How Was The 2018 BFRB Conference?
I went to the BFRB conference for the first time this year and I have been wanting to write about it because people ask me about it but I haven’t had a chance to process a lot of it since I got home (early I might add).
Weeks leading up to the conference I had really bad anxiety about leaving home.
I did all that I knew to do in order to cope with that anxiety.
Every single day I would listen to sermons, sometimes for HOURS just to get my mind off the homesick feeling.
I have never left my kids before and this was such a big deal for me because my kids are my life.
I do everything I do to work from home because of my kids.
I have this co-dependency with them that is hard to describe unless you have it yourself.
I realize a lot of people see leaving home as a mini vacation, blah blah, that’s fine – I tried to see it that way too but honest to goodness I am just not built that way.
I tried to let it all go and relax in every single way I knew how.
I’m even in a counseling class this month for my theology courses I’m taking and even that crap didn’t help.
As soon as I was in the airport to leave, I broke down and cried.
I made my little guy break down and cry and my 16 yr old daughter.
I didn’t want to cry but dang it if I wasn’t already homesick before I left.
I got on the plane.
I had a great seat, I was so blessed but even that only cheered me for a few moments.
My mind immediately went to how much I missed my kids.
My baby is only 16 months old, I couldn’t even explain to him like I could the others.
Worse yet, I was still nursing him at night so that made it harder.
I bawled ya’ll and I kept trying to tell myself, only 75 hours til you see them, take it one hour at a time.
Landing In San Franscico
As soon as I landed I was anxious about the shuttle.
I had no idea where a shuttle was.
I never travel at all, especially alone, I realized how dependent I was on my husband to pretty much navigate me through going places.
Here I was almost paralyzed by how I was gonna find a shuttle.
I’m telling you I function every single day, but the anxiety from leaving home and being alone was almost uncontrollable.
I called my hotel, I asked how this shuttle thing worked and then I found someone who worked at the airport and I asked them how this shuttle thing worked.
I eventually got to my hotel!
Aneela wasn’t coming for two hours.
Once I checked in and the anxiety of being in the room alone was making me climb the walls.
I had to get out, but where do I go?
I decided to go find the hotel the conference was at because I knew I could see it from my hotel so it couldn’t be that far of a walk.
I was trying to keep my mind off my homesickness.
I went for a walk and did a live video talking to people on Facebook, I was hoping that it would help me feel less alone, and it did for awhile.
I got to the hotel and I didn’t see anyone but Tigger from Winnie the Pooh so I decided to keep walking outside the hotels because the view was nice.
I don’t know why Tigger was there but I snapped his picture.
This is one of the only pictures I got the entire time too, you can tell I don’t go places.
Checking In For the 2018 BFRB Conference
I saw people I knew were from the conference walking around the hotel lobby but I’m so dang shy I just sat there awhile processing social cues.
I started walking around the hotel and I eventually found the BFRB conference registration area and I went in there.
I was greeted by smiling faces as I wandered the room aimlessly not having a clue what to do or how to talk.
Why are social situations so hard for me? I don’t know.
I got a text from Aneela a little while later saying she was landing and looking for her shuttle.
I let her know I would meet her in the lobby of her hotel and that’s what I did.
When she got off the shuttle I was waiting there to help with her stuff.
Finally meeting her in person was awesome, until then we had only talked on the phone or on a video conference one time.
Aneela has a great presence about her, I definitely started to feel a little less anxious now that she was around.
I could tell that everyone felt the same way about her presence because the room lit up when she walked into register.
She was so gracious because she never left my side and introduced me to everyone which I thought was incredibly hospitable because she didn’t have too.
Once she was all checked in, we took all her stuff back to her room and we chatted awhile.
We came downstairs, had dinner and chatted some more.
I talked to her about my job, which was kinda cool because no one ever cares about my job – it’s kinda boring if you don’t get it.
She was genuine people and it was nice to be in such good company.
For awhile, I was able to put my homesickness on the back burner.
One of her employees joined us a couple hours at the dinner table and we all chatted.
Her name was Ellen, she was a customer and she loved the product so much that she is now an employee.
Ellen was great company to be around, I enjoyed hearing them chat about business.
We went back to their room, chatted a little longer and then I walked back to my hotel.
I called my husband on the way back to my room to tell him goodnight.
I was devastated I wasn’t home but I was trying not to cry.
I went back to my room, showered, wrapped my hair up tight so that I wouldn’t pull my hair.
Alone in this hotel room made my anxiety start to manifest itself in the physical.
I was starting to have chest pains and all sorts of issues.
On top of that, my breasts were bulging with breast-milk because of the nursing baby I usually feed at night.
I was a mess.
Here I was at this conference to present with this awesome lady from this awesome company and all I could think about was going home.
I cried and cried on the floor for hours.
I began looking at flights in and out and thinking of all the ways I was going to get my family out to me because I didn’t want to have to leave.
I pretty much knew at this point I would be leaving early because the anxiety of it was going to drive me crazy if I didn’t.
I was in no way prepared to be away from home for three days.
Here I was a 37 year old woman and I was homesick.
I ended up texing Aneela and letting her know that the anxiety of all this was weighing on me and I didn’t know what to do but I needed her to know that I was a mess.
I felt terrible.
I grew up being told “stop being dramatic” and here I was feeling like I was being dramatic, but the truth was, I was so amped up and anxious I was making myself sick.
You know what though, Aneela was awesome.
She’s awesome people.
She was sympathetic to the whole thing and even said I could home if I wanted too… and I totally wanted too.
I told myself though, you need to get through the presentation today then decide.
Our presentation wasn’t until 3:15 which was HOURS away, it was only 6:30 in the morning.
Here I was amped in this poor womans room pouring my homesick heart out to her and Ellen.
Oh yes, did I mention I was milking myself like a cow too? 🐄
Yea, that happened. 😫
I think I slept a whole 3 hours in the last 24 hours and I was trying to be a trooper and these ladies we’re amazing.
You could not ask to be around better people, honest to God they were so sweet.
I did everything I could to not feel condemnation because it’s hard to be so vulnerable to strangers, especially since I just met them, I’m not like that normally but normally my family is close by too.
These two ladies were so gracious.
We went to breakfast together downstairs before setting up for the conference.
I remember staring at the airport from the hotel restaurant and every plane that left, my mind started to imagine me on it, headed home.
These ladies were extraordinary and we shared some great stories, but I was still in the back of my mind wishing I was on a plane home.
I don’t remember eating the breakfast I ordered.
I probably didn’t eat it, my stomach was so nervous.
After that we headed to set up Aneela’s booth at the conference.
We were able to hang a big sign on the wall so it was the first thing you noticed when you came up the esculator.
I thought it was a primo space for her table to be and it looked so good after it was set up, I wish I would have taken a picture.
Working The HabitAware Booth
I was happy to sit at her booth and talk to people about them because it kept my mind busy and I do know a lot about how they work.
I could see the curiosity as people passed the table and there were a lot of times when both Aneela and Ellen were busy so I tried to jump in and help.
I would ask them what their favorite color was and try to make conversation with them.
I don’t normally interact with people so freely but everyone is so nice and you can relate to everyone there, fellow BFRB’ers!
Everyone there is cool and it’s actually a very relaxed setting despite my own anxiety.
I wish I would have gotten to know more people, or at least gotten some social media contacts because I did enjoy the company that day.
I observed Aneela and Ellen interact with their customers all day and I feel like I learned a lot about the brand that day.
Aneela is the heart of that company, a fellow trichster who wants to give back to the BFRB community.
She’s really great people. I mean that.
There’s this fine line between caring and selling when you’re the creator of products and I know this from personal experience but she walks that line gracefully.
I observed her closely all day while all the people came up to her inquiring about her smart bracelets.
Her approach was always gentle, informative and relatable.
She didn’t have to be aggressive, her product was like a magnet in that room and people we’re drawn to it (especially the kids).
The Session Presentation (Finally)
Later in the afternoon we slipped off to prepare for our presentation.
I was actually not nervous at all because I was so homesick for my kids that it distracted me from any other task at hand.
We got the rest of it finalized (or should I say, she did) and we prepared to set up.
I put on the awesome t-shirt she got me, yes, she got me a t-shirt and as the kids walked in I started greeting them.
I love being around kids, I felt like I was in my element more with the kids.
These kids in particular were such a awesome little human beings.
I can still remember every face in that room.
There was a boy in there with a heart of gold and boldness in his spirit that you don’t even see in grown men.
I found his mamma later and told her what an incredible young man she was raising and I could see that he was her joy because she lit up when I talked about him.
There was a 9 year old girl in there who blew me away with her words and her artwork and I told her mom after the presentation was over that she was raising an incredibly talented young woman who could run this country one day.
Each child in that room was so strong, beautiful and brave and this world is a better place because they are in it.
At the end of the presentation when all the children were gone and I was walking back with Aneela to the table, I felt like I was done.
I wanted to go home too badly.
I had been looking at flights all day and I knew that I wouldn’t last through the night without seeing my kids.
I will tell you that it was a hard reality to face because I wanted so bad to be there for the conference but my heart was in another place.
I hadn’t even sat in on a conference session yet, but I knew that I had to go.
I was totally bummed out but relieved that I had come to terms with this internal struggle of going home vs. staying.
Aneela was the Keynote Speaker at the conference dinner Saturday night and I wanted to hear her speech.
I feel blessed that I got to read it at the table earlier that day, where it made me tear up.
Still, I knew that I wasn’t going to survive through the night.
I was so homesick and as strong as I think I am sometimes, I wasn’t strong enough to handle the heart ache of not being near my kids.
I let Aneela know and it was incredibly hard to do.
I felt like I was letting her down but I knew she was going to be okay with or without me.
She was so graceful and understanding about it, you couldn’t ask for a nicer woman to be around when you’re feeling the way I did.
As soon as I told her, I booked a flight home.
I got the last seat on the last non-stop flight to Phoenix.
I don’t regret coming home.
I was so happy that night holding my baby that I was thanking God for getting me there.
I don’t know what my purpose was in going to the BFRB conference but I know God wanted me there, even if I was only there a short time.
These things always reveal themselves in time.
I was grateful for the grace that Aneela showed me.
She was so understanding and she’s such a beautiful person inside and out.
She left me a voicemail that night that brought me to tears because it was exactly what I needed to hear.
I’m grateful that I got to know her in that short time because she’s amazing y’all.
Such a humble background and a mighty warrior for the BFRB community and I love her so much for who she is.
I didn’t get to catch her speech that night, but I got to read it again on the HabitAware blog and it brought me tears again.
If I regret anything at all in all this, it’s not getting a picture with Aneela and Ellen.
I would definitely like to try to attend again next year, but this time I will bring my kids (obviously).
I definitely think that parents should bring their kids if they can because it’s a cool experience, those kids were super special!