Well, maybe not everything, but this silly photoshop, courtesy of Ashley Collins from Peter and Paul Ministries comes pretty darn close. It picks up the spirit of goofiness and making friends. This explains the Charlie’s Steve’s Angels theme we have going on.
You see, the CNMC really is a celebration. Oh sure, we’ve been moving toward a more professional conference, providing as much instruction and best practices sharing as we can pack into limited time with limited resources. We’ve managed to get some of the most amazing people in new media to come and play together under one roof. And what happens when these dynamic, faithful Catholics come together never ceases to amaze me.
What happens is akin to a lightning strike.
Friendships are forged.
We connect as the Body of Christ, and the Body of Christ is a beautiful thing.
So when we kneel together in Adoration, sit together in Mass, celebrate the Eucharist as a community, send silly Tweets, post crazy Facebook statuses, pass notes send texts during presentations, and invade restaurants with huge parties, it’s because we get the point of the celebration — to get to know each other, not as virtual friends and collaborators, because we are that, but as brothers and sisters in Christ, working together to spread the message, His message, to all the corners of the earth.
Because when we know this Love, it’s impossible to keep it for ourselves.
I’ll tell you where the boys are…behind the scenes doing their thing. I admit that I don’t know what that thing is, but I’m going to give a little tour of what was happening behind the scenes at the CNMC, and maybe we’ll be able to figure it out together. It involved beer, after all, so I tried to creep a little into their world.
First, I have to publicly proclaim my love for the SQPN boys – all of them. You won’t find a better collection of guys anywhere. They are strong but gentle…funny and serious … solicitous and needy (ha, they are men after all), and they love their mothers, girlfriends, wives, and daughters. And I love every one of them for that.
Too often, today’s culture wants to take away their manliness, those things that give them the strength to lead, protect, and provide for their families in that uniquely masculine way that complements us. The feminists would tell us that men need to listen more, communicate more, show their softer side.
Um, that’s a lot of bunk. I need my men big and strong because I wasn’t going to carry around all those boxes. C’mon. I’m not helpless, but I am a sucker for a man on a white steed. I’m not so blind that I can’t see the tarnished edges on the armor, but hey, my tiara is on lopsided most of the time anyway. It’s about acceptance – we tend to call it unconditional love in our circles, don’t we? Our guys have a lot of it.
So this is what I saw, in no particular order, just snippets of some unsung heroes doing what they do best – being real men:
For every box I tried to move, lift, or shift, there were two men jumping forward to take over the task. Dom Bettinelli had work to do at the Pastoral Center, but he and George were a big part of the set-up. They didn’t have to do it; they were there to do techie things. On Sunday, Dom was excited to tell me he was on a date with his lovely wife, and they laughed as he put his arm around her and proclaimed that they’d take a romantic walk around the parking garage and go home after the tweet-up.
Captain Jeff cracked me up when he handed me his phone to give Linda directions to the hotel because, as he said, “Here. You speak woman.” Like it’s a foreign language. What don’t men get about landmarks, anyway?
I saw Rachel Balducci’s husband, Paul, holding their youngest son in his lap. Later, I saw a picture of Paul, by himself, coloring a beautiful little Thomas the Tank. Made me smile.
I hadn’t exchanged more than a couple of words of greeting with Bob Gohn before I ordered him to distribute chocolates in a room when his wife needed me. He was gracious – and I didn’t process my rudeness until I saw that picture, of a bemused-looking Bob, holding up Jeff Young’s coffee as a prize in the blogging track.
I giggled every time I got a text from my husband, who couldn’t travel with me to the CNMC but very much wanted me to go guilt-free, so he devised a virtual, scandalous vacation at the beach in Brazil. His texts were usually timed shortly after a picture of me surfaced in the live streams, a deliciously silly way to connect and let me know he was okay.
I saw instances of strong men doing all those things that men do well. They do listen: lovingly. They do communicate: clearly. They do have a softer side, and I witnessed that in so many ways I sometimes felt like I was intruding on private moments.
One of my favorite pictures shows an element of manhood that we often forget to celebrate. Men need other men to be role models, mentor them, and guide them, not just in the boardroom but in the world.
And I witnessed the intimacy of lots of hand-holding – a connection, a soft touch to say “I’m here. This is us.”
What does this have to do with new media? Perhaps nothing at all. Or maybe, everything. Real people are involved in new media, affecting other real people. The internet is not a wasteland, although it could be. In celebrating the community, the humanity behind the technology, the CNMC brought us together as the Body of Christ.
Got home close to midnight and turned around to teach the first class Monday morning. To say I’ve been busy is an understatement — it’s 5 pm, just got home from work and realized that my last meal was yesterday afternoon with Pat Gohn and Lisa Hendey. I didn’t have coffee this morning, meant to get some, worked through lunch, and just realized that I never did have that cup of coffee I was whining about this morning. At least my last meal was an amazingly delicious grilled tuna paired with a very light pinot grigio. Lisa insisted on a decadent chocolate cake for dessert. Of course. Because when women get together we eat chocolate. It’s in the rule book.
That’s what I loved about the CNMC. I’m vested in the new media thing. I get it. I don’t necessarily do it right or well (and many days not at all) but I get it. So for me, the weekend was about the relationships. And to my surprise, a lot of it was with the girls. Yes, that’s right — I played with the girls.
I feel like I should buy something pink.
I roomed with two amazing women, Pat Gohn, and then Sarah Reinhard, both very hardworking and humble, fun and fabulous. Oh, and talented, but I suppose you get that. Anyway, that’s what I really loved about the weekend. There’s something comfortable (and something more) about doing some hard work together, and then winding down with conversation into the night because we’re chatty Cathies. I wish we could solve the world’s ills over girl talk. There’s a particular wisdom expressed in the dark. Maybe because our guards are down, or it’s anonymously dark, or maybe it’s just the comfort of relaxing physically and then emotionally. Anyway, it seems to happen with me when I am away with my women friends, and it’s a sweet intimacy that strengthens and restores me in places I didn’t know were needy. Until the next time 🙂
I enjoyed dinner with Denyse Leger and Deborah Schaben, women who have become very real friends in this crazy new media that seems to surmount the insurmountable problem of distance in a world that was once so large and is now so small. The borders today are not geographical — they are something else, something I’m not ready to write about, but probably has more to do with the inhumanity of man towards man than just a line drawn in the sand.
I jumped up and down with Barb Gilman when I saw her in the hotel lobby, and must disappoint her by crowning Zina Gomez-Liss the Queen of Podcast Giddyness. I got to see Stephanie Weak, and we all suffered through Inge Loots travel travails, when in a collective sigh of relief we discovered she had finally boarded a flight!
I spoke with Naomi Young, and Jenna from France! Reconnected with some fine sisters, Shelly and Lisa (and missed their Mom, Marilyn –happy birthday). And a host of other interesting women whose names I know and don’t know.
I talked about shoes with Katherine Barron and lamented not being able to shop. And discovered she plays the piano!
I watched other women reconnect and share and giggle, and I shared their moments from afar, knowing exactly what they were feeling.
And I marveled at the collection of our daughters becoming women. I have to catch my breath for that one.
I made Lisa Hendey blush, which, if you know her, probably isn’t all that difficult, but that’s not even the reason why it’s funny. It’s funny, because she spoke a big ole truth that came straight from the heart — those are the truthiest truths, aren’t they?
I thought, too, of our Blessed Mother. What kind of girl was she? What kind of woman did she become? How did she bear the responsibility of her charge, the joys and the profound sorrows? It came to me that she bore them like we all do … like the women in the room who were smiling and laughing and each carrying her own great sorrows and fears. She remains my greatest inspiration and model for trusting in God’s plan.
But undeniably, the best moment of the entire CNMC I attribute to my dear friend Linda Nielsen, quiet as a lamb, demur, almost shy, sweet Linda Nielsen. Well folks, she’s not. She’s conniving and calculating and exceedingly patient because she stalked me until she found me in the depths of my distraction and irritability and struck like a viper. Bam! She pranked me, and she pranked me well.