Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Finding Myself at FABlogCon 2013

I just got home from an amazing three days in Las Vegas for the first annual Food Allergy Bloggers Conference (FABlogCon).  My head is still spinning from all that happened there.  I met so many wonderful people and learned tons of new information. 

My sister-in-law and fellow blogger (Lacy from Making it Milk-Free) and I decided to take this journey together.  The women who worked so hard to put this event together (Jenny Sprague and Homa Woodrum) coordinated with Chef Keith at South Point Hotel and Casino to make the meals safe for all attendees. I don't have any allergies myself, but I am a very picky eater, and I was worried that I might go hungry.  But I can assure you, I was stuffed after each meal.  They did a great job making accommodations to meet all the special diet needs.

Seeing the sights in Vegas

Upon check-in for FABlogCon, we were given not one, but two swag bags full of goodies from several allergy-friendly companies, including.  I couldn't believe the generosity of these companies.  My kids will most definitely feel the love from this community.  There were lots of free samples, coupons, literature, and flyers.  I will be sorting through and reading everything from these wonderful companies.

Me and Making it Milk-Free at FABlogCon

As the lectures began, I looked around and saw most people either on their laptops or using their smart phones.  I quickly realized that at a blogging convention, it is not considered impolite to tweet or instagram during a lecture.  In fact, it is flattery.  Not the type of technology etiquette I am used to, but I joined right in.  When in Rome...

Making it Milk-Free, Me, and Amazing and Atopic

There were so many great presentations given by well-spoken individuals in the food allergy community.  There was lots of helpful information, not only about blogging, but about food allergies in general.  After dealing with food allergies and food sensitivities for so long, you think you know it all.  It's great to attend an event like this and expand your world. 

I learned about how to be a better advocate, legal issues surrounding epi in schools, 504 plans and why they are so helpful, and cutting edge research.  I was given the confidence to move forward with my children's school to push for no food in the classrooms, not only for my kids' sake, but for general wellness. Just think about the epidemic of childhood obesity, kids with diabetes, families with religious beliefs that restrict certain types of foods, and simple preferences of parents. I learned that social media is about celebrating others, not shining a light on yourself.  I learned how to be a more effective blogger.

During some of the lectures, I felt the material was a bit out of my league and over my head.  They were targeting the big wig bloggers, not the "mommy bloggers."  As I listened to ways to better my blog, monetize my blog, become a spokesperson for companies, I gave a lot of thought as to why I blog and what I want out of it.  I determined that the reasons why I blog now are for the same reasons that I started blogging.

  • I want a place to journal, to vent, to keep a diary.  I find it therapeutic to share things in my life as they happen, good or bad. 

  • I want to share our story.  Maybe even help someone out there who is facing the same challenges we are.

  • I want to educate others, be an advocate for my children and others with food allergies.

What I have found through all this is an amazing network of online support.  People who want to be educated and learn about food allergies -- how to prevent a reaction, how to handle a reaction, and how to help in any way possible.  People who know what I am going though because they are also walking in my shoes.  People with other types of food or health issues that are educating me and helping me understand their world. 

My online community and reality collided this weekend at FABlogCon.  I had the privilege and honor of meeting so many amazing women (and a few men) who "get it."  They understand what I go through on a daily basis.  They share my fears, my battles, my hopes, and my joys.

This was the place I was able to talk to, hug, and laugh and cry with all these fabulous ladies I follow online. It was surreal.

I got to meet with vendors from several allergy-friendly companies, many of which I already use their products.  It was so wonderful to meet face-to-face with the people who help make these products available to us.  I got to speak with representatives from FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), listen to Nevada Senator Debbie Smith talk about how she helped make it possible to mandate stock epi in Nevada schools (6 lives have been saved because of this law since it passed), and hear from Dr. Eric Edwards, the creator Auvi-Q (the newest epi auto-injector).  I got to sit at breakfast and talk with leading asthma and allergy doctors, the creator of an online EEpiPen training course, and many others leaders in the food allergy community.  I got to hear the most up-to-date research on finding treatment for food allergies. 

I think food allergy bloggers are instantly bonded by subject alone, but what was incredible is that I truly believe I would be friends with these women if I happened to meet them by chance. This is just such a great group of passionate, smart, motivated people who make this world a better place by sharing their knowledge.
 
I heard over and over again what an amazing job the founders did organizing this event. It went off without a hitch. My response was, "Of course. They are food allergy moms."  We are prepared and organized. Always. 

Making it Milk-Free, Freedible, Amazing and Atopic, Me, and Allergen-Free Baker


10 comments:

  1. Amazing! I'm so happy to see great strides toward to the well-being of our little ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We all need to work together and support each other. This was a great start!

      Delete
  2. Ha, I know what you mean about etiquette at a bloggers conference. I struggled with that one too, and found myself hiding my phone under the table. Hope to meet you at next year's FABlogCon2014!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will look for you next year. In the meantime, see you online!

      Delete
  3. Such a fun event and so thrilled we got to spend some time together on that last night out. A very thoughtful recap too I might add :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! It was fun hanging out with you and getting to know you better!

      Delete
  4. It really was a great event and even more amazing is that I am still developing connections and community with people there who I missed during the conference itself. It's so true that these are the people I would be friends with if I met them by chance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope to meet you next year! Keep connecting!

      Delete
  5. So wish that I could have been there. Looks like it was a great time.

    ReplyDelete