The past two weeks have been intensely draining. Just over a week of beach vacation, followed by the death and subsequent funeral for a dear friend and then an immediate trip to Asheville, NC for the Type-A Parent conference. At which I was speaking: No pressure or stress there! Despite the non-stop travel, emotion and stress, I feel pretty good.
I learned some great things while at the conference, some of which I will share here… and some of which will likely spill out into who I am and what I’m doing with my life, writing and photography over the next few weeks, months and even years. I think that, in itself, is indicative that the conference was a good one.
#1: Asheville, NC is awesome. I wasn’t able to make it down for the conference last year, selling my ticket to @ColoradoMom whom I met this year and think is equally awesome, so this was my first experience with the city. I’m in love. I have told FireDad that we are moving there. The food was phenomenal (favorites being Wasabi (sushi) and The Gourmet Chip Company (amazing homemade chips)). The vibe was just my style. The stores and the “buy local” message were just great. It was clean, gorgeous and I’m pretty sure the mountain air was made just for me.
#2: I’m getting better at this conference thing. I had nerves about speaking and I was on a high-anxiety level when we arrived at the hotel, but that soon disappeared. Not only did I manage my anxiety, I made friends, y’all. (I can say that. I just spent nearly three days with Jana and I’d like to have her call me and tell me any bad news that needs to be delivered. Cuss words also sound so much better with a southern accent.) For me, this conference was not about the personal networking of my blog, my writing, my photography or my so-called (and mostly non-existent) brand. It was about personal, one-on-one connections. And I made ’em. High five to me. I didn’t hand out many business cards. And sometimes, I walked away from a conversation with an amazing woman or man without ever asking what their blog name was or who they are on twitter and so on. I just had amazing, real conversation about everything from technology to parenting to religion to New York’s good news and beyond. Was I anxious? Well, yes. I had to take a breather every now and then to re-group. But I stepped out from behind the excuse I place in my anxiety and was rewarded with some amazing connections. Awesome. (As a side note: I’m really bad at recognizing people. But so is everyone else. So it’s okay.)
#3: Some important writing and blogging stuff. When Patti Digh (@pattidigh) gave the opening keynote, I initially started crying. She started off with the story behind 37 Days — a hard one for me considering my friend had 15 days. But once I stopped weeping behind my hair, I was inspired by what she had to say. She asked us what our primary intention is with writing/blogging. I squirmed in my seat. She told us that we have a voice and asked us what our voices will say. I squirmed again. She told us to catch fire and I was feeling so uncomfortable that I made a joke on twitter. And then she told us to “let go of the audience,” and I stopped squirming as things clicked into place. Later, I told her that she made me cry and she said that’s how her husband gauges her success when she speaks: whether or not she made someone cry. Fantastic.
#4: Cause blogging is dear to my heart. We all have a story, and that’s something that I have always believed in at my core. I’ll be writing more about this (soon, I promise) at Chronicles… but, not only did I meet Katherine Stone (@postpartumprogr) — one of my blogging heroes — but she jumped up and down and hugged me when she met me. Seriously. Highlight.
#6: Bloganthropy (@bloganthropy) is the heart of blogging. Watching Susan (@whymommy) accept the award for the work she has done for Mothers With Cancer made me choke up. Some of it was just losing my dear friend. Some of it was knowing the news another dear friend got just this week. Some of it was the visual representation that bloggers can do amazing, wonderful, freaking awesome* things with their spaces, their causes and their love for other people. And that, my friends, is why all the blama (blog drama) is worth it in the end: Bloggers are doing amazing things for the world around them. Keep at it.
#7: The Biltmore has crazy amazing wine. ‘Nuff said.
#8: Laughing is important. I haven’t laughed that much in a long, long time. I think I laughed, non-stop, for about 24 hours at one point. I may have even giggled in my sleep. It goes back to making real connections with real people, but let me tell you something: You don’t have to be a renowned humor blogger to make me snort wine out of my nose. You just have to be yourself. (Though wine helps.)
#9: Something will go wrong at every conference. That’s a given. It is how you — the attendee, the speaker, the sponsor, the volunteer — react to the issue that will color and shape your experience. I’m a silver-lining girl and I’ll find the good in the not-so-good as much as possible. I wish more people would look at conference issues in that manner.
#10: Know what you’re good at. Know what you’re bad at. In the closing keynote, Liz Gumbinner (@mom101) challenged us with that thought. When I asked Mandi (@2princessmama) what I’m bad at, she said, “Not bossing people.” Snort. Anyway, I’m bad at all kinds of stuff (including not being bossy, it’s true). And Liz’s point made me re-think some of my weaknesses alongside my strengths. She told us that it was okay to ask for help and — AND! — that we don’t have to do everything. I have been inspired, by both her and Patti, to reevaluate a few things and really work to refocus some of my goals — both professional and personal.
To sum it all up: It was a fun, inspiring, encouraging, humorous, yummy weekend with fun, inspiring, encouraging, humorous and, yes, even yummy people. I am walking away from Asheville, NC with a renewed sense of purpose. And sore abs. Really, I haven’t laughed like this since college.
How was your #typeacon experience?
[* = I did not say freaking. Ahem.] [Also, photos will be uploaded as they are edited!]