Never did I need a weekend away from my normal life as I did this past weekend. As I sat down on the plane going to Nashville (for Blissdom) I pondered what I hoped to get from the next four days. Of course I wanted to catch up with friends I haven’t seen in months. I also wanted a break from kids and work to focus on myself a little and maybe even have some fun. I was open to meeting new bloggers and discovering like-minded souls. And I was hoping that somehow, something or someone would speak to my heart and mind to help me find new direction in my life.
Folks, I’m happy to report: I got it all.
To begin, it’s hard to be unhappy when you’re in the Gaylord Opryland. It’s a giant structure that can best be described as a city under a Bio-Dome. The weather is always perfect, the trees are always green, the flowers are always blooming, and the river (yes, there’s an indoor river) is always crystal clear.
There was some whining on my part during the conference. After all, I was having one big pity party for myself over being out of work soon. But that’s where good friends stepped in, reminding me of my talents and distracting me from dwelling on the unpleasant. They engaged me in long conversations, had me gasping for air from laughter, kept me company when I was feeling down, and fed me delicious homemade brownies that would make you cry tears of joy. (Really, Michelle, they were incredible.) The conference was a beautiful excuse to spend time with friends that are normally separated by thousands of miles.
The opening keynote by Jon Acuff was one of those lightbulb moments you hear people talk about. His talk was about closing the gap between your day job and your dream job, and while I’m generally not into deeply inspirational speakers, this felt like he was speaking directly to me. I realized I haven’t felt all that passionate about my job, while I’ve been neglecting the very things I am passionate about because of my job. I’m too tired to blog as much as I used to, I haven’t done anything crafty in years, and I feel like I’m constantly letting my family down due to being stretched too thin. I’ve lost all my passion.
I came away from that keynote re-energized with a new perspective on my situation. This is a gift. Having my job eliminated is the universe’s way of removing all barriers that have kept me stationary for so long, freeing me up to find that passion and pursue it. Of course, the hard part is determining exactly what that passion is, but I’m ready to do the work to discover it.
(If you want more from Jon Acuff, check out his book, Quitter.)
Did I have fun? Oh yes. There was dancing and drinking and long chats with others while sitting on the lobby floor. There were comfy shoes:
And meeting famous people:
And, of course, silliness with Joe Jonas behind us:
I met lots of new people, of course. Unless you’re completely anti-social, it’s hard to go to a blogging conference and not meet new people. Some were complete strangers, others were introduced by friends, and several are people I plan to stay in touch with and learn more from.
On the last day of the conference, Cecily introduced me to Amber, who then offered to take a headshot of me as part of a project she was working on. I was truly honored by the request, and while hesitant at first (I hadn’t brushed my teeth since before lunch, I looked tired, my makeup needed a touch-up, it wasn’t my best outfit, etc etc etc…) I finally got up the guts to agree to it.
The result? Amber is a talented photographer, and captured a portrait (totally worth the click!) just as good as any that Nigel Barker could take. I look at that photo and immediately notice the effect the previous days had on me. Yes, I’m tired, and my lips really needed a little more color, but so much of the stress and worry and unhappiness is gone from my face. I’m relaxed, at peace, and ready for my next adventure.
And I think that was my takeaway from Blissdom. I found peace and enjoyed the happiness brought on by being surrounded by so many talented and inspiring women. They make me want to do more and be better.
Now to figure out how to do that.