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.
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:
- Ephiphanie Bag – Designed by the talented Maile Wilson, these camera bags are both stylish and utilitarian.
- Tieks – Super cute, super comfortable, super convenient shoes.
- Photojojo! iPhone Lenses – I’m just discovering what I can do with the photography apps on my smartphone, so I’m excited to play around with the fisheye and macro lenses we received as gifts.
- Tattly Tattoos – A fun array of temporary art.
- Typekit Letter “H” – For “Haugen.” Also for “How Perfect for My Office Redesign!” We also received a free subscription to Typekit.
- Gretchen Rubin’s Book “The Happiness Project” – I can’t wait to break open this book! And Gretchen was at the Mighty Summit, so I went all Fan Girl on her and she signed my copy!
- feistyelle Bamboo Dahlia Necklace – A beautiful piece of jewelry that I would normally admire from afar, but now I own one of my own.
- Superhero Photo Course – A six-week online photography course. Yet another sign that it’s time to sharpen those photo skills.
- The Wisdom Book by Rachel Cole – An idea, a project and a way to pass what I’ve learned onto another person.
- A Necklace from Lemonade Handmade – Gold with five rings to remind me of the five things on my Life List I hope to knock off this year.
Photos by Maile Wilson of Epiphanie Bags.