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Food Blog Forum Orlando, Magic Moments and an Inedible Recipe

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 [1]. The event was held at Walt Disney World [2]; 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. 

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.

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.

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 [3] 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.

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 [4] 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!

During the morning session of FBF, somewhere in between David Leite’s [5] fabulous presentation on how to write badass blog posts and Dawn Viola’s [6] illuminating talk on moving your blog from hobby to professional, my magic happened. Jaden’s [7] 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 [8] 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!

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/ [9]

http://www.sweetbitesblog.com/journal/2012/3/20/food-blog-forum-orlando-round-two.html [10]

http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/2012/03/food-blog-forum-orlando-2012-wrap-up.html [11]

http://penniesonaplatter.com/2012/03/22/food-blog-forum-orlando-2012/ [12]

http://mysweetzepol.blogspot.com/2012/03/day-of-food-blog-forum-orlando-2012.html [13]

http://fifteenspatulas.com/2012/03/21/orlando-food-blog-forum-2012-a-recap-of-food-blogger-heaven/ [14]

http://onecurlyfryinaboxoftheregular.com/2012/03/22/food-blog-forum-orlando-at-walt-disney-world/ [15]

http://www.bigbearswife.com/2012/03/food-blog-forum-orlando-disney-trip.html [16]

http://www.merrygourmet.com/2012/03/the-food-blog-forum-orlando-disney-edition/ [17]

http://www.ingredientsinc.net/2012/03/food-blog-forum-orlando-disney-fun/ [18]

http://thevillagecook.com/food-blog-forum-12-part-1/ [19]

http://www.lifebythespoonful.com/2012/03/lessons-learned-at-food-blog-forum-orlando/ [20]

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

http://www.tablefortwoblog.com/2012/03/20/food-blog-forum-orlando-2012-in-pictures/ [22]

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