That time I took Rice Krispie treats to a blogging conference and saw a bear

I woke up early on Saturday morning and drove more than two hours to Front Royal, Va., to attend a conference for Catholic women bloggers.
Because I was alone, I didn’t have to pack juice boxes or Funyuns. I didn’t stop once for someone to use the bathroom. No one cared when I pointed out tractors and cows and train tracks. No one complained that I listened to country music the whole way—and there is some good classic country radio between here and there.

On the way, I was thinking that I wasn’t even sure what I was expecting from the day. Mostly, I was excited to see some of my friends and fellow bloggers—and meet a few bloggers I hadn’t yet. I hadn’t looked at the agenda because agendas just aren’t my thing. I had made Rice Krispie treats because yet again I volunteered to bring food without considering when and how I would make it.
(Meanwhile, my friend Emily arrived with beautifully packaged and absolutely delicious homemade fudge. Yum.)

I was feeling a twinge of guilt that I had left my family behind. Because I work full time, and because I knew I would be doing some work from home during the rest of the weekend, I was feeling just a little sad about taking a day away from my sons and my husband.
But when I arrived and I started reconnecting and meeting new people, I felt sure I was in the right place.

I was so happy to see Erica again!

A few highlights:
  • Mary Lenaburg challenged us to speak more often with the Blessed Mother: “She would say, ‘Have the courage and the faith to trust my son to do what I need you to do,” Mary told us. “Ask her. Talk to her. Ask her what you should be writing about.”

That’s Mary on the left, then me, then Jenn, then Kim and Fuzzy. We had the best lunchtime discussion.

  • In her keynote remarks, Elizabeth Foss managed to explain why I love blogging. “The gift that my blog has been to me is to keep me connected to my own heart,” she said. “Your blog is going to resonate with people when you live and love your actual life.” She reminded us to write what we know, to let our heart be seen on our blogs, to be empathetic writers, and to see ourselves as artists and servants. “You can find time to write,” she said, “if writing is what you do to nurture yourself.” Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
  • I saw my first bear! It was a cub—maybe about the size of a German Shepherd?—and it loped past the house where we were meeting. Jenny Ryan was speaking, and she yelled, and everyone ran to the window. Somehow even though we had a house full of bloggers, all of whom had cameras of some sort, no one managed to get a photo. All I can offer is a picture of one of the chickens I saw, but that’s not really the same.
  • I met so many terrific people, some whose blogs I already follow and some I am starting to follow more closely now. And I met Kelly, who hosts the 7 quick takes every Friday, and somehow managed not to take a selfie with her or with most of the people I talked to. So you’ll just have to see all the cool people I rubbed shoulders with by looking at the group photo.
I’m so grateful to Rosie for hosting, and to Rachel, who took professional head shots of us (I’ll share mine as a quick take on Friday), and to all the planners who put so many hours into making the conference such a wonderful event. Somehow I heard just what I needed to hear that day. Oh, and I did take a picture with Rosie and my fellow Catholic Review blogger Julie, too!

I’ve been blogging for more than 7 years now, including 4 ½ years here, and I drove home feeling grateful and inspired and feeling confident that I still have so much to say.
Not that you were worried, of course. 😉

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.