“Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
In the classic novel The Hobbit. Bilbo Baggins has an adventure that changes him forever. There and Back Again, the subtitle of the book, simplifies the epic journey in which the hobbit discovers more about himself than he ever knew.
I have just returned from a similar journey. Just like the hobbit Baggins it is not in my nature to go on adventures. I am quite comfortable in my familiar hole.
And in the same way that Gandolf appeared to Bilbo and offered him the opportunity, Doug French, the co-founder of Dad 2.0, offered me an opportunity to go on an adventure. Once I boarded the plane to Houston, I had one thought, “What was I thinking?” I have been blogging for a little over a year. I have good followers, faithful followers, but I do not have the droves of readers that others do.
I landed in Houston and the worry bugs took over my body. I received a free shuttle from the airport in a brand new Honda Pilot courtesy of Honda, a Dad 2.0 sponsor. I arrived at the posh Four Seasons feeling out of place.
Then I started to meet people. I met Laurie, then MochaDad, then LesbianDad, then Co-Founder John Pancini, and then “Gandolf” appeared in the form of Doug French. The entire team was gracious, informative, and supportive.
I went to the Dove Men’s Care Lounge where I got a shave from the greatest barber in the world, Marco Martinez.
And then they gave me a sword. I got to meet and do a training session with Steven McMichael the fight choreographer of The Hobbit. He has worked with the likes of Will Smith and Hugh Jackman…and now The Captain. He made me look good. He was an awesome teacher, humble man, and proud father of 5.
As I sword fought, my virtual friends started to trickle in to my real world. I met my roommates DaDa Rocks, Roby Brown DadofDivas ne’ the “Hyper Hobbit”, The Head Dude aka Dude of The House, Blogger Father, DadScribe, Canadian Dad Blog, the guys from How to Be A Dad. I met mom and dad bloggers that I had never read before. I met AlphaMom – the first blog I started reading when I decided to try my hand at this blogging thing.
I got to meet the tremendous trio from Life of Dad – Ryan, David, and Patrick – guys I felt as though I had known for years already.
I met inspirational people like Ted Rubin and Brene Brown. I almost deleted my blog and left when I heard Black Hockey Jesus (yes, that is his name – no he is not black or Jesus) read his amazing writing.
I was treated kindly by the sponsors – Dove Men + Care, The National Milk Mustache Campaign (got a sneak preview of the Super Bowl ad – loved it), Honda, Kraft Cheese, ConAgra Foods, Sears, Turtle Wax, Ella’s Kitchen, Jamba Juice, and Kidde.
When the conference came to an end I had a new vision of what it was like to be a father. To be a parent. I am in debt to all those in attendance. Their courage to share their highs, lows, and everything in between.
Last week I grew as my own brand, as a father, as a man. I have a new appreciation for the awesome responsibility I have as a father and as a husband.
After being gone for three days it was a joy returning home. And although my shuttle with Honda was nice, my transportation home was heartwarming to say the least.
My adventure changed me – in a good way. I enjoyed my adventure and hope to go on another soon. (Maybe BlogHer?) If you have an opportunity to go on your own adventure, I would encourage you to go there…and back again.