Writing My Way Around the World

The Mighty Summit and a Moment for Me

10.11.11 Posted in Blog by


Feet around the campfire

Bonding around the campfire.

For the last two years, I have taken some sort of self-focused journey late in the summer that has allowed me to reevaluate my work, my goals and myself. In 2009, I took my life-changing trip to Burning Man, which resulted in my complete and utter abandonment of Corporate America. Last year, I cashed in on a prize I won for a travel writing contest and headed to Vietnam on my own for two weeks where I took cooking classes, had clothes made and otherwise did some soul searching when I wasn’t dodging traffic.

When I looked at my schedule this fall, there really was no time to fit in my “me” trip. Little did I realize that my time for self-reflection, inspiration and motivation would come in the form of a weekend getaway to boon hotel & spa for the invite-only Mighty Summit. I was head-over-heels excited to be invited to this exclusive retreat by Maggie Mason, who I met in Jamaica last year, but I honestly didn’t know what to expect from an event that had a loose itinerary at best. After all, if we were going to Network and Get Things Done, didn’t there need to be some sort of structure?

It turns out the answer is NO.

Drinking wine, chilling by the pool, eating cheese, walking through the woods and hanging out by the campfire with a innovative group of women is not only a ridiculous amount of fun and perfectly relaxing but it is totally and completely inspiring. Here I was enjoying beautiful weather in Napa Valley while chatting with women who are published authors, tech gurus and creative life coaches. They write incredibly beautiful blogs sprinkled with stunning photos. They’ve traveled around the world, become foster parents, designed their own product lines, launched companies and written screenplays. (You can meet them all here.) They are, quite frankly, simply amazing, and I was incredibly honored to be among this group of women.

The beautiful women of Might Summit 2011!

One of the main purposes of the Mighty Summit was to visit our Life Lists, those elusive bucket lists that so many people will only ever stare at. I didn’t have one before the summit, but I’ve since spent some time thinking about what I’d like to do in my lifetime, and not only have I developed a list, but I’ve published it here. I will continue to do 100 new things each year as part of my 100 Challenge (which I’ve also published online), and hopefully these two lists begin to intersect more often.

I could go into details about what exactly we did during the Mighty Summit, but I think it’s only important to mention that the Mighty Summit ended up being last year’s Vietnam and 2009’s Burning Man. I returned from the experience ready to make changes in my life because my goals were reaffirmed by women who are doing the things I still want to achieve. Sometimes I forget that I have done amazing things, been to some truly spectacular places and had experiences that most people will only ever dream about, but there’s always room to grow, so in the weeks since I returned from the Mighty Summit, I’ve made a few changes and started a few projects including:

  • Repurposing this blog. My portfolio site used to be simply a portfolio, but it’s time to add personality, which I hope to do with a fresh, real voice in this blog and the sharing of my 100 Challenge and Life List with readers.
  • Reevaluating a few of my ongoing gigs. I’m a professional writer and it’s time to be treated like one.
  • Honestly thinking about redecorating my office so it is a more creative space. We had someone come in to do an estimate on new flooring throughout our house, and I have a stack of books out from the library on decorating, color and design.

I also have to mention that, though the highlight of my weekend was hanging out with so many awesome women and therefore refocusing on my personal and professional goals, we were also treated to beautiful, thought-provoking and creative schwag that far out-schwagged anything I’ve ever received at a conference before. For that, I’d like to send out a special thanks to the sponsors and gift givers of the Mighty Summit who provided so many awesome mementos for such an incredible weekend:

Thank you to all of the fabulous women I met at Mighty Summit and especially Maggie and Laura for being part of my annual soul-searching journey. My life is better because of all of you.

Photos by Maile Wilson of Epiphanie Bags.

22 Responses to “The Mighty Summit and a Moment for Me”

  1. Emily S. says:

    I really like this post. I recently did a goal-setting exercise, too, though it was only for the next year (I’m incapable of looking ahead any further than that!) and it completely changed my direction. I’m glad you’ve had a similar experience. I really like the idea of making time for that experience every year, and I think that’s something every woman should do for herself. 🙂

  2. Abby says:

    I loved reading this!! Women are so great for centering and getting pumped up to achieve life goals… So excited for your “new” blog!

  3. Good luck with your new goals! The new layout of your site is so fresh and clean 🙂

  4. Lisa Nelson says:

    Let me know how you like the superhero photo course. I’ve contemplated doing that course myself but never made it as far as to sign up!

  5. Maggie Mason says:

    Oh, girl, it was so good to have you. What a lovely post. Let’s get together again soon. Can’t wait to talk to you about all this.

  6. Willo says:

    Good for you for re-evaluating, taking time for you and putting yourself first! Lovely meeting you, JoAnna.

  7. Deb says:

    Wonderful post Joanna. I love the new creative ideas happening in your life and yes, I look forward to seeing more of your personality come out in your words. I just love events like this, I am so happy for you having the opportunity to go to something like this. It is an amazing thing to be inspired by such incredible women and you are one of those incredible women that inspire others! You’ve inspired me!

  8. Gray says:

    This sounds awesome, JoAnna. There’s nothing like being surrounded by creative women to bring out the best in all of us. Congrats on the new direction.

  9. […] It could be a simple weekend retreat that changed your life. I know that I recently read a post at Joanna Haugen.com where Joanna’s entire outlook changed from a weekend surrounded by inspiring women. What […]

  10. […] which I work, allowing me to stay involved with what’s going on in the Peace Corps world.To the ladies I met at The Mighty Summit this year, who confirmed that my decision to seek an unconventional path in life is the right […]

  11. […] for the very first time. This was fol­lowed by a super inspi­ra­tional week­end at the Mighty Summit near San Francisco and a trip to Oklahoma City for the Travel Media Showcase.Except for a brief […]

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Portrait of JoAnna Haugen Idea inventor
Creativity connoisseur
Problem solver
Deep thinker
Detail-oriented doer
Globe trotter