I know I was scheduled to recap the conference last week. I thought I would come home from Round 1 of the Creative At Heart Conference on such a high that I would feel the need to write out every single moment and memory and preserves it forever… but my heart felt differently. Instead, I tucked it away. I sat in awe of everything that took place. Humbled by the women who invested in attending. Inspired by the women (and men!) who spoke. Rather than wanting to shout from the rooftops, I wanted to hold it dear & wait to share. My heart needed the time to process and soul-search….
Is that wrong? No, I don’t think so! Is that the total opposite of my usual “tell all” personality – absolutely!!:)
It’s so different to attend a conference as a hopeful/excited/anxious attend vs. going to a conference as an hopeful/excited/anxious attendee! There was SO MUCH happening on the back-end… so many wheels that needed to be set in motion, so many to-dos, so many people to coordinate with and so much STUFF (ha!!)!
I left my home at 7:30am Saturday to pick Laura and Alexandra up from the airport. After a foggy-rainy drive, we FINALLY made it to the venue at 1:30pm. Taylor and Bonnie were there to greet us and so many hugs occurred!! We were HERE; it was HAPPENING!!! Taylor and I both jumped into “planning mode” organizing SWAG, working with the venue to get the room set the way we envisioned, texting/calling/emailing and doing all the final prep.
First off, let me tell you that I am BEYOND thankful for the amazing leaders that helped us that day: Laura, Bonnie, Alexandra, Lauren… they rocked out swag bags and ribbon backdrops and I am forever grateful for their servant-hearts.
Taylor and I were both feel the anxious pressure as we got dressed for the Welcome Dinner with our amazing Speaker and Panelists. We were emotional due to exhaustion, fear and joy. I can’t really express to you how many emotions I felt in that 72 hour period. We sat down to an amazing meal with women we have looked up to for YEARS. We cried. We ate. We drank wine. And it was perfect. Even in the exhaustion and “I still feel like there’s so much to do” … it was perfect!
Sunday dawned early in our little room… Tswift jam sessions while we got ready for the first day of this BIG dream. I told myself I wouldn’t cry. I told myself I’d make it through. And I only teared up 3 times all day!:) We welcomed 81 amazing women and 3 men into our conference home and man, I have never been so excited!! Hearing Katelyn, Natalie, Krista and Lauren rock it out on day 1 was incredible. I got teary-eyed in the back as I listened to these mentors speak to seasoned business owners and brand-spankin’ new ones!! So many AMAZING women in one room… all on one equal playing field … all here with the same purpose… Oh, friends, it was beautiful.
Sunday sessions ended and after our sweet attendees went off to dinner, Taylor and I stayed with Camberly, Sterling and Jessica to get things ready for the Late Night Treat. Camberly created a GORGEOUS backdrop for our sweets, and Sarah of Intrigue Designs drove all the way from Maryland to bring STUNNING blooms our way!! Taylor lettered cupcake flavors, I helped move furniture and we organized our adorable mugs (one of my favorite details from the conference)! We also ate the most delicious tacos with Bonnie & Laura; and dressed in our most comfy pi’s for the Late Night Treat:) Enjoying coffee & cupcakes with each girl will forever be a favorite memory!
Monday happened too quickly and to be honest… I was a hot mess. I think it was because (a) it was the last day (b) I was so tired I needed an IV of coffee and (c) I was still in this dream-state of “is this really happening?!”. We listened to Rachel and Michael and Alexandra. We ate amazing wedding cake by Sorby Sweets. We listened to Bonnie. And then I cried in front of everyone as I closed out the day with my first very presentation.
I’ll never forget anything that happened. I’ll never forget Katelyn publicly thanking Taylor and I, and Michael handing us roses as we both stood their crying. I’ll never forget watching our amazing attendees, speakers and panelists break down the entire room so that Taylor and I would be able to talk and cry and hug and take really bad “I’ve been crying this is the worst picture ever” seflies with almost every sweet attendee!!!
And you know what I realized? I realized that that really was what it’s all about. Was the styled lunch beautiful? Yes. Was there amazing swag? Yes. Were there super cute pink details all over the place? Yes. But if there wasn’t WOMEN and CONVERSATION and HEART then it would have meant NOTHING.
I’ll never forget sitting on the floor in my PJ’s with Taylor, Bonnie and Laura eating tacos. We laughed until our stomachs hurt; we talked about life & love & husbands & business & Jesus. This is what matters, y’all. THIS, tacos on the floor with my closest industry friends, with women who get my whole heart & challenge me & push me & encourage me, THIS is what C@H is all about. It’s about finding hope. Finding friends. Finding faith to get through the really, really hard times of business ownership. It’s about support and love and COMPASSION over competition. It’s knowing that sweet starts lead to joy-filled journeys, and realizing that while you may feel completely inadequate and unprepared: you’ve GOT this!! You CAN make big dreams happen. You CAN find friends in a industry that can feel so lonely. And you can eat tacos on the floor and laugh until you cry.
I’m crying as I write this and I know I’ll cry in March when we welcome amazing creatives at Round 2! The Lord is GOOD. The Lord is INCREDIBLE. I know in my heart Creative At Heart is why He created me and I’m humbled and excited to see what becomes of this big piece of my heart. Taylor and I have BIG plans and HUGE changes up our sleeve that we are beyond thrilled for; because He’s working. He’s moving. And while I know C@H isn’t a “faith based” conference and we don’t sing worship songs or listen to sermons… if you let Him, He WILL move. And that makes me such a humble servant and such a bigger plan.
Video by Tyler & Ashley Herrinton
(( iPhone Collages by sweet Bonnie – because I took three pictures the entire time, one being the black & white taco-floor picture ))