I stood in front of the full-length hotel mirror, turning this way and that to quickly check my outfit, my hair, my makeup one last time, as if looking just right on the outside would somehow compensate for the mess that existed inside. I could feel my heart fluttering and thumping in that way that it does before I do anything that scares me; my throat felt a little tight and my stomach was quickly tying itself into rigid little knots. In my head, I was having a rather heated conversation with the image reflecting back at me from the glass.
"You can do this. You really should do this."
"What if I can't, though? What if I get down there and there is no one who wants to talk to me? What if they find me boring? What if they've read my work and think I'm a terrible writer? What if I look like an idiot?"
"You know that's ridiculous. And even if it wasn't, so what? Really, what is the worst thing that can happen?"
"I know. But I don't HAVE to do this. I could stay here safely in my room where there is nothing that makes me feel uncomfortable."
"Is that what you came here for?"
"No. You're right. Okay, yes, I'm going. I'm going!"
I took a deep breath, held my head up to model the confidence I wanted to feel, and walked determinedly out the door.
"Keep moving forward."
I spent the weekend at Blissdom Canada, a fantastic and engaging conference that brings together bloggers and social media specialists from across the country to inspire and learn from one another. My days were filled with incredible opportunities to discover something new, through motivating and moving speakers, informative and practical sessions, and high-energy hands-on workshops. While the thought of walking into large rooms full of people I didn't know made me feel very anxious, I am so glad that I pushed myself out of my usual comfort zone and participated fully in the weekend. Taking that risk has changed the way I see myself and my work, and has lit a fire inside that I really want to keep burning in the months ahead.
I was incredibly moved by the courage of Glen Canning, father of Rehtaeh Parsons, who spoke so candidly at the conference about his heartbreaking experiences in seeking justice for his daughter. I was uplifted by the inspiring anecdotes of "lollipop moments" described by Drew Dudley. I had a chance to experience a fast-paced, high-output creative brainstorming session led by Marilyn Barefoot, which completely pushed me outside of my usual introverted realm of individual creativity and allowed me to look at things in a different way. I was given the helpful guidelines and encouragement I needed to pursue my goal of writing for print publications in a discussion with Tracy Chappell and in a presentation by Julie Van Rosendaal and Caroline Fernandez. And listening to the personal stories and sage advice of writers such as Glennon Doyle Melton, Elan Morgan, Haley Overland, Rebecca Stanisic , Ali Martell, and Erica Ehm made me think about my own voice and not being afraid to make it heard in a way that feels right to me.
Without a safety net of familiar faces to turn to at Blissdom for company, I was encouraged to reach out to some unfamiliar ones and get to know something about them. This resulted in some wonderful conversations and new friendships with a gluten-free mom who shares many of my day-to-day realities when it comes to feeding her family, a green mom with an admirable passion for what she believes in, and a talented writer mom whose real-life presence radiates the same warmth and genuineness as the beautiful words she puts on paper. Spending time with these and many other wonderful women at Blissdom has reminded me that even when we don't know each other well, as women, as human beings, we are all connected to each other in some meaningful way.
The resounding message that sings in my head and my heart since my weekend at Blissdom is that no matter who we are, no matter what strengths and weaknesses we possess, we all have the ability to make a difference in the world. There is power in our words and actions; each one of us can use our unique gifts to create positive change. Comparing ourselves to others and feeling somehow less than what we are because we think we can't do it as well as someone else is counterproductive. We need to use our voices, our hands, to spread kindness and love in the world (and by example, teach our children to do the same). Nothing else really matters.
What are any of us afraid of? Let's challenge ourselves to do things that make us uncomfortable so that we can grow into our best selves. Let's all keep moving forward.
Thank you to the entire Blissdom Canada team for a truly amazing experience!
When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Labels: odds and ends
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
Well, today I cried my eyes out in the grocery store parking lot and that's because of you and this wonderful post. You were beautiful inside and out this weekend, Lisa. It was a thrill to find you. I can't believe the very first table I sat down at, had you and your smile waiting. It was fate :)ReplyDelete
Oh no, I didn't mean to make you cry your eyes out in the grocery store parking lot!! Thank you for your very kind words, Louise. I think we were meant to find each other at the conference, too -- I'm so very glad we had the chance to meet and spend time together. xoDelete
Blissdom really brought home this year that we all matter and we all have a voice.ReplyDelete
Very true, Nolie! It's so important that we all keep remembering this going forward -- we can all achieve good things.Delete
Thank you Lisa for this lovely post. Many of the folks you mentioned I'm a big fan of as well and it was great to read that you enjoyed their sessions. We all have a voice and we hope you felt a strong, supportive community this year in finding your own Bliss. See you next year!ReplyDelete
I definitely did feel a strong, supportive community at Blissdom, Jennifer -- it was an amazing weekend filled with truly inspiring people and moments! Thanks so much again for all you did to bring everyone together in this wonderful way. :) I'm really looking forward to next year!Delete
Glad you stepped out of your comfort zone (again) Lisa. Great things can happen when you do!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Jen -- that's so true! I missed hanging out with you at Blissdom this year. Hopefully next year we'll both be there again! :)Delete