Sunday, June 19, 2016

NESCBWI Gratitude and David Steindl-Rast's TED TALK: Want to be Happy? Be Grateful

When I arrived at the NESCBWI conference in April, I knew it would be the last year I was directing it. I didn't know how that would feel. I had spent two years organizing volunteers and two years co-directing the whole thing.

I talked to directors who had gone before me and knew that they each felt emotional when their time of running things was over.

It's an intense thing to run a conference of that size. There's a ton of support and help, but when it comes down to it, the directors are responsible for 100+ hours of workshops, 80+ faculty, 150+ volunteers, at least 3 keynotes, all the hotel details of foods and room set-ups and lodging. When the conference sold out shortly after opening registration, we knew it would be a successful conference.

But what would a success conference look like for me, personally?

As soon as I arrived at the conference hotel for the weekend and started setting things up, I had the urge to say thank you. I realized that almost every single person who helped me personally or professionally with my career and the development of this conference would be there. Success, for me, would be finding everyone who gifted me with their time, expertise, or support, and saying thank you.

Of course I would be (literally) running around doing things. But I told myself that thing I say every day when faced with a ton of work. There is time. There is time to do all the things I need to do. There is time to say thank you.

So, as David says in the TED Talk below, I built a stop sign into my life. I said thank you.  

Thank you to the hotel staff that cared so much about every chair in every room. Thank you to the A/V gang who shared with me how much they love working our conference because the speakers we have always inspire them. Thank you to all the people who worked so hard to put such a big, three day conference together. Thank you to all my friends who supported me through the process of organizing the conference, for no other reason than they care about me. Friends who didn't get any credit or public understanding of what they had done to make this conference happen (and keep me sane in the process). 

For me, the conference was a big weekend of gratitude. Gratitude for the community that NESCBWI is--the community that has supported me thus far in my writing career--and gratitude for those who helped me juggle developing the Writers' Loft, the conference, and new manuscripts. Everyone was there, and I wanted to thank them all. 

We don't often get a big event like a conference to say thank you to those stand with us. But I'm so happy I did. I didn't get around to thank everyone, (I honestly don't think I effectively thanked my co-director Josh Funk--because, boy that's almost an impossibly big thank you!) but I got to thank a lot of people. 

Can't see the TED talk? Find it here:

"Grateful living, that is the thing."

Build a stop sign into your life, and fill your life with gratitude and happiness. :)

If I missed saying thank you to you at the conference, please know, that I am grateful for you. I'm grateful for your support of the Writers' Loft, of me and my career, of the NESCBWI conference.