Whether it is your first conference or your twenty first, there is a level of excitement and anticipation of the big event. Who will I meet? What new gems will help build my skill sets?
Learning from the process along the way builds strong, deep character. The people we meet and how we present ourselves and our work is game changing. So it’s good to have a plan for each conference. The plan doesn’t need to be anything formal. Just some forethought.
It might take a few readings of materials to understand the flow of the conference day/s. If the selection of workshops or sessions is intricate, print the options in order to read through everything thoroughly and highlight or underline interests and choices. It helps to have a first choice and a back up choice. Learn the rules to know if it is acceptable to move between sessions during session time.
Plan your information management ahead of time. Decide how you’re taking notes. Whether it is recording notes in a notebook, laptop, tablet or phone. Often handouts are given and it can be helpful to take notes on the handouts or take a picture of the handout with a smart phone for use later.
If there are people you know you would like to meet, make a list of them. If you are going to their sessions, you’ll know who to look for later. If you’re not, you might need the assistance of a conference volunteer to point them out to you.
Have an exit strategy. There will be many people to talk to and it is important to maximize time. Whether it is “Excuse me I need to find the rest room” or “Excuse me I need to locate a person I’ve been wanting to introduce myself to,” all of these help the day run a little smoother and help accomplish goals.
Wear comfortable, but professional clothing and shoes. Dress in layers. Conferences often have issues with heat and cooling so it helps to have options.
Your conference experience is what you make of it. Approach conferences with an open mind and a willingness to learn and you never know what possibilities will open up.
Flaunt your flaws. Well, not precisely. But maybe consider not hiding them. What do you consider flaws? What you might think is a flaw, another person might think is an asset. It’s all in the name of perception.
You might think a boisterous, outgoing person has a gift. They might perceive it as a flaw. I’ve always admired straight hair, yet most of my straight-haired friends perceive that differently. I spent days trying to figure out how to hide red circles on my legs that are part of a benign skin condition. I figured I would either use tanning cream or wear only long pants. Then I got to looking around a little. I saw all kinds of legs. Legs with big bruises, legs with scars, legs with red veins, legs with purple veins, legs with big scratches and legs with large tattoos. It got me thinking. What WAS the purpose of putting so much effort into hiding these circles. Because one person asked me what was wrong? I should have just responded with, ” Yep, they’re my circles. See, I can connect them.” Aren’t there more important things in life to think about rather than trying to gloss over perceived flaws?
It struck me while watching the astonishingly talented cast of the Broadway show, Matilda, that these young children are so lucky to have found their gift at an early age. That’s not to say that one day they might just decide they’re ready to move on from performing. Or, decide they just want to be regular kids and do school shows and community theater. But to have pinpointed their talent is so fortunate. It can take people their whole lives before figuring out what their gifts are. And don’t even try thinking you don’t have one, because we all do! If you’re thinking that, then it is simply up to you to make it your personal mission to find your gift. Now it doesn’t have to be acting or singing. You may have a knack for being funny and making people laugh. Or you might be a person that is so patient that when everyone else has given up on something, you’re still hanging in there. Gifts come in many different forms. And they’re not always obvious. Challenge yourself to find your gift. Take classes, try something new. Once you know what your gift is, use it as much as possible. Let that be your gift to the world.
My mother was a gifted teacher. She never stopped educating children in regular classes as well as children with special needs.
Winter isn’t over. But it’s the first sunny day above fifty degrees and it feels great. The snow is melting, the birds are calling and it is the perfect day to open windows and take a walk at last. My cat is sunning himself on the couch, purring very loudly, yet completely at peace. His biggest worry is an occasional dog chasing where both dogs double team him, but that is of no consequence right now. His whiskers twitch rhythmically in time with his loud purrs. He rolls onto his back to warm his belly in the sun. All four paws in the air and he is at peace. It seems so easy. And it should be, but that isn’t always the case. Where is peace in a busy, connected world? Do you have a spot in the sun or a bright spot in your world?
So I thought about a blog post involving being thankful. Not just because it’s Thanksgiving, but because it really isn’t easy to be thankful. It sounds a little cheesy, but sometimes it’s so much easier to complain about life’s bumps in the road rather than to be thankful for the important things. So instead of giving off negative energy, think about all of those little things. Things like: the love of parents, children, family, friends, significant others, pets, a great restaurant, coffee, dessert, fun hobbies, favorite books and TV shows. You get the point. It all comes back to the little things because we all know, they aren’t really little. They are what makes life complete. And that is no little matter. What is your little thing?
Here is just one little thing of mine:
Shade Grown Costa Rican coffee
Do you ever check out? Just for a while. Like where your head just goes somewhere else? When I was young I used to love watching Mr. Rogers because when the train went to the “other world,” the never never-land, I got to go right along with it. I was going to a better place. But only for a few moments. When my children were little and needed a nap, I used to tell them they were “going to nappy,” like they were really going somewhere. Well, not really. We all know they just needed to check out for a bit to get to a more rested frame of mind. Even now, when I take a yoga class I honestly feel that I am going somewhere else even though I don’t leave the class. My mind gets to focus, my body gets to focus and then I get to let go of everything. I do feel that I’ve been on a journey when I take a class. I come away feeling refreshed and ready to take on new things. My frame of mind is completely different. It’s all because I’ve been in a better place. What do you do to get yourself in a better place?