There are so many things that I could tell you about the last two years of extreme sorrow and of extreme joy. A surprise divorce and the pain and anxiety that came with it, life-shaking spiritual growth birthed through that pain, the first, exhausting years of single motherhood, a cross-country move back to my beloved South Dakota, and beginning a job search after not being formally employed for 15 years.
The last two years have required many new steps, big and small, that have pushed me out of my comfort zone.
One of the most rewarding steps was recently attending Tribe Conference 2017. Being there was one symbol, one action, that affirmed the growth experienced and the obstacles overcome during the last two years of this messy life. Being there affirmed to me the power of owning my own life, the strength that grows as we take little steps toward bigger steps.
So many smaller actions of courage and growth culminated into the bigger ultimate action of attending the conference:
Learning to embrace the ease of making my own travel arrangements after years of trying to work with someone else’s schedule and objections and procrastination.
These arrangements included the simple act of purchasing airfare. Can you believe that a few years ago I, at age 40, barely knew how to book a ticket on my own without major confusion until I was forced to?
Beyond purchasing the ticket, can you believe I refused to fly for 7 years? Now I fly comfortably several times a year and crave my airplane naps (a story for another post). While I conquered this fear almost ten years ago, it is still an important step in my journey of independence.
After 15 years of having a companion by my side to help navigate travels, I again flew by myself to a major city, where I, ever the introvert, hopped into Uber and Lyft rides with complete strangers, boarded through AirBnB with even more strangers. Coming from my wide-open, rural state with way more cows than people, encountering any city over 100,000 people has been an exciting, sometimes scary, challenge.
And perhaps the largest sign of growth was the journey of having raised an exuberant, challenging boy to the age of six, where he is finally independent enough to be without me for a weekend – and the courage to leave him alone with someone other than his other parent!
There are always lovely, unplanned rewards of facing challenges like these. Attending Tribe Conference was one beautiful, unplanned reward of hurdles conquered.
The most important lessons I learned at Tribe Conference weren’t just about writing and marketing (check out the conference website for info on the lineup of speakers.)
The lessons I learned were also about community and connection and friendship.
I learned that all of the pain and growth from my own last two years can be used to give comfort and encouragement to others who are where I stood at the beginning.
I learned that we can connect more deeply with complete strangers – now friends – over the course of a weekend than I do with many people in my daily life.
I learned that people that I might (very wrongly) assume have nothing to offer me often provide a precisely needed word of comfort or a spark of insight. (Oh, the limitations of pride.)
The lessons many of the speakers provided weren’t just about marketing and writing – they applied to life on a broader sense as well: do the work, never give up, never stop looking for new answers, remember that everything is about relationship, always be generous.
Beyond being that rich weekend of teaching and learning, the conference symbolized something much more to me – another step toward creating my own career, my own life, standing on my own two feet. One more link in the chain that I am fiercely clinging to as I climb up the uphill, but beautiful, rocky trail toward a what lies ahead.
What lessons have you learned about living after divorce, living with flight phobia, or otherwise? I would love to know! Comment below or sign up above to join my mailing list.