Monday, February 12, 2018

My Life Is a Giant Connect-the-Dots Puzzle, or Why I Must Attend BlogPaws

two corgis lying on a floor
She says we're numbers 10 and 11 on the dot-to-dot rendering of her life.  

Imagine that before you were born, your life was laid out like a giant connect-the-dots puzzle. Do you know what those are? No matter; here's a visual refresher for everyone (from Wikipedia):

This person's life is a bit of a mystery, huh? 

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about them: "Connect the dots (also known as dot to dot or join the dots) is a form of puzzle containing a sequence of numbered dots.[1] When a line is drawn connecting the dots the outline of an object is revealed. The puzzles frequently contain simple line art to enhance the image created or to assist in rendering a complex section of the image. Connect the dots puzzles are generally created for children. The use of numbers can be replaced with letters or other symbols."

Sometimes my kids would bring these puzzles home for math homework. Like instead of the numbered dots starting at 1 and continuing linearly through the end of the puzzle, the numbers were the answers to the math problems (not linear) and connected in the order of the problems on the worksheet. I loved when math homework was a connect-the-dots puzzle, because if my kids didn't solve the math problems correctly, the puzzle would look all messed up when they connected the dots. Then they'd have to go back and fix all their incorrect answers, thereby, guaranteeing a perfect homework grade, AND a pretty picture (usually something holiday-related, like a jack-o-lantern or jingle bells or a buck-toothed bunny). Plus they found solving the puzzles fun. All math homework should be so fun.

I've rambled digressed. Yep, that's what I do...

...whatever. So, humor me for just a minute: imagine that each of us has one of these puzzles assigned to our life, and life events are directing us from one dot to the next, resulting in, if all goes well, a clear picture of something, right before we die.

(Please don't ask me any questions about who picks the puzzle and why, or who gets to see it in the end, or how difficult it will be to solve, and what if we screw up and our final picture looks like a two-year-old's scribble--I do not have all those answers! This is just a metaphor!)

OK, now imagine (without overthinking) that when we've landed on a sequentially correct (life) dot, it's easier to "see" one's path to the next, and so on. (Versus, skipping over a critical dot and having to backtrack, or worse, zig-zag all over the page, making a complete mess, before getting back to the correct dot that compels us toward greater things.)

For fun, here's a puzzle visual that represents someone who is screwed and/or will live to 117 (remember, all the dots are pivotal life events).

Raise your hand if you'd like to be the owner of this life? No one? Really? What if it's 95% good stuff? 

What Does Any of This Have to Do With BlogPaws, and oh yeah, What Is BlogPaws?

I'll take the second part of that question first:

Q. What is BlogPaws?
A. It's a social media and blogging conference (sponsored by pet industry brands) for digital marketers (or anyone who has a business interest in being there). This year is the 10th Anniversary and it's at the Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City, MO from April 18-20.

I could go on, but a few of my fellow blog friends (and also 2018 BlogPaws Ambassadors--yes, I am back as Newbie and International Ambassador this year!) have already written so eloquently about it. I'll let you click into any (or all) of their posts, at your leisure, for more information:

Jenise Carl – Happy-Go-Doodle: A Girl Walks Into a Conference...
Dawn White – Lola the Rescue Cat: It's BlogPaws' 10th Anniversary!
Joely Smith – Fashion Beyond Forty: 10th Anniversary 2018 BlogPaws in Kansas City, MO
Alison Reder – Sarcastic Dog: The Best Blogging Decision I Ever Made | Attending BlogPaws

Oh, and here's a fantastic video representation of everything BlogPaws from last year's conference!

Intrigued? You should be.


Q. What do life-sized, connect-the-dot puzzles have to do with it?
A. I'll tell you, but first...I am making an assumption, since you're still reading, that you have some sort of interest in the conference. Why the frell would you still be reading, if not? So, assuming there's at least a chance you might attend, imagine you're coming up on the next dot of your life "puzzle." (Although, technically, you would have no idea, because you can't see the puzzle, but imagine you had inside info...) Now, what if...? What if the option to attend the conference has presented itself because IT IS YOUR NEXT "DOT" AND IT'S GOING TO PROPEL YOU ON YOUR PATH TOWARD GREATER THINGS?

Hmm. Bet you never thought about it that way before. (If you have, please tell me in comments, because that is WEIRD!) How do you think my fellow conference Ambassadors (listed previously) would answer? (Hint: Of course they would say it's a dot! If it wasn't, why would they have been chosen by BlogPaws to be Ambassadors? They are already achieving blogging greatness!)

As for me, Kansas City will be my seventh BlogPaws attended. Seventh. Seven pivotal dots on my life journey. (I'm assuming Kansas City is a dot--since it's in the future--because the previous six are predictive evidence.) I just so happen to have MY life's puzzle, as an example.

dot to dot diagram of a cat with labels
Don't ask me how I got hold of this puzzle. Also, my life might seem simple in comparison to others, but I've lived it, and I can assure you, it's NOT! [meow]
P.S. Yes, if I miss this year's conference, I might die.
P.P.S. Because if I miss (as I am both an ambassador and speaker), someone at BlogPaws might kill me.
P.P.P.S. See you there, because I'm NOT missing! 

Propelled Toward Greater Things (the Proof)

In case you doubt my dot assignments, however, here are a few things I would NOT have done/accomplished had I not attended those conferences:

  • Met Jane H. with (conference sponsor), who, after the (2011) conference (my first), added me to her blogger contact list, sent me a ton of writing opportunities (for my own blog) to benefit homeless pets, got me hooked on rescue, gave me confidence in my writing ability, which brought other (compensated) writing opportunities with other brands, and landed me an award/partial sponsorship to my next (2013) BlogPaws conference. (Jane owns her own marketing consulting business today, still occasionally attends BlogPaws, and remains a trusted role model.)

  • Experienced a large, trade/social media marketing conference as a self-identified introvert and occasionally, socially awkward/shy person. This is critical, because, as a natural leader, it also gave me the burning desire to use my experience (and lessening anxiety) to help other conference attendees (especially "newbies" or first-timers) overcome their fears and make the best of their BlogPaws experiences. (This is my third year in a row as Newbie Ambassador, an appointed position. I got the first gig {2016} by pitching a BlogPaws co-founder, the remarkable Yvonne DiVita, a few months after {secretly and on my own initiative} "trying out" the role at the 2015 conference.)
    See: BlogPaws - The Introvert-Friendly Conference

  • Met all the BlogPaws co-founders and executive team in person. Did this help me get the ambassador role? Not sure, but I'm inclined to think so. I'm also inclined to think that it's helped me get two BlogPaws speaker roles (this year my topic, on Thursday at 11 a.m., is Facebook Ads Essentials: What Every Page Owner Should Know and Incorporate Now {Without a Big Ad Budget}) and several paid contract jobs, assisting BlogPaws team members with tasks, including, most recently this holiday season, Campaign Manager for a major (paid) influencer/brand collaboration. 

  • Met Jill, Jessica (2x roomie), Alison, Maggie, Bryn, Kristin, Jodi, Denise, Christy, and Rochelle, all role models, fellow bloggers, dear friends, and in some cases, accountability partners (all year long). Seriously, meeting these ladies could be pivotal "dots" in my life all on their own. There are too many others--whom I've met at BlogPaws along the years, and who have impacted my life for the better--to name here. Not just other bloggers, but brand reps, business owners, entrepreneurs, editors, and authors. (OK, I'll name one more: Jeremy Greenberg, comedian and best-selling pet humor book author, whom I met in 2017. He turned into my first freelance, digital marketing consulting client, and has already taught me more about the publishing industry, and how it relates to marketing, than I ever imagined I'd know.)
Anyone see a common theme with me? How about networking? Think there might be networking opportunities at BlogPaws? (YES!)

I will conclude with this: If there is anything remarkable to you about the BlogPaws conference--something that compels you to attend, anything at all--and you are here, CAN YOU AFFORD TO PASS IT UP? What if it's your next life-dot? Do you want to zig-zag through the next chapter of your life? 

If the answer is no, I happen to have the link to REGISTER for the 2018 conference RIGHT HERE! (Don't wait too long; it will sell out, and not even I can help you with that zig-zagging then.)

I also happen to have a discount code for 10% off the regular blogger rate here:


Already registered or plan on it and you're a first-time conference attendee? Yay, glad to have you join us! Also, there's a brand new course in the BlogPaws Social Learning Community (SLC) specifically for conference prep! It's chock full of everything from business card and media kit information, to what to pack, to networking tips, to rideshare and roommate boards! I hope you'll go check it out and introduce yourself!

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


  1. This post made me a little weepy (in a good way). I am one of those people who had a zig-zag life, one step forward, 25 steps backward and to the side, until a few years ago. I attended my first BlogPaws conference in 2015 and it was a huge turning point for me and I definitely feel like it pushed me in the right direction and I have been moving forward, slowly but surely, ever since.

    1. We all zig-zag at some point, Kristin. The only reason the front paws of my life don't look like a ball of yarn is because it would've detracted from my point. ;-) I'm so glad you found your BlogPaws dot in 2015, because if not, I wouldn't have the honor of knowing you!

  2. The dot-to-dot analogy is a 'pawfect' graphic for life. With or without dogs. I so wish there was a dot for BlogPaws. Not sure I can swing it this year but hope someday they have this conference in Denver. You guys want blue skies to great you with a Mile High welcome, right? 😊

    1. I would LOVE to go to Denver! Afraid until they repeal the pit bull ban, though, BlogPaws will have to take a pass. :-( FYI: California has a ferret ban and that's why BP has never been there. (The things you know as a BP ambassador...)

      Wish you could swing Kansas City. Would love to meet you (and I know you'd have so much fun). Thanks for your kind words!

  3. Kansas City is a great dog friendly area. I have lived here for 10 years and they do their best for dogs here. Hope you have lots of fun.

  4. Attending my first BlogPaws conference certainly propelled my blog into what it is today. It led me to my "next dot" of leveraging my blog experience to start my own consulting company. And that's even when I had NO CLUE what BlogPaws was or even what the conference was. It just sounded fun.

  5. Congrats on being an Ambassador again this year - you are great at it!! I love your connect the dots metaphor, that is really clever. I'm so bummed that I may not be able to go this year - it will be the first one I've missed since Las Vegas. We had a costly vacation and the husband is reining me in. I'm still trying though!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them


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