I have been blogging and writing for three and a half (!) years. During that time, I have found other blogs to read and comment on, and other bloggers have found me and commented on mine. When the same people not only consistently show up, but start sharing your work, you consider them "friends."
Even though you have never met them.
Waiting for me at the end of a very expensive cab ride were a dozen women I have never met face-to-face, but correspond with every day via computer. I jokingly wrote a Facebook status about being "catfished" - the term for when someone has created an online presence just to fool someone. But, I rolled my huge suitcase into the Cheesecake Factory and a dozen real, flesh and blood women squealed, jumped up, and showered me with hugs and kisses.
Right away I was able to put faces to the names I have been seeing everyday on my computer. These women, who have done everything from give me advice on how to do a sponsored post to share my words with their readers and help me gain new followers to change their profile pictures to yellow stripey kittens on Joey's diagnosis day, went from being "friends" to being friends.
I met the rest of our BlogU planning group the next day - more hugs, more kisses, more comfort. As the weekend went on, we talked and interacted with easy familiarity. Yes, online friendships are real! As attendees to the first ever Blog University conference arrived, I saw many more women I recognized from the internet. So much hugging, so much love ("I know you! Yes! I read your blog!"). Some people I recognized on sight; others, who may not put their faces out there, I recognized by name.
No matter how many times someone called me by name or said they read my blog or read me on Mamalode or know my story, I couldn't help being surprised every time. But the thing was, everyone was like that to everyone. We all had someone we were "fangirling" over. I definitely wanted to meet Anna of An Inch of Gray. I was drawn in by her tragic story of losing her son, and I've stayed on her blog for her sweet and often inspirational words. Talking to her this weekend was like a testament to our resiliency. Even though you're grieving, you can still have fun. You NEED to have fun and forget sometimes.
|We've all suffered unimaginable losses, but we lift each other up|
and go on. From left, Jessica of Four Plus an Angel, Courtney of
Our Small Moments, Me, and Anna from An Inch of Gray.
Another blogger I had to meet was fellow boy mom Bethany Meyer of I Love Them the Most When They're Sleeping and co-contributor to I Just Want to Be Alone. I had a blast talking to her about dirty boy laundry and how our houses always smell like feet and pee. That mom can bust a move, too! Her boys would be proud (or mortified, depending on their age).
I met several new bloggers and several established bloggers; but the one thing that was clear was that everyone was there not only to learn and grow their brand, but to connect and meet each other. Girls weekend anyone? NickMom helped firmly cement that by throwing the most totally gnarly, bitchin', rad retro prom there ever was. I'm assuming it was better than everyone's real prom - I never went to mine (loser, I know). There was a little drama and tears about boys in the bathroom, but I'll talk about that tomorrow. It was just proof we were there because we see this blogging thing as a way to bring us all together rather than just one more thing that women use to tear each other down. Everyone had a blast and really showed their creative sides with costumes and dance moves and funny drama.
I had to leave early in the morning before the closing ceremonies, so I was sad about that. But I am so confident that my relationships with these women all over the blogosphere will continue to flourish for a very long time thanks to meeting them at BlogU. It's hard to explain exactly why I feel such a connection to these women, but I think it's because none of my real life friends have a child with autism or have lost a child. In many ways, these women just "get me" more than anyone I know. It feels safe and comforting, and everyone needs that in their lives.
I was raving so much about meeting my fan girl crushes and how I finally got to go to prom, that Hubby asked me, "Well, did you learn anything?" And the answer is a resounding YES! In fact, our presenters had so much information to give that the conference could have been longer. That and the lack of bacon at breakfast were the only complaints I heard.
Hopefully founder and owner Stephanie Giese of Binkies and Briefcases will make this conference a yearly thing (that's the idea). If you're a blogger or writer and are interested in learning more, just search for #blogu2014 or #getschooled on social media to see all the pictures and all the great things attendees and faculty are saying about the conference.
|Our faculty at prom (of course, I'm the one not looking).|
Photo courtesy of Kelley's Break Room.