Surprise! I can’t catch up from a weekend away in one day. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that this week is a total loss. Now I can blog with less guilt.
How to summarize Edel without rambling on into eternity or spending too much time on “you had to be there” details, while still trying to convey the message behind the weekend in a way that doesn’t make it seem unattainable to those not in attendance. I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Personally, I had a great time meeting people old and new and repeatedly squealing way to loudly as recognizable face popped out of the crowd. Micaela can attest to this. I also hugged Mary so many times, you’d think I was a stalker, if she hadn’t been smiling the whole time as well. But, this wasn’t a blogger gathering so many, many more times I was chatting with a mom I’d just met about this being her first weekend away since becoming a mother or sharing a sympathetic nod with another special needs mom. Many women knew who I was, which is always sort of a weird feeling, but we all met on an even playing field; no divas, no experts, just friends new and old coming together to relax and enjoy ourselves without feeling self conscious or guilty.
It was my first time in Charleston, and my goodness what a friendly city! This small town girl loved that people just said hi on the street as you passed. Drivers were polite, people engaged in friendly conversation with you instead of assuming you were a nut and rolling their eyes. Plus, I got carded three times! I haven’t been carded that much since I was in my twenties! It seemed unreal that this place drenched in almost cliched Southern charm, palm trees and beautiful houses was the site of the tragedy at Bethel AME Church.
Jen, Hallie and Haley introduced themselves, mingled, took the mic and kept things moving but there was never a feeling of being rushed. Even though Jen was also trying to run several radio shows, Hallie was minutes away from delivering a baby and Haley’s voice was hoarse from a cold. Then the hotel lost water (I actually managed to get a shower before it went out.) and there was a slight feeling of “I seriously have to be this sweaty all weekend?” But you know what? In the company of 200+ other sweaty women, it seemed like most women laughed it off. It was almost too ridiculous not to. Satan was going to have to try harder to rain on our parade.
Saturday morning meant more grits for me and that afternoon we listened to Rachel give a fabulous talk. Seriously, I hope one day I can pull my eyes off my notes and give a talk like her. Then I got to go on the radio with Jen. Her live broadcasts had featured several other attendees and now it was my turn. I was so nervous I don’t even remember much of what I said, but I was told I did good so I’ll go with that. If I find a link to the broadcast, I’ll come back and add it in here.
And then, after days of insane nerves and several hours of nausea I spoke. IN FRONT OF 300 WOMEN. Somehow, I didn’t die or throw up, though I did save the motion sickness bag from my flight and set it on the podium just in case.
My talk (which was not recorded, sorry) included my “How to Rock Your Vocation Like a Boss and Change the World in Seven Easy Steps” plan. Basically, the saints all lived lives obedient to God, with a joyful heart, regardless of circumstance. We need to joyfully accept our vocations as they are and do the work God has laid before us, whether it’s mopping up spilled cereal or scrubbing Sharpie off the baby. By choosing joy, we ultimately change the world around us for the better. No mission trips or radical pilgrimages necessary. But choosing joy is a daily struggle and to do so we need to constantly pray for the virtues to counteract Satan’s attacks, or call on our communities to pray for us if the battle is hard. Probably my most famous quote from the weekend came from the part where I talked about how we’ve told our kids that “Blessing yourself is like punching the devil in the face.” If you’re on Twitter, you can follow the hashtag #kellyknows for some more quotes from the talk.
I also made the point that we needed to take the joy from Edel home. Now, for those of you who couldn’t’ attend, maybe you’re wishing for some of that joy. Maybe, you wanted to join us but for many reasons, you could not. Perhaps you spent the weekend following #edel15 online and celebrating with us, or sulking that you were still at home. As I said in my talk, Edel is a break, but we need more than one break a year. We need small breaks everyday, and we need regular breaks to connect with our community. Couldn’t be at Edel? Why not invite over some friends, tell everyone to dress up and drink fancy wine and eat finger food? Miss out on the karaoke? Find a karaoke bar in your town and go out with your girls and just roll your eyes if the DJ questions your selection of Flo Rida or Sir Mix Alot. Edel is great, but it’s not the end all be all for women’s gatherings. You don’t need to wait for your favorite blogger to organize a conference to have fun. You can have fun now, right this very weekend if you so choose.
As mothers we work hard and if we accept an attitude of “We need to give up everything we love for our families until everyone is out of the house.” we’re going to be a miserable lot, and I wonder how appealing we make “being open to life” really look. Yes, motherhood demands sacrifices, but your family demands you at your best and that requires occasionally taking a break and having fun. During my talk I said, “We cannot keep pouring ourselves into our vocations without sometimes stopping to refill ourselves. We can’t keep giving joy if we’re burnt out. Scripture says don’t hid your light under a bushel basket. Well, don’t let your obligations smash it under their feet either. Give your light fuel to burn brightly.”
So, I’m finally home after a weekend of fun, fellowship and lots of grits. I’m trying to smile more, choose joy and punch Satan repeatedly in the face. And while the bathrooms so desperately need to be cleaned, I don’t regret spending the weekend somewhere else and letting the mildew build up and allowing my husband and children an unlimited supply of frozen pizzas. You too have permission to leave your family with a frozen pizza, or five, and enjoy some time with like minded women. Thanks again to everyone who attended and to Jen and Hallie for organizing such a fantastic event.
UPDATED! Oh yeah, and I rapped again. Thanks to Dainty Cate for the video.
If you attended #edel15 and wrote a blog post about your experiences feel free to link it up below.