It's been three weeks since I stepped out and attended my first blogging conference and left my family for more than a day. I am so happy that I took the plunge and did something that I once only dreamed of doing. I remember when I first started blogging in 2009 there were quite a few popular conferences like Blogher and Blogalicious, and hundreds of women were sharing all over the place gems that they gained from the workshops. I looked longingly at those posts thinking I couldn't ever go to a conference especially when the girls were younger, and I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up ( I am still figuring that one out). Now seven years later, I can say that attending a blogging conference is something you have to do if you have blogged for awhile and desire to continue blogging.
Seven Things I Learned from the 2:1 Conference
- There is space for me to nurture more than one area of my personality, gifts, or talents. I never intentionally put myself in a box, but when you have a family it is really easy to put aside the gifts that were a part of you long before you became a mom. The conference doesn't make you feel like you have to go so hard in your businesses that your family has to be pushed aside, but instead it offers encouragement as you nurture those internal gifts while giving your faith and your family the best you have to offer.
- Less is more. I thought I would leave with a laundry list of the things to do instead I found myself paring down. It was the end of last year when I felt the urge to do more with my writing. I had no idea what doing more would like so I started immersing myself in tons of information about blogging only to realize that I didn't want my site to become a oversaturated blog. I wanted it to stay true to me and the readers that have followed me since before I changed the site's name to Joy in the Ordinary. It took me doing more to come to the realization that being more focused and intentional about how I am using my dedicated time for this space would be more beneficial than incorporating what's popular to Joy in the Ordinary. I am very ordinary, and I don't want to lose sight of this fact.
- Community is a must. I prayed for a community of friends who were similar to me which meant that they were fully dedicated to their families and pursuing some of their passions. It can be hard balancing between the two so I desired to have friends who understood the delicate balance. I am grateful that a prayer I prayed over two years ago was answered by four awesome ladies who have decided to be a part of a tribe with me. We pray for each other and support one another. We listen to each others' ideas and offer feedback. The loneliness factor of blogging has been dismantled, and I am grateful.
- My family are my biggest cheerleaders. I have an entrepreneurial spirit. I didn't realize it until I had been married for about two years. My husband has always cheered me on and supported my dreams whether financially or emotionally. Now, I am not only blessed to have him, but I am also blessed to have two daughters who encourage me to try new things. They have sat beside at numerous vendor shows for Alexandria's Authentically Made Jewelry, and they ushered me off as I left them for the first time to take part of the 2:1 Conference.
- Obedience is key. I can't help, but to give the Most High acknowledgement for my attendance to the conference. The desire was placed on my heart earlier this year, but in all honesty I had no idea how I would attend because it was somewhat costly. I am very adamant about not spending our household income on my ventures if they exceed a certain amount. My Creator knows this about me, and He provided me with the means to attend through a partnership with Notgrass Company. I couldn't believe that they actually said yes to sponsoring me since this was my first time ever directly asking a company for something so big, in my opinion. I know that it was divine intervention. I felt a nudging to contact them, but I hesitated for months before ever sending the email. If I hadn't fallen in line with the nudge, chances are I would've missed on such a great experience.
- My story matters. Being an introvert by nature, I can easily find myself going into hiding. Before I left for the conference, I told myself I would give it my all and connect with as many people as possible. The ladies who I connected with were so encouraging, and they genuinely wanted to know more about my story. They encouraged me to share my story as a Black home educating mom. They were interested in how I came to be who am today. Before I finally relinquished control and stepped into being a tad bit braver, I was afraid to share my story. I hid behind the shadows. Now, I fully realize the importance of telling MY story, Latonya's story and no one else's.
- Be a living prayer. I loved all the speakers I had the opportunity hear speak, but this one line, "be a living prayer" from Brooke Taylor has stuck with me. The women who decided to gather alongside me on this journey are being a living prayer. This site I hope is a prayer answered for someone. It is my hope that when my hands move and mouth opens that it is a prayer being answered for someone whether it's my husband, children, a friend, or a stranger. We aren't here for ourselves, but we really are tools in His tool belt to be used for His glory.
I am not sure how many times I have said I am grateful or thankful in this post, but I am going to say it one more time. :) I am so grateful for the opportunities that the 2:1 Conference presented to me. I am thankful that I was able to come away refreshed and with more clarity in this particular season of my life.