Last year AssistU’s Community Recognition Awards were held in Reston, VA and Anastacia aptly renamed the event Homecoming. I knew after a year of caretaking responsibilities I desperately needed to attend in order to rejuvenate myself and to give and receive love, hugs, and laughter. My experience although wonderful was that I wasn’t really present for the event—I was worried about my mom and how she and my family were handling my absence. Unfortunately not well and even though there was nothing I could do about that I struggled with feelings of guilt and selfishness amidst the outpouring of love I received from my virtual family.
After connecting virtually for over a year I met Beatrice Ten-Thye (whom my aunt in Canada had referred to me and AssistU) at that event which made every negative thought and doubt flee in the joy and happiness of our connection. That’s what Homecoming is about! In the groovy words of of the ultimate Native American rock band, Redbone, “Come and get your love.”
I traveled to distant cities three times this year (huge for this homebody) and had not budgeted for a trip to San Diego in September. I waivered and listed pros and cons and sat on the fence whining about the view. Then I spoke to my childhood friend, we met in the Bahamas when we were ten, who has lived in San Diego for ten years and raved about it, but I had never visited her new city.
I heard the excitement in her voice when I told her our community in person event would be held there and that I was considering coming. She really wanted me to come but she also said it was the perfect place to hold our Homecoming event. That decided me. The attraction of an old friend sharing her beloved city was the kick in the butt I needed to create the resources of time, finances, and energy to make it happen. I had been focusing on what it would cost me to go instead of what it would pay me to go. That’s what Homecoming is about, “Come and get your love.”
When I arrived at the restaurant for the educational portion of the event (a most excellent addition) I was greeted in the foyer by dearly familiar faces that I have met over the past five years of CRA events. We rush to hug, quite often we scream or jump up and down with joy! And then a tiny blonde woman came up to me and said, “Laura? It’s Lisa!” My latest lovely intern from Colorado—we had just spent the past two months working together and getting to know each other. Oh, how wonderful it is to go from vugs (virtual hugs) to warm, tight, long, loving HUGS! That’s what Homecoming is about, “Come and get your love.”
I made my way through this crowd of twenty-five or so women and then recognized (only because we had finally Skyped together the past week) another dear friend I’d never met. Karen interned with me four years ago when she graduated AssistU’s Virtual Training Program. She had delayed starting her business until this year to support her parents and her in-laws, and moved to two States in the process. We were there for each other when we were caretakers for our moms and became very close. Joy of joys to hug dear Karen and look into her eyes and smile from my soul. That’s what Homecoming is about, “Come and get your love.”
When hands reached up to cover my eyes from behind me I knew it could only be Bea! A kindred soul and lovely spirit—I love loving Beatrice. Since I met her in Reston I had stayed with her for a week in Canada after visiting my relatives this spring. We formed a wonderful bond and experienced memory making moments together. What a dear friend she’s been. Shouts of joy must have preceded that huge hug! That’s what Homecoming is about, “Come and get your love.”
Eventually we settled for the presentation beginning with two awesome guest speakers: Christina Hills who spoke about WordPress and her online training program followed by Laura Rubinstein a social media specialist and co-founder of Social Buzz Club—an innovative online networking membership community. These amazing women were joined by a panel of our own AU experts in their fields and we all participated in a lively Q&A session, sharing knowledge, aha moments, and how to steps; no questions were too small or too big. One distinguishing detail that makes our community a unique and extraordinary place is that we give freely to each other: information, resources, support, and feedback. Our panel of experts was informative, helpful, and magnanimous in their answers and explanations. Thank you all for participating! That’s what Homecoming is about, “Come and get your love.”
There were more hugs and shouts of joy as new faces joined in when we regrouped for dinner and the next day for the awards luncheon. I won’t drag this post out with a play by play but I thoroughly enjoyed hearing everyone introduce themselves before the luncheon and share something most people in the room would not know about themselves. The view, food, sunshiny patio and company were all spectacular! The tears flowed of course as Anastacia presented the awards with deeply touching words about each recipient. Huge congratulations to all of our deserving award winners—I was honored to be nominated with so many esteemed VAs. When Rachael’s dad asked to say a few words of gratitude and how proud he was of his daughter there was not a dry eye in the room. That’s what Homecoming is about, “Come and get your love.”
Cameras snapped to capture the moments, video rolled and then the totally cool photo shoot that Rach’s dad set up took off wildly with priceless shots like these:
That’s what Homecoming is about, “Come and get your love.”
Unexpectedly, I received numerous compliments on my blog and writing from these dear friends and readers which touched me deeply. Taking the time to write a comment is a huge compliment for a blogger, but mentioning how much you enjoy reading a blogger’s post when you see them in person is a deeply gracious and inspiring act—thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will absolutely keep writing! That’s what Homecoming is about, “Come and get your love.”
So, what is Homecoming about? Connecting. Learning, Experiencing. Loving. For me these people, these kindred souls, are my virtual family and so Homecoming is a deep quiet pool in my soul where I replenish and nourish myself and give as much as I receive. It’s about coming home.
If you were there—take a moment to relive your favorite memory from Homecoming while you get up and boogie to Real McCoy’s version of, “Come and Get Your Love”! If you weren’t able to join us this year get up and boogie while you brainstorm what it will take for you to be there with us next September for Homecoming in Minneapolis, we absolutely want you to, “Come and get your love!"