If you haven't gathered, yet, I was an attendee at THE first ever AWBU Conference. It started rather innocently on Twitter. I *might* have
threatened joked that I was going to just show up at the conference. To which @CedarBerryLLC was all, "I dare you" and @BethenyStephens was all, "UM. We are gonna find a way for you to attend." And I was all, "Shit... I was semi-joking... now I have to actually interact with people." I am not a people person (stop laughing!) in the sense that social environments REALLY drain me, and I have to be alone to recharge, but my leadership skillz and personality are very social. Some would say bossy, even. To those some I would say, "I am an awesome boss...now shut yo mouth!"
Boy! I am SO happy I attended! It reminded me of the ingenuity, strength, and talent that women can possess. AWBU exemplified some very important ideals:
Social Media and Blogging
Regardless of how "virtual" these venues seem they are still just avenues that each person uses to connect to something bigger than themselves. We are built for community. Connection. While some of us can get addicted, lost inside, and use social media for an excuse or replacement for tangible relationships... it can can, when used appropriately, connect people and help to touch lives.
Creating Opportunities for women
A conference of this sort allows women to be empowered and reminded that "we all had to start somewhere." I mean, maybe some of these blogging mavens will never go further than 8 comments... and that is OKAY. The amount of comments or awesome graphics are not mutually exclusive to the opportunities that can be afforded to someone who plugs into social media, creates a blog, and enjoys expressing themselves about topics that are valuable to them. Some amazing women in particular use their blog as a realm of influence and an outlet to their world changing *real life* work: Meet Angie & Jody.
Providing what a woman wants
The age old question of "what women want" has many answers depending on who is doing the answering. I would contend that a vast majority, if not all, women want to be validated and supported by others. This being said, a conference where there are around 50 women from various walks of life, religions, political affiliations and belief systems could get pretty tense, pretty quick. What I saw unfold at this conference was women supporting women. Period. From the conservative homeschooling momma to the tattooed loud mouth liberal, each woman was embraced as a valuable perspective and voice. I am not saying everyone is going to leave being BFF's, although I think I collected a few. What I AM saying is that this conference proved that a gracious willingness to listen to one another, give constructive criticism, and allow people the space to be themselves is one of *the* most important attributes of any sort of social gathering. I will say there was this one moment when a certain crafty someone might have gotten a little possessive about the Elmer's Glue Swag... but I can look beyond that because well.... that craft shit is like gold to those crafty people. Like crafty meth or something. And who doesn't just LOVE glue sticks and paint markers! Sheesh.
Memories and a space to relax
Someone once said, "I CAN'T THINK WHEN YOU ARE HANGING ALL OVER ME!!!!!" That someone was me saying the aforementioned statement to my children. When you do a lot of writing, work in a helping profession, or live as a typical human being, it goes (almost) without saying that to be creative, good at what you do, or useful, we need space to unplug. We need to relax. We need to cut up. We need to laugh. We need to talk about our husbands sleep apnea and how it was diagnosed because he fell asleep during an EPIC performance of fellatio...
We need to make memories.
We need to *maybe* drink two bottles of wine and then seem totally unfazed in the morning. (IT wasn't me. I'm not really down with fetal alcohol syndrome, but it WAS someone else. NO. I am not saying names... What happens at AWBU stays at AWBU)
I digress. We need space. We need a place where our lives aren't all over us", so that we can come back to center and be good, nay GREAT at what we do. AWBU provided that.
Are you a woman? Do you live in Arkansas? Would you be interested in having a weekend away to unplug, a space to meet and network with women, an opportunity to learn new things and make memories? If yes to any of the above you should stay tuned to http://www.arkansaswomenbloggers.blogspot.com and look out for the next awesome event. I most certainly will be!
Keep checking back with thebrokins.com! I intend on dedicating posts to some very awesome women I met at the conference, because, well... as single link in a single post JUST DOESN'T do them justice.