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:
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.
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:
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’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.
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.
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.
So find a metaphorical wine cave and make some resolutions.
I did this too, and I’m going to write about that in a separate post.
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.