Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's The People

Ok, I think I'm ready to share more about the conference.

The highlight of the Live and Learn conference was meeting amazing people. It was such an open and welcoming environment, it was far easier than I expected to slip right into the existing community. I admit I was a bit leery of meeting everyone. Don't get me wrong - I'm a classic extrovert. But like I said before, I wasn't sure if people had filled in the blanks with the right information after only knowing me online. Will I be quieter or louder than they expected? Will we hit it off in real life like we do online? What if I'm a big, fat disappointment? And do these jeans make my butt look fat? Ok, nevermind on that last one, but it turns out that I was PPMSing (that would be PRE-pre-menstrual syndrome) during the conference, and that explains that little moment of temporary insanity. And that zit on my chin. But Silvia says I'm just as she imagined, so hang on a sec while I let out that breath I've been holding... ***whew***... k, better now.

Lesson - never underestimate the intuitive powers of unschoolers.

As I wandered through the registration area, I heard a little shout of "Oh my gosh - that's Laura!" And I turned to meet this amazing woman:

Kelli of "our joyful life" is a blogger, too, and she and her unschooling family recently moved to Georgia. Kelli always leaves the nicest comments on my and others blogs, and her love for her children is evident in her blog musings. I could tell immediately that if Kelli lived closer, we'd be hanging - yes, we would. She has just the right amount of energy, wit, sarcasm, and wisdom. And I got all that in the first few minutes of talking with her. Kelli, it was fantastic meeting you and I only wish we'd had time to talk more. Next time!

It was great to see Ren again, after our serendipitous meeting and chat at the InHome conference in the Chicago area last spring. Ren is full of life and has an intoxicating energy. And she can do costume make-up and art like nobody's business. She would be rip-roaring fun to hang out with too, if we didn't live so far apart. Dear Ren - can I interest you in a cornfield with a view? Bring Kelli.

And then there was Keti. Keti came as a blessing disguised as a problem. See, we both have kids who wanted to try school, Brady last year, and her daughter this year. We discussed it online before the conference and planned a meet-up at the conference so we could comiserate, share wisdom, and connect on this shared transition. We hit it off immediately and spent a lot of time together at the conference. Keti is one of those delightful, kind, comfortable people; I felt like I'd known her forever. That's just the kind of friendship I like! Later, we laughed that something that seemed so negative (kids in school) brought us something so positive - our new friendship! Yay for silver linings. Keti - do you like cornfields?

Another gift from the school discussion - Geri. Geri is another comfortable friend, the kind of person who, approximately 5.6 seconds after knowing you, invites you to not only visit, but STAY, in her DC-area home when you're, say, heading out for a field trip in, say, late October. Geri is the founder of Good News Network - when I realized that, I was very excited, as I know of that site and find it very impressive and inspiring. I very much enjoyed getting to know Geri, with the bonus being that our teenage boys formed a rock band with Cameron Lovejoy and performed at the talent show! Geri, I can't wait to see you next month! You are a good soul. I promise not to steal your silver when we come to visit. P.S. Anything about cornfields you find especially appealing?

Then, another real treat - I got to meet Scott-freakin-Noelle! I'd known of Scott for a long time. He moderated the online yahoo discussion group about The Continuum Concept. What, you haven't read that book you say? Then get cracking and do. And do not think I'm kidding when I say it will rock your world. It rocked mine - right out of mainstream life and into unschooling! Scott has since developed a career as a phenomenal parenting coach and writer and he recently published his new book, The Daily Groove, "a collection of brief, practical, inspirational messages designed to help parents transform 'the daily grind' of parenting into a satisfying, empowering, joyful adventure." Amen brutha! I bought his book at the conference, and it is so readable and user-friendly, its format being short essays that can be read individually, and its message so completely full of wisdom, that a friend snatched it up at our parkday gathering the first time I showed it. "I need this book," said my friend. I would take that a bit further and say that all parents need this book! Go visit Scott's website and get ye that book!

Scott was a ton of fun at the conference, and much to my surprise, he is a total nut! He can be witty and wise, deep and philosophical, and next thing you know, he's busting a move on the dance floor. It was a great pleasure to make his acquaintance. Dearest Scott - ever busted a move in a cornfield? There's room.

There are so many great folks to mention.

The St. Louis family, Curtis and Debbie, whom I met with my stock question of "Is this your first L&L conference? Mine too!" (I have a knack for spotting newbies.) Turns out they know friends of ours in St. Louis, which pretty much guarantees we'll see them again in the near future. It was great chatting with them. Oh, and Debbie can bust a move her own self. You go, grrrl! Debbie - come bust a move in our cornfield. With Scott Noelle. Curtis - ever considered juggling corncobs?

And there was the Canadian couple, Chris and Jess. I think we met them over dinner in the most challenging part of the conference cafeteria. (What kind of cruel joke is it to make unschoolers eat in a cafeteria?!) We didn't get as much time with them as we'd have liked, but Jonathan's always wanted to visit Canada so now we have another great reason to venture north! Or, you could just come down and join our commune in the cornfields. C'mon... Everyone's doing it!

And there were a whole bunch of conference divas I fell in love with. Madeline, on the left, is an adorable organic farmer. She has an infectious energy. I loved her immediately. Gail, in the center, is a Florida unschooler. I just realized, from Ren, that she has a blog. I will be visiting her - on her blog, and hopefully in person when we venture back to Florida next spring! (Gail - any karaoke in Florida? :-) And on the right is the conference diva of all conference divas, Kelly Lovejoy. Kelly is the amazing force behind this convergence of like minds. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't know any of these amazing people. Kelly - you totally rock.

Dear divas - please move to my cornfield. Thanks.

And last, but certainly not least... there was this grrl:

Sweet Silvia. Isn't she cute? Silvia and I hit it off, right after I poked her in the arm during the tattoo funshop. But I didn't just poke her for no reason - I poked her because I'd been keeping an eye out for the blogger named Silvia with the cascading blond curls and the enormous smile, and suddenly, there she was, right in front of me. So I poked her. Silvia was one of my first blog readers and we've been conversing ever since. She's even more delightful than I expected - and let me tell you, I had grand expectations. She has an amazing aura about her, and you could just see how things were lighter in her presence. She's sweet and kind and friendly, and there's a special VIP location in my cornfield just for her. Dear Silvia - when you comin'?

There were others, but unfortunately I didn't get pictures with them. And while, yes, we unschool with and for our children, I couldn't help but think how lucky I am to have discovered this amazing community of free-thinkers, attached parents, and joy-seeking unschoolers. Thank you to everyone for making the conference experience so wonderful and for inspiring us to continue living this beautiful, unscripted life of living, learning, and loving together. Even if we're out here in the cornfields..... all.... alone.

So, how we gonna go about subdividing this here cornfield for y'all, hmmm?


Stephanie said...

Thank you so much for sharing this awesome experience!!

debra said...

Hey, can I join you in the corn field evein if I wasn't at the conference:-) ?

kelli said...

aww, I miss you!! Man.. and considering I'm not big on prairie types of land (I love forests) that cornfield looks pretty darn good. :)

Heather's Moving Castle said...

That was well written and very funny! Thanks for the inspiration this morning! I live in Iowa, so I have some cornfields nearby. Oh joy!

Glad you had a moving experience. We're hopeful to go to the Life is Good conference in May. Maybe I'll see you there?

Curtis said...

OMG! Do I really look like that? :)

And here I was trying to convince the wife that we should pick up and move to South Carolina near Kelly & Ben. I even found an awesome house online with a swimming pool and a back yard up against a golf course (all for less than our house here in St Louis). So, maybe instead of a cornfield, we should all find a stretch of beach someplace to put down roots.

piscesgrrl said...

debra - of course! and you can start a new 'my town' adventure! or would it be 'my cornfield'?

curtis - hmm, you've got a point there! beach, cornfield. beach, cornfield.

EC said...

Hey! I want a spot out in the cornfield, too!!


Looks like a wonderful time was had at L&L!

denise said...

Oh, cool. Many of my favorite bloggers - and you met them all at once! :)

You sellin' some cornfield? ;)

gail said...

Hey Laura, You may not know this but I've moved across the country before on a whim and I'd probably do it again just to hang out with you! We're keeping our light on for you when you come to Florida!

Madeline said...

I echo Curtis - Do I really look like that?! But I am honored to have been given a spot in your corn field. Unfortunately, our corn here needs us. But your are more than welcome to move into ours! I do wish you weren't so danged far away.

KMDuff said...

Thanks for sharing! Looks like you had a blast! What cool people to meet!

Stephanie S. said...

hi! i want to attend one some day. it seems they're always on That side of the Big Miss, though. :/ A bit too far for me!

PLUS!: I thought that you had received the Brilliante Blog award a while back, but I can't find reference to it here -remember it?- I picked up one today, apparently it was sitting in someone's attic! :)
(Just teasing Lilly.)
Come over to olm to pick it up to add to your collection, if you'd like.
xo Steph

Keti said...

Oh Laura, I'm already wanting to come see the cornfield! Fall, Spring and Summer only, though! Thanks for the beautiful and touching words! So wonderful to meet and connect with you and your family. Jonathan and Brady are such cool people! Now, we got to scheme a new gig so we can all party again -- SOON! When are you coming to the Sunshine State? You're always welcome here.

Debbie said...

I love this post!:) Your cornfield is beautiful! The people are so wonderful... I am still shining from our experience at L&L. This post brings it all back:) I am with Keti, we need to scheme something up! Thank you:)
You guys are always welcome down here in St. Louie!
Take care,

Silvia said...

Wow! I don't read a blog for a few days and I missed this awesome post! And you even included me in it! :) Now I've got to get blogging about the conference. There's just too much to say, I don't know where to start! I'll come visit your cornfield--but only when there are no mosquitoes--you don't have mosquitoes in corn country, to you? Otherwise I'm moving into the house. :)