On the weekend of September 19-21st, about 120 of us gathered in the tucked-away town of Virginia Beach for Wild & Free. All of us were nervous. So nervous. About traveling. About leaving our children behind for the first time. About not knowing anyone...
Hardly any of the presenters had spoken to a group this size before. For some, it was their first time. And they were nervous about meeting you. The veil of Instagram was about to be parted. We were about to discover each other for who we really are.
And I was nervous! I can tell you this now - I am not a "conference organizer." In the final weeks, as I struggled to homeschool my four babes, look after the home while my husband traveled, and field conference phone calls and emails... I found myself wondering, "What in the world have I gotten myself into?!"
But it was amazing. We came away with new friendships that will accompany us for the rest of our lives. We stayed up later than we ever do to laugh and talk and eat. We leaned in. We listened. We cried. We took selfies.
Now... I know what could have been better. I learned the Founder's Inn doesn't know how much we girls like to eat. And that introverts (me included) could use a little guided interaction at such things as garden parties.
But we we dared to bring this community to life. And we loved what we found. There is such a thing as an "Insta-self" and a "real self" but I think we discovered true beauty in the hearts of everyone we met. We became sisters.
Each of us has our own stories, our own insecurities, struggles, and pains. And not just those of us with difficult lives, but also those who appear to have no problems at all. When we took the time to listen, to assume the best, and to show grace, we experienced a kind of community that will help Wild & Free continue to thrive.
So we're pressing forward. We're dreaming of new experiences, resources, and ways to stay connected. I'm pouring into the Wild & Free bundles where you can learn from homeschooling mamas all over the world through their words and photography. In fact, I'm going to release several of the conference talks on the site in mid-October. Stay tuned for incredible things ahead!