By Shannon Magsam
As Gwen and I drove over the rocky, slowly narrowing, dirt road in separate vehicles, we chatted non-stop on our cell phones. We had wanted to ride together, but Gwen had to head back that evening and I was spending a night in the Hunstsville woods. Her husband’s red Pilot was about four car lengths ahead of my Rav4 and I would occasionally see the bumper as it turned another hairpin corner.
Then we apparently went too far out for available towers, because we lost cell service.
About four minutes later, we had arrived. It was time to unplug. We drove up to the Ozark Natural Science Center and shimmied our vehicles into the only few spaces left. All the other NWA blogger types (and a few from surrounding states) had arrived Friday night for the first Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged conference.
The conference was a few weeks ago, and I’ve been meaning to post about it, but other bloggerly/websitey/lifey duties kept me from the subject.
Truly, it was the perfect weekend for me to unplug since a bad case of carpal tunnel had been making me wince every time I tried to use my left hand or wrist. I was praying the pain would stop before I had to go to the conference, schlep my suitcases up to my cabin and also be coherent enough to talk about personal branding with Gwen in a session. Prayer plus three strong anti-inflammatory pills and two nights of wrist-brace wearing had me feeling much better. BUT it was good that I wouldn’t be typing at all over the weekend. Better to really let that wrist rest. I normally like to “get a little work done” on Saturday and Sunday. My husband jokes that he has to email me, even on the weekends, just to find out what I want to eat for lunch. Ha.
As I said, Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged (AWBU) was a weekend filled with good food, brand new friends, under-the-trees breezes and … I actually slept in a cabin in a sleeping with two roomies in bunks on each side. It was like church camp, except … well, it really wasn’t. The rustic cabins, the beautiful scenery, yes, but I chose when it was lights out and the food was actually good (“The biscuits at the church camp, they say are mighty fine, but one fell off the table and killed a friend of mine!” Did you ever sing that?)
On Saturday night, a small group of us started talking in the “comfy area” as Bethany Stephens (exec. director at Ozark Natural Science Center and my new good friend) called it. By 1 a.m., it wasn’t such a small group anymore. We laughed so hard we cried — or snorted — and talked about how different we all are as women and moms (while being acutely aware of just how much we’re alike).
Oh! And there was also the professional development component of the conference, ahem. Since it was for bloggers, we challenged each other to do more good with our blogs (gracias, Fawn, you awesome do-gooder), to be more mindful of our grammar, to pull blog topics out of the air – or even the old timey phone book – and other awesome sessions to improve our craft. (We even did a real-life craft with Elmer’s Glue! Talk about a bonding experience.)
But really? Having time to connect – really connect – with other women was my favorite part. When do we have opportunities for that anymore?
I’ve been teased a little since the conference about some of the stuff we talked about at our little impromptu gathering in the comfy chairs. But those rockin’ blogger chicks, my new friends, have honored the “What happens at AWBU stays at AWBU”.
I’ve decided to out myself.
Can I first tell you the setting? As I said, it was late. We were being silly. I hadn’t laughed that loud, or that long, in a while. I was doing my favorite thing – talking to a group of women, really talking about our true feelings – and I got a little verbose. In the estrogen-soaked open room, late at night, I admitted something that the other bloggers teased me about the next day.
I admitted that I really, really don’t like my man “tooting” (hate the word fart, so sue me) in my presence and that his discretion has historically earned him some extra romance time, wink, wink. Cuz, honey, lettin’ it rip will totally stall my passion. Indefinitely. It pays to be romantic and not share every gas bubble that wants to pop out, is what I say. I might have even said something along the lines of, “I admit I’m prissy” to the blogger girls. At least when it comes to gastrointestinal noises, I pointed out.
Whew. I’ve outed myself, so I don’t have to worry about anyone else doing it. Though I never doubted their fidelity. Thanks, girls.
I mentioned that one of the campy things we did was make crafts with some great tools that the Elmer’s Glue folks let us take home. I LOVE all that stuff and Ladybug was thrilled when I walked in the door with my Elmer’s SWAG. Anyway, we made some fun tri-fold boards decorated with AWBU memories and lessons learned. We had each other sign them like it was the last day of school. “Stay sweet!” I wanted to write. Or maybe LYLAS.
I made a point to talk to every woman there, which was easier since it was a mini-conference. I loved hearing their stories. And even without an Elmer’s paint pen, some final thoughts:
- To Bethany, you are the hostess with the mostess
- To Fawn, roomie and fabulous connector
- To Dannie, other roomie, sharer of dry shampoo and a daughter who so needs to meet my Ladybug
- To Jasmine, you made me bust a gut
- To The Park Wife Stephanie, you are so inspiring
- To Sarah Daigle Scott, anti-schmuck and technology teacher queen
- To Becky Paulk, diabetes champion
- To LaTonya Richardson, media mama of 5
- To Robyn, who is kindofabigdeal
- To Mel, homeschoolin’ in the hive
- To Jennifer A. Janes, you are such a good example
- To Julie, food fabulista
- To Britney, Southern charmer
- To Jody, awesome advocate
- To Shannon, hillbilly wise
- To Whitney, quiet runner
- To Angie, single mama making a difference
- To Heidi, busy and somethin’
- To Janie, good to be green
- To Jacqueline Wolven, Eureka Springs sparkler
- To Sandy, happy nester
- To Kelly, lover of babies
- To foodie Lyndi, lunch soon?
- To Collective Bias, LOVED meeting every one of you IRL.
See you girls at the next meetup — or at next year’s AWBU!
Shannon Magsam is mom to 9-year-old Ladybug, married to Ladybug’s dad, John, and co-creator of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of Life With Ladybug, click here. Leave a comment if you please.