The Amazing Wonderful Fabulous & Kind Team—Organizers: Wedding Day Hooray & Leah and Mark * Photographers: Amanda Summerlin, LeahAndMark.com & The Intern Army * Event Venue: Young Blood Gallery * Extra thanks: Wedding Day Hooray & +Raven for contributing to the raffle, and Leah and Mark for making this event possible! *
First of all, clearly, you just have to take a scan of the pictures to know that the Atlanta APW Book Talk was very, very good. Second of all, I wore my hipster ice skating dress again because I realized it was my last chance on the road. I made my hair huge, to compensate. Obviously, you forgive me, and wonder why I’m not wearing it every day all day (good question). Third, the event was even better than it looks in the pictures. I’m pretty sad that all of you were not there for it, though I suppose if you were, we wouldn’t have fit in the gallery, so hum.
When we left the Atlanta event, which was Maddie’s third and last event on the road, there was a pause, and then she said, “That was a very good one. Very.” And she was right. From the minute we walked into the event space (the Young Blood Gallery) the feeling in the air was awesome. Unlike past events, there was a very laid back, pre-show vibe. Everyone was walking around with their shoes off, setting up (thanks Wedding Day Hooray, the coolest Atlanta wedding event), chatting, nursing tiny babies (Leah). And, I mean, it was in an art gallery (I was sneakily pricing paintings, trying to figure out how much trouble I’d be in if I picked up some art on the road).
And then, after delays for Atlanta traffic, the event kicked into gear. I started by giving my normal quick but rambling talk, and then we got to the meat of the situation. I pulled up Leah of Leah and Mark for a chat about female entrepreneurship. And, in easiest, most natural, and most fitting way in the world, we ended up passing her baby back and forth during the talk (because, yup, you can literally rock it out in front of a crowd with a baby on your hip). We talked about hustle and about asking for what you’re worth. We talked about motherhood and business ownership and about how having a baby freed Leah up to stop doing crap she hated and made failing not an option. We talked about being afraid of ending up broke and in the poorhouse and letting that drive you. And then, in one of my favorite moments of the night, Rasheeda (did I get your name right, lady??) raised her hand and talked about her mom being a strong female business owner who ran a salon, who raised a take-no-bullshit daughter at the same time. By the end of the night, the myth that you can have kids or have a career, but you have to pick, had a lot less power over me (for one). (Side note: The article on the subject about Sheryl Sandberg in the Sunday New York Times actually made me cry into my cereal yesterday.)
The fascinating part of the night was that when we opened the floor up for Q&A, the topic never switched to weddings. All anyone wanted to talk about was women and money and business and children and success. It was like the dam broke, and we all were finally getting to discuss with other ladies the constant internal narrative that’s playing out in all of our minds, all of the time. At the end of the night, I was chatting with Leah while holding her passed out asleep baby, and she said, “I felt like we just should have kept going. Like we all should have just gone out to coffee and pulled up chairs because there was clearly so much more that needed to be discussed.” I’m getting chills just writing about it. It was that good a night.
So thanks Atlanta. You gave me a good dose of faith in the world. Now, Austin, I’m coming for you on Tuesday. We’re talking about feminism, weddings, and marriages. Plus, it’s going to be the smallest event of the tour, which means one-on-one time. Honestly, I bet it’s going to be worth taking off work early and driving in from Dallas or Houston. You tell me, Texas, but I bet I’m not wrong. Let’s do it.