I bought my ticket to the Creative at Heart Conference and then immediately had a panic attack.
I have wanted to attend Creative at Heart since its inception. I have also low-key (truth: not at all low-key) been obsessed with its founder, Kat Schmoyer, for like two years. I’ve taken her On the Road to Full Time Course, participated in the Planner’s Intensive twice, and been in a small group mastermind that she led. Basically everything but attend this conference.
I promised myself that 2017 would be a year of change. Inner change. I would network, I would work diligently to grow my tribe, and I would leave my home (as in actually put on pants) and network. Talk face to face and not just over social media or email. And that scared the pants off me. ((I should probably make some business changes, too. My clients all get their blogs done on time…but I wrote this 2 full months after the conference. Oh and it’s the first blog on this site since launching DGF in January 2016. That’s on me, y’all, I’ll totally try to be better.))
But the cost of the conference, the plane + uber rides, food, hotel, etc. was enough to kick my butt into gear. As excited as I was, even the week before the conference I was genuinely thinking, “what if I just don’t go?” Plenty of people are surprised by this. As well as the fact that I could have spent way less money on an AirBnB with 8 other girls vs. a solo hotel room and actively chose not to. I am an extreme extrovert with awful, almost crippling social anxiety. The thought of being in a room with a hundred new people and having to make small talk (literally my least favorite thing) was enough to almost send me running. BUT I DIDN’T RUN.
I chose to step extremely out of my comfort zone and I loved every freaking second of it.
I paid extra to attend the welcome party the night before the start of the conference thinking it would ease me into the new environment. I almost didn’t go. Almost stayed in my quiet hotel room watching Bob’s Burgers on my Kindle. But I got dressed and I went. Walking in was SO overwhelming and the first person that saw me could see it immediately on my face and was quick to welcome me and ask if she could hug me. That person was Shay Cochrane. I couldn’t have been more humbled and grateful to her and Graham for taking the time to greet me. They asked me about my business and what I was excited to learn at the conference. What was a fleeting moment to them meant the absolute world to me and I will never forget that that’s how I spent my first 10 minutes at the conference.
From there I greeted a few people I knew through business and social media (including the lovely Ruth Pitt) and then I really stepped out…no, completely blew up my comfort zone. I paid, I was here, I was wearing a cute skirt, I was gonna get my money’s worth! I walked up to several different groups and said, “this is out of my comfort zone, so I’m forcing myself to talk to new people, hi, I’m Julie.” And I made new friends, y’all! I connected with like-minded entrepreneurs. And oh, it was like something out of a dream.
The next two and a half days are a beautiful learning blur filled with meeting business idols (Katelyn James, y’all!!!), taking 30+ pages of notes during 14 incredible keynote talks, 2 awesome sessions with my panel group, and 4 incredibly rewarding breakout sessions, delicious food, happy tears, swag (good swag too, like things you need and want, not weird medical conference pens), and countless laughs and aha moments.
I don’t want to divulge details about the amazing talks and sessions as those deserve to stay in those moments, but I would be remiss if I didn’t give some extra love and thank yous to some favorite tidbits and people.
Without you, none of this would happen. I know you have an amazing team (HI Matt and Emily!), but to dream this up and actually make it happen, that’s a quality most people don’t possess. I am so lucky to know you.
Lacoya, Caroline, and Stephanie
#PanelGroup6. For pouring so much into us in our short time together. For being totally transparent about your businesses and willing to share and be honest.
Aislinn, Casie, and Cami
For being my hotel buddies, and being so endlessly sweet to me. I loved our last night cocoa and Dubsado session. And you’re the only people that can say they saw that Uber driver leave with me only half in the car.
For being such a sweet seatmate and frozen yogurt buddy. You are one of the kindest Lilly Pulitzer-loving souls and such a talented photographer. I’m so grateful to have kept up with you on social media and to get to watch your business keep growing.
For saying you wanted to be my friend. What a precious and dear moment that was to me!
For being an absolute delight of a human and getting me so excited about speaking. You are such a special soul and I’m so happy to know you.
For connecting with me when you didn’t even realize it. I loved learning from you and I love seeing how your business has absolutely blown up!
How incredibly lucky that we sat next to each other on Day 1. What an infectious spirit and smile you have. Becoming your friend was absolutely a highlight. You also have the world’s most glorious photo of me in your phone. You’re welcome.
I have to end with the person who touched my soul, my honorary mentor. The epitome of not judging a book by its cover. Or rather, its Instagram. Over the past two years I have followed and unfollowed this pink-loving Barbie goddess no less than 5 times. Each time I hit unfollow thinking, “no one is that perfect, how is everything so curated, oh I’m just so envious of her” – well, she is like her social media to a T. It’s her brand, it’s her job, it’s her incredibly brilliant business. She’s also whip smart, has more of an entrepreneurial brain than anyone I’ve ever met, and is kind and giving beyond belief. Connecting with her and being able to bounce ideas off her and brainstorm with her was one of my absolute top takeaways from Creative at Heart. Oh, and yes, I’m still following her.
If you have the chance to go to a 2018 Creative at Heart Conference, I urge you to make it happen. It is transformative, at least it was for me…and everyone I know that attended it. Really though, if you can make it happen, GO. Got questions? Well, I can only answer about my personal experience, but I’m happy to try and answer any you have!
And you’ll see me there in 2018. 100%. So come say hi.
Photos by the amazing Holly Felts.
Furniture: Paisley & Jade
Photobooth Back Drop: Emily Jo Lettering
Name Tags: Happy Tines
C@H Alumni T-Shirts: Jakprints + Ashlyn Writes + She Creates Business Podcast
Coffee Sleeves: Kiloh + Co.
“How Brave Are You Willing To Be” Notebook – Rachel Allene
“Did We Just Become Best Friends” Greeting Card – The Smitches
Pink Tote Bags – Posh PR
Colored Pencils – Julienne DesJardins
“You Are Enough” Journals – Bailey Craft Planners
Gold Foil Prints – Bonnie Bakhtiari
Greeting Cards – Thoughtfilled + Grace Kindly + Prairie Letter Shop
Ear Buds – She Creates Business Podcast
“She Leaves a Little Sparkle…” Print – Ash Bush
Candles – Over+Print Co.
Belong Magazines – Brooke Saxon