Do you recognize yourself in these bright-eyed girls? I sure did. I met Hannah and Taylor, both 11, when we shared a lunch table one day during The Creative Connection. They recently started their own Etsy shop {with hand-sewn accessories for girls and their dolls} and convinced their moms to fly from Tennessee to Minnesota so they could soak up wisdom from hundreds of creative women attending the event. How’s that for chutzpah!?

I watched Hannah and Taylor across the table, whispering and giggling with each other, hearts bursting with excitement, eyes wide with wonder, souls intertwined. And then I glanced around the room, noticing the same scene playing out at table after table. Whispering. Giggling. Wide-eyes. Full hearts. Deep connection.

Really, we were all giddy 11-year-old girls there, showing up in grown-up bodies, totally in awe of our surroundings. I was over-the-moon excited to be with with long-distance friends I’d never met, like Juliette Crane {from Wisconsin} and Beth Nicholls {from England} and Kelly Rae Roberts {from Portland} and Petra Kern {from Slovenia, pictured here}.

And the rich conversations with friends both new and old were so delicious. Like squatting on the floor to talk mamahood with Amy Turn Sharp and Suzy Ultman. Like chowing down and chatting honestly about the challenges of entrepreneurship with Maggie {Gussy Sews}, Andrea {Sacred Suds} and Sarah {Sarah Jane Studios}. Like thumbing through Amy Barickman’s beautiful new book with…Amy Barickman.

Just like kids on a playground, we were buzzing like bees, squealing like schoolgirls, tearing up over the smallest things. That’s what happens when we’re allowed to be our truest selves. That’s what happens when we’re invited to ignite that life-long creative spark within. We shed our fears, we see the world brand new, we trust in our bright futures. We get to be 11 again.