Thursday, September 20, 2007

NFI Grantee Meeting:

So I just got home from my first business meeting ever. It was a D70 Grantee meeting, which means it was all other states who receive the grant that we have and we discuss what we're doing with it and the varying progresses.
It was amazing. It was completely mentally exhausted, but equally exciting. My mom and I flew into DC Monday afternoon, and I was reminded of how I love flying so much! I think being above the clouds is one of the most amazing things ever, and it was such a literalization of how far I've come and how I really am "above" Farmington, and everything I've gotten through. I felt like I was in a movie.
The meeting wasn't until the next day, so we had some time to go shopping around the city and get dinner. We went into American Apparel, and there was a little Australian Shepherd puppy who wanders around the store wearing one of their T-shirts, and he was absolutely adorable.

Then since it was just the two of us, we had a sushi dinner and toasted to a new business venture. After dinner, we went back to the hotel, got changed and met Patti in the lobby for drinks with "the national folks." We had come home. All of these people had been in "the system" for years and we're finally at this point where we can get together at a national level and discuss the changes we've made. We shared stories and experiences of challenges and successes and my mom got to talk to so many different parents that had been in similar situations. As she said, "it was like drowning for so many years and then finally coming up for air."

The next morning was the actual meeting and we wanted to take our time getting ready, so we ordered breakfast in the room and I had a divine croissant and authentic cappuccino, which was he perfect start to the day. After going downstairs and finally figuring out where I needed to go, I got registered, with my official name tag and title which was pretty cool, and we had some time to meet other people and chat. then we went to our first breakout session which had various states talking about their parent to parent programs they have, and although they didn't mention youth until we asked them, it was a pretty good session.

It was weird to realize that I was the only "youth" there. Everyone talked about their Youth Advisory Committees (YAC) but I'm truly the only youth to be hired to do this full time and actually be the voice of all the youth that aren't in positions, or can't speak up. It's pretty intense. But I'm proud to be that voice. Everyone was so excited to have me there and told me all about their youth counsels and what they're doing or hope to achieve and how I can help. It was awesome to be so respected and treated as a professional equal.

After lunch we had our breakout session about our youth involvement, and I actually spoke to everyone about how I got involved and everything we've done as far as planning conferences and everything, and what our next steps were. We presented with Arizona (who's reps were so awesome and had cute bags! One of them looked like Britney Spears and had started a Coach girls club at our table), and North Carolina and everyone had really good programs going. It was a great presentation.

It was a ridiculously long day, but after all the focusing mom and I went out with Deb and Toni and one of their friends Beth, and we sat in the bar for awhile, where they were playing the entire Michael Buble CD so I pretty much died. I've decided I love him a lot.

Then we hit the town and had dinner at Macaroni Grill which was divine, since my ultimate love is pasta! And while we were waiting, Toni and I went across the street to Ulta, which is like a Sephora, but it has drugstore brands too. It was awesome. I'm so going back in October!

After the next sessions the next day- we took a cab to the airport, and we shopped, and I finally bought the Vera Bradley bag I had debated about all through college. I finally have a stable income and it was time to reward myself. It was just meant to be that I bought it in a DC airport instead of Farmington!

Now I'm home and exhausted and leaving again tomorrow for our Family/Youth Advisory Council meeting, but at least that's in Maine. But I'm busy...and Happy!

so is life! I'm a business woman now!!! what what!!!

you know you love me!


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