(in the best ways possible)
On Thursday, I sent my Blissdom Canada roommate Natasha a DM on Twitter that read, “Yes. God. I’m dreading the whole thing! Why am I dreading this?“. When my husband got home from work to tag in with the kids for the weekend, he said, “You don’t look very happy. Why aren’t you excited to go?”
I don’t know. Social events in general put me on edge. I tend to talk too much at the best of times, and when I’m nervous it just gets so, so embarrassing. I’m an introvert who would truly much rather stay home alone than enter a room filled with near-strangers, and I spent the entire one-hour drive to the conference feeling sick to my stomach. I don’t have a large blog readership, and I didn’t know why I was really going this year, considering how the anticipation of it all made me want to vomit.
In my own microscopic way, attending these kinds of things is my “one thing that scares me”. It’s my one thing that positively terrifies me, actually. (Sharon would be proud, right?) I live in fear of constantly putting my foot in my mouth, or not reading cues when someone doesn’t want to talk to me, or interjecting where I’m not welcome… ugh. Seriously. To cope, I usually back myself into corners and avoid small talk. It isn’t very friendly, so this year I was determined to be different!
I spent much of the first day in session unsure of where I fit in. I haven’t rebooted my business yet, so what was I doing in the business stream? I don’t have much interest in monetizing my blog beyond what’s already been done, so why was I in those sessions? I don’t feel comfortable selling myself to brands, so what was I doing in the sponsor suites? Why wasn’t I listening to the people talking about building social communities, creating, honing skills? I don’t know why, to be honest. I think I was just too uncomfortable in my skin to even process where I should have been. Like I said: social events make me squicky.
But when I started walking around the different hallways and rooms, I started seeing smiles. So many smiles. Some I recognized, some I hadn’t met yet, but all of them open and encouraging and warm. I went into Blissdom Canada thinking I wasn’t a hugger, but I was wrong. I appreciated every single one of the amazing supportive hugs I was given this weekend.
While I’ll never really be able to properly articulate everything I want to say about the conference, I’d like to share with you some notes I wrote while there. And if you weren’t there this year, I really encourage you to go next year. You won’t regret it, I promise.
• Listening to Rehtaeh Parson’s father speak tore my heart into tiny pieces, and made me want to hug every single kid, ever. It also made me want to make sure we’re all aware of the impact our words can have on the lives of others, and how important it is that we care for, respect, and protect one another. In that session, the words, “Kill them with kindness” were said, so naturally I feel it was kismet that made my buy this notebook before the conference:
• Glen Canning’s words won’t leave me soon. His statements against bystanders of bullying are ones we all need to read so these things don’t happen. As Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor“. I won’t be quiet again. I’ll stand up for those being bullied, and I won’t tolerate bullying of myself, either.
• I was incredibly moved by the UNICEF room at Blissdom, where I learned about the work they do for children in so many countries. Did you know that there are more than one million Syrian children in refugee camps? That’s more children than there are in all of British Columbia. Let that sink in. I’d like to get more involved with them, and raise awareness and funds, so stay tuned for those posts here, too. For now, please visit childrenofsyria.info for more details.
• Meeting My Stow-n-Tow in the Handmade Marketplace was truly special.
• I spent an awful lot of time crying. Some were happy tears. Some were tears of being overjoyed, some were from sadness, some were just tears I couldn’t stuff back in from whence they came. Oh, the tears!
• I got to meet people who thanked me for the words I’ve said and written. Can you believe that? I was completely floored and so humbled to know that I made a difference in the lives of some people. Whether it was advice about small business decisions or allergy-related support, knowing I made a positive impact on people made my heart swell. We’re always eager to let people know they’ve hurt us, pissed us off, insulted us… but rarely do we reach out to say we appreciate their words. I want to do more of that for others. So while at the event (and after), I made sure I said all the things I was thinking about how grateful I was/am feeling.
• I got to have closure on something that has been eating away at me for a year now. A year ago, I said something online I shouldn’t have said. It was callous, immature, insensitive, and totally out of character for me, really. The people I hurt will probably never forgive me, but the main person involved happened to be at Blissdom and I was happy Shannon let me know the person would be there, so I could pull myself together enough to apologize in person. I thank Shannon for her support, and I sincerely apologize for all the tears I blubbered at her. And I thank the woman who gave me the opportunity to apologize to her, face-to-face.
• I sat in microsessions with some truly amazing people, and learned so much about the community of which I’m a small part. I loved hearing everyone’s stories, and I cannot wait to read so many of your blogs. I learned how to properly pitch to magazines, how to self-publish, how to create media kits… it really fired me up to take myself seriously and get on with this writing thing. I always said I’d never write a book, but I was wrong. I was too afraid to even try, and now I’m not afraid. Just because everyone else is writing one, too, it doesn’t mean I should give up. Like Sharon said in the Power Hour, I might not be special, but my stories are.
• Doing good feels good. So in a very selfish move, I’m going to keep making myself feel good by being good to others. I’m a volunteer Brownie leader, I volunteer at my daughter’s school, and I volunteer with the PAIL Network. I’m looking for more ways to make a positive impact on the world around me this year, too. I encourage you to feel good by doing good, too.
• Nothing beats a greeting from Lisa. NOTHING. You haven’t been greeted until you’ve been aggressively dry-humped on a couch in a hotel hallway by her.
• I want to share more meals with more friends. More coffee dates. More face-to-face, despite always being so nervous beforehand. Because sitting around a table with Laura, Rossana, Natasha, Lisa, and Jacki gave me so many laughs, and having supper the next night with Natasha and Annie… it was all just so great. It reminded me how important it is to connect in person.
• I only poop around good friends. Sorry about that, good friend.
• What the hell is a winky sad-face, anyhow? ;(
• Joining the Yummy Mummy Club as their allergy blogger is one of the best things I’ve ever had the opportunity to do. Seeing their community of writers was wonderful — they’re all so supportive, I’m lucky to be a part of their community. And speaking of community, I’m excited for the launch of the #YMCCommunity… you should totally join. I want to thank Erica again for the opportunity to attend Blissdom this year, and for the chance she took on me when she hired me on as the allergy blogger. I’m feeling pretty lucky over here, can you tell?
• I know I made the right choice joining SavvyStories, and the SavvyMom Media Collective. They’re the right fit for me, and I’m thankful for the support of Sarah and Minnow, and the community they’ve built, always. They were some of the first people to support my business, and are now supporting my blog… I’m very thankful. It’s a weird world of monetizing blogs out there, and I sort of stumble around waiting for something to click…I think this is clicking.
• Bangs made me virtually unrecognizable. Note to self: this is a great way to blend into walls at future events. Even people who I’ve met plenty of times in the past didn’t recognize me this year. I know I should probably be embarrassed by that, but it was pretty hilarious. (and embarrassing) I both loved and loathed that my hair was such a hot topic this year. Ha.
There was so much more than just this, but apparently I was too busy wiping tears away to take any further notes. To the women behind Blissdom: thank you. Thank you for everything you and your families invested in the conference this year. To all the incredible bloggers: thank you. Thank you for always striving to be a better, stronger community of support and love.
I walked away feeling like a new person. Someone who hugs a lot (what!?), cries a lot (what?!), loves motivational speakers (what?!), someone who is determined to tell her stories, and walks into a room ready to meet new people… Blissdom Canada broke me. It broke me of all the stuff that was holding me back.
It feels like a new beginning somehow, doesn’t it? I’m considering this my New Year.
Happy New Year, friends.