A Community of Children Who Survived: Story 2011

Five days ago, I packed up my most hipster-looking outfits and my Moleskine notebook

Hipster clothes laid out

Laying out my most hipster-looking clothes--complete with plaid shirt, skinny jeans, cardigans, TOMS shoes.

and headed downtown for two days of creative experience overload.  Today I’m sitting in front of a mostly blank page, trying to put into words what exactly I got from this, and how I feel about it today.  How can I sum everything up in one eloquent and concise blog post for general consumption?  Frankly, it’s impossible.  But over the next week, I’ll be reflecting on it, and I’ll try to record some of these reflections here.  Here’s attempt #1:

The thing about being both 1) unemployed, and 2) a person who blogs, is that they can both be rather lonely things.  My days, for the most part, tend to be filled with solitude, which is lovely at times, but too much of it can border on just plain aloneness.  At Story, I was suddenly surrounded by hundreds of like-minded people.  These were my people, or as Seth Godin calls it, my tribe.  They were open and creative, they were young at heart (this quote from Blaine Hogan’s performance describes it perfectly: “The creative adult is the child who survived.” -Ursula McGuin), they were genuinely interested in each other.

Something magical happened when I was surrounded by people who valued the same creative mentality that I do.  I felt understood.  I felt safe.  I felt smart, and like I had something important to say.  These were the kind of people who valued each others’ stories.  Instead of being shy and withdrawn and unsure like I can be around people I don’t know, I felt free to be completely myself.  I got to be me at my best, and I was shocked to see how easily it came to me.

Me, Wizard, Alice, Dinosaur

Me, Wizard, Alice, Dinosaur

So a special thank you to all of my kindred spirits, especially my dear Alice Sullivan, partner-in-crime extraordinaire, and Jeff Goins who was responsible for my being there to begin with, and who, despite missing the beginning of the last session, and standing amid the tear-down of the gallery, made sure he spoke with me and never once seemed distracted nor disinterested.  So many wonderful people with beautiful stories.  Thank you all.

Being a part of this community was so wonderful–maybe the best part of the whole two days, as far as I’m concerned–experiencing all of this together, as a tribe.  Now we’ve all gone back to our respective homes and our respective lives, and I’m left wondering how to continue this community now that we’re apart.  Do I hold on somehow (and if so, how?), or do I just appreciate it as a beautiful moment?

When have you felt a part of your tribe?  How did you continue that experience?

Story-goers, what was your primary takeaway?  Favorite quote?  Favorite speaker?  Favorite experience?

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3 Thoughts on Putting Myself in a Box

A couple of days ago, I found out I had won a ticket to the STORY Conference thanks to Jeff Goins over at his wonderful blogSTORY 2011 is a two day experience for creatives–artists, filmmakers, writers, designers, musicians, etc.  I am SO excited to meet and network with fellow creatives, and to learn from some folks who have really “made it” in their field.

The only catch to winning the free ticket was that it was such short notice.  I got my ticket on Sunday, and the conference is tomorrow and Friday.  I looked at the business cards I had received as a college graduation gift two years ago and quickly realized they were not going to do for the type of event I was going to.  I had to come up with a new design, and find a place that would print them fast!

The latter problem was hard enough, but not impossible to solve–I ended up finding a place online that could do next day printing and delivery without costing me both my arms and legs–just one of each.  It was the design that had me quite baffled.

The whole point of personal branding (which is what I was doing by coming up with new business card designs) is essentially to stereotype yourself–to be able to put yourself in a nice little package to present to others.  Usually they list the company you work for and your position within said company, but what if you don’t have a job (ahem)?  And how do I successfully package myself when my blog topic preaches the opposite–that people can’t be defined or identified by vocation alone?

I did three different things to consider my design strategy:

  1. I included social media links to make it easy to connect online.  Many people found out about this conference through Twitter or Facebook, so having ways to connect with me through social media was key.  I included Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and of course, this blog link.
  2. I utilized both sides of the business card and included key phrases to describe myself.  The back of the card has all of my social media links.  The front of the card has my name, e-mail address, and basic descriptors, so that the person I’m handing the card to has the basic gist of what I’m about.  In line with my blog entry A Living vs. A Life, I described myself with things I am literally doing as opposed to identity-limiting words (e.g. “blogging” as opposed to “blogger” – I’m more than just a blogger, but blogging is part of what I do).
  3. I used artwork that said something about me.  I incorporated a tree I drew by hand and then traced on Adobe Illustrator.  It’s a nod to my Twitter bio – “My hands are bloody from digging.  I lift them, hold them open in the wind so they can branch like a tree.” –Rainer Maria Rilke – which is something I resonate with as a poet and as someone at this unknown stage in my life.  Additionally, I’m marketing myself as an artist, so including some art I’ve done was kind of a no-brainer.  I also just dig trees.  I think they’re a great metaphor for life.  I collect them.  They’re awesome.

So, all that being said, I am NOT a graphic designer or a personal branding expert by any stretch of the imagination, but here’s what I came up with:

Business Card

I just got them in the mail, and I’m pretty happy with the result.  I am constantly evolving into the person I want to be, but for this snapshot moment in my life, this looks pretty good to me.

If you see me at STORY, I’d love to give you one, and get one of yours!  And if you’re reading this blog entry because of my card–yippee!  It worked!

What do your business cards or personal branding strategies say about you?

Designer friends–What could I do differently the next time around?

Who am I going to see at STORY tomorrow?  Are you as stoked as I am?!