I have gone to the national diabetes scientific conference, held every year, for the past 15 years. This year, I decided to take a break from all things diabetes and went to the ProBlogger 2014 conference instead, seeking inspiration and ideas for both this blog, and my other blog at Recycled Interiors. Ironically, after booking to go to this in May, I was later asked to be keynote speaker at 2 sessions of the diabetes conference, including the new consumer session – maybe next year. Did any of you go along?
I won’t bore those of you not interested in blogging with all the content, as I am sure lots of other people will be doing that sort of round up if you want to find out more in depth about content. Or you can hop on Twitter hashtag #pbevent or instagram, where we apparently blew the record out of the water for most instagram pics from one event, and were trending on twitter! I really think this blog has the power to make a difference to the lives of people with diabetes and no matter what else I do in life, will continue to offer ways for you all to connect with each others stories.
Instead I am talking about my experience of the event with 6 inspirational quotes today and a bit of a summary – some of which you may connect with. These are key messages that relate to life in general, not just blogging.
To begin with, here is something that happened on the way from the airport to the hotel. You might relate. So I am sitting in this taxi and the driver is a quiet talker – have you seen that Senifeld episode? He was talking about the weather as there was a huge wind that day, which we felt on the somewhat precarious descent into the airport, and how the beaches were shut. I mentioned how I was there when I was 12 and how different it was then, and that this was the trip after which I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Are you guessing what comes next?
“Ah, too much sugar hey!”……….
At that point I nearly opened the door and jumped out. I wanted to let him have it. I didn’t. “Oh no it’s nothing to do with that” I said. Screaming inside “you DICKHEAD”. A few minutes later the brakes screamed to a halt as we nearly plowed into another car. Now I really wished I had jumped out. We kept driving. He kept quiet talking, explaining how he had been looking at someone and didn’t see the other car. Whatever. Maybe you had too much sugar, I thought.
On we went, into the back streets near the beach, him telling me this was the easiest way to the hotel, so close I could almost feel the soft pillow beds at the QT Hotel. And then bam. There was a police cordon. I kid you not – 20 police cars and people everywhere. I later found out some dude had threatened to have a molotov cocktail in his backpack. Welcome to the Gold Coast.
We doubled and tripled back and got stuck in traffic and an hour and 10 minutes after leaving the airport, I was finally at my hotel. You have never met a happier diabetic. Get me some sugar I shouted. Happily, this was the worst part of the weekend. The rest was amazing, awesome and inspiring. Despite my introvert tendencies.
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert? I used to think I was an extrovert. People would call me that due to my LOUDNESS and my TALKINGNESS (not sure that is a word, well spellcheck didn’t think so but I like it). But then I got older. And I stopped drinking and going out. And through a pile of events and horrid things I was exposed to, I stopped feeling safe and started feeling scared. And anxious. And little by little I became so introverted I almost disappeared….
That was a tough time. But I went through it, and I climbed out, and I was me again. The same but different. I didn’t like drinking, or bars or clubs anymore. I didn’t like being crushed in the mosh pit at a concert. I didn’t really like going out to parties anymore, or noisy footy games. I was definitely here, but I was a more gentle version of myself. I DID still love loud music, at home, on my own terms.
Do you work from home? Lots of bloggers I know do. I spend most days from 9 am until 3 pm totally alone other than radio national. I do have a team who work with me for my diabetes work, and I do have meetings, conferences, workshops, client styling appointments, my studio and lots of reasons to be with people. But many hours are spent in solitude. It is then that I get most of my inspiration. I guess that is a true introvert.
I also need time alone to breathe. I become suffocated when there is too much noise, too much light, too many smells – I experience sensory overload and my creative brain starts to freak out a little. So you can imagine me at ProBlogger this weekend with over 500 excited, loud and fabulous people! Don’t get me wrong, I have been to HUGE events, I was even a speaker at two sessions of the 10,000+ International diabetes conference in Melbourne last December. I can get up in front of a huge crowd and deliver a presentation. And I love to talk. But I prefer intimate, 1-1 conversations and I find it hard to push myself into already established groups or conversations. Maybe that goes back to feeling like an outsider as a kid. Maybe.
My experience of being with 550 people was therefore one of being quite alone. Isn’t it funny how you can be alone, when you are in a room full of people? In fact sometimes you feel more alone than when you are actually alone – do you know what I mean? I wandered around the crowds a bit, trying to catch eyes and feeling a bit like a twit.
I did meet a few wonderful new friends who I am sure I will continue to connect with, such as Trudie from My Vintage Childhood, who I had a deep connection with, and some who I had followed or connected with online for a long time. I pushed myself to the cocktail party (but stayed only an hour!) and it was my chance to meet a bloggy idol of mine, Carly Findlay. That was cool.
I did feel the most alone however, when in the 45 minutes between sessions and the cocktail party, I had to change my pump, had high BGL’s, followed by a crashing low on arrival at the noisy party. The free orange juice was welcomed but there was no #itmakessenseifyouhavediabetes because I had no D-friends there- although there must have been some in a crowd of 550 people.
One of the highlights of the weekend was meeting Reservoir Dad and Edenland on the cab to the airport to fly home. Like the last hour of the disco, I hooked up with them as we staggered out of the hotel into the sunshine, to wing back home, Reservoir Dad sure he would die as his plane crashed and burned. This was one of the funniest 45 minutes of the weekend. These people blog it real and do social good with their words. Do yourself a favour and check out their blogs.
One of the downfalls of being an introvert is sometimes you leave it too late, and sometimes you have regrets. I have nothing to regret from this weekend however. I did it on my terms, retreating to my room when needed. On that I highly recommend staying in the hotel where a conference is being held,especially for those of us who are sugar challenged- I could go change my pump site, have a moment of grab some food when what was offered was not suitable. I had always stayed away at events, but it was a great little security blanket to have a room onsite.
ProBlogger is definitely one of the best things I have ever done. The organisation, communication, content, speakers venue, food and all aspects, were outstanding. There were no sessions where I did not take something away with me. And I did make some new friends. Also I got to run on the beach twice, see the ocean, the sky and the sand. I had a king size bed to myself for 3 nights. I ate what I wanted. It was good.
Here are some takeaway things I have which you might find useful as a blogger and a human being.
And here’s to the introverts and the extroverts and those in between,but not to ignorant taxi drivers. #itmakessenseifyouhavediabetes