This conference was on Living a Better Story--on writing a story with your life--not just the past (as in how you frame the past)--but in how you feel empowered in the present--and in how you want to write your story in the future. At the same time, it brought God into it in a very beautiful and special and central way. The conference was less didactic than experiential, and as part of it, we met people who had written unique and amazing stories with their lives, as well as helped a very blessed participant (whose name was Lori) write a new story for her life.
I appreciated the focus on our individual uniqueness. The people who were there, the people who had actually done amazing things to bless others dramatically were all people who were unconventional, and who--in being themselves and in reveling in the unique and special gifts they have--were able to create stories with their lives that were almost beyond what anyone could have imagined (at least beyond what I could imagine!). People had all different kinds of gifts--for example, gifts of bringing people together (kind of like a "networking" gift), gifts of loving homeless people to the degree of living with them without a home, gifts of writing, gifts of film directing. And their gifting and what they loved to do went right along with what God had for them to do which was really amazing to see.
I really enjoyed the people who attended, because they were also people who enjoyed Donald Miller's work and who were interested in taking a chance on a new conference, as it was the first time this was offered, and most people were unsure about what to expect; it was sort of an adventure-conference.
One thing I noticed was that in order for people to be successful, they really had to focus, to forget what other people thought, to say "yes" to things that furthered their dreams, and "no" to things that didn't. They had to not care what other people thought. This is something I am wanting to do--to create time and to focus--and I am really challenged by it. What do I cut out, what do I say "no" to and "yes" to? Life is very short. I know I'm really sensitive to people judging me, and to not understanding me, especially regarding my introversion, but I am also willing to get beyond this to live a better story.
There was an experiential part (that I am only partially done working on) that assisted us in determining how God had prepared us for where we are today by looking back on our life, seeing our strengths, our gifts, and how they might be used in a special way. And always, our gifts are things that we delight in doing. I haven't finished the process by any means, but I know that I love to encourage people and to support people. I also really enjoy being alone and writing and thinking. So I will be excited to see how this will progress and develop over time.
The conference ended with Donald Miller giving all of the profits from the conference to the participant Lori, who was going to take her life in a new direction by starting a program to educate homeless children. Lori herself lives in a homeless shelter and volunteers there by teaching homeless children who wouldn't be successful in a conventional school. We all volunteered to help Lori in some way (if we were so inclined, which I was) or to do a special project in helping other people live a better story.
Years ago I was a life coach, experienced in some different types of energy work, and I offered to support Lori one-on-one to coach her through some personal issues on her way to making her program successful. I don't know if she'll call me, as there were hundreds of people who offered to help, but I know that I would be delighted if she did, and that it would probably help me as much if not more than it would help her. I would enjoy it very, very much. I loved being a very small part of her story.
I'm not sure how this will affect my life right now, I just know that it will!
~Photos by LoveHubbie Mark, edited by me...no pictures from the conference itself except LoveHubbie sleeping (really), unfortunately...