I'm no public speaking pro. In fact, up until recently I would have preferred to get a colonoscopy in front of 3,000 people rather than speak in front of them. But sometimes life surprises you and you get to surprise it right back.

In May, one of my essays was selected as a Voice of the Year for the BlogHer 2012 conference, and I was asked to read it during the Community Keynote along with 14 other bloggers. What a thrill! The chosen essay, On Being Nine, is a mother-daughter story about harnessing the power of being nine. It's one of my favorites, so the honor was especially sweet.

Leading up to the event, I told people that the piece was a gift to my daughter and my mother. This is very much true. But what I didn't realize until afterward is that the Voices of the Year experience--sharing my story and voice with thousands of people--was also a gift to myself. And it was absolutely a gift I'll never forget. I owe many people thanks.

Thank you to BlogHer for the opportunity and the virtual coaching. Thank you to my friends and family who cheered me on from near and far. Thank you to everyone who shared their own mother-daughter stories with me. (It's pretty fantastic how many former 9-year-olds had grandiose nicknames like mine!) Thank you to the ENT doctor who tried his best to heal my laryngitis when I went completely mute two days before the conference. Thank you to everyone who said my extremely husky voice sounded cool. And finally, thank you to whoever was in charge of the Voices of the Year music. I absolutely LOVED walking out on stage to Johnny Cash! I fell into a burning ring of fire... I'm happy to report nobody went down in flames. 

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Update: The videos are now online! You can view mine here. I was honored to share the stage with such incredible talent. All of the readers brought unforgettable stories, so I encourage you to spend some time watching their videos. I especially loved the hilarious pieces by Shari Simpson of Dusty Earth Mother and Neil Kramer of Citizen of the Month, plus the touching ones by Vikki Reich of Up Popped a Fox and Dresden Shumaker of Creating Motherhood.