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IMG_5149I am in Chicago for the Storyline Conference.  Storyline was started by author Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz and a number of other books.  I first read and wrote about Blue Like Jazz many years ago and it is one of those books that has helped to form me.  Read that old blog post, if you want to know more about it.  You should read it, trust me.  The book, not necessarily my post about it 🙂

A number of other authors will also be speaking at the conference: Shauna Niequist, Glennon Melton and Bob Goff among them.  Again, some of my favorites, so I am super excited!  Basically, Storyline is all about the power of story and how God’s story inspires and informs the story we want our life to tell.  In addition to two days of inspirational speakers, I signed up for the level which allows me to attend Saturday’s full day Writers Workshop.  Those of us at that level were also invited to attend a Film Festival today.  While I didn’t arrive until mid-day, the two films I saw were wonderful and included a conversation and Q&A with the filmmakers after the screening.  I highly recommend both films; a feature film called Believe Me and a documentary called 21 Years: Richard Linklater.

Here are a couple of take-aways from today:

Introverts are my heroes.  I am an extrovert.  On the Myers-Briggs personality inventory, the only area where I am strongly one over the other is in the Extrovert-Introvert category.  However, arriving at this event without knowing a soul was harder than I expected.  I felt awkward and weird walking into an event full of strangers that is supposed to be all about connection and community.  I visited briefly with one lady, but was mostly grateful for the dark of the movie theater.  I know tomorrow will bring a number of opportunities for interaction that will be initially awkward, but eventually wonderful and life-giving.  If this is somewhat difficult for an over-the-top extrovert like me, I can’t imagine how much courage it must take for you introverts to put yourself in these situations.  WAY TO GO!!  I do however think it’s worth it for all of us, don’t you?

Twitter is kinda cool.  The Storyline folks are all about using these social media tools to encourage interaction, community and publicity.  They encouraged us to #StorylineConf on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  I have a twitter that I use mostly to stalk my children.  I think I have 12 followers, but I jumped in today and tweeted about the conference, tagging several of the authors in my tweet.  I freaked out like a teenage groupie when Donald Miller and Glennon Melton tweeted back a personal message to me!  I had no idea that famous people had time to do stuff like that and was ridiculously excited to hear from my writing heroes….I know, I am a total dork!

Theme of today: don’t wait to create.  One of the filmmakers says that one of his best friends, the kind of friend who holds him accountable, often asks him “Were you a writer today?”  Or did you “just TALK about being a writer?”  Writers write, artists create, storytellers tell stories, actors learn lines or read plays or go to rehearsal or watch films or take classes.  The product isn’t the point, the value is in showing up.  Bottom line, the question is did you do something today that contributes to you moving closer to the dreams that you have for your life or did you just talk about it?

This was inspirational for me.  I’m not sure about the details, but I want this next season of my life to be about creating.  Writing, speaking, teaching, advocating well for the causes I love, maybe even singing and acting again.  Somedays I get frustrated that I don’t know what that looks like yet, but I am encouraged today that I am doing things to move me closer.   I’m trying to be a learner and a listener and today, I AM a writer, because I wrote. Being here in Chicago is part of all that, I think.

Friends in transition and fellow empty nesters, what did you do today that moves you closer to your dream for this next season of your life?

I’m excited to see what tomorrow will bring!