by Yvonne DiVita
"There she is! Oh my GOD! It's really her!"
I wasn't the only one throwing my arms up with loud cries of excitement as I rushed across the gleaming lobby of the hotel, that fated day back on the ancient history days of that initial launch of the great BlogHer community. Women of all sorts flung themselves across the lobby, roaring like wild waterfalls, cascading into each other, full of sincere passion and delight, that morning. The rush was never ending, each woman eager to make sure she could find the right 'her' and 'her' and 'her'; so many friends of the blogosphere, friends known but not really known, soon to be pen pals of a new order. Yes, the many faces of BlogHer. I remember it well.
Next week I'll be off to San Jose for the 10th Year Anniversay of BlogHer and the memories keep flooding in, daily. Memories of Jory and Lisa and Elisa and this marvelous thing they had created. Memories of the sessions, learning skills I hoped to hone to perfection. Memories of the people... the women... the many, many faces of Eve, who came for the same reasons I had come... to MEET my BFFs in person and to try and understand this thing called blogging. As I prepare for this year's anniversary event, I can't help but wonder... where are they now, the women I came to call friend and who still light up my world with their emails and phone calls?
Celeste Lindell was one of the first women I remember meeting. I'd been reading Average Jane for some time and when Celeste approached me (knowing ME from Lipsticking), I admit I was confused.
"Yvonne, hi! I'm Celeste," she said. Her bright warm smile was welcoming, one friend greeting another, and yet I remember thinking, "Wow, this girl is so young!" I shook her hand but... clearly, she could tellI was confused. My face must have held that look, "Um... who are you?" Yes, I was wondering 'who' Celeste was. Sigh.
"Average Jane," she said, with an even bigger smile.
The hotel lobby was so LOUD - yes, BlogHer conferences can be LOUD, it's one of the things we ladies do - we screech and laugh and howl, because...well, we can. Why not? Happiness knows no bounds when it comes to meeting your BFFs in person. You shout out for the sheer thrill of it, sometimes. And, you don't even know you're shouting.
I laughed, hoping Celeste wasn't upset that I didn't 'know' her immediately, and she wasn't. Then, as now, she was a pretty laid-back, quiet person. A dynamo underneath her bangs, however. We've stayed friends for these past 10 years, through many conferences (including BlogPaws), and I don't think I have ever let Celeste know how much I treasure our friendship. But, there you have it... I am blessed to know her, and I love her blog even more now, and the world is a better place for having her in it.
I cannot imagine the blogosphere without the chatty, witty, funny, Average Jane.
I met Susan Getgood at that first BlogHer conference. This woman is like a sister to me. I don't
think I've ever told her how important she is; how that first meeting, at a BlogHer party, seeing each other from across the room, and her jumping up to hug me with abandon, made not only my day but my life. Me, little blogger that I was... hardly more than a kindergartener among the high school kids... was being greeted as an equal. As someone who mattered. By someone with far more experience in life and business than I. It took me aback, just a bit. I truly couldn't imagine why someone as talented as Susan would give me the time of day. (she will likely tell you I hid it well... truth is, I held that insecurity close to my chest...and over time, with the hlep of people like Susan and Celeste and Toby, who I will talk about soon, I came to see that I was smart, and talented and worth the attention! Oh the wonders of good friends and their unwavering support!)
Susan and I were immediate friends of the highest order. From her days as the Marketing Roadmaps blogger, to her launch of Blog with Integrity, to her book, Professional Blogging for Dummies, to her work with BlogHer, we've stayed in touch, we've stayed close, we've laughed and cried together, and reminded each other, "You're top notch, girl friend! You're the best of the best. You're destined for bigger things..." with that deep look into each other's eyes to make the point. Because, real friends want you to be successful and do what needs doing to push you ahead, when you're ready to stop or fall back. Real friends never stop loving you and believing in you.
What can I say about Toby Bloomberg? Toby who asked me to moderate a conversation about marketing to women, in an AMA group she was in charge of. ME... author of a book on marketing to women online, with the fun and catchy title of Dickless Marketing... you may laugh, but remember, it's about Dick and Jane...not 'dick'. LOL
Toby reminds me to keep creating, keep inventing, keep your eye on tomorrow, Yvonne. Toby who created such a dynamic, innovative group called All the Single Girlfriends, which has not yet seen it's power come to full fruition, has influenced me beyond anything she can imagine. I will never forget the pride I felt when I moderated that chat group and answered questions and talked with Toby about marketing to women and came to love her blog, Bloomberg Marketing. It was a turning point in my career. I had made the grade, so to speak. I was legitimate. Toby Bloombergy made me so.
Toby is with me still. She's been to my house! That may seem like a small thing to some... it's what friends do, after all, they visit each other. But, we're blogging buddies, we don't necessarily get a chance to 'visit' each other. But Toby came to Denver a couple of years ago, and took time out to visit my home, and it was such a delight. I hope someday to visit Toby, in Atlanta, and pet the precious boy, Max.
I can't leave out Jody DeVere...Automotive Marketing to Women Expert, who has created one of the most fantastic communities of smart, talented women on the planet. Jody who was kind enough to 'friend' me in social media and recognize that my efforts via Lipsticking could mean something. I am so in awe of what Jody has accomplished! She's a woman after my own heart, who recognizes the value and power of other women who soar like Eagles in career paths that are traditionally male. Jody epitomizes the truth about women, that we know our power, that we do what needs to be done, that we maintain our softer side but do not let it cripple us as we move forward! Oh Jody, how proud I am that you count me as friend, and that BlogHer brought us face-to-face, so many years ago. Ask Patty! is the most pawsome site for supporting women's needs in the auto industry because YOU are at the helm. YOU are the face and voice, and you've shown the world that women count, when it comes to cars.
There are far too many others to include in one blog post. People like Penny Sansevieri and Denise Wakeman, both women I admire who attend BlogHer and who were early friends, from my early blogging days. Wildly successful women that I love with a deep affection only women understand.
And, of course, Jory and Lisa and Elisa... the founders of this remarkable resource called BlogHer.
These are a tiny little portion of the #womenof distinction who helped influence the career path and success of my life. Where, I wonder, would I be today, without that very first BlogHer and the realization that we, the women of the blogosphere, were on to something? That with help from each other, and from visionaries like the founders of BlogHer, we can, and will, change the world?
BlogPaws exists because I took what I learned at BlogHer and I connected with the incredible Caroline Golon, and I convinced Tom (who needed little convincing, he was smart enough to see the power in women blogging), to start a new company focused on serving pets, via the blogoshere - to call it BlogPaws and to model it after the most successful company we could... BlogHer.
We're the same, but different. We have our roots in the world of women who blog, and their ever present need to connect face-to-face, at least once a year.
And, so, as I pack a suitcase with comfy clothes, shoes that can withstand miles of walking, business cards, ideas, and expectations, as I hum a little tune to keep me focused, I feel that familiar tingle in my stomach - the one that reminds me, "You're a powerful woman, Yvonne. You use your words for the good of all, and you're going to once again commune and connect with dozens of other women who will not allow life, or negative comments, or any talk of 'you can't do that' from anyone, to interfere with their success."
#womenofdistinction #womenofsubstance #womenofsignificance