I have never taken so long to write in my life. Even my 80 page undergraduate thesis seems to have taken me less time than this post. There are a few reasons for this delay. I think many folks encounter a “post conference slump” after having attended an event that is so chock full of information. While the information is valuable beyond words, it’s an overload. For the past few weeks following BlogPaws, I’ve felt like I’ve been swimming through jello, trying to make my way to the surface. The most significant cause in my delay however, has been the hope that I draft a post that fully explains all my thoughts and feels following the conference and my game plan afterwards.
I’m going to work my way backwards through the event. My amazing roommate and fast friend along with her adorable pup, Poppy waved from their rental car as they drove down towards the Arizona horizon. The beaming heat created beads of sweat that snaked down my temples, I looked down at the ground and started to sob. It was the first time I had truly been alone since arriving days earlier, which also meant it was the first time I was left with no choice to be in my own head. I let the tears happen, there was no reason to fight, and no one to see except some jovial jack rabbits hipping and hopping nearby. I wasn’t crying because I was upset, it was the opposite. I was so full of excitement and anticipation for the future, but also left with an overwhelming mix of “how the heck do I get there?”
I looked up, the wetness on my cheeks quickly dried, and I witnessed what could be considered, the most stunning sunset I have ever seen. It was in the shadow of the purple sky that I realized, I can’t be bogged down by all the muck of over-analyzing, I simply had to have faith that I would find a way to make things happen but I couldn’t let life pass me by in the process. Had I not looked up, I never would have seen that sky.
The day prior, after hours of informational sessions and follow-up networking, everyone retreated to their respective rooms to glam up for the Nose-to-Nose awards. For me, this meant, use of an emergency sewing kit for some stitching that decided to stop doing its job after the trip from Massachusetts. It also meant the application of makeup that I never fully feel comfortable using, and a reunion with my frenemy, spanx. I believe it was at the time I was begrudgingly applying liquid eyeliner that a thought seeped through of “Oh my God, what do I say if I actually win this award?!” I pushed the thought aside by affirming that flying by the seat of my pants while public speaking is one of my strongest skills and I continued with the eyeliner application processes (to be read as, smudging and swearing).
I made my way towards the red carpet area, and was greeted by a sea of lovely looking bloggers and their adorable coordinating pets. I tried my best to be a wallflower, which is how I cope with my social anxiety, by being behind my camera and tried to capture images of the friends I had made in my time in Arizona. My newly made pals didn’t allow for the wallflower act to last for long and we found new reasons to laugh together, and possibly at each other. As a Nose-to-Nose finalist, I learned that it was required I walk down the red carpet and take formal photos with the other finalists. In any other group, this would have resulted in intestinal upset and general feelings of angst. In this setting, I found my smile to be the genuine result of laughter. How refreshing!
I was seated with some folks that I had grown close with and the festivities began. As announcements were made and other finalists in varying categories were announced, I was sneaking teeny tiny bites of carrot to my pup neighbor Wynston. The “Best New Pet Blog” category was flashed on the screen, and I smiled when I saw the photos of my fellow finalists’ logos. It was a mixture of pride and excitement for the three other bloggers, that I had gotten to know and had been following their sites since we had been listed as finalists. It’s still amazing to me that we, and I’m now referring to the collective membership of BlogPaws, can all fall under the Pet Blogger umbrella and be so drastically different in scope, delivery, and audience. The same is true with the four sites in this specific category.
When they announced Bodie on the Road, I squealed with excitement! While I knew that the women behind the blog was overseas, I also knew she was watching via the live streaming. It was the most exciting “loss” I’ve ever experienced. To be frank, I would have felt the same degree of excitement if either of the two finalists were announced as the winner. Everyone’s site is out of this world amazing! If you haven’t visited them, I wrote this post introducing the finalists earlier that I recommend you check out.
For a fleeting moment, visions of me flipping the banquet table, lighting things on fire, and giving everyone the bird flew through my mind when I didn’t win! No, not really. I honestly didn’t think that, but it’s too funny of a visual for me to not share. In reality, I immediately sent a congratulatory email to the winner overseas, and enjoyed the rest of the awards. Following the formal event, I enjoyed some wine, shared my congrats, joined in on a secret baby shower, and laughed the hardest I have laughed with friends in a very very long time.
The days leading up to the red carpet were comprised of a flurry of sessions, furry friends, yummy food, and connecting with brands. At one point, I had to hijack someone else’s dog due to my failure to understand simple directions. That may be another silly story to share later on. I also attended VIP events and learned about all of the amazing resources available to our companion animals and the bloggers that write about them.
So, how is this loss a win? Simply put, it has lit a fire. I am more determined to follow my dream, share my passion, and embrace this new adventure. I have a new vision for my site’s future, and an outline for a book! I also have a network of fellow bloggers that will help me to stay on track along the way. Watch out world, this crazy lady has a story to tell and animals to help save and she may or may not be drinking beer along the way! Cheers and the countdown to Myrtle Beach has already commenced.