You can find many, many posts on the interwebs right now about the BlogHer conference that happened this past weekend in New York. Detailed and descriptive in ways that I can never dare compete with. So I won’t. Besides everyone’s conference experience is different. My weekend was euphoric and it was amazing and in little pocket moments I was disappointed.

I got to New York last wednesday — arriving in time to attend a pre, pre conference cocktail party with an entrepreneur flavor. There I was able to land my eyes on some of my most favorite people from BlogHer, some that I have now known for years and some that I have only recently begun to get to know within my inbox and twitter stream. It was a damp and raining night in New York and the event was close enough to union square that after the final speech had been given I convinced a nice group to go to a place I used to go to all the time in college for dinner.

Thursday I spent the day in Pathfinder sessions honing in on why I love blogging so much and recognizing how much it has been here propping me up through so much of my life. I connected with more favorite people and relished the quiet pre conference lull of time.

Oh and then there was President Obama!

Following the President’s speech (seriously!) I worked at the kiosk on the expo floor for the startup that I work for. It was jam packed and a million degrees and around a bajillion bloggers (ok, actually it was five thousand – BUT STILL). It was nice to be a part of the conference from the outside to the inside and then back to the outside again – in terms of as a writer, a blogger, a reader, a company…

I loved, loved, LOVED doing the blog design audits in the Geek Bar. It ended up not being as much about specific design issues as much as intention issues and being able to to identify why you blog and who your blog is for. I turned the sessions into a group involved one so that everyone could make observations about the sites we audited – I hope it was helpful.

{Side note – there is a very funny story about one of the first sites that I audited, but that is another story for another day. I am planning on going into more detail about those sessions later – I told everyone that attended the sessions that I would audit their site and since we were at beyond capacity I have a lot of work to do before I can get anecdotal here. But it is a good story, promise.}

There were a LOT of bloggers at this conference and a lot of people who were thinking about being bloggers. There was a statistic given on the 1st night that about 50% of the people attending the conference were new to blogging. That is kind of HUGE. I love new bloggers. I get really excited when I find out that someone has found this world. But I don’t like the assumption that this is a ticket to freebies. Blogging is a craft. You can see it as a hobby or a profession – but there are skills and lessons involved that will make you better. Buying a URL and creating business cards is not the only thing to do.

This is my way of saying that there were some people I met at this conference that broke my heart. I overheard things that made me step back. I left conversations with rushed apologies when I knew I could not bite my tongue.

Because blogging is important to me. It is not trivial. It is not camp. It is not a way to get shampoo.

It saved my life.

Which brings me to the out of body part of the weekend – the voices of the year part. I get emotional thinking about every single aspect of this. From the email finding out that I had been chosen. The anxiety over finding something to wear. The panic over the realization that I was going to have to stand in front of thousands (give or take) of people and read my truth. And that I probably would not be allowed to have my hair in a bun.

I was placed inside a loving chamber by BlogHer — led by Polly and Shannon and back patted by Elisa — my friends (those with me at the conference and those cheering me from afar) were propping me up and carrying me to the stage. As I waited back stage I bit the inside of my cheek and focused on the first word of my post to keep from crying.

And then suddenly it was my turn. I was on stage. It was amazing. I loved every minute of it.

(and I am so thankful my friends were in the front row! Julia was able to grab video of it so I can share. WOO!)

And when I walked off the stage (hoisting up my dress because I was SO PARANOID that I would trip) I felt like I could do anything in the world.

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