January 16, 2020
Wow, you guys. If you were not at The Essential Conference yesterday, you definitely missed out. I have so many thoughts I want to share about the day, so I’m going to try to do this in a somewhat organized way. Lol.
The Essential Conference itself was absolutely amazing. It was SO well organized. You could tell that careful thought was put into every last detail. From the delicious food, to the photobooth, grab bags for each attendee and bubbly breaks. Anita and Gabriela definitely made each of us feel special and pampered. They even had hair and makeup available for anyone wanting a new headshot! How amazing is that? I also loved that so many local businesses were showcased throughout the day. It was also super neat to run into so many people that I knew! It really did provide an opportunity to connect with other like-minded women, outside of social media. It’s always so refreshing having REAL conversations with people, instead of a quick chat over DM.
I can’t say enough good things about the women that spoke at The Essential Conference. They all brought something unique. They were engaging, funny, smart and inspiring.
I know the highlight for many of us was Jillian Harris. I’ve loved Jillian since she was on The Bachelor! I bought that blue 2010 Vancouver Olympic Aritzia hoodie because of her wearing it on The Bachelorette and I STILL wear it! If I had the opportunity to meet her (whyyy didn’t I buy a VIP ticket?!) I would have asked her if she still has that hoodie! Lol. We all love Jillian because she is REAL and boy is she ever. We won’t get into some of the stories she told, because that’s between her and us (LOL) but I left loving her even more than when I came in. She is hilarious, incredibly modest, down to earth, compassionate, smart and of course beautiful. Anita and Gabriela, can we bring Jillian back every year??
So this is why we were all there, right? To self-reflect, learn something about ourselves and make changes in our personal and professional lives. As much as I loved every second of The Essential Conference, there were three things that really stuck with me:
Colleen Dyck from GORP Bars said “Stop getting caught up in who you’re not”. I think there are many of us who are guilty of focusing on everything that we’re not. For me, as a photographer, I am constantly comparing myself to others in this business. I often think “oh, this photographer is booked up because she does posed newborn sessions so maybe I need to start doing this” – or, “this photographer edits in this style so maybe I should try to do that”. It’s a constant struggle for me. Especially in the photography world because it’s ALL visual so near impossible to get away from!
However, I need to instead focus my energy on what I’m awesome at. I LOVE doing outdoor family sessions. I’ve been told I make people feel comfortable and actually have fun during sessions. I provide a very quick turnaround when delivering galleries and I feel I have the ability to capture real emotion which is what I am drawn to as a photographer and as a Mom. Wow, it was actually really hard to say all that – I’m pausing and taking a really deep breath right now lol! Why is it so hard for us to recognize and express all the GOOD things about ourselves? It’s just so not natural for most of us women I think. But SO important and something I’m going to continue working on within myself.
Cate Friesen from The Story Source challenged us to think of a moment in the last couple months where we felt the most alive. I’m embarrassed to say this, but I couldn’t think of one. I completely drew a blank. I mean, I can think of moments where I felt great but none where I felt ALIVE. Wow, this can’t be good! What this tells me is that I need to get out more, try more new things and find out what I love. I don’t think we ever stop learning things about ourselves and growing as individuals, or at least we shouldn’t ever stop! So I just need to make this a priority in my life beyond my current focuses of work, building a business and being a mama.
My third takeaway is really more of something I thought about after the Conference, when I was going to bed actually. Many speakers talked about saying “no” to things that we don’t have time for, or don’t speak to our hearts. We talked about why we often say “yes” to these things – feelings of obligation, guilt, not wanting to disappoint others, etc. But what came to me when I put my head down on the pillow is that when we say “no” to something, more often than not, we are providing an opportunity for someone else to say “yes”.
I think about the times when photographers have referred someone to me if they were booked up. A “no” for them was a “heck yes” for me when I was first starting out (and even now!) and how awesome is that?! So, I guess I’m just saying there’s another way to look at this which may make saying “no” even easier.
To wrap up the longest blog post I’ve ever written (LOL), a huge thank you to every last person that was involved in this Conference. It was truly an honour to sit there amongst so many amazing women. I’m already excited for next year’s! If you were at The Essential Conference, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments below!