(Remember this song, which is now stuck in my head?!)
My trip to Chicago last weekend was AMAZING. I would like to congratulate my past self for ignoring my naggy anxious mind to book a solo trip to a different city and also to sign up for a writers' conference (to attend alone in said new city)!
We can do anything we want in life. We are resilient and courageous. The only thing we have to fear (besides fear itself) is our own limiting beliefs, the ways we keep ourselves down when instead we could soar.
I'd had serious second thoughts about the writing conference after re-reading its super intense description, which sounded as if there were going to be a pat-down for manuscripts upon entry. In reality, it was way more laid-back. While the two-day event put a huge emphasis on publishing, the speakers touched on many aspects of the creative process (whew). I got to listen to awesome people like Mike Dooley (creator of Notes from the Universe!!) and the beautiful Nancy Levin share the circuitous journeys that got them to where they are now. And when being around hundreds of strangers became too much to handle, I simply escaped to a secret nook in the convention center. Introverts, ftw!
The rest of my time in Chicago was spent catching up, shopping, site-seeing, and couch-melting with one of my best friends from high school, which was, of course, a blast. Even an unexpected snow storm only set us back temporarily (for some cathartic whining) before we hit the Garfield Conservatory* for some gorge (free!) flower creeping, followed by Wicker Park for shopping and psychic readings (WUT). I never expected getting a palm reading and then watching Timmi sort through chunks of amethyst with "All Along the Watchtower" playing in the background, but it happened. It was seriously the best day, fully uninhibited by doubt and anxiety.
*On a related note, Timmi is a genius and spends many a grey winter day at museums and botanical gardens. What a great way to cope with SAD!
I am usually so reluctant to break out of my routine that I forget how great it is to do so, how much of the world is out there, waiting to be seen. This trip was an excellent reminder of what awaits me just a short plane ride outside of my comfort zone.