Our blogger-meetup this weekend was a rousing success. Everyone had fun. Despite my apprehension beforehand, I enjoyed myself immensely; my anxiety was unfounded.
There are three reasons it went so well. First, the selection of Vancouver was inspired. Vancouver is rightly considered one of the top five cities in the world for living-quality. The city is a thriving, vibrant place with lots to do. Shopping, dining and other entertainment are everywhere. The city is clean, attractive and pleasant. You get a good vibe when you're there.
The biggest surprise Vancouver had for me is its nature. Unlike most urban locations, Vancouver has wilderness. Stanley Park is bigger than New York's Central Park and in much more of a natural state. The park is surrounded by water and there's a fabulous walkway ringing its edge. Strolling that is a 2-3 hour walk and I did it today with a big smile on my face.
Vancouver also houses the second most popular attraction in Canada -- a shopping mecca named Granville Island. It's huge and has diverse food, clothes and craft offerings. We spent most of Saturday wandering it.
As they say in "Pulp Fiction," it's the little things that stand out. Canadian money is printed on plastic, not paper, which feels funny at first. You get used to it. Also, they don't have pennies -- they did away with them two years ago and it's nice to not have to carry them around. Prices are rounded up or down so the smallest change you'll get is a nickel. There are no dollar bills; instead, they use $1 and $2 coins. The smallest paper-money you'll see is a $5 bill.
The second reason for the meetup's success was the individuals who came. About 20 stylish women travelled from around the world to attend. There were gals from Finland and Florida, East Coast Canada and West Coast, The Netherlands and the U.S.
All the women who came were friendly and nice. We mingled easily and endlessly. By the end of the event, everyone knew everyone and there was lots of interaction.
The final reason it went so well was the thing I worried about ahead of time. The women accepted me. Before the event, I knew only one-third of the attendees, which meant two-thirds of them didn't know me. I worried that, without knowing I'm transgender, some might object to my presence. This is a group of women; I feared some might view me as unwelcome. Fortunately, that wasn't the case.
Every person treated me warmly. Everyone called me Ally and considered me one of the girls. I was deeply touched by that generous attitude.
The dynamic of the group was distinctly female. People were acknowledged and invited to participate in discussions, even shy folk like me. There was no vying for dominance which is what I see when men gather. Everyone cared that everyone else was happy and we reached out to draw everyone into the group. There was not a single person who felt left out.
Suzanne told us there'd be a clothing swap so we should bring an item to give away. At the swap (held in a hotel room), the clothes were dumped on a bed and people started trying them on with mounting loud excitement. I didn't expect that; I just assumed we'd pick an item. Some gals even removed their outer clothing to see if a dress fit and I was relieved at their comfort with my presence. I was viewed as a woman among women -- and that affected me emotionally. I've never been accepted that way in my life, despite craving it for half a century. Combined with the warm friendship in the room, I was deeply moved. This was a momentous experience I'll remember for the rest of my life.
The only downside to our group was the speed at which we moved. Trying to get twenty chatting women to move is like watching a glacier travel. From the time we agreed to go somewhere until the time when we actually left was at least an hour. It was an amusing phenomenon to observe.
I'm grateful to all the bloggers who attended and believe I forged new friendships.
We took gobs of photos which will follow in later posts. I don't want to overwhelm you now.
Ally, it warms my heart to know that you had such a stellar time on Canadian soil and even more so that you felt so wonderfully at home and comfortable amongst that diverse group of women. What a profoundly awesome experience to have. I can just imagine the many positive ways it will continue to enrich your life from here on out.ReplyDelete
In case no one else told, please feel free to hop back over this side of the 49th anytime. You're always welcome in Canada, eh! :)
Thanks, Jessica. I'm already planning my next trip -- I love your country. I was thinking about popping up to Niagra Falls which is the FIRST most popular attraction in Canada. It's actually quite close to where I live. And you're right about something I didn't think readers would grasp -- this experience "will continue to enrich [my] life from here on out."Delete
how wonderful! i love vancouver! i love reading about your positive experiences when meeting others. you are a treasure!ReplyDelete
If I'm a "treasure," then I need a chest! :-)Delete
I chuckled about that glacier comment ... it's so true! LOLReplyDelete
I'm glad you had a wonderful time, Ally. Makes me wish I'd gone, except I was worried I'd be too shy to even speak to anyone and end up feeling really uncomfortable. Looks like that wasn't an issue in the slightest. :)
No, it wasn't. And I'd guess that a good portion of the bloggers there were shy, some even more than me.Delete
You can have some of my chest, as I find it a bit annoying. I will give you at least two cup sizes. How's that for a start? I'm so glad you got to Stanley Park and were able to walk around the sea wall. That walk must have felt like a swiftly moving river more than a glacier. The umbrella made it home with me quite safely and is now proudly guarding my front door where I will see it daily and think of you. It was so wonderful to meet you and I feel we have gone from acquaintance to friendship. Do you think so? xoxoReplyDelete
Yay! Glad you like the umbrella. We absolutely became friends. Real friends. The kind who give away cup sizes. :-)Delete
I'm so glad you had fun and I certainly hope you got something cute at the swap.ReplyDelete
I did! A pleated skirt.Delete
Ally, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed walking around Stanley Park! Strolling the seawall is a favourite pastime for me too! The first photo captures how I feel about English Bay...LOVE! It's of you, yes?ReplyDelete
It was lovely meeting you...chatting with you and Melanie at Luke's and again with Shawna, Tiina and Suzanne yesterday are special memories for me. You helped make my in-between moments of the meet-up as enjoyable as the planned events!!
Same here, Sue.Delete
Ally - I am so glad you loved Vancouver! I was so hoping to pop over to meet and say hi, but unfortunately/fortunately I was teaching a two day novice motorcycle course, so I couldn't pop off the island.ReplyDelete
I am so glad that you have a great time! Vancouver Island is even more beautiful than Vancouver, you will have to come here one day!
I will. I like the entire region and have several friends who live there.Delete
Ali - let me know the next time you are out this way!Delete
I am sooooo happy to hear that it went so well :)ReplyDelete
I remembered over the weekend that it was happening!
You have described Vancouver in such a way that I'd actually like to visit someday.
Oh, I'm so glad you had fun! I was a little worried that you were a bit overwhelmed at the swap - I didn't realize you were having such a rich emotional experience from it. It was absolutely wonderful to meet you and talk with you! I wish we'd been able to have some quiet(er) shopping time together, but next time! I get frustrated with the gaggling (you may have noted my herding, lol).ReplyDelete
Again, so wonderful that you are having so much fun in my country - I am proud to welcome you here any time! Please come back! But one day, I will come to you!
Sheila, if it wasn't for your prodding, our group would have never moved anywhere! Thanks for taking charge.Delete
So nice to read your post about the blogger meet-up, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Yes, you're absolutely right about chatting women moving slowly... well, being slow first deciding to move, and which way, before actually moving and inch... BTW, the true test of being accepted is when women start talking more freely, about personal stuff, and making dirty jokes... and trust me, most men find that stuff scary as hell and run away screaming... But I think you passed that one, too. Anyway, I enjoyed talking to you very much, and look forward to staying in touch.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Tiina. I had fun meeting you and will continue our connection.Delete
I'm so happy to hear that you had a wonderful time Ally! Your story about the blogger meet up made me both happy and caused me to tear up a little. We shouldn't have to experience distress or anxiety for being who we are, but it happens so much more than many of us realize. I'm so happy that you made lovely new memories, and hopefully new friends!ReplyDelete
I wonder if they do blogger meetups here, it sounds amazing and such an experience. I will have to look into that and of coarse they would accept you Ally your an inspirational person.ReplyDelete
Wow, sounds like Saturday was AWESOME!! I'm so glad you loved it all, how could you NOT like us nice, apologetic Canadians :P Was amazing to meet you!!! Remember-- you have to come back in September to go shopping with Sheila and I :)ReplyDelete
Canadians are the BEST!Delete
My heart feels so full right now from reading this. I'm just so moved. I love you.ReplyDelete
Thank you Jen. I wanted to tell YOU all about this because I know you care. I appreciate that so much. Hug!Delete
Oh Ally, I am so happy for you; like tears happy. I think most of the bloggers I follow went to this meet-up and it sounds amazing. And I'm happiest of all that you met other amazing bloggers and that you were accepted for the awesome gal that you are. And that Shawna was there! And that you got something from the clothing swap! And! And! And!ReplyDelete
I agree! The excitement is overwhelming.Delete
I'm glad you liked Vancouver. I'm so happy the you felt welcome and accepted. Glad you had a great time.ReplyDelete
It looks like a fantastic trip. I'm both jealous and glad you got to go. The blogging community is the best.ReplyDelete
sounds like another amazing experience. never underestimate the power of a group of women!!ReplyDelete
It was a privilege to finally meet you!!!ReplyDelete
What really surprised me about you is your gentleness. How on earth are you a LAWYER, in New York, no less! Maybe you gird manly armor when you're in the that world and being around us gals let you express your softer side?
You are a real sweetheart, my dear, and hope to see you again in August! Mwah!
Thank you for such lovely words. And perceptive ones. That's exactly what I have to do -- gird manly armor for combat. I'm so relieved when I can take it off and relax.Delete
I'm delighted with your observations of Canada.ReplyDelete
I think that the slow movement of the group meant that we were able to talk a bit more and enjoy each other's company longer. I must admit, if I were to change anything, it would have been to have more one on one time with each person that attended.
I was wondering if the clothing swap was okay for you or not. I'm so glad you found it fulfilling and I'm happy that you found a treasure to take home with you. I think you made a big impression on everyone attending.
This was the first time I truly saw just how shy you are.
With one or two people, I'm not shy; with a larger group, I am shy. I recede when faced with large numbers.Delete
I so wish I would have been there! Vancouver is such a great city. I really hope you had a chance to check out all the food carts by the Cambie bridge and that you went to Yaletown (my hangout). Oh and hopefully you had a chance to check out Revolver coffee in Gastown.ReplyDelete
No problem accepting you Ally. You are warm and friendly. And shy haha. I knew you are a transgender from Suzanne's visit to you. So... if you are, then you are a woman. Preriod.ReplyDelete
Thanks ever so much for the great red sweater you brought to the swap.
I'm glad that cute item found a good home.Delete
It will be on my blog in a couple of weeks.Delete
I can't beging to imagine the trepidation that you must have felt prior to going but I'm so glad you gained so much from the experience. That definitely took balls going to an event like that. But from reading quite a few of the blogs of the bloggers who attended I knew that it would be a great event on many levels and it sounded as if it was just that. I've been reading everyone's wraps post and enjoying them all and lovely to read another one from such an unique perspective. Thank you for sharing.ReplyDelete
What fun! I'm so glad you got to do this. Yes, women in packs tend to move quite slowly, but there are usually lots of laughs while you wait.ReplyDelete
I'm so happy to hear you had a great time, Ally! Your account of the meetup had me tearing up. Told you ours was a welcoming city for people of every stripe/polkadot/pattern, didn't I? Sorry I didn't get to every event but that sure was one special weekend!ReplyDelete
I'm so glad you had a stellar time and felt so warmly accepted by all the ladies. You seem to be such a genuine and kind human being that it really isn't surprising.ReplyDelete
Sounds awesome, so pleased you had a good time (and that you felt accepted amongst all the women). Happy days :)ReplyDelete