I used a lot of words summing up BlogHer’11 in my last post. It’s okay. This one is all about the pictures. They tell the story. (I’ll tell you a bit about the picture then post it. You can come up with your own captions if you want to. You people are way funnier than I am!)
I’ve heard it said as an adult we can be blessed with two families: The family you were born into and the family you choose. These are just a few pictures of the family I have chosen. And I am blessed.
These are the women I look to to help keep me sane. (That should answer a lot of questions, people.) :
These two women are my sister friends. (Because sister wives are so 2009.) Liz and Elizabeth and I have been friends since way back when we had to write our blog posts with a quill and scroll. We laugh together. We cry together. We snort (laugh) together.
Here are two more women who keep me on my toes. Melisa (with one S) has been so encouraging and makes me laugh. (Even if she calls me Gidget.) Kendra and I met at BlogHer in San Francisco and have been good friends ever since. These are amazing women who always have my back!
You’d never know that Canada and Texas are geographically so far away. Kim and I totally got each other. And? She will always hold my earrings. Oh, and we laugh. A lot
I have been going to BlogHer since 2005 when no one had any idea what a “BlogHer” was. (Okay, technically, I was not physically at BlogHer’10 but I claim honorary attendee with Elisa’s blessing.) This year was probably my favorite year ever. I was honored to speak on an amazing panel with BusyMom and Kathryn Finney moderated by Kyran Pittman named Change Yourself – Old-School Bloggers: Beginner to Big-Time to Burnout and Everywhere in Between . (You can read it there but I warn you: It is a rough transcript. I really am more eloquent. And? My Southern drawl seems to have thrown off the live blogging. You’ll get the idea, though.) What an honor it was to speak on a panel again. For me, this was not a regular panel. For me, it was like coming home. When I looked out at the people who attended our session, I became choked up. I saw so many faces of friends and fellow bloggers I have come to know and love over the years. It was humbling that they took time out of their day to listen and contribute to our panel. (Thank you, friends!)
The first night in San Diego, my iPhone died. (Let us have a moment of silence.) After the weeping & panicked racing around our room clutching the phone to my chest, my sweet (and patient) roommate, BusyMom, tweeted out that I was phoneless and freaking out. Possibly to get sympathy from those who know what a freaking out and phoneless Jenn must be like but more likely because she is good that way. Big deal, right? Oh, it became a huge deal.
I was told to meet someone outside the expo hall. Imagine my surprise when I was blessed by the #ATTPhoneFairy. What does that mean? It means that the wonderful people with AT&T (not sure if I can give the PR rep a shout-out or not but I LOVE her!) came up to me and gave me a new HP Veer 4G complete with a SIM card good and taken care of by AT&T for 30-days for me to keep. To keep forever & ever. My reaction was totally professional. I cried like a baby when I realized what she was doing for me. Let me just say, being at a conference away from my family and not having any way to keep in touch with them. Or not being able to connect with your roommates is really tough at a conference the size of BlogHer. I still get a bit teary that they were so kind to bless me that way. Thank you, ATTPhoneFairy!
But wait, it gets better. My laptop died before I went to BlogHer. Died. Dead. She’s dead, Jim. So here I am heading off to a blogging conference without a laptop. (I know. The horror!) Again, much to my surprise and happiness, I was blessed with a loaner laptop from Lenovo. They sent me an Ideapad U260 as a loaner so I wouldn’t be without a laptop. (I’ve worked with Lenovo as a member of their advisory counsel but making sure this loaner got to me overnight was above and beyond. Thank you Lenovo!) I had every intention of blogging every night but that is just not realistic with the way my schedule was those 5 days. But, I have to at least admit I did take the opportunity to Skype with my daughter back home. That melted my heart and made me feel so happy to “share her” with my friends. I was connected even though I was half a country away.
When my sandals broke outside the expo hall, I was given a pair of shoes so I wouldn’t have to walk barefoot around the convention hall and hotel. (*shudder*) This is how the entire weekend went. It seemed as if as soon as I had something go wrong, there was someone blessing me with something to replace what was lost. And, yes, I cried with each blessing I was given.
I was able to meet PR people I have worked with in person and thank them for their hard work. I was able to connect with reps who have blessed me by inviting me on the blogger junkets. I got to hug the people I have worked with for years but only get to see at events like this if I am lucky. I met new people I want to work with in the future. I hid from horrible costumed characters with new friends at the GotMilk booth. I gained (and then lost) custody of Harrison Ford with a milk mustache. (But, for the record here and now, my name is first on the list for the next GotMilk Milk Mustache man. It has been declared and tweeted. And? Truth be told I was pining for any of the Got Milk people. I’d be happy this year with Taylor Swift. But alas, I am Milk Mustache-less this year. ha!) What I did leave with was amazing memories of laughing with new reps & friends. And a cool mug with a Starbucks card. Awesome.
I met with Pressman Toys who wanted to scare me with their costumed character but instead they blessed me with a new game called Coffee Talk. For real! Mommy Needs Coffee will be able to play a game called Coffee Talk. The world is good. (And a Smurf did not bite my arm!)
But wait. There’s more.
A blogger who didn’t even know me offered me her Papa Smurf stuffed toy for my daughter.
A vendor gave me 2 brand new 3DS games simply because we enjoyed talking about gaming, games and the 3DS
When I had only $6 to my name and no one left at the hotel that I knew and my ATM card would no longer work in any ATM in California due to recent fraud, the Marriott staff worked with me to get a cash advance so I could get home.
I was given a Starbucks card just so that I could enjoy my afternoon after a rough morning. Just handed to me.
When I burst into tears after the last of my “sisters” left the hotel, a blogger I don’t even know who probably didn’t even know me, wrapped her arms around me and let me cry.
When my flight was delayed over an hour and half, another passenger bought me a sandwich at Starbucks.
Some of those things may seem so small but to me they were huge. Added up, they filled up a very empty, broken spirit. Those things really did renew my faith in people.
BlogHer’11 was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. And though the amazing pay it forward moments I was blessed with, it was the time I spend with the people I love that renewed my broken spirit and healed my broken heart. That part of the wrap up will come in photos next. (Yes, you do have to endure another post BlogHer wrap up. Deal.)
Because I am speaking on the Old School Bloggers session at this year’s BlogHer’11, I am going to go all Old School on you.
Here are some fears you may be having. Maybe I can help you relax a bit about them. I take the fears one at a time and go year by year with answers.
1. What if I see a group of people that look fun but I am sure they must be a clique and I want to talk to them? Relax. They aren’t a clique. They are probably a gang. Watch for the tell-tale signs like them throwing down gang signs. When you see this, throw down your own to show you’re down with them and go over and talk to them. I know that seems intimidating. You just might find they aren’t as scary as you first thought they might be. They’re probably very nice gang members. (Who really aren’t very good at throwing down gang signs come to think of it.) But don’t worry about “cliques” because what you should really be worrying about is gangs.
2. What if I see someone I like but they are stone cold to me? Yes, even at a blogging conference, sometimes you come across a cold attitude. What should you do? Be nice. Show kindness. Oh, I don’t know, maybe hug them tight to show that “Hey! It’s all good! I’m a nice person!” Then? Make sure it is not a statue because boy will your face be red if you see a picture in the morning of that mean blogger and find out it was really a nice angel statue. Not that that has ever happened. But it could. Maybe. Either way, if someone is cold to you they are either 1) overwhelmed just like you are or 2) really cold because they can freeze you out in those rooms with the air conditioner down so low or they are 3) pod people with no soul who just might show up in your room at night and eat your brains out much like zombies. Maybe they are just meanie heads. Do you really want to hang with that? Nope. See #1 and find your gang. And? Make sure you aren’t trying to dance with a statue. That would be mortifying.
3. What if I have a really mean friend who plays jokes and I end up being on the receiving end of it? Now chances of that happening are slim to none but let us go with a “that would never happen” scenario. Let’s say someone’s roommate received a cheese basket from their husband. And? Let’s say that your friend thinks it is hilarious to hide that cheese in your room. Did I mention this is the worst smelling cheese in the entire world? Ever! Then, lets say, you and your roommate spend a small portion of an afternoon wondering if the other has some serious intestinal issues because nothing is right about that smell. But *whew* you and your roommate figure it out when your “friend” decides to let you off the hook and reveal the hidden cheese. But only after she hears you both are about to demand to switch rooms because surely something died in your room. Do not even fret over it. What do you do? You pass the cheese along to some other poor unsuspecting person all day long. Make it into something fun. But whatever you do, do NOT be the last person with the cheese. The cheese must stand alone. Of course, that would never happen, right? So don’t worry. Pranks never happen.
4. I’m afraid it will be all business and no fun because I didn’t get into all the good parties I hear about. What? Make your own party. Where ever you happen to be. No worries there. If you see a pole (whether on a pavillion or a trolley car) wrap on and smile. I mean, it isn’t like you would be the first person to do it. I’m not saying I condone that type of behavior or that anyone else would. In fact, maybe you should resist this urge. I mean, you really don’t want pictures of that on the Internet for all to see, do you? I know I certainly wouldn’t want to look like a pole dancing, trolley girl.
5. Is there really anything to fear at BlogHer? YES! Oh, for the love of all things horrifying, yes. Now, I only tell you this because I don’t want you to be frightened if you are approached. Sometimes some sponsors can do things that are, well, less than normal. In fact, they are down right wrong and should be illegal. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but someone should. There are usually some unsavory characters walking around FREELY who will actually come up to you and TALK to you not even taking into consideration that you may stand there and scream while wetting your pants. (I didn’t say that was me. What have you heard?) But be warned. This type of behavior is considered acceptable from sponsors. I know! That is just insane. But watch your back or one of these could sneak up on you and you may not want to be remembered as the woman who ran out of the expo hall screaming. I’m just saying.
5. I don’t have the “right” clothes and am afraid I might stand out and that worries me. Really? You think anyone cares? No one cares what you wear. They care about what they are wearing. They are worried about their outfit. They are probably cussing because they thought it would be a great idea to wear something uncomfortable with shoes that are giving her a blister. It’s not like you’re going to run around a conference with a neon pink feather boa on your head. You are in public afterall. So all things considered, just be yourself and dress yourself (like I hope you have been since you were very young) and for the sake of my ears not hearing your whining–be comfortable. But, if you want to stand out, feel free to ask for a neon pink boa.
6. I’m not going to BlogHer and I’m sad/pissed/tired of hearing about it. Really? You can’t go? Suck it up. I’ve been every year except last year due to a family emergency. Of course it broke my heart but you know what? It’s a conference. They’ve had this one since ’05 and I am pretty sure they will have one in ’12. So make your own conference. Have a sleep over with your friends/kids/spouse/alone and put things into perspective. Life goes on. There is a reason you can’t go this year and I am guessing that reason is more important than whatever you might gain over the few days in San Diego. You can still connect online. You can still see pictures. There is live blogging. Seek out your friends online and enjoy yourself that way if helps. If that makes it worse, stay offline and….oh, I don’t know… get out of the house or read a book or watch a movie. Perspective. And? Know your friends will miss you but you will be just fine. Scouts honor. (Just don’t call me on the fact that I was kicked out Scouts, okay?)
I hope this helps. BlogHer has changed over the years. It has become something so different from the first year but as it grows one thing stays the same: There are real people behind the twitter names, blog titles and Facebook pages. Be kind. Be real. Have fun.
And for the love of all things horrifying, protect me from the stuffed characters if you see me screaming and peeing myself in the expo hall.