A few thoughts from the heart of Manhattan...
1) I adore this city. I could never live here. When I was 22 and certain I was destined to be on MTV, I DREAMED about living here. (Now... it is more of a nightmare). But I LOVE visiting here... for just long enough to make me miss the city I'm having my REAL love affair with (it's been going on for about 10 years), Minneapolis.
2) I love BlogHer. I love being surrounded by so many smart, verbose, spectacular women... so different, unique, diverse, special, fabulous, welcoming, warm, supportive... if there is snark here, I've yet to see it.
3) I'm self conscious here. Which is weird. I'm not a shy girl. I am usually the ice breaker. But here... for some reason I shrink a little bit. Everybody seems to know each other, and i know nobody (in 2007 I knew more people, and there were more fitness / weight loss focused topics and events -- this year, not many, and not many travel related either). You are definitely either "in", "out", or "in between" here, and I'm definitely in between.
4) I had a great lunch with the "Birds of a Feather" travel blogger group -- met some people that I've interacted with online for work. Met a woman who was very familiar with a huge promotion I recently did. This put a huge smile on my face.
5) While I don't always love assigned seating, it was nice at lunch today to have a space I belonged in, rather than just randomly sitting down with strangers.
6) The Keynote tonight was the Voice of the Community bloggers -- OMG. I cried. A lot. These women... they are so strong, so beautiful, so powerful. We heard about the Holocaust . Gay adoption / motherhood. Breast Cancer. Weight / body image issues. Every time I thought it couldn't be more emotional it was.
7) 2500 crying women in one room? Way. Too. Much. Estrogen.
8) I have learned a lot from some very smart people -- always a big fan of that.
9) I'm running out of wine, so it is time to wrap up and go mingle... I've been hiding out for the last 20 minutes, recharing my batteries (both literally and figuratively).
10) (Deep breath) If this is the only thing I take from this conference, it is way more than good enough for me... the following quote was delivered during an incredibly moving keynote presentation about a photography project in Rwanda about Hope:
"Hope inspires action, yet requires great patience, a certain amount of faith, and a wide open space to help you prepare for what is to come."
It smacks of Virginia Wolfe's Room of One's Own ("all a woman needs is money, and a room of her own, in order to be a writer"), but with a more selfless, hopeful, gratitude-filled message. It brought me to tears... along with about 2500 other women (did I mention the estrogen? Pretty sure my menstrual cycle will never be the same after being in the same room as this many females). It is a message -- HOPE -- that we don't think about, pay attention to, or allow often enough.
It is okay to hope . It is okay to dream. It is okay to give it your all... to be "foolish" in your goals and ambitions.
Off and running,
*#10 dedicated to my late Uncle Terry, who I think about during moments like this; moments where he would smile, laugh, live, love, and SHINE.