BlogPaws Conference 2013 – Putting it Into Perspective

While I was technically only gone a few days attending the 2013 BlogPaws Conference, when I returned home on Sunday it took me a while to adjust back from being treated like a pampered queen to the jarring reality of dealing with the frustrations of driving to and from work in congested rush hour traffic to a completely non-feline related day job, massive pounds of laundry, grocery shopping, cooking dinner, and the unglamorous role of litter scooping servant to my eight cats who seemed overjoyed to bestow me with an endless supply of “gifts.”

After the devastating and overwhelming events in Oklahoma and nearby areas that have been affected by the brutal aftermath of the tornadoes, my annoyances seemed so petty and insignificant, causing me to question if I should even bother posting about BlogPaws at all. In the scheme of things it seems so frivolous and unnecessary, but then I realized nothing could be further from the truth because in actuality, it is the very people who make up the microcosm of BlogPaws that are the very people who are the harbingers to helping others, whether it be two legged, four legged, fur, feathers, or anything in-between. The people who are part of the BlogPaws family are your bloggers, your rescue volunteers, your shelter workers, your veterinarians, your blog readers, your social media giants, your pet related retailers and food manufacturers, and so much more. We inspire our communities to make the world a better place and the people of Oklahoma will need our love, support, prayers, voices, strength, fund raising efforts, ideas, mental and physical power, and tenacity to help them get through this. 

day-1

Prior to the opening of BlogPaws, Angie Holland Bailey of Catladyland, myself, Dorian Wagner of Your Daily Cute, and JaneA Kelley of Paws and Effect help to set up the Catification Lounge.

I had already known we were a powerful group, but it did not dawn on me until this year when on  several occasions myself and some of my blogging friends were likened to “Rock Stars” of the industry which caused me to smile because it seemed such a grandiose title. But then I realized that for me, someone who has attended three conferences, that in many ways, that is what we are. I remember it like it was yesterday when I attended my first BlogPaws Conference and I too felt that euphoric  high of awe and admiration getting to meet fellow bloggers that were legends to me. I was completely star struck and could not believe I was finally meeting people in person like Ingrid King of  The Conscious Cat, Tamar Arslanian of I Have Cat, Caren Gittleman of Cat Chat, Janis Garza of Sparkle Cat, and radio personality and newspaper columnist, Steve Dale,  to name just a few.

deb-and-bernadette

My “Rock Star” moment at this BlogPaws was finally meeting Bernadette Kazmarski of the Creative Cat. I have admired her writing style, photography skills, and artistic abilities for years.

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Combining a bit of everything in this picture – here I am with the infamous Terry Frum (aka Brian of Brian’s Home) who I had not yet met and who is one of my favorite people on this earth, my dear friend, Caren Gittleman of Cat Chat, and my roommate and partner in all things animal related, Christine Michaels of Riverfront Cats and Pawsitively Humane.

But now the torch has been passed on and the fans of years ago such as myself have now become the mentors to the newest BlogPaws members who are up and coming rising stars. It is quite an honor to have moved on to that role, but I now realize that is what BlogPaws  represents to me. We are an ever evolving group of dedicated and talented people who collectively have the power to move mountains and that is a special intangible something that is part of the overall BlogPaws experience. And yes, the seminars are great and I always take away a tidbit or two of information that is invaluable, but, more times than not, by now I already know most of what is being said and could probably teach a seminar on my own.

Elizabeth

One of the newbies in the cat blogosphere is Elizabeth Benoit of Feline Funnies. I felt a connection to her the moment we met and I look forward to sharing a wonderful friendship with her.

And yes, the food is wonderful, the cat swag is fun (although this year it was sorely lacking to the chagrin of my cats), the cocktail parties are enjoyable, dressing myself in my favorite leopard garb is a hoot, meeting old friends and making new is amazing, and the ability to network with sponsors is incredible. But that’s not what BlogPaws is to me. To me, it is a sister and brotherhood of devoted, passionate, talented, creative, and incredible people who inspire others, whether it be through serious and informative blogging, to a humorous and funny blogging, to organizations devoted to rescue and adoptions, to every niche you can imagine to help the creatures of the world, both great and small, to be the best that we can be. We care and our role is important. In that regard, everyone is a hero and everyone is a rock star.

award-ladies

Here I am with fellow Nose-to-Nose Award nominees before we head down the red carpet – Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair, Angie Holland Bailey of Catladyland (who won for best humor blog), JaneA Kelley of Paws and Effect, and Elizabeth Benoit of Feline Funnies.

So, I don’t really have a lot to share with you about my BlogPaws experience because it now has a different meaning to me than it did a couple of days ago. Life again is about perspective. I have a house, electricity, hot water,  and a bathroom with a working toilet and shower. I am not searching for my pets or my loved ones and I am not in the hospital being treated for debris wounds.  My car has not been crushed like a matchbox toy and I have a whole closet full of clean clothes to wear. I also have a working computer to blog on and a bed to sleep in. And oh well,  I did not walk away from BlogPaws with a big sponsorship from a major brand company, nor did I win the “Best Blog Writing Award I was nominated for (congratulations to the winner, Nerissa’s Life). But I did walk away with even more precious friends and a continued passion to help animals, in particular cats, to help educate people about the dire need for responsibly so more cats are adopted and less end up on the streets and in shelters. So in that regard, I am a winner.

Ophelia

Little Odilia who was a huge hit at BlogPaws tells us what she thinks of all the pomp and circumstance as she does her business on the program page of the Nose-to-Nose nominees. Ophelia is about 8 weeks old and was born without eyes.

I also was privileged to attend one of the most moving seminars I have ever witnessed by Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair about her hands on experience dealing with the aftermath of the Newtown Shootings by helping local children heal through the power of kittens. And now here we are again, a brief heartbeat later in the midst of another crisis. The only difference, this one was created by nature. But the need for help and compassion remains universal regardless of the circumstances and that is where the BlogPaws community will rise to the challenge.

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Robin’s presentation moved me to tears and I was overwhelmed with emotion and so proud of what she accomplished for her community to help with the grieving process.

The best way I can describe BlogPaws without an endless dissertation  is to follow up with a montage of some of my favorite pictures. And yes, you won’t be disappointed, as the last picture will show you, my dream did come true. Take care everyone and God Bless…

Deb-and-Tamar

My favorite picture of the whole conference is this one where I wistfully look at Tamar Arslanian of I Have Cat holding Triscuit the foster kitten from Random Felines.

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Christine and I with Sue Grybel Doute aka the “lady with the yellow hair” from the wildly popular blog, The Island Cats.

Carma

Carma Poodale and I met as a result of the series I did on spay/neuter for the month of February. Carma’s human, Bunny Allen, volunteers with the Owensboro Humane Society in Owensboro, KY.

deb-and-dog

I do not know who this gorgeous lion looking dog is, but he/she sure does look pawsome next to my leopard print dress!!

pixel

BlogPaws was bittersweet for me this year, as my cat Jazz was not feeling well while I was gone and his prognosis was not good. I was given the Godsend honor of meeting this sweet dog, Pixel Blue Eyes, and volunteered to dog sit her while her human went to a meeting off site. Between the well wishes of my friends and Pixel’s healing powers with me, I was able to send strong purrs of support to my beloved Jazz who is now making a slow but steady recovery. Thank you to all of you for your heartfelt advice and support.

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Christine and I posing for a glamour shot after the awards ceremony.

olivia

What would the conference be without a few cat ears shots. Here I am with the incredibly adorable Olivia Melikhov of the ASPCA and Christine Michaels.

deb-and-triscuit

And finally…my dream came true. Here I am holding Triscuit!

deb-and-terri

And last but not least, my ultimate BlogPaws dream come true… getting a picture of a catman wearing cat ears! In this case, the good sport is Terry Frum of Brian’s Home!

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  1. The little, adorable, blind kitty is Odilia. Mom has been really enjoying all the photos from Blog Paws of kitties and doggies and humans. It makes her feel as if she was there and got to meet everyone in person. Extra purrs and prayers for Jazz. Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Josette

    • Deb says:

      Janet – that you for the correct spelling of Odilia – I will go and correct that! I am so glad us bloggers have been able to make you feel like you were with us at the conference. I know you certainly were in spirit! And thank you for the Jazz loving – it is very much appreciated.

  2. Nice wrap-up. I only wish I could have been there. There will be no graduations next year so it’s Vegas or bust :-) Seeing dear Terry in cat ears made my day!

    • Deb says:

      I think seeing Terry in cat ears has made a lot of people smile, Layla!! Can’t wait to see you next year and glad you enjoyed the wrap-up.

  3. CATachresis says:

    So enjoyed reading this, Deb. Thanks for giving those of who are unlikely ever to get to Blogpaws a wonderful résumé of the event xx

  4. Cathy Keisha says:

    Yo! Plush CK was a Rock Star at Blogpaws and I was still a Rock Star this time. TW thanks you for taking the time to chat with her. From what I unnerstand Blogpaws is already reaching out to their Blogger Disaster Response Network and collecting funds for World Vets. We’re bloggers but we can make a difference.

    • Deb says:

      It was terrific meeting your human, CK and we don’t understand why you always have to give her such a hard time!! And yes, it is wonderful to see that the BlogPaws team is already reaching out to help the people and animals affected by the tornado.

  5. Brian says:

    Hey, my Dad will wear cat ears any day! He had such a wonderful, wonderful time and so enjoyed meeting you. We all so admire your passion and all you do for critters everywhere!

  6. meowmeowmans says:

    Nice wrap up, Deb! And way to put it all into perspective. Hey, if you need someone to wear the cat ears next year… :)

    • Deb says:

      Meowmeowmans – it’s a deal! I would be honored to have you wear my cat ears! Again, so great to finally meet you and glad you enjoyed the post!

  7. We loved your wrap-up, especially the photos!

    Daddy Kiril seemed to be having way too much fun in the photo he has of him between you and Christine, and we thank you for the encouraging words you wrote in our copy of your book!

    We look forward to reading it.

    • Deb says:

      Nikita Cat and Elvira Mistress of Felinity – I enjoyed meeting your human and having my picture taken with him and Christine!! I am glad you find the words I wrote encouraging and hope you enjoy the book and all the great pictures inside it!! Purrs from Deb

  8. carmapoodale says:

    Read it, loved it and shared it. Hope to see you at Barkworld!

    • Deb says:

      So glad you enjoyed the post, Carmapoodale and I appreciate the share!! I loved meeting you and your human and hope to see you again soon!

  9. Sparkle says:

    My human feels the same way you do about BlogPaws – it’s the awesome camaraderie amongst bloggers that makes it so special. And this year, there were extra-added kittens! My human would have considered coming home with Triscuit if she had known Jeanne actually had the paperwork on her! She has always wanted a therapy cat, and Triscuit handled the conference with such cool and sweetness that it is clear she has talent in that area.

    • Deb says:

      Sparkle – I knew that Triscuit was a foster cat, but I thought she already had a home… oh my goodness, the fur sure would have flied if your human brought home a kitten… it was bad enough that there was hardly any cat swag!!

  10. Oui Oui says:

    What a fun post and great photos! Speaking of superstars, our mom was so happy to meet you as well. The lion dog is Charles the Monarch. Our mom chatted with his dad, too. His daughter attended Old Dominion, and the lion is their mascot. Charles has been mistaken for a lion on the loose (our mom once saw a news story about that) and has been on all the big talk and late night shows, and is known around the world!

    • Deb says:

      We were so happy to meet your human as well, Oui Oui and thank you so much for letting me know about Charles!! What a beautiful dog he is and I am happy to know his story now!

  11. Penelope says:

    THat looks like so much fon! Me wishes the flat Nellie could hasgone.
    Kisses
    Nellie

  12. stoppin by ta say hope everee one haza grate week oh end….hope at sum point ya get ta sear sum stuff on de grill like, flounder, trout, steaks, burgerz, salmon, perch, whitefish, shrimp, mackerull, sea bass, herring, snapper, friez…yea…ewe can sear em…N donuts…yea…ewe can sear em two !!! :) XOXO

  13. I loved your photos and your post… but I teared up because it made me realize just how much I missed out on not going to Blog Paws. Not just meeting you and all of the wonderful bloggers I’ve come to know through their words, but the whole experience, the whole “kitten caboodle” lol. I vow to attend next year no matter what it takes!!!

    • Deb says:

      I truly hope we will see you at BlogPaws soon, Julia – I think you would really appreciate the whole “kitten caboodle!”

  14. Oh Deb….this was just the most beautiful BlogPaws post ever. I’m a little late to the party…trying to catch up after all the frenzied travel. But it doesn’t make your perspective and insight any less poignant.

    For me this conference was all about the people and the joy. I didn’t worry about going to sessions on things I know I probably need, but just don’t have the energy to make a priority. SEO took a back seat (ok, I left it at home in the garage) and meeting new friends, catching up with old friends became more of a priority.

    I went to sessions that looked like they’d inspire me. Robin’s is one I won’t ever forget. A highlight of the conference, that’s for sure.

    Still, I feel like I missed some people or didn’t have a chance to spend more time with them…but that just leaves me looking forward to the next conference.

    It was a treat to see you and experience the *force* that is the Cat Ladies!
    xo,
    GG

    • Deb says:

      Glogirly – I know what you mean. I spent far less time at seminars this year and just tried to pace myself and enjoy more time with people that I have come to care about very much. We are definitely a “force” and I am honored to be a part of that group! It was great seeing you and concats on the Nose-to-Nose award! xoxo

  15. Congratulations!!! You have won the Blog Contest at http://searchingforthehappiness.com Have a great day. :)

  16. Blink, blink, blink…your post and your perspective made me proud to say I know you! Such an honest and open and caring heart you have and it IS something special to spend the days at BlogPaws surrounded by so many like minded people. It is hard to ‘come back to reality’ as you said, but we leave BlogPaws better for the experience, don’t we?!

  17. Bernadette says:

    Deb, I was so happy to meet you, and to see another person in ears! And thanks for including my photo, and for your gracious compliment. I hope we don’t have to wait until next year in Vegas to actually have a conversation!

    But it was truly almost unreal to meet all the real live people behind the blogs we read and enjoy. For all the fun we have, together we all make a huge difference all over the world in the lives of animals and the people who love them.

    I’m finally getting back to commenting on this post! I couldn’t comment that week because I’d logged in at the hotel with a different computer and a number of sites tossed me out until I figured out what it was. Oh, if someone could only find a cure to blog commenting woes! But that’s truly a first world problem, and tragedies like the Oklahoma tornadoes certainly put that into perspective.

    • Deb says:

      Bernadette – it really is surreal meeting everyone and that we all can be at ease in our cat ears! My compliment was completely genuine – you are so talented in so many ways and you really do inspire so many of us. I hope we don’t have to wait until Vegas either – if you are ever in Florida, you are always welcome… but leave the worms back home if you don’t mind!