Welcome to Growing Up Austin – With An ACL Summary

Austin City Limits Music Festival
There has been extra traffic around here this week, with ACL going on. If you are coming by for the first time, welcome! I’m so glad you came! For the new timers and old-timers, here is a summary of the ACL and Growing Up Austin info:

Austin City Limits WITH Kids: A Ten Point Plan

Austin City Limits WITHOUT Kids: A Five Point Plan

Austin City Limits WITHOUT a Ticket: A Three Point Plan

Here are the Growing Up Austin web sites that help Austin families have fun all year-round:

AustinKidsDance.com – Find grown-up live music in kid-friendly venues.

AustinKidsHike.com – Discover kid-friendly hikes without leaving the city limits.

AustinKidsDraw.com – Explore seeing and doing art with kids.

Besides the web sites, there is a blog that talks about how to find the special in the everyday with your kids. Click for email or rss updates.

I’ll let y’all know how things go this weekend. And if that weren’t enough, I have a surprise interview with a Texas Conference for Women speaker who might just blow your mind in a deep and quiet kind of way.


Dear Anita Perry, What About Stay at Home Moms?

Anita Perry(This is another post about the Texas Conference for Women that I attended last week. Anita Perry started this conference and has made it happen for twelve years. I sent her this letter with a suggestion for improving the conference next year.)

Dear Anita Perry,

I recently attended the Texas Conference for Women and it was an engaging and valuable experience. I especially enjoyed Karen Walrond, Shannon Buggs and Gina Otto’s stories during the Second Acts session in the morning. The most valuable part of the conference was meeting other women. I look forward to the phone calls and emails that will follow.

I do have one complaint, though. While the sessions and speakers were diverse in many ways, there was one type of woman that was not represented – the Stay at Home Mom.  I couldn’t find one speaker who was a SAHM or one session related to SAHMs. This role is equally, if not more, valuable to society than any career outside the home. The challenges faced by SAHMs are equally, if not more, worthy of discussion than those faced by working women. Some of the most inspirational women I know are SAHMs.

I understand that the conference is promoted through women’s organizations and SAHMs may not be organized in the same way. I also understand that women who are professional speakers don’t tend to also be SAHMs. But, I believe the conference should serve all Texas women and SAHMs are an important part of that. Blogs are a great resource for SAHMs and an effective way to connect with potential speakers and attendees. A Good Life and Enjoying the Small Things are a few of my favorites.

I wrote about the conference on my blog, about how I was inspired and how it could be better (this post).

Thank you the work you do for this conference and thank you for listening.

Sincerely,

Carol Ramsey
Part-time Software Project Manager
Part-time Stay-at-Home-Mom
Blogger at GrowingUpAustin.com

UPDATE: Anita Perry’s Chief of Staff replied to my letter and said the Texas Conference for Women would love to have some sessions on topics for Stay at Home Moms. I sent her some possible topics, descriptions and speakers (authors and bloggers!). If you have ideas too, email them to info@txconferenceforwomen.org. The 2012 conference is in Austin instead of Houston, so maybe we can all meet there!)

 


I Will (NOT) Be Inspired

Texas Conference for WomenWell, I was inspired by the chandelier in the guest bathroom at the VIP reception the night before The Texas Conference for Women, but not in a way that applies to my life in a particular way. When it comes to my life, I thought I would NOT be inspired by this conference with more than 5,000 attendees and over 100 motivational speakers because…

“Live Fearlessly”

Really?

It isn’t that I don’t believe in living fearlessly and following my dreams, but I also believe in health insurance and paying for my kids’ college. Too many motivational speakers are superficial and full of sound bites without addressing the real issues, the gray areas and the complicated mess that make conquering your fears and following your dreams not-so-simple.

As the conference began, I had two thoughts:

1) I will NOT be inspired by superficial “Live Fearlessly” speeches.

2) If I wasn’t inspired, it wouldn’t be because I didn’t try.

I reviewed the program ahead of time and chose the topics and people I liked best. I attended as many sessions and workshops as time allowed. I met authors I liked at the book signings. I brought my resume for a resume critique. I met with a mentor at the mentor match. I didn’t leave until they were breaking down the booths and sweeping up the floors.

They made me cry twice.

Really?

The first time was in the morning in a panel session with Shannon Buggs, Gina Otto, Karen Walrond and Bobbie Weiner. All of these women had made transitions into a second career that were challenging and risky. Their stories weren’t superficial, they were real, and they had good advice. I asked a question during the Q&A, about how you give up the money and the security of a stable career when you have kids. How can that be fair to your kids? Karen Walrond said that your kids want parents who live a satisfying life more than they want money. I cried just a little because I knew she was right.

The second time was in an afternoon session. The presenter asked us get into pairs and share with each other. The most honest answer to the first question one that made me cry, just a little. By the end of the session, my partner and I were good friends. She said she felt my pain and asked if she could pray with me and we did. We didn’t practice the same religion, but that didn’t matter, she had a kind spirit and she wanted to help. It was a very personal moment and it made me cry again, just a little.

(Hey, wait, is that three times?)

And just so you know, I don’t go around crying all the time when I go to a conference. It just happened this way this time.

I left the conference with two very clear insights about my next steps. Maybe I would have had them eventually anyway, but taking the time away from everyday life and sharing a day with 5,000 women and a few motivational speakers didn’t hurt. And with all that crying, I have to be honest and say…

I Was Inspired.

(NOTE: Stay tuned this week for one more post on the Texas Conference for Women about the one thing I really didn’t like.) UPDATED with link.