On a hot July weekend in the summer of 2008, I volunteered to work at our church festival. My husband was running our, first-ever, casino night and I shuffled between volunteer registration, watching my kids and helping in the poker tent. I was sweaty, dirty, tired and covered in bug spray.
But, all of those things were good because they helped to keep my mind off of the fact that I was missing a blog conference taking place on the other side of the country.
BlogHer ’08 was in San Francisco that weekend and it crushed me to see the pictures of the parties and read about all of the knowledge being shared.
Most of all, I was missing some of my favorite people on the internet get up and read their moving, touching and hilarious blog posts at the Community Keynote. I watched their videos on You Tube after the fact and cried alone at my desk.
When I heard that BlogHer ’09 would be in Chicago I really wanted to go, but 2009 was a rough year for us and I didn’t see it in the cards. Then I got a volunteer position, which paid for my ticket. Then I got a car to borrow from GM and they paid for my gas and the $48 a day parking at the conference. Then my roommate got a scholarship and paid for the room. I was going to MAKE money going to Chicago!
Since my costs were covered, I turned my attention to the Community Keynote. I wanted to read. Bad. I wanted to tell as many people as I could about what it was like to have a special needs child like mine. I needed to be heard. I sent post after post to the judging committee. I sent sad stories, funny stories and inspirational stories.
I was devastated when I was turned down. Even though I was happy for my friends who would be reading, I was still sad that I wouldn’t.
That was until, on the day of the Community Keynote in Chicago, my friend Tanis read her post. Tanis is a special needs mom too. She’s a really, special, special-needs mom and she read a post that tore my heart apart. I sat at a table and cried so hard that I couldn’t even see through my tears. This time, however, I wasn’t sitting alone.
Suddenly, the fact that I wasn’t reading didn’t matter one bit. Someone had told my story and she did a beautiful job of it. Everyone around me knew I was crying because the story Tanis told touched me on a deep and personal level. The Community Keynote made me…well, it made me feel part of a community and every member of that community has a story to tell.
Last year, with BlogHer’10 coming up in NYC, I decided again to submit some posts for the Keynote (now called Voices of the Year). At that point, with my son’s health more stable, I had a different story to tell. I didn’t get to tell it.
But, you know what? It was okay. It didn’t sting like the first time and the people who did read last year were just what the community wanted and needed to hear. I enjoyed every second of it.
This year, BlogHer’11 is in San Diego and when it came time to submit posts for Voices of the Year I didn’t give it much thought. I sent over one or two posts and didn’t hold my breath. After all, I’m a contract employee for BlogHer and I didn’t want anyone to think they would play favorites, because they wouldn’t. The judging committee is nothing, if not fair.
And, do you know what happened? SOMEONE ELSE nominated me. I was so touched, but I never thought I would be chosen. Never. Ever.
Wanna guess who tied for People’s Choice?
ME! People’s Choice!
To say I was shocked was an understatement. I could barely breathe. I was sweating. I was thrilled. My friend, Melisa, recently told me that “when you stop searching for something, you will find it” and that’s exactly what happened. She’s one smart cookie.
I will be one of 15 people, chosen from nearly 1000 post nominations, to read in front of about 3000 people. Gulp.
For the people who weren’t picked this year, who may have stories similar to mine, I hope I do you justice the way that Tanis did me and I hope that you, too, will have this moment someday. I really do.
Because I, for one, really want to hear your story.