BlogHer Unplugged

I never bring my laptop to BlogHer. I tried it one year and I only time I opened the bag it was in was when I had to do the walk of shame through airport security. Really, there isn't a more humiliating experience than the mad rush to find your bra shoes under the harsh florescent lights of morning TSA checkpoints and get the hell out of there before they drag you back for one more awkward full body scan.

That's part of what I love about going to BlogHer, the fact that I get to totally unplug for a weekend and just listen to all the bloggers I spend the rest of the year reading. The panels are always like a long slam poetry session for me, or a book on tape, or like my daughter must feel every night when I read her Frog and Toad Are Friends. Again. Because there isn't one other damn book in the world to read before bed.

Frog and Toad are quickly becoming not my friend. That's all I'm saying.

However, I am not one to ever easily be satisfied and that explains why I weigh 50 pounds more than I did 4 years ago is why, when my friend Rachel proposed staying in tents instead of New York hotel rooms, roasting hot dogs over a fire instead of bloggers over cocktails, I couldn't resist. Talk about pushing something to it's limits. It was like Fundamentalist BlogHer. I still got a blogger and I still got to learn something, but I got to take my unpluggedness to a whole new level.

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Four days, three nights, two bloggers, two husbands, five children, zero electrical outlets, five flashlights, one lantern and I don't even know how many albinoish-transparenty crabs that only come out once the sun goes down. Which, it turns out, I am not a fan of.

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I've never been camping before. My husband has, my sons have, Rachel and her family go all the time, but poor 3of3 and me had honestly not a clue what we were getting into. I was warned on Twitter that camping was evil and the devil and miserable and gross and it turns out, Twitter is a dirty liar. Because I love camping. I am currently trying to find a way to quit my job, home-school my kids and do nothing but camp all the way across North America.

It really wasn't all that much different from BlogHer, to be honest. We had panels, like the very popular "How to Get Day Drunk Like It's Your Birthday" opening keynote.

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We attended the "How to Look Classically Graceful Under Tidal Pressure" break-out session.

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There was the "Teach a Man to Fish" session, which is very useful if he wants to eat fish sticks for the rest of his life.

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Every CampHer attendee received free pedicures and full body sea-salt and sand scrubs, courtesy of the Gulf Of Mexico.

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Our beach front, five-wind-rating-stars accommodations afforded us all the privacy we wanted, to be able to change swimsuits and pretend like no one else on the beach could see us flapping everything our momma gave us out in the wind. Pretend being the operative word in that sentence. Lying to yourself is an important life skill that is best perfected in the wild.

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Rachel and I got up early, before the kids and the crabs and the world and God, to participate in the Photo Stumble-Out-Of-Our-Tents. Which really was my favorite part. Especially when she didn't know I was behind her.

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And just like you'd come to expect from any good blog conference, there was the exclusive, invite-only high class, black tie party. Or, you know, Cheesburgcampher. {Photos stolen with begrudging consent from Southern Fairytale's FlickR}

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We came home with lots of sand swag in shiny pink coochies bags, but we came home with so much more than just sunburn on our shoulders (which doesn't make anyone happy, really), rotting sand-dollars in our purses and sand in our holiest of holies.

What we came home with is the understanding of the importance of really listening. Not just hearing, listening. We hear (or read, whatever) so much every single second of every single day...all of us, kids to grown-ups, and in the constant drone of internet and tv and friend and traffic and office noises we, more often than I think is proper to admit, forget to pick something, anything, to listen to. To feel. To taste. To learn.

But when you have nothing but sunrise and sunset to keep the pace of your days, when forward momentum halts and time becomes nothing more than a construct you can choose to ignore, when you have little but the roar of waves and the flutter of feet across the sand to occupy your thoughts, you are maybe a little better able to listen to what your heart is saying.

And it's probably saying that it's time to glow, or dance, or sit, or peek.

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Or that there is no appliance in this world as beautiful as the one that makes a memory.

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Or that no toy in the world will ever be as fun to play with as your daddy.

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Or that maybe, just maybe, spending a few nights under an unadulterated night sky, suffocating under the weight of the moon and the stars and the galactic dust, and being reminded of exactly how small you really are is the simplest gift you could ever give to yourself.

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