Jacque approached me shortly after we started our DIY blog and told me about Haven, a DIY conference being put on down in Atlanta. She expressed an interest in going and wanted to see what I thought. I told her it would be a great idea and would love to see her take advantage of a conference so close to us here in Knoxville. So we bought Jacque a ticket for Haven earlier this year. I agreed to make the trek down to Atlanta with her, but my plan was to explore the city, and to test out my new camera.
You can imagine my surprise when four days before the conference, she asked if I would attend the conference with her. I had never been opposed to participating, I just thought that she wanted to experience that without me. Well, one thing I’ve come to realize about my wife is that she’ll never turn down an opportunity to share an experience with me. Makes me a pretty lucky guy. So we managed to secure a last minute ticket and suddenly my plans had taken a drastic change! I knew going in that as a man, I would be grossly outnumbered, but I couldn’t help but be excited and curious as to what the Haven Conference had in store for me!
I’ve got to admit, I was pretty nervous about what to expect, after all I’d only had 4 days of mentally prepare for this experience. As we left the safety our of hotel room and made our way to the first floor to register, even though I was with Jacque, I felt like I was being escorted to the principal’s office to find out what punishment I’d been given for my bad behavior. The butterflies were tying knots in the knots inside my stomach. I literally had felt less nervous about going into burning buildings than I was feeling at that moment. We stepped off of the elevator and followed the sign that read “Haven Mavens”… I joked with Jacque that I didn’t feel like I quite fit the description. As we turned the corner and entered the registration area, we were met by most of the Haven Team. These ladies greeted us with warm welcomes and smiles that had me feeling a bit more at ease. I think it helped that I was actually familiar with their blogs and felt like it wasn’t really the first time I was meeting them. Obviously, a far cry from the principal’s office, but in all fairness, I was flying blind so to speak!
With “Swag Bag” in hand, we headed out to the lounge to meet some of the other “Mavens” As we sat in the lounge, it was easy to identify when someone’s favorite blogger had arrived, as it wasn’t uncommon to hear a gasp, then possibly a shriek, followed by a group of gals sprinting to see who would get the first hug! I generally keep my shrieks to myself, so I just hung out at the table taking all the excitement in. I wasn’t sure how these ladies would take a man “invading” such a female powered event, so I tried to lay low and fly under the radar. That however wasn’t everyone else’s plan for me. I found myself right in the middle of hugs, handshakes, introductions, and business card swapping within the first five minutes of being in the lounge. I was actually taken aback with how many people I had met within such a short period of time. My nervousness about being accepted quickly died out and was replaced with a nervousness of “How am I going to remember all of these people?” All I could think about was how ridiculous I’d look introducing myself to someone I had met only minutes earlier.
When the welcome party started shortly thereafter, I let that worry die down as I finally came to the realization that I wasn’t the only one having these silly thoughts, after all this was the first Haven Conference, there were tons of people feeling the same way. It wasn’t until the party that I actually ran into some of my male counterparts. We exchanged a few manly grunts and groans and all was right with the world again. As the night went on the more I forgot about this being such a female dominated event and just enjoyed the camaraderie that seemed to come along with our areas of interest. Oddly enough, the connections that I was making struck a strong resemblance to that of the “brotherhood” that I’ve grown so accustomed to at the firehouse.
The next morning began with the keynote speech given by John and Sherry of Young House Love. I could have stayed there all day and listened to their stories. I’m glad to have had a chance to hear another “family” perspective on the trials and tribulations of DIY blogging. I think they were just the right touch to set the tone for the conference.
Next came the classes…Jacque and I had discussed on our drive down, which classes we’d be interested in taking. This was a tough decision to make, as I really didn’t want to miss out on any of them. I’m lucky the trip from Knoxville was only three hours, otherwise, I would have really had time to over think it! I chose DIY-Blog-Design, Blogging PR, Basic Photography/Photo Styling, I Love Thrifting, Advanced Painting, and All About Advertising. I went into these classes with an open mind and found them to be top notch and their instructors to be the All-Stars of their trades! I don’t want to give away too much about the classes, so I’ll suffice it to say, I was in Haven Heaven!
Although this conference and a lot of the blogs that were represented, cater more to the female demographic, I was welcomed and accepted with open arms. I had expected to get the occasional “Who is this guy and why is he here” look, but honestly, I can’t remember a time in my life where so many people engaged me in such great conversation. And what I really enjoyed was that the camaraderie didn’t stop when the classes were done for the day. Jacque and I both were invited every night to go out with the “gals”, which surprised me. I had figured that we’d get done with class and that Jacque and the gals would break away for some girl time and I’d fly solo, but I was flattered and excited to be included.