A little over a week ago I attended the Creative at Heart Conference in Roanoke, Virginia. This is a conference for dreamers, doers, and creatives. It took place over two days at the gorgeous Roanoke Hotel in downtown Roanoke.
Ever since the first conference was announced last Winter I felt like I needed to be a part of it. I didn't know exactly what it was or why I felt the pull to be included, I just did. I contemplated over attending the first round but something just made me feel like it wasn't the right time. I watched with awe as instagrams and blog posts popped up from friends and colleagues that attended and I knew if there was another one I just had to be there. Then the email came, round 2, March 2015! This time I was going to be there!
As the date approached I got more and more excited but with the excitement came nerves and self-doubt. I had no idea what I was getting myself into (they said to bring cute pjs for goodness sake) and I thought maybe I'm not good enough to go, maybe my work isn't where it should be, what if everyone is so much better than me. You know the drill…that awful record player that gets into your head and grinds until you don't feel worthy anymore. I tried to chicken out but deep inside my gut I still really wanted to go.
I was stepping way out of my comfort zone and putting all my faith in the tiny voice that said "you need this". Not only was I attending a conference with industry icons that I adore but I also agreed to room with 3 ladies (who are now some of the coolest ladies I know) I had never met and drive 3 hours with another attendee (who made the drive so much more enjoyable). Seriously guys for someone who is as introverted as Katelyn James is extroverted it felt like I was jumping off a cliff. But you know the crazy thing about jumping into the unknown is that sometimes, YOU FLY! Before I left my house I prayed that God would open my heart to this opportunity and to him and boy when he delivers, HE DELIVERS!
This conference was not only a game changer, it was LIFE CHANGING! I was never a part of a sorority in college but now I feel like I am part of this amazing sisterhood (that let's a few very special guys in) who all accept and love each other. The speakers and panelists were amazing and they delivered awesome content but the underlying tone of the entire conference was HEART and COMMUNITY. There are not many industries where co-workers who are striving for the same clientele will hug, share meals, motivate, and love on one another. Everyone there had a passion to be creative in their own right and Creative at Heart brought us all together.
The underlying message of everyone's talk was we do this because we love people and I couldn't agree more. There were a few key moments in the days that touched my heart and had me (and many others in the room in tears).
Abby Grace of Abby Grace Photography talked about the why behind her business. She talked about how she loved weddings but she realized she loved marriages more. She wants her photos to help keep marriages together, to help people remember a time that was good when things get dark. I think we can all attach to that feeling. Her grandparents came to hear her speak and they had helped raise her, just like mine did for me. I felt a longing for my why behind my business. I realized I do what I do because of the story. I believe everyone gets their happily ever after even if it doesn't happen in the most conventional way. Just because you didn't meet the man of your dreams in high school, or find your bridesmaids in college, or maybe even because you became a mom or a dad before a husband or wife doesn't mean you didn't get a fairytale it just means you wrote your own version of a happily ever after. I live for the un-ordinary.
Which leads me to Mary Marantz of Justin & Mary. This woman is an industry rockstar, a phenomenal speaker, and motivator with a heart of gold. Mary is one of those people that everyone knows of and adores. I had never had the chance to hear her speak in person until a week ago and she blew me away. I was (ugly) crying during her presentation, I felt like she was talking right to me. She talked about the un-ordinary and all of a sudden it was like the light turned on and I knew that was what I was all about. She talked about sacrifice and I connected to it in levels deeper then I could possibly even explain. She made me a believer that anything is possible and that dreams can come true.
Katelyn James of Katelyn James Photography is like my spirit animal. She embodies the things I strive for. I love everything about who this girl is; her heart for the Lord, for her business, for her husband, and for other creatives. She spoke on something near to her heart and that is creating community. Her words were so powerful because she truly believes in what she says. She talked about showing your heart and impacting your client's lives. She talked personally about how she struggled with worrying that she and Michael wouldn't affect people's lives if they weren't in ministry. This touched me deeply. I left the medical field where I was physically touching people's lives to pursue something I love. I worried that I wouldn't be able to impact anyone. But God has brought people and things into my life through photography that I never would have met before. It's an amazing journey and after hearing what Katelyn said I know I can impact people no matter what my profession is.
If you are a creative and have been struggling with self-doubt or wondering if you are doing the right thing by pursuing your dream, I encourage you to attend this conference. You will come back not only a changed business owner but a changed person. I can't believe the spark and love I felt from just two days of interacting with like-minded friends and let me tell you friends that spark is still there. Kat of Dear Sweetheart Events and the mastermind behind Creative at Heart says its all about Hard Work and Fairy Dust and I couldn't agree more. So to all my creative friends old and new, hugs, and love, and fairy dust to you all!!!! <3
Enjoy a few of my favorite Instagrams from my trip!