August 28 - 30, 2015
|Hello from #AWBU 2015!|
Hi! My name is Leslie and I'm a native Arkansan. I was born in the 60's, attended school in the 70's, graduated college and married in the 80's, worked full time as a Technical Writer while also earning a MA and having babies in the 90's, fighting cancer in 2000 and 2001, widowed in 2012 and now pursuing my dreams of writing while my two daughters are moving forward with their lives.
Growing up as the oldest of three children, I first wanted to be a ballet dancer, next an astronaut, write funny books like Erma Bombeck, and then report television news just like Little Rock KARK Channel 4 News Anchor Carolyn Long.
After spending more than 20 years as a Technical Writer, I started blogging in the summer of 2011, looking for a way to creatively express my writings. Movie reviews, recaps of concerts spent with my two daughters, humorous essays, I wrote it all. Here is my first blog, published on September 7, 2011.
I can look back now at my early blog entries, kind of like a diary of my life with my family. Mom. Dad. Two teenage daughters. Two pets. Family trips to the beach. Television and movie recaps. Funny stories and personal essays. All contained in the blog titled "Leslie In Little Rock". My blogging also spread out into more types of social media - twitter - two Facebook Pages and an email account with the same name as my blog. I continued to work as a Technical Writer part-time and kept busy with all the activities associated with my children and my husband, but loved to write my blog, always looking for something funny and interesting to post.
Then my husband died suddenly of an undiagnosed Pulmonary Embolism (blood clot that went to his lungs) on May 10, 2012. And my life changed forever.
Although I continue to write movie reviews and entertainment related blog entries, I've also written articles about completing cancer treatment and life as a widow with children by writing a Happy Anniversary letter to my late husband.
I've made some big changes during this past year. I went on a medical leave starting in January 2015 from my Technical Writer job to focus on some health issues, helped both daughters as they prepared to graduate, completed forms to take early retirement, and then in May 2015 celebrated as my 22 year old daughter, Lauren, graduated with a double major in International Relations and German from the University of Arkansas and my 18 year old daughter, Sara, graduated from Little Rock Central High School and was accepted into college for Fall 2015.
So here I am, almost 54 years old, recently retired as a Technical Writer and wanting to continue my love of blogging, I joined the Arkansas Women Bloggers online community this past summer. I attended the #AWBU (Arkansas Women Bloggers University) in August at The Arlington Resort Hotel Spa in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Following is a brief recap of my first bloggers conference. And yes, I am wearing the same outfit at the Friday night event that I wore in my blog profile picture and on my business card!
Friday, August 28
I arrived in Hot Springs during the afternoon so I could have a massage and my first hot bath. By the time that Stephanie Buckley, founder of Arkansas Women Bloggers, found me at the bar in the lobby of the Arlington around 5:15 pm, I was scarfing down spinach dip and a Dr. Pepper, looking like a wet noodle. Stephanie, who I know as The Park Wife, was so gracious and kind when she approached me, called me by my first name, and welcomed me to the conference. After a quick shower and change of clothes, I went to the conference room where the Friday Night Banquet was held.
|Derby Hat Night|
The Conference started on Friday evening and all of the attendees were told to wear a hat for Derby Hat Night. I just didn't realize that my outfit with a green sweater and hat topped with an orange flower would match the green conference bag and orange conference ID!
This night was titled "Evening of Fun" and it was! We had a delicious dinner, played a scavenger type of game to learn about the other attendees, and enjoyed hearing Kick-Off Speaker, Lela Davidson talk about her recent book Faking Balance: Adventures in Work and Life.
The highlights of Friday night included meeting all the other AWBU attendees, hanging out in the lobby of the hotel watching old men dance, and visiting with fellow bloggers at the Hospitality Suite.
Saturday, August 29
The following morning started with the Keynote Speaker Presentation by Rhea Lana Riner of Conway, Arkansas who founded a local Children's Consignment Event that is now offered nationwide.
|Rhea Lana Riner|
As a mother of two daughters, I have participated many times throughout the years in Rhea Lana's consignment events as both a consignor and a buyer. She spoke of how she started her business and then later sued the U.S. Department of Labor over the use of volunteer workers.
I also attended two different workshops: Self-Editing for Bloggers and Blogging as a Launching Pad to Social Media Work, enjoyed a great lunch sponsored by Riceland, and participated in a fun "Feed the Funnel" party where we all worked together to make and pack 10,000 meals designated for distribution to an Arkansas food pantry.
|Assembling meals for THE PACK SHACK|
A Rogers, Arkansas based nonprofit that provides healthy, easy to prepare meals
that are given to local hunger relief groups
I topped off the night by dining on tasty pizza with several other bloggers at DeLuca's Pizzeria near the Arlington.
Sunday, August 30
Sunday morning, after eating a yummy pancake breakfast at The Pancake Shop, I attended two more workshops: 45 Ideas in 45 minutes and Writing for the Web.
To sum up the three day conference: I had a great time; met many new friends and fellow bloggers; and learned a lot that can help me with writing future blog entries.
And here is a photo of one of my business cards I specially ordered to pass out at AWBU. After paying more money to have the cards shipped by overnight delivery, I left them sitting on my coffee table. So for all of you that I met in Hot Springs and you gave my your business card, here is mine...