|getting my selfie on.|
When I woke the Friday before Elevate I said a short prayer. I prayed for peace, grace, and comfort. I prayed that our family road trip would be easy and safe. I prayed that we would leave the house on time. I prayed that I would find the answers I was looking for by the end of my trip. Even with a million things left to do before we could physically leave for Southern California, I had this overwhelming sense that on Saturday it was all going to come together.
The week before Elevate was one of the hardest in recent memory. I worked every day up until the day we were going to leave. My business cards came in and were cut off at the bottom again. My iPhone decided to die Wednesday afternoon and took with it all my pictures and contacts. I got back the contacts, not the pictures, but thank you to Instagram for staying alive this year and being my backup. Thursday I found out about some “politics” and drama that was afoot at work, and by the time I arrived home on Thursday night, I wasn’t in the mood to pack or prep. I laid in bed and wondered what the hell I was doing with my life. And what on earth I was going to do with this blog.
I knew I was unhappy. I was unhappy working outside of the home. I was unhappy with the direction my blog was going, as I’ve had to cut down on the attention I pay to it, and I’ve had to almost cut all interaction with my readers. There are so many things that I have to say yes to, my children, my husband, my life, and since this blog generates no money or income, its the one thing that gets cut off my priority list. Sadly it’s also one of the things that brings me great joy. Writing and interacting with my readers is one of the best things about blogging and when you cut that out, blogging just seems like a lot of work. So there I was, Thursday before Elevate, in bed crying for the seventh time that week. That’s not even an exaggeration. I wish it was.
It took close to seven hours to get to our hotel. That’s with plenty of stops for the girls and traffic. It also allowed for a lot thinking time. Was my employer the best employer for me? Was the job the best job for me? How is the stress of working affecting my children? How is the stress effecting me? How many nights do I spend away from home only to come home and kiss by sleeping children on their heads? Question after question, all leading to answers I wasn’t ready to admit. Answers I really didn’t want to face. So as we pulled into the parking lot of the hotel, I sighed. We had made it and I was ready. I was ready to breathe again. I was ready to breathe new life into my blog, into my family, and into me.
Of course I couldn’t sleep on Friday night. I was just so excited. I stayed up talking to the Hubbs about the speakers. How I couldn’t wait to meet so and so, and how I couldn’t wait to see my bloggy buddies. I also couldn’t wait to reconnect with some people I had briefly met last year, but felt like I knew since I’ve been social media stalking them for a year. He asked a lot of questions about the blog world, since honestly, he still after three years doesn’t understand it. That’s also an issue we have between us and this blog. Before Elevate he was still at a place where it just seemed like a thing I do. A place I go to vent, then spend hours on my phone on Instagram and Twitter, wasting time. And no matter how many times I try to explain to him a blogger’s life, he still didn’t get it. But lucky for us, Elevate changed that.
I woke on Saturday with a feeling of peace. I had some truths I needed to face. Some cold hard facts about how unhappy I had been for the month. I finally felt like I had uncovered some answers about where I wanted to be in my life and where I was. I was excited to see friends and listen to speakers, but I was also excited to be inspired. I wanted to reignite the fire that I’ve had for this blog. I wanted some better direction. I wanted to find that spark that I felt like I’ve always carried to write in this space, because I haven’t felt that spark since January.
I don’t have to tell you about being at Elevate. At this point I’ve written three recaps about being there. Elevate is about the women. The women who inspire. The women who lead. The women who gather and make new friendships over painting frames or making garlands, when that is definitely not their forte. It’s about going up to women who inspire you and saying, “You are such an inspiration”, and then they hug you and embrace you. Elevate is about connecting with women who are so different from you, yet so very much the same.
What I loved about Elevate this year was that within minutes of being there I knew it was exactly where I needed to be. These were my people, this was my tribe. The calm that came over me as I walked in and put my bags down. The excitement in seeing old friends and meeting new ones. The words of wisdom and courage that spoke directly to me. The fact that no one admonished me for Instagramming or Tweeting. No one was offended if I took another selfie in the middle of a program. It was welcomed and expected. At dinner I commented that I loved being at Elevate because no one was upset that I was Instagramming at the table. Because every single woman at Elevate understood the need to reconnect with those readers who were not able to attend. They understood that while we were enjoying ourselves and the day, we were and are constantly running a business and a brand. Something that is so hard to explain to those on the outside. I don’t tweet and Instagram because I’m bored, I do it because I’m trying to create a community, a business, and a brand. And yes, sometimes it’s in excess, but many times it’s necessary.
I didn’t have to explain the tears or the frustrations I’ve had over the last five months. I didn’t have to explain how my quest for balance is one I’ve almost abandoned. I didn’t have to go into detail about my feeling about this blog and how I feel like it’s slowly dying every day I don’t publish a post. All of my fears and worries, all the responsibilities I had waiting for me at home, all the emails I’ve neglected: they were all understood, embraced, and overlooked. Because we all have them waiting for us too. But on this day, we celebrated. We celebrated our blogs, we celebrated our lives, and we celebrated each other.
The Hubbs and the girls picked me up Saturday night, and sadly the party wasn’t over yet. But I wasn’t upset that I had to go. I was on a high. So filled with inspiration and light. I got the confirmation I had been looking for: yes, this blog is the right thing. Some days it’s the answer, some days it’s the remedy, some days it’s the salvation. No matter what form it takes, its the right thing for me. It’s exactly what I should be doing. The time spent on my laptop, on Instagram, time spent writing into the wee hours of the night, they are not hours wasted. They are hours spent, getting me to the next step, they allow me to follow my dream. The time spent allows me to grow into this person, that for the first time in my life, I really, really like. I even enjoy her.
And the Hubbs enjoys her too. He got to see me, surrounded by this world I love and that he doesn’t really understand. He received hugs from Nay and Kristine, which surprised him, but didn’t surprise me. They feel like they know him, and they kind of do, virtually. I was told one more than one occasion that he was going to be greeted with a middle finger, since that is what he is known for in my Instagram photos. His reputation precedes him. My girls, the “absolute girlies” were met with open arms. Which to me seemed like poetry in motion. They are what built this blog, and they continue to fuel it. But for the first time in a long time they saw their mommy in her old life, her happy life. Yes, Elevate did that. It made me realize that I want to be happy again. I want to write again. I want to breathe new life into this blog again.
As we drove back to our hotel, I was giddy with excitement. I wanted to share anything and everything with my family. It was such a good day and I couldn’t hold back. Then from the back seat Caitlin asked, “Mommy did they have wine there?”, “No why?” I asked, “Because you act like you’ve had a lot of wine”. I laughed for ten minutes. Especially after John replied, “Mommy’s not drunk, she’s just happy”. If that wasn’t a bittersweet, slap in the face, get your life together moment, I don’t know what is.
So many good things came out of our family weekend at Elevate. It wasn’t the quick trip to Downtown Disney, although that was good. It wasn’t the change of scenery. It was the fact that my family got to see a little bit of the blogging world from my eyes. The Hubbs better understands the relationships and the work required to maintain a blog. He even confessed to following along on Twitter all day since he still doesn’t have an Instagram (I know, right?). He said he could see just how much fun I was having, but also the opportunity that is there for me and my blog. Which is a break through for us on so many levels I can’t even begin to explain.
As you can see and read, Elevate was so much more than a conference this year. I needed inspiration and confirmation so badly. I was in desperate need of some direction. I also needed to redefine what my happiness looked like. I’ve been home for over a week and I’m very much back into reality. But there are some definite changes I want to make. There are things I want to put into motion. And there are goals I have set with specific time lines. I never set time lines or deadlines for that matter.
Elevate was a unique experience for me, which is the way it should be. No two blogger are alike, so no two experiences will be alike. But I’m sure that I’m not the only one who left with a new resolve. I’m sure I’m not the only one who continued to float on an Elevate high for a couple of days. And I know without a doubt that not a single one of us is unchanged after that beautiful Saturday in the dunes.
I’ve heard many stories about other blogging conferences. The classes and the sessions and the celebrities in participation. And I’d love to attend another conference where bloggers meet up and inspire. But I’m totally biased when it comes to Elevate. It’s so personal and intimate, and it’s so much more than a blogging conference. For me, Elevate 2014 was a revival.