I didn’t expect the emotions that hit while we were all on stage awaiting the winner’s name to be called at the Home + Garden 2016 Trendsetter of the Year contest this past weekend at the Denver Home Show.
I mean… I had been expecting this win. Somehow we think that when we’re expecting something to happen, we can predict our response to it. But that’s not the case at all!
From the moment I stumbled (by accident) upon the contest announcement in mid-February, I knew this title was mine. I felt it in my bones, even before I clicked “Submit” on my online application.
But standing up there and watching them unfold the sheet of college-ruled notebook paper with the winner’s name scribbled on it, confident they were going to call my name…I was hit with this wave of gratitude and emotion.
“And the winner is….SERENA!”
I grabbed the bouquet of flowers and plaque but was caught off-guard when they thrust the microphone towards me.
That part, I wasn’t expecting.
Suddenly, as I tried to congratulate the other two contestants, Allison, and Denise, on their hard work, and tried to thank the audience, my voice wavered, and the almost-ugly-tears threatened to come.
I sucked those bad boys up real quick. LOL. Serena doesn’t cry much, and never in public! And never ever on a stage!
But this felt exactly as someone said so eloquently: public validation.
Public validation that I was chosen over however-many-other bloggers that may have applied.
Chosen over the other two finalists.
And that felt good.
Primed and Ready
Since the beginning of this competition, I’ve been like a cheetah, primed for the hunt of this title, ready to pounce on my prey.
The reason I fought so hard is not because the contest said there’d be some big “$30,000 contract” at the end of the rainbow (because there isn’t; I think that was some arbitrary number they picked from somewhere but doesn’t represent the true prize pack, which is actually very small).
I fought so hard because I believe that this speaking engagement will provide a platform for some goals of mine, which is to inspire more people to feel confident and motivated with DIY and to be able to turn their home into a place they love. These home shows are the perfect platform that I feel can launch something great for Thrift Diving.
So I knew what I was getting into before coming to the final presentation, and I was ready to win it.
I arrived on Friday morning at the Denver International Airport, checking into the Renaissance hotel.
I was excited to have the whole day free to do what I wanted! (That’s my favorite part of traveling alone!).
I checked in, tossed my backpack, and took a breather.
I was finally here.
My first stop was to head to Home Depot. I love, love, love partnering with RYOBI tools because they’re so supportive in whatever I do.
They were nice enough to supply the tools I would need for my power tools demonstration on stage, and allowed me to give away all this stuff to people in the audience!
Without RYOBI, I wouldn’t have been able to do do my presentation so effortlessly (so a big thank you to my friends at RYOBI Power Tools!).
When I got to the parking lot, I was trying to figure out how the heck I was going to get that big ‘ole miter saw box in the trunk of my tiny Ford Focus rental. LOL
Until this husband and wife walked by on their way into Home Depot and, without hesitation, asked me if I needed help!
I was a little shocked–you don’t often see kindness like that.
Didn’t want anything in return–just to help!
Denver, you’ve got some amazing people…!
Later that afternoon, Allison from Refunk My Junk and I, were going to get manis at a nail salon.
I had never met Allison personally, although I knew who she was and have sold some of her furniture painting ebooks as an affiliate.
It was fun to discover that she was easy to talk to and laugh with. I mean, since we had to spend the whole weekend together…may as well be with someone you can you can stand, right? HA!
The salon was really cool! I forget the name of it, though. But I was loving these comfy chairs at the pedi stations!
Later That Night….
That night we all had a reservation for dinner at 6 p.m. in the hotel’s restaurant. It was me, Allison, Denise (the third finalist who later arrived, from The Painted Home), and the Home Show organizers and PR folks.
What should have been a quick dinner turned into about a 4-hour gab-fest, which was a lot of fun!
We talked about everything under the sun, and then topped it off with the best chocolate cake with ice cream and whipped cream! To die for!
The craziness of the evening was when someone dropped ice cream from the top balcony that landed on Allison’s back and sweater!
But we were having a good time, so thankfully it didn’t put a damper on the evening too much! (And they never did catch the little buggers that did it….).
Arriving to the Denver Home Show
At this point, the nerves were going crazy, but in a “controlled-nobody-can-tell” kind of way. 🙂
We arrived early so that we could get our tables set up for our presentation! The place was getting packed, too!
Since arriving at Denver, I had felt so lightheaded and dizzy because of the altitude change!
In fact, in the hotel, right next to the elevators, there was this sign that told me exactly how far above sea level I was, and–WOW!
Compared to my home state of Maryland’s 347-foot elevation, I was nearly in Heaven this weekend, I was so high in the sky. HA!
So I felt a little light-headed during the Denver Home Show, but tried to shake it off so that I could focus on my presentation!
The Biggest Treat of the Day!
Two of my local Denver-area readers showed up to wish me luck and support me!!!
Vicki got there early enough for us to chat ahead of time, and it was great meeting her face-to-face!
And after my presentation was done, Carolyn, another local blog reader, had come with her daughter!
The funny thing is that during my presentation, I had no idea that that was her! She knew me, but I didn’t know her face. HA!
She was soooo supportive and gave me great feedback on the presentation!
I thought another reader, Kristina, was supposed to come that day, but due to my total lack of attention to detail, I didn’t realize she was planning to come to the Home Show on SUNDAY and not SATURDAY.
Well, needless to say, I didn’t confirm Saturday with her (the day of the presentation!) so by the time she was able to come, I was already at the airport, on my way home! :(. I was so sorry to miss her because she had been looking forward to seeing the presentation and I was looking forward to meeting her! (Sorry again, Kristina!!!!).
I wish I could show you footage and pics from the presentation, but I didn’t record any of myself (I know!!!!). The people at the Home Show did record some footage, but I don’t believe they’ve put it together yet. I’ll share it with you when they do.
So you’ll just have to take my word that it was good–good enough to win me the title of 2016 Trendsetter of the Year! 😉
And it was great meeting the Beekman Boys from Beekman 1602 for being the celebrity judges to help judge the presentations! If you recall, they were last year’s winners in The Amazing Race, too.
At the end of the night, I was EXHAUSTED and shared some behind-the-scene thoughts and footage as things settled down and I headed home. (I recorded this on SnapChat, a fun social media platform that I’ve been loving! If you guys are interested, download SnapChat on Apple or Android and add me a friend. Just search for thriftdiving). I’ve been sharing a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff there lately!!
And the highlight at the airport the following morning was this cool restaurant with these globes hanging from the ceiling.
Isn’t this awesome?!
Well, that’s a big question, because I’m not 100% sure.
I know there’s a speaking contract that will be presented to me, which would require me to speak at 4 upcoming home shows in the fall.
When they sent me the schedule of 4 shows, the show weekend dates are literally back-to-back over a 2-month time period in September and October 2016.
I’m talking–busy! 🙂
But the locations sound great. And I’m hoping that there’s some wiggle room for negotiation for compensation.
I’ll have to keep you posted on things!
I’m just glad that I’ve won… and that my adrenaline is not coursing through my veins anymore… and that I’m standing on normal elevation now. 😉