It’s tough to convey how much I loved every second of last weekend.
In the middle of 2010, I assaulted the ladies (Steph, Julie & Fawn) of Arkansas Women Bloggers – a little site over on Blogspot at the time.
Months went by, and I mounted my assault again.
Fawn called me, and because I didn’t know her yet and had only her first name (as she’ll tell you – do you really need a last name when it’s preceded by Fawn?) to go on, I quickly drew up a mental image of a savvy, intelligent, Agent-X type gal who drew the short straw in the group and was stuck with the phone call to me.
She listened to my insanity (it has happened regularly since then), and apparently decided I was worthy of at least a follow-up conversation. And so began what would become my deep and ever-evolving relationship with three women I am exceptionally fortunate to have in my life, enduring my constant ridiculousness.
We hatched a plan for a little blogger conference up in northwest Arkansas, and it happened. Nearly 50 women took a giant leap of faith, drove down a crazy dirt road and converged with an attitude of mutual support and a desire to learn and grow. They shocked themselves by becoming friends, this mix of homeschooling-envelope pushing-Jesus loving and not so much loving-women. They had nothing in common, and everything in common. The ones who really got it returned (we know, several of you got it but couldn’t return – we forgive you). New converts joined us.
And so it was that in the late days of August when Arkansas should have been sweltering and hesitant to engage in activities of any kind that the heat broke and the women converged again this year. They came from Des Arc, Magnolia, Roland, Rogers, Fayetteville, Conway and so many more. They rolled into town in SUVs and pick-up trucks sporting “#AWBU Bound!” in shoe polish. They warmed our hearts and they tested our boundaries and (comma or not) they said: “We understand why you blog, and we want to hear your story.”
We mangled food with our hands together over archaic cooking implements. We grew teary-eyed together at the thought of wuv, true wuv in the form of Gina & Thom’s engagement. We turned the truck around. We learned that blogging, or telling our story however we choose to tell it, is really our own hero’s (or heroine’s) journey, and we take permission to tell those stories. We danced a jig. We talked about healthy families in so many different formats. We heard stories as you’ve never heard stories before. We wore our new boots and sat on bales of hay near a tractor under the moonlit Arkansas sky. We wanted to get to know every woman in our midst, but we settled for engaging with the one who landed in front of us at a particular moment.
In life, it seems there are far too few moments when we say that we’ve done a good thing, and we allow ourselves to swell up with deep pride because others understood it. This weekend, more than six dozen women proved they understood what we wanted to accomplish, and our hearts are nearly bursting with pride and appreciation at your exuberance, your willingness to push your own boundaries and step outside your comfort zone, your support and your kind words.
We can’t wait to see you in another special Arkansas place next year. Bring an old friend, or a new friend… or even better, both!