Arkansas, Arkansas, I Just Love Ole Arkansas

Well. I had the best time this past weekend. And believe it or not, it had absolutely nothing to do with college football.

I mentioned last week that I was speaking at the Arkansas Women Bloggers conference, and that is exactly what I did. Friday morning I flew to Atlanta so that I could fly back over Birmingham on the way to Little Rock. And by the way, do you know how long it takes to fly from Birmingham to Atlanta? THIRTY-ONE MINUTES. I mean, yes, you have to make time to taxi and take off and descend and land and taxi again, but you are really only in the air long enough to watch one episode of your favorite sitcom – and you can’t even do that because for at least ten minutes of the flight all of your electronic devices have to be turned to the “off” position and stowed.

For some reason all of this fascinates me.

Anyway, the conference was at Ferncliff Camp outside of Little Rock, and the setting was absolutely beautiful. There were trees and hills and wide-open skies, and lo, my heart was full. The rooms weren’t fancy, but they were charming, and I really do think that I’m growing as a person because even though THERE WERE NO TELEVISIONS THERE, I did not panic. I took several deep breaths, reminded myself that there was plenty of wifi (even if it wasn’t powerful enough to live stream a football game), and remembered two words that can be very important during an unexpected TV-free weekend: CANDY CRUSH.

Listen. I’m as bad as it as I ever was, and it’s certainly not any sort of all-consuming thing with me. But it was a great way to pass the time on my flights, and I actually bonded with a woman in the Birmingham airport when we discussed some strategies that might help her get past level 22. I told her about combining the wrapped candies with the striped candies, and she was so excited that she nearly jumped up out of her seat. Obviously it was a special moment that I will treasure forever.

As it turned out (and a little bit to my surprise), I didn’t have a whole lot of time to play Candy Crush. I did, however, get to meet a bunch of blogging women who couldn’t have been more warm, welcoming, and fun. I got such a kick out of their DEEPLY genuine sense of community, and I loved watching how they support and encourage each other. My friend Stephanie started the conference a couple of years ago; she and her team have done a phenomenal job. I enjoyed my time there so much. And if all of that weren’t enough, I also got to see my friend Jennifer (we went to State together), and about six different times yesterday we laughed so hard that we couldn’t make any sound come out. My heart was so happy to see her.

So, in summary: Great conference. Wonderful women. Sweet friends. And the view wasn’t bad, either.

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Thanks, Arkansas. For everything.

You made me feel right at home.

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  1. Your keynote talk was so lovely. I teared up a few times because it was as if you’d looked right into my soul and called me out on a few things. Don’t compare. I’m a masterpiece. Bacon is good. All things I took away. Thank you.

  2. I am so glad I got to meet you and to listen to you speak. You were absolutely magnificent! Thank you for stirring my soul and speaking to my mind.

  3. Sophie, thanks for joining us at AWBU! You were amazing! My dear friend from Greenville, Ms just called and asked if I’d met you this weekend. Y’all went to State together! What a small world!!! Have a great week!

  4. Isn’t Ferndale beautiful? My son had a 4H shooting competition there this summer. Lovely place!

    And did you get sent home with any Petit Jean bacon?

  5. Almost forgot…

    WPS! Never yield

  6. It was a pleasure to hear you speak this weekend. Your session was one of my favorites and hit the nail head on with some of my blogging issues I’ve been having. Thank you so much for coming to Arkansas.

  7. You had me at Bacon. That is all.

  8. Oh Sophie! You blessed my life immensely with your keynote speech. Thank you so very much for traveling, missing college football, and getting confirmation from Bruno Mars. You rocked it!

  9. Sophie,
    It was so great to meet you! Thanks for the time and effort to be with us! I loved the fresh perspective you gave us!

  10. Thank you so much for joining us at AWBU!! Your talk was so uplifting and entertaining – definitely one of the highlights of the weekend. Also, thank you for confirming that the funny way Stephanie pronounces my name is actually a real accent and not just her messing with me.

  11. Thank you so much for your wonderful keynote. You made bacon look even better :) It was great getting to know you.

  12. A big virtual hug from Arkansas! Thank you for spending your time with us. My heart is full of inspiration, community, support and blogging goodness today.

  13. Oh you cracked me up. This was the best weekend I’ve had with this many women in a long time. Thank you for the reminder that we are in community not competition with each other.

  14. I SO enjoyed hearing you this weekend! Loved what you had to say and it hit “spot on”! Are those not the best laughs ever — the kind when you can’t even speak and occasionally have to find a bathroom PRONTO! (or, at least that’s me after 3 kiddos!)

  15. Sophie, I hope you had a wonderful time in AR. I lived there for a couple of years and it can get really beautiful up there when the leaves start to turn. Anyway, I finished your book and I cannot tell you how much I loved it! I sent your sweet mama a note thanking her for sending it to us. I laughed so hard in places that I actually didn’t think I’d recover! The night I finished it though, I was in tears…. I took it to Rob and blubbered, “Yoohooo haahaave tooohooo rrrreeaheeed thiiihiiss boohoook!” Needless to say, he is reading it now and also says you have Martha nailed! I can’t wait for him to finish it.

  16. Did anybody tape your speech? Sounds as if it was wonderful.

  17. Loved your speech. And I adore that I can now hear your voice when I read your blog :)

  18. I think I have told you in several ways over the past few days how thankful I am for you, how much you blessed our Arkansas tribe and how fortunate I am that you did not bring any high school pictures with you. You radiate the gifts of the Spirit Sophie Hudson, Thank you for being who He created you to be.

  19. Sophie, it was so good to meet you. Thanks so much for coming to ole Arkansas and loving on a bunch of Hog fans ;) Thanks also for being real and so easy to talk to. I enjoyed our time together!

  20. Thank you so much for sharing the real you and for being just so daggum wonderful! May the Lord continue to bless the work of your hands – big hugs! (As you can see your girl Stephanie is in good hands here in Arkansas!)

  21. Stephanie McCratic says:

    It was an absolute pleasure to get to meet you. Come back to Arkansas soon, please.

  22. Well, of course, now I am trying to figure out a way for you to come up to Eureka Springs or Northwest Arkansas because I just loved you so much. Any woman who can see the magic of a pop song and relate it to bloggers has my heart. Now, back to scheming a way to get you up here to the Ozarks!

  23. Loved our time together!!!! Ladies, please, you will have to wait your turn! Love you!

  24. Where to start? A) I think we could be wine-drinking besties. B) you made my soul happy. C) I love that you once called yourself Fried Chicken. Xo

  25. I was SO SO sad to miss AWBU this year when I found out you were the keynote speaker. But having just had a baby 4 months ago, and the thought of having to deal with a baby during a blog conference just was too much for me to handle (I went to Blissdom this spring, and wanted to cry for those dear souls trying to jot down notes from speakers while simultaneously jiggling their infant so that they wouldn’t disturb the other bloggers). I’m so glad Arkansas treated you well, and so happy to know that you’re an avid Candy Crush player. :)

  26. You were so funny and inspirational! It was a blessing to hear you speak. Thank you so much for the sacrifices that you made to hang with us! ;-)

  27. Thank you for joining us!

  28. So glad to have you with us at #AWBU! I loved your stories and have already finished half your book, laughing and crying. :) Thank you!

  29. My grandmother was from Arkansas … she got us all hooked on driving thru with the changing of seasons. So beautiful. Colorful. She lived in Texas later, on the border of TX and AR but always claimed AR! Glad you had a sweet time.

  30. We loved having you!! You are hilarious and heart-warming at the same time. Thank-you for your precious talk. Oh, and I heard Bruno Mars song “Treasure” on the way home and thought of you! LOL :)

  31. Thank you so much for being so transparent and genuine. Loved hearing you speak at AWBU. Definitely the highlight of the conference!

  32. After hearing you speak and reading your book, I am completely convinced we are long-lost sisters – except for that Mississippi State fandom thing. I’m sure with enough electroshock therapy and bacon, though, we’ll have you calling the Hogs like a pro very soon. Let me know when you want to start the bonding. :-)