I have been going to BlogHer since 2005 when no one had any idea what a “BlogHer” was. (Okay, technically, I was not physically at BlogHer’10 but I claim honorary attendee with Elisa’s blessing.) This year was probably my favorite year ever. I was honored to speak on an amazing panel with BusyMom and Kathryn Finney moderated by Kyran Pittman named Change Yourself – Old-School Bloggers: Beginner to Big-Time to Burnout and Everywhere in Between . (You can read it there but I warn you: It is a rough transcript. I really am more eloquent. And? My Southern drawl seems to have thrown off the live blogging. You’ll get the idea, though.) What an honor it was to speak on a panel again. For me, this was not a regular panel. For me, it was like coming home. When I looked out at the people who attended our session, I became choked up. I saw so many faces of friends and fellow bloggers I have come to know and love over the years. It was humbling that they took time out of their day to listen and contribute to our panel. (Thank you, friends!)
The first night in San Diego, my iPhone died. (Let us have a moment of silence.) After the weeping & panicked racing around our room clutching the phone to my chest, my sweet (and patient) roommate, BusyMom, tweeted out that I was phoneless and freaking out. Possibly to get sympathy from those who know what a freaking out and phoneless Jenn must be like but more likely because she is good that way. Big deal, right? Oh, it became a huge deal.
I was told to meet someone outside the expo hall. Imagine my surprise when I was blessed by the #ATTPhoneFairy. What does that mean? It means that the wonderful people with AT&T (not sure if I can give the PR rep a shout-out or not but I LOVE her!) came up to me and gave me a new HP Veer 4G complete with a SIM card good and taken care of by AT&T for 30-days for me to keep. To keep forever & ever. My reaction was totally professional. I cried like a baby when I realized what she was doing for me. Let me just say, being at a conference away from my family and not having any way to keep in touch with them. Or not being able to connect with your roommates is really tough at a conference the size of BlogHer. I still get a bit teary that they were so kind to bless me that way. Thank you, ATTPhoneFairy!
But wait, it gets better. My laptop died before I went to BlogHer. Died. Dead. She’s dead, Jim. So here I am heading off to a blogging conference without a laptop. (I know. The horror!) Again, much to my surprise and happiness, I was blessed with a loaner laptop from Lenovo. They sent me an Ideapad U260 as a loaner so I wouldn’t be without a laptop. (I’ve worked with Lenovo as a member of their advisory counsel but making sure this loaner got to me overnight was above and beyond. Thank you Lenovo!) I had every intention of blogging every night but that is just not realistic with the way my schedule was those 5 days. But, I have to at least admit I did take the opportunity to Skype with my daughter back home. That melted my heart and made me feel so happy to “share her” with my friends. I was connected even though I was half a country away.
When my sandals broke outside the expo hall, I was given a pair of shoes so I wouldn’t have to walk barefoot around the convention hall and hotel. (*shudder*) This is how the entire weekend went. It seemed as if as soon as I had something go wrong, there was someone blessing me with something to replace what was lost. And, yes, I cried with each blessing I was given.
I was able to meet PR people I have worked with in person and thank them for their hard work. I was able to connect with reps who have blessed me by inviting me on the blogger junkets. I got to hug the people I have worked with for years but only get to see at events like this if I am lucky. I met new people I want to work with in the future. I hid from horrible costumed characters with new friends at the GotMilk booth. I gained (and then lost) custody of Harrison Ford with a milk mustache. (But, for the record here and now, my name is first on the list for the next GotMilk Milk Mustache man. It has been declared and tweeted. And? Truth be told I was pining for any of the Got Milk people. I’d be happy this year with Taylor Swift. But alas, I am Milk Mustache-less this year. ha!) What I did leave with was amazing memories of laughing with new reps & friends. And a cool mug with a Starbucks card. Awesome.
I met with Pressman Toys who wanted to scare me with their costumed character but instead they blessed me with a new game called Coffee Talk. For real! Mommy Needs Coffee will be able to play a game called Coffee Talk. The world is good. (And a Smurf did not bite my arm!)
But wait. There’s more.
- A blogger who didn’t even know me offered me her Papa Smurf stuffed toy for my daughter.
- A vendor gave me 2 brand new 3DS games simply because we enjoyed talking about gaming, games and the 3DS
- When I had only $6 to my name and no one left at the hotel that I knew and my ATM card would no longer work in any ATM in California due to recent fraud, the Marriott staff worked with me to get a cash advance so I could get home.
- I was given a Starbucks card just so that I could enjoy my afternoon after a rough morning. Just handed to me.
- When I burst into tears after the last of my “sisters” left the hotel, a blogger I don’t even know who probably didn’t even know me, wrapped her arms around me and let me cry.
- When my flight was delayed over an hour and half, another passenger bought me a sandwich at Starbucks.
Some of those things may seem so small but to me they were huge. Added up, they filled up a very empty, broken spirit. Those things really did renew my faith in people.
BlogHer’11 was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. And though the amazing pay it forward moments I was blessed with, it was the time I spend with the people I love that renewed my broken spirit and healed my broken heart. That part of the wrap up will come in photos next. (Yes, you do have to endure another post BlogHer wrap up. Deal.)