Beyond The 140: Part 5

Leaving the stage I felt different. Something in me had changed.

I walked back into the greenroom to smiles and high fives. I sat down to compose myself and try and start breathing again. I could vaguely hear Mark (Horvath) giving his talk on the live stream to the greenroom. I don't remember much. Everything was moving in slow motion and fast forward at the same time. Walking out of the greenroom every 2 steps I was stopped. Hugs, kind words, tears, thank yous, smiles... To be honest, I was overwhelmed. I smiled and returned hugs and kind words but desperately needed a few minutes to gather my thoughts, I also needed food. I loved being able to affect people, to hug people, hear their words but I am also a girl who needs processing time, and who is easily overwhelmed.

Then Kat found me.

All I remember saying is "Its taken me 45 minutes to get across the room, I need out". She grabbed my hand, told me "head down" and made for the exit. I muttered thanks yous and smiled and Kat had me outside in minutes. Still being stopped, but outside I felt much better, breathing easier. Jacki and Gord found me outside on their way to lunch, I knew leaving wasn't really an option but asked them to bring me back something to eat.

 (At this point I have to say, looking back, had I not been there with friends, old and new, I don't know that my experience would have been so amazing. My beautiful family of men and women, young, old, rich, poor, tall, short, made 140 what it was for me. Leaving NYC, I wasn't just leaving a city, I was leaving a group of people I knew had changed my life. People who were there for me. People who look out for me. I am grateful.)

Sitting outside with Kat, she looks at me and says "Remember when you told me you didn't know how you were going to be able to talk between Carlos Delgado and Mark Horvath? You did it, and YOU got the standing ovation. Not them, you." It was a moment of realization for me, I COULD do anything, and I could do it well if I put my head in the game. Including speaking between two of my heros. So lunch wasn't really lunch (but I did get a fantastic slice of pizza thanks to Jacki and Gord) and already it was time to head back in to the conference and be inspired some more.

Have you ever seen a new side of a friend that you really wern't expecting? An amazing thing happened on day one. I got to see Jeff with his family. I met his beautiful mother, sister and nephew(who stopped me after my talk for a hug, I now know where Jeff learned to hug so well) as well as his wonderful Uncle Jerry, who I will talk about more a little later on. I also got to see Jeff introduce his twin 18 year old sons Dylan and Jake. The pride on his face even just saying his sons names will stay with me forever. There's something about a proud papa that just makes people smile.

Now Jake and Dylan are Sneakerheads (I hope I got that right, seriously I wear Walmart flip flops in the summer and ballet flats in the winter, I fail at shoes) and they took the stage with friends and designer/businessmen Jeff Staple (stapledesign.com) and Ronnie Fieg (ronniefieg.com). The talk had a great feel of guys just sitting around chatting. I learned a little something about shoes and a little something more about how annoying it can be when people don't read photo captions before commenting or asking questions. I've been trying to be a little more aware of that now, yup, I got schooled lol.

It was clear passion would be a huge part of the afternoon as well as education. Greg Corbin with the Philly Youth Poetry Movement brought two unbelievable young people with him to perform their original writings, Sinnea Douglass and Seff Al-Afriqi. These kids, really, honestly people, we don't give our youth enough credit. These kids were amazing. Educated, articulate, passionate. I have so much more faith in the generation after mine than I do in the one I grew up in. The apathy generation is over, keep your eyes on the kids, they're going to save the world. Sinnea and Seff were brilliant and I would bet they bleed talent.

There was an interesting break in the inspiration with the Music Artists and the Real Time Web panel. A panel moderator with no control and a panellist showing up late really over shadowed where the light should have been on the panel, Dash. I had really been looking forward to this panel, as a vocalist with no stinkin clue how to break in to the music industry I was hoping for some insight. Which I started to get as Dash spoke about people approaching him and calling him the Pauly D guy. His easy smile and laid back demeanour I could see why people would approach him. And enter Charlamagne, late, who from what I understood is a morning show host on NYC radio. Despite the attempt to stay on track the panel spiralled until it ended in a debate about whether or not Kim Kardashian was a cold fish in bed. It was overly obvious they had no clue what kind of conference they were at and Leslie was not the one to control these personalities on stage. Dash was the light on this panel, but otherwise, I was sadly disappointed.

It was time for our boys (and girl) Kedre, Jessey and Anne-Marie to bring us back. Now Kedre and Jessey already had a history of making me cry. As the artists behind the We Are Visible murals I already knew how special they were. Having seen the unveiling in Toronto and been brought to tears, I couldn't wait to see the boys talk about their art. What I wasn't expecting was the touching story from Jessey about a kid he gave a chance to when he didn't have to. Anne-Marie was quiet, but her presence wasn't missed by anyone. This small woman is a force to contend with on the streets. As an outreach nurse, Anne-Marie's job involves a backpack of supplies and the street. The people that are avoided on the streets are the ones that Anne-Marie goes to first. I have nothing but respect for this woman. And nothing but respect for Kedre and Jessey for their work in the community and internationally to help shine a light on homelessness.

I needed a break... It was time for me to slip away for the day and get some food and quiet time. I was tired, drained and hungry.

After much debate and fun poking in the lobby Taylor, Krystal, Liz and I took off to locate food before the Twittementary screening later that night. I thought the emotional part of my day was over... I had no idea.
To Be Continued...


Beyond The 140: Part 4 (My Talk)

I should have known.

I should have known that Jeff Pulver introducing me would yank my heart out before I even stepped out on stage. My beautiful friend could not have honoured me more with his introduction, I felt like he was introducing me to a friend, not a room full of people and an internet full of strangers. Warmth, love, heart radiated, sounding like a proud big brother he said;

"Who's here from Canada? Not that I pick favorite speakers, ever, but when I was in Kitchener-Waterloo, KW, the reason I came back to KW again and again was for the next speaker. There's something amazing about this woman who is just so real. Whose story is hard but she makes a difference in what she does, and she matters, a lot. And I'm really happy to be able to call Jodi a friend of mine, and I'm even more happy that   she's going to come on stage and share something very special."

I was floored. Not even on stage and already floored. I believe my "welcome to the stage hug" included me whispering "how am I supposed to live up to that?". I didn't have time to think before it was just me and a spotlight. The air was heavy in my lungs, the floor was hard under my feet, the people were watching and waiting...

"Hi, my name is Jodi, and I don't know who I am."

The air changed. I could feel the curiosity in the room. I had their attention.

To be honest, I dont remember what I said. I know my message got across, I know I cracked some jokes, I know there was real emotion from me and I know real emotion came back from the audience. I remember holding out my hand to the people and watching it shake uncontrollably. I remember telling myself "this is your chance" and stripping down the fronts to tell it like it is. I told the world I wasn't perfect, I was far from it. I told them I was a mental health thriver. That I was ok with it.  I was more than ok with it. I am not ashamed of my mental illness and that no one should be. I remember talking about my tattoo and what it meant to me. That "Let It Be" wasn't just a lyric from a Beatles song. It was a way of life.

I remember doing something I've dreamt of doing my whole life.

Terrified and shaking... I sang.

Anyone who knows me knows my two dreams. To advocate for those of us with mental illness and to sing. Jeff had given me a platform to do both and maybe start a life based on these two passions.

Grateful, humbled, amazed, in shock, I watched the audience get to their feet.

It didn't register at first. This standing ovation was for me.

The standing ovation was for me.

To be continued...

Previously recorded by my friend Greg Bisch and I (On an iPhone lol) - Let It Be

**As soon as the individual videos are posted I will post my talk here**