Dreams, Tears, and Memories at BlogHer'14
When I first began blogging in April of 2013, I really didn’t know what it would become. I didn’t understand the culture of blogging or the community that you become a part of when you are now given the cool kid title of “blogger.”
One of the first organizations that I joined, because I saw a button on a random blog sidebar, was BlogHer. Little did I know that BlogHer was going to become a life changer, and game changer, for me. I love a good conference. I’ve planned them for years in my work life, so anytime I see a conference on a subject I’m interested in I’m about 90% sold before I even check out the details. Although I was only an infant blogger at this time last year, I really wanted to go to the BlogHer conference. The pictures, the stories, the experiences I was hearing about sounded like the BlogHer conference was the place to be. Unfortunately, my daughter’s nationals dance competition fell on the same week and I was unable to attend. *sigh*
When the marketing began for BlogHer’14, their tenth anniversary celebration, I saw the dates and literally rejoiced. My daughter’s competition was scheduled for the week earlier so there was no conflict. Without further delay I sent the link to my bestie and fellow blogger Mimi, and we purchased our tickets that same day.
Since October of last year, when we secured our tickets and flight, the anticipation has grown. Announcements were coming out about speaker lineups and excitement grew ever more hard to contain. With Arianna Huffington and Kerry Washington doing keynote interviews and Rev Run of Run DMC performing at the closing party I knew this was surely going to be the time of my life.
Being a Huffington Post Blogger is awesome; and what does every HuffPost Blogger dream of? Well, if you ask me it’s meeting Arianna Huffington herself. Live. In person. When Arianna’s keynote interview concluded, she hung around to sign copies of her new book, Thrive. I had a totally fan girl fail because I didn’t bring my copy of her book with me on the trip – it never even dawned on me that I should. But I happily stood in the massively long line to buy another copy so I could get her to sign. Although there was a scary point where we weren’t sure if we would make it, Mimi and I were one of the last to get Arianna to sign our books.
When I walked up to her I could hear my inner voice screaming with excitement. OMG!!! THIS IS ARIANNA HUFFINGTON!!! I heard over and over again. I looked into her eyes, and she looked back into mine, and I froze for half a second. Then I snapped out of it and said “Arianna thank you for all that you do for women, and for the world. I’m one of your bloggers and the opportunity to hear from you directly, and to stand here with you right now, is something I cherish.” She then said to me “Thank you. Thank you so much for being here, and for contributing your voice to the HuffPost. Keep up the good work.” We both smiled and quickly posed for a picture before I was ushered off so the next person could enjoy that same beautiful moment I just had.
I love how we're looking at two different cameras. And although mypicture isn't perfect, meeting Arianna was truly a dream come true.
The voices of the year winners were simply amazing. The 10x10 project speakers were outstanding. There were so many touching moments I cannot possibly recount them all. The one thing I could’ve used more of at this conference was tissue! I had no idea I’d be crying that much. Tears of joy, sadness, pain, and even anger; I experienced a full range of emotions while enjoying the exceptional stories of so many beautiful writers and wonderful women.
Another thing that brought me to tears was a concern that’s been hanging around in the back of my mind since I started blogging last year. The thought that I’m not a good enough writer and that I don’t have an interesting enough story to tell. But the thoughts that truly bring the waterworks on are the ones that tell me I’m not white enough. I’m not a married stay-at-home white woman so who in the world wants to hear from me?
I’ve never said this aloud or written about it before because it’s painful. It’s sad. And it makes me feel pathetic for even thinking it. But it’s true. I cannot count the number of times that I’ve gotten discouraged by the bloggy world because I don’t know if I can ever fit in. If I can ever reach the audience that I want to reach. If I will ever build the tribe that I’m hoping I can inspire and empower. If I should even continue to hope for the support and network that seems to come so easily to my white counterparts and is such a struggle for me to achieve.
This is probably what had me in tears the most during this weekend. The fact that thoughts like this even exist. And the fact that so many black women bloggers feel the same way. It breaks my heart. And makes me wonder if this is place where I belong – in this “mom bloggers” world.
One of the nicest surprises of the conference was the first-ever event where the band, The Mrs., was launching their first single, Enough, at BlogHer. It was kind of wild because the song seemed like it was meant for me. I really do feel like the powers that be knew I needed that – and I’m sure I wasn’t alone.
SN: Definitely need to bring more tissue with me next time.
In addition to Arianna, I got to meet Guy Kawasaki, The Bloggess (who is absolutely fabulous with a hilarious best selling book that I’m currently reading), Peg Fitzpatrick, and Julie Deneen – both of whom I’ve been interacting with online for the past year.
I also got an opportunity to hear directly from Kerry Washington which was ahh-maze-balls. Like seriously, I’m a total gladiator so I cannot even describe how great it was to listen to Kerry talk about being a woman in the public eye, making decisions based on her core values, and speaking out on issues that matter most to her heart. I loved every second.
Another highlight was meeting Khloe Kardashian, who was a complete sweetheart. I'm not sure what I expected, I don't watch their reality shows or follow their lives, but she was very nice. Of course it didn't hurt that as I walked towards her she looked me in the face, smiled, and said "You're so pretty!" Yea, she's definitely my fave for life. :)
The icing on an already drool-worthy layered cake was Rev Run of Run DMC who performed at the closing party. I was in the front, then second, then third row (pushed around much?) but still had a great view of the King of Rap. My sister, who’s barely an eighties baby, has to be so jealous of me right now. I sent her this video of him performing one of her favorites just to make sure of it. Haha. I love her so. *insert innocently evil grin*
So for my first BlogHer conference, their tenth anniversary shindig blew me away. I was extremely impressed with their attention to detail and the power packed agenda. Although I had long booked my trip to BlogHer when I first met Elisa, one of the BlogHer co-founders, at the Blogging While Brown conference last month, meeting her there and seeing her again this weekend affirmed my commitment to her organization.
BlogHer'14 it was a total hit. I absolutely believe in and am inspired by what BlogHer stands for; and I will do everything I can to support and further their mission.