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Skittles Give Me Cankers + “Who am I Writing For?”: Lessons Learned at Blissdom Canada

CAM01146I am writing this post from the train on my way home from the Blissdom Canada 2013 conference – a 3 day social media and blogging event with 100s of inspiring Canadian bloggers and entrepreneurs. I am nursing some serious canker sores from nibbling away at the bottomless vat of Skittles in the Chevrolet Recharge Lounge and yet here I am popping more in my mouth as we roll out of Toronto – I think I may have a problem!!

 I’m finding myself incredibly inspired by this rainbow of candy in front of me

Marilyn Barefoot of Barefoot Brainstorming provided me with one of my many “takeaways” from the conference: you can find inspiration in anything. In one of the most interactive and fast paced workshops I’ve ever attended, Marilyn provided us the chance to actually experience how easy it is to combat writer’s block by forcing ourselves to jot down ideas inspired by a seemingly unrelated item. She awakened our creative sides without us even knowing it with all of the visual, auditory, and even gustatory stimulation in the room (well done, Marilyn!) and we were pumping out lengthy lists based on the silliest things we could find in our purses! The juices must still be flowing, because I’m finding myself incredibly inspired by this rainbow of candy in front of me right now and think I can sum up my biggest takeaway of the weekend based on Skittles!

Here goes:

At the beginning of the conference I was introducing myself as a “Coupon blogger” since the majority of my writing, and certainly my most practical savings tricks are over on CanadianCoupons.net (my gracious Blissdom Conference sponsor – thank you!). I thoroughly enjoy my daily search for new online coupons to post to the website and just love interacting with our Facebook community of savvy shoppers and clever couponers. These folks know their stuff!

each time I said it, I had two battling emotions well up in my gut

Designed by Doris Chung of PPS - aren't they adorable?!

Designed by Doris Chung of PPS – aren’t they adorable?!

At some point during the conference, no doubt in part thanks to my spanky new business cards which I won on a pre-conference Twitter party (thanks again, Publisher_PS!), I changed gears and started referring to myself as “Save-at-Home-Mom” and shared my “elevator intro” with everyone: “It was going to cost me $47,000 to go back to work outside the home”.  That is, afterall, why I left teaching and am now blogging full-ish-time. And each time I said it, I had two battling emotions well up in my gut.

1. Deep pride in the fact that I’d taken the time and energy to figure out that I could save our family money by putting my career on hold and embracing a more frugal lifestyle and thus be able to soak in every possible minute with our young children
2. Immense fear that the person I was speaking with would visit my blog to try to find my story. It’s not here. Yet.

I think that I have been so focused on the daily frenzy of “making sure my readers never miss a coupon or saving opportunity” that I have forgotten to take time to write about the bigger picture. No parent is likely to consider a dramatic lifestyle change for the sake of a $.75 OFF cheese coupon. People must shake their heads when they hear me talk about couponing as one of the reasons our family can afford our home, new pool, and comfortable suburban lifestyle – it even sounds impossible to me!

Pause. Wow! The view of Lake Ontario from the train is gorgeous at this time of year! (Sugar, evidently, hampers my ability to focus on the task at hand!)

I'm so thankful for these peaceful hours on the train to digest my "Bliss"!

I’m so thankful for these peaceful hours on the train to digest my “Bliss”!

Handing out my business card reminded me that I simply haven’t written down the story of how we got to this point. Only once that is done, can I expect my blog and online legacy to stand any chance of helping families who are exploring the idea of keeping one family member at home with their decision – that’s my true reason for wanting to document our story and savings. As it stands right now, my writing likely serves to encourage those that have already bought in to frugality. I suppose I have been writing for fellow bargainistas, clever couponers, and savvy shoppers — my peeps!

My blogging goals can be divided into 2 streams, I reckon:

Grassroots: continue to learn from, and post about daily savings opportunities for my peeps with hopes that they will share my bigger story with the naysayers.

Global: write about the overall savings from our new lifestyle (not exclusively couponing) with hopes that my peeps might find validation in what they are doing, and even higher hopes that others will find reassurance that it can be done.

It breaks my heart when I see parents counting down their last few days of parental leave with dread and despair. I was able to find enough savings by changing our lifestyle to counteract the loss in income. I am determined to write about it so that others might be inspired to give it a try, too!

One of the highlights of the Blissdom Canada conference for me was the closing address by Drew Dudly of Nuance Leadership who spoke about finding our Lollipop moment: a moment you may even forget being involved in but has a profound positive impact on someone’s life (click here for the entire transcript of the story if you missed it … it is incredibly inspiring!). I like to that think that we all might have Lollipop moments in each facet of our lives. I hope that my story can help even one family win back years of time with their children by not having to rely on daycare: I will then have achieved my Blogging Lollipop Moment! And in the meantime, I know that I am doing good work by showering the couponing community with smaller, equally important “Skittles moments.”

And you know what? (Here’s the big philosophical punch line …..) One at a time, Skittles may not do that much damage. But eat enough, I guarantee you’ll have a canker sore to rival one from a Lollipop any day!

Drew Dudly in his closing address at Blissdom Canada 2013 [photo: @ShashersLife]

Drew Dudly in his closing address at Blissdom Canada 2013 [photo: @ShashersLife]

I will continue to plant my Skittles day by day with my grassroots coupon blogging. I hope they might grow into a Lollipop from sharing my global Save-at-Home-Mom story.

And that is how I plan to matter. Everyday.

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A sincere thanks to the organizers and sponsors of Blissdom Canada. I met the most amazing women and am looking forward to fostering my new friendships over the next year until we can see each other again at Blissdom Canada 2014. With any luck, my cankers will be all healed by then!  ~Christa Clips