Tuesday, June 24, 2008

She Chokes

Ok, I am going to attempt to recap my time at She Speaks. The title of this post will explain itself as you read on...

We got to the hotel for some preliminary meetings on Wednesday. So that means by the time all the attendees got there on Friday afternoon, we were already dazed and confused by lack of sleep and lots of good girlfriend time. People would ask me a question and I would have to blink at them a few times, dumbfounded, while I attempted to process what it was they asked me. If you talked to me at She Speaks and I seemed a bit on the slow side, well, there ya go. Hopefully, that explains it somewhat. Surviving on day after day of a few mere hours of nightly sleep is bound to take its toll on one's mental capacity. I blame it on my roomies-- Shari and my daughter-- who kept me up til one am or after every night, with wake up times of six am, usually. I, of course, had no part in ALL THE TALKING that went on at night in our room.

The meetings were good and it is always good to have some team time to catch up, giggle and just generally get called down for bad behavior during meetings. (Not that I did, mind you, but I know some people who did. I was, as always, sitting far away from those folks shining my halo.) We received some wonderful training that, at some point, will translate to lots of work for me in changing some things I have been doing... later.

Can't. Think. About. That. Now. Must. Move. First.

Best moment of Thursday night was when Connor, the sound guy Doug's teenage son, asked at dinner, "Why does everyone here have such great hair?" To which Shari, sweet Shari, quickly replied, "It's because of me! When I got on this team you should have seen their hair!" And then she did this sort of grimace/shudder/stick out her tongue move that just communicated in volumes what absolute dogs we were before she came along to save us all from hair (and fashion) homicide. But it didn't matter-- because Connor had just said we all had great hair and I will take a compliment like that any day of the week. Even though he might not have been including me, we are operating under the theory that he totally was.

Thursday night after dinner we practiced coming in to the opening session where we run in clapping and just generally acting crazy. We were supposed to come in to "I'm Coming Out" until someone graciously pointed out that this is the national gay and lesbian anthem. Somehow we had crawled under a rock and not been privy to this fact before now. We just thought it sounded "fun." Not wanting to send out some sort of strange message to the attendees, we quickly decided that we should come up with a different song. So there was much listening and dancing to various songs before we decided ultimately to go back to our old standby, Shania Twain. This year we attempted to choreograph a dance to the song, of all things. Aimy Steele quickly dubbed us as "the white women who just can't dance (bless our hearts)." I really couldn't because I could not do the pivot turn on the ball of my (still technically broken) foot. I was afraid I would mess it up bad and had visions of me on crutches the rest of She Speaks. So, this meant that, while everyone else turned, I stood still. It was purty, let me tell you.

(And those of you who were at She Speaks now know we actually do talk that way, right?)

The official start of She Speaks on Friday was kicked off for me with some publisher appointments, a women's ministry luncheon where I hostessed a table-- meaning I was responsible for leading the discussion, can you imagine?-- and the blogger reception. It was all lots of fun and I smiled so much that my face hurt. Then it was time to run into the opening session and get the party started!!

The rest of my time there was a blur of smiling faces, answering questions as best I could, laughing, enjoying time with my girlfriends, and hugging people left and right. I joked that next year I am going to have a tee shirt made that says either, "I Know Nothing" (think Hogan's Heroes for those of you old enough to remember that) or "I Am Not In Charge." Because those were the two best responses I could give when I was asked a question. I got really good at pointing people to the information desk and assuring them someone could help them there. Just because I had on one of them there beaded lanyards does not automatically mean I was helpful. But I wanted to be, so that should count for something... right?

My first meeting on Friday night with my speaker evaluation group was special from the get-go. We quickly determined that we had a very unique group! There were so many amazing stories and so much passion for Jesus crammed into that one hotel room! I know that each of these women is going to be used by God and I am excited to see where and when.

On Saturday afternoon, I got to lead a workshop entitled "Bringing Passion To Your Platform" which was billed as a Next Generation (the youth part of the conference), Writing, Speaking and Women's Ministry track event. They were all there. So, basically I felt like a schizophrenic as I presented: "Girls, this is what you should be thinking about!" "Speakers, here's something for you!" "Writers, this might help you!" I was having an internal conversation with myself that went something like this: "Seriously, why in the world did you agree to speak to all the different groups?? How can they possibly get anything out of this? You are all over the map!"

And then the coughing began. It began as an innocent little tickle in my throat so I drank some water as nonchalantly as I could. The tickle didn't go away. It began to get bigger, closing off my throat and taking my voice hostage. In desperation, I asked them to write down some question I had asked, and swallowed the whole glass of water I had at the podium. Nope. Still there. I finally just stopped and asked for prayer. Blessedly, some sweet sister brought me a piece of hard candy to suck on. Only the candy was long and thin, taking up the entire side of my mouth-- so while I was no longer coughing, now I sounded like I had a big wad of chewing gum in my mouth while I talked. That should sound great to those poor souls who purchase the cd! Somehow, I got through the whole thing without melting into a puddle of embarrassment on the floor.

You know how usually after something like that happens and you mention it to someone else, you find that you were making a bigger deal of it than it really was? You say something about it and they respond, "Oh, I didn't notice, really." And then that just makes you feel better and you laugh it off? Well, not so with this. For the rest of the weekend whenever I would mention it to those people who were in there, they would say, "Oh, I felt so sorry for you." Niiice. And so, She Speaks turned into She Chokes. I gave new meaning to a speaker getting choked up while speaking! I had a hard time being positive and upbeat for the rest of Saturday after that. Satan had himself a field day with that one, let me tell you. I tried not to listen but he is pretty assertive.

I finished off Saturday night with some great time with Dawn, my blog designer who I have never met in person but have talked with via email numerous times. We hit it off and could have talked all night-- and would have, had it not dawned (get it?) on me that I had to get back to my room and write out evaluations for my group's talk. Talking with Dawn lifted my spirits a lot, which was needed. When I got back to my room, dear, sweet, hilarious Zoe was in there-- so some time with her also helped me laugh it off and forget my pity party about all the coughing.

Somehow (we know how) on Sunday, I woke up refreshed and positive and ready to finish our time at She Speaks. Micca Campbell brought it on Sunday morning as she closed us out with the final general session. Her message was entitled "What Do They Got That I Haven't Got?" Which of course, my answer to that was clearly, a throat that doesn't get seized by a coughing attack.

All too soon it was over and we were saying our goodbyes. That's the worst part of all. I will miss all those girls and tried my best to talk them all into moving to NC!! I promised them plenty of sweet tea and humidity to go around.

In case they don't take me up on it, there's always next year... I hope to see you all back there... I'll be wearing my "I Know Nothing" tee shirt and sucking my candy... just in case.
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Shari said...

Hi Roomie with the great hair! LOVED being your roomie....let's reserve next year to do it again! Just talked to Wendi and she says to you and Ashleigh and can't wait to see you SOON! love, Shari (P.S. Lisa B. posted on her blog that her favorite session at She Speaks was YOURS! And it had nothing to do with your choking but everything to do with helping her see her passion...satan ain't got nothing on!)

KelliGirl said...

I loved your recap.

Just know that even though you were distracted and embarrassed by your coughing fit, we still heard your message. Your session was the one in all of She Speaks where God really touched me personally.


sarah said...

I am sure you did fine! I am sorry I didn't get to hear you. So many choices, so little time. Everyone really seemed to be working hard and their efforts certainly paid off. Great conference. God's hand was evident in every moment.

Holly said...

Hi Marybeth -

I wanted to let you know that my daughter Hillary loved your session with the Next Gen a lot. She mentioned it to me several times. She also said that she likes you a lot! You made quite an impression on her!
thanks for your influence in her life this past weekend!
holly said...

Glad you had a good time. Glad you can talk again.

Fiddledeedee (It Coulda' Been Worse) said...

You handled it with humor and grace. But, in my mind I was mentally rehearsing the Heimlich maneuver. I had you covered, sister.

Many many moons ago, I choked on stage while performing in Guys & Dolls. During a song. And dance. By songs end, I had mascara on my chin, and a false eyelash somewhere in the front row. Thusly ending my stage career.

(That's not what ended it. It was the, you know, fact that I couldn't sing on key.)

Lisa said...

Ok, leave it up to you to have the most clever SheSpeaks wrap up. I mean...just the name alone made me want to read more. And I actually KNEW what you were talking about! :)

Clever, girl, you are. Very clever.

I think it's why I like you so much.

Either that, or it's because, like me, you wait for someone else to do all the work. And THEN you sit back, shine your halo, and claim "I know nothing."

Girl, we're twins.

Love ya!
Lisa :)

Amy Jo said...

You so did NOT "choke"! Honestly. I've had that happen before and had such a hard time focusing on what I was trying to say that I lost my train of thought. I was so impressed by how calm you appeared on the outside (OK, and how cute your Florida shirt was). You pulled it off well. BTW - I actually crashed your class at the last minute because I saw you were teaching a class and I've been following your blog. (The room was so full, I ended up sitting on the floor...and it was worth it!) LOVE your book on writing! Thanks for blessing me! Amy in OR

Amy L Brooke said...

Can't believe you wrapped it up in one post! It's going to take me weeks! :-)

So good to see you again.

ThreeGirlyGirls said...

You did a great job recaping this in one post! Girl, it's taken me three posts!! =) I loved hearing this from your point of view! It was great! Loved every bit of this conference!!! So awesome!!

Linda said...

Loved meeting you Marybeth. You are a very gracious person!

Joanie said...

Boy, I wish I would have stopped to talk to you when the session ended!!
Yours was the message that had the most impact on me!
As a matter of fact, The Lord had a few answers for me in your session. I actually cried when you told your story about putting your kids back in school and then taking them out. I've struggled with that as I just finished my first year of homeschooling. The Lord doesn't want me going there again. I was just thinking how am I going to write a book, homeschool, etc. etc. and then you told that story!! Oh, by the way, The cough thing seemed very quick to me. Lord's willing, I'll see you next year. Blessings, Joanie Alfors

Digging for Pearls said...

It is great hearing the stories about She Speaks.


LAUREN at Faith Fuel said...

You SO make me smile with your honesty and all your little faux pas.
(I love how the French have a way of making our ghastly embarrassments sound soo regal and elegant! :)

Lisa B @ simply His said...

Ok, so the cough was slightly annoying but only to you :) I was praying for you to not feel self conscious about it. Many of us heard your message loud and clear and you know what? I don't think it mattered one bit that some of us were speakers, writers, young, wise ;), or just bloggers.

In your session I realized my passion is for women much like P31's passion -- and my talents lay in the blogging arena. It was one of my best ah-ha moments all weekend!

Renee Swope said...

I heard your session was great and has really inspired many this week to go home and identify their passion so they can live it out with purpose and focus!

Thanks for all you did to prepare and help so many.

Dawn said...


I take it you were saved/further embarrassed by the same kind of candy I had just popped into my mouth when y'all introduced me at the bloggers' reception? Yes, we have lots in common (although my mouth was just super dry - no coughing fit).

I'm glad you enjoyed our hanging our Saturday night as much as I did. It really feels like we're old friends (a whole year now!).