A week and a half ago, I traveled to Asheville, North Carolina for the Type-A Parent Conference. I could sit here and write about why I need to attend blogger conferences for professional reasons, to get some face time with clients, to appear as a speaker or mentor, to meet new bloggers for the Global Influence Network. Most of the time that is the case. However, this time around I needed to be there for me, not for Resourceful Mommy Media, not for Global Influence, but for me. While I always spend time with old friends and meet amazing new people when I travel for work, there is something about Type-A that draws in my favorite people. For three years now we have made the crazy trek that is required to get to Asheville, tucked into the worn down Blue Ridge Mountains, partly to support our friend and conference organizer Kelby and partly to just sit in each other’s physical presence, no longer satisfied with phone calls, emails and tweets. Now that it’s over, we’re all left wanting more. More hugs, more ridiculous conversations, more late nights on the patio in a cloud of smoke and white wine wondering how it is that we’re all so similar and yet different at the same time, some of us high school drop outs, others Ivy League graduates, all of us trying to find the best life for ourselves and our families.
This year my biggest conference take away was a message that I’ve written about many times before, but that is always worth revisiting. While we’re caring for our children, who is caring for us? I have so many times made progress in caring for myself only to fall back again. Time to play the piano slips away as I agree to take on just one more client project, those few moments to myself suddenly going to someone else. This blog that I began as a way to once again foster my love for writing so quickly becoming work, then a job, now a career. I joined a book club only to become so busy that I’m never able to attend, never get around to reading the books. For the last month I’ve been paying closer attention to what I eat and making time to work out almost daily. And yet the entire time I’m waiting for it to slip away, for old habits to return making my body once again weak and tired.
My favorite session at this year’s Type-A was with author and speaker Patti Digh, and while it was meant to be about Blogger’s Block, to me it was much more about losing ourselves than it was about losing our words. Walking around the conference room, following her creative writing exercises, and even taking time to complete small writing tasks within the session reminded me of days spent in creative writing classes in college and at summer camps. I remembered the two weeks I spent in Charlottesville at UVA at the Young Writers Workshop surrounded by some of the most creative people I have ever met, writing and performing songs, reading poetry late into the night, eating far too much Ben and Jerry’s White Russian. The Young Writers Workshop and White Russian ice cream no longer exist. I worry sometimes that that girl has become so buried that she’s also been retired, put on a shelf with good ideas whose time has passed. Just yesterday I searched for my favorite creative writing professor, Arnost Lustig, only to learn that he passed away earlier this year on my daughter’s seventh birthday. Was this a sign that a chapter in my life was really over?
So I have a plan. Not only will I keep working on myself, but I’m going to be a better mom at the same time, a better wife, a better service provider to my clients who have put their faith in me. I’m also going to take creative writer Amy back off the shelf – psst! Ben and Jerry. Can we have White Russian back as well? – and finally write not only the book proposal my potential publisher has requested, but also the one that I’ve wanted to write for years. I’m going to honor the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met not by missing them, but by doing the things I know would make them proud. And I’m not going to wait for a weekend in North Carolina to see my friends. I’m going to invite them to my home now.
I’m committing again to take care of myself. Now – who is taking care of you?