It’s a constant struggle for me to turn my thoughts and my passions into typed words. Case and point, I am trying to do justice to the experience that was the Dad 2.0 Summit in Houston, Texas, yet I know that the finished product of this summation will be nowhere close to what I actually want to say.
Much like my trip to Blissdom Canada last October, I came into this conference with a fear wrenched stomach. The difference this time around was that these were my direct peers in that we are all occupying the space in the fatherhood advocacy industry. We write about fatherhood with the knowledge that there is still a limited market for what we do, which means that in order to get your message viewed you have to stand out from the crowd; or write like Black Hockey Jesus…
The Dad 2.0 conference, for me, was about stepping out of my comfort zone and doing the exact opposite of what my brain was telling me to do. It was forgetting about idolizing people and realizing that we’re all just people. It was tackling my fear of flying. It was about not holding back the personality I tend to subdue and letting people see the real me. And yes, that crazy dancing, high fiving and ear to ear smiling maniac that a few of you saw at back to back karaoke nights was very much the real me. Special shout out to Amy Spreitzer Windsor of the Bitchin’ Wives Club for organizing those nights out. You can check out her amazing Karaoke montage right here!
I took so much out of this conference that I’m still processing and remembering things days after they happened. I had real conversations with people and I’m not talking about the average “being a Dad is kind of neat talks” either. I had meaningful conversations about people’s passions, kids, cancer, death, writing and relationships. Every single person’s story was unique and amazing and interesting. There were no ego’s, no competing and people were more than willing to engage in conversation, regardless of how many followers they had on their websites and social media accounts. It was awesome.
I had the special opportunity to stand before my peers and read to them something so personal to me, that I wasn’t sure I would be able to get all the way through it. Well, I got up there and I got through it; and then I went immediately to my room and I cried for what felt like hours, even though it was only a minute or two. I wasn’t ready to be completely vulnerable in front of everybody. I think I am now.
I think I accomplished almost everything I set out to do by attending this conference. The only regret that I can think of is that I didn’t take more time to sit down with Jim Higley, who I didn’t know much about going into the conference. I’ve come to realize that he is one of those rare people who inspires us to be better people to each other. He further exemplified this by telling that group that his $3,000 1st place prize from the Ready, Set, Eat competition, would be going to help a young boy with testicular cancer. I didn’t get a chance to tell him that he inspired me in person, so I’ll do it here.
I have a million Thank You’s to hand out but I’ll save a lot of them for emails because I’m sure you’ve either stopped reading this already or are getting close to it. That said, there are a couple people I would like to mention.
* To my roommate, Andy Herald of How To Be A Dad. If I bothered you with my incessant questions, messy side of the room or general hovering, you didn’t show it even one time. Thank you for being open with your thoughts and ideas. I got a lot out of our conversations and appreciate you taking that time with me.
* To my Blogger Spotlight co-readers: Whit Honea, Carter Gaddis, Jon Hockey Jesus & Kevin McKeever. It was an honour to share the stage with you and listen to your stories. Through this exercise I learned that I don’t have to write like other people in order to be successful. Just because someone’s writing is great, doesn’t mean that mine can’t also be great in its own way.
* To the brand sponsors, who are proving that they believe in the voice we are developing as fathers and as men. And to title sponsor, Dove Men+ Care for everything they provided to make this conference the huge success it was. Thank you for everything!
* A very big Thank You to Sharon, Zeev and the rest of the staff at Parent Tested, Parent Approved for sponsoring me on this amazing journey. Without your help, I would have never had the chance to experience it and I am eternally grateful for it. I’m excited to see what the future holds for us as partners and hope I did your brand proud.
I got on the plane to come home and as I started writing this, I began to cry and had to stop. Every time I started trying to write again, I started to cry again. I don’t know why that is. Maybe I’m just tired. It certainly can’t be that I got emotionally charged and inspired by a bunch of dudes, right? I really miss my family and the only thing I want at this very moment is to be home with them. PS – After typing that last line, I put the computer away so my seat mates didn’t think I was unstable.
In the end, I laughed, cried, sang, spoke and even danced on a pole (for the first time, I swear). I left everything on the table, had few regrets, made many new friends and leave as a different man, who is more energized and inspired than ever. Thank you to everyone who took the time to get to know me and who made this the incredible event it was. I hope I represented myself and my country in a positive light and I’m already planning to do it all over again next year!
I’ll leave you with my interview with Brad from DadLabs, which was a lot of fun to do. Cheers!.