So when we left off from part 1 I had packed up and boarded the plan to Reno. It was a full travel day and in true Jackie fashion, I had planned a long to do list, but to kick off the trip- I cracked open Melanie Dale’s book, “It’s Not Fair, Learning to Love the Life You Never Chose” (Dan loves that I am reading a book with this title). This is a blogger/podcaster I really enjoy and was curious about her latest book- one that I would finish before I returned home. Melanie’s writing style is unique in that she doesn’t just speak to her audience- but nestles herself right into your jumbled mind of dreams, passions, fears, failures and journeys with you from the frustration to the hope. She shares her personal struggle to motherhood, while giving you the tools you need to travel your own path. I love stories of resilience and experiences that show you God has a plan, even when it feels like he forgot you! But Melanie’s approach was especially refreshing because she gave you the green light for really feeling the pain. For instance she actually offers steps on how to properly hide away on the couch and binge watch TV, with receipes for the best comfort food! I laughed outloud during her chapter on how to address people that say stupid things and was inspired by the list of ways you can help folks facing a hard time. This book was nothing like I expected and when Melanie concluded with a beautiful messsage of how a broken heart can mend to become something pretty incredible, I was filled with relief and hope for what this could mean for our future…..and that was only a few hours into the trip!
Next Generation Summit 2016 was 2.5 half days of sessions mixed with sight seeing. The hosts- city of Reno- planned some awesome activities and the session moderator – Shelly Alcorn- prepared some incredible content. In such a short amount of time you felt overwhelmed by information that was so thought provoking you couldn’t take it in fast enough, while also having time to enjoy the sights and sounds of such an unexpectedly fun city! We got to experience the best of what Reno and ASAE had to offer, with a group of people that had absolutely no qualms about being exactly who they are. This sort of fast pace, mind expanision combined with true connecting with similar individuals knocked the wind right out of me- which is exactly what I needed to clear the clutter and breathe.
We had so many awesome discussions, lessons, and exposure to new things – I could barely do it all justice, so instead I am sharing a taste of three of my favorites.
First the importance of being wrong. Watching Kathryn Schulz’s TED talk on being wrong we realized the dangers of going through life in a bubble thinking you have to be right. Early on people have been told that being right equals success – so we freak out if we are in the wrong. The tragedy of this is that we are missing out on truly accepting our human nature. Being wrong is how we learn, being wrong is how we grow, being wrong is being alive. As St Augstin says, “I error, therefore I am” – we shouldn’t be so afraid of being wrong. This not only helps you appreciate who you are as a person- with all the times you have been wrong- but also introduces a new viewpoint. Don’t worry about getting all the answers- maybe just being open to trying and learning is the only answer you need. Unlike God we don’t know everything that is going on in the world and unlike any other animals on this planet, we are the only ones who care to know. In stories and movies, we love the surprises, the plot changes, the twist – but in real life it scares us. Let’s not be so afraid to just go out and do – and if we are wrong, feel free to think THAT is right!
The second presentation that really spoke to my heart was the importance of integral resilience: knowing what is important to you and what makes you feel whole. Once you indentify these needs spending time to nurture and develop them will be the exact thing you personally require to build confidence and grow your strength. Sometimes we put off taking care of our needs or putting our values first – especially when life is full. This session reminded me that being true to you will give you the energy, the stamina and the room for reprieve you really need to navigate the parts of life that you don’t really understand. Investing in your life is not being self centered- it’s making you a full person so you can give back to the world in which you live.
And the final lesson that really concluded the experience perfectly- life isn’t about the destination, it is about the journey. Just like we have been conditioned to think being wrong means you are unsuccessful, we are encouraged to think in accomplismnets. Always looking ahead, measuring life in steps and phases, and celebrating the finale- we are solely focused on the destination. But life isn’t really meant to be navigated that way, especially since there is no guarantee the destination will ever be reached. So go ahead and laugh and dance and be present- that is what life is really about!
Saturday morning I departed from my hotel at 4:30AM and instead of feeling the expected exhaustion, rather I was elated- and not only to go home and see my boys, but for the freedoms of knowledge I had been gifted, from the energy of experiencing a new place, and from the power of connecting with other people. Already I was so very surprised how wrong I had been about attending this session just to exist and not engage. What I found was something akin to a magnetic pull into this experience – while empty and exhausted – only to come out the other end with the fresh and deep breath I had been so desperately searching for.
So I boarded the plane home and thought the same thing- I would love to get cracking on a few of those to dos… but to start maybe I will read just a few chapters of my other book – “A Different Beautiful”. Wow…. another book that I just about finished my whole trip home. The story is about this family who welcomed their sweet little Brenna into the family with a very unexpected diagnosis: Harlequin Ichthyosis. The book chronicals their experience of bringing this little girl into their lives and learning that your reality may come in a different package than the dream you had for yourself- but it will actually make you appreciate life in ways you couldn’t even imagine. I was shocked at how this book just spoke to me- none of us will do life the same and that is okay, in fact that is what makes your life so beautiful – it is all yours. The stories and lessons Courtney chronicles in this special family’s memoire- can’t help but make you question first impressions and our fears- neither are ever as true as we think! To be given the gift of gratitude for your family’s odd medical predicament that provides a unique point of view for taking in the world is something that comforts you at your core, that is a miracle. (And I would especially like to thank this wise author with her thoughts on pity- if you take pity on a person for their “plight”- it can be the worst thing you could do… your giving them an excuse to give up. Wow…. that one really made me think).
So there you have it friends – I left for Reno tired and really questioning my judgment on attending…. and I returned with the kind of hope , excitement, and confidence that actually breaths life back into your soul… and it was fantastic!! Thank you for my association for nominating me to attend, for the ASAE staff and Shelly for their hard work to put the session together, and to the wonderful people of Reno for hosting us! This is a trip I will cherish for years to come!
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!