you!

    • On April 02, 2012 at 10:26am, Susan said...

      Love you too, Jenni! The conference was awesome, for many reasons! And, it definitely gave insight as to why Jaden is such a powerhouse.

      I’m glad that I was able to share Scott’s “recipe”, and that you and the Beloved can put it to good use. XOXO

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  27. On March 30, 2012 at 1:32pm, Tracy Moulton said...

    You are a beautiful person and a beautiful and insightful writer. That is who you are and we all love you. Tracy xox

    • On April 02, 2012 at 10:27am, Susan said...

      Thank you, Tracy! That means a lot! XOXO

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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