The past two months have been full of travel, new experiences, learning… plus seeing old friends while making new ones. The event that brought me to Costa Rica was Roar Retreat, a social media conference for professional bloggers. The idea for ROAR was hatched by two clients over a year ago, because Andrea Fellman and Nadia Carriere loved how the best ideas happen in the halls between sessions. Their dream came to fruition last month when around 35 women traveled out of the country for intimate networking in a gorgeous location, the Westin Playa Conchal.
Personally, I vote for every conference to be held at all-inclusive resorts from now on, forever and ever, amen.
Roar Retreat was packed with talented speakers, including Alison Kramer from Unmarketing, Emily Meyer from Tea Collection, Jenny Baird from Return On You, and, then, the oddball – me. I was honored that Invisalign sponsored my photography workshop based on their “Confidence” theme. (Basically, I tried to cram as much information into my session as possible, to help colleagues feel more comfortable with their cameras.)
The sessions all gave great insights on social media and business, delivering just what Andrea and Nadia envisioned – continuing education for bloggers. But one of the talks was different for me, the one given by Lavinia Spalding.
Lavinia is an accomplished travel writer, and let’s be frank. I don’t consider myself a writer, really. I am a photographer who throws words in along with her photos and tells stories sometimes. So Lavinia’s session was uncomfortable (and thought-provoking) for me, in that I have never worked on writing prompts or pushed myself to think about writing more than spilling out my thoughts. In some ways I feel more self-conscious about my lack of writing skills now, but oh well. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
Point being, I learned a lot.
Because our hosts are travel savvy, they knew we would want to see bit beyond the resort. We had a day of sailing and snorkeling with Marlin Del Ray. A dinner at Mar Vista (with a serious emphasis on vista). We had a tour of the new community being built from scratch, Las Catalinas. This is another one of those times when my words really won’t do any justice so I will just leave it to my photos. Or, in the case of our catamaran adventure, Cherie-Lynn’s photos, because I couldn’t even be bothered to bring my camera that day.
There is no way I can share all the blogs, ventures and cool stories from all the ladies that attended ROAR, but let’s just say I was blown away. Many I was reconnecting with – many I was meeting for the first time. All were amazing (a word that Lavinia hates, oops). We have a Facebook group that continues to give advice, encouragement and laughter – because that is how these ladies are.
Pretty sure I will always use the word amazing, though.
I shared a room with Tracy Morrison of Sellabit Mum, someone who I have known online for years but had never met in person. The minute I looked in her warm brown eyes, I knew I had a friend for life. And a great roommate, I might add.
I treasured time with longtime friends Danielle, Ciaran, Kim, Ana, Julie, Pilar. I was thrilled to find new pals like Claudia, Jill, Brianne, Sarah and so many others. Just as with Tracy, ROAR brought me together with fellow bloggers I had known online but never met in person like Stacie, Romy, Chelsea, Valerie (who is from Denver, what.)
See? I could go on forever.
There was an impromptu selfie session at Mar Vista… not so much because we all wanted photos of ourselves – but we wanted photos together.
(I missed some folks.)
But the two people I can’t thank enough for this amazing experience are Andrea and Nadia.
Friends, clients and inspiration all wrapped up in two incredibly smart ladies. I already can’t wait for next year. Well done, sisters!