Hey MayaIndia Sweeties! I am back from my fabulous weekend at the Tennessee Soap and Candle gathering and let me tell you- it was an adventure! I arrived at 7:45 Friday evening (after a 2 hour flight delay) and was met at the airport by a lovely young lady named Kristin. We began our 2 hour journey from the Nashville Airport to Paris Landing State Park, where the gathering was being held. She said she wasn't exactly sure where she was going and of course, I had no idea, but I consulted with Siri and we just chatted all the way there. We finally arrived around 10:30 that night. My room was rustic, but comfy- with a great view (I discovered in the morning!) Saturday morning, I approached the registration table and was greeted by the lovely Rachel Turner Mullen, the event organizer. Rachel and I met last September at an event in Atlanta and she is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. She owns a business called Music City Suds and you should totally go to her website and check her out! Before Rachel sent me on my way, she handed me a goodie bag FILLED with lots of great stuff. Here's Rachel giving opening remarks and my bag of goodies. I was beside myself with excitement and I knew the goodies would serve as a distraction, so I put them in my room and made it back to the conference room in time to hear the keynote speaker, Donna Maria Coles Johnson -insert big :). Donna Maria is the CEO and founder of the Indie Business Network and she always has a wealth of knowledge to impart. She shared a very personal story about how she came to follow her dreams, and it was nothing short of inspirational. I love to hear about folks who have designed their lives, even with set backs and disappointments, to be exactly what they want them to be. It was so nice to finally meet Donna Maria after several years of online conversations and discovering that we belong to the same sorority! Here's a photo we took celebrating our sisterhood. After Donna Maria spoke, we heard from Benjamin Aaron, Michelle Rhodes, Amanda Griffin, Mark Williams and Kristin Schleihs. We were treated to a demo on making bath bombs by the Fizzy Queen herself, Holly Port. I can't say enough nice things about this lady. She's a fun, bubbly (no pun intended), sweet and caring person, who is always willing to help you. A true gem! We also had lunch and dinner with several of the speakers, which was very nice. An intimate gathering like this, that allows the attendees an opportunity to parlay, if you will, with the speakers and ask them questions they might not normally be able to ask is an added bonus. With all the social media connections we make, sometimes we expect leaders in the industry to be larger than life, when in reality, they are regular people, who are willing to share information with anyone who asks. Here I am with some old and new friends. I also met my fellow Indie blogging sister, Alyssa Middleton! She has such a sweet spirit, and this weekend I found out one of the reasons why. While conversing with Alyssa's assistant, Vanessa over breakfast, I discovered that Alyssa is a social worker like me- enough said! The next day, I was awakened by a call at 4:30 am, informing me my 5:30 pm flight back to NY had been cancelled due to severe weather conditions. The adventure continued. Although there were several other speakers to hear, I was so distracted and worried about how I was getting back to NY, I was unable to concentrate. I made some calls and it didn't look good at all. I found myself trying to "argue" a plane into the sky with the American Airlines representative. That's when I had to stop myself, find a quiet place and say a prayer. My conversation went something like this, "I know I'm not always the most obedient child, but today, I am going to trust You because I know You ALWAYS know best." Later, when I spoke to my husband, he sent me a photo of what it looked like in front of our house and I understood why I wasn't able to go home. (Mommy always said, "God takes care of babies and fools."). I was rebooked onto a flight 8 am Sunday. In passing I mentioned to Rachel that I was stranded and she said, "No worries, you'll stay with me." Easy peasy. Immediately, my stress level began to drop. There were presentations by Deborah Bruijn, Marge Clarke and Kayla Fioravanti and I was able to relax and enjoy them. Then it was time for the fun! Door prizes were given out and I left feeling like I was #winning. I wasn't the only one stranded in Nashville that night. A fellow soap maker named Michelle was also the victim of a cancelled flight and suddenly it was a sleepover at Rachel's house! Rachel and her husband were super accommodating, and I got to meet their sons- 3 cute little energetic dachshunds who are absolutely spoiled rotten! I called my husband before I retired for the night, and wouldn't you know I received another call canceling my flight back to NY!?! The adventure continues. I was really not a happy camper and was beginning to wonder if I would ever get back home. The next morning, Michelle took me to the airport- even though I was rebooked onto a 5:55 am flight TUESDAY. My husband was desperately trying to work his magic to get me back home. He made several calls and finally put me on the line with a rep who, after several failed attempts, found a flight for me. I left Tennessee at 11:00 Monday morning after a great weekend of networking and learning. But in the infamous words of Dorothy Gale, "There's no place like home!" Until next time, Stay sweet!