It is the tail end of February, 2010 and I am on my way to Maine to pick up a load of dolls from a client; my friend, Tom, is riding along with me. We listened to an audiobook the entire ride – ‘The Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love’ by Jill Conner Browne. We laughed and laughed, and probably shed a tear or two, and by the time I got back home from that trip I had my mind set on going to the upcoming Sweet Potato Queens parade, meeting all of the fabulous characters, and experiencing all the hilarity in person. I’m guessing 99% of you have never even heard of the Sweet Potato Queens. Well, I hadn’t either until a close friend made the recommendation and said it would be a great way to kill the travel time. Boy was she right! I went online and looked up the Sweet Potato Queens, read all about the upcoming “weekend” and called the hotel to see if there were any rooms still available... there was! I booked my flight to Jackson, Mississippi and started counting down the days and preparing for, what I was sure to be, a life changing experience. And so, 30 days later, Tom and I found ourselves in Jackson, Mississippi to partake in the Sweet Potato Queens’ weekend shenanigans. If you love to read and love humor mixed with life-changing “ah-ha” moments, I highly recommend ANY of Jill Conner Browne’s books but would suggest starting with Jill’s first book “The Book of Love”. There are 9 books that Jill has written in which she gives humorous advice on everything from love to raising children. Each and every one of them are a hoot and if you are looking for a good read that will have you peeing in your pants laughing, do not hesitate…go straight to Amazon or Libby (that an app you connect your library card to) after reading this post and get started. From the moment I walked into that hotel till the moment I left I felt wrapped in pure love and kindness. Women from all over the world gather to celebrate playfulness and dress up in the most outrageous regalia one could imagine… it’s all about the BIG red hair, butts and boobs… but in the most innocent and light-hearted of ways. Friday afternoon kicks off with a “Big Hat Brunch” at a local restaurant that they bus you to from the hotel. Hats of all sizes, shapes and colors filled the entire restaurant as women from all walks of life chitchatted over Italian specialties. Friday night offered an array of music and dancing, karaoke, and more outrageous costumes. Saturday was the actual parade and if you and your “team members” chose, you could walk in the parade and even have a float. Saturday night kicked off with a “Pearls & PJs” party and everyone was dressed in… you guessed it… pearls and PJs. No need to get dressed for the “Bathrobe Brunch” on Sunday morning, which closed out the weekend extravaganza. The entire weekend was all about fun and good times but the “Bathrobe Brunch” offered a touch more seriousness, leaving me with a sense of gratitude, compassion, and longing for “more” in life. The weekend proved to be everything I dreamt it would be, all of the characters (real life people) from the book were the sweetest and most welcoming bunch. All of the women who came from near and very far were also warm and approachable; you do not come to one of these events without leaving with at least a dozen new best friends. The entire event was a blast but it was also moving, inspirational, and motivational. I left that weekend a changed person, it’s hard to put in words exactly how I felt but I think stronger and more confident, ready to conquer the world, sums it up nicely.