Texas Style Council is over! I have been sitting here for thirty minutes trying to write a gushy recap post, and I just can't. It's mainly because I'm 100% sad that it's done and dead as well as 100% relieved that it's done and dead.
I think I said all I needed to say in the printed program, in my recap TxSC email (drafted and coming tomorrow!), and at the farewell talk last week. I guess that's why the words are failing me now. I do want to take the opportunity to answer the three questions that keep coming up, though:
1. WHY WAS THIS TxSC THE FINAL ONE?
Because there are so many online resources out there and so many other (better!) conferences now, TxSC no longer answers a need or fills a void. I cannot find an answer to "Why do TxSC again" other than "Rah rah, sisterhood, hooray!". I actually think this is a good answer, but I don't think it's a good enough answer, all things considered.
From a production stand-point: TxSC was never intended to be this giant thing that it became, and even scaled back to a more manageable 200 campers (over the 400 attendees we had in 2013), it still takes an army of unpaid staff and overworked volunteers to put it on. It's a lot of work and a lot of stress for an event that nets us little to no profit. We found ourselves in a catch-22 the last couple of years: raise the prices and the people who we want to be there can't afford to be there -or- make it affordable for all and we can't do the kind of elevated production we want to do. Finding that sweet spot and working with sponsors to help offset the cost of the conference is a herculean task.
On a personal note: when I started TxSC five years ago, I had no kids. Now I have three children ages four and under, and my priorities have shifted in a major way. Chris and I want to add to our family (more on this some other time!), and I want to work on my own blog again (and my two new projects!). I just cannot do it all, and I certainly cannot do it from Georgia. I told my family that this TxSC would be my last TxSC, and I want to honor my promise to them. I want to go to other conferences instead of spending months and months planning my own.
I'm (somewhat) open to someone else taking TxSC over, but I'm also extremely protective of what TxSC "stands for", if that makes sense. It would be really hard for me to trust the namesake to another individual and trust she won't just turn it into a ladies who lunch networking thing, use it to only bolster her own brand, or try to turn it into a gathering where monetization is its major focus.
2. SO... WHAT'S NEXT?
We all left CAMP with a spark, and 10 days out, I know that mine is already starting to flicker and fade. Anyone else? It seems like such a shame to watch this incredible network / sisterhood wither away. My hope is that we can do a TxSC reunion for our Texas locals in the fall and help promote events that other TxSC campers host. I want to create a TxSC mailing list and send out periodic updates, and I'll keep the Instagram active (and syndicate that content to Twitter and FB) that way relevant news can still spread.
I'd also like to do a SECRET SUMMER SISTER thing (kind of like Secret Santa, but you'll be assigned one other person to surprise and delight through August). And if it goes well, we'll do another round the next season through Christmas.
For me, personally, I plan to amp it up here on Indiana/Elsewhere (dude, it feels so good to write here again!), and I'm starting two new projects: (1) a gift guide service that I hope to turn into an app next spring (any leads on a tech co-founder?), and (2) a faith-based contributor-centered site (similar to Hello Giggles). I'm actively looking for an advisory board, weekly / regular contributors, and content editors. I want this to launch soon, so let me know if that sounds like something you'd be into.
3. BUT... WON'T YOU MISS IT?
I will. More than you can imagine. There was this moment, laying on Megan's bed at 3 a.m. and chatting it up with her, Liz, Jen, and Julie for the second late night in a row, and as we laughed over something ridiculous, I could feel the tears stinging the inside of my eyelids. I was so thankful for their friendship, as well as my friendship with Linda, Kelsey (you were missed!), KV, and scores of other creative and dear women I had met over the years through TxSC. Some of us "grew up" in this weird world together, others I only just met (Erin, Kelly, BJC, Esther, etc) and recently grew close to. I swallowed the lump in my throat and wondered, "When will I see these fine folks again?". I don't know the answer to this, but I hope it's sooner rather than later.
- - -
I'm having trouble coming up with a strong and witty conclusion here, so I'll end with a few of my favorite words and phrases that others gifted me with in the tunnel of tears (i.e. our final activity of "Gifts of Words"):
Mother to all. Light. Unicorn.
I am humbled. I am grateful. I am inspired by each of you. Thank you. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart.
Bottom line: TxSC has been life changing, and although it's ending, in many ways, I feel like I've only just begin.
Also... here's other people's recaps: