Owning It in 4 Easy Lessons

by Chloe Jeffreys · 46 comments

in Women in Midlife

This past weekend I, along with 50 other creative online businesswomen, headed to The Blue Iguana Inn in Ojai, California, to attend Creative Alliance 12.

Why?

It should be obvious to anyone that Chloe of the Mountain is not making any appreciable money. Laughably, I was once accused of making money from my blog (as though that would be a crime!), but I can assure that nothing could be further from the truth.

It isn’t exactly like I haven’t tried to make money. I briefly played with affiliate ads, but they cluttered up my sidebar and made my blog ugly.

The couple of pennies I made weren’t worth the aesthetic offense.  I’m not against ads per se, but they have to be ads that fit.

I have done some product reviews, but I’m extremely careful because I believe that too many of them, or the wrong ones, diminish my credibility as a writer. For that reason I will only review products I use and love. (Botox® Cosmetics, I’m still waiting for your call!)

So, since I’m not exactly making a living by blogging (yet), one might wonder why I attended an event like Creative Alliance 12, and what I took away from the experience. That story is as incredible as the women I met there. And in the journey, I learned four important lessons I want to share with you.

1. Speak Up!

A month ago, within one day, I had three different women (Darryle Pollack, Molly Campbell, and Jane Gassner) ask me if I was going to Creative Alliance 12. I had no idea what they were talking about, but I’m not so dense that I can’t realize that if three–seemingly unrelated–people ask you about something in one day then maybe you ought to pay attention.

So I looked into this conference, but it was long sold-out.  Besides, the event started on a day I was scheduled to work and we’ve been so busy I knew I wouldn’t be able to get the day off even if I tried. So I let it go, but I didn’t forget about it. I asked people to remember me if a ticket came up.

Normally I don’t tell people what I need. Somewhere deep in my psyche I’ve internalized the false message that if people know what I need then they can hurt me. I’ve decided to make a paradigm shift and start believing that if I tell people what I need then they will HELP me.

And look what happened.

In an amazing twist of very last minute fate, I not only was offered a ticket from one person, and a private suite at a reduced rate from another, but a way miraculously presented itself for me to get the day off I needed in order to go. And just like that, in a matter of minutes, I was going to Creative Alliance 12 in Ojai.

2. Embrace the Unknown

The truth of the matter is that I sat there with a ticket, a room, and a ride to an event I honestly knew next to nothing about. All I knew for certain was that I was supposed to go, and that the Universe, which I sometimes affectionately call “God,” had gone to great lengths to make sure I was going to be there.

3. Be Prepared

Just before the event, I received a flier that said that I needed to arrive ready to answer three questions:

  1. Who are you? (Not as easy an answer as you’d think.)
  2. What is your goal in being here? (I didn’t even know what the hell the conference really was! How was I supposed to know what my goal was?)
  3. What is one thing that would come as a surprise to everyone else? (Since nobody there really knew me I could have said just about anything.)

This was not the first blogging conference I’ve attended. I’ve long been thinking about these questions that have seemed to have no satisfactory answer. What exactly is the purpose of my blog? Why do I write it, and what is it I want from it? How does it fit into the big picture of my life?

4. Take Risks

When was the last time you seriously considered your goals? More to the point, when was the last time you were invited to share them with an engaged audience prepared to listen and help you achieve them?

Having only a day or two to ponder my answers to these questions, I struggled with whether or not to risk it and say out loud to God and other human beings the one thing I believe I am meant to do.

As I drove to Ojai, I imagined myself saying the words out loud—for the first time in my life—to someone other than my husband.

On Friday night, gathered under a large white tent, the women spoke their hopes and dreams into a precious circle of trust. It felt sacred and important, as though the words themselves had the power to shatter limitations and change futures.

And when it came my turn, I took the risk and said out loud the one thing that I think I am meant to do in this life. And guess what? Other people could see it too. Someone even said, “You are meant to do that.”

As I drove home, I felt different. I am beginning to see how it all fits together. The confusing fog of indecisiveness has lifted, and I clearly see the path set before me, at least up to the next bend in the road.

Video and tent image by SuebobDavis.

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Jack@TheJackB October 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm

I am obviously not female, but I spent huge chunks of my life in Ojai and I maintain there is magic there. I am glad you got to experience it and that you got so much out of the conference.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 9, 2012 at 5:24 am

I must agree, Jack. It was magical for me.

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Ann October 4, 2012 at 7:03 pm

You ARE meant to do it.

🙂

So nice to meet you.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 5, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Thank you, Ann. That means a lot to me.

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BigLittleWolf October 4, 2012 at 12:51 pm

This sounds like a marvelous event. Not only for the camaraderie, but the process of defining (or reassessing) goals is always instructive. Hard, but instructive.

I’ve yet to attend any sort of blogging conference, and it’s been years since I attended anything close to a writer’s workshop, and it was poetry – and one of those rare occasions when all the universal forces converged to allow it.

I admit to being envious (there, I said it) of those who can attend writing or blogging conferences of any sort. I find I’m so wrapped up in the immediacy of “just getting through another day” that it seems impossible to imagine, much less to go for. And then, to be quite frank, there is the problematic issue of money. (Dammit, I wish we could be more honest about that!)

But I hold out hope. Someday, maybe!

(And as for your art – I’m telling you – it’s fabulous!)

Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Chloe. (And my personal merci for yesterday’s GenFab doings!)
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Chloe Jeffreys October 5, 2012 at 8:20 pm

It was a powerful experience. Being around creative people is inspiring, motivating, and intimidating. There are some amazingly creative people in this world. Like you. You shame me with your abilities. I hope we gt to meet soon. Thanks for the comment about my art. It is the way I give the finger to all the people in my life who said I wasn’t worth very much.

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Brenda October 4, 2012 at 7:25 am

I’m so happy for you and your opportunity. And I can’t wait until we learn what you’re meant to do.

My only wish is that your blog would magically morph my phone into an iPad so my tired old eyes could read it, because I’m never near my computer anymore. But you’re worth the eye strain. 🙂

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Chloe Jeffreys October 4, 2012 at 10:22 am

Ahhh. Thank you for suffering for my art, Brenda. That’s a friend.

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Steph Calvert October 4, 2012 at 5:13 am

I love those questions!! Are you going to the next one, and when is it? It kind of sounds like a super awesome conference.

I want to go to there!
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Chloe Jeffreys October 5, 2012 at 8:20 pm

They happen every two years. If there is a third one you can be sure that I’ll be there.

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Negin October 4, 2012 at 3:05 am

Absolutely beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes, Chloe. Thank you so much for sharing. Lovely video.

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Julie danis October 3, 2012 at 9:43 pm

A strong positioning statement is powerful. Are you willing to share what you are meanypt to do? I know all of your readers would provide the support under your wings.
Hugs, julie

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Chloe Jeffreys October 5, 2012 at 8:22 pm

This is truth. A very wise counselor in my past told me that it is easy to steer a boat already in motion than one that is dead in the water. I am seeing how blogging is a powerful way to get your ship going. Even if it isn’t a destination of its own, it has meaning and merit.

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Lee October 3, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Oh Chloe – I kinda thought you were awesome from minute one. A soul of truth. That’s for damn sure. Thank you for jumping in on this venture and can’t wait to hang out again. Next time? Add tequila. 🙂

xx
Lee

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Jessica October 3, 2012 at 7:09 pm

It was so great to meet you Chloe. You were an incredible addition to the weekend. Xo

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Brenda October 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Sounds as if you were truly meant to be there, Chole. I actually write/update my goals down on a quarter basis. Once I decided to be a writer, it required adding structure to ME. The family, etc., I manage, but I had to rewrite the life of me to make room for all that I wanted to do – thus goals. Sounds as if you had a great time – or you will once you get your head wrapped around all that you can do and be…and ARE.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:03 pm

I do feel as if I’m turning a corner. One thing in the blogging world that I’ve found is that are so many avenues that it is hard to focus in and find the one that resonates with me. I feel that I’ve been pulled this way and that for months now trying to figure out where my star is. I didn’t right about that part because it really is irrelevant to the process. But I am learning that how I define my success is going to be different than someone else’s. And that money-making is not the only way a person’s blog can be the platform for their success.

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Sharon Greenthal (@sharongreenthal) October 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Sounds like you really took a lot away from this experience. I’m so glad you were able to go!

Someone recently asked me what I want to “do” with my blog (actually I’ve been asked that fairly frequently). I said I am doing it and it’s great. “Do what you love and the money will come,” I once heard. Or not. I’m just glad to be creating!
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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I think that people asking about my blog almost makes me feel like I should be doing something more with it. I need to remember that I have this place for me and my community. It is the platform for me to write and connect with people. That people come here and read me and take their time out to comment in itself is my success.

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Ginger Kay October 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I’m so glad you were able to experience this. It sounds like it was exactly where you needed to be.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:05 pm

It was amazing. I learned a lot. It was fantastic to be surrounded by creative women who are dreaming big dreams.

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Suebob October 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I’m so glad you came, both for selfish reasons (I enjoyed our time together so much) and because I think it was the perfect time and place for you.

I admire you so much and have loved the few blog posts I have read, and look forward to reading more. I hope our paths cross again soon.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Hey Suebob! Thank you so much for the important part you played in getting me to Creative Alliance 12. It was an experience I’ll never forget. It is a breath of fresh air to be around creative women dreaming big dreams and doing the work to make them happen. That’s the sort of energy that really turns me on and gets my juices flowing.

Sorry about the extra hotel charges though.

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Missus Wookie October 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm

So glad that you got to go and listened to those little nudges! Sounds like an awesome time 🙂
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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:08 pm

It really was an awesome time. I have so much I want to share with you and the people who do stop by to read me. The world is so large and full of promise if only we dare to dream.

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Jane Gassner (@MidLifeBloggers) October 3, 2012 at 12:33 pm

The weekend on its own was beyond words. The time we spent together driving there and back was just one word: incredible!
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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:09 pm

That was part of the entire experience. We are so lucky that we hit it off, Jane. That could have been a torturous 13 hours instead of the enlightening and inspiring one it was. Thank you for everything. I wouldn’t have been able to go if it hadn’t been for you.

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Anne October 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

I wish CA wasn’t every two years!
Looking at the pictures, you were with some amazing women.
And, I’m still thinking about the question you asked me.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:20 pm

I am hoping they will do it again in two years. I’m sure it was a lot of work for the organizers Andrea Fellman and Lee Vanderman, but it was an amazing event.

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Amy October 3, 2012 at 11:38 am

It was so great to meet you and get to spend some time talking. I ended up at the event last minute and in a similarly fated manner. Sometimes the universe just gives us what we need.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm

It was great to meet you, too. I hope we get to see each other more in the future. I enjoy that we are linked in more than one way now.

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Maddie Kertay October 3, 2012 at 11:37 am

ummmmmm WOW… that is all I got right now.. WOW.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm

You, missy, I’ll be seeing very soon in Hotlanta. I’m pretty sure that is also going to be an amazing time of growth for both of us.

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Ellie October 3, 2012 at 11:28 am

The Universe definitely put you there this weekend, and I, for one, am so very grateful. Meeting you was a highlight of my weekend. Love your list – I’m going to keep it in mind, too.

-xoxoxo

-Ellie
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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Ellie, you are a kindred spirit. Thank you for putting yourself out there so much for the rest of us. I appreciate your willingness to be brave and courageous and speak the truth. That is rare and meaningful and very much needed today.

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Amy Whitley October 3, 2012 at 11:27 am

I am so glad to have met you (my ‘neighbor’) at CA 12. Let’s keep in touch!

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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm

We certainly will, Amy.

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Helene October 3, 2012 at 11:26 am

It sounds like this conference was truly life-changing. What an amazing experience it must have been.

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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:23 pm

It was. I think the midlife can be an amazing time of growth if we only open ourselves up to it. While part of me wishes I’d been busier creating back when I feel my mind was at its best, I need to remember that I was creating other human beings then. Today is now for me.

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Amy October 3, 2012 at 11:16 am

LOVE!! Love that it happened, love your message. Now I wish I’d have known about the conference~ I need some direction 🙂
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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I think all writers reach that point where they need an infusion of something into their creative endeavors. Being able to spend time with creative women who are dreaming big dreams helped free me from some invisible chains that have been holding me back.

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GrownandFlown October 3, 2012 at 11:06 am

Chloe, What a great story and wonderful video (haunting music) and what a gift to be able to step away from your life and look back at it. Loved hearing your story.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I love that song in the video. It really captures the spirit of the experience. The gift of this period of life is the time to look and see with fresh eyes where we’ve been and where yet we’ve still to go. I’m glad that you both are part of the journey.

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Julia October 3, 2012 at 10:59 am

I love those four ideas/questions. I will have to think on them…that question “who are you?” is a huge one by itself!! What a wonderful opportunity for you…perhaps we’ll have to have a long talk some day soon and discuss our answers.

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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm

I wish I could take you in my pocket to these events. We talk about being in this place, you and I, and I know how refreshed you would be if you had been there, too.

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