When I talked with sweet Hallie in Austin this weekend to express my thanks for all of the hard work that she and Jen did to put Edel together, all I could think to say was that truly they must have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. Every detail of what we needed as wives and mothers to be refreshed, comforted, inspired, rested, and revived was attended to. I felt totally pampered, had just enough time to myself, and had the perfect opportunities to visit with other women who are in the mothering trenches with me. It was such a luxury, and one that I feel will sustain me for a long time. While we are all surely immensely grateful for our husbands and our motherhood and the many blessings we have, it was like a giant exhale after holding my breath to hear, "let's just admit that our job is hard." (It is hard. But it's good.)
I left early on Friday morning because my heroic husband was willing to take 5 children to our parish VBS (I'm going to have to write about that another day - WOAH...talk about not your typical parish summer event. Amazing.) downtown, which takes about an hour on a weekday! So, they left and I loaded my luggage into his tiny car and began the 2.5 hour trek to Austin all by myself. I had to go alone for a couple of reasons, but when a friend asked me last week what I was looking forward to the most, I had to admit that part of it was the drive! While I *am* an introvert, I can step out of it a bit to meet people and be friendly (there's a difference between introversion and shyness), but I do need copious amounts of alone time to recharge in life in general. So, two and a half hours of thinking about whatever I want, listening to music, and praying was a great way to start things off!
Upon arrival in Austin, the first thing I wanted to do was start the weekend off with Jesus.
After Mass, I drove around Austin to have a quiet lunch alone with Tolkien, a little shopping trip for provisions at Trader Joe's, and to get a mani/pedi. That afternoon alone could have refreshed me, I had no idea that God would continue to bless me more and more!
Immediately upon entering the beautiful Omni hotel, I bumped into local friends (and my sweet roomie, Blair!). The natural fears of walking alone into a social situation faded right away. Peace washed over my soul as many beautiful mamas from all over the country began to congregate; ladies with little babies and precious ones on the way, ladies I recognized from their blogs and instagram and twitter, beautiful women all over the place who had come largely for the same reason: to connect.
|Luxurious room at the Omni|
|Friday night cocktail party attire - my favorite dress and never-fail red lipstick|
Saturday started off in total peace, as I hit the pool with my breakfast and morning prayer. I was alone there for a while before some other wonderful ladies showed up and to say that the conversation was blessed would be an understatement.
It is here that I must note my observation that there was no weird female drama. At all. Ever. It was all around acceptance and joy in knowing one another. That's remarkable for women!!! It is here that there is such great value in events like Edel, where we can hug one another and bear burdens together, to see each other's smiles, because in the vast world of the Internet, it's easy to hide behind a screen and say things we wouldn't normally say. There have been many Catholic blog blow-ups over the years, but if we know each other on a more intimate level, how can we not just see Jesus in the other?
The afternoon of talks was perfection. It grounded us in the understanding that we've all been lonely in motherhood, we've all been lost and longing for something more, and that we do not need to loose ourselves even though we are joyfully giving of ourselves. (What an amazing conversation that provoked for me in the coffee and pastry line at the break! Heather, I am praying about our conversation, God truly used you to speak to me!!)
|I accidentally sat in the front row with the important people! Oops!!!|
|Blessed conversation....and so much laughter with sweet Wendy and Heather!|
Then, the chair massages with essential oils diffusing everywhere was out of this world....refreshed doesn't even touch how it felt.
|just plain spoiled by the swag bags... ;-[)|
For the afternoon break (see what I mean about having just enough time to do what we wished??? I almost never get to choose what I am going to do on a given day! woah!), I grabbed lunch alone on 6th Street (introverts = love alone time), chatted with beautiful Crystal and Cate, and went for a run.
|this is why I needed to run.|
We enjoyed dinner (can't go wrong with copious amounts of guacamole, hello!!!), a talk from Jennifer Fulwiler, and karaoke/dancing. I can't help but think that maybe the DJ was surprised by how fun the evening was, surely he didn't know what to expect when he was hired for a "Catholic Mom Conference?" While I'm not a dancer, I loved the evening. Dressing up is always a special gift to me, thinking about it now makes me smile since I'm back in my favorite jeans and Chacos. The conversations were fun and fulfilling, and we had such a great time that even when we got kicked out of the ballroom at midnight, we shut down the bar at 2am!
|I've known Cassie and her family forever! |
It was so nice to have her there!
|see what I mean about the guac???? while I couldn't eat this whole meal because I needed to save room for carmel flan, you can bet I was still wishing for more guacamole!|
|Jennifer encouraging us to persistently work on "building cathedrals"|
|the lovely Hallie Lord|
this picture is a long time coming! I've wanted to give her a big hug for years!
|Alexis was my NFP instructor when I was 19 and engaged! |
her flapper style ensemble was stunning!
|the truly amazing and beautiful Lisa Cotter (Ok, I didn't know you had a blog Lisa, but I googled you knowing you had written stuff for FOCUS - so, sorry to be creepy! hahaha)|
Lisa came all the way from Colorado, I know her from our days in FOCUS!
If you were keeping up with funny husbands taking over the #edel14 hashtag, her hilarious husband was right there in the mix!
Maybe it's cliche, but I can not begin to express how grateful I am for this past weekend. As I ponder the conversations and personalities and amazing people God created as mothers, I am so inspired. What a wonderful, beautiful gift - a boost as we continue our pilgrimage here on Earth.
Venerable Edel Quinn, pray for us!