Sunday, September 8, 2013

Arkansas Women Bloggers Conference: A Woman Fest of the Highest Order

"Remember that we need each other for community, not competition." BooMama

When I started the seventh grade I found myself in an art class with very few people I knew. This was strange in a town of 2300 people, but it happened nonetheless. This was 1992 during the hay day of purple and red Girbaud jeans and eel skin purses. No? It was just us? Anyway. That's how it was.

I was so nervous and self conscience in that class. It turned out to be a cat fest, with all the girls trying to out-snoot each other. It was miserable and I still remember sitting in a corner and feeling awkward and totally uncool the entire time.

 I can kvetch about the men-folk all day long, but sadly, usually it's women who are women's worst enemy. Sometimes life can still feel like a seventh grade art class, with different female factions clicked together, not speaking, judging. Some days, even though I'm a fairly confident 33 year old woman, I still feel like a 12 year old wearing the uncool boy jeans, slumped in the corner of art class.

This weekend restored my faith in women. And while I learned lots of valuable things about blogging and made some really neat connections, what I truly learned is this: when women come together and are FOR each other, amazing things happen.

There were over 100 women at this retreat. I roomed in a cabin with friends I knew, and women I didn't know. I sat at tables and ate with complete strangers. During one activity I spent 60 seconds staring into Sarah Scott's eyes in a way that could have been incredibly awkward for two strangers, but instead was completely hilarious.

I went to sessions and listened to advice, and instructions, and encouragement (which I can't wait to share with you later). But the entire time I was overwhelmingly aware that I was part of something very special. I was experiencing the exact opposite of my 7th grade art class. I was experiencing a woman fest of the highest order.

To be completely honest, I'm a woman with a lots and lots of acquaintances, and very few close friends. It's always been this way for me. After I lost Angela (read this if you don't already know), I mourned for her. I mourned because she was wonderful, and one of the best friends I've ever had. But I also mourned for myself, because up until that point I hadn't had very many close friends in my life. I mourned because after I lost her, I felt that in a way, I'd used up all my kindred spirit tokens. I felt very, very lonely.

And this weekend, as I sat under a pergola and looked at the lake behind the cabin, I felt like my heart has finally healed. I felt like Angela was smiling down on me. I listened to the women in my cabin shrieking with laughter, and I thought about all the wonderful friends I've made in the last several years. I thought about my sisters, cousins, Carrie, Deletta, Laura, Mel, Julia, Jerusalem, Jeanetta, Kristi, and Angela P, among others. I realized I'm not lonely any more. I realized that the kindred spirit friendship door isn't closed to me.

So thank you, ladies. Thank you for building each other up. Thank you for making me proud to be a woman, proud to be part of your circle. I had a wonderful, soul filling time. If you're a blogger and live in Arkansas (or even if you don't, we had several out of state people there), please consider going to this conference next year. You won't ever regret it.

And later this week I'll be back to share how my cabin-mates and I reenacted the spider scene from Harry Potter.

I know what you're saying.

"Oh, that Liz. She's so dramatic."

Yes. I am without a doubt a loud, dramatic, sometimes slightly obnoxious person. But when I say that my friends and I survived spiderpocolypse I am not in anyway blowing smoke up your skirts. So tonight I'm sending out a big cyber power high five to my cabin mates who survived the arachnid scourge of '13.






If we lose our day jobs, there's always pest control.

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