Monday, January 26, 2015

An Open Letter to Alt Summit

Photography by Baxter Miller

Dear Alt Summit,

Thank you. This seems small in retrospect, as I am unsure how to put words to the incredible feeling of being in a room full of brilliant, successful, and endlessly brave women. Maybe it is simply to be in awe. Whatever the case, I always return home floating on air. 

We are mothers, daughters, and partners and creative powerhouses dancing through this hustle, that as keynote speaker Lisa Congdon so wisely pointed out, we have chosen. Yes, chosen. So what exactly have we chosen?

I think everyone at Alt would have a different answer. For some it is to provide for our family, to be at home with our kids, to follow our passion, to not be held back promotionally or monetarily in a still male dominated and unequal workforce, to run the show, or to simply, as Freshly Picked CEO Susan Petersen put, "to be able to go to Target and buy anything I want." 

We choose to be brave. 

After my 4th Alt, and my second as a speaker, I think it is this choice that binds us. The commonality that connects the freelance photographer to the mommy blogger, the DIY crafter to the fashion stylist. We all at some point decided that no matter the circumstances, WE had a choice and were going to make one. 

Sounds simple, but choice is a leap, a risk, a run full speed to the edge of a steep cliff and a deep trust that once you leap, you will start to fly. I don't think any of us knew for certain when we took that leap that we would spread our wings, but we did it anyway, and we have soared. 

For me, the initial choice came from a feeling that I had nothing left to lose. When Zelma Rose came to be, I was reeling from a number of grief stricken years. Family deaths, a sick pet, and a yearning so deep in my heart to become a mother, it practically paralyzed me. But grief is a great teacher. It hurts and it's awful, but it brings your life, your breath, front and center. I know now that grief is the tension of the arrow being pulled back taut across the bow, waiting for flight. It strains and is exhausting but if you can be with it and in it with all of yourself you can not only move forward, but soar with great strength and direction. 

At Alt last week I saw all parts of the arrow. For some it was being pulled back tight across the bow, others were taking aim, and many had just released the arrow, watching it speed through the air with great determination. Being around this energy and hope is what drives us to make the choice to pick up the bow and arrow over and over again until we hit our target. 

When I look now at my daughter, my husband, and my business, I know it was this moment of choice and the bravery to step to the edge and leap that has given me the life I always dreamed. 

To you, the women of Alt, I thank you for making it look easy, hard, exciting, exhausting, joyful, and sorrowful to make that choice. It is a gift that we can all continue to do it together. 

Until next year,



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