You know when you’re looking forward to a new trip but you just don’t know how it’s going to go? There’s a lot of excitement and a bit of trepidation? You’re meeting some people you’ve looked up to for some time and you just don’t know what they’re going to be like? And if they’ll like you? You get yourself pretty worked up and then when you get there…it’s a total letdown? The trip becomes a disaster?
Well that TOTALLY DIDN’T HAPPEN TO ME.
I just spent three days in Orlando at the Gluten Free Living Conference and it was awesome. And it was so much more than a room full of gluten-free vendors. Actually, I spent maybe a grand total of 60 minutes inside the exhibition room where the vendors were.
The rest of the time was spent relaxing, learning, socializing, exercising and overall just having a grand old time.
I cannot say enough about the job the good folks at Gluten Free Living did putting this together…especially in such short notice.
Let’s take a walk through the weekend, highlighting the things and the people I am quite grateful for (in no specific order).
I’m grateful there was a pool.
I’m grateful there was a poolside bar.
I’m grateful there was a Starbucks in the hotel.
I’m grateful there was a gym in the hotel.
I’m grateful there was a sushi restaurant right next to the hotel…
…that also served Scorpion Bowls.
I’m grateful that Tito’s was one of the weekend’s sponsors. And yes…that included a couple of complimentary beverages.
But the weekend was really about the people. That’s what made this event so special as compared to others I have attended. It was not simply about gluten-free food but it was about the celiac community.
Who am I grateful for meeting? Funny you should ask.
I’m grateful for Jules Shephard (aka Jules Gluten Free…kind of…long story…to be heard soon). Jules is a pretty big name in the celiac community and, for lack of a better term, she took me under her wing this weekend. She’s fun, she’s driven and she’s a cool person to hang out with. I feel like I have made a friend for life. Thanks Jules.
I’m grateful for Dr. Alessio Fasano (aka the Godfather of celiac disease…my pet name…not his.) He was giving a speech on Saturday morning and as I’m trying to find the venue, I see a gentleman with long hair in front of me wearing a suit also somewhat lost. It turns out it was the man himself. I caught up to him, told him who I was, shamelessly dropped in the names Jules Shepard and Jennifer Esposito as people I know and basically gave him my 30-second “there’s no need to be afraid of me” elevator pitch.
I’m assuming he quickened his pace because he was running late ;)
Anyway, I was able to grab a seat in the second row and his speech was just wonderful. Take away the medical terms that I can’t pronounce and we speak much of the same language about the need for awareness, the ridiculousness of the fad and the seriousness of the disease.
And I am more than grateful that I was able to hang with him and his peeps during the night hours at a nice private table by the pool.
More to come on this blog about Dr. Fasano, his speech and his upcoming book.
I’m grateful for Irish Heart! Yes…we were finally able to meet and it was like we’ve been BFF’s forever. We had wonderful conversations, great laughs and a few Tito’s. Love ya Irish.
I’m grateful I was able to get a picture of all four of us together. It was quite a spontaneous moment but here we are in all of our glory.
And lastly, I’m grateful for everyone else I met, from the awesome Gluten Free Living team, to Dr. Fasano’s team and especially to some of my fellow bloggers such as Chrissy (Glam Without Gluten), Amie Valpone (Healthy Apple), Taylor (Gluten Away), Michael (Gluten Free Philly), Amy Leger (Savvy Celiac…and who knew you don’t pronounce the R in her last name), the cool guys from Taste Guru, Kathleen (Celiac Baby), Sarah (Celiac in the City) and tons more.
I feel like a came home a stronger advocate and a better person.
Seriously…I need to get away more.