This weekend marked the first ever McGuire Reader Retreat. Twenty-four women traveled from all over North America to my home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado for two nights to gab, chill, laugh, and yes ... cry.
Megan Davis arrived first--several days early--to help me get the house together in preparation for the large group. Liis McKinstry, Michelle Chu, and the MacPack admin Jessica Landers arrived on Thursday to help with some shopping. My husband and kids took off for Denver for the weekend, and my sidekicks and I waited.
I'm not going to lie. Twenty-four women at my home? We have 8,000 square feet to work with, and I requested that air mattresses and sleeping bags accompany my guests, but this isn't a hotel. I wasn't sure the plumbing or the hot water heaters could handle everyone.
Women began trickling in, and after the hugs and laughter, Megan sat them all down and explained how we were going to tackle the issues. Showers would have to be cycled, and everyone had to be considerate. We had a reservation Saturday at five-thirty. Getting that many women ready and out the door on time for dinner? I had serious doubts.
You know what happened? Love. Hugs. Tears of joy. Laughter. And so. much. fun. Everyone had hot showers, everyone got along, everyone was smiling, and the plumbing survived. Friday night was our PJ party. We had drinks and played Cards Against Humanity so everyone could rest from a long day of traveling. Saturday morning, we chatted in the kitchen while Megan and I made breakfast casseroles for brunch. We caravanned to Fish Creek Falls and took silly pictures. We ventured downtown and did some shopping. And yes, believe it or not, all twenty-five women were beautiful and in vehicles ready to go by 5:15, and we made it to the restaurant on time.
I watched these women hug each other and smile for three days. I watched them make each other laugh. I watched everyone talk to everyone, each woman feeling included and part of something genuine and amazing. I watched them be so incredibly considerate for one another, pitch in whenever and wherever they could, and I listened while they discussed how laid-back everyone had been.
So many things could have comically gone wrong, but it was perfect. I mean that in the truest sense of the word, and I can say with all honesty that I gained twenty-four close friends.
When it was time to leave, we all tried so hard to put on a brave face. Honestly, I thought by Sunday I would be anxious to have my house back and eager to experience some peace and quiet, but I felt quite the opposite. Giving out twenty-four hugs--twice--and watching them leave brought me to tears. I wasn't ready. Online friends are a blessing, but you never know when you'll get to spend real time with them. Once that happens, you don't know when it will again.
I walked away from this weekend feeling so blessed. I cried happy tears more times than I can count (and I hate crying, but I believe it's inevitable with that much Estrogen in one space). I can't wait to do it again. Thanks to everyone for one of the most epic weekends of my life! I am honored to know such sweet, talented, generous, genuine women. Thank you for my personalized book, and for running out Sunday morning to print out our group picture and signing it. Thank you for all the wonderful gifts I didn't expect, but wholly appreciate. Thank you for letting me hug you to an uncomfortable level. I love you all!
Breakfast Casserole (I promised):
Preheat oven to 350°
1 pound of sausage - browned & drained
1 can Cream of Celery soup
2 cups frozen hash browns (thawed)
1/2 cup of white onion - finely chopped
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 eggs slightly beaten
Salt and Pepper to taste
Combine eggs and evaporate milk. Stir in soup. Mix well. Add onions and cheese, salt and pepper. Mix well. Combine mixture with sausage and hash browns. Pour into a greased 7 x 10 casserole dish. Bake at 350° 45-60 minutes. Check to see if center is set with a knife.
*A special thanks for Mahogany Grill, 8th Street Book Shop, and Sunpies of Steamboat for catering to these lovely women. You were great sports!