In the midst of the chaos that is my life right now, I found myself feeling rather empty. I've been looking for my next inspiration. To fill the void. To remind myself of my own worth. I know I am not alone in feeling BLAH during the winter months. I always get the blues this time of year. Yet I know that this is more than just the seasonal blues. I've been feeling like I'm stuck in a creative slump. My photographer and artist friends get it. Business people feel it too at times. We all get stuck in a rut, and need fresh ideas to get us out of our creative "block" or to push us outside of our comfort zones. This is why I launched my #RedefineFeminism Project. I am just getting it off of the ground and I had intended on working on it and finding models while I attended a photography conference in Maine a little over a week ago.
Inspire Photo Retreats is my all time favorite work conference that I head to once a year, and this was my 5th year attending. It's a place where I go to get bear hugged by some of my favorite people, find inspiration, and get my learn on. I can still remember my first trip to Inspire and how nervous I was. I talked about it on a photography industry blog and I remember wanting to shout it from the rooftops to everyone I knew that they needed to go and connect with this amazing community of photographers! So each year I returned and hoped to gain more from my colleagues, peers and educators.
Then, life happened this year. I told myself, "you are going to need to sit this one out". It's been a series of trials and challenges for us on the home front, so I intended on giving things the attention they needed. Of course I was bummed and I knew I'd be watching my social media feeds blow up with all the photos and hilarities, so it would be torture not being at the conference or around the people who fill my cup (in more ways than one). ;-)
And then I got a request to speak at Inspire... which I wasn't expecting. The universe, she is funny this way. Sometimes she knows where you need to be and finds a way to get you there. So, I accepted the offer and gladly gave my interview on Tiffinbox, a blog aimed at inspiring photographers, discussing my experience and "How Brand Storytelling is Crucial to Staying Ahead of the Game".
I showed up and truthfully, I was feeling pretty broken. I was preparing my presentation and I was feeling so un-worthy of even speaking. I spoke the year before at Inspire, but that experience was so very different. That talk was purely motivational and inspirational. I could do THAT. This talk about marketing and branding was feeling so out of my league. I thought to myself, "who is even going to come to my presentation"? I was sure that the room would barely fill. And let's face it... no one wants to listen to a "no name" photographer who they've barely heard of. They want the "rock stars", right? The big names, with the ginormous following, and the ones who get paid to be on the speaker/teacher circuit. Yeah, that's not me.
I soon realized that I was judging myself. I do this sometimes because if I can say all of the horrible and negative things about myself, than I will have beat them to the punch. I wouldn't be so shocked or dismayed when or if they said... "she sucked" or they stood up and walked out. My fear and self-judgment had taken over my mind, and yet I had to walk in there and give the presentation anyway.
They clipped on my mic, connected my laptop to the projector, and I began. And slowly, the room filled. I was shocked! I continued on and powered through just hoping that someone would take away a few nuggets of information and find value in it. I had been talking for an hour and 20 minutes when I realized, I've almost made it through! And then one by one, you lined up to talk with me afterwards. Thank you, all of you, for making me feel like I had something worthy to share with you (even if I do make some pretty awkward faces and lots of hand motions while I talk)! Huge thanks to the incredible Kate McElwee for these images too!
I'll spare you all the details, but I was a different person two weeks prior to Inspire. My heart was lighter and happier. I received heavy news that would forever change me prior to coming. And what you all did to remind me that I am not alone and that I have something to offer the world, it lifted my spirits. It reminded me of my worth and of my gifts. And that I need to keep sharing them. So thank you!!
Mark, Enna and Eric of the Inspire Planning Team, thank you all for believing in me once more and giving me the opportunity to be a part of this incredible community in so many ways! To all of the beautiful souls who met with me for mentoring (Nicole, Jaimee, Robyn, Maureen, Heather and Nicole), our time together was nothing short of awesome! Each one of you brought your vulnerability, enthusiasm and dreams into our meetings, and I can't wait to see you all soar! To my Alternative Process ladies (you know who you are), you kicked this retreat off right with your creativity, energy and all of our laughter -- so thanks bunches and hugs!
I didn't get to work on my personal project, like I had originally planned. That seems to be the theme of my life this year. Stop planning. Learn to be present and appreciate what's in front of you. Sometimes, things don't go as you've envisioned. And that's okay. Sometimes, you need to live in the moment and let things develop into something unforeseen. Carry on, warrior.
I left the conference with so much more than inspiration this year. I left with new friends. I left with revelations about myself and the motivation to keep pursuing my personal project. I left with the restoration of my soul, which needed healing. And for these gifts, I am grateful.
So I ask you now, where do you go to find a good dose of inspiration? Where have you found your most recent prescription for healing that isn't found in a drug store? I'd love to hear your thoughts, and couldn't we all use more of this kind of nurturing in our daily lives? I know I could use it more often.