Wow. I'm just so original with my post title there. I'm having enough trouble figuring out where to start and how to word this one without boring you to tears with my ah-hah moments and celebrity blogger staring stories, plus the important informative stuff about what I actually learned during my flying visit to Sydneytown. We need photos. And selfies. Apparently if you blog, you should be able to take a great selfie. I apologise in advance - usually I have plenty of people around me to take photos of.. and I NEVER wear hot pink lipstick. The lipstick alone was worthy of a selfie. This being alone thing makes you do strange things.
This trip was a big deal for me. Not only because I have been recognised among some truly talented writers in the blogosphere in the Voices of 2013 line up, but mainly because it was the first time I would fly solo and spend a night away from my children. The first time since I became a mother, nearing six years ago. Quite sure there was a collective gasp! there from some of you, but there it is. Spending time alone, when you are rarely ever that way, is a strange thing indeed. I don't remember how quiet my life was before children. I spoke to many other mamas over the weekend that felt the same struggle between yearning for a break - some down time, quiet time, rejuvenation time. And then when they got it? Wondered why they needed it. Because it's so quiet, and lonely and just altogether uneasy. I wonder if I will ever be good at it?
I boarded my plane with carry on luggage. DID YOU EVER? One case, one handbag. No nappies, colouring books, dolls, matchbox cars or bribery. Snacks for one and I still packed the wipes. Because I don't think I will ever stop buying those babies. I flipped quickly through a shameful gossip mag of celebrities and as I read, wondered why I had spent my $4 supporting such rubbish. Because I could. That's why. Because I was to sit on a plane for over an hour, responsible only for myself. I was not monitor of small feet being stuck into the back of someone's chair, or shoosh-er of loud little voices. Once I knew who was pregnant, whose life is falling apart, who made the worst dressed list for the week (Madonna, seriously. You cannot wear JUST knickers to an event, no matter how famous or fabulous you are!), I stuck my head in a novel. Maybe I'm getting carried away. Is a biography a novel? Who the hell cares. It had size 12 font and not a picture of a truck, dinosaur or Peppa Pig in sight.
The ladies at Kidspot know how to put on a good show. Two, actually. I attended the blogging masterclass in the afternoon, held at uber cool The School, followed by the official launch party in the evening. Prior to the masterclass I killed some time at Kitchen by Mike between a coffee and the most decadent almond croissant I've ever demolished, some clicking and hellos with other bloggers who came through the door in a steady stream. I spied Jodi in the food queue on my way to the loo and we hugged as if we were old friends, not meeting for the very first time. Soon after, I bumped into the back of a short, dark haired woman on my way into the masterclass. As she spun around and I began to apologise we both stopped dead and then she flung her arms around me as if we were long lost friends! Sonia is a beautiful little bundle of pure joy. PURE joy.
This post could go on forever (which evidently, it turned out to anyway) so I should chop it down a bit with a highlights reel..
meeting (and/or just staring at) so many wonderfully inspiring women that I have read and watched online for so long (Jodi, Kellie, Greer, Sonia, Lexi, Mel, Bron, Maxabella, Pip, Katrina to name a few);
realising Hailey Bartholomew was keynote speaker for the masterclass;
being moved to tears by Hailey's words and film;
being sandwiched between Jodi and Kellie for the afternoon;
having a lovely chat with the beautiful - and tall! - Greer;
seeing the differences in the way bloggers see their blogs and their purpose;
saying in my head as I met other bloggers my god, you're EXACTLY like I thought you would be;
listening to Pip ask her panel how not to have an ugly-ass blog;
feeling proud that I do not have an ugly-ass blog;
listening to Pip full stop;
watching Maxabella OWN her panel (that woman is Fabulous - capital F);
being in such a positive atmosphere and feeling like I deserved to be there.
The nuts and bolts of the actual blogging discussions left me feeling as though I may not take my little space here as seriously as others when talk of stats and traffic, and brand meets blog arose. Even some technical terms I had no clue about. I tuned out here and there, taking moments to scribble down Hailey's words that were left ringing in my ears after being too engaged by her to write anything down as she spoke. MAKE IT A PRIORITY. WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS. PUSH THROUGH THE HARD PARTS. KEEP GOING. MAKE SURE YOU LOVE IT. And all the while, as she spoke, I wasn't thinking of my space here, I was thinking of my other space. The space I would never have had, or had the courage to have, without the birth of this little space. They are entwined and forever will be. I could not have one without the other.
I ummed and ahhed about whether to make the trip to Sydney. Purely expense related. Did I really need to go? Because of a blog? A BLOG? My husband said yes, yes I did need to go. And that was that. Even as I boarded the plane, sat reading my book with my headphones in, I felt a little uneasy at the expense of the next thirty hours. An expense that fell on top of a rare triple mortgage repayment month plus every utility and registration renewal possible. When I checked into the hotel and made my way up to my room, the quiet stillness that welcomed me was deafening. I stood and looked around me, then turned the box on for some noisy comfort. In house movie channel. Made a mental note to watch Silver Linings Playbook when I got home. Or anything with Bradley Cooper in it. I checked my phone and called my sister to assure her that yes, my oven was normal and no, it didn't run hot/cold like her ancient beast. We went from discussions of roast chook and my happy, well taken care of smalls, to an overwhelming flood of tears that I couldn't hold in. In that moment the money evaporated. In that moment, I realised my husband had been right. Yes, yes I did need to come. I needed to come and internally jump for joy as I saw Hailey's name on the program as keynote speaker. I needed to see her and hear her words. And more than that - to feel her words. Nothing but pure honesty and emotion poured from her every pore and I drank it in as if I were the only one in the room.
Usually, when emotion takes hold, I grab my camera. Being the only one in the room to photograph, I thought I should document my cloudy eyes and happy heart at the revelation that had presented itself to me in that poorly lit, beiger than beige hotel bathroom.
A coffee and two mandarins helped stem the flow of tears. I enjoyed an uninterrupted hot shower and was pleased to see the hot pink lipped face staring back at me in the mirror as I readied myself for a night in heels. Toilet backdrop, atrociously bad lighting and all.
My small talk and get-to-know-you chat skills are very average. I live in my little bubble between home, school, kindy and friends. These skills are scarcely needed. However, this is changing. Being welcomed into strangers' homes to photograph the most intimate and sacred of family moments and spaces, means these very average skills are being tested, and forced to improve. Stat. While I skimmed the room repeatedly throughout the evening launch party, taking it all in, I stayed close to a group of lovely women who chatted and laughed together easily. I thought I would be able to cooly walk up and introduce myself to Beth and Lexi, who I have been reading and loving since I discovered what a blog was. But apparently not. I forgot to wear my big girl panties. Next time I will remember them.
The party atmosphere was buzzing. You could almost taste the positivity in the air. Mums let loose for a night on the town and - gasp! - a glass of bubbles or two. There was beautiful food and fancy cars to look at, laughter and smiles wherever you looked. Conversations were had with truly wonderful women. As we bid farewell, we were sent home with yet another hefty goodie bag to add to the one received after the masterclass. I wondered how much of it I would manage to stuff in my little blue case to take home. You would never think my tiny muscles could do it, but somehow I managed to make my luggage appear as though it was light as a feather so as not attract any attention to myself when boarding the flight home - when in actual fact I thought my arms may snap off. Fairly certain my handbag alone was well over my 10kg carry on limit.
Another hot shower and I slid in to bed. I lay in the dark room lit gently by the glare of Ashton Kutcher and Valentine's Day. My body was weary, my feet a little sore. My brain was tired, in the best kind of way. Yes, yes indeed, I did need to come.
This is my wrap post for the Kidspot Voices of 2013 Masterclass and Official Launch Party. It is long and detailed for my own benefit, because that is the way I need to remember it.