Kindness is what sets Blissdom apart from other conferences. I felt that personal connection last year as a newbie. Shannon’s (I’m not speaking in third person here; Blissdom has a gravitational pull for all Canadian Shannons) ever helpful, patient presence in the Facebook group leading up to Blissdom squished my nerves. We all know what it’s like to believe you’re the only loser in a large group of people without a person. It takes guts to launch solo into something—even as an extrovert.
I was lucky to find three kindred spirits last year. Other than that ridiculous flight and the stolen shuttle ride to the hotel, I had homies who gave me a sense of belonging and connectedness. I didn’t have to be brave alone. Doing Blissdom with my Tara, my Laura, and my Tricia knit the experience into my heart’s memory. It took the conference from good to soul feeding. And because humans tend to be ego-centric, I assumed everyone was blissing out.
When I read the 2013 recap posts, I discovered it wasn’t true. Some attendees wrote about spending the conference feeling isolated, unable to break in. And as much as we lament that things are what you make of them, sometimes we get stuck inside ourselves. It happens and I get it.
If I didn’t have pals pulling me out of my head, I would have had my own dreary recap post. It’s tricky to be surrounded by gobs of people doing exactly what you’re doing and attempt to maintain any sense of originality. As Sharon DeVellis said, “Stop thinking what you do is special. There are dogs who blog. Who you are, you experiences, the voice you bring – that’s special.”
So it’s uber thoughtful that Jennifer and Shannon paid attention to last year’s lost souls and got proactive this year with an army of little kindness soldiers. I saw community leaders taking the charge seriously. Whenever I turned around, they were talking to someone new and drawing in the stragglers. I can’t speak for all of us, but I met some lovely folks that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
“Be someone’s discovery of kindness in the world.” —Anastasia Basil
Along with being a community leader and running a micro-session, I was invited to read my pig story at the Power Hour. The catch? I had to read it in seven minutes or less. It was over 2000 words. On average, a person can read 100 words a minute, which means MATH.
With the help of my friend Cori, I shaved off 400 words, which equaled still too many words. When I was fretting to Shannon (a THIRD one, you guys), she said, “It’s a good story. Don’t worry about the time. People are going to want to hear it.” Shannons are the fucking BEST.
There were six of us presenting that hour. I was the only one not sharing an inspirational message with slides. The four presenters before me left everyone in the room with wet (face) cheeks. I wanted to shuffle over and sing Shannon the One of These Things song from Sesame street. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING I DON’T BELONG HERE OMG THEY’RE GOING TO BOO ME OUT OF THE ROOM.
But, my picture was already in the brochure, so what the hell.
I had to hold a microphone and an iPad, making it impossible to hide my hand tremors. I made sure to look up and make eye contact with my audience, but you know that thing when you look at someone but you’re not actually looking at them; you’re fake-looking-at-them while you shit your pants because who the hell thought this was a good idea? Yeah, that. So I had zero clue what people were thinking or feeling. I was so nervous I couldn’t hear anything except my squeakier-than-normal voice. I can’t even tell you if people clapped when I got off the stage, man.
But then a kind lady took the time to tell me my writing reminded her of her favourite comedy writer (WHO WAS IT I CAN’T REMEMBER?!). And another kind lady WROTE AN ENTIRE POST ABOUT THE IMPACT I HAD ON HER. Which, you know, is cool and stuff. (Thank you from my toes, Natasha.)
I’m not one of the big deal bloggers, but Blissdom picked me anyway. And that felt amazing, friends. Especially when I so often forget to pick myself. Or talk myself out of picking myself.
I almost didn’t go to Blissdom this year. Since leaving teaching to start a business, I feel less justified to invest in things like conferences. But at the August Blissdom tweet-up party in Surrey, Jennifer challenged me to approach a sponsor.
“Oh no. I couldn’t do that. I don’t know any sponsors. I’m not even sure I have readers.”
“Sure you do. What products do you use and love?”
“Perfect! You love them, you already promote them—it’s a no-brainer!”
“You really think they’d go for it?”
And so I did. With Julie’s help, I put together a package of what I would offer in exchange for sponsorship, and BAMO: I’m an official DivaCup ambassador. So thanks DivaCup for believing in me. For helping me attend a conference that has fuelled my heart and my courage two years in a row. For giving me even more reasons to spread the good Diva news and love.
I’ll be giving away a couple of DivaCup prize packs next week. Watch for it!
Other awesome Blissdom 2013 moments:
- finally hugging Jessica after being brought together by a toque
- meeting and chatting with Elan, Annie, Natasha
- introducing my BluntMom homies to my beloved roomies
- getting photobombed by Chris Read
- drawing and being drawn by The Animated Woman
Thanks Blissdom Canada. I heart you.