BlogHer, Voices Of The Year, and How My Switch Was Flipped

Four years ago, I stood in front of a group of BlogHer '08 attendees in a ballroom in San Francisco and took part in the conference's first Community Keynote before it became better known as Voices Of The Year. I faced the largest group of people I had ever faced, I think there were 800 of them, and I read them a blog entry I wrote just a year before that expressed the deep fear I had had about my cancer and subsequent hysterectomy.

27 - Community Keynote - onstage

When I stood up on that stage and read my piece, a cliched switch was metaphorically flipped. Something inside me turned over. Something inside me said I have people now and I am meant to be here and I have more to do and say in this community than anywhere else I have ever been.

And then I went home and had a nervous breakdown.

I went to the doctor and held my head to stop myself from shaking it no, no, no at the floor and the walls and my own sad life as I asked him to fill in a form for medical leave from my abusive job, because I had found out that I had that Something Big inside me that I'd always suspected was there but had not had the opportunity to realize until I'd faced that sea of people in San Francisco.

I wish there were simple words to explain how reading about my cancer up on that stage in that ballroom in California made me lose my mind and eventually quit my job, quit smoking, quit drinking, somehow find my personal, spiritual, and professional footing, and then later find myself here working full time from home as a writer and designer who is invited to speak to bloggers about what they do. There aren't simple words, though. I had a switch that needed just the right confluence of events to flip, and BlogHer's Voices Of The Year baby somehow flipped it and, in turn, my entire life.

me

I stood on that stage swelled with the feeling of I-have-arrivedness, which is not to say that I felt famous, although I kind of did a little bit, but which is to say that I felt that I really had my feet planted in a place that I was meant to be and was doing what I was meant to do for the time in my whole 35 years.

Later today at 4:45 p.m., the fifth BlogHer Voices Of The Year will begin, and I will be firmly planted in that audience cheering each nervous blogger on as they read their respective pieces. I will get to watch them claim their physical place in what is normally only a virtual space, and I will get to remember what that meant for my life in 2008 and what this might mean for some of them in smaller and larger ways.

This is my church, an expression of my greater drive, in a way, when I watch a new group of bloggers step to the mic one by one to clear their throats and begin out loud, in their own words.

Thank you, Elisa Camahort, Lisa Stone, Jory Des Jardins, and BlogHer staff past and present for bringing all of us, and me, here again. You gave a once fledgling, now thriving, community a space to claim, and we do.

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PS. I am an honoree in this year's Voices Of The Year for my piece We Can Become Known.