Okay. I’m completely overwhelmed with the idea of recapping Edel 2015 because it was a jam-packed whirlwind of awesome.
Here’s some highlights:
I rented a car like a real grown up woman.
For real. AND I learned how to use the cruise control. My friend Alyssa and I road tripped it to Charleston, SC on Thursday morning to meet up with my bestie and podcast co-host Christy Isinger Thursday afternoon.
Eek! Since Christy lives in Canada, our hang out time is rather limited. So I was soaking it up.
We met the incredible Mary Lenaburg.
If you’re not following Mary, you should be. And she’s just as wonderful in person as she is on her blog. Mary is such a beautiful reflection of the Joy of the Gospel and the Culture of Life. Go to her blog and be inspired.
Thursday night we braved the Charleston humidity to eat dinner at High Cotton with Mary, Kathy Helgemo, and Alyssa. I think we were a little bit too loud, but we couldn’t help it.
Friday morning I woke up with NO VOICE.
Friday is when the Edel Gathering really gets kicked off with the crazy shoes cocktail party which I was hosting. The trouble was, I seriously had no voice at all. Our whole family caught the worst summer cold and Lucy and Daniel had to get some antibiotics to fight of secondary infections. I was feeling pretty miserable all week, but the laryngitis kicked in Friday big time. I was all like….
My ridiculously extreme use of natural remedies did keep my sinus infection from needing antibiotics, but it couldn’t bring my voice back.
Since things weren’t getting going until Friday evening, I tried to whisper my way through the day and give Christy her first taste of the South.
Christy loses her mind over Spanish Moss.
I really can’t tell you how gratifying it is to have someone love your part of the world. We took Christy to tour Boone Hall Plantation and she was expecting Rhett Butler to jump out at any second. It was great.
The Hotel was beautiful.
The Francis Marion Hotel was stunning and located close to great areas for walking and eating. They did have some major plumbing issues all weekend, but miraculously, the water was always on when we needed it. (And I took a LOT of showers in hopes that the steam would somehow bring back my missing voice.)
We wandered around the city finding the southernest of southern foods for Christy to try (hello, fried green tomatoes, pimiento cheese, and chicken n’ waffles).
And we window shopped in the stores on King St. including this bizarro place that apparently provides the wardrobe for Dolores Umbridge. (That adorable girl is Dainty Cate and she’s even cuter in person).
We got all dolled up for the cocktail party.
And I wore the craziest pair of shoes I could find. Big surprise that they were super uncomfortable and I didn’t make it through the whole night with them still on my feet.
We had a great time and got to meet some readers and podcast listeners. I spilled some grits on my dress and we were dazzled by the creativity of the crazy shoes (check out this post to see how amazing some of them were).
(With our good friend, Sarah Ortiz!)
Saturday I woke up without the ability to speak above a whisper.
So that made for a tricky emcee gig. Christy sent me back to bed on Saturday morning and I tried to sleep and drink hot tea until introducing the first wonderful speaker of the day, Rachel Balducci. Her talk was awesome and I had the pleasure of whispering to her afterword at the vendor table. Super delightful and the word on the street is that she smokes a mean cigar. (I was sadly not in any shape to be smoking but my favorite pictures from the weekend were of Catholic moms relaxing with cigars. Be sure to check out the photos from the fantastic Ginny of Small Things. Meeting Ginny was another highlight.)
Next up was my friend Kelly Mantoan’s talk which was wonderful and inspiring and got me all pumped up to live out my vocation.
Then we hightailed it to a Vigil Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and I did the awkward “no, I’m seriously ill, don’t try to shake my hand” thing during the passing of the peace. But for real. You didn’t want to shake my hand.
One of our fearless leaders was seconds away from going into labor.
Well, not seconds away. Apparently, things are just getting going. But Edel started on Hallie Lord’s due date and yet she still managed to rock the weekend.
The other creator/organizer of Edel was the wonderful Jen Fulwiler who took over my emcee responsibilities Saturday evening because there was really nothing left of the old voice. We enjoyed a great talk from Audrey Assad and then karaoke and dancing started and I excused myself to my room where there were cough drops a plenty and a comfy bed waiting.
Edel is such an insane get together of so many of my favorite people in the universe and I have to admit it was a huge bummer to be sick and miserable and voiceless instead of dancing and talking. I LOVED getting to meet readers and I was so sad that I couldn’t actually TALK to them. I think most of the conversations I had were full of foggy-headed weirdness on my end like so:
Sunday morning my voice was back.
Of COURSE, right? Of course it would come back just when it was no longer crucial to be using it. But that’s when Christy and I said goodbye to beautiful Charleston and started our Flannery O’Connor side trip…..(to be continued).
In case you weren’t there or couldn’t hear me….
This was the gist of my little welcome address:
“Since everyone in my family fell ill with the summer sinus infection of death, it was really hard for me to make it to Edel. And I wasn’t the only one who struggled to get there. Family emergencies, health crises, broken limbs, flight delays, and then a hotel without water made me suspect that the devil kind of hates the Edel Gathering. And I think this is why: It reminds us that we are not alone and that’s the lie that the devil wants us to believe. C.S. Lewis says that friendship is born when someone says, “You, too?! I thought I was the only one!” And that’s exactly what this weekend is about.
I’m not sure what lie you’ve been believing. Maybe it’s that you’re the only one who finds motherhood really hard and that everyone else has it all together. Maybe it’s that no one understands the suffering you’re experiencing from infertility. Maybe it’s that everyone else’s marriage is perfect and you’re the only one who is struggling. But this weekend there are women in this room who understand where you are and what you’re going through. And it’s impossible to believe that lie that we’re alone.”
At least that’s what I think I whispered into the mic in my sinus infection fog. But anyhow, even if you couldn’t attend Edel, I think this is still important to remember. In my experience, anytime I REALLY get to know a group of women and we get past the surface, I am amazed by how much each woman has to carry and how many struggles we share. So if this little recap has any sort of “call to arms” it’s to nurture community. Have someone over for coffee and be vulnerable. Support each other. And if you’re in one of those difficult seasons when your community is mostly online, hey, it counts. My online friendships are legit and support and encourage me during the dark times.
Remember that you’re not alone.