Myself and the lovely Aoife Kirwan represented the 9 strong 'MS and Me' bloggers team at the Bloggers Awards Ireland last weekend. Only in the first year of our blog, we were nominated for Best Group Blog and Best Overall Blog.
In the run up to the awards, I didn't have much time to think about it all. But on the morning of the awards, I found myself getting a little teary. Okay, a lot teary. I felt honoured to be representing the team with Aoife. I reflected on the strange journey that I have been on health wise in the last few years, that somehow led me to start blogging, for my own blog and for the MS Society. In my small way, I hope that my writings help someone and that I am giving something back to the MS Society that has been good to me. In return, I get a real buzz out of writing and love to read the words of others, that I can relate to and make me feel a little less crazy.
Roll on 6pm. I still hadn't decided what to wear, but decided that I wasn't doing the 80's themed dress. The odd time I go out, I want to wear a proper guna. Legging it out the door a half hour later, I wondered if my fake tan would appear any time soon and cursed myself for not letting my nail varnish dry. I landed in the Westgrove Hotel, in Clane and I felt like I had arrived. The party was in full swing, with lots of 80's gear, but thankfully lots of people in regular guna deas's. Aoife hadn't yet arrived, so I stood on my own for a while, a little self conscious. Before long, I was chatting away to fellow bloggers, comparing notes and plugging our blogs. A diverse bunch of people, but all equally committed to writing about stuff and posting it on the WWW.
A funny thing happened then. I've always been pretty open about my MS and have written and spoken publically about it. I'm very proud to be part of the blogging team. But that night, when I said that I wrote for 'MS and Me', I was revealing something that I'd rather not, to people that I had just met. You can see by the way that people react to you that they aren't sure what to think, perhaps thinking that 'she doesn't look sick'. That night, I just wanted to be a girl in a dress at an awards night who writes stuff. Of course, I gave my personal blog a plug wherever I could (http://poppycottagediaries.blogspot.ie ) if you are interested). My personal blog was also nominated in the Awards long list, which I was chuffed about.
Once we were settled at our table, I got over that feeling. We shared with the guys from http://www.isitabicycle.com and the rather fobulus gal from http://hautesofabulous.blogspot.ie . The organisers had gone to a lot of effort to dress the tables 80's esque and with really decent goodie bags (dontcha just love free bits and bobs !!). There was something like 170 finalists, between all of the categories.
Our host Bunny, was a drag queen with a very enviable waistline and a spectacular 'do (which I wouldn't like to see near a naked flame). A Nordie Presbyterian, he wasn't letting us blogging Southern Catholic types away with much. The craic was great. If I had one complaint, it would be that I was starving all night, waiting on the food, which was served between award presentations. It was largely my own fault for not eating earlier, while battling with the wardrobe/nail-varnish/children/dog. Still, the Glenisk yoghurt dessert cocktail thingies were worth the wait and I horsed into them.
Throughout the night, we were encouraged to tweet and use social media. It was the type of thing that I usually tut at - people glued to their phone during a meal. But here, I was part of a bigger thing, kindred spirits committed to sharing their stuff, whatever it was on t'internet.
The MS and Me blog didn't win any awards on the night, but it really didn't matter. A cliche I know, but it really felt like we were winners already. Hopefully the nomination will raise awareness of this wonderful resource for people with MS and their families. For me personally, the awards made me realise how big this blogging thing is. It was an affirmation that 'yes, you can' - provided that you have access to basic technology and the confidence to press 'submit'. I feel more comfortable about this new world that I have entered, quite by accident. Me, just a girl in a dress, who writes stuff.