When I realized that Tuesday, December 1st would mark 30 days left of 2015, I *immediately* waited for the feelings of dread and “what have you done this year anyway” to set in. But you know what? God swiftly spoke to my heart saying: “think about the other 335 days of 2015. Haven’t I provided? Haven’t you experience joy? Haven’t you found freedom? Haven’t I been present?” Yes, in the biggest of ways yes.
So, for the next 30 days I’ll be popping in and out Footes in the Heights & the CIHI Photo Blog, reflecting on the laughable, the beautiful, the painful, the everyday and the incredible. I’m calling this the 30/335 series and this is lesson 3! You can read the others here:
I wish I weren’t, but I am.
I don’t like asking for help. I don’t like other people coming up with ideas for me. Heck, I don’t even really like taking suggestions from my closest friends!
This mostly ugly trait, unfortunately, has been a huge contributor to me steering clear of attending photography/creative conferences over the years. I’m an educator by training and by profession and yet I walked into my 5th year of business last fall finally recognizing that this part of my professional development has been nonexistent because of high expectations, lack of funds, and really, fear of going alone/not fitting in.
Basically, I’m stubborn and have been pretending like I can run this show all by myself with a few local friends and facebook groups to help me along the way. But finally this year, I realized that really wasn’t working. Enter Pursuit.
The Pursuit 31 group was one of the first I joined back in 2010 or 2011 and I remember thinking “these are going to be my people! Like minded business women who have a heart for the Lord- yes!”. I went through stages of engaging and not engaging and ultimately, decided maybe it wasn’t the place for me because I hadn’t found others to connect directly with through it.
“Rest”, I thought. “I could use some of that”.
But of course the registration came and went and I thought “eh, maybe next year”.
And then, at the beginning of the summer, I had a giant wake up call. I realized that I’d been allowing my stubborn, “I’ve got it all figure out and don’t need help” attitude to actually hold me back– whaaaaaat?! Yes, crazy! So as I dove head first into a rebrand, I also prayed for community, opportunity, provision and before I knew it, an unexpected ticket became mine and I was headed to Rome, GA in early October for my first creative conference. The Fall 2015 Pursuit 31 Conference.
My dear friend Annabeth took me to the airport the morning I flew to Georgia and sweetly asked what I was most excited about for the week. And I don’t know that I really answered her question. Because I don’t think I was really excited.
Nervous? insert hives. Yes!
Hopeful? more than I wanted to admit.
I was heading into a week with 200 women and I knew 2 of them. I knew God would show up and my desperation for Him to really show up had me feeling disappointed from the get go.
Why was I even going to begin with?
What’s the point of this if I’m not even going to learn anything about photography?
Will there be other women there who’ve put work on hold for a week away or is everyone going to be an amazing mom who’s glad for time away but anxious to get back to bed time routines?
Back to my first questions– WHY WAS I EVEN GOING TO BEGIN WITH?
Well friends. I can tell you that when you’re thinking something along the same lines, God doesn’t owe you an answer, but He can sure come up with some creative ways to cultivate obedience in your heart that makes space for Him to show up.
So, while I questioned why I was at Pursuit nearly the entire time I was there, I know He placed me there with purpose. Every meal that I walked to thinking “oh no, not that big dining hall again. Where will I sit?” and every session I walked to thinking “can my brain handle any more? Will I see someone I’ve met in the lobby?”
I felt bad! In the moment, everyone seemed to be having the best time ever. Meanwhile, I’m internally kicking and screaming just like I’ve been doing for the last 5 years, fighting every inch of the experience knowing full well that was insecurity and fear to dream showing up, taking over, and winning.
The afternoon before the community dinner (a beautiful, hillside meal shared by all attendees) I took a break from sessions, grabbed my camera and a cup of ice cream, and walked the campus. I prayed for deeper connections than I’d been able to make so far. I prayed for a posture of rest and for a mind that could find quiet and absorb versus feeling like sponge filled to the brim (a product of a really busy summer/fall, not necessarily the conference itself).
As I walked towards the beautiful setup seeing everyone all dolled up in little groups and taking head shots, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But thankfully, Ashlee and Shay scooped me up and an evening under the starts began, followed by a day of sweet, sweet answered prayers.
Thanks, God, for showing up in big ways on this trip. For gently pushing me to a place where I could learn, grow, share, and love. Thanks for the crisp Georgia air, breathtaking morning fog and plethora of benches to sit on an meet with you.
In the end, I met some amazing friends at this conference, learned so much about what it takes to be a powerful speaker in this kind of space (a big, scary goal of mine!), and realized how important these kinds of “professional development” opportunities are, even if I’m a mess going into them.
I guess, sometimes kicking and screaming makes the experience better in the end (so says my stubborn, learn things the hard way brain).
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