BlogHer '10: You Never Know Unless You Try

Several years ago, my local TV station had a blogging competition. The idea was to compete to earn a spot blogging at the first NH presidential primary debate in June of '07.  I assumed that I'd be one in a sea of participants, but as it turned out, I wasn't. There were 15 slots, if memory serves me correctly, and perhaps 24 bloggers, including myself. And I earned a spot--I got to attend both the Republican and Democrat debates and live-blog. What a thrill! It was fascinating to get the behind the scenes glimpse at this sort of event. I found that the tone and atmosphere were markedly different for each of the two evenings...I also learned that live-blogging is hard.

I'm not a good one for live-blogging. I massage my words too much, I mull over a turn of phrase, I backspace, re-type, cut/paste, drag/drop--in short I edit the crap out of my writing (yet still manage to let errors slip through!) and live-blogging simply harshes on my writing easy. But, you never know unless you try...

So, when President Obama was coming to Portsmouth, N.H. last summer, I put in for tickets. I knew I'd be one of thousands of requests, but I knew for sure that I couldn't go if I didn't even try to get tickets. Imagine my surprise when I got the call that I was selected to attend? Little ol' me in Podunk, NH.

Over the last few years I've tried a few things, and they've worked out pretty well. I'm a substitute teacher in the local schools, I'm on the PTG board at the kids school, and I just recently became Vice President of the Board for a non-profit child care center. Because I gave it a try, I have the opportunity to give back to the preschool that my son attended. An institution reliant on the United Way and donations to operate in an underserved area of NH. It is an amazing place, of which I am incredibly proud to be a part.

So on to my latest "you never know unless you try" experience.

Since I began blogging in 2006 (I think...) on my now defunct Peggy, as she is... blog, I was aware of BlogHer. I was thrilled to find this 'hub' of women blogging. I got my start surfing blogs via BlogHer--I wanted to read what other women were writing. I wanted to better understand the blogging world. I found amazing bloggers, women that share their viewpoints on topics that really matter to me.  Bloggers like Suzanne Reisman of C.U.S.S. fame, her feminist approach was like a breath of fresh air to me here in the uber-conservative town where I currently live...and Jenn Satterwhite, the wonderful and authentic woman behind Mommy Needs Coffee.  I found PunditMom, and was thrilled to devour Joanne Bamberger's mad writing skilz...and then Catherine Morgan, who hooked me with her political writing, but then I joyfully discovered that there was so much more!

Having found BlogHer...I was inspired! I wrote...and wrote...and built that blog and my audience. I slowly began to realize that what was a hobby was actually a lot more. It was a calling. Not necessarily limited to blogging, it was a call to writing.

And the conferences...I remember seeing all the badges on blogs--"BlogHer '06...I'm going!" "...I'm speaking!" and such--I felt a little left out, though attendance at such an event was certainly not in the cards for me at that time. Since then, '07, '08, '09 came and went. During '08 I hardly blogged at all. I didn't really feel as if I was missing out on the conference that year, but all the others left me with a little, "I wish..." feeling that lingered when I would see any reference to the conference [everywhere].

To be realistic, it had never really been in the old budget. A weekend away for a conference gets pricey: airfare, accommodations, registration fees and incidentals like food, and cabs and who-knows-what. Then there's the leaving of the kids on a weekday, seeing as I was at home with the kiddos during the week while my husband did that corporate gig that put food on the table, and a roof over our heads.

This year, I'm back into a bit of a groove, writing-wise (though I'm doing less blogging than I'd like, which I intend to change) and so when the BlogHer Conference call for volunteers was issued, I pondered the notion. And reminded myself that you never know...

Finances had held me back in the past. If I were to be accepted as a volunteer, my registration would be covered. That's a cool three bills (I would never have met the early bird deadline.) And the conference rate at the Hilton can not be beat for New York City. From my own corporate gig days, I also know that being in the hotel where the conference is held is key to making the most of the two days. Especially when you have work obligations to attend to during said conference.

Logistics are good: withthis year's conference in NYC, I can drive there from NH, it's only a few hundred milesl.  Driving is not my preference, though, so if I come into some money, there's always the Acela!

The only other thing previously holding me back was familial obligation. My kids will be going into 3rd and 1st grades this fall, so I really don't have any concerns about taking off for a long weekend over the summer any more. My husband being the really cool, supportive type, is all for me doing things that benefit me as an individual as well as that which may benefit my writing--so that's not an issue.

And, because I went ahead and did throw my hat in the volunteer ring for BlogHer '10, I'm pleased to share that I was offered a volunteership for the conference! After years of quietly pining to attend--I get to go, and I get to pitch in. See, this is a win all-around. I get to give back to a community that helped me get through the nervousness of being a newbie blogger back in the day. In exchange, I get to attend this amazing gathering with all manner of "lady blogger" imaginable!

Plus, I love to see the behind the scenes stuff that goes on. It doesn't matter if it's a training session, a PTG meeting, the non-profit board, or plain old corporate name it. I love to get a peek behind the curtain--it reminds me that we're all humans just doing what we can. Great works, great events--they happen because of all the individual folks behind that curtain. I love seeing that in action. LOVE it.

It's the same part of me that guiltily eavesdrops on conversations at neighboring tables in a restaurant. I want to understand people. I guess I just want to know how things work--sometimes those things are relationships, sometimes they are businesses--once in a while I pick up Mystery Shopping gigs for a few bucks--and sometimes they are events like Primary Debates or, BlogHer '10.

My sincerest thanks go to the women at BlogHer for offering me the chance to participate in the conference. I'm both flattered and thrilled that I was selected to work as a volunteer. To my fellow BlogHers attending the conference, I look forward to seeing you at the Registration table!

So, whattaya say to that? Maggie's headed to NYC this summer. Maybe I'll see if I can get a chance to audition for "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" while I'm in the city! I won't know, if I don't try...I just checked their site. Snap! Not currently scheduling auditions...must keep checking.

Are you going?  Have you gone before? More importantly, have you volunteered? Got any tips?


Just Margaret


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