At camp last year, I met a whole lot of people, many of whom I had been admiring from the comfort of the Twittered Internet (oh hai, @dshaw, @izs, @mikeal, @polotek, etc :-D). I wasn't sure how many of them would remember me, or even if any of them would think I was cool enough to hang out with beyond the confines of Walker Creek Ranch, but taking advantage of the opportunity to meet them in person was probably one of the smartest things I've ever done.
You see, it turns out amazing people hang out with other amazing people. One of those people at the time was Chris Williams. I'm not entirely sure how, but somehow he found out that I have a history with robots. This fact, combined with the fact that I wanted to start speaking, was the impetus that eventually got me to apply for a speaking slot at JSConf US 2013.
JSConf was easily one of the greatest events I've ever had the pleasure to attend. The talk I gave was, in and of itself, and incredible propellant for my career - when you speak on the JSConf stage, you can pretty much bet that many more stages will request your presence. (I myself have now received more talk invitations for October than I can physically attend... unless I manage to clone myself somehow.)
But JSConf also provided me with so much more - I made even more friends while solidifying friendships I'd started in the year prior (here's looking at you, @rmurphey, @rioter, @angelinamagnum, and so very many countless others!). It also introduced me to Rick Waldron, with whom I genuinely hoped I'd get along, seeing as how we'd be spending a LOT of time together both at JSConf and NodeConf 2013 :)
Rick and I, along with @sarajchipps, @reconbot, and several others, held the first official NodeBots event as well - and what an incredible experience that was! The four of us helped more than 50 people build robots of every shape and size - many of the NodeBots attendees had never touched a servo before, and here they were creating toilet paper dispenser notification robots and cat annoyance devices. Best. Feeling. Ever.
Approximately one month later, I returned to Walker Creek Ranch for NodeConf 2013. This time, I wasn't an attendee, but rather a presenter. How I managed to go from a node n00b to a node expert of sorts in the span of a year is the tale for another story, but I couldn't have been as successful as I was without the assistance of the rest of the hardware session team, including Rick and Elijah Insua. We may have been exhausted, but damn if we didn't have a blast!
And, of course, there was so much more to NodeConf this year than just running the hardware session. I - once again - got to strengthen friendships and make new ones (massive shout outs to @stubbornella, @olizilla, @nexxylove, @philmod, and omg so very, very many others). This year, I spent more time hanging around the campfire, making silly jokes, and giving awesome high-fives than ever before; I knew from the last NodeConf that those "little" things (which can easily seem silly and maybe even like a waste of time to some) were what would make my experience great and set me up for my next big adventure.
Also (and I can't possibly forget this one) - a huge, undeniable thank you to my husband, Max Wallace, for pushing me when I was scared, challenging me when I was lazy, and congratulating me when I succeeded beyond my wildest imagination. Though I might have been able to get here on my own, it wouldn't have been nearly as fun or exciting.
My friends, this is only the beginning.