google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Non-Genealogy Conference that Re-Kindled My Genealogy Bliss! | The Armchair Genealogist

The Non-Genealogy Conference that Re-Kindled My Genealogy Bliss!

This past weekend I attended a blogging/writing/social media conference known as Blissdom. I’ll be honest after registering for Blissdom some months ago, I had my doubts about whether this conference would be the right fit for me. Following the Twitter feed and Facebook pages it seemed to have a large mommy blogger following, and while I am a mom and a blogger I have never considered myself a Mommy blogger.

Regardless, I stepped out of my comfort zone. First, because I wanted to attend a conference that was blogging and writing focused and not genealogy focused. I wanted to see the blogging industry from another perspective. With all my anxieties in tow, I signed up for every event, created a costume for the costume and karaoke party and laid down my introverted tendencies for one weekend.(Thanks to Susan Cain's book )

First thing I learned upon arriving, I was not alone, alone in the sense there were so many first-time attendees and  many did not consider themselves mommy bloggers. I also learned many in fact dislike the term. Once the networking began and I have to say this conference knows how to present you with wonderful networking opportunities, I found the environment to be welcoming and supportive. Standouts for me were the value of the content from the micro-sessions ( which I would have appreciated more time for) and the speakers who were incredible writers with fantastic stories. I can honestly say I have never walked away from a conference with so much swag. The brands truly spoiled us. Oh and being on the Road Rally winning team was pretty cool too!

As a family history blogger at a blogging conference my concern was how would I be received. How would I explain what I do, would it require long explanations and would others be disinterested. In fact I found the opposite. Because I was unique in the crowd, many took a sincere interest in my blog. Because the majority of conference goers were women and mothers, family history was certainly something they had thought about or will soon face as they begin to lose their parents and grandparents.

One of my most blissful moments of the conference came when I had the opportunity to listen to Ami McKay speak. Ami is the author of The Birth House  and The Virgin Cure. I have been a big fan since I read her first book The Birth House in 2007. When I learned she would be speaking at this conference I knew I had made the right decision to attend. If nothing else worked out for me, she was worth the price of my ticket. 

You see, Ami’s first book was about a mid-wife in Nova Scotia during the early years of WWI. My great-grandmother was a mid-wife in a rural French community in Northern Ontario during this very same time frame. It has always been a desire of mine to write her story. Ami’s second book, The Virgin Cure is about a female doctor in New York City in the early 1870’s. It is based on Ami McKay’s great-great grandmother. 

So I knew, I knew that Ami McKay understood the power of family history and when she spoke on Saturday afternoon I was the proudest attendee in the room. Ami shared with us how her first exposure to family history stories was as a young child playing under the kitchen table. Ami went on to share a moving and remarkable story about her family history. I won’t retell it here, but my genealogy friends will appreciate that it involved three generations of women, cancer and DNA testing. I was fighting back the tears and it was clear to me Ami was emotional in telling her own story. My bliss, my passion for family history was being expressed from the stage in the form of Ami McKay.

After she spoke I had the honour of meeting Ami during the book signing. I didn’t expect to be emotional but I was. I’m not sure why, I guess I just really felt a connection to this woman and that she really understood my perspective of family history and storytelling. When I announced to her in the book signing that I was a family historian, she leaned in and gave me a hug! That was my most blissful moment.....Ami’s acknowledgment of my passion and our bond.  We talked a little more and I could honestly say it was the most pivotal moment in the conference for me if not in my writing career. I could have spent hours sitting at a kitchen table discussing writing and family history with Ami McKay but that few minutes she took with me re-kindled my drive to continue my journey of writing my family history stories.


While this conference did not resemble anything close to a genealogy conference, family history was represented and my resolve about the power of our family history stories remains un-waivered. So my initial reaction to not attend Blissdom because I would not be understood or there would be little for me to learn was unfounded. And my most important lesson probably didn't come in the form of the sessions but from the act of stepping out of my comfort zone and my own genealogy blogging world.

My biggest Blissdom lesson: Take your message to the world, not only will others be influenced by your bliss but you just might find others rejuvenating the bliss within you...



21 comments:

  1. What a special moment for you. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Thanks for sharing, Lynn. I've already reserved both of Ami's books. The subject corresponds to the lives of several of my foremothers, though the location is different. I'm looking forward to reading them.

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  3. What a wonderful experience! Thank you for sharing! I found myself nearly tearing up and getting so excited for you as you told us about Ami McKay's book! Even though there are no French midwives in my story line, there is a midwife who came to deliver the free Negroes' children in eastern NC in the Antebellum period.

    I also remembered reading a book with my daughter when she was school age, entitled, The Midwife's Apprentice, by Karen Cushman. Although it is a children's book which took place in Medieval England, it was also a good book.

    Thanks again for another inspiring post!

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  4. Good for you for going outside your comfort zone. I'm glad it worked out so well, though I'm not surprised. I'm feeling much the same way as a longtime pet blogger turned family history blogger, i.e., worried about how I'll be received in a new "world." I'm already finding, in no small part because of you and a few others who have warmly welcomed a newbie, that the blogging world is filled with people who are interested in other people and willing to have conversations on a variety of topics. Honesty and generosity in sharing experiences seems to draw responses in kind.

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing this special moment with us!

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  6. @Lynne, thank you for commenting it's very much appreciated.

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  7. @Nancy, you're going to love them, and I understand she is writing a sequel to The Virgin Cure.

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  8. @Debra, thank you! Can't wait to read your book.

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  9. @Edie, you are a very talented writer with a lot to offer the online genealogy community. That kind of talent can't be ignored and should be embraced. I look forward to following your journey.

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  10. Hi Andrea, thanks for stopping by, how is your own family history writing moving along?

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  11. Three words stand out to me from this wonderful blog post: bliss, passion, and bond. It is inspiring to hear your story of moving out of your comfort zone and -- behold! -- finding others who share your conviction of the power of family history. I share this conviction, too. The power of family history has made us all who we are, in richness of our inner lives and our quests to lead a meaningful life. That power is not always through rosy pictures, and sometimes it leads through conflict and agony. But it is real. I believe that connecting with that power is one vital way of connecting with the entire world. Your post radiates energy and excitement. I am eager to see what comes next in your life!

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  12. Thank you Mariann for your kind words and insight. I am excited to see what comes next in my life as well. One thing is certain, you never know where life will lead you but being open to it all is key in this journey. I never would have seen myself as a blogger and a writer even 5 years ago, now I know anything can happen if I open myself up to it.

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  13. When I first saw your mention of the Blissdom conference, I had this nagging feeling that I was missing something exceptional. Seeing your tweets confirmed it. What an awesome event to be a part of! Thank you for sharing--and for deciding to stick with it, not back down, and be there to absorb everything you could and share it with others. Branching out and encountering new perspectives on those points of your highest interest, though sometimes scary, will always be a beneficial exercise for those who are insightful and introspective.

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  14. I loved reading this. I've always been fascinated by my familiy's history (the very little I know of it), but never done anything to dig deeper. It seems so daunting. Maybe I'll muster up the energy/courage.

    Great recap post.

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  15. Greetings Lynn,
    Looks like I might have to attend this event next year. So glad to hear you went after all. I'm just a little bit envious you met Ami McKay. I own and have read both of her books. Loved both stories. You can tell from those books that Ami gets the family history thing. I agree with you that hearing Ami McKay speak would alone have been worth the price of the conference. Thanks for sharing your experience.
    ~ Kathryn

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  16. Hi Jacqui, it was a great event I recommend it highly. There next one is in Dallas, I believe in the spring, and then I suspect back in Toronto in the fall next year. Would love to see a group of us family history bloggers at the next one.

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  17. @Shannon, start small, with your own knowledge and your parents and grand-parents. It's a rewarding journey and you won't be disappointed. If you need some help and guidance give me a shout. Happy to help.

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  18. Thanks Kathryn, it would be great to have you at next year's conference. Could even share a hotel room if you like? Mark it on your calendar.

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  19. Awesome blog post! Loved reading this. So happy for you.

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  20. I teared up again recounting Ami's story through your post. She's an amazing person, writer and storyteller. As are you! :)

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  21. @Shashers Life, Thank you Shannon it's very kind of you to say. It was great meeting you at the conference. And I want to thank you for all your hard work. It was a fantastic conference, and I definitely will be back.

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