Last month I had the pleasurable opportunity to attend The Allume Conference in Greenville, South Carolina. My mother accompanied me after rescheduling our family reunion (which includes about fifty people!) so that I wouldn’t have to miss it while I was gone. We had never taken a trip together, just the two of us, and it was odd traveling that way, but also very fun. I should give a shout-out to the nice man who brought our luggage up and down from the overhead storage during our flight. We may be independently minded, but we aren’t very tall.
First of all, Greenville was wonderful. The conference was held at the Hyatt in the middle of downtown and it was the perfect location for two women with no vehicle. We walked from the hotel to an underground coffee shop and a few lovely cafes and shops. We even strolled through Anthropologie once. The area is thick with history and sprinkled with lovely artistic touches. I really loved it and could have spent many more happy days exploring. There is even a natural spring-fed waterfall right in the middle of everything. You should go sometime.
The conference was a bit intimidating for two (very) introverted women, but I wasn’t at all nervous the way I had been about She Speaks the past two years. The first year it was my first ever conference, I was only nineteen and all alone. The second one I pitching a book for heaven’s sake. I never knew I could be that nervous.
This time, however, it was just fun and relaxing. I had no special agenda there, just learn and make new friends. It was lovely connecting with a few women from my mastermind blogging group. I loved chatting with Shannon on multiple occasions and getting to meet the lovely Kalyn, Christin and September!
The speakers were really wonderful. Some of them I had really anticipated, others were new to me. I saw many faces I recognized and met new people I wish I had known all along. It was lovely to hear Ann speak again, but my favorite session of hers was the Pure Charity panel when no one was scripted and everyone shared the mic. It was so good, I clung at my throat and thought, “I will retain this wisdom if it’s the only thing I do this weekend.”
I am not paid to say this, so please know I am genuine. The conference was spirt-led. I had put on my armor and prepared myself for a commercialized, made up world of blogging bliss. I had imagined the speakers in their white jackets bringing the good word and then disappearing behind stage and onto their plane home. It was not like that. The speakers, who were not told what to speak about or what anyone else was speaking about, had so many common threads, it was amazing. The messages we truly needed to hear were there (sometimes to the surprise of the speaker) and there was no fakey-fakey.
The worship leaders all brought some kind of prophesy or gem of wisdom that tied into what God was already teaching me. The teachers all helped me in some unique way. They didn’t stick to the schedule when they felt that God could use their time differently than planned. One of my favorite things is that there were no pedestals. The speakers and worship leaders and presidents of organizations were in the buffet line with me, sat at my table for lunch, roomed next door. They too walked the streets of Greenville and grabbed casual cups of coffee. There were no celebrities. We were all on the same page and with the same goal in mind.
Even though the past couple of weeks have had me thinking that marketing and promotion are not my gift, that mainstream publishing is not my goal and that blogging may not ever be my primary source of income, Allume continues to inspire me. I’ve had some snide remarks and funny looks since I’ve been back. “A blogging conference? Is that like a Pinterest conference?” They ask laughingly. I feel a little fire rising up in me because the men and women I had the privilege of meeting at Allume were straight-up world changers. There is nothing hokey or selfish or silly about what they do.
And I want to be like that too.
(psst! Super early bird registration for Allume 2014 starts on Black Friday!)