Connecting The Hundred

I didn’t think much about my decision to attend The Hundred Event in Dallas. I woke up one morning and scrolled through social media, as you do, and saw Lauren’s post about the event. It’s unusual for me to make such a rash, split second decision, but I purchased a ticket and a week later, had my flight ready to go. Hello first blogger conference. It only cemented my confidence in the decision when Grace, Megan, and Bridget posted about it later that same day.

It was only a few weeks later, when August was just around the corner, that I started to get nervous. Whoa, what had I signed myself up for? Who was I going to meet? Would I make friends? Was it totally crazy? For once in my life, I let those thoughts go away and prepared myself with a low to no expectation feeling about the weekend. It would be what it would be. “It is what it is,” as my Mom likes to say.

So I flew to Dallas last Friday morning and arrived at the Warwick Melrose Hotel with some semi-cute outfits, little sleep from the night before, and no expectations. I checked in and dropped my stuff off in my exquisite room (humongous king bed and all), before heading downstairs to check in.

That’s when everything started to fall into place. The elevator doors opened and across the lobby was the check-in table with four familiar faces standing there and getting set up. Four bloggers who I’d been reading for the last 2+ years apiece. Blogging’s funny, because you start to feel like you know people even when you don’t know know them. So I walked up, a bundle of nerves, and introduced myself to these women I felt like I knew.

They were exactly who I thought they’d be. And that small detail, the translation of blogger to women standing in front of me, that was it. Everything clicked in that moment. They were the four kindest souls and the most gracious hosts the entire weekend.

In that moment and later on, sitting at the airport waiting to go home, I realized why I’d gone there and what I needed…

Connection.

That’s it. It’s so simple and so hard. Connecting with people isn’t easy. The more things that have happened to you in your life, the harder it is. The older you get, the harder it is. You (I) start not wanting to let people in. To let them get too close. Or it’s just plain hard to find people that you connect with. The ones that get you, who listen to you, who offer you dedicated friendship and support, and give you the chance to give it back to them.

There I was, miles from home, in a city I’d never been to, surrounded by 100 people that I’d never met before, and what I found was connection.

I learned so many things over the course of the weekend during the workshops, sure. I listened to Curt Steinhorst talk about attention & distraction, to Annie Fitzsimmons detail her experiences in writing and travel, to experienced brands and bloggers discuss social media, to Jenni teach us photography 101, and to fashion bloggers & designers show us how to style clothes. I died and went to heaven during breakfast at Breadwinners, devoured some of the best pizza I’ve ever had at Il Cane Rosso, and ate the best patty melt of my life from Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe.

But all of that paled in comparison to the most important thing – the people. Lauren described the event as a way to bring people together. To learn together, to build relationships, and to enjoy a weekend away with good food and a fancy place to stay.

I met some of the most inspiring, genuine people in two days time, and even then, I didn’t have enough time to meet as many people as I would’ve wanted — because I just know that every single person was wonderful.

I met women from all over the country who, like me, had taken a chance. A common thread ran between us all — no matter where were from, or if we blogged, or if we ran a small business, or just really had no idea what we wanted in life.

We were all there with open hearts, and that was enough.

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Let me just say, Dallas was beautiful! I was thoroughly impressed with my first Texas city. I’m ready to visit Austin next…

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Our lovely hostesses: Lauren, Megan, Bridget & Grace!

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Sipping a fancy lemonade during our first meet-and-greet on Friday evening.

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So that’s how I look when I’m paying attention to something…

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These three! Some of the sweetest women you’ll ever meet: Sarah, Joanna, and Amber.

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Had the best weekend with them!

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It was amazing to get to meet the famous Grace Patton. If you don’t read her, you should. Really, you should read all four of the hostesses; I just didn’t get photos with any of the others!

The gorgeous shots above were taken by the sweet Paige of Awake Photography, along with a few of my own iPhone photos. ;)

If you want to read more about The Hundred, you better believe there are some amazing posts out there. Check out Grace’s link-up for all the links in one place.

Thinking, Thinking

Life after The Hundred

Well, it’s business as usual for the most part, on the surface. On the inside, my mind is spinning and I’m thinking hard about what I want in this space, in my life, and for my future. I’m taking time to process it, which I don’t usually let myself do.

I read, I attend, I listen, and then I instantly write about it, which sometimes translates into a regurgitation of information. This time, I’m giving myself time to mull it over.

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If you’re antsy and want to read more about The Hundred Event before I get around to posting my take, take a peek at the recaps from these special ladies:

  • The lovely and stylish Sarah of Tucker Up posted a rundown here.
  • Amber, the gorgeous dietitian and mama of twins (still can’t believe it), of Three Ladies & their Gent detailed the whole weekend here.
  • Joanna, the sweetest teacher and new mama, of Cafe Du Martin, wrote up her take on the weekend here.
  • And finally, Lauren, one of the amazing and gracious hosts of the event, of Aspiring Kennedy posted her favorite 25 things about the event here.

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Back soon…

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Off to Texas!

Happiest of Fridays, my friends! I’m on a plane to DALLAS this morning, heading to The Hundred Event!

The Hundred is a weekend conference hosted by some of my favorite bloggers (Bridget of Tales of Me and the Husband, Lauren of Aspiring Kennedy, Grace of Camp Patton, and Megan, formerly of Across the Pond Blog, now just Megan K. Graham). It’s an opportunity to network with bloggers, writers, and small business owners, and learn from some amazing bloggers and brands! It’s limited to 100 people, so it’s fairly small, approachable, and should be a downright blast!

I’m excited to meet some great people and have a weekend away from SF, AND it’s supposed to be about 100 degrees this weekend, which I am unreasonably giddy about. (That’ll last about four minutes when I start sweating BUT I miss summer heat and I can’t wait to experience it for three days.)

I’ll post all the details next week. For now, wish me luck! I’m wishing you a wonderful weekend filled with summer goodness from 30,000 feet.

- Taylor

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Wine Country: Larson Family Winery

After our epic day in Yosemite, we drove to a town halfway between Yosemite and wine country to find a decent hotel to sleep in before our Sunday plans. I mistakenly took a bit of a detour out of Yosemite, so our 2 hour drive went a little longer than expected and ended with us eating dinner past midnight at a Buffalo Wild Wings. It was pretty funny to be eating chicken wings at almost 1 o’clock in the morning, but hey, road trips are supposed to be spontaneous, right? At almost 3am, we were all snuggled into beds in the Holiday Inn Express Stockton with no plans to wake up and leave before check-out.

Fast-forward 8 hours, a few alarms, and some heavy duty blackout curtains later, we were all up and getting ready for our last day on the road. Sonoma, here we come!

At the recommendation from some friends, and because Mirai loves dogs, we chose to go to Larson Family Winery in Sonoma for an afternoon wine tasting, some yard games, and to play with their famous Labs.

It’s a casual atmosphere at Larson with picnic tables in the back where you can bring a group to hang out for an afternoon. You can play horseshoes, cornhole, or football in the field. You can walk through the vineyard itself. You can even hang out with the Three Labs of the winery, immortalized on one of their wine labels, generally found laying around outside being lazy.

We sat around a table, did a wine tasting, petted the three dogs (Bubba, Pete, and Buster), and ate birthday cake! Loved it!

I do have to say, it’s not the same as going to Long Meadow Ranch, but a day in wine country is still a great day! By the time we got home that night, after a Marin Headlands detour of course, we were all exhausted but happy campers. Birthday success!

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Yosemite: The First Trip

We had big plans for my birthday weekend. The Saturday after my birthday, we woke up at the crack of dawn to get ready, grab our Zipcar minivan (holla!), and head downtown to grab Ammai, Ranjeet, Yakov and Mirai for a roadtrip! Hello, Yosemite!!!

I’d been dying to get out of the city and see Yosemite and since Anish’s family was visiting, it felt like the perfect time to do it. I do have to say, I don’t recommend doing one day in Yosemite to anyone. It was a taste of paradise and absolutely not enough. But we only had two weekend days to use, so we were going to do it! Their time in San Francisco was dwindling fast, so we needed to pack it in. Saturday for Yosemite, Sunday for Napa. We’re not crazy, right? (Yes we are.)

Anyway, we went barreling out of the city like a herd of turtles and made it just over the Berkeley Hills before it was mandatory to stop for a Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuit breakfast. Tasted just like I remembered and the first-timers loved it!

With that rock in our stomach (that’s what it feels like!), we headed east through the land of golden rolling hills (drought), windmills, and ranches. Feels like an alien land out there between Mount Diablo and the Sierra Nevadas. It’s HOT right now out there and it’s a dry, dry heat. I was loving it, but applying chapstick like a madwoman.

After a few hours, we found ourselves driving up winding roads into the hills, heading for forests. I wasn’t sure what it would look like out there at all, honestly. I was picturing that we’d drive in from the bottom of some valley entrance or something, and it would be all Jurassic Park-esque. It wasn’t quite that… It was better.

We wound our way through forests before finally coming to an entrance to Yosemite National Park. We passed through with our National Parks Pass ($80 for a whole year for you and your partner, plus entire vehicle with ppl – WORTH IT!), and drove by a sign that said 25 miles to Yosemite Valley. WHAT! We were in the park already and it was still so far. Sigh…

Winding roads followed for ages and then BAM.

All of the sudden we rounded a corner and there in the distance was Half Dome. My mouth dropped into my lap and I was yelling, “Look! OMG! There it is!” We quickly pulled into the overlook to get out and take photos.

Land Before Time – that’s Yosemite. Just like that, the valley was visible from the road and the peaks of all the impressive mountains and cliffs were staring down at us. Mere mortals in an immortal land. Half Dome, El Capitan, Sentinel, Three Brothers. All there in front of us. The Merced River winding its way in the valley beneath us. I was (still am) in awe.

In that moment, all the dry heat and driving and Chick-Fil-A rock-in-the-stomach breakfast was worth it. We scrambled back into the van and excitedly headed down into the valley.

We spent the day stopping wherever we felt we needed to along the way. We stopped at overlooks. We walked in meadows. We visited Yosemite Village for a sandwich, while gazing through the trees at Yosemite Falls. We walked out to Mirror Lake to sit beneath Half-Dome and wonder how all those crazy people scale the rocks. We saw some deer, freaked out about potential mountain lions, and wished for a bear sighting.

It was the best darn day.

On our way out that evening, on the Glacier Point side of the valley, we watched the sun set over wildfires in the distance. It was hauntingly beautiful, and we left Yosemite in reverence to the almighty power of nature.

I’m already planning my next trip back.

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