This was my first WordCamp Phoenix that I attended as not an organizer, and that was kind of weird. But I was grateful to attend as a speaker and share some excitement I have about the future of authentication with WebAuthn and passkeys.

I had a GREAT audience to kick off the first talk of day 1. It was fun to play off the energy of a very happy-to-be-back audience. We learned, we laughed, we commiserated. They laughed at my jokes and put me at ease. It was a lot of fun.

speaking in wcphx fast break track
One half of the audience.
wcphx the other half of the audience speaker selfie
The other half of the audience saying hi.

The last WordCamp I went to was WCPHX in 2020. I kept saying, “well last year…” in reference to 3 years ago. In many ways, it felt like it was just a really long year. In some ways, I could see the toll that isolation took on us all. 

Speaking

They say the fear of public speaking is the most common phobia ahead of death, spiders, or heights. I am alive on stage. I had the gift of playing off the audience’s excitement to just be back to normal and it was so fun. 

word camp phoenix talk
Photo credit Shaylee Hansen @HansenShaylee

Sponsoring

Kadence at WCPHX

Thanks to some creativity on the part of my leadership at StellarWP, Kadence was able to sponsor the event. We brought Rubik’s cubes, which were so much fun and engaging, really nice pens, some light up yo-yos and some Kadence playing cards. Everything went fast though I had too many pens. TSA at PHX, “What they heck, why do you have so many pens in your luggage.” Apparently they’re quite identifiable! I tried to give some away to the TSA folks who were exceptionally nice, but they cannot take gifts, not even swag. You heard it here first.

The crowd was either, “Kadence changed my life,” or “what’s Kadence.” I did a number of demos. I helped someone get a site off of Wix onto WordPress+Kadence. I showed one person who is using an alternative blocks plugin why Kadence might be a better solution.

I got to ask long time Kadence users how the Blocks 3.0 update went for them and everyone was pretty happy with the update.

Michelle

The #michelleandme challenge, photo credit Marcus Burnette @marcusdburnette

Yes. She gets a heading all to herself. Over the past few years, Michelle has become one of my besties. We podcast together, we lift each other up, we find people who we lift up together to help them find greater success. Sometimes it feels like she’s just my partner in community shenanigans and I take for granted that we’re co-workers. But go to a WordCamp with her and it’s like watching a force of nature at work. She connects with everyone and immediately makes even the newest community member feel like they belong here. She follows inspiration and creativity and makes fun and memorable things happen. I was blessed to partner with her and watch her work her magic. I mean, look at this.

You People

I got the best hugs from the best people. I got to reconnect to my WordPress people and my Phoenix people in ways that really needed to happen. I got to move beyond some trauma that I didn’t know I had. 

I had one woman come up to me and tell me she’s been following my work for years; it was a “biggest fan” moment and it brought me to tears.

I got one exceptional hug that was so powerful it made me cry. You know who you are. I needed that; thank you.

Travel & Family

I hate DFW airport. I cried at PHX terminal 4 when I had flashbacks to all of the times Mark picked me up at door 1 after so many trips. I feel confused and sad as to why we moved away from PHX. So many of my memories in TX have “stroke” all over it, and my brain feels like it’s all Texas’ fault this happened. 

I had to pay $32 an hour for a CNA to come and care for my husband, and I had to rely WAY too much on Frank to help with Claire and Mark and my fur-enabled family members. I guess I’ll be updating some of his WP and server stuff to pay him back.

It’s making me see how heavy my life is right now, like an anchor keeping me in one place. There’s not a lot I can do about that right now, but I’m acutely aware of wanting things to be easier and lighter.

Me.

In last place, me. I’ve been using the experience of Mark’s stroke as fodder for doing a lot of internal work. This weekend, I stretched on some things and got the feedback I needed.

Representing Kadence has been very powerful for me, and it’s shown me that my abilities to tell big stories and empower people is not a fluke. I am a brand builder. Just give me a stellar product, treat me well, and let me show you what can be done.

As well, there is something to be said and claimed about my personal brand, my reputation. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. Don’t care. I know who I am. The only regrets I have in my life are that I haven’t claimed my own power and brand earlier.

I would have stood up for you.

I would have stood up for myself.

I would have uplifted more.

I would have loved harder.

But there’s no better time than now to start.

Because when you do that as big as you can, there’s no one who can stop you.

Thank you

I am so grateful to the organizing team at WCPHX; I know what goes into this event and it was so worth it. Thank you to everyone who volunteered, to the speakers who traveled from around the world to come, and to the sponsors who make this possible. To everyone who came to learn more about WordPress, thank you. To everyone who stopped by to say hi, to learn about Kadence and tell me how WordPress is working for you, thank you.

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