Thursday, September 8, 2011

Celebrity Sighted at Conference – Now, what?

The San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, ...Image via WikipediaI recently attended the BlogHer conference in San Diego. Unlike the BlogHer Food conference attended by 500 food writers, the big BlogHer conference is more than big. Nearly 4000 bloggers who write about anything and everything attended the conference this year.

As I planned which sessions to attend, I was delighted to see that Shauna James Ahern, author of Gluten-Free Girland Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef,was presenting – not about food, not about gluten-free eating – she and her co-presenters led a session on blogging your way to self-acceptance. More on that later. First, you need to know that in my world (writing about special food needs) Shauna Ahern is a celebrity. She is the person I most wanted to meet while in San Diego.

Flashback to Atlanta and BlogHer food. There were many food writers there – many whose work I was not familiar with, and some names that I recognized. Among the great food writers I met in Atlanta were my amazing panel co-speakers, and another woman that I must describe as a food-writing goddess. Dianne Jacob, author of Will Write for Food, was also speaking at the conference. I was lucky enough to be able to chat with her as we walked to an event. Following that session she wrote a very thoughtful blog post, which all conference goers should read.

Dianne’s post helped me to realize that in every room (large or small) there is someone there who is more accomplished, more recognized, and (for those in business) higher on the org chart than you and me. We want to impress them, get to know them better, be more like them. There’s also most likely someone there who views you as that person they’d like to talk to, and they’d like to learn something from you but may not know how to approach you.

Back to San Diego and Blog Her 11
. As I prepared for the first session of the day I spotted Shauna as I was coming out of the restroom. I instantly recognized her from photos I had seen, and the thought crossed my mind – should I walk up and say hi? No, it was just minutes before her session, and it didn’t feel like the right time. I went into the room and found a seat.

Based on the session description I wasn’t sure the topic was right for me, but the speakers intrigued me. As luck would have it, with that choice I accidentally stumbled upon the most inspiring panel discussion I have ever attended. (I say that after having attended years of corporate sponsored events where big names were hired to motivate and challenge us.)

Gretchen Rubin, Brene Brown, Shauna Ahern, and Mr. Lady were genuine, honest, downright real speakers/writers/human beings/people. They rocked. And so, I was captivated by the emotion of the session when I got in line afterwards to introduce myself to Shauna.

And what did I do when I got to the front of the line? I babbled – told her how much I liked her books (true) and her blog (true). And I babbled some more, surely not making any kind of meaningful impression. I was intimidated – not due to any fault at all on her part – simply because I was me and she was Shauna.

So let me tell you why I am so impressed with this remarkable woman. Shauna didn’t have to travel the world to become whole and write a book. She simply got well, stayed home, and met her soulmate. While that sentence encapsulates her story, it doesn’t begin to describe the joyful life that she leads and chooses to lead every day.

Here’s what I would have liked to say to her:

“Your books move me. Through your stories you teach me about life.

And the next time we meet, I’d love to have a real conversation.

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