What I Learned from AWBU Without Being There


After attending the wonderful Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged conference last year, I was pretty sure there wasn’t going to be a time in the near future when I wouldn’t be attending the weekend-long conference devoted to gathering, growing and connecting. But then the dates for this year were announced, and it was last weekend. The weekend of my daughter’s birthday; the weekend before my husband was about to be out of town for four days.

cupcakes
Instead of going to AWBU, I made cupcakes with my girl.

So there was no way I could go. And while my weekend was busy and full of fun kid stuff, part of my heart went to Ferncliff, and part of my focus went to following the hashtag on Twitter.

I know I should have been following my advice about loving where you are, but with this lull I’ve been in lately I could have really used this conference to light a new fire in me.

So I cheated. And I really do feel like I got something out of the weekend even though I wasn’t there.

Integrity, Authenticity, Community

Everyone who goes to Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged — or AWBU, as we call it — seems to be struck by the connections people make and the feeling of community that lives there. Call it finding your tribe or making girl friends again for the first time since high school or connecting to like-minded people who get what it is to be a blogger.

I won’t say that everyone is friends with everyone else or that there aren’t people who largely stick with their day-to-day friends and don’t spend a lot of time with others. But it is a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. And, as keynote speaker BooMama said (or I read on Twitter she said) we need each other for community, not competition. And Jerusalem Greer apparently said we are here to cheer each other on relentlessly. They’re both right. And I need to do a better job of that.

I know I’m not the most popular blogger in the state, but that doesn’t mean I can’t support other people as I would like to be supported. It’s about relationships more than traffic, people more than money.

birthday
The girl blowing out her candles.

I also heard Kyran Pittman said something about it being much easier to be yourself everywhere, and if people you know in real life are confused by what you share online, you’re doing something wrong.

And of course Jacqueline Wolven, my soul sister, fired everyone up about doing good work, being authentic, giving up complaining and being truthful in what you say and do online.

I’m sure all the other speakers and events were great, too, but these little snippets reminded me that blogging is a real, important part of our lives, and the people we choose to let in by virtue of reading their blogs, friending them on Facebook and talking to them at blogger conferences are real people who we should strive to have real relationships with.

I know I’m not as re-energized as I would be had I been there in person, but getting a little peek inside sure was nice.

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