"If it's meant to be, I'll go."
When I uttered those words to a friend who offered to buy my ticket for Big Summer Potluck back in February, I had no idea how true they'd be months later. By all accounts the cards were stacked against me to go. I had my debit card info stolen the day before tickets went on sale (hence the very generous offer to buy me a ticket until things were straightened out) and when the event sold out within minutes, I thought the universe was sending me a message and doubtfully put myself on the waiting list.
I was right about the universe, though it wasn't sending the message I thought…
About a month or so ago, the Eventbrite gods took favor on me, bestowing upon my inbox an email that said a coveted spot had opened up. In a rush of giddiness, I snagged it without thinking about logistical things like oh I dunno… transportation. I haven't had a car since November and ever-reliable SEPTA failed to produce any route that even came close enough to hitchhike.
Tack on a ton of traveling this summer (I know, I know... #firstworldproblems, but seriously? I had barely unpacked my suitcase before it needed to be packed again), 3 conference presentations, work commitments and stress in my personal life and all that was left was a faint shadow of the energetic, witty Kelly we all know and love [did I mention modest? :]. I was exhausted. Plain and simple. Plus, the thought of baking something that Joy the Baker could potentially eat was kind of major... as in, I knew there would be some amazingly talented bakers and cooks to feed and I wasn't sure I could muster up the social fortitude to talk to some of the attendees let alone wondering if I was capable of the amount of love it usually takes to bake something worthy of that kind of audience.
The exhaustion of the month prior was a blessing in disguise. When I got to the hotel, I discovered that my cheesecake tarts had toppled in transit. I peeked into the box, sighed heavily, salvaged a few and was too tired to make a big deal out of it. That feeling carried over into the evening and the next day, as I was too tired to be worried about being too intimidated to talk to folks. Admittedly, I'd been so busy I didn't get to read everyone's blogs beforehand--I think that in itself was another blessing. Had I done so, I probably would have stood off awkwardly in the corner muttering to myself and eating my feelings [though anxiety would probably never taste that delicious again].
I'm pretty sure Saturday is what made all the difference. If you've read some of the other attendee's recaps, you'll no doubt read about Brooke's amazing talk about mindfulness. While the whole of it was amazing, I was most moved by a single moment in the talk. At one point, Brooke was talking rather quickly, stopped herself and said, "I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm going to stop and take a breath." And she stopped talking. She collected her thoughts. She breathed in. She breathed out. And my jaw dropped. It sounds silly to admit, but the idea of pausing to breathe was revolutionary for me. Of course it's okay to breathe! In that very moment, I realized that I never allow myself time to breathe. I fill up my schedule with too much--whether it's taking classes, teaching extra tutoring sessions, working two jobs, hanging out with beekeepers or trying to teach myself web design. Tack on social media and I feel like I've got a thousand pots on the stove and can't tell which one is burning.
And when Molly O'Neill mentioned that every woman between the ages of 26-29 goes through a crisis where she wonders what she's doing with her life, I was so relieved. Being around a group of people who seem to have their lives together had me wondering just what it is I want out of life, and I was happy to know I wasn't alone.
BSP was worth every penny, if only for those two moments. But, if Molly & Brooke's talks were the main ideas, Joy's discussion on the back lawn added in all the supporting details. She talked about jealousy and comparison, about how we shouldn't look at the picture-perfect pins on Pinterest and beat up on ourselves or feel jealous. Rather, we should look around and be inspired. For me, that translated to not worrying about feeling like I was miles behind every blogger on my Twitter feed and to go back to Brooke and Molly's talks, figuring out what's important and makes me happy and pursuing that. I don't have to be the best photographer with beautiful poetic prose, CIA-worthy recipes and an awesome blog layout. I just need to remember why I blog (more on that later) and what makes me happy (again, stay tuned).
I can't say that I came back from the weekend and sloughed off all of my extra commitments, put my life entirely in order and found myself stress-free and focused. BSP was about enjoying the moment and the retreat in itself was just that--a moment. Being able to be physically present was a gift in itself, one I will no doubt be thankful for as I watch my life unfold.
Huge thank-yous go out to Pam, Maggy & Erika for all of their hard work organizing such an incredible event & for their generosity (whether it be opening their home, heart [or both!] to an amazing group of food bloggers!) xo