Close your eyes and imagine a place ... WAIT! Strike that! If you close your eyes you can't read the picture I am painting! Oops!
Okay so partially close your eyes, but enough so that you can read the scene I am about to create.
Okay. Let's start over.
Partially close your eyes and imagine a place. A place filled with friends. Friends you may have never actually met in person before. But you feel surrounded by love and peace. You walk through the hallways of this joyous place and every few steps you are engulfed in a loving embrace. An embrace where the positive energy from one person fuses with the positive energy of the other and forms a bond that nothing could break.
Oh you want a place to sleep? Well, you better find some roommates. Yes four people + 2 beds = a room. You get introduced to a couple people online that need a roommate and you wearily agree. But as soon as you walk into the room, the bond is formed. This is the place you are meant to sleep. These are the people are you meant to stay up chatting with in bed until 4am. You may even arrive in the room at 1:30am, meet a new roomie and immediately climb into bed with them without any second thoughts. Why? Because the love is already evolving.
You look down at what you are wearing and realize that absolutely nothing matches. You literally have every color of the rainbow on your body and instead of feeling a thousand judgmental eyes starting at you glaring "What is that girl wearing?" You look up and see people applauding your ability to leap out of the box and not care what other people think of your outfit.
Rather than slinking into an unfamiliar terrain you BOUND into a room. Instead of slumping in a seat in the back of the room - you plop yourself in the front. Why the front? Because rather than hiding against the wall trying to remain invisible - you are front and center at this party! YOU are leading the discussion rather than watching from the outside wishing you could get the courage to be included.
When you scan the list of fitness classes being offered in this magical place, you don't flinch. You don't hear the little voice inside your head telling you "You are too out of shape to try that," "You really think you are strong enough for that," or "You think you have enough rhythm?" But rather, you hear "You are awesome," "You deserve to try this class" and "You will kick some <> ass!" Why the different inner voices? Because you are in a complete judgment-free zone. You walk into that Zumba class OWNING your lack of rhythm, but you have one of the best times of your life. Why? Because you were inhibition free. You had NO FEAR.
You get an email asking if you would participate in a Fashion Show during lunch one day. As you hit Respond to the email, your mind says "NO NO NO NO NO," but your heart says and your hands type "YES YES YES!" That's right YOU are going to get up on a stage in front of all the attendees and model fitness wear on a catwalk. Yes on a raised catwalk. You go last, you step on stage and the cheers start erupting. The fear goes away and the smile gets wider. You even strike a couple yoga poses since hey are you modeling yoga pants.
One evening the magical place even offers a reception, where there will be dancing. Eek! As already noted, you can't dance. You have total white girl syndrome. But you don't fall back into old habits of sitting at a table in the back, watching everyone else dance and wishing you were out there too. Instead, you join your friends out there. You do some of the worst dancing out there, but is anyone even looking at you? Yeah they are. But, because you have the biggest smile on your face and a big constant infectious laugh flying out of your mouth. You are having the time of your life and not thinking about the cameras snapping your picture doing the lawn mover or the sprinkler. You are in the moment of having a BLAST with friends and having your abs hurt from laughing.
It is a place where smiles are large, the laughs are all-encompassing, the tweets are flying, the love is growing and the friendships are blossoming.
It is a place where ALL are worthy of being there.
Now open your eyes back up fully.
Isn't this place amazing? Don't you want to stay in the warm glow of the awesomeness forever?
Would you believe me if I told you this place truly exists? It is around for just 3-4 days a year, but it fills you with enough love for the whole year.
What is this place called.
I've had the honor to attend Fitbloggin for the last two years: September 2012 in Baltimore, MD and this past weekend in Portland, OR.
So what is Fitbloggin? Creator Roni puts it best on the website:
The FitBloggin’ Conference is for anyone who blogs about fitness, wellness, good food and a healthy lifestyle–regardless of where they are in their journey. Our attendees are a melting pot of fit-minded people. Some of us are on a mission to lose weight. Others are training for triathlons. We have gym rats and folks learning to run. We welcome vegetarians, vegans, and convenience food junkies alike. We may all be in different stage of fitness, but we all share one passion: To live a happy, healthy balanced life.
More than just another blogging conference, FitBloggin’ is all about the desire to use technology, blogging and social media to motivate, inspire and foster a culture of health and wellness. We strive to bring together bloggers from all walks of life to create a tightly connected group of men and women who care deeply about and are committed to spreading this passion for fitness.
But, as I described earlier it is so much more. It is truly the first place in my life that I have felt 100% accepted and judgement free. Over time I will talk more specifically about my experience at Fitbloggin, especially about co-leading a discussion and participating in the Fashion Show.
For now, I leave you with this dreamland. This safe place where I can be me ... and get a hundred hugs for it!