TxSC '15 (or five reasons why I cried this weekend)

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Sometime on Friday afternoon, as I was booking it from the dining hall back to one of the glamping cabins, I had a thought: how the heck am I going to recap this weekend? Most blogger conference recaps follow a pretty standard format of either chronological events or a series of what the blogger learned during her weekend away. My Texas Style Council '14 recap was even split into two posts (here and here) so I could cover both! However, I was on staff for the conference this year, which made it a completely different animal. My perspective is unlike any other blogger who attended, in both positive and negative ways probably.

To keep this interesting for you and valuable for me, I've decided to break this post down into my five kinds of TXSC '15 cries. Why cries? Well, that's what I spent the majority of the weekend doing. Here's why:

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1. The Tunnel of Sisterhood. Having decided to throw any sort of linear understanding of the conference out the window for this recap, I want to start with the last official CAMP activity. After moderating the final keynote on Sunday and watching my new friends receive well-deserved awards, everyone was led outside and put into two parallel lines. As we stood toe-to-toe, a camper walked between us with her eyes closed and we each whispered a word in her ear. "Strong." "Brave." "Thoughtful." "Vibrant." "Worth it." Camper after camper walked through the tunnel of Sisterhood hearing faceless voices reaffirm everything that was felt throughout the weekend. This was one of the most remarkably powerful experiences of my life and I know I'll never forget the way it made me feel. Let's just say I've only cried this hard a couple of other times in my life. It was intense, y'all.

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2. The Anxiety. Now that I've given you a taste of the end, let's go back to the beginning. I arrived at CAMP on Wednesday evening to find the other staff members distributing bedding into giant yellow bins. Something you may not know about throwing a conference at a Girl Scout camp is that there's no maid service to do things like make your bed, take out your trash, etc. Someone has to do that for you, and that someone was our staff + volunteer team. As the volunteer coordinator, I delegated tasks to my AMAZING (seriously, y'all) team from bed duty and moving cafeteria tables to fixing microphones and tracking down lost backpacks. We were all bruised and bloody, not to mention muddy from doing all of this in the pouring rain. Being a leader is something I identify as in the online space, but I know that I sometimes struggle in leadership roles in a more direct sense. Having over 20 people depending on you to know the right answer all the time was causing my anxiety to go haywire, and I was having a hard time handling it. I was trying to nurse panic attack after panic attack while trying to stay strong for my team. Finding that balance between caring for me and sacrificing my needs for my team was a good, though challenging, lesson to learn.

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photo by Chrystina Noel

3. The Women. At most blogging conferences, there's the big dogs and the little fish. The speakers , especially the keynotes, are often seen as untouchable celebrities who you're lucky to share air with. At TxSC, the playing field is intentionally more even. I sat at meals with big bloggers I've followed for years alongside other women I may not have heard of but was just as lucky to meet. Everyone was there to learn and connect in a real way, without the computer screen or even a façade to hide behind. Whether it was our stats, our fears of negative comments, or out doubts about moving forward, we were all there to be open and honest with each other, to find connections, and to be less alone. I met some of the most incredibly brilliant and brave individuals, and I am humbled to have experienced their beauty.

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4. The Wisdom. A word I heard a lot this weekend, coined by Bethany Joy Clark, was "friendtor." A friendtor is someone who is your equal, your friend, while also being someone you can go to for guidance. One of the missions behind TxSC '15 was to provide an opportunity for women to find their friendtors. With so many smart entrepreneurs and business women, truth bombs and advice nuggets were constantly being shared. A few of my favorites: 

"Popularity does not equal profitability" - Megan Silianoff
"When you push yourself, you have to rest in equal proportion." - Jess Lively
"Don't poison your own well." - Caroline Rector
"Don't be intimidated by the experts, become friends with them." - Sophia Rossi

I'm pinning each of these quotes on my heart and calling back to them when I'm feeling uncertain.

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5. The Sisterhood. Having a whole weekend spent with like-minded, driven, inspiring women is just about the best thing I can imagine. This was my version of a worship retreat and I am feeling wholly renewed and reinvigorated. These women came from all over the world (yes, the world! Not just the US!). Some are moms and some aren't. Some blog for a living and some have day jobs and write posts when they can. All of us are trying to figure it all out. All of us benefit from having a sister who supports her. During my keynote with Sophia Rossi, founder of HelloGiggles (which, AHHHHHHH yeah that's a thing that happened!!!!!!!!!!!), I asked what her definition of Sisterhood is. She said it's about loyalty, about being ride or die for someone you love. This is a great answer and one that definitely resonates with me. I was thinking more about it after our talk, though, and I realized that Sisterhood is deeper than that for me. Sisterhood extends past the women I know and love. I work to support all women because that connection is tremendously important to me. This weekend was about remembering (and discovering!) that we aren't alone. We have our sisters, both on and offline. That is so sacred to me and the time we spent at Camp Texlake over the weekend will always be in my heart.

There is so much that I didn't cover in this post, but I'm still processing everything and I've also been writing this for too many episodes of television (am I the only one who counts time this way?), so I figure I should wrap it up. I'll probably write more about the whole shebang later, but there are also so many good recaps going up. Follow the #TxSC15 tag on Twitter to see what other campers had to say!

16 comments

  1. Nicole! This sounds so amazing! Congratuations on being such a large part of something so important. I'm sure you weren't the only one who spent her weekend crying.... I got chills just thinking about your reason Number 1! I'd love to hear more about your amazing support-filled weekend!

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  2. Hello Nicole,

    I just wanted to pop in and share my appreciation for your writing. I found your blog through The Camp website and read this post which I found heartwarming. The world is a better place with more women like you who desire to connect, inspire, and most importantly, share their stories with one another without judgement. Thank you. Jocelyn

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  3. Nicole, it was fantastic to meet you this weekend and thank you again for your hardwork! The weekend was perfect! And thanks for making me cry while I read this 😉 It brought back all the feels from the weekend! The sisterhood and community I felt this weekend was unlike anything I've ever experienced! I had never met a single woman there but somehow I had deeper more meaningful conversations with you ladies than I do with many of my friends. Wonderful weekend!

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  4. I loved this recap! It was a really emotional weekend for me (which I was surprised about) and I'm having a hard time figuring out how I want to say everything! Thank you for all of your hard work during the conference and for your dedication to sisterhood. :)


    xo Kimi
    twentysomethingsimple.wordpress.com

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  5. I love that this was such an empowering experience for you as a coordinator and as a participant, and so sad that this won't be continuing! This was such a lovely recap. I can't write while I'm watching TV, or really do much of anything except play stupid games on my phone while I'm watching TV, but I'm that way with podcasts. I can tell you how long it took me to put away laundry or how long I walked Olive based on the podcast I listened to, or how many chapters of an audiobook. I look forward to seeing what tidbits you reveal later once you've had time to process and recover!

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  6. Great post! Loved meeting you in real life and those quotes are definitely on my list too!


    www.behindtheleopardglasses.com

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  7. Sounds like you had a great time and I loved the way you broke down your experience. I absolutely love how raw and real of a recap you gave, vs the usual, "and here are a bunch of pics with the bigger bloggers i met!!!" posts I've seen from others in the past. The learning from each aspect of the event, even ones that weren't specifically on the itinerary (like #1) is what makes this post resonate so much with why I love you & your blog so much. <3

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  8. This post is fantastic and so inspirational! I love those quotes! Wow, The Tunnel of Sisterhood is something that I would love to experience and I think it should be done all the time everywhere. It sounds like you had an incredible time!
    ~Sara

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  9. Great recap post! It was an amazing weekend for all the reasons you mentioned. I kept thinking all weekend how much more connected I felt to the material and to the other women than I did at TxSC '13: the smaller scale and the setting were more conducive to feeling and getting REAL. So proud to call you a blogger buddy!

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  10. 1) I need to start blogging again so that 2) I CAN GO TO THIS SOME YEAR. Gosh, it sounds absolutely amazing! My own fears of being the "little fish" are what keep me from attending any sort of blogger hangouts or festivities, but this post was so encouraging. :)

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  11. love reading everyone's recaps. so glad that i got to spend the weekend with you and a whole buncha wonderful women <3

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  12. This was such a wonderful recap and I love how you broke it down. I had a difficult time putting the whole experience into words because it was just that powerful. xo

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  13. This was an awesome way to recap the weekend! I have such a hard time coming back from a packed weekend and trying to blog about it. Such a good idea!

    And sounds like it was a phenomenal time. Really, I'm amazed at what a unique event this is! I'm so glad you included some inspiration quotes from the weekend in there! I like writing quotes right on the inside of my journal. Also- SO COOL that you got to meet Sophia Rossi. She's awesome.

    ♥ perfectly Priya

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  14. Thank you SO MUCH for the incredible work you did. It was really, really hard to put into words all that weekend meant to me, because I have had so many feels since then.

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  15. What a wonderful recap. You did an awesome job that weekend. It was awesome to meet you, and I'm excited to see what life has in store for both of us :) - hopefully a trip to Philadelphia for you, and a few more trips to Austin for me.

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  16. I'm very much behind on commenting on blogs (still, ugh), but I just had to share with you how much I loved reading this post, Nicole. The Tunnel of Sisterhood sounds like one of the coolest activities! I've done something similar to this in various groups I've been a part of (everyone sits in a circle with their eyes closed, and 3-4 people walk around the circle. As they walk, the leader of the activity says things like "Touch someone who you look up to," "Touch someone who you makes you laugh," and "Touch someone who is brave" while the the people outside of the circle touch the shoulders of the people in the circle who fit that prompt for them. It's so moving and affirming and emotional!). I love these kinds of activities because they are so powerful!!


    What you wrote about Sisterhood at a whole, once again, completely resonates with me. The connection between women is such a powerful thing, and it's something I am trying hard to explore more of in my life. After years of toxic relationships with girls/women, I'm learning how to surround myself with women who build each other up and support each other. In my coworkers, I've found a beautiful circle of women who just "get it." They are generous, compassionate, hilarious, supportive, welcoming, and they never EVER tear anyone down. They're all 20 years older than me, but the feeling I get when I spend time with them (both at and outside of school) is unlike anything I've felt before. I've never felt so fulfilled or supported with a group of women before. They're people I look up to, but I also feel like I have things to offer all of them as well. As someone who has been looking for strong, positive women to become friends with (and look up to) for years, I am thrilled to have found such a group. It's a fantastic feeling, and it's one I'm trying to process all the time. I just get filled with gratitude sometimes when I think about how these women have changed my life!! It sounds like the Sisterhood you experienced when you were at TXSC was indescribable and life-changing. XOXO

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