The two days I spent in Chapel Hill last month were jam packed with lessons about life, relationships, balance, fear, and so, so much more. I have an entire notebook that, if viewed by anyone but a fellow MTH alum, would probably look like gibberish. But really, really inspiring gibberish! For the purposes of this recap, I went back through my notebook and picked what I think are the three biggest lessons I learned from the entire MTH crew.
1. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. This was HUGE for me. It is something that had been weighing on my heart for quite some time and MTH was just the push I needed to realize how important it really is. When Lara asked us to write down the five people we spend the most time with, she didn’t mean strictly physical time, she meant the five people who occupy the most room in our thoughts. Who are those voices (positive and negative) that you hear the most throughout the day? Making a list of those people and then writing how they make me feel and how I think I make them feel was incredibly enlightening for me. I have known for some time that I needed to make some subtle changes regarding who I hang out with and how I allow them to influence me, and this exercise gave me the tools to implement those ideas. I am now much more conscious of not only who I spend my physical time with, but who I follow on Facebook, Instagram, and in the blogging world. Natalie Norton recently had a status update that I just LOVED and felt really spoke to this concept and to my end goal.
2. REAL LIFE > This one hit really close to home for me. Lara had us spend a few minutes writing all the things in our life that are distracting us from REAL LIFE and REAL QUALITY time with the people and the things we love. The first thing I wrote down during this exercise was real life > Instagram, blogs, and Facebook. Immediately following that I wrote eye contact > my phone, and once the ball was rolling I just couldn’t stop. Trying hard and failing > not trying at all. Focusing on work > checking my phone. And so on and so on. I learned so much from this exercise. I immediately went home and unfollowed almost 200 people on Instagram, every time someone posts something on Facebook that brings me down or sucks me into an unimportant thought I unfollow their feed, I deleted over 100 blogs from my feedly. I have tried really, really hard to put my phone down when I’m at my parents house for dinner. I have turned my phone off (almost) every single day at work, checking it only on my lunch break. This has been seriously liberating and each time I successfully spend a large chunk of time away from social media I am so proud of myself. I’m hoping to keep this habit up and implement even more boundaries for myself regarding social media/any time sucking activity.
3. Feel the fear and do it anyway. This was my absolutely biggest take away from MTH and has become a sort of motto for myself. The second page of my MTH notebook is full of this phrase. I am afraid of __________ because of ___________. I filled two pages with fears and reasons for them. Lara then had us each come up to a huge white board and write down what it was that scared us the very most.
By the end of the day, we shared those fears with the group and rather than stating why they scared us, we stated why would we no longer fear them. But we didn’t just casually state those fears while sitting in our chairs. After being broken into groups, with a different speaker from the conference leading each one, we stood in a circle, looked our group’s leader straight in the eye, and firmly, and confidently stated them. Gina was my group leader and I will never ever be able to explain to her how incredibly scary, awesome, encouraging, and just bananas it was to lock eyes with her and just feel the fear for a few seconds. Amazing. We then crossed each fear off of the board, one by one. This was one of my favorite moments during the conference. It was so inspiring to not only feel liberated myself, but to watch others feel that way as well. Since MTH I have really committed to a big move and shared this blog with everyone I know, two really big and scary things for me. And I’ve felt the fear, done them anyway, and came out much happier on the other side.
I learned so much at MTH, but the most important lesson of all was to love people. The amount of trust and love that came out of the ballroom at the Carolina Inn those two days in mid-March was astonishing, and it is the kind of love that I want to surround myself with for the rest of my life.
Next week, the final part of this series, a humble thank you to the remarkable people who made up this event.
All images by the amazing Mackenzie Kern, thank you so much for capturing these memories!