Monday, October 27, 2014

Discontent at Allume

After a very busy fall, I had been looking forward to an upcoming trip to Allume, a Christian bloggers conference which I have twice attended before. I was looking forward to connecting with other like-minded ladies and learning from authors and publishers to improve my writing. As I drove north toward Greenville on Thursday morning, yawning and eyes involuntarily shutting, I realized how dog tired -mentally, physically, end of my rope tired-I was. The tires I had been running on were going flat and I had been riding on the rims.

Stress, lack of consistent sleep, over extended "to do" lists and a life out of balance, had taken its toll. Instead of being excited about Allume, I found myself longing for deep, restful sleep.

As I sat in session after session, my brain could not comprehend much of the information being shared. I did not have a desire for worship and fellowship. I could barely register the themes of the keynote speakers. I wanted to gain new insights, be inspired, share more stories and grow in the craft of writing, but the spark of inspiration was dying out within. I even skipped the dance party to retreat to my room. This was not like me at all. The Type A, love to party and be social person had fallen to a level of exhaustion only to be matched by the first weeks after a child is born.

Sitting there, reflecting on life, I realized I'd slipped into a state of constant production mode. I had become a soldier constantly on a mission and fighting on too many fronts at once. I could not recall a recent time I could just be still, rest, and remain in the moment and be with my people. Instead, I have been rushing through interaction in order to take care of the business at hand. The list.

My desire for sleep and rest, is being battled by natural tendencies to "do." I think to myself, "maybe if I plan each day right, I will find the margin I need for adequate rest, exercise, prayer and connection and get everything checked off the list."

In that moment I began to understand that this constant state of alertness and action and performance is wreaking havoc on my body, my soul and my relationships. Something has to change.

I need to learn to love and depend on moments of freedom again.  I need to be present, to make a connection with my children, my husband, my parents, my neighbors without internally obsessing about what needs to be done. I need to soak in the life that is passing by without feeling guilty.

However, work does need to be accomplished, things need to be taken care of for school and child activities, the house needs cleaned, meals need cooked, financial obligations need to be met and the kids need coached in reading, sight words, letters and handwriting. Weight needs to be lost, so exercise and meal planning needs to happen. Is it possible to get it all done and not come undone? Can there be margin? I have not yet figured that part out.

Maybe I was at Allume this weekend to hear the words of Leanna Tankersley speak about our need for Breathing Room. Maybe I was just there to get a few night's sleep with no little persons waking me to play musical beds. But all weekend, I was in a state of discontent and searching for the answer to balance.

I was also a little disappointed with the conference this year. In the past three years, Allume has gone from blogger conference with lots of sessions related to all aspects of blogging and writing, to spiritual conference with blogging almost as an afterthought. Additionally, the order of the sessions did not seem to be organized with much thought to what attendees might want to get out of the conference. For example, there would be several writing specific sessions at the same time slot rather than spread out throughout the day. I would suggested that each session time have at least one writing choice, a technical/blog choice, a marketing choice, and a life balance/spiritual choice.

And while they answered our request for more free time, Saturday was almost a waste with only one session in the morning and lots of eating (early lunch, panel, tea time, dinner, after party) and a gathering event with the sponsors in the afternoon. Even the sponsors began packing up by lunchtime.

I was happy that my friends at Shazzy Fitness seemed to have a good conference and a good response to their awesome dance fitness DVDs. And working out with them twice did a lot to help increase my energy level for sure.

While the women behind Allume have big hearts for God, and are seeking to do mighty things, I think I will next invest my professional development time in a more traditional writers conference or a content marketing conference because I really want to take my writing to the next level. However, if you are looking for a place to be spiritually challenged and uplifted among women who have a heart for God and love to write and be creative. Allume is worth it for sure.