This time I came back as a speaker on a panel about launching a product or shop - because, you know, it's part of what I do here.
This time around Alt was full of introductions and old friends and conversations and hugs and lots of "how's it going for you?" and "what are you working on right now?" and "what's next?"
In addition to my responsibilities as a panelist, I decided to go again this year to find something. I never know what it is until after the experience - it's one of the ways I approach the world. I know, without a doubt, that each time I go somewhere I will be surprised and delighted by something if I am open to it. There is always a gem (and often more than one) that turns out to be exactly what I needed to see or hear or experience at that very point in time.
Here are some of the memories and things I brought home in my head, with my hands and in my heart:
• Meeting my fellow panelists and loving our pre-panel conversation and the realization, once again, that we are all a work in progress, that nothing happens overnight and it takes doing the work and dedication to the process and product to make it happen. And it will happen. I loved that each of us have pretty different experiences with bringing products to market (mine being more the partnership and licensing route) and I loved hearing their stories. Check out Erin at earnesthomeco.com (home decor and furniture), Alexis at Alexis Mattox Design (stationery, party supplies, and more), and Caitlin of Caitlin Wilson Textiles.
• Meeting illustrator Ashley Mae Hoiland who does absolutely beautiful work. She came up to me after my panel and shared one of her self-published children's books (Animal Parade) and she shared her story with me and I was an immediate fan. Check out her we.brave.women campaign which is just getting started and is super inspiring. I just ordered her Brave Women print because that's the kind of stuff I want my kids to see and remember hanging in their house growing up. She included the following words on one of her promotional pieces and I wanted to share it with you here about her mission:
"I've been thinking about how to teach my little girl to find her voice in this wild world, and not just find it, but use it, speak with it. Let it rise and fall, and speak again until it is heard. I want her to know that the voice she finds will be clumsy, wrong sometimes, in need of trimming and shaping and re-saying a thousand times over, but I also want her to know that if she works honestly and hard, there will be times when that voice does have the perfect thing to say, at just the right moments. I want her to know that her voice will turn to actions, and those actions will be the stories that shape the world around her."
• Re-connecting with Jane from To The Market and Rachel from Handmade Charlotte and Karen Walrond (a friend of many years). All three of us attended the ONE Girls And Women AYA Summit last fall. I love connecting with these women who are passionate about taking action for the good of others.
• Hanging out with these four: Amber, Sam, Lisa and April from Studio Calico. We do a pretty good mix of business and life talk and I love that about our relationship.
• I enjoyed meeting the following people in person that I've followed/admired for many years: Erin Lochner (Design For Mankind, Clementine Daily), Alex Beauchamp (a pioneer in blogging and the inter-webs - now with Airbnb who has a really cool new campaign centered around the idea of "belonging"), Liz Stanley (Say Yes), and Heather Armstrong (Dooce).
• I also brought home a New Beginnings bangle from Alex and Ani that was a gift from my friends from my friends Ginny and Jeannine at The ONE Campaign. Through December 2015, 20% of the proceeds received by Alex and Ani from selling this bangle (with a minimum $25,000 donation) will be donated to The ONE Campaign. When I opened the little bag that was holding the bangle there were some words on the card I wanted to share with you here because they took my breath away:
"A perfectly crafted, 8-sided sun represents the universal law that life's outcomes are a reflection of your efforts. You have limitless opportunity to positively lead and affect others. Empower yourself to shine brighter than yesterday, to let your passions spark action. Astound yourself and those around you with your abilities. Embrace the energy of this powerful charm and create your own new beginning."
• Probably the absolute best thing I brought home were some messages delivered on the last day by keynote speaker Dallas Clayton. I knew nothing of Dallas before the closing keynote and almost skipped it. I am so, so glad I didn't. His illustrations, his messages, his delivery, his passion - so awesome. It was the thing I needed but didn't know I needed. Definitely check him out.
• On Saturday I sent an impromptu email to Courtney Carver of Be More With Less to see if she was available to meet up for coffee or lunch before my flight home. We've met in person once before and she's one of those people who consistently inspires me with her writing on minimalism and the ways in which she was grown her business. Super thankful she was available to meet for lunch because it was soul-nourishing.
• The last crazy thing that happened on this whirlwind trip was while I was walking through the airport in Salt Lake on my way to my gate. I ended up walking alongside Ethan Hawke and as we walked along I might have simply turned to him and said, "thank you for sharing your gift" and he might have looked right at me and smiled and said "thank you."
I arrived home filled up with the super clear knowledge that I want to fill my life with good stuff. Good messages and good stories (that come from the range of experiences we encounter in life - aka: the length and the width). Good, honest, real people who are doing the best they can with what they have in front of them right now. People making a difference and standing up and going for it. People speaking truth. People interested in other people. Good experiences that are both expected and unexpected.
I want to choose to see good and be good and do good.
That's a pretty darn good take-away if you ask me.