Every year I walk away from the All-Write Summer Institute with my brain on fire, filled with new ideas and new paths of thinking. Though that is most certainly cause for celebration and fodder for writing, today’s celebration is about another benefit of attending All-Write—connecting face to face with women I have grown to admire through reading their words.
These women push me to achieve feats I think are well beyond me. They reassure me when I doubt myself. Their casual conversation swirls around and wraps me in comfort, reminding me who I am and who I want to be. Their thoughtfulness, wisdom, and insight push me to grow. What a precious gift it is to call these women friends.
Here are a few moments that will surely live in my heart far beyond this weekend:
1 | When Kylene Beers and Bob Probst were unable to make it to the conference due to weather and flooding, presenters were needed to cover their sessions. Ruth and Becca believed in me so much that they convinced me I would be capable of taking one of the spots. Their unwavering faith in me reminded me of the power simply believing in someone can have. It was their support, combined with the support of the rest of this crew, that lifted me up and allowed me to pull off a presentation with less than 24 hours to prepare. Ruth even introduced me! The only downside was missing out on Mary Helen's presentations.
2 | At dinner one night elsie claimed that she is not a real writer because she doesn’t keep a writer’s notebook. A moment later, she pulled this notebook out of her purse and referred to some beautiful lines of writing she had captured. Kim and I were tickled to catch her contradicting herself because we just can’t get enough of teasing elsie (whose no-nonsense demeanor inspired us to give her the title: She Who Must Be Obeyed). I was able to snap this photo as proof (because we know she would never trust us without hard evidence) that she is indeed a REAL writer.
3 | I got a glimpse of Linda’s playful side, too. She convinced Ramona to wait outside the bathroom when they caught me making a mad dash immediately before I presented. They stood there like paparazzi and took these ridiculous photos. There was such ease in the teasing and laughter. As much as I grumbled, I have to admit their attention helped calm my nerves right when I needed it most.
4 | We were invited to dinner at Ruth’s house. I am not sure I can put into words what a special treat it was to be literally welcomed into Ruth’s home, to sit amongst her family, after having been allowed to be part of her world for so long through her words. It was an incredible manifestation of how genuine and giving Ruth and Andy are.