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Thursday, February 16, 2012

NWTF, Sensory Overload, and The Outdoor Sisterhood

~ Just a note; this is the first in series  about my experiences at NWTF with my friends in  the Outdoor Sisterhood. There are just too many stories to tell about the whirlwhind 4 days in one post!~

It's hard to believe that it's been 7 days since I set foot in the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville for the 2012 NWTF Convention. I know it has been, my calendar says it has been, but my brain and my body still feel like I've just returned home.

I'll be honest, since my diagnosis of MS I've avoided large trade shows and conventions such as the NWTF Convention. I get into sensory overload very easily, When I get into sensory overload,  the MS symptoms start popping up , and ultimately- if I don't remove myself from all the sensory input, my central nervous system just melts down from the perceived assault, and I turn into something that resembles a bowl of jello, that occasionally mumbles something incoherent.

Breakfast with the Outdoor Sisters and Karen Lee, Editor of Turkey Country magazine.
But I really wanted to go the NWTF convention. All the cool kids were going. I didn't want to miss out on all the good things that NWTF had splashed throughout the convention web site. By golly, I decided, I am going.

My pals Jane and Marti..getting their "Gangsta Turkey Hunter Chica "  game faces on at the Sponsor Reception on Thursday evening

I learned years ago, that I could sit at home and whine about what my MS  wouldn't allow me to do, or I could just make a plan,  gather information, and find a way to get up off my fanny and do what ever I wanted to.  While some things truly are not possible anymore wihout the risk of injury or being an extremely annoying  pill of a person to my companions, for the most part, with a little forthought, a little planning and few pieces of adaptive equipment and an adaptive schedule, I am game for most anything.

So what if my legs gave out? Team WON to the rescue  with Titan's newest  Hybrid UTV.  If it can haul your big game, it could surely haul my broken down carcass.

My "WAAAAAY Type A" personality just will not allow me to sit and wallow in self pity. My extreme love and passion for all things outdoors won't sit still for that couch potato business either. Good Lord. I might miss something perfert and wonderful and awe inspiring if I stayed inside and whined " I have MS, My life is over. "

One of the reasons I decided I could and would pull off this trip to NWTF  was the fact that , all the cool girls were going . My outdoor sisters were going to be there en masse. The outdoor sisterhood  that helps, supports, and even occasionally chastises each other. The outdoor sisterhood ranks as number one as  the best support system of smart, talented women that I have encountered in my lifetime.
 I knew that by immersing myself in this group of women, several who have been on excursions with me and know when to grab me by the scruff of the neck and tell me to take my type A fanny  and go sit down and rest, it was doable. 
Who could resist those comfy chairs and couches at the Mossy Oak exhibit? A great place to rest weary legs for a few minutes.

I was  surrounded my pals from Womens Outdoor News, the WON Guns as we call ourselves; Barb Baird, Stacey Huston, Tammy Bellew, Paige Eissinger, Marti Davis and Nancy Jo Adams . Then there was the added attraction of more outdor sisters, - Kristen MonroeKaren Butler, and Shelly Ray  from HerCamo Shop. My traveling companion was my dear friend, NWTF sponsor and fellow woods roamer Jane Kolmer - the art and graphics whiz  from Action Graphics that has made some fantastic banners for Team WON; from the Carp Caper to the one proudly displayed at the NWTF women's events  WON sponsored.

With a team like that, a safety net like that crew,  I  was certain I could pull it off, and if I couldn't? Well, this group of strong, fit, healthy, women would have no problem carting out the body and tossing it into the river if I expired .

I steeled my nervous system, made my plan and headed south in cloud of dust. It was a whirlwind 4 days, and I learned  much about anything and everything  that could possibly relate to turkeys, turkey hunting, turkey conservation, turkey calling, turkey...turkey... turkey....
I also learned some valuable lessons about how to approach a large convention or trade show with MS (or any chronic disease/neurological disorder for that  matter) .
Most importantly, I learned that with the Outdoor Sisterhood, ANYTHING is possible and doable- no matter how daunting it may seem at the onset.

When all else failed, there were plenty of "natural"  nooks and corners where I could  sit, relax, and recharge in the Atrium at the Gaylord Opryland Resort

Stay tuned dear friends,  for the coming posts  as I share  with you my NWTF  Covention journal, and  my experiences that ranged from funny to frustrating.

Right now, I'm back to following rule #1 for me; for every day of an event that is large, physically and/or  mentally taxing, allow an equal number of days to recuperate and rest when I get home. My couch is still my best friend at the moment!


  1. So fun to see it again, a week later! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT! And, you are such an inspiration to all us other moaner and groaners, Gretchen. What a trooper you were and how happy we are to call you a friend!

  2. Whoa ... tossing your body in the river? Without a flaming pyre? A Viking's farewell? If you're planning on going all out like that, you need to give us more instructions. Call Critter? 

  3. You can count on me to pull you up by your bootstraps and plunk your butt down anytime.  Although it may have nothing to do with your MS ;)  You are one tough cool chick!

  4. Gretchen, you are truly an inspiration to us all. I'm so thankful for your friendship!!  Definitely love ya like a sister!  I enjoyed walkin with the wild woman while in Nashville and look forward to our next venture. Please take care of yourself though, I know you push yourself way too hard.  

  5. Aww. you are too kind.. I just muddle and stumble along and try not to slow everyone down ;)

  6. Not to worry Barb- I always travel with "The White Folder" it has all that kind of info in it.. so just toss my luggage for it before you toss the body LOL BTW The local funeral home says I can't have a pyre in Illinois - it's illegal...who are they gong to arrest? My pile of ashes or the 47 people all holding Bic lighters? LOL

  7. Right back at you Ms. Jane! I'll share my mittens, you share your hiking staff... we make a good pair!

  8. Not to worry Tammy - I'm resting up, because April will be here before you know it and you and I have a date for the mushroom woods! :) XOXOX

  9. Hey ! I know those ladies! Great article, and has it already been a month? wow.. we need to start planning the next adventure.