BEECH Retreat: How to Continue the Conference Learning

BEECH Retreat - How to Continue Blog Conference Learning I left the BEECH Retreat 48 hours ago, turning north off of Captiva Island, FL to head home. My fellow blogging friend, Mary of Homegrown Learners and I rode the 11 hour trip back to Georgia together. The long trip gave us focused time to talk about all we had learned. To share how we were inspired. And to admit we were overwhelmed with new information and inspiration.

My brain is still spinning. Despite the soft sand and cool breezes. The gorgeous surroundings and the luxury.

BEECH Retreat 2013 Many, many thanks to the organizers, speakers, friends of BEECH Retreat for all the tireless hours they gave!

Now that I am back home, I determined to keep on learning. I have always been a huge proponent of continuing education. Yet, it is all too easy for me to say I am going to do this or that or implement a new idea. Then get rolled right back into the blessings of every day responsibilities and life. That learning. That inspiration might never be implemented.

Today, I share some practical ways I intend to keep the learning going. These tips can apply to continuing education after any type of conference.

Blog inspiration basket Make a Post-Conference Inspiration Basket

This is by far the most practical way to prompt myself. I have a basket on the floor beside the end of the family room couch. Remember how I shared that keeping things within sight is a sure way for us to fit in the extras in our homeschool? Well, it works for Mama too. Maybe for you it could be simply placing your swag bag nearby. Maybe an organized file folder system.

What do I have tucked in there? Inspirational reading I was given at BEECH Retreat. It’s a hodgepodge! A mix of homeschooling, parenting, blogging and planning. Wonderful books from John Miller of QBQ: The Question Behind the Question – including Parenting the QBQ Way. The Ultimate Homeschool Planner from Apologia, Zan Tyler’s 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential, plus a clip board with my media kit to remind me to follow up with a few.

Teaching little brother to read Keep Your Priorities in Order to Keep the Overwhelm at Bay

Crystal Paine challenged us last Thursday night to ask ourselves, “What are my roles?” I am a child of God, wife and mother first. A homeschool teacher, a friend, a daughter, a sister. Then I am a writer, a blogger, an editor, a leader. Knowing this helps me to keep, to hopefully, keep all things in perspective. She also suggested that we just might need to hire help. My virtual assistant? Me? I use buffer. I also schedule posts on Facebook. So, though it may look like I am on Facebook throughout the day, I just may have used that little schedule clock icon to share a post with you at 10 p.m. last night.

“Pick one to three things that will make the most impact.” ~ Crystal Paine

As far as blogging, I’m still narrowing fine tuning the one to three. But I appreciate the focus of one to three rather than the fifty-seven ideas or improvements I could make.

Evernote Inspiration

“Think big and have written goals.” Michael Hyatt

I love Evernote. I can makes lists – even stacks! While I was at the conference and listening to sessions from our speakers, I opened up my laptop and typed my notes right into Evernote. Now I can easily refer to those for inspiration. Plus, those ideas that continue to pop into my head, I can quickly whip out my phone or open my computer and type them in.

Conference Scrapbook Conference scrapbook

A brilliant idea from Apologia and Real Refreshment Retreats! Liz Corson passed out blank composition notebooks to attendees. Not only that she offered up supplies. Scrapbook paper, letters, glue sticks, scissors. Plus an envelope to tuck in all those business cards from fellow BEECH Retreat attendees and sponsors. So many possibilities with this!

BEECH Retreat friends 1. What fun to laugh with dinner friends Mary of Homegrown Learners, Lori Lane of Heart of the Matter Online and Jen Dunlap of Forever, Always, No Matter What. | 2. My long-time best online friend and BEECH roommate, Barbara McCoy a.k.a. Harmony Art Mom | 3. That snazzy Kia Optima Hybrid – review coming up | 4. Mary Prather, my traveling buddy.

Keep in Touch, Be Accountable, Encourage

Following the #BEECHrt hashtag on Twitter and instagram is a wonderful way to keep the learning going. By keeping up with fellow attendees! Often when you attend a conference, the organizers create a Facebook group or other mastermind type group. This is a wonderful resource. Plus, there are dear friends, friends in real life now. Those whose necks I have hugged and those I have laughed around the dinner table with.

Barb on the beach at BEECH Retreat Barb McCoy collecting shells on Captiva Island, Fl. – a long way from her home state of California. Her Outdoor Hour Challenges, Harmony Fine Arts changed our homeschool. Her friendship and mentoring continues to bless me so! More on our adventures later…

Have Big Dreams But Small Steps

Why not dream big? I hope that I’ve come a long way from those small beginnings at the BEECH mini Conference last year. As long as I am in His will, they are His plans. And they can be God-sized. But while I’m charged with parenting these we’ve been given, they will be small, manageable steps. I’m tuning my ears and sending up prayers.

Captiva Island shells Keep Mementos in Sight

I plan to keep my blog basket in sight. But also this pile of shells from mine and Barb’s afternoon beach walk.

And I’m still reading Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform. I was privileged to hear him again at BEECH Retreat. He challenged my thinking at Savvy Blogging back in October. But I especially liked what he shared this past weekend:

“What if building a platform was like hosting a dinner party?”

That’s what I hope Hodgepodge is, what our Southern Hodgepodge of sites are. We’re hosting you, in a dinner party. Nothing fancy. Often practical – maybe simmered in the slow cooker. Definitely frugal. Some days encouraging. Maybe we might share just the resource you need. Make you smile.

More on Continuing Education

I hope you’ll continue learning and dreaming with me. What would you like to see from Hodgepodge? A cookbook? More homeschool how tos? I’d love to hear from you. Please click to comment…

Hearts and Trees: Art, Handicrafts and Nature Study for your Homeschool


  1. 7


    I love the idea of a blogging basket! It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life without taking time to move forward even if it is oh so very slow during this season of life. It was a pleasure to get to know you in person. I loved laughing with you, Mary, Barb, and Lori at dinner – such a blessing!

    • 8


      Exactly Jen! And speaking from experience – I was immediately swept into taking care of sweet, sick children :( And I treasure the memories of laughing around the table with you all. Great fun!

  2. 11

    Jen says

    I love this- especially the reminder from Michael Hyatt about the platform being a dinner party 😉
    And, the reminder to stay connected sings to my heart. Wish we had more time… Until we meet again, there’s always the cloud making our world smaller 😉
    I’ll be emptying my kitchen counters tomorrow and creating a BEECH basket too!

    • 14


      Yes Sharla! The basket as a visual reminder can work in so many ways. I enjoyed getting to know you better. And yesterday, when I was at the pharmacy window picking up medicine for sick children – I saw mylar balloons in the grocery store and thought of you! Thank you for sharing your heart :)

  3. 15


    Nicely expressed…so many facets to the BEECH Retreat to reflect on as we get back to our routines and I really like your idea of putting it together in a basket. I decided to concentrate on Michael Hyatt’s book for now and apply the ideas that come from that.

    I truly loved our time together at BEECH and it was the best part of the whole experience. Thanks for spending that time with me….so very special.
    Barb-Harmony Art Mom recently posted..Sketch Tuesday: Coffee MugMy Profile

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