I'm back, I'm back from my weekend of never ending flowing estrogen. And you know what? I had a good time. The conference (Theme: Seek the Good) was amazing. Inspiring. A kick in the pants, reminding me that I have much to learn. There was a parallel conference going on in the next auditorium for girls ages 12-17 (Time Out For Girls), and at the beginning and end the girls joined with the women. It was, first of all, wonderful to see all of the multi-generational communing going on, and it was absolutely joyful to experience being together, all ages of us, and laughing, crying, and embracing the good, the bad, and the ugly of being (and becoming) a woman.
Every presentation didn't score a direct hit with me, but I could tell that somewhere in that vast auditorium it was resonating with plenty of others. And I could at least see the intention and wisdom behind the words. I could feel and understand points of view I hadn't taken the time to consider before.
The first evening we arrived at our hotel, dumped our belongings, did a quick wardrobe change and set out on foot to forage for dinner and then walk to the convention center, which was only a few blocks away. It was a balmy evening, and the beach was only a couple of short blocks away. Nice sea breeze blowing salt air our way. As we sat in a little deli eating dinner, we watched the girls and mothers (some with babies) and grandmothers walking towards the venue. They were obviously LDS women, and I made the comment to my friends that I felt like I was in Salt Lake City. Here in California, it's rare to be out in public and feel surrounded by others of your faith, so it makes you feel comfy, yet a bit odd all at the same time.
We made our way to the convention center after our deli sandwiches, and settled in for the evening's program. First up was Laurel Christensen and her topic "What Are You Waiting For?" I loved what she said about how we tend to wait for this or that event, or for a problem to resolve, or ... the list can be endless. She offered the opinion that we shouldn't sit and wait, but rather stay busy. Busy improving, learning, growing. We can pray for help, but until that help/assistance arrives, keep moving! Keep pushing forward. Never stop trying. Good things to remember. One thing she said also resounded with me: when praying for guidance, assistance, intervention, remember to ask boldly. Be clear on what we are asking for. I tend to be a little wishy-washy when I pray. Perhaps I'm just being polite, not wanting to appear demanding. But she had the opinion that we should really ponder and consider the things we need and desire, and then ask boldly and clearly for the help we need to accomplish those desires. I liked that idea, and have been giving it some serious thought and action.
The rest of the evening consisted of a musical presentation that none of us really enjoyed. It wasn't something I could relate to at all, although I'm sure some did. So we (the ladies in my little group) left early. As we walked back to our hotel, it was such a beautiful night. We had that big moon up in the sky, the air was warm, and it was a quick walk back to the hotel, as we laughed and talked amongst ourselves.
At one point, across the street was this large hotel, the top tower lit up in red. Behind it is the moon shining brightly. This is just a bad iPhone picture, but it really was lovely.
When we got back to the hotel we changed into our jammies and had ourselves a little slumber party for an hour or so - until I looked over and Liz was asleep. Time for Wendy and me to go back to our room. It took me just a few minutes to fall asleep, but not until I snored. *DARN IT!* Getting older is rough sometimes, isn't it? And embarrassing.
Morning. 6:30am. Time to get up, shower, be ready on time. This is something that doesn't come naturally to me. I find I'm easily distracted, swayed from my mission to get ready. But when I am with others, I'm pretty good, because I want them to like me. So I was ready before 8am for breakfast. And what a breakfast: for $12.95 we got watery scrambled eggs, wilted bacon, sausage that was fairly tasty, and the usual selection of bagels and breakfast breads. I chose the eggs, bacon and sausage and an English muffin. Not worth $12.95 but what are you going to do?
This time we got to drive to the convention center. My ankle was very happy about that. We found our seats, as well as some other friends from church who were also there. First up on Saturday was Hilary Weeks. She is a composer and pianist, and played her music for us, and also talked. Loved her. So real. So down to earth. We laughed and cried and laughed some more. Hers was the gold standard of presentations. Basically, her theme was look for the positive things in life. We all know this, but it's good to be reminded - and especially to be reminded in a way that makes me laugh AND cry. So often as women we are so hard on ourselves, so intolerant of imperfections (and we all have them). I think her talk resounded with everyone there. We were prepared to love ourselves and everyone else no matter what after she spoke. And more importantly, to be more charitable and patient towards those we maybe don't understand all that well. We all have stories to tell. And most of them would surprise and soften even the most hard boiled of us.
Soon enough it was time for the lunch break and we headed across the street to California Pizza Kitchen. Good food, long LONG wait. But after the inspiration of the morning I was feeling mellow and fuzzy and patient with everyone, and I really enjoyed the time we all spent at lunch. We were late getting back, and missed some of the program, but I think I've said before that being late to things doesn't really bother me at all. Some of our group were bothered, but I didn't get sucked into it.
There was another really good talk by Emily Watts that I very much enjoyed: "Saving The Princess." In a nutshell, it was about not missing the treasures hidden everywhere along the Game of Life. The goal is not getting to the end first, it's how you conduct yourself along the way and how much treasure you can collect and hold onto. It was a chance to reflect on all of the little treasures we sometimes ignore in a day, or during a week. We need to take time to enjoy those sweet quiet moments with children, spouse, friends and to listen quietly for inspiration and help in finding our way along. Sometimes I'm so busy playing the game I forget to listen. I ask for help, but I don't hear the answer.
And then Hillary came back and played another song. Women were smiling. Women were singing along. Many were dancing in the aisles. In know - it sounds silly, but it was a joy to watch. (I am not a public dancer, but I wish I was...) Because we're all still the girls we once were and we love to be joyful, and we love to be silly and young at heart. I enjoyed being with my friends at this estrogen fest, but I was thinking how much I would have loved to have had my daughter and DILs there with me as well. They would have loved it. Maybe next year at one of the many locations around the country. Maybe we can talk my mom into going with us.
When I got home Saturday night, all I could talk about was this part of the weekend, or this person's talk, and I could see L's eyes rolling back in his head. He is good at understanding me, but he starts to lose it when asked to understand womankind in general, and the things we consider fun and valuable. So I had to condense and keep a little bit to myself. I was so glad to be home with him again though. I do love being with the girls, but enough is enough. It was good to lean myself into the curve of L's arm on the couch and try to explain the complicated weekend I'd had away. So much goodness and value, but hard to explain to a man. Maybe it's just enough that he loves me. He doesn't have to totally get it, and I think that's true of all relationships - and perhaps the overriding theme of the weekend. We don't have to completely understand each other, or agree with every little thing. The difference is part of the fun. Part of the mysterious puzzle. All we need to remember is to love and accept each other. Support each other in times of trouble. Listen to each other's troubles, and help one another buck up. Look beyond the shallow exterior and find the treasure within. We are each one gems, unique and lovely on our own. But put us together, and what a glorious treasure we are, colorful and shiny and bright. It was a good weekend.
Now - you've listened to me go on and on. Hopefully you've been able to relate to some of it without actually experiencing it. But here is my little gift for your week. Lately I've been enjoying these videos from The Piano Guys. This is one of my favorites. Enjoy.