Don't worry, I'll explain.
Have you ever done something on a whim knowing that you didn't have the time, but once you were there it hit you that you were supposed to be there - screw the other responsibilities?
Yeah. That sums the weekend up nicely.
Here's the dealio. When I attended my first AWP event back in 2010, I was shy, awkward, weird, scared, nervous, and every other sad word imaginable. I felt bad the entire time because I wasn't myself and I was afraid that, as a result, I wouldn't get everything I could be getting out of the experience. In the end, what I ultimately gained were two local widows who turned out to be very important friends; widows that have helped to flip every single one of those negative words around.
Fast-forward to this weekend. I was fairly nervous, mostly because I didn't want to be the same way I was on the last trip. I wanted to be open - be myself. I'll never forget walking into the airport sports bar in Austin. Another widow and I had gotten in earlier than the rest of the gang so we decided to meet up and hangout until our ride came. I didn't know who I was looking for so I texted her with a grin on my face knowing she would either laugh or think I was a weirdo, "Is it awkward if I ask you what you're wearing?" All of a sudden I hear a voice coming from the far corner of the bar, "I'm right here, Karie." We cracked up, introduced ourselves, and quickly became comfortable in our bond of both being widows.
We stayed in a large house on a small hill that had a beautiful view of Austin. I didn't get to see much of the city; we were too busy doing awesome widow things at the house. I was okay with this.
Throughout my time there I quickly realized how much I've changed in the last two years. I mean, I've noticed things here and there, but I'd never heard someone verbalize it or physically noticed myself being different. I believe because I was so awkward at the first event I went to, it just made it that much more apparent how much better I was doing at the second one.
And then this happened: When asked what I was naturally good at, I was stumped. I feel that everything I am good at now took work - I wasn't necessarily born with anything awesome. Then, one of the girls said to me, "Well, I think you're naturally good at talking to new people and making them feel comfortable."
Okay. This may seem small to the average person, but to me this is a HUGE deal. I've never been good at that - and I told her that. Then she said something along the lines of, "I think it was always there, you just had to find it."
I've never thought of things that way. It seems fairly obvious, but when she said that, something clicked with me. For one, I have been working on being more personable and just being myself around new people and apparently it worked (Yessss!) It feels good to not be the utterly sad wallflower for once. Even more, the thought that I've always been that person and just needed to cultivate it is pretty cool. Maybe there is a lot to me that I don't realize. It's fun finding new layers to myself and realizing I'm much more awesome than I ever gave myself credit for.
I also realized on the trip that I second guess my intelligence a lot. One of the girls is a Yale graduate which did two things: 1) It made my scholarly balls shrink as I admitted I go to a school in Alabammy, and 2) it made me realize that people at Ivy league schools aren't a myth - they are real people. All of us talked a lot about goals and passions and such and I regularly brought up education. It's apparently very important to me. I realized that I am very serious about looking into getting a PHD, and I realized I am capable of doing that if I just put the effort in. Then I came home to a week of finals. Then I got my grades for the semester - all A's baby.
One day I will come back to this blog as Dr. Fugett and laugh my ass off at this post. It will be a glorious day.
Now that you know the sappy emotional stuff, I must list some of the activities that took place:
1.) I ate at a food trailer. I'm convinced that food served in cone form tastes better.
2.) I made a flower bouquet at a flower shop! It's much more difficult than you would think, but I think mine turned out lovely.
3.) I learned a new line dance (refer to music video above.)
4.) I got to pick people's brains about non-profit start-up.
5.) I made a fancy shmancy dinner with the ladies.
6.) We had a chef come in and cook for us.
7.) I know there is more but I have a perma-brainfart. I apologize.
My weekend with AWP was fantastic. I learned a lot about myself and I walked away with a handful of quality new friends. I miss them a lot, actually. That is the only downside of the weekends - having to leave.
My life would be so much different without my AWP and the beautifully awesometastic Taryn Davis. I wouldn't know all of the girls I've become so close to who have helped me not only survive but flourish. It's hard to put into words what the organization means to me. I can't wait to go again.
All the lovely ladies on the first day.
My room for the weekend.
All of us with the chef.