Tokyo Dream mini-party by Hive. Photo by Justin Hackworth and Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit.
It’s been one week since I returned from Salt Lake City, Utah where I attended Alt Summit Winter 2015. While just a little over two days in length, the conference is something that feels all-consuming for both the weeks leading up to and following the days in SLC. I’m still working on my post-Alt follow ups and that’s not including all the newly learned tips and best practices I will need to implement in the coming months.
Attending Alt Summit as a relative blogging newbie, felt at times more like an amusement park full of emotional roller coasters than a professional conference. I went from extremes of inspiration and kinship to self-doubt and comparison. While the negative feelings I expect to outgrow in time, they are real enough now that they could prove crippling if I don’t face them head on. I’ll be spending serious time over the next several weeks reflecting on what it means to me to blog, to make, and to be a part of a larger blogging community. In parallel, I’ll be tackling more practical matters like improving my photography, time management, and social engagement all with great advice and direction from the conference’s many talented presenters.
Emotions and practical matters aside, here are my top three takeaways from this year.
Lisa Congdon Keynote. Photo by Justin Hackworth and Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit.
Lisa Congdon, fine artist, illustrator, and author, opened up the conference. She spoke about many things that come with living your life creatively including time, success, fear and vulnerability. Coming from someone at the peak of their career—someone who holds my deepest admiration—it was comforting to know there is universality in our creative journeys.
While Lisa had many poignant things to share, the one that stood out for me was around stretching.
Stretching is about keeping your mind sharp and your spirit limber. You can’t wait until you’ve figured it all out to share your work with the world. You need to share it early and often. It may make you feel incredibly vulnerable but it’s also the only way to learn and to grow. If I had waited for perfection, I wouldn’t have a single post published. It makes me anxious as I survey all the flaws and imperfections. But without sharing—without hitting publish—I would never gain experience and that, at it’s core, is what stretching is all about.
Dallas Clayton Keynote. Photo by Justin Hackworth and Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit.
2. No Rules
Dallas Clayton, author and illustrator, closed out the conference with an unscripted, at times frenetic, talk. His energy was contagious and the crowd was captivated. He talked about life and love, fear and adventure. He talked about living life with no rules. Mostly his no rules philosophy focused on social norms and conversational comfort zones. He urged us to get out of our ruts, abandon small talk, and throw caution to the wind. He practically begged us to steer our conversations toward the odd and peculiar—such as the little-known fact that hippopotamus sweat is red—and to kick dull pleasantries to the curb. Why? To spark our imaginations, to wake us up, and to inspire us to live a full and adventurous life. If you open yourself up to new conversations then you open yourself up to new experiences and ideas.
Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores Sponsor Dinner. Photo by Justin Hackworth and Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit.
3. Blogger Tribe
The number one reason I found myself at Alt Summit this year was the need for support and community. Blogging can feel very isolating at times. It can also feel overwhelming. Attending Alt reminds me there are so many other women and men who are there alongside me. I met some truly amazing people at Alt this year and I look forward to staying in touch, offering support, asking advice, and rallying for our success.
Whatever your passion, I hope you’re following it, that your learning, growing and stretching from it. That you’re breaking down barriers and throwing out rules. Above all, I hope you have a tribe to call your own. One that supports you as much as you support them. If not, we can start our own tribe and shout our battle cries from the mountain tops!