“I’m going to Tribe Conference!” My mom told me with a huge smile. “I can’t believe it!”
My mom has been part of TribeWriters since it began, and this is the first time she would be going to the conference.
She finally gets to meet Jeff Goins. And she’s bringing her 14 books with her. Books she never would’ve written without Tribe Writers.
“I’d like to go to the conference, but I’m not a Tribe Writer,” I said.
I am part of Tribe Builder’s Network—a Facebook group geared toward helping writers/artists network with others, in order to find their ‘tribe.’
When I found out some of the Tribe Builders were going to the Tribe Conference, I really wanted to go. They’ve been encouraging me in my art, and now in my writing. I wanted to meet my friends face to face.
“Is there any way I could go?” I said out loud.
“Maybe you could volunteer?” my mom said.
I knew it would help her, then I could drive the 7 hour drive. I would do anything to go. But what could I do? And I looked over at my camera.
Maybe they need a photographer?
So I did what Jeff Goins has always told us to do: I asked.
Just a few days later, after sending them to my website, and just praying about it, I was so happy when I received a message from Sandy Kreps.
“We’d love to have you take pictures.”
Now I couldn’t believe I was going!
So what was my experience like? What did I take away from Tribe Conference 2017?
The highlight of the conference for me was seeing my friends face to face.
The lyrics from the Cheers program never felt more true, “Where everybody knows your name…and they’re always glad you came.”
“You’re real, you’re not just a Facebook picture!” I kept saying over and over, as I met my friends. It felt great giving one hug after another. Not one was forced.
And my favorite part of the whole experience was being with my roommates at our Air Bnb. One person I knew from online, the others were new friends.
We stayed up late, talking. And one night it felt like a slumber party as we sat covered in blankets.
We did a lot of laughing! We shared our struggles. We felt accepted and loved.
I even wore mismatched pajamas outside the house, and it was okay. And on the last day we all hopped in the shower…
“I think we’re having the most fun out of everyone!” we kept saying. “We are the luckiest ones here at the conference.”
People came up to me at the conference, telling me how much they appreciated my art. There were even a few people who bought books I illustrated.
“If I ever get rich, I’m going to buy one of your charcoal drawings,” a friend said to me, and a smile spread across my face.
Another friend said things to me that seeped deep inside of me. Her words brought me to tears.
The fact that Jeff Goins wanted me to photograph the conference meant a lot to me. And there were even people thanking me for taking photos, and friends who said, “I can’t wait to see the photos you took.”
Yes, being told people enjoyed my art meant so much to me. Hearing that it resonated with them. It makes me feel like I’m on the right track— doing the right thing.
This conference was a huge stretch for me, because I’m an introvert. Yes, it was sometimes hard being around so many. But the real challenge was photographing everyone.
Every time a new speaker stepped on stage, I’d inch my way up front. I had to push past my biggest fear of all eyes on me. I had to keep telling myself, “they’re not watching you, they’re watching the speaker.”
And then, I’d turn around and see a couple hundred pairs of eyeballs looking in my direction. Gulp.
I would love to be an invisible photographer.
It took a while for me to realize people didn’t care that I was photographing them. In fact, they were expecting it. Some even asked for it.
It was overwhelming at times, but I had to focus on what was happening and wait for special moments to capture.
And then one happened. Jeff was on stage and the song, Can’t Stop The Feeling started playing on the speakers.
Then Jeff invited everyone to come on stage to dance. What?!
A dance party broke out, right there on the Tribe Conference stage! Some of my friends were up there, busting moves. And I got to experience it up close! Sigh. And while all the fun was happening, I became invisible!
For a few minutes, there wasn’t a care in the world. I felt a warmth in that huge room.
This was Tribe Writers, and we had sunshine in our pockets.
It’s only the beginning
Tucking myself into bed on Saturday night, a sadness came over me as I realized it was our last night with these friends.
“Mom, I don’t want to leave. I don’t want this to end.”
“But we’re not just leaving everyone,” she told me. “Everyone is going to different places.”
Our face-to-face interaction stopped, we’d be talking with our computer screens once again. But now, I’ll have another perspective of these friends of mine.
I”m so glad there are things like Tribe Writers and my group, Tribe Builder’s Network. Communities where creatives help creatives.
I’m thankful I have memories to keep forever.
And I’m so fortunate that I got to witness the whole experience, up close and personal.