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Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending and serving on the staff of an extraordinary conference, called “BAM Conference 2015“. BAM stands for Bloggers at Midlife. The jury is still out on exactly ~where~ midlife will be for me. I guess I won’t truly know the answer to that until I croak. (If I die today, midlife will have been the year I got married!) . Nevertheless, since I’m somewhere between the cradle and the grave, let’s call this my midlife.
I attended for several reasons.
- I’m a blogger…possibly at midlife…(see me work my way through that concept in the preceding paragraph).
- I’m the member of a dynamic group of bloggers called Women at Midlife, which is hosted by the founders of the online magazine, Midlife Boulevard. The women who founded it are Sharon Greenthal, and Anne Parris.
- I’m the food columnist on Midlife Boulevard, so I feel a huge sense of loyalty to that publication.
- The event was hosted in my own beloved city of Nashville.
- If I hadn’t shown up, I think my dear friend Anne Parris would have formed and sent a posse of laptop wielding women parachuting to my front porch here in the Boonies to hurt me. Or maybe she’d just hire them all to tweet ugly things about me. In any case, not showing up was a risk I couldn’t take. She knows where I live.
- Even if it hadn’t been in Nashville, I HAD to get to this event. I knew, in my gut, that I *thought* these women were my tribe. I *wanted* these women to be my tribe!
I had one goal going into this conference, and that was to love well. Just like Bill Clinton reminded himself, “It’s about the economy, stupid!”, for me, it’s all about the love.
Love can look a lot of different ways, (as demonstrated by these women in Hug Me Blankets, provided by Stouffer’s) but here was my way of looking at it.
I wanted my friend Anne’s event to be a success. (I needn’t have worried about that, but, going in…you never know…) So, love, for me, meant doing my utmost to make sure that she and the rest of the event organizers, Sharon Greenthal, Teresa Kindred, and Beth Rosen, had what they needed. I was privileged to serve as staff with Elizabeth Barnhart, Julia Robinson and Cathy Chester. Each one of us did our best to make sure swag got delivered and hauled, people got registered and welcomed, and details got covered.
Apart from serving them, my personal goal, still involved love. What I wanted, more than anything, was to connect with the women of this vibrant community. I wanted to see their faces, to look into their eyes, to see that spark – that sparkle – that was so uniquely them, and to hear their stories, as many as I could.
So most of my most significant moments happened in one-on-one, and small group conversations. So if we talked, know that I *mostly* mean my conversation with YOU. 🙂
I think I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the caliber of the women who spearheaded this conference: Sharon, Anne, Teresa, and Beth. With leaders like these, I see no boundaries on our future as a tribe. They strike me as women of strength, integrity, and vision, determined to not only do their best at a task, but to absolutely SLAY that task. I recognize this when I see it in others, because that’s my goal, as well. Plus, they’re fun. And funny. They are…in short… My People!!!
The icing on the cake, for me, was Martie Duncan‘s session. Martie was a personal favorite of mine on Season 8 of Next Food Network Star. (I’m a food blogger, after all. A total Food Network addict.) In fact, while I’ve never voted on a reality show before, in Martie’s case, I finally made an exception. She was a woman of my age group, full of personality and drive, and I so loved her story: her willingness to take a risk and pursue her dream. When Anne told me Martie would be speaking, I was positively GIDDY! Her session at the conference did not disappoint. She challenged and inspired me to keep on pursuing my dream, even at this stage in my life, despite setbacks, and challenges. Having dinner with her after the event was nothing short of a gift. Martie, if you ever come to Nashville again, we ARE going to cook together. Or, at least, eat together. I have spoken it into the universe. May the Good Lord make it so!
I’m a storyteller myself, and I thrive on hearing people’s stories. So, while yes, I wanted and needed valuable information that would help me grow my blog, what I also longed for, and what I suspect many of us crave even more, is that personal connection. We are a diverse group. Different ethnicities, religions, political views, economic circumstances and ages divide us. But our hearts are touched in that moment where we discover that the things that we have in common are so much greater and more important than the differences that divide us. Sisterhoods are formed through experiences like that. Tribes become more diverse, more inclusive, and are better for it.
So, thank you to the sponsors who made this event possible: Stouffer’s, Nissan, Collective Bias, Cabot Cheese, Always discreet, One2OneNetwork, Vibrant Nation, Albertini International, Grown & Flown, College Financial Aid Advisers, 1010 Park Place, and even my Nashville hometown candy, GooGoo Clusters. What you did was bigger than you might even realize. You helped make it possible for the lives of 100 women to connect.
But they weren’t just any 100 women that you helped. You helped 100 women with strong, powerful, insightful voices to connect. And in so doing, we are changed. And when that happens, we, in turn, use our voices to change our world, for the better.