Why I'm not at Britmums Live 2016 and I wish I was...
I'm walking around heavy of heart this weekend, watching the Twitter feeds and wishing everyone well, smiling from afar, but still regretting that I am not among them.
This would have been my 5th BML, the largest blogging conference in the UK has been a crucial part of Downs Side Up right since the very beginning.
I cannot begin to tell you what Britmums has done for Downs Side Up, I'll add a few pics below to try, but basically you wouldn't have heard of my blog without the organisation.
|Keynote at Britmums Live 2012 @MotherScuffer|
The first year I attended, I read a keynote speech, What to Say When a Baby is Born with Down's Syndrome. Everyone sobbed, it was a momentous moment for me too, the first time I realised that people were moved by my words.
|Process with the Wine Buffs|
In subsequent years I have been honoured to be asked to sit on panels talking about Digital Activism and Blogging with Heart and host round tables giving new bloggers tips on Campaign Blogging.
|Camilla Batmanghelidjh, Lindsey Aitkin, Hayley Goleniowska and Chris Mosler|
Many Media interviews have taken place there, including this one for the Financial Times. "Downs Side Up is one to watch from the front line." was their tip.
And this one with a Sun journalist and Alice Hassell.
And the BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour interview too and BBCWorld Service I recall.
I wouldn't be writing for the Huffington Post if it weren't for a nudge from Britmums. They also asked me to be their Special Needs editor which I did for 3 years before handing over to the amazing Steph Curtis.
They also got me naked. Long story, ask Kate on Thin Ice. It was for charity and to celebrate our Mummy bodies though, so don't report this one on Facebook too.
|Downs Side Up uncovered|
And the friends. It's mostly been about the friends, many of whom will remain close for the rest of my life. The Britmums blog network is a safety net I will fall back on time and time again. Thank you to everyone who has ever supported Downs Side up.
|Renata at Just Bring the Chocolate is a treasure indeed|
And then last year a shock. Having been a finalist in the Inspire category every year, I was honoured and humbled but never expected to win. It had a profound effect on me, I felt quiet and wanted to share with so many other wonderful life changing bloggers. And I felt at peace with my blog. It had turned full circle.
|I had never expected to win a BIBs Award for writing|
And that, coupled with a second blogger keynote reading of my open letter to Richard Dawkins, and speaking in three different sessions last year, I decided that BML had seen enough of me.
That it was time for new blood, new ideas, new people who come on stage and make everyone weep. I vowed that I would put BML in a beautiful box and cherish it for ever, but that I wouldn't go back, that I would leave it there, on a high note.
However, the day drew closer this, I was listed as a finalist again much to my surprise, and I began to realise I was wrong. My calendar was full, I hadn't made space for Britmums, but I began to hatch a plan, a last minute dash, because my chest was aching in a way that you feel when you miss a loved one. I was missing my blog family and I wanted a group hug. I needed that reunion.
It wasn't to be. The night train was full and the one for the next morning would get me there too late. It was a sign. I am meant to watch from afar.
And so hear I sit, following your wonderful glamorous day wearing my elastic waisted trousers and wishing you all the inspiration and collaboration in the world. I am cheering on my fellow finalists and I hope that any one of you win this year but me.
Please raise a glass to every one of us in the Inspire category.
Raise a glass to Britmums. Thank you Susanna and Jennifer.