I have to admit, this was a tough post to write. It took me a full month to get the words to flow. It’s hard to admit when life is NOT going as one plans. But I believe when we find what works, it should be shared. Maybe that experience might help someone else going through similar situations.
I started the year off in a complicated state of mine. Normally I have the coming year all figured out by about November. Sometimes even September. But this past year I had a few setbacks that messed with my head. I had a couple of medical things that set me back and zapped my energy. On top of that, the day job has taken on some complications which take a lot of brainpower and effort. I come home exhausted and unable to focus every night, leaving me no energy or willpower to put into my writing. So when the New Year rolled around, I was struggling to figure out my way forward.
When I put my five-year plan together in 2018, my goal for 2020 was for it to be a pay-off year. This would allow me to quit the day job and focus solely on the writing/blogging/traveling gig going into 2021. Unfortunately, I had fallen behind in this area. Knowing how far behind I was, I’d planned to be frugal with my conferences and time while working to build up my side business. But for some reason, I felt stuck - stalled - unable to focus on what needed to be done for 2020. I had no momentum. The weird thing is, I’m a list maker. All of a sudden I couldn’t think of a single thing that needed to be done to make this happen. It was worse than writer’s block.
Stay with me. I have a reason for all this back story. :)
Queue Rachel Hollis. I’ve been following this author on social media for almost a year. I’m also a subscriber to her newsletter. For those of you who don’t know who she is, stop what you're doing and find her.
She is super inspiring!!! I discovered her when someone recommended her book, Girl, Stop Apologizing, and devoured everything she wrote, videoed, tweeted, etc. When she began hyping her upcoming 2020 conference schedule, I saw that one was being held in Florida (and within driving distance from me). DRIVING DISTANCE!!!
As soon as I realized this might be a bit more affordable than I thought, I had this odd feeling I needed te be there. I felt like it was meant to be. On top of that, I really really wanted to go. After all, this was Rachel Hollis!
But, again, this was our pay-off/be-frugal year…
So I kept going back to the site to read the information about the upcoming conference, stalking her on social media, listening to her podcasts, rereading the books she’d written, and at the same time wondering if this was the kick in the pants I needed for the year. But I also kept remembering my mantra of this being the pay-off year.
Apparently my husband noticed my obsession. One evening, while he watched TV and I sat with my laptop open, viewing the Amazon Prime video from one of the earlier conferences, he told me to just push the button.
I remember looking up at him in confusion. “What?”
“Just do it. You know you want to. And maybe it’s what you’re looking for.”
I thought for a minute. “I don’t want to drive seven and a half hours by myself. And I don’t know that either of my conference friends would want to attend one of these.”
He smiled. “I’ll go with you.”
“To a women’s conference?”
He laughed. “No. I’ll golf. You go to the conference.”
And just like that, I was clicking the register button and booking a hotel room.
Fast forward a week and we were driving south. I was on my way to the Rise conference.
As we drove, I couldn’t help wondering if I had made the right decision. Was this conference going to be the difference I was looking for? I was hesitant in getting my hopes too high. I had read everything people said about their Rise conference experiences and wondered if I would get the same things out of hearing Rachel in person as they did. A few times I let myself wonder if I would walk away from the experience a new woman.
I knew myself and how I tend to jump into the deep end of life. Sometimes I flounder a bit before getting my fins moving. Other times I have to grab on to the side and pull myself out of the water. I wasn’t sure what this experience was going to entail and I didn’t want to let my expectations get too high that the conference itself wouldn’t be able to come close. But in the back of my mind, I was secretly hoping for something. I just didn’t know what that was.
We decided to stop by registration the night before the conference started.
When we drove up and saw the line of people wrapped halfway around the event arena a good half hour before registration started, I knew I couldn’t be the only one with these same expectations.
The next morning, my husband dropped me off at the event arena and I felt like a little kid walking up to the first day of school. Silly, I know. I hadn’t done much outside of the writing conferences I’ve attended and one social media conference (both amazing!). But for both of those conferences, I knew people attending. This time, I was completely on my own.
I shouldn’t have worried. While standing in my first line, a lady struck up a conversation with me about this being her first conference, too. Because this was such a huge event, I have to admit that I never saw her again (over four thousand women in attendance). I was in the nose-bleed, save-your-money, I-shouldn’t-be-splurging-like-this seats. And she was sitting down in the front (VIP section). But regardless of where we might be sitting, she helped ease my initial nerves.
Then as I was grabbing a bottle of water from the concession stand, the music started and people started screaming and clapping. I hadn’t even had a chance to find my section yet, let alone an empty seat. Again, I found myself standing next to another lady who noticed the label on my badge and commented that we were sitting in the same section. She asked if I had found a seat yet. When I said no, she waived to me to follow her and led me to the very top row of seats in our section. She didn’t know me from the man on the moon, but she was the second person who made me feel like I belonged in that arena. Note: I did see her all three days of the conference and we made friends with several other women in our section.
I say all that, to say this. I didn’t know a soul there. I didn’t know what to expect from the conference. I didn’t even know if I had made the right decision with this first splurge of the year. But over the next three days, I would laugh with these ladies. I would dance with these ladies. I cried buckets of tears with these ladies. And I felt like I was right where I needed to be.
I had my next confirmation that I was where I needed to be as soon as Rachel Hollis made her way on stage. I couldn’t see her clearly. I was too far up in that huge arena. But I could see her on the large monitors mounted above the stage. And even with all those people between us, I felt like she was talking directly to me.
Now, I have to admit that I was a little worried when one of the first things she said was - if you came here expecting to walk away a new person, you are going to be disappointed.
Wait! That’s exactly why I was here. I want to be a new person!!
I could literally feel my heart drop at those words.
Then she went on to say that the only way to find my happiness and contentment was to find happiness in the place I was currently in.
Again, wait. What was that? She was expecting me to be happy with the crazy busy day job I was madly trying to get away from? Forget the fact that just eleven years earlier I had been in a place where that job was actually my dream job. I had accomplished more in those eleven years than I had in the previous thirty-five years of life. I had climbed the proverbial corporate ladder in a male-dominated business. So I was reaching the potential my eleven-years-ago-self had been reaching for. But at this very moment in my life - today - it wasn’t where I wanted to be. It wasn’t what I wanted for the rest of my life.
And here was Rachel Hollis saying that if I couldn’t find my happy in the here and now, I wasn’t going to be happy or content with my next endeavors.
Hmmmmm… Makes you think, doesn’t it…
Fast forward through some INCREDIBLE speakers - the very best music in the world - some highly encouraging exercise sessions completed within our two-by-two seating space - gallons of water drank - picture opportunities meant to inspire our personal growth - and deep-down truths I had to discover and own before I could move on to the next level.
We started the conference off with day ONE, Owning Your Past - moved into day TWO, Owning Your Present - and then ending with day THREE, Owning Your Future. As we laughed, cried, and danced our way through those steps, my biggest takeaway happened to be that as we accept these truths about ourselves and find our happy and contentment in the here and now, then the next years will truly be the best years.
There really is so much more I can say about the incredible content I learned, but nothing I write here would do Rachel and the other speakers justice. I had gone into this experience afraid to hope for that aha moment, but secretly wanting it. I was afraid to hope for too much because I didn’t want to be disappointed. Trust me when I say nothing about this conference was disappointing.
They encouraged acceptance of each other…
Stressed the importance of diversity of our world…
Shared a proven outline and then guided us towards a clear path to achieving our goals…
All of this and each lesson and speaker was tailored to the specific day it related to (past, present, future).
See, I’m already over two thousand words in a BLOG POST and I can’t do justice to how amazing these three days really were. What I will say is that you have to read her book (and Dave’s new book coming out this year). And if you can, try to attend one of these amazing Rise conferences. I would definitely love to attend another to dig deeper into this method and hopefully latch on to those things I missed during my first conference.
I leave you with some pictures of the fabulous speakers in attendance.
Our emcee - Chris Chandler - Chris was our warm-up coach and boy did he get everyone moving! He had us dancing and stretching all throughout the three days. He even taught us how to do a 10-minute exercise workout in our two-foot-by-two-foot seating space. So NO EXCUSES for not moving your body!
Our other emcee - Brit Barron “Beans” - She really had some fun moves.
Jen Hatmaker - I was too busy listening and forgot to get a picture of her on stage. But her encouragement is Incredible! I need to find her book.
Ruthie Lindsey - Another great speaker sharing her story about owning your past and moving forward. This lady was such a nice lady with a truly incredible story about some deep, intense pain she has had to live through.
This was a surprise concert with Beyonce. Well, maybe not Beyonce. But it was a fun way to end the first day and to celebrate Rachel’s birthday.
We started day two of Owning Your Present with Amy Porterfield - She was one of the few keynote speakers that I knew before the conference and I was so excited to hear her speak. She was and is amazing.
Trent Shelton - I had not heard of this guy before the conference, but he is super inspiring. I love his podcasts now!
This little yellow string is a powerful reminder to love everything about ourselves.
Dave Hollis! Dave kicked off day three of Owning Your Future. I can’t wait to read his new book coming out this year.
Dave and Rachel :)
Stacey Flowers is another new-to-me speaker and so incredibly powerful. I can’t wait to look for her Ted Talks.
An amazing panel of professional women. So inspiring!
As I wrap this up, I can’t leave you hanging on how things have been going since the conference. As I mentioned in the beginning, it took me a month to figure out how to word this. I had all these fluffy pieces in mind. I wanted to write about everything I learned. I also wanted to mention all the ways I have implemented them.
But none of those words sounded right. Yes, they are all true. I have been doing an incredible job these past four weeks. I’m not quite at the energy level I was a year ago. Yet! But I have found the focus I needed and have been able to write out my 2020 map.
Still, it wasn’t until I wrote the intro for this piece that I realized how much of an impact the conference had on me. I had been suppressing my normal optimism for so long due to the number of roadblocks I was handling, I hadn’t realized how much I’d let my normal joy of life fizzle.
It took three days and some incredibly powerful and inspiring speakers to remind me that I didn’t need to walk away from this conference a new person. But I do need to remember I am already an incredible person with amazing dreams. It isn’t always about the destination we are striving to reach. But that life is about the incredible journey we are currently staring in. And the only way I was going to get back on the track I could see as my path forward was to accept where I currently was in this life I’m living.
So here I am, sitting in the passenger seat of my car writing this post.
It was a super stressful past two weeks at the day job. That day job helps a ton of people who will never realize the role I played. But the sense of accomplishment I receive when I see everything coming together is incredibly inspiring.
My husband and I are on our way to celebrate our anniversary with one of our weekend getaways.
A getaway that wouldn’t be possible without the funds I earn from this stressful day job.
A getaway that takes me one step closer to the dream of traveling and documenting my travels.
Was it worth it?
That’s a resounding Hell yes!
If I haven’t convinced you yet, take a moment and follow Rachel Hollis on social media. Sign up for her newsletter. Read one (or more) of her books. If she can’t help you get out of whatever funk or situation you are currently in, then dig deeper. Find someone else. But whatever you do, don’t wallow in the pit you might currently be in. I know from experience that the more you let it drag you under, the worse things seem.
But whatever you do, do it right now. Do it today. Your future self will thank you.