Today I was lucky enough to attend the American Counseling Association's national conference. ACA was lucky enough to be able to hold it in Pittsburgh, which is of course a place that I hold near and dear to my heart. Very near, very dear. So much, in fact, that while I was handing out tote bags as part of my volunteer commitment, my colleague (who lives near Cleveland) told me that I made her want to explore Pittsburgh, and she was bound by everything SHE held near and dear to hate Pittsburgh. I directed people all over our fair city. Primanti's, Lidia's, the science center, and the Carnegie museums may all send me my check. A nice man told me he'd never seen a river before and asked me, "Where do I go to see the river?" I sent him to the Point and explained that there were three rivers that he'd see there. He was duly astonished.
The keynote speaker at the conference was a wonderful, interesting lady named Patti Digh. I linked her blog so that you can go read it yourself, because she is a much better writer than I am. She talked about living intentionally, about how we spend our time and energy trying to create the big memories (the Disney World trips), and how what we really remember after someone's gone are the little things. The rituals, formal and informal, that we go through each day or each week. The moments that seem like nothing when they're happening and are precious beyond compare when the person with whom we shared them is gone. I brought home two things - one, that as a mom, I want my little Llama to remember me as loving and fun and as the mom who was THERE. I'm afraid that right now, she knows me as some lady who provides the snacks every now and again. And two, that my job as a counselor will be to help "my kids" make good memories with their families and loved ones. To teach them to cope when I can and to be the bridge for them when I can't. I was really touched today. I know, I know, I'm touched every day. I'm always crying nowadays. I used to have a thick skin and I'm not sure where it went.
In any case, I have a lot to think about. I also have some new books, and I brought home one new book for my Llama. There's an opening party happening right now at the convention center, and the drinks were free. But I really wanted to have dinner with my little girl and my husband, so I gave away my ticket and came home.