#BritmumsLive2014 - Life, Learning and Blog Loving
Britmums Live, the annual blogging conference I look forward to from the moment I leave the doors of the previous years event. You get to see old friends, make new ones, learn a whole load of important blog stuff and come away with new and important contacts from the incredible sponsors. It is a lifeline for some bloggers, a place they learn to love their blog again, a place they learn to earn from their blog and make it work for them, a place where they can talk geeky blog stuff without being stared at with that glazed look of no interest. Most importantly for all, a place to be amongst like minded people for those 2 short days a year, people who probably know you better than your family and who can pick you up when you need them most without even knowing they're doing so.... Your very own Internet world, brought to life in the centre of London Town.
This year has been an odd one already for me, huge highs and sinking lows that have hit me like a fly on a car windscreen and I've not really dealt with it all that well. I have had a complete identity crisis in both real life and in the blog world which has left me quite unsettled, anxious and completely drained.
Some knew this before this weekend, some didn't, and this made it really hard to act 'normal'. I have no 'normal', I don't know who 'normal Alice' is any more and so I knew I'd hit panic mode. In these situations I have a habit of painting on a smile and acting out like a hyper toddler after a fist full of Skittles. I end up talking faster than the speed of light, often saying things that offend, shock or confuse anyone who comes into my path by accident and it can cause so much distress to me and them, I can't help it, it just falls out of my mouth. I tend to do this to disguise my shaking insides and the crippling dread of being caught in an awkward silence or being asked too many questions. I wish I didn't but I do.
I know I'm god damn annoying to be around when I'm like this and knowing that made it worse. Having a small handful of people who know how anxious I was about just being me really helped. It meant I had someone to catch my eye and whisper 'it's ok' when I was staring into space, smile at me when they knew I was flagging, to tell me to calm down (without patronising me) when I began to act out, to hold my hand when I cried at a keynote and come with me when I needed to escape.
I really needed to escape at times too, whether it be to get some fresh air or to hide in the toilet just to be on my own to pick myself up and give myself a talking to.
I'm not on my own in this taking a breather thing during events. Many people were seen to be taking time out in the new and beautiful 'garden' area at the venue (The Brewery). It seemed that I wasn't alone in feeling a little over whelmed and that made me feel a lot better in myself.
Hannah from A New Addition was one of them. She, like me, had begun to feel a little trapped and enclosed on such a beautiful day, full of lovely people. As much as the sessions about blogging, our friends and talks with the sponsors were lovely, we both just needed to escape for ten minutes. So we did.
We escaped to find some lunch, so whilst the rest of the bloggers scoffed their way through some
posh nosh, we hunted down a Maccy D's (classy). The walk turned into a deep talk about our odd habits and how people perceive our behaviour. It was great to talk to someone who really understood how anxious it can make you when you are aware of how annoying you can be. Sometimes it just needs that mirrored understanding to make you feel less alone. In turn that makes you less anxious and more likely to enjoy whatever it is you were doing. Within a few mouthfuls of my burger and being stared at by people whilst sat on the step of a little art ridden area, we were ready and fighting to get back to it.
I purposely missed the keynotes in the morning, although I was desperate to watch them and listen to the amazing people talking, I knew for me it was a bad move emotionally and mentally. I am not a Britmums Newbie and so I knew that tears would be shed. I needed to try and keep a smile on my face and I was frightened with that one move I'd lose it and that would mean home time.
I did however stay for the wonderful keynote speakers in the afternoon.
Some of my dearest Blogging friends opened their hearts and soul on stage and read posts they'd written over the past year. Some moving, some funny and some that made me melt into a mess of tears. So many were read and so many familiar faces spoke but some really hit me in the heart and took me on their journey with them.
Sarah from Grenglish is a blogger I have known for a very long time. When she first wrote the post 'We need to talk about the M word' I had to read it in 5 line blocks. Knowing how much this post had taken to write for Sarah I knew that I was going to struggle watching her read it to the crowd. It struck a cord in everybody's heart and those who had suffered a miscarriage sat nodding whilst tears rolled down their faces. Before Rocky arrived I suffered several early miscarriages, I have pushed those memories into the black hole of obis in my mind and pretended they didn't effect me, brushed them off when they're mentioned like it was 'one of those things'... it's not, it does hurt and I haven't dealt with that pain yet, so this particular post rung true and stung like a bee. I love Sarah and I know that reading that post was really hard for her but she has helped a lot of people in the room by putting out there what it is to lose a baby before you even have them. I didn't have chance to hug her tightly after she spoke but she knows how much I admire her strength and honesty.
Sandy from Baby Baby is another lady I have had the pleasure to have known for some time now. She spoke about her friend with cancer and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. I'd like to say that I heard every word whilst being a supportive friend but after some recent news about my own friend, my brain seemed to shut off what she was saying and replaced it with silence as I stared at her teary face. I have read the post in the past and so I know what was said, it is just something else to hear it read with the pain in her voice, especially when it is all ringing so true. Sandy is a really strong lady who I hold very dear, her friend would be very proud.
Laura from Tired Mummy of Two, who I've mentioned a few times recently on this blog, read aloud a post she wrote about her daughter Alison's take on her sister Elizabeth's journey through Leukaemia. Now this was hard to watch, to hear and to take in. You often forget the siblings of children with illnesses like this. You often forget that they too go hand in hand with their much loved sister or brother. You forget that when so young they don't understand why all of a sudden their fun play buddy has suddenly been taken away and into hospital and is bed ridden, attached to wires and drips. You forget that they too are grieving for the sibling they once knew because that sibling isn't likely to re appear the same way they were back then, often returning fragile and easily tired. You often concentrate on the child who is sick, she reminds us of the children who are living with this illness alongside those most effected. Again I cried. Again because for me, seeing Laura with a tear rolling down her face talking about her amazing children, got me. At that moment I turned and stared at the picture on the big screen of them both with huge smiles on their faces and that reminded me how happy they both are, all the time and it puts me to shame.
Finally, although there are so many I could write about and mention, I will mention this one last Keynote Speaker....
Mary from Keynko read aloud a post in which I've read a fair few times when I need reassurance that it isn't just me this happens to and that life turns good in the end. I shared my Brtmums Live experience with this amazing lady this year, we shared a room and all that jazz. I watched as she walked up to that stage her heart in her mouth and speak to the hundreds of bloggers about a time long ago but not forgotten. A time in which for me is now. I was so proud of her. She spoke about what is a regular occurrence for me, an old lady makes a comment on a bus which hurts so much it makes a huge impact on your life, you think of nothing else and those comments make you bitter yet determined. In fact it makes such an impact that 20 years down the line you are speaking about it to hundreds of women and smiling because you know that you've beaten the crap out of what they assumed you'd be and turned it into dust. What I took from this post is to actually stand up to the bully on the bus, as that is what these old opinionated ladies are, bullies, and prove their wrinkly ass wrong. You can give me the I'm a bad mum because I'm young and in your words 'have only done it for the money' and you can take my happy marriage, well turned out children and the house I own and pay the mortgage for and you can shove it up your..... annnnnnnyway... Mary and I have a lot in common, albeit she is a lot more sensible than I am, she really is my Blog Mum. I love her lots and thank her for keeping me safe and not making me sleep in the bath this weekend.
Anyway, tears aside, this weekend was a great big anxious bundle of loveliness. I learnt a lot, didn't cry or offend anyone and bar drinking a few to many glasses of wine and sexually assaulting Elmo I think I was rather well behaved.
I'd like to thank Mark Warner for buying my ticket and giving out a Holiday to one of my beautiful bloggers at the event.... good luck folks, can't wait to see who's won!