Monday, December 8, 2014

Catching up: Portland

For almost a week in October I had a fantastic opportunity to attend a conference in Portland. I was really excited for multiple reason: 1) I've never been to Portland 2) I was excited about what I would learn to help me in my career 3) It was also like a mommy vacation!
I knew I would love Portland immediately when I arrived to dreary weather.
Can you tell I was excited to be on my own for a week since I documented
the hotel room I had all to myself?
After settling in, I ventured out to explore the city.
I picked up a tie for E. J. here - the oldest haberdashery in the U.S.
I instantly fell in love with this city and hope the three of us can go back someday. 
So much culture, beautiful sites and yummy food!
I ended my venture around the city and stopped at this really cool area which is an entire street block of food trucks. I tried this delicious grilled cheese and ate it in the comfort of my hotel bed while watching TV in total silence. It was ah-maze-ing.
But I ended everyday with a talk with this little lady :).
I even had time to read. READ! Unheard of. I've got this book last Christmas and finally had a moment to read it. And I loved it!
Before I even arrived in Portland, I had already planned the morning of Day 2. 
First stop: Barista.
It was the coolest atmosphere and the reviews were spot on as one of the best coffee shops in the U.S. It was probably the best cup of coffee I've ever had (and the prettiest).
Portland is known for VooDoo Donuts. After my cup of coffee I walked down the street and had the most amazing donut of my life (maple frosting and bacon). Enough said!
I ended the morning with my appointment for a pedicure and manicure. It was glorious!
Conference time! I was able to sign up for a two day pre-conference Leadership Academy and I'm SO GLAD I DID! It totally changed the experience for me. Initially I imagined that each night, after a day of sessions, I would just go back to my room and call it an early night. I was wrong.

There were about 20 of us in the Leadership Academy and a smaller group of us ended up clicking and hanging out the entire time. It was so fun to meet such fun and kind people who all work in the same field.

I don't have any conference pictures because we were pretty busy during the days but we had a blast every night. We all got along so well that others thought we knew each other prior to attending the conference.
Carla (England), Vanessa (Canada) and me
Carla (who was my BFF during the conference) and Jesse (Colorado).
Carla, me and Ellen (England)
The Keynote on the last day was Chris Hardwick. Such a fun and hilarious speaker. 
The send-off event on the last night was held at the World Forestry Center. There was an area to get your picture taken while you're "white water rafting." We called this picture "Chris and His Son" (although that's Ellen, with a glass of wine). Carla said Ellen looked like a young boy and Chris was an enthusiastic dad taking his son out for a trip. This picture still makes me smile.
Chris (England) and Ellen (there were only three people of the 700+ at the conference from England and I was lucky enough to befriend them).
The VooDoo Donut spread on the last night! I couldn't have any more donuts at this point.
The whole experience was incredible and was such a whirlwind. 
The group! AKA The Leaders (we did go through the Leadership Academy, after all)
Jesse, Jens (pronounced Yens, from Washington), me, Chris, Carla and Vanessa.
I can't say enough about the conference. It was amazing and that was thanks to the wonderful people I met. I would love to go again next year, but there's no way it would ever compare to the experience I had this year.

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