AWBU 2015- When I Changed My Mind About Blogging

AWBU 2015- When I Changed My Mind About Blogging

I just returned from a whirlwind weekend in Hot Springs for Arkansas Women Bloggers University, or AWBU.  It’s the 5th year for the conference, and my second time to attend.

Last year was extraordinarily great-  I met great people, learned a ton, and had a great time.

And I didn’t think it was possible, but this year was 10 times better for me than last year.  I was able to catch up with friends, ate some great food in my former hometown, stayed at a beautiful historic hotel. But more than anything, this year’s AWBU made me change my mind about blogging.

The beautiful Arlington hotel was our home for the weekend

 

Let’s start with the friends.  Before joining the Arkansas Women Bloggers, I had made a few friends blogging, mostly people who were just like me – newlyweds, young, no kids, similar interests.  But joining ARWB gave me a world of fantastic friends.  Friends who are cattle farmers, who are teachers, who are professional writers, who are so knowledgeable and so giving of their knowledge. It’s such a blessing to have them in my life. Being able to laugh, talk, and learn together this weekend was truly a gift. We also had a ton of fun together playing games and being silly.

My friend Janeal is a friend I wouldn’t normally have. She’s a meat scientist at U of A and a cattle farmer. She blogs about everything meat you need to know (it’s super interesting!). She’s funny and I love learning from her. And when we were tasked to wear derby hats in honor of Hot Springs hosting the Arkansas Derby, she did this. 🙂

 

I was able to hit up some of my favorite eateries around town during my stay.  Since I grew up in Hot Springs, I have plenty of food memories I wanted to revisit.  I had a healthy, delicious lunch at Cafe1217 before the conference started, indulged in pancakes and homemade sausage at the Pancake Shop, and had a lovely dinner on the patio with friends at Rolandos.

On the way to the Pancake Shop, a man told us to look at the rainbow. I’m glad he pointed it out! We were talking so much, we probably would have missed it!

 

I also made some new friends this year. Along with meeting some bloggers I had only known online (I’m looking at you Julie and Kelcie!), I brought a new friend along. My friend Holly had talked with me about blogging a while back, and I told her the best way to learn and get connected was to go to AWBU.  And we had a great time together.

Holly and I in the First Security bank photo booth

 

One of the best things about this community is their willingness to give back. All 85 or so of us got together Saturday evening to pack over 10,000 meals for local families through The Pack Shack.  Somehow, they made this incredibly fun (I mean, we stopped packing food at one point to do the YMCA!), and it was so very fulfilling to help our neighbors.

We make hairnets look gooooood

 

So much of this weekend was just about being in the presence of great women.  It’s such a privilege to get to know these ladies.  They are business owners, fantastic mommas, creatives, dreamers, and doers.  One of the highlights was spending a great dinner together really having fantastic conversation. It’s such a respectful, open place.  We had great conversations and endless laughs as well.

In the presence of greatness.

 

One of the fantastic perks of the conference is that our leader, Stephanie, makes such great relationships with companies around the state and they donate AMAZING goodies for us to try.  Riceland rice, Mountain Valley Water, Aromatique potpurri, and the three of us even won trips to Branson thanks to a budding relationship with the Branson CVB.

Headed to Branson, baby!

 

And lastly, what would a conference be without some learning? ha! The focus this year was mostly on writing (which I need!) and had some great presenters.  Mari Farthing‘s session was totally inspiring to me, and so was Stephanie Clinton‘s.

Stephanie Clinton presenting on blog envy

 

Through the great sessions at the conference, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to take this little space a bit more seriously.  I have great pride in the writing work I do for my job and for freelance clients…but often, I’m slapping up posts without even editing them here! I love this hobby, and don’t want to suck the fun out of blogging. But I want to do my best for me. Those of you who read deserve to read my true thoughts, my best work- not whatever I can crank out. That’s how AWBU changed my mind about blogging. It made me realize that even though this is a hobby, I can be purposeful and strategic and care.
The weekend was fantastic, and I’m having a serious case of “back to life, back to reality” (I hope you sang that!) today…but once I get all the goodies put away, the bag unpacked, and I make a plan, I’ll feel ready to take on the world. Or at least my corner of it.


Comments

  1. It happens to me every year – all the motivation and inspiration is packed in my bag and carried home with me. Now I have to unpack it and get to work. 🙂

  2. I totally just read that post with your voice in my head. I couldn’t have agreed with you more. It was amazing. (really trying hard not to use so many exclamation points!!!!!!!!!) I loved seeing you and we just picked up where we dropped off.

    • Hanging with you was one of the highlights of the weekend! (there’s another exclamation point…but it was truly exciting.) I’m so thankful for your friendship and you sharing some of your wisdom (and your wine).

  3. It was so good to meet you too! Even though I really felt like I already had! Ha. Wish we could have chatted even more — hopefully next year. I too feel so blessed to be a part of this community.

  4. I am so proud of you! And, adore you. We could not have such a strong community women with the heart to encourage and take care of each other if it was not for gals like you that actively try to make this space a kind, loving place..

  5. Thanks for this hope-giving report!
    I totally missed it, of course, and am nursing a broken heart 🙂 , but was where I was supposed to be, although I do not understand.
    However! Professionalism is such an imperative that I am sure the whole group will completely blast into a sparkling level of production that will benefit each of us.
    Anticipating great changes from which I can learn lots, if second-handedly. <3 K

  6. Glad to be getting to know you!!! 💗

  7. Brittney, I loved hanging out with you this weekend — especially our open discussion about police and race. What a gift to share with a diverse group of ladies and be able to engage in meaningful dialog. I learned so much this weekend, and not just in the sessions. Each of these ladies are unique and special, and we benefit from these friendships. I certainly hope to see you soon.

    • Stacey- it was GREAT to spend some more time with you. I so appreciated our conversation and how wonderfully we were able to talk (and not fight!) about topics such as those. It was a gift to have a meaningful conversation. Hope to see you soon as well!

  8. This is awesome, Brittney! I look forward to seeing those posts!

  9. Thank you for the hug and encouraging words during that one session. That share was unexpected and your kindness soothed all the feels

  10. Sounds like it was a great experience! Thanks for recounting it – I hope to attend next year and meet all of you lovely ladies in person!

  11. I thought this was a great conference. I felt like it was information that can still help the hobby bloggers even if they aren’t monetizing and that’s great. I’m looking forward to processing all that I learned and figuring out what needs to be simply blogged and what needs to be action steps.

  12. I have so many ideas swirling around in my head. I’m impressed that you were able to condense everything down to a blog post already! I enjoyed visiting with you again – especially at Rolando’s. This was my favorite conference to date. I’ll be sharing my thoughts soon. I hope.

    • Talya, I’m a “gotta write while I’m thinking about it” girl and, of course, I had everything fresh on my mind. Can’t wait to read your thoughts!

  13. What a great recap. You hit all the highlights…great food, new friends, learning how to be a better writer, and of course, the swag!

    I loved getting to meet you and can’t wait until next year to hang out some more.

    Thanks for the shout out. I am really touched that you attended my session and my heart is thrilled that you were able to take something away from it. oxox

  14. Great words friend. It was a good weekend. I have so many “stars” in my notes for action steps. But more…I just need to do me. And not pressure myself to what everyone else is doing or could do! You summed it up and you are right…that patio was full of greatness and everything I love about the AWBU community!

  15. YES. This is so great, Brittney! It was so great to spend some time with you this weekend. I’m still processing all that I learned. Ready to get to work! {!! exclamation marks are my friend, I can’t help myself!}

  16. Amen! And what everyone has already said:) I love, love your spirit❤️❤️❤️

  17. Friend, you are my sunshine.

  18. I miss Arkansas so much!! I’m glad that you had so much fun.

  19. Loved this post, Brittney! I think we met breifly at the conference; it was my first year attending, so I’m still learning names and faces. Still, I think you captured this conference well.

    • Hey Kayla! Yes, we got to chat for just a minute. Somehow spending two whole days together doesn’t seem like enough time when we are all over the place. Wish I could have talked with you more!

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