The Moments That Stick

This past week has been more of a sweeping experience than a calendar of days. Now that it’s over, I have these stills–like brain snapshots of certain moments–that float from my head to my heart and back again.

I had been preparing for the very first BlogU Conference for, gosh, over a year now. Not only was I looking forward to helping other writers and bloggers like I’ve been helped over the years, I was going to get to meet some long-time online friends in person for the first time. It was also to be the first time I spoke at a conference.

Now that it’s all over, here were the moments that stuck with me the most:

1. Coming across a big circle of attendees who decided to hold their own Open Mic in the dorm.
The faculty that was creeping with me down the hall and saw this happening really wanted to jump in, but knew this was the attendees’ time to shine–not ours. We hovered, listening, throwing each other looks that said, “HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE THIS??” Many of our eyes were filled with tears.
Then it happened again the next night.
Seeing this organically happen was my #1 highlight of the weekend. It was so beautiful to witness.

Janel Mills @649point133 in tears telling the attendees how much we loved seeing this.

Janel Mills @649point133 in tears telling the attendees how much we loved seeing this.

 

2. Watching people learn from my friends.
I’ve known how amazing they are for ages now. Seeing them share what they know with others as I sit back and watch? Seeing their involvement in the conference make it so special for everyone involved? Wow. Just…wow.

3. Watching people actually take notes in the sessions I was teaching.
Yes, I know my stuff. But this was the first time I formally taught at a conference, so looking up from my slides to see writers and bloggers I respect making sure they wrote down the things I was saying? Mind-blowing. They heard me, and it felt damn good.

4. Moderating the keynote with my writing partner.
Nicole Leigh Shaw and I were entrusted with setting the tone of “Colleagues, Not Competition.” The keynote panel consisted of not only our friends, but successful women who had the information that the audience paid to hear. It was up to us to draw it out of them. They trusted us, the rest of the faculty believed in us enough to let us just run with it.
I felt like I had the best seat in the house at that podium, even though I was standing. From there I could see the faces of the attendees totally engaged. I saw some “Aha!” moments in their expressions, I saw spines straighten, I saw belief in their potential increase.
It was an honor to experience it all in the way I did.

"Colleagues, Not Competition" keynote moderators: me and Nicole Leigh Shaw.

“Colleagues, Not Competition” keynote moderators: me and Nicole Leigh Shaw.

 

5. Over and over again moments of kindness, generosity, and giving.
People shared cabs, notes, cupcakes. Strangers let others go in line before them, offered to loan phone chargers, crimped one anothers’ hair. Everywhere I turned, people were in it together, connecting and helping one another move forward.
Sometimes even literally.
Due to an ongoing foot injury, I was on crutches much of the time, and in a wheelchair when outside. I lost track of the number of people who happily pushed my chair between buildings, carried my crutches or bag, offered to get me my meals or coffee, held doors, carried my wheelchair up/down stairs. Not just people I know or who knew me–everyone helped me out. I had worried my cast foot, crutches, and wheelchair would be a hinderance this past weekend. Everyone around me made absolutely sure it wasn’t.
I can’t thank those of you who helped–or offered help–enough.

 

6. Meeting long-time fans and fellow bloggers.
Since I wasn’t very mobile, a lot of people would come up to me and say, “I’m such-and-such from XYZ blog,” and I WOULD KNOW EXACTLY WHO THEY WERE. I tried to be professional and shake hands, but sometimes I just couldn’t and I’d hug them and say something terribly inappropriate because I’ve wanted to meet them in person for so long.
I love meeting writers whose work I admire. I love meeting fans who I’ve seen following along. I don’t know how well I can articulate that, because all the faces are rushing by me right now and I feel overwhelmed with gratitude that I got to spend time with them all.

7. It was weird that being with all the BlogU faculty wasn’t weird.
There are about 31 BlogU14 faculty members. We talk online every day, and have for over a year–and before that, most of us have talked online elsewhere for years. Before this past weekend, I’ve met all but 5 of them–but we’ve NEVER been all together at the same time.
And yet one by one as we arrived, it was as if we’ve all known each other in person forever. Hugs, tears, stories, familiarity. My sisters in this world of writing, blogging, becoming who we want to be. We’d all end up in the room together for meetings, and laugh at how normal it seemed, despite the fact that we’re strange internet friends who are usually littered about the country.
This is what we hope attendees of our conference will have one day.
It’s why BlogU exists.

 

8. Just being ourselves together, no matter who that is.
NickMom threw us a Retro Prom and everyone showed up in their true colors. Everyone gave everyone else free pass to be themselves.
The music, the mood, I think it all encouraged those who weren’t ready in the light of day to introduce themselves to new people to get up and do so. Lots of connections made, lots of friendships blossomed in the orange and purple disco lights. It’s easy to be brave when the person you want to meet is dressed in a mothball-scented poufy gown with a giant bow on her butt.
Also? Lots of hilarious photos were taken.

 

You know what? I think that was the whole point: Just be yourself & take the chances you want to take the moment you see it’s time.

Each of us deserves to feel valued, heard, and important, no matter who were are, no matter where we’ve been, no matter where we’re going.

And it’s even more fun getting there when we have others cheering us on our way.

Thank you to everyone who attended BlogU14, helped spread the word, or encouraged your friends to take the chance to attend.

Thank you to the BlogU14 faculty. Every one of you was an integral part of making this weekend special for me. I will never forgot this experience.

Thank you to each of you who came up to me this past weekend to talk, whether it was to introduce yourself or ask a question. It was my pleasure to meet you–so very, very much my pleasure.

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The BlogU14 Conference Moments That Stuck by Kim Bongiorno

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Comments

Comments

  1. says

    A great summary, Kim! I’m so glad it meant as much for you as a faculty member as it did for us learners. And, heck yeah I took notes! That’s cuz your presentation was excellent. I mean, I was really impressed with the writing steps you outlined and gave clever names to. Very helpful and useful.

    Can’t wait til next year!

    Lillian

  2. says

    I absolutely LOVE the courses – I definitely acquired some girl crushes there, you’re one of them! I loved your take on walking away when writing, I feel it’s so important to the whole process to get a fresh perspective. And the whole bit about using your senses when writing – will be incorporating that more in my writing. :) It was so great learning from you Kim and hope to see you again next year! Happy Hump Day -Iva
    AwesomelyOZ recently posted..What You COULD Have LearnedMy Profile

  3. says

    It was wonderful to read this and see BlogU through your eyes – you captured it all succinctly and eloquently. It was a life-changing and recharging experience for me. Thank you for being such an inspiration and a damned nice person!

    • says

      I loved meeting you! You were so sweet to thank me for sharing your work–I think it was the bed rest piece and something else, right? I need coffee, then maybe I’ll remember. But of COURSE I shared because it was damn good. Never be surprised that people see your talents. Really. it’s so obviously you’ve got the chops.
      I’m glad you enjoyed BlogU! See you around the www!

  4. says

    As much as I told myself I wasn’t going to read recaps because the jealousy would have me shooting staples at my screen, I couldn’t resist. Jealous? Yes, of course. But also so happy that it went well and was such a success. I think “Colleagues, not Competition” should just be a general theme with blogging (most of the time.) We could all use a little more love ;)
    Abby recently posted..High-Tech HypochondriaMy Profile

  5. says

    I made this comment on facebook already but wanted to say again that walking away feeling like fellow bloggers were a community of amazing people and not competitors was the best lesson I could have learned.

    Looking forward to BlogU15!
    Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal

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