I found myself quite fortunate to be able to make acquaintance with the Pacific Northwest two separate times this past year: the first time being my trip to Seattle in May of 2015, and the second being Portland in July for the World Domination Summit.

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If you know me at all, you know that while I do love to think big, I’m definitely not the “pinky and the brain” type, so the name of this conference might seem a little incongruous, but let me assure you if you’ve never heard of WDS, it’s likely nothing like you’re imagining. The weekend I spent at WDS was surprisingly intense in some ways that I didn’t expect, along with being easier in a lot of ways that I wasn’t anticipating.

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As an introvert, I’ve felt quite overwhelmed by some of the past conferences I’ve attended. You also feel this pressure to look a certain way, + have your elevator pitch ready so that you can respond to the 250 people who will pitch right back at you. But World Domination Summit was decidedly different.

First of all, if you are an introvert who’s ever been at a large event, you will get excited with me about this feature of the event: a highly sensitive persons’ room. A haven where you could escape + sit in quiet if things got too crazy. So despite the big crowds + a lot of things going on, it was fairly easy to interact + engage without getting overwhelmed or too exhausted like I had been worried about.

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Everyone I met at this conference was so supportive, asked deep questions + was genuinely unique + interesting. No need to have the perfect hair, the perfect outfit, or a perfectly polished manicure here. Although if that’s your thing, that’s also cool – but I know sometimes we can feel pressure to look “the part,” so to speak, whatever that part is. I definitely felt like as long as I showed up as myself, I would be welcomed with open arms. What a wonderfully challenging group.

Other things about this conference that made it really unique for me were all the “extracurriculars” you could choose from – we had meet-ups on all sorts of topics, parties celebrating all things Portland, and lots of opportunities to connect with like-minded people. Because of the environment fostered by the World Domination Summit, I connected with some of these new people quite deeply.

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I think WDS was really a culmination of things for me – a confirmation of these quiet whispers that had been stirring in my heart. I’ve made some personal decisions in the last few years to live quietly, safely, while I healed from some deep hurts. But lately, I’ve also felt that familiar pull towards my “something more” + it’s taken a great deep breath to begin taking steps back in that direction. Those small little tugs towards art + music + having a real passion for my work again.

MAKE MORE ART is something my insides have been telling me for a while.

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All the speakers at the summit were excellent, my particular favorites being Kid President + of course, one of my all-time heroes: Jeremy Cowart. The main themes that I took away from the event as a whole were as follows:

Bravery: taking small steps in a direction even if I don’t know exactly where they’re taking me + even if I feel afraid.

Cultivating play: + that childlike creativity I let go of at some point, or at least, stopped practicing.

Embracing my voice: being true to myself without letting hate or negativity (from either internal or external sources) drain me of my energy.

It is OK to be genuine. It is OK to still be figuring it out. It is OK to be vulnerable. But it is not OK to be stagnant. It’s not ok to avoid feeling. It’s not ok to let the gifts I’ve been given atrophy or hide my magic.

But those are all hard, big things that are going to take a while to sink in. Six months later + I’m still pondering + processing them.

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I won’t be attending this year due to schedule conflicts, but I’d highly recommend checking it out if you’re looking for a conference to go to in 2016.

Also, you can’t beat the look on the hotel staff’s faces when they ask why you’re in town + you respond: “The World Domination Summit.” It’s almost worth it just for that alone.

Anyone else shocked by how fast January went by? At the beginning of last month, I decided to embark on a year-long challenge to take one second of video a day + compile them into a video that will encapsulate 2016. 365 seconds + an entire year will pass, how crazy is that?

So what did January look like? I had a lot of fun exploring Denver, took a business retreat in the mountains, worked from many different coffee shops, and ended the month surrounded by family in the sunshine of Austin, Texas.

I first heard about this concept from a Ted Talk by Cesar Kuriyama + was inspired to take it on myself. This first month was mostly focused on getting in the habit of taking my daily video, a practice that was hard to narrow down to just one second when I was out doing something exciting + hard to remember when I spend the entire day plugging away working on my computer.

In order to create some accountability for myself during this project, I’ll be posting my 30-second monthly recap here on the blog. Keep an eye out on the first Friday of every month!

Have you ever done a Project 365, whether with photos or video? I’d love to hear your tips because I know it’s bound to get more challenging as I try to keep things interesting for the next 334 days.

AspenRidge2015_Needles_titleThe mountains are covered with snow now, nestled under their heavy white blankets for the season. But there was a time, a brief moment when the mountains were draped with blankets of all sorts of other colors.

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The magic usually happens in June or July. The days are getting longer, the sun warms the earth just enough + BAM! All of a sudden there are wildflowers everywhere. They don’t last nearly as long as I wish they would, but they are stunning in their momentary blaze of glory.

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I’ll admit that I had a proper Sound of Music moment on this day back in early summer hiking along the road to Aspen Ridge from Elk Mountain Ranch. You just can’t help but belting out a little “The hills are alive” when you’re walking through a field of flowers in the mountains. In fact, on this hike, I actually filmed the video I posted for 4th of July. I may have startled some mountain bikers, but no matter. Fraulein Maria certainly wouldn’t have let a herd of bikers get her down.

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This summer heart needed some summer photos, so please indulge the throwback!

If you’re in Colorado right now, I hope you are staying cozy + warm during this crazy blizzard.

2016

I love the energy that comes with the new year. A part of me gets sad when the Christmas lights come down off the houses in my neighborhood, and winter seems quite long + dark after December 25th is behind us. But perhaps the saving grace of the season between now + the beginning of spring is the spark that pushes us forward into change.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my plans for this upcoming year, as the last few have been years of healing + safe harbor. 2015 taught me that I can’t do everything, that I have to prioritize self-care, that I won’t have time for my loved ones unless I make that time. Consequently, you didn’t see much of me around here as I worked on learning those lessons.

2016 is the year for (gracefully) stretching + expanding. For reading books + making art. For lots + lots of traveling. For doing the work that I know I’m meant to do.

I’ll also be taking on a 365 day video challenge, which you can get the details about here. Basically, the challenge involves taking one second of video every day for a year + compiling all those seconds into a single video, a timelapse of my entire year. I’ll be sharing monthly updates here on the blog with how it’s going.

That being said, I’ll be taking an intentional break from the interwebs for the last couple weeks of January as I set goals + create systems to make 2016 the best year yet for this blog, for my business Evergreen Lane + for my own personal life. You’ll likely see a post or two from me on Instagram because it’s my fave, but otherwise, I’ll be working behind the scenes to create great content starting on February 1st.

What you can expect from then on: more travel content, more video content + a totally upgraded newsletter (which you can sign up for in the sidebar, if you’re into that sort of thing). I’m so thankful for you, my dear reader + for the last 4 years of this blogging journey. I can’t even believe that this blog has been around in one form or another since 2011.

One quick favor: if you have 3-5 minutes, I’d love to hear your input in the 2015 reader survey:

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Over the summer, I had the great privilege of filming my dear friend Emily doing what she loves: making music. I’ve always been inspired by her creativity + her integrity, and I hope that you’ll fall in love with her too when you hear her tell her story. This past year, she’s been working tirelessly on a new album, and it comes out TOMORROW!

Check her out on Facebook to get more details about the upcoming release – I can promise that it’s going to be fantastic.