The Mighty Summit: My Take on Things.

The Mighty Summit: My Take on Things.

So it seems I survived two big events in one week. A Summit in California and a Fifth Birthdaypalooza in Austin. (For those of you keeping track, that’s Events: 2, Laura: 0.) I do not recommend this, but in the end, they were awesome and great and I’m not even kidding.

For starters, I flew west to throw “an inspirational event in San Francisco”  (which was list item #21 on my 40 before 40 list) It’s something that my friends Helen Jane, Maggie, and I have been developing for a while now, but when I put that item on the list, I wasn’t sure how it would shake out. Last year, we did something similar (and Maggie talks about that here), but after much discussion and deliberation about what this would/could/should be, we decided to create a small gathering of women for a weekend getaway themed on the Life List concept that Maggie has been working on over the past year or so. A lot of people have life lists (or year lists or goal lists), and we think the concept of pursuing your dreams is pretty swell. So we dubbed the weekend “the Mighty Summit”, and it turned out more incredible than I’d even imagined.

26 women attended the weekend to retreat, recharge, renew, and rededicate themselves to getting some things done. Several people have written about this experience in a variety of eloquent ways:

Allison: Here

Amber: Here and Here

Cecily: Here

Danielle: Here

Erin: Here

Heather: Here

Heather: Here and Here and Here

Helen Jane: Here and Here also Here

Karen: Here and Here and Here

Kelly: Here

Leah: Here and Here

Liz: Here and Here

Maggie: Here and Here and Here

Margaret: Here

Meg: Here and Here

Nicole: Here

Roxanna: Here

I love how 26 women can have such unique takes on something. For each person there were different elements deemed noteworthy, important, memorable. And granted, there were a lot of elements from which to choose…Maggie, HJ, and I all really dig details, and the event breakdown and spreadsheets were awesome, color coded and looooong. So, you may ask, what were my favorite moving parts? I’ll tell you. For me, the best bits of the weekend were the unexpected things. The unplanned ones. The items that were not in my spreadsheet. Things like…

1. The preparation. I arrived in San Francisco early on Wednesday morning, and Maggie and I ran around (calmly) for about 52 hours before the event started. I laughed as much as I did in that first few hours as I did the rest of the week. Plus, Maggie taught me how to use a hot glue gun. I didn’t even know that I needed or wanted to know this. But as it turns out, I do. I love the hot glue gun.

Look! I’m crafty!

(And Look! You can actually see the smoke in this photo. Hot!)

2. Our Room. There are only 14 rooms at Boon, and there were three of us in ours. And I believe it took about 37 seconds for our gorgeous room to be transformed from this:

To this:

We are awesome.

And you see all those books for Dummies? This reminds me of #3…

3. Meeting Ellen Gerstein of Wiley Publishing. She is the lovely lady on the left, next to Elizabeth Weil from Twitter and PaperWheel Press.  Ellen is a smart, fun woman for many reasons. One of these is that she picked out personalized books for every attendee, based upon the items on their Life Lists. How great is that? We had a blast sorting all of them before they were distributed throughout the weekend. Seriously, there is a “Dummies” book for everything. Everything. Beekeeping for Dummies. Solar Powering Your Home for Dummies. Doing Business in India for Dummies. Or almost everything. There is currently no Cheese for Dummies. Seriously. No queso. Get on that, Ellen!

4. Redwood Forest walk. This was actually not planned, as it turned out. We had a bit of rain Sunday morning, which encouraged us to change our Sunday agenda at the last minute. As a result, a picnic in the redwoods, turned into an easy hike into the redwoods.

It came at just the right time for me. It was absolutely renewing to venture into the woods looking like a complete tourist.

I kept expecting gnomes or fairies to pop out from behind the moss or something.

I’m reading The Hunger Games right now. And it’s clear how being in a forest would inspire all kinds of fairy tales and fantasy genres.

5. Prom and On. This one probably deserves it’s own post, but I’m putting it here because it was sooo not on my agenda to tell my life story from prom, on. Truth be told, I initially thought this was a terrible, terrible idea because, for starters, I’m almost 400 years old, so doing this takes me a bit longer than say, um, Erin Lochner who created this exercise. And B. Because it’s hard. How would you tell the story of your life, in a relatively non-boring way for 25 relative strangers? What would you emphasize? What things would you go into detail about, and which elements would you cover in just a few words? In essence, you’re stating what parts of your life are most important to you. It’s harder than you think. And it made me think. I did very much enjoy hearing others’ summaries though, and it’s a quick, fun way to get to know people. Stories. We’re writing ours everyday.

But on a lighter note…

6. The Oatmeal. I’m not even kidding. This may seem mundane, but it was a surprise to me. Proving that you do learn something new everyday… I didn’t think I liked oatmeal. But it turns out I actually love it.

Maybe because I completely loved the people who made it. These guys were so great.  I was initially extremely skeptical about McDonald’s and oatmeal and McDonald’s oatmeal. But honestly, it was amazing. 7. The Details. As I mentioned, I’m into details, as are Maggie and Helen Jane. So the weekend was a detailpalooza of detailed detail.

Here are some things. Cars waiting at the airport from Honda. A giant assortment of essentials from Alice as people arrived, just in case anyone forgot to pack anything.  A garden variety of Annie’s organic snacks in each room. Luggage tags on s’more roasting sticks from ShePosts. Epiphanie bags filled with Tieks shoes.  Makeup, hair treats, and nail polish fixers in the rooms from Mabelline, Garnier, and Essie. Almost 1,000 photos from the weekend on flash drives from Intel. (The photos were taken by Zan.)

(I love how Zan looks shocked here, because she’s completely unshockable.)

And giant bags from Lands’ End to pack everything up.

And while all of these items were definitely on the spreadsheet, people’s delight at discovering them was always fun. It’s the little, unexpected things, that make giving so great. And speaking of that, I was not expecting this…

8. The Prints. Every year we do a print with events, but this year, we were surprised with two. The first was a lovely one from Alma Loveland (doesn’t she have the best name?).

And the second was a surprise. Rebecca Thurman from Alice concepted and creatively directed the development of a print that was comprised of actual items from people’s life lists. It was unexpected. And it turned out so cool.

Thank you, Rebecca.

9. Watching People Have Fun. For me, the best moments were the quiet ones. The ones where I noticed others learning or experiencing something, when they thought no one was noticing.

Here, Maile and Andrea were learning about the finer points of wine. No wonder they’re smiling.

I wouldn’t ever classify these two as quiet, but they were “learning.” In theory.

And finally…

10. The Sunday Lunch. This was technically on the agenda. But when the picnic in the Redwoods rained out, Thomas George Estates pulled together a rad lunch in just over an hour. Miracle workers. And the wine cave was way cool.

The perfect place to make some life goals. At the lunch, we all committed to doing five things over the next year, and I can’t recommend this highly enough.

So find a metaphorical wine cave and make some resolutions.

These are Zan’s.

I did this too, and I’m going to write about that in a separate post.

But, I can tell  you, my biggest takeaways from the weekend were the little things, the quiet things, the unexpected things.

And I walked away with greater resolve to live off the spreadsheet grid, to be in the moment, and to enjoy the ride. Cheers!

*Almost all of these photos are from the Mighty Events Flickr group.

The Details

19 Responses to The Mighty Summit: My Take on Things.

  1. agirlandaboy says:

    Yay! Thanks again for an absolutely splendid party that means more to us all than you’ll ever really know. (p.s. Your Prom and On was the best.)

  2. Mocha says:

    SO much love for this post and you are DEAD ON about Prom and On being the most incredibly fun game deserving it’s own post. I want to hijack it and leave it for my commenters to do their own. What a fantastic ice-breaker! It was so hard to think of what I would see as worth mentioning in my life or what I decided to leave out and yet it made me put my life in concise terms.

    In other news, this is a great post, Laura. It reminded me that this was the most time we’d gotten to spend together and how dearly I love you and count you as a friend. You’re all kinds of amazing and you drip awesomesauce all over life. Keep on doing that.


  3. erin / dfm says:

    oh, laura. i totally love this re-cap and love YOU. also? you totally won prom and on. bonus points for your drunken background vocals.

  4. Cecily says:

    Honey, you were so awesome. I loved your prom n’ on. You have a damned fascinating story. For me getting to spend more time with you and get to know you better was… miraculous.

    On a side note: on my way home from Type-A Mom, the West Virginia (yeah, I know) McDonald’s had the oatmeal. And guess what? It was JUST AS GOOD as what they served us. Really. Very pleased to have a nice breakfast choice while traveling now!

  5. Laura, this is amazing! The story, the details of it all and the photography. How did you get involved with this group and get to do all of these incredible things? Very cool! Thanks for sharing! Dana

  6. Maggie Mason says:

    Oh, man. This post reminded me of how joyful it can be to see everything come together, and you are one of the best assemblers I know. Here’s to a bunch of adventures in the years to come. I can’t wait to be eighty with you, blending milkshake brandies and trying not to spit them through our noses when we laugh.

    You’re a good girlfriend, Lola Mae.

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  8. tea_austen says:

    So true, so true! As much as I loved the fabulousness–and it was fabulous–some of my favorite moments are the small ones. Hearing people’s stories, sitting on a new friend’s bed as she packed her suitcase, adorable Erin with the adorable dog, you dressed as a Japanese tourist (a fave image for sure), Meena pulling out pretty dress after pretty dress that she made, all of us teary-eyed in the wine cave.

    Here’s to life, on and off the spreadsheet!


  9. Roxanna says:


    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful weekend. I think I told you how much we appreciated all the work you guys put in. I did, didn’t I? Well, let me tell you again. You guys put so much of yourselves into the summit and it showed. Thanks again for such an amazing experience.

    Also? Here is your doppelganger:

    Don’t say no. You have the same eyes.

  10. zan says:

    I love that montage; such a great assemblage of the awesome women who were there. I loved being able to photograph them, and experience their inspiring stories first-hand. The small moments were the hardest to photograph, so I’m glad you gave them credit and acknowledged that some of the greatest parts of this experience are the personal moments people will take home with them. You guys are the best.

  11. Laura, you’re remarkable and adorable! The event was so much fun to be a part of, I haven’t stopped talking about the experience since I came home. I’m so happy that Dummies was able to play a part in the event and I got some great fun out of it too.

    That said, why do I look scared in the picture? And why aren’t I wearing lipstick? Mom wouldn’t be happy at all.

  12. Maya says:

    Laura, you write beautifully – weaving those words and pictures beautifully to create a an undercurrent of emotions for the reader. I really enjoyed “experiencing” this read :)

    I have been to a similar event and I can only imagine how enriched everyone felt.

    I’d have applied – if I had any idea about the event. I do live in a different universe, I believe!

  13. Laura says:

    agirlandaboy, mocha, erin, and cecily: My promandon was only good because of all the material I had to choose from over all the YEARS and YEARS and YEARS I have on each of you.

    Dana: I fell down a rabbit hole.

    Maggie: Milkshake cheers. Which bring all the boys to the yard.

    Tea: Cheers to you too.

    Roxanna: About the doppelganger: You are INSANE! But I love your insanity.

    Zan: Word.

    Ellen: You are gorgeous and hilarious. And your mom and my mom would be BFFs.

    Maya: That is a huge compliment. Thank you.

  14. heather... says:

    I meant what I said when we were leaving the wine cave – I think you are so, so brave.

    Thank you for everything.


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  16. This makes me ridiculously happy and a bit heartsick missing everyone.

    (happy sigh)

    Thank you again for such a lovely weekend!


  17. Cindy says:

    Hey! I have learn to make my own pickles on my list too. I have done it! The first batch was terrible (you can read about it here ) . We haven’t tried the second batch yet because I used my Mom’s old recipe and she says they need to sit for some months. Some months. Those were her actual words.

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