I grew up a small town girl, so walking the streets of New York City is always a thrill to me as I gulp in the gigantic buildings and fascinating people.
I got back to the city during a recent trip for a blogger conference, BlogHer, where 4500+ bloggers converged to learn a bit more about blogging, but more importantly (at least in my case) connect with companies and each other. I was not disappointed by the conference or the city.
BlogHer always inspires me to get back to the love of writing, to make sure more of my blog is about what’s in my heart. It’s easy to fall into the trap of writing reviews of products and events, and those are just fine on occasion, but not the stuff that will “move” people emotionally, to laugh or cry with me about my crazy little life.
The city inspires me, too, to let go a little bit of what life EXPECTS of me and instead pursue what PLEASES ME. NYC is where the sky is the limit, where you’ll come across something that will leave you speechless on each street corner, good and bad. Why shouldn’t I be pushing life to the limit, too?
On this last trip I took a walking tour of the city with StumbleUpon, a web site that helps people discover cool things around the web and the world. I had to join the tour in progress, so it became a bit of a “Where’s Waldo” game for me, following tweets that reported facts about the various landmarks in the city.
I was taking photos along the way, intrigued by what I was seeing while still challenged to catch up to my group.
Ultimately I did find the group. I joined them at St. Patrick’s Cathedral of all places. And it was meant to be, as the first person I joined told me how she used to visit the famous church with her now-deceased mother and was aching for her a little on this tour. I explained that I was aching, too, because it was on my last visit to the city that I learned my father, a native of New York, had less than two weeks to live. It seemed fitting that we’d find each other in this place of prayer and hope. It’s a beautiful thing…connecting with that one in a million person who can understand what you’re going through in a city that’s packed with so many who wouldn’t care at all…and it’s beautiful that it happened in such a powerful place (thanks Debra @AFrugalFriend).
That moment didn’t last long, as the tour wrapped up and I moved along to the next event, then the next, for the next four days. That’s the thing about this city–it never sleeps, and neither do I when I’m visiting.
Over the next few days I had the thrill of sharing lunch with Katie Couric (along with thousands of other women in the ballroom) while she shared details of her life that made me love her all the more. From telling us about her menopause angst and new exercise routine, to her excitement over spending a weekend with her daughter home from college, the girl spills it all…she is real. And I love that about her.
I also had the chance to meet Kristin Davis of Sex and the City (and currently performing on Broadway), and discuss the most recent episode I’d seen on reruns…an episode that we both found pretty challenging–for her, to act in, and for me, to watch. It’s the episode where she’s dating a great guy, except during sex, when he calls her every bad name under the sun. Nobody likes that kind of verbal abuse, even if you’re just acting. How cool to be able to talk with her about it like she was just one of the gals in my neighborhood who watched the same episode.
A personal highlight for me happened during a breakfast meeting with the General Manager of Disney Junior, Nancy Kanter. After hearing about the latest programming notes, including news of a new show and a princess for preschoolers, Sophia the First, questions were read from the audience, including some sent in advance. One of those was from my 7 yr old daughter, asking why there wasn’t a show about a 7 yr old fashionista with a passion for shoes and love for animals (this would be my daughter saying she’d like the show to be about her and all the things she adores most). How amazing that my daughter’s question was coming from the mouth of the gal in charge of Disney Junior, my daughter’s favorite channel? Nancy Kanter joked that we should get an agent. Too fun, right?
The celebs were neat, but the real thrill was seeing my pals who I talk with all year online. I met so many wonderful new friends and got to give hugs to so many of the others who helped me get through the lows of the past year, while celebrating the highs, all online. Yes, it was exhausting, but so worth the lack of sleep to be able to see these people who have become my online family through the years.
I left the parties early the last night so that I could have some time to walk around the city by myself again, just as I had two years before, when I learned I’d be losing my father way too soon. It was all a little surreal and exactly what I needed…to bump into the Naked Cowboy on one corner and Spider Man on the next. Where else in the world does that happen?