There is a famous line in the movie Steel Magnolias that I will never forget. Clairee Belcher says, “Well, you know what they say: if you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me!”
Now, I don’t agree with that philosophy, but I do appreciate the fact that she wants to know what is going on. She wants to “chat”.
I have had two chances now to “chat” with fellow bloggers and agvocates and let me tell you, I wanted them all to come and sit by me! I wanted to soak up their knowledge and their thoughts. I wanted to get to know them better and I wanted to make a personal connection, not just a virtual one. Partly because I was in awe of them and the strong voice that they have, mostly because I am now a mama home most of the day by herself and I really needed some stimulating conversation. (You try going from having a little shadow all day long to only having the dog, cats and cows to talk too, see how you do.)
In late August I made the trek to Austin, TX all by myself to attend the 2014 Cultivate and Connect AgChat Conference. Did I mention that I went by myself? It was all good, no worries, but lets focus for a minute. I. WENT. BY. MYSELF. No husband. No kids. Nor animals of any kind. It was me on my own doing something that I really wanted to do. Man, it felt so good to do something for myself! Okay, back to the conference.
AgChat hosts an annual conference that brings together agvocates, bloggers, agriculture industry professionals and farmers to talk about being a voice for Agriculture. (That is the simple explanation. For the whole story, visit AgChat.org.) How did I hear about AgChat? My friend Nicole has attended three of the AgChat conferences and tried to talk me into going last year. Being the mama that I am I said no because it was taking place on the first few days of school for my kids and it was also happening on my daughter’s (Kendall) birthday. Guess what? This year it was also during the first few days of school, and I was gone for Kendall’s birthday. I KNOW! How could I? After some soul-searching, a discussion with my husband and a FaceBook chat with a friend, I signed up in the last hour of the early registration deadline. Let me tell you, once you decided to pay the fee, you are going to do whatever it takes to attend.
AgChat was formed in 2010 and is led by an Executive Director and a board of volunteers. They really do know how to put on a conference! The accommodations were wonderful, the speakers inspiring, the food excellent, and the sessions insightful. The quality of the conference was top-notch and I have attended several conferences in my day. (Okay, not recently, but I have attended many conferences, especially in college and that was not THAT long ago.)
Fellow attendees have written wonderful blog posts about what they learned and gained from the conference. Others were on Twitter, FaceBook and Instagram while in attendance and gave the play by-play. Then there were the few, very few, (okay mainly me) who were in attendance, who were not for sure what they were supposed to do, and waited almost two months to write and reflect on their experience. What can I say: I have been busy? I had writers block? I was overwhelmed? Maybe? Or it could be that I was waiting for the right inspiration and connection to make as to why I attended such a conference. (Let’s go with the last one.)
Why did I attend AgChat? To do that, chat. I attended to chat with others about the industry that I love and have been in my whole life. I attended to make personal connections with individuals who I have only read their words, not heard their thoughts. I attended to learn, absorb and take in all that being with fellow bloggers and agvocates has to offer. I attended to get some AWESOME ag swag. I attended to get a better understanding of why it is that I am Country Link.
I have told people that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. At one time I thought I had things planned out pretty well, but when you are not The One in control, you really can’t plan your life. So…………………..I take each day at a time and feel very blessed to have a loving husband who lets me be me. With that he also knows that I struggle at times with being me and finding my place. Attending AgChat was one way of finding my “place” and chatting with others made me realize that I can be me. (I really already knew that, but with being there some things finally clicked in my head.) I can be a voice for Agriculture and the future of farming. I can connect with others and share my story. I can be me. The gal who: “brings to the group sweetness wrapped in smartness with a splash of humor. She can give you something to smile about, encompass you with her warm hugs, and then talk Ag like any good farm raised girl should. Her love of her children and photography is evident in her daily life!” That’s me!!!
Stay tuned for part II of Let’s Chat and I will tell you about the second opportunity I had to “chat” with bloggers.
Blessings to you and all of my wonderful blogging/agvocating friends,
Laurie – Country Link