Ermagerd! It's almost time for the Arkansas Women Bloggers University Conference! This is the fifth year the conference has been held, the third year I've attended. Not only is it a great, regional conference full of supportive women bloggers, it's an environment where the whole Women Bloggers motto of "Gather, Grow, Connect" is on full display. Every year, I meet bloggers from all over the region, women who continue to offer me loving support and connection when I need it most.
It's like a weekend away at camp with a group of people of all ages and backgrounds who share your love of words and blogging. Oh, and you also learn stuff and make not just social connections, but business connections.
This year, the conference is in Hot Springs, where I've not been before, so that's cool. But going to a city you've never been to when you are at a conference just whets your appetite for a return trip. Which is just fine by me, I'm always happy to find new and interesting places to explore.
Our hotel is the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa. Let those words soak in... Resort. And. Spa. Like with spa stuff. Oh, and it supposedly haunted and has famously hosted gangster Al Capone (which makes me sing "The Night Chicago Died" while scenes from "Boardwalk Empire" run through my head). And it's a lovely, classy establishment where I will be sashaying through the lobby with my laptop sporting cowboy boots and an Oklahoma Women Bloggers tshirt. As one does.
What are some of the things I'm most looking forward to?
On Friday night, the conference will be opened by the ever-fabulous Lela Davidson talking about work/life balance and fun. And in honor of our location, we have been asked to wear "derby hats" ... Well, this should be interesting as the only hats I own are the knitted/crocheted variety or the trucker/gimme cap variety. I might need to do a little shopping for this.
But, back to Lela. The author of several books, blogger, speaker and all-around ass-kicker and name-taker. It's been too long since I've seen Lela and I'm looking forward to chatting with her and laughing—a lot!
Foodie Friday SessionsBefore the actual conference kick-off, Friday afternoon is a buffet of fun, food-related sessions, kicked off by a keynote speech from Georgia Pellegrini, an adventure woman and foodie who has been featured in print, online and television. "Modern Pioneering" isn't just the name of her newest book—it also describes the way she lives.
Awesome SpeakersLike me! And fellow Oklahoma Woman Blogger Stephanie Clinton. And sessions covering topics like podcasting (with BossGirl Creative podcaster and blogger Taylor Bradford), design, writing, Evernote, Periscope and the latest tips, trends and best practices.
Zumba!Last year, I made fast friends with Brittney, a blogger and Zumba instructor. On Saturday night at this particular conference, we stayed up late—really, really late—and played a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity with a big, round table full of awesome ladies. Before we all tottered off to our beds, we agreed to meet the next morning early for Zumba.
So, the next morning at the super early, aforementioned and agreed upon moment, I traipsed my still groggy behind down to the designated meeting spot and it was just Britt and I. We waited for a while, and chatted and waited and chatted and decided to forego the workout in favor of some more chatting and a relaxing breakfast.
But this year? It's on the conference schedule. It is on! I will Zumba my tail off come Sunday morning. I hope to see you there.
Paying it ForwardWithout question, my favorite part of this conference is the "Feed the Funnel" event to be held Saturday afternoon. For one hour, we are gathering to pack meals and donate to local families in need. This is going to be an amazing opportunity to give to the community by gathering together in our community.
The conference could not happen without the support and sponsorship of: Taste Arkansas, Georgia Pellegrini, Lela Davidson, Rhea Lana, Alliance Rubber, Riceland Foods, Petit Jean Meats, First Security Bank, The Pack Shack, McDonald's of Central Arkansas and The Twiggs Group. And of course, the lovely, hardworking and gracious Stephanie Buckley, who created the state-focused women blogger communities.
Get all the details on AWBU here—I hope to see you there!