Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Unlimited, Free #BlogPaws Conference Encouragement! Read to Redeem!

corgi face with huge, expressive eyes and caption "It's a free-for-all."
Don't tell him I said this, but that corgi up there? Jon Farleigh? He's road-tripping with me to BlogPaws next week. If he knew it, his head would explode from excitement before we got in the car. 

I broke out in a case of itchy, stress hives all over my wrists, ankles, hands, and feet on Easter Sunday, the day after I returned home from a half-week beach vacation with my family. I got the flaring and spreading under control after a few days of taking Benadryl and applying drying lotion, but the embarrassing leftover pink dots weren't completely gone until early last week.

Thank goodness for that, because I need to get a pre-BlogPaws pedicure this week (was SO glad I splurged on one last year), but there was NO WAY I'd have let a nail tech even look at, much less touch, my toes all bespeckled in who knows what. (I mean, can't you just hear the conversation?

Me: "Oh, don't worry; I just broke out in stress hives a couple weeks ago, but they're almost gone. Hives aren't contagious."

Nail tech [trying not to look like she's nauseated and/or a flight risk]: "So sorry, miss. We will be happy to give service once you are rash-free. Good luck. Hope you don't die. Please take your shoes [so I don't have to touch them] and watch the door hitting your back on your way out.")

Can you imagine? Please don't say yes. That was a horrible story and I wish you to banish it from your thoughts as soon as you close your browser window.

Like I want you to conjure up that image upon seeing my face (or feet) at BlogPaws. OMG!

Sorry, y'all. I digress.

The thing is, I'm still stressed, so every morning that I wake up without an itchy, blotchy relapse is cause for celebration.

Tootsie POPS cartoon unwrapping .gif

A celebration with Tootsie POPS!

I'm not even kidding. I have a slight obsession. And by obsession, I mean, when I'm stressed, or anxious, or need to meet a looming deadline, or keep myself on a task (as opposed to buying dresses and dog stuff online, because that's actually not a task, for example), and I'm at home (no, I don't take my weird habit out in public), I pop tootsie pops like my life was dependent on it.

You know that commercial with the cartoon owl eating the tootsie pop (first aired back in the 70's during Saturday morning cartoons; I remember it well), and he's trying to count how many licks it takes to get to the center..."a one, a two, a three [crunch]..."?

Wrong! Mr. Owl is weak! *I* can tell you how many licks it takes to get to the center (if I was counting). I never bite into the hard candy, mostly because if I did, I'd have to eat 10x more lollies than I already do! I've gotta make those suckers (pun??*) last 'til the project at hand is finished! That, and I'd break my teeth off (I've got veneers already, from grinding my teeth into a weakened state and breaking them off on candy and pizza).

* I'm not sure I made a "sucker" pun there. I mean, where did that saying ("make those suckers last") come from anyway? Maybe it was coined by someone who was sucking a tootsie pop to relieve stress, back in the last century. Because that would make total sense.

Never mind.

I just finished eating a wild cherry berry flavored one (tootsie pop), by the way. I bought a box of 100 assorted wild berry flavors on Amazon and I'm down to the last 15 or so. That might last me through tomorrow night. (Dear lord, I might have a problem. And rotten teeth, if I keep this up.)

Oh, and then there's the facial break-out issue. Just when I think I'm in the clear (definitely a pun), I get a flaming asteroid on my chin, or cheek, or forehead. And to be clear (I wish my face was), I have no business having to contend with acne at my age. It's not fair. Granted, people weren't living as long as I have back in the day, so dermatologists (was that a thing back at the turn of the 19th Century?) might not have even known about old person acne, and therefore, didn't put the warning (nor the cure) in any of the medical manuals. Someone really needs to get on the cure, because I'm not sure my thinning skin and patience can take much more.

South Carolina beachy vintage postcard with caption: Greetings, South Carolina BlogPaws and I are ready to rock your world

I Will Get It Together by the Time You See Me at BlogPaws (or, read this section to pick up your free gift)

By the way, I hope none of you feels sorry for me; I do not desire pity. I told you about all my "problems" to prove a point. OK, four points:
  1. You are not alone in your pre-conference nervousness. I hope (for your sake), however, that you are NOT sharing in stress hives, acne, and/or a lollipop addiction. Or any stress-related addiction, unless it's to your teddy bear, for example, or something that won't make you sick or rot your teeth out.
  2. Talking stress out is good. Know how I know? Because I already feel better*. (Hint: Wanna get something off your chest? I've got a whole comments section for that!)

    * The short crying-spell helped, too. ☺
  3. Nerves will fade. I get pre-BlogPaws jitters every time I attend. This is my sixth time. Do you think that I'd keep going back (and the last two years, practically begging them to let me be an Ambassador), if I thought I'd die in the process? This is not a trick question.

    HECK NO! I keep going back because I LOVE IT! The conference (because of the people who attend it) has rerouted my life, back onto the path that makes living it like the road trip adventure I thought I'd never get to take. (Wow, that metaphor came out of nowhere, but dang, is it powerful!)

    I can't think of a single other thing about which I can say the same, except for college in my early 20's (and you already know that was back when people still hand-wrote letters in cursive, watched music videos on MTV, and called their boyfriend on a landline phone).
  4. You will rock BlogPaws. Yes, you will! You've already made the investment in yourself. You're doing (and have already done--2017 Newbies course in the BlogPaws Social Learning Community-SLC, ahem) all the prep work to ensure you have the best experience possible. You are prepared (or you will be by the time you step into the venue). Shoot, if this was a scouting program, you'd win top honors (for being prepared; "Be prepared." is the Scout motto).

    Give yourself a break! That doesn't mean magically shut off your nerves (we're not robots). It means slow down and do the following, in order:
    1. Breathe deeply (don't forget to exhale).
    2. Remember they're ALL pet lovers, and, by the way, put on their undies (one leg at a time) the same way you and I do.
    3. Prioritize your to-do list (by that, I mean, look at mine from 2016 and instantly feel better about your own).
    4. Say to yourself, "I am going to win this conference, because I'm WORTH IT!"
      Wait, I got confused; say "I am going to win with this new shade of lipstick and hair color, because I'm..."
      No wait, say this, "I am going to be OK, because I'm prepared, I'm smart, and Elizabeth said so!"
    5. Smile.
    6. Breathe deeply (don't forget to exhale), and repeat as necessary. 

So, did you pick up your encouragement? If not, please back up at least half a page and get it. In fact, if you need to, back up and get it multiple times (when I said free, UNLIMITED encouragement, I meant it)!

And, don't forget to tell me how you're doing in comments!

[Insert me pausing to purposely breathe deeply and exhale.]

I (hopefully, rash- and asteroid-free, but if not, please don't try to pretend you don't see it; your diverting eyes will totally give you up) can't wait to see you in Myrtle Beach!

BlogPaws 2017 I'm Attending badge

What's that? You haven't bought a BlogPaws pass, but are now inspired to do so? OMG, please hurry! (I said the same thing a few weeks ago, but y'all, this thing is going to SELL OUT* at any moment. I am not kidding!) Go here to register, and be sure to enter this code to get 10% off the regular blogger rate (excluding day passes):


Once you've registered, RSVP to the event on the BlogPaws Facebook page to get breaking news and meet others who are attending!

And, of course, follow BlogPaws on social media for the latest tips and updates!

* If the thing sells out before you get your pass, I cannot be held responsible; although, that does not mean I don't feel for you. That said, there is still good news--and it's two-fold! 1) You can take part in BlogPaws 2017 remotely! Click over to BlogPaws for the info, including livestreamed events! 2) There's always 2018! AND, I do believe the location will be revealed at the conference, next week (if history repeats, it will, be Thursday evening during opening remarks). And once it is? Really cheap Super early bird pricing will be in effect! Be sure to follow the conference social hashtag, #BlogPaws, during this year's conference, for all that information and more!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Guide to #BlogPaws Conference Goals (good) vs. #Goals (bad), Using Some of Mine as Examples

or touchdown?

I have three teenagers who, occasionally (mostly before Snapchat was invented, because before that, they used Instagram and stuff didn't disappear 60 seconds after it was posted), expose me to trends on social media. One of those trends is the hashtag #goals. Perhaps you've seen it before? Maybe you've used it before, in which case, none of this will be news to you. But in case you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's a quick lesson:

#Goals (according to Urban Dictionary, also, there is language; please consider the source): "What dumbass girls say to each other on Instagram when someone posts a pic that is very attractive or is of something they aspire to, like a relationship. It's basically a way of sucking up to someone and it's almost as annoying and shallow as when girls post shit like "omg stop being so perf!" and then of course the required response is "no that's you bb 😘" and it goes back and forth like that. Both examples are typically found thoroughly nauseating by non-sheeple types and those who don't seek validation via Instagram likes.

Popular Bitch: *posts totally staged and/or photoshopped "spontaneous" selfie*

Less Popular Wannabe: "OMG GOALS!! Can u like stop being so pretty?"

And then, according to this article at Elle.com:

"A 'goal' in this context is something aspirational and outlandish, a perceived quality of life that we categorize as unattainable."

In other words, let us not confuse goals (things we can actually achieve, if we try) with #goals, which aren't so much goals (OK, they're not at all goals) as outright fantasy.

What Do #Goals Have to Do With the BlogPaws Conference?

Well, I'll tell you. But first, let's consider what makes a GOOD goal (for BlogPaws or anything). Perhaps you're familiar with the SMART (acronym) criteria, in which a good goal is specific, measurable, agreed-upon, realistic, and time-related. All good goals should have all of these things. That doesn't mean good goals have to be complicated, impressive in themselves, or fancy. Goals are relative to the person who's setting them. So don't mix up having good goals with having goals that try to measure up to a perceived status quo. (More on this in a bit.)

beachfront/resort scene with big sky and sand, BlogPaws logo/caption

Note: That's the actual beach in South Carolina! I took the photo the week before Easter while on spring break with my family. The weather was beautiful!

BlogPaws Goals Are Not the Same as Life and/or Career Goals

OK, you know what? We need to have a talk--just me and you, with no one else listening. Pal to pal, and that means, I'm going to tell you straight-up:

Do not make your BlogPaws goals any of the following:
  1. To have the next celebrity pet sensation and make over $100k in royalties the first year.

  2. To land ambassadorships in the triple-zero-dollar range with every sponsor in the BlogPaws Exhibit Hall.

  3. To instantly gain a million (literal) followers on Instagram after listening to Ryan Carter (of Camping With Dogs)'s Instagram marketing talk in the Social Media workshop* on Saturday morning.

  4. To get your own pet show on Animal Planet after brushing shoulders with Steve Dale or Amy Shojai or Andrea Arden or Karen (Doc) Halligan, for example, who've all attended BlogPaws and been on Animal Planet shows. 
I could go on, but I don't think I need to. Do you see what I'm saying? These are NOT smart BlogPaws goals. And let's get real, they're not even smart life or career goals. One might aspire to achieve any of these end results, but expecting to achieve something so lofty from attending a single BlogPaws conference, is a promised disappointment. BlogPaws can get one started on a path to greater life/career goals, but expect to put in the work, over a longer period of time, to get there.

BlogPaws Goals Are Best Defined Before the Conference

Have you already registered to attend? Or are you getting ready to (as soon as you finish reading this post, maybe)? Well, this is the best way I can tell you to start with your conference goals:

List the reason(s) you want(ed) to attend in the first place. BlogPaws is an educational and networking conference for those who have a stake in the pet industry--from professional bloggers to rescue stakeholders to small business owners and everywhere in between, there will be learning sessions and experts in attendance to address them all. Although, working in the pet industry is certainly not requisite for learning and/or networking. It just helps tremendously if one likes animals (as they will be everywhere).

You know this already.

My point is, only YOU know why you were compelled to buy that BlogPaws pass and book travel and hotel, and therefore, no one else can tell you what your goals should be. If you're going solely for the fun and cheesecake, then your goals should be centered around those things. If you're going because you're looking to start a pet-related non-profit, and you need to learn how to reach the locals on social media, or through website search engine optimization (SEO), then your goals should be centered around that. If you're a blogger who's ready to reach out to brands for sponsored opportunities, you'd likely benefit not only from getting in front of the sponsors whose offerings you feel good about promoting, but to attend sessions that teach mechanics of good sponsored posts and how to determine your worth.

No matter what your reasons for attending BlogPaws (there is no right or wrong reason), just make your goals SMART and pertaining to what will be available to you at the conference. (Hint: Have you seen the latest agenda and sponsor lineup? I assure you there is something there for you.) Smart BlogPaws goals (vs. those that are too broad and/or unrealistic) will ensure that you feel empowered and invigorated when you pack up to go home.

We're going home already? Yeah, she forgot to bring goals. 

My BlogPaws Goals Have Been Hit or Miss

So, I've never gone in with an unattainable #goal and missed, but I have gone in with uninformed goals and likely, missed growth opportunities.

My first BlogPaws was in 2011. It was a two-hour drive from my house that year, so the monetary cost of attending--without significant travel expenses, and reduced hotel stay--was relatively low. My blog was only a few months old and at that time, was just a fun hobby (zero income), I barely had social media presence, but I was very intrigued by the "influencer" possibilities. I also desperately wanted to meet all the blogger friends I'd made online, some of whom I'd never even seen a picture of. And, there were rescue and small business people going from my home town, so the prospect of getting to network with these people--when only a couple months previous, I was oblivious to the effects both could have on my life--made me feel excited for my future.

But I didn't look at the agenda beforehand and I had no plan.

OK, I take that back. I had a plan to text the only other person attending, for whom I had a cell phone number, so we could meet up in person. That was my blog idol, Laurie Eno of The Daily Corgi. I ended up texting her five minutes after I arrived, in a panic, because I was afraid to sit down at a table of strangers for lunch (I arrived at lunchtime on the first day; not the wisest move for a socially anxious introvert). She came and rescued me and my plan was done. The rest of the time--feeling much less anxious for having a buddy--I met lots of people, some of whom are my friends (and role models) to this day--but didn't accomplish much in the way of professional development.*

* I did (unplanned, but, I believe destined) connect with a brand (Petfinder) in the Exhibit Hall, which ended up taking me in a professional and life direction that has changed my life. That's one of the fringe benefits of attending BlogPaws: you never know what awesome, unexpected events/people might crash into your world and make it better.

My BlogPaws Goals That Hit Were SMART and Purposeful

In the grand scheme of BlogPaws attendees (and sheer number of repeat attendances), one could call me a late bloomer. It wasn't really until going into my third conference (2014 in Las Vegas, and I pulled lots of creative measures to afford that trip from Virginia) that I had my professional sights on something concrete and several smaller conference goals to propel me in the right direction.

By that time I'd figured out that the networking component of the conference was what I really thrived on. And not only that, but I really, really enjoyed using my experience navigating the conference to help others like myself (introverts mostly) navigate it, too.

By the end of the 2014 conference, after checking off a few networking goals, I knew--without a doubt--I wanted to have a job working for BlogPaws at, and leading up to, BlogPaws. In the fall of 2015--after checking off even more networking goals at BlogPaws 2015 in Nashville--I made my case and got the job as newbies Ambassador for BlogPaws 2016! (Considering I'm back with the same gig this year, I think all those years of  SMART goal setting paid off in spades. It can for you, too!)

Jon Farleigh and Dewi's goal to sleep on the BlogPaws hotel bed was both SMART and purposeful.

So, What, Specifically, Were a Few of My Previous Conference Networking Goals?

I get that my speaking in generalizations about goal setting isn't all that helpful, so here are a few of my previous specific goals:

  • Get in front of and have a quality interchange of words with each member of the BlogPaws Executive team. Even if I'd met them in person before. I didn't get to speak to Tom Collins in 2014, so speaking to him in person was carried over as one of my goals in 2015.

  • Introduce self to (a whole list of specific people) and have meaningful interactions with cat bloggers. I missed a couple of the names on my list (Robin Mudge was one whom I recall, and I told her so on Facebook after I got back home). 2014 was the year I decided breaking away from the "dog blogger" label to "pet blogger" was high priority if I was going to reach my overall influencer goals, especially on Facebook. I saw a tremendous learning and personal growth opportunity crossing the "species divide" among bloggers at the conference. (By the way, I don't know why that is? A species divide at BlogPaws [or anywhere]. Dogs and cats are both amazing little [and sometimes big], furry, mounds of love and joy to be cherished by all types of people far and wide. Cat blogger, dog blogger, horse blogger, turtle blogger, bird blogger--we're all animal people in the grand scheme. I hope, one day, we'll all just be pet bloggers when it comes to social interaction.)

    I digress, but I feel better now that I've spoken my peace.

  • Sit with a first-time conference attendee at every planned meal (2015). Yep, I sat with newbies and it was AWESOME! I don't think I was sitting at an "official" newbies table, but if not, I was right beside one with the overflow. The experience totally confirmed what I already kind of knew (that I wanted to interact with and assist future attendees as a "job"). 
That's just a sampling of SMART goals I've set for myself, and there are a few nuances (like how I managed to find and speak to all those cat bloggers) that I've left out, but I hope it's apparent that the tighter one's goals are, the easier it will be to check them off.

SMART BlogPaws Goals Come in All Shapes and Sizes

I'll end with this reminder (as mentioned earlier in this post): [SMART] conference goals do not need to be complicated, impressive in themselves, or fancy. (Standing alone, my goals are certainly none of those things!) Goals are relative to the person who's setting them.

No matter how different each attendee's goals are from one another, though, one thing is certain: accomplishing them is a wonderful feeling!

BlogPaws 2017 Conference I'm Going badge

So, how are you feeling? Have you made goals already? Has the process been challenging? Do you have anything to add, if you've attended BlogPaws (or any other conference) before?

P.S. When setting your BlogPaws goals, don't forget to refer to the conference agenda, sponsor list, other attendees who have registered in sched.org, and if needed, the SLC 2017 Newbies course!

P.P.S. Do you still need to register to attend BlogPaws in Myrtle Beach, May 18-20? OMG, hurry, before it sells out! Here's a discount code so you can save 10% on the regular blogger rate full pass:


Once you've registered, RSVP to the event on the BlogPaws Facebook page to get breaking news and meet others who are attending!

And, of course, follow BlogPaws on social media for the latest tips and updates!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

9 Reasons I Might Be Crazy, Plus Enter to Win Over $375 in Pet-Friendly Prizes! #SpringFlingGiveaway

Spring Fling Pet Blogger Giveaway graphic with 10 participating blog logos and photos of three prizes

Hey, y'all! Ahem. I said, HEY, Y'ALL! (Look away from those prizes, dangit!)

So, you're here. That means at least one of two things:

You want to:
  1. Find out why I'm crazy, and/or
  2. Get yourself entered in the Spring Fling Pet Blogger Giveaway...because there are over $375 in prizes!
Note: Although #2 is not contingent upon #1, if you picked #2, you're still gonna have to scroll down through the nine reasons I might be crazy. And not only that, one of the bonus entries is a QUIZ question.

You might want to summon some patience, is all I'm saying.    

But first, I need to tell you more about the giveaway!

For starters, I'm not in this alone!

I've collaborated with these nine other superstar pet bloggers so that we could make the prizes HUGE!

And these are the prizes!
Y'all, I'd love an Amazon shopping spree and I know you would, too! You know what else I'd love? The cordless hand vac (for the corgi tumbleweeds) AND that leash/collar set! Yes, give it all TO ME! Alright fine; you can have it. I'll just be over here with fur all over my clothes, being happy for you when you win. 

* The 10 participating bloggers each contributed their own money toward the Amazon gift card.
** 2nd and 3rd place prizes have been donated by their respective brands, Black+Decker and dogIDs.


Yep! To increase your odds, simply visit all the blogs (linked above) and enter (but hurry, the entry forms will all close at 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, April 25)!

One "finalist" will be randomly selected from each blog!

Then all of the finalists' names will go into a drawing, during which three winners will be randomly selected to receive the prizes listed above.

This is great news! That's because even if one of the 10 blogs has 467 times more entries than another, EACH BLOG will still get one finalist in the drawing! (FYI: Chronicles of Cardigan produced the 3rd prize winner in a previous pet blogger holiday giveaway!)

Ready to enter?

Well, you can, right after you see these nine reasons I might be crazy!
(Note: By might, I mean I am. Just a little. And in a harmless way.)

#1: Tigger (at 17 years, doesn't make the litter box every time.)

#2: Maddox (stepped on my right eyeball last Saturday night after Lele charged him for entering her personal space. He was trying to lie down on my stomach. The pain was like a knife stabbing through my pupil. Thankfully, it subsided after I took the maximum dose of ibuprofen and I haven't had any issues since.)

#3: Lele (barks ferociously at my husband every day when he comes in from work--like he's an intruder--even though she knows and loves him. Gets into trash [bacon packages] and recycling [yogurt containers] and cat box if I don't lock them up.)

#4: Lulabelle (steals hair elastics and drops them all over the house. Sits with her head shoved through banister posts.)

#5: Jon Farleigh (yanks and tugs his own leash every time I take him out to pee and poo. Barks like a raving wild dog whenever I clean the kitchen counters, dust the dining room table and/or open the spice cabinet.)

#6: Dewi (barks 95.23% of his waking hours, in 249 different dog languages, most of which I don't understand. Likes deer poo...as an appetizer.)

#7: Bertie (drops his stuffed pheasant, Chewbacca mouse, and goldfish in the water bowl and then pulls them out (soaking wet) and drops them into the food bowl for me to find...every day. Also, YES, I take the toys away from him, but he finds them! He can smell them inside drawers!)

#8: Frances (rubs all over my legs and feet when they're still wet from having taken a shower. Stands under my feet when I'm not looking and watches me nearly wipe out on the tile floor trying not to step on her head.)

#9: Bobby Flay O'Fish (turns on the kitchen faucet, steals the rubber drain collar for the garbage disposal, pesters Frances between 2-3 a.m., causing her to meow like an alarm, gets into things he shouldn't and eats them [which is why we have to lock up all of the things].)

Heed his advice; he knows what he's talking about. 

And there you go; nine REALLY good reasons, I'd say! 

How about you? Might you be "crazy," too? Give me one good reason why (in comments, please)!

* Crazy, as in crazy about your pets because if you weren't, they'd be in big trouble! 

Now, go forth and enter the giveaway, using the Gleam gadget below!

Spring Fling Pet Blogger Giveaway II

Well, did you enter? Yay! I hope you win! Don't forget you can enter at the other nine blogs (linked at the top of the post) to increase your chances! 

I'll post all three winners' names on the Facebook page and Twitter on April 26!

Good luck!

About the giveaway: 

No purchase necessary. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents age 18 and older, except where prohibited by law. Giveaway will run from April 19 to April 25, 2017 at 11:59pm EST. Three (3) winners will be randomly selected and notified via email. Winners will have 48 hours to claim their prizes; failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the prize. Twitter and Pinterest do not sponsor, administer, or endorse this promotion. Participants must read and agree to Gleam’s Privacy Policy before entering and participating in this promotion. By entering this contest, participants grant permission for their email address to be added to the Chronicles of Cardigan mailing list. 

Each participating blogger paid an entry fee which will be used to fund the grand prize. The 2nd and 3rd place prizes were generously donated by the participating brands. Please be sure to visit their websites to see all the incredible pet products they have to offer.


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