Back to Brit Mums Live | Day 2

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Day 1 of Brit Mums Live was nerve wracking, frantic and overwhelming. Day 2 was about new friendship, familiarity and inspiration. This is the story of my day.

The alarm clock went off at 6am…I groaned at the thought of having to drag myself out of my pit at such a stupid o’clock time on a Saturday, but I had Brit Mums Live to get my backside to, so I got myself sorted (didn’t blow dry my hair though, it was way too early to listen to that noise!) and hubs drove me to the station. Today, I’d be going into London on my own, and meeting my blogger buddy, Sam, at The Brewery – the venue for 2013’s Brit Mums Live. Still yawning, I boarded the train on a rather dreary Saturday morning and watched the world whizz by through the dirty windows of the carriage.

The 10 minute or so walk to The Brewery was enough to wake me up. It’s been a long time since I walked the streets of London town at that sort of time, probably not since my working days in the city some 14 years ago, and I felt a sense of purpose to my self-imposed ‘I’m a blogger’ title. I was excited to see what day 2 was going to bring.

I clipped my name badge to my top and hung around outside the doors – like I said, I was super early and wasn’t sure if I was allowed in. A doorman saw me and said I was most welcome to go in. So, that I did and I plonked myself down at the BritMums Butterflies table.

Having learned my lesson from yesterday to not bring so much stuff along with me (that I really didn’t need!) I had downsized my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 camera that I had brought the day before to my compact Panasonic Lumix TZ-18 and, of course, my trusty iPhone5 for photo-documenting my day. Today’s post is looong. I congratulate you on reaching the end of it!

Before long, more bloggers were turning up and then Sam, turned up and like giggly school girls we chatted about the previous days events and the plan for the day. Working out what sessions to go to, and swapping notes if we wanted to do different things.

A tempting, carb filled breakfast was laid out. Mindful of my diet and nine week weight loss challenge that I have set myself, I took one small pastry, which was yummalicious and drank a coffee. I’ was sure the climbing of stairs to each session would be enough to wipe those calories out!

First stop was into the Warner Bros. Lounge to have a [Harry Potter] wand lesson! As yesterday was so frantic, we didn’t get a chance to stop and partake in such an important life lesson, and it was a lot of fun!

Sam becoming a wand master!

We then both chatted to Paragon Publishing and received a couple of freebie books to review if we so wished on our blogs. I took the pack for babies, which I plan to give to my niece and blog about in the near future. In a world of technology, there is nothing quite like a book to hold and read and smell, and so I also went to the Waterstones stand and bought two of Katie Piper’s books. I hoped to get the chance to meet her at her book signing after her Keynote speech.

Up 4 flights of stairs to the huge function room that was BritMums1 for the weekend, and sitting down at a table closer to the front this time, we waited for Katie Piper to take to the stand – something I was looking forward to. I knew of Katie Piper, the woman who survived an acid attack, but didn’t really know her story. As she walked onto the stage to a round of applause, I sat forward in my chair and listened intently.

Her speech was accompanied by slides – horrific photos of her injuries, and I could hear gasps of shock around me as they were shown. She spoke of the rape that she survived, of the moment that sulphuric acid was thrown in her face on a London street one afternoon in 2008, of how she wanted to die…

I wish that I had recorded her speech on my phone, so I could listen back to it, so that I could take it all in again. It was truly, truly inspirational. A young woman, on the verge of a successful modelling and TV career, where beauty and looks are everything, who’s life was destroyed in a moment in time…she took hold of her destiny and turned it around. Listening and watching her up at that podium, she really is beautiful.

Katie told us how she would get thrown out of shops for looking the way she does, how she became agoraphobic, how she couldn’t speak because of the acid going down her throat…so she turned to writing. Writing letters, some that were sent, some that were not…and poems. She wrote a poem to her ‘old face’ and read it to us. I know I wasn’t the only one wiping away tears as her words, thoughts and feelings projected around the room.

She spoke of her mum and family who supported her as she went through rehabilitation. Having to wear a compression mask for 23 hours a day, for having to wear a body suit, which she and her family, found humour in by calling her Earthworm Jim! Through tears and sadness, there was still smiles and laughter.

Katie spoke of the Katie Piper Foundation that she set up in December 2009 to help others make it easier to live with burns and scars. She talked about not only the visible scars, but the invisible ones too. She told us how people would come up to her saying words to the effect of “it’s nothing compared to what you’ve had to go through, but…” and saying how everyone’s experience is important to them. And that I can relate to. How around us, bad, sad, tragic things happen. Every minute of every day. And then something happens to us and we feel guilt that the thing that happened is silly because compared to someone else, it isn’t as bad. But if it worries you, if it effects you, it is important.

By the end of her speech, in which she remained so calm and steady as she spoke to the audience, she received a standing ovation and was wiping the tears from her eyes. I felt like she touched every single person in the huge function room, and I know, I was hanging on to her every word.

I personally walked away from Katie Piper’s speech with so much inspiration, and haven’t stopped talking about it to my friends and family since I came home. I knew I wanted to meet her and thank her.

Instead of attending a session which followed, Sam and I both went down to the Hub to take a moment to chill and grab a drink. We saw Katie walking around the now less hectic room and had our moment to speak to her.

I explained to Katie that a friend of mine, who is also my weight loss consultation from Cambridge Weight Plan, admires her greatly; how to help me through my daily mental struggle with weight loss, would text me quotations from Katie’s book Start Your Day With Katie: 365 Affirmations for a Year of Positive Thinking. I told her how at the start of the year, I was so down on myself that I gave up, and my friend asked if I wanted to continue to receive her texts…I said yes, that I loved receiving them every day, so much so, that I have now bought that book for myself so that every day I can read, and re-read them and bring positivity to my life instead of all the negative thoughts that run through my brain on a daily basis. Katie said that was such a lovely thing for her to do and that I would ‘get there’ with my journey. Yes Katie, I plan to ♥

I later met Katie again and thanked her so much for her speech which I found so motivational and uplifting and she kindly signed her book for me. It now sits by my bedside and I read it every day.

Yesterday’s affirmation:

Your greatest achievement is not in the success, but in overcoming the obstacles along the way.

Sam and I then parted ways to attend different sessions. It was a this point that I was gutted that there were clashing sessions…I attended the Are we really addicted to the Internet – A conversation from a neuroscience perspective led by Baroness Susan Greenfield CBE. The short answer yes…but the long answer was fascinating. I scribbled some notes, but I look at them and can’t make sense of them now! Some of the key things I jotted down which shouted out “this is relevant” as I listened…

The human brain has evolved to adapt to your environment.

The more you use the brain, the stronger it becomes – use it or lose it.

Enrich your environment.

Connections give even deeper meaning over time.

No one has your life story.

The 21st century environment is unprecedented.

The erosion of childhood.

I worry that the level of interrupt, the sort of overwhelming rapidity of information — and especially of stressful information — is in fact affecting cognition. It is in fact affecting deeper thinking. I still believe that siting down and reading a book is the best way to really learn something.
 And I worry that we’re losing that. – Eric Schmidt, Google’s Chief Executive and Chairman

I love technology, I really do. I love how we are connected so easily these days – a tweet, a text, an email. I love how I can talk to a friend or family member on the other side of the world. I love how if I need to find out something at 2am, I can go online and find the answer. I love how I’ve made friends with people I’ve never even met. I love that the internet brought my husband and I together, as we met via an online dating site…but I don’t love what it is doing to us as social beings. Yes, it’s great to tweet, and to document our every movement through Facebook or Instagram, but as time goes by, maybe it’s me getting older, but when I look around and see people frantically tapping away on smart phone screens, or scrolling through a website whilst someone else is talking to them, I think what have we become? A species addicted to the internet. So much so, that at certain times I ban the use of phones when we are out for the day – no checking in, no tweeting about it, no “oh, let me just check x, y, z…”. NO! No technology today!

Add onto this list Instagram… #mycat #lookatit #70sfilter #catsneezesaresocute

 

If you don’t look at me, how do I know I exist?

That final statement I jotted down…made me think. We all, as humans, need validation – be it from a friend, or family member or stranger on the internet. To know that we matter, to someone, somewhere. I have spent my life wanting validation from people, that I’m good enough, or clever enough, or funny enough; maybe that’s why I blog, because out there, somewhere, I’m still looking for that validation, when I need to just look inside and validate my own worth.

Okay, so, that was a little deep, even for me; I don’t normally go to those sorts of places on my blog…onto other things now!

The other concurrent session was a Social Media Crash Course, which I hear was very good. I hope to find out what was discussed during it…online ;) See, I can’t help but love the internet!

Another session, this time about Travel Blogging. It was a popular one, and one close to both mine and Sam’s hearts since our blogs contain travel stories.

Morning sessions gave way to lunch; so into the hub to find food. Boxes of hot dishes were being walked around by waiting staff, and there were boxes of salad, tubs of fruit and desserts and bags of doughnuts. Taking our choices from the selection available we headed upstairs (all the stair climbing really did help with the food “I’m not supposed to have”!) into BritMums1 to grab a table and have a chit-chat.


Veggie option – potato rosti, grilled veggies and a poached egg. The rosti was especially good.


Hot smoked, salmon salad with grapefruit – bit bland!


Plum trifle – omgitwassodelish!

It was time to part ways again as I headed into the Delicious Food Blogging session. Not too many people in there, which was nice because it was more focused with a lot more Q&A going on. One of the speakers was Emma Raphael from A Bavarian Sojourn who is the Foodie Round-up Editor on Brit Mums. Back in September 2012, my recipe for Eton Mess was featured on the foodie round-up for that month, so I took the opportunity at the end of the session to go and say hi to her – she remembered my blog when I handed her a business card, which was so cool. It’s easy to become star struck by “famous bloggers”!!

I loved this session (I love food, what can I say) and it made me really miss my recipe and food blogging, which has been very sparse of late due to my diet…I promise, when I’m more in control, recipes will be back to attack!!

One final session about Photography given by Julia Boggio. Julia who is a professional photographer who blogs at I Carried A Watermelon. An awesome name for a blog and a line from one of my favourite chick flicks, Dirty Dancing. I learned that Julia and her husband was made internet famous back in 2007 when they shared their wedding dance video on YouTube. You may have seen it – I know I had!

Julia gave a very informative talk, which was well presented and fun and whilst I personally didn’t learn anything new, it was good to listen to a pro speak about photography. She always wore an gorgeous dress, which I just had to tell her when I said hi at the end of the session!

With the sessions of day 2 of Brit Mums over with, it was time for an afternoon coffee. I went and chatted to the guys at Panasonic, since I already love their products – especially their cameras! I entered a few competitions and went back into the Warner Bros Lounge to see Hedwig. Yes, the real, actual Hewig the Owl from the Harry Potter movies!

And then it was time for the closing keynote…Emma Freud was originally due to speak, but couldn’t make it in the end due to a sick child – we’re all mums first! So Katy Hill stepped in. I found her to be very funny, very down to earth and very charming! She said how she is an oversharer, and so happy to be in a room with 500 oversharers! Brilliant and so true!

This led to the Bloggers’ Keynote…a chance for selected bloggers to read posts from their blogs, as nominated by their fellow bloggers. Some were funny, some were thought provoking, and some were emotional. I’m sorry and sad to say that I didn’t know of any of the blogs or the people of which they spoke about, before hand, but after the keynote, I certainly do. There were tears, there were laughs, there were sobs, there were hugs, and there was an awful lot of love in that room.

With a final word from Brit Mums founders Susanna and Jennifer, it was goodbye until next year…

We all traded in our conference badges for swag bags…and oh my gosh am I glad I travelled light that day! As Sam and I walked back to the train station, we felt like pack horses! But you gotta love a freebie!

Lots of lovely swag from Brit Mums sponsors…a lot of which I was able to pass on down to my sister for Sephy, my niece. Whenever hubby goes to pension shows (snooze alert!) he only ever comes back with boring old pens!!

A special thanks to my new BBFF (Blogging Best Friend Forever!) Sam, who made the weekend so much less stressful and nerve wracking! We got on so well, had so much in common and even plan on hooking up together when we are 4348 miles away in Orlando this summer – at the same time! Such a small world! Thank you Interwebz!

And finally…(yes, I’ve reached the end of this uberpost!) If there is just one thing that Brit Mums Live has taught me, it is about the sense of community that being a blogger brings to your life. I’ve spoken before about how I feel so alone as a blogger, but now, I don’t feel alone any more.

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