Why I left Tribe Conference in Tears

I attended Jeff Goins' first ever Tribe Conference this weekend in Franklin, TN.  It was absolutely amazing and blew my mind in ways I never even dreamed possible.  This was my first writing conference.  Being new to the writing world, I had no idea what to expect, and I certainly didn't expect to cry.

But, I must admit that I cried the entire weekend.  I cried at the very beginning when Ally Vesterfelt told us to embrace the rawness and realness of our own voices, and told the stories of how she and her father found their voices amidst the least desirable of circumstances.  And I cried until the very end when Grant Baldwin encouraged us to take care of ourselves, our health, and our families as we do great things in this world, because without those things, what is the point of great success at work. As I listened to each amazing speaker, different parts of my soul called out in recognition and yearning for the lives these extraordinary people were living, the things they were building, and the impact that they were making in this world.  I held back my tears as best I could, although several made their way down my cheeks as I watched Jeremy Cowart's illustration of his story of overcoming self doubt and realizing that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him, and the amazing work that he is doing with his photography in Haiti and Rwanda.  

As the last speaker left the stage, and Jeff wrapped up with the story of his own high school experience with fitting in, coping with death, and embracing community, I couldn't hold back the flood any longer.  I quickly said my goodbyes and dashed out of the meeting room as the tears came freely: waves of joy, sadness, pain, frustration, regret, hope, determination, a lifetime worth of searching and waiting and quietly doing my work, and most of all, gratitude.  Gratitude for finding a place that felt like home, for hearing a familiar language that I have been searching for my entire life, for finding my voice, for recognizing the best of what I have to offer the world and making a plan to share it, and most importantly, at long last, for finding my Tribe.    

Till next time,

Haley

 © Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Let Me Tell You a Story

I'm learning to tell better stories.  I've been practicing - writing my stories, over and over.  I've also been reading A LOT.  And as I read, I pay attention to the way that words are used and sentences are put together.  I notice how the author conveys thoughts or ideas or emotions.  I'm learning a lot by these observations.  What works and what doesn't.  What is most effective.  What makes me cry, or laugh, or just feel.  Those are the kinds of things that I have always taken for granted in good writing.  But now I'm paying attention, and I'm learning that there is a fine art to storytelling.  I want to learn that art.  

We could all benefit from being better storytellers.  Our lives are made up of the stories that we tell ourselves and each other.  We assign stories to events and feelings and relationships in order to make sense of things, and to help us relate to others.  So what if the key to happiness lies in the way that we tell these stories?  

I'm working to Re-Frame some of my stories.  For example, rather than tell the story of how hard my work is sometimes and how I feel overwhelmed and lost; I tell the story of how I am so blessed to have the opportunity to grow at work, and I am learning so much!

Or instead of the story that my husband works such long hours so he must care more about his work than he does about me; I tell the story of how my husband cares SO much for our family that he will do whatever it takes to provide for us, even if it means working long hours on night shift.

What if I stop telling myself a story about fear every time that I feel a bit nervous or anxious, and instead tell a story of excitement and adrenaline.  What if I could learn to re-frame nervousness and anxiety as simply productive energy.  What if I replaced the concept of being "overwhelmed" with being "vibrant or alive".  That would not change those feelings, but it would allow me to associate them with something positive.

Isn't that amazing.  Without changing a single fact about my stories, I am able to look at them in a whole new way, in a positive way that allows me to be happy.  I believe that most situations have a positive and a negative side, so why not choose to focus on the positive?  Why not turn that thing around, so that all you can see is the bright shiny side.

Years ago, when I was going through one of the lowest points in my life, desperately seeking direction and purpose, I did this exact same exercise.  It made me wake up and realize, for the first time, how my negativity was shaping my reality.  I was wallowing in self pity and self doubt, completely unable to see the light.  This exercise was deeply moving for me.  Here's what I wrote in my journal on July 19, 2008:

My outdated and negative story:

“Haley has had a hard life.  She has always been painfully shy and quiet, always listening to other people’s problems and opinions and never voicing her own.  She was raised in an authoritarian household where she learned not to speak unless spoken to.  She has terrible luck with men.  It seems that no one ever wants to date her.  She has constantly questioned her value and talents, especially during her miserable time in graduate school.  She now has a career but is constantly questioning whether it is what she is meant to do.  She has already changed jobs three times.  She feels restless and bored at times and completely overwhelmed at other times.” 

And the new and improved version of my story:

“Haley has been very fortunate.  She grew up in a stable household with a family who loved her very much.  She excelled in school and college and got into her graduate school of choice on the first try.  She has a small circle of lifelong friends who adore her.  She is kind, compassionate and a great listener.  Her trials have increased her strength and independence.  She has been in a few serious relationships, but ended each of them when she realized that they would hold her back from her true potential.  She hasn’t met “the One” yet, but she knows it will happen when the time is right.  She has just begun her career in which several positions have fallen into her lap.  She loves her job most of the time and finds it very challenging and rewarding.  

What a difference our stories can make. 

What about you?  Do you have a few stories that could use a little editing and polishing and re-framing?  Why not give it a try, what have you got to lose?

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo Credit:  © Dvmsimages | Dreamstime.com - Gallery Wall With Gold Frames Photo

 

Are You a Writer?

Many years ago, I had a conversation with a random guy at a bar.  It was one of those special conversations that allows you to see things in a different way, one that makes you question some things that you have never thought to question before, one of those conversations that changes everything.

 We were talking about our passions in life and I was telling him about my cakes and my addiction to journaling and he said “So you’re a writer?”  Well, no, not really, I just write in my journal a lot.  “So you write?”  Well, yes, but only in a journal.  “Then you’re a writer.”  This conversation has really stuck with me over the years, and I think about this concept a lot. 

Am I a writer?  Am I an architect or an artist for that matter?  What makes one qualified to claim a title?  I feel comfortable claiming that I am an architect because I have put in my time and passed the state licensing exams.  But a writer?  Maybe I don’t feel qualified because I don’t have any formal training, or because I haven’t had anything published or been paid to write.  Its the same with art.  I have a minor in art, and a degree in graphic design, but I still feel a little weird calling myself an artist.  But here’s the thing:  I feel driven to write and to create art.  I know that whatever comes along in life, I will continue to participate in those activities no matter what.  I will find a way, I will work it in – whether or not I get paid for it – because I have to.  When I don’t write and when I don’t create art something is missing and I’m  not completely myself.  So, which is more qualifying:  getting paid to do something, or knowing in your soul that you have to do it?

I’ve been a closet writer for a very long time, filling thumb drives with more crap than anyone would ever care to read.  But I finally got to a point where I realized that I had to start putting myself out there.  I had to get this out.  I was about to explode.  So I started my blog, and I’m starting to submit my writing to various publications as opportunities arise.  I realized very recently that I finally have something to write about.  I have gone through a lot of crap and figured a lot of stuff out through my writing.  And it’s pretty ironic that the very things that I have figured out through writing are the things that I feel the need to share…my struggle with finding my place in this world, my journey to loving and accepting myself as I am, my search for my purpose in life.  Those very struggles are what have given me something to write about.  I had a major aha moment when I realized this.  Every single trial, obstacle, problem, and painful situation that I have ever encountered were really just God giving me something to write about.  I love this.  What problems are you encountering right now?  Try to realize that they are gifts.  God is giving you something to write / sing / paint / whatever about.  Whatever it is that you do will inevitably have a deeper meaning and a stronger impact on others after you have crawled through the trenches and emerged on the other side and can share what you have learned.  It will carry your blood, sweat and tears; it will have a part of your soul and your struggle in it.  And others will connect with that, because they will recognize their own journey in it.

© Haley McManigal 2014

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.