Courtyard by Marriott in Illinois
Doubletree Hilton in California
Springhill Suites by Marriott in Minnesota
Courtyard by Marriott in California
Springhill Suites by Marriott in Alaska
Springhill Suites by Marriott in New York
Fairfield Inn by Marriott in New York
There was a time when I spent a weekend sleeping in my own bed. However, it hasn’t been recent.
You may have noticed a trend. Because even when you travel a lot for work, there is something reassuring about knowing the layout of your hotel room in the dark. Of knowing what the bed (should) feel like. What the towels and shampoo and coffee will feel, smell, and taste like.
Even in the constant state of change there is consistency for me. However there is also a sense of impersonality. The pictures hanging on the walls are “local” or “themed” to “personalize” the experience. But nothing can be as personal as the warm purring bodies of four-legged friends trying to climb on your face so you will wake up and feed them. Or the steady snore of your best friend laying next to you dreaming.
I bring things with me that remind me of home. Things that might seem strange or out of place, but provide visual, tactile, sensory memories of the family I leave each weekend. It makes the travel a little less difficult. And personalizes my foreign but familiar weekend abode.
One of the lessons I learned this weekend via tweets from another session was that I should set time limits on my social media. So I am giving myself one hour to tweet. During that time I can also play on Facebook. And that’s it! I can divide it up into up to three segments during the day. Today it worked out pretty well, despite the notifications popping up on my phone and in my email. During the tournaments I might let this rule slide but I need to allow myself to unplug from the constant stream of information.
Now to figure out rules to limit television and get me on my feet more! Suggestions?
Morning. Fruit and potatoes. Homemade energy bite.
Monetary decisions. To monetize or to save? Saving seems more practical. Lots of tips. Lots of tweets.
Dietary restriction? Reframe it. You can’t choose everything on the menu anyways. You eliminate those options by choice. Just choose to eliminate those that do not make you stronger. Choose quality. Discover new options. Recognize your strength.
Closing. Portland 2012.
After-party? Fabulous. Friends. Strangers. Community. Welcoming. Choices. Delicious choices. No waiting. Warmth in the form of sun, smiles, jokes, food, and fermented grape. Highlight of the weekend. This moment of community forever frozen. Stored in the memory box and wiping clean any of the anxiety and disappointment from before. Singing. Dancing. Video. Fingered Citron. You can’t plan this. You can’t pay for this in your conference registration fees.
Ultimately, what I continue to realize as I attend these conferences is that I always set expectations high for the event itself. When in reality, it’s never the event that changes me or inspires me. It is the other people attending the event. Sharing their homes, their food, their stories and smiles. If I could thank all of them independently, I would. But I would be thanking for longer than I have battery life on my well-worked laptop. I hope they realize how amazing they all are. And if not, let me just say…
Morning. Looming clouds in the distance. Walking. Beach. Sand. Surf. Freeing.
Workshop after workshop. Writing. Finding the story. Video. Tweeting. Learning.
Lunch. Anxiously awaiting the mobile eats. Disappointment. Trying to not be upset over not being able to eat. The difficulty in reframing and being positive. Losing focus. Feeling like a victim. The wrong approach. But the one taken.
Gathered with positive bloggers. A short walk and a lot of options. Filling real food. Fabulous conversation. Spirits raised but anxiety lies low. Hiding to finish work and regroup. Emotions run high. Difficulty remaining positive.
Wine. Food. Blog. Fun workshop. Lots to learn. Friendly faces. Not short sentences with quick escape routes like many encountered.
Dinner. Anxiety returns. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Trying not to bitch. But waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Anxious. Hungry.
Salad: Without cheese. Tasty.
Entree: Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Entire table has finished eating. Can’t help the negative feelings that return. Frustration. Plate of vegetables with nothing else is served. Vegetables are good but there is more than just vegetables.
Twitter on the big screen? Shows others had more. Amplifies the frustration and anxiety building. Just wanting to feel normal is dying to scream out. Friends come to rescue. Garbanzos arrive.
Dessert: Fruit on lettuce. Nothing on it. Nothing. Arrives long after others have eaten. Food is community. Feeling like a community of one.
Pain. Night cut short.
It’s frustrating to be in a frequent state of low-level pain and to not know what causes it. To have it flare up and not be able to control it. For everyone wanting to help and offer opinions to the point of being overwhelming. Frustration because in the quest to be normal and have fun, turns into feeling like an outsider. One year ago I wasn’t the strange kid. Now I feel like a negative ball of energy is fighting inside of me, only amplified by being here. But I will keep trying to work on reframing. Takeaway from a session on the third day will be reframing to consider a life of inclusion instead of exclusion. To reframe. To walk away with the positive.
Sitting in the back of a hotel conference room, looking around at familiar and not familiar faces. Writers. Photographers. Eaters. Coming together under one roof with a mission. Or rather many missions and purposes that dissolve into a greater purpose.
Anticipation. Anxiety. Excitement. The pre-conference jitters fill the stomach and leave attendees with high hopes for a pricey weekend with promises of good eats and adventures and gifts!
Reality? The truth is the reality is amazing (an apparently overused but still applicable word) but not what was expected. Mundane to those who can’t embrace the opportunity to absorb from the experiences of peers and idols. Swag-minimists rejoice while swag-seekers weep. This isn’t a place for freebie grabbing groupies but instead an opportunity to focus on craft.
The second year. A chance to get past the glitz, and settle into the routine. Panels. PowerPoint. People. Peace. Socializing while seeking something more.
I am honored and humbled by meeting all of you. Please vote for me. We aren’t those people who tweet to seek you as a follower but instead tweet to build community. Do your tweets serve a purpose? Do they matter to more than two people? Does it matter? The purpose of social media is in the hands of the iPhone holder with a Twitter account. But keep your dalliances on the up and up. Keep it ethical… if you know what ethics even are. Who here knows the difference between ethics and morals?
Bites. Lots and lots of bites. Food and beverage. Gulps of liquid fermented fruit. Crowds and hands and glasses and overwhelmed because the numbers that seemed so small in that mundane conference room have been condensed in a well-lit atrium and the lively antics are amplified.
Suddenly the growling stomaches are satiated. Special diet needs are met. Sadness because the freebie grabbing means there isn’t enough for all. But reframing again and recognizing the sponsored swag isn’t the end goal. But illusion of shared community is smudged.
Walking. Talking. Opening up to strangers, now perhaps friends? Late nights. Index card back-up systems and small group discussions. Old relationships and new. No pressure. No sponsored banners. Just people with beverages in chairs talking about food. It’s this moment. You can’t put this moment in a swag bag. You can’t put this moment in a PowerPoint. This is the moment that exceeds expectations.