Bringing an Idea to Life: A Personal Reflection of CA ’10

I’ve had problems with following through in my life. Not with the regular old responsible stuff. But with the stuff that sits deep in my heart and resonates with the most vulnerable, insecure part of who I am – the creative part.

I have had ideas upon ideas upon ideas. Most of them have never seen the light of day. There have been plenty of starts. But it feels like there have been many more stops.

For a long time, I was even nervous to call myself a creative person. Because even in the labeling of myself as someone who is “creative” brought up feelings of insecurity. I felt like I would be a fraud if I stated that I was creative. Or worse yet, an artist. I believed I really wasn’t creative enough to call myself creative.

Although I work in what you might call a creative field and make creative decisions on a daily basis, I have been very slow to put myself out there with executing my own ideas. Like I said, in this post, it might be a bit of laziness, but it’s mainly fear. Fear of failure. Fear of not having anyone to hide behind. That rawness of a creative soul is vulnerable. And I felt, for a long time, that if one of my very own creative ideas failed “officially”, then I definitely could not call myself a creative person. If I never tried, I could keep up the façade, at least to myself, that I really might be creative.

But there’s something great that comes with getting older. At least for me. The fear has started to subside and boldness is taking its place.

The idea of Creative Alliance ’10 was born on the Wisconsin frozen tundra in a car with Cynthia on our way to a bar filled with winter Midwestern souls dressed in dark plaid jackets and smelling like beer. With an “expensive” bottle of gin purchased from behind the bar, we headed back to our mellow overnight slumber party with 30 other bloggers and talked about doing our own version of this blogging weekend getaway thing. And we left it at that.

Back in Los Angeles, I connected with Jessica and talked about the idea. I had thought more about it and decided it was time to create the kind of “blogging” gathering that I myself craved. Intimate and meaningful and genuine and inspiring and smart. Jessica was on board.

To test the waters, Jessica, Cynthia and I sent out an email to a handful of women we each respected in the online space. Women we could learn from, women we felt were like-minded, women who were on their own creative journey. Did they crave this kind of event? Would they consider attending and being a part of such a grassroots effort? The response was resounding – yes. They would. And the idea stayed alive.

But where to hold such a gathering? After some searching for a venue with not much luck, Jessica found us this place.

A day trip to Ojai sealed the deal in my soul. Walking around Calliote Canyon and seeing the perfection in this nature space for the gathering I envisioned was the sign I needed to take another step towards making it happen.

But just like most good ideas, logistics start getting involved. So the fear started creeping in. Money was needed for a deposit, contracts needed to be signed, concrete planning had to start. Luckily, we could split the deposit three ways. We inched forward.

Then summer hit. And so did real life. And the vision for this gathering took a seat on my personal back burner that was cluttered with so many other half-realized ideas.

We were idle.

When I took the time to ponder the possibility of this Ojai gathering, I knew it was an awesome idea. But the wall in front of me felt large and looming and I wasn’t sure I could push forward. I felt the weight of the responsibility because I had stated to Jessica and Cyn that I believed that this could happen.

There was a point of no return that we faced. 90 days before the event we would lose our deposit. As the date drew nearer, I have to admit, I was a little nervous. I questioned my ability to be able to pull it all together.

Would we find the kind of brands I wanted to be there to engage on this intimate level? Would they actually pay for this kind of boutique event? I knew in my heart it was worth it – well worth it. Especially since I had attended some “sponsored” blogging events where I couldn’t even imagine how the company was getting any decent return on their investment. But still, the kinds of brands I wanted had to be found and reached out to in the form of an actual proposal. And I had never written a proposal and what do I know anyway?

Doubt creeped in. And stayed around longer than I wanted it to.

But when push came to shove and the point of no return was upon us, I remember stating to Jess very clearly – “We’re gonna make it happen Jess. We just are. There’s no option. We will make it happen.” Looking back I’m not sure why I said that. For all intensive purposes, the idea was still idle. Maybe it was just the older, bolder me who wanted to follow through and bring to fruition an idea I had. Maybe deep down I knew I needed this kind of gathering…more than I even realized.

So we inched forward.

Then I called upon Andrea. A firecracker of ambition whom I had met back in December 2009 at a L.A. bloggy event. Would she have any interest in helping me out? After pitching her the concept, she declared her support. She would join forces with us and lighten the load.

After BlogHer ’10, it was an all out push to get things in gear. The proposal we had been working on came together and we started sending it out. Every step of the way as we outreached to brands, I was able to call on this incredible network of women we had assembled that were poised and ready to jump into this vision. Little did I know then that even in the planning of CA ’10, the mission was already being lived. I was creating alliances with other creative women – some I didn’t even know. Women that Jess or Cyn had originally suggested reaching out to in our initial grassroots effort but whom I had never met or even corresponded with….and other women who I knew were in my corner already….

Deb who was always returned my rambling emails with her calm, insanely intelligent advice and direction; Anna, who pledged her allegiance to the cause with her moral support and her generosity of self and spirit; Ciaran, who lended her wisdom to the brand proposal and more even when she would rather have had me doing something else; Ann, who listened calmly every time I called and in the end, spearheaded a Listen to Your Mother Salon of the likes that may never been seen again with its organic brilliance; Tiffany, who offered tips and suggestions based on her own wealth of knowledge from being in the space and never once said to me, ‘Who are you and what right do you have to be doing this?’; Romy and Kristen, who worked so hard outreaching to their business contacts on our behalf; and Heather, who stood steadfast by my side in the way only she can do and when all was said and done, she played an insanely major role in bringing the CA ’10 vision to life…..

…to name a few.

I can’t really explain what it felt like for me to have these women support me. Not to mention Cyn, Jessica and Andrea who endured a ridiculous amount of frantic calls and emails from me. Who reached into their pocket books to make a statement saying that they believed in this. It’s humbling to have other creative souls believe in you. Overwhelming really.

I’m not gonna lie. This experience gave me more restless nights than I have ever had in my life. I slept better when I was 9 months pregnant with each of my three kids. I’m not kidding. I would wake up in the middle of the night and panic would take hold. I was so nervous about failing. Not only failing myself but everyone else. And the financial investment didn’t help matters. My husband was supporting me emotionally in this venture. Like he always has in anything I have ever wanted to try. But we were in no position to lose money on this idea. This added a level of anxiety I had not felt in a while.

I never ever have trouble getting back to sleep but I would on these pre-CA ’10 nights. When 2 AM would turn into 3 AM and my heart would be beating and my mind would be racing with all of the “What ifs?”

But I learned the most valuable thing you can ever learn when trying to bring a new idea to fruition….you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you just keep doing it. Because if you’re not doing it, it won’t happen. Plain and simple. Things usually happen when you do them. It’s kinda that easy. But hard, all at the same time.

Many brands were interested in this kind of experience but we quickly learned that we had started too late. Two months out was not enough time for most companies. When Heather connected us with Moji and Paper Culture and they signed on to this event, I realized that it all worked out as it was supposed to. These were two companies who understood the value of engaging with a smart, influential group of women and dialoguing with us on a personal level in the effort of building lasting alliances.

Cyn created an awesome website for our venture and when we opened up registration on September 1st for 20 spaces, I wondered if anyone would actually buy a ticket. And every time someone did register for CA ’10, I was both ecstatic and scared shitless. This solidified the reality that we were doing this. No matter what. And it better be good….

A flurry of teamwork got me through the month before CA ’10 and before I knew it, I was picking up Heather, Ann and Cyn at LAX and heading up to Ojai.

From the moment I arrived to the breathtaking Calliote Canyon and Andrea busted out the door greeting me with a hug and a glass of wine in her hand, I felt a surge of excitement about what would transpire over the weekend. And when I walked into the kitchen and saw Danielle and Romy sitting at the table tying ribbons on the nametags/bookmarks/wine glass tags Andrea had worked so hard to get for us, I knew that whatever happened that weekend, however it all shook down, it would be okay.

We were here.

Getting there was the journey. Being there was the reward.

And what a reward it was….

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When I looked at everyone gathered for the welcome lunch, I was in shock….it was happening.

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Communing in the kitchen….

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Saturday morning yoga

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Conversing by the creek….

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The truly epic Listen To Your Mother Salon in the evening mist…

So my advice to anyone who wants to execute any idea they may have? Three simple thoughts. Make them your mantra.

1) Stay true to your vision.
2) Lean on those who will support you.
3) Just keep moving forward until it’s done.

•••••••••••••••••

One of the first bloggers I ever read has just finished bringing one of her visions to life and I have to say, I smile whenever I think about her accomplishing this amazing feat that she set out to do. If you’re in the mood to say right on to her, check her out here.

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16 Responses to “Bringing an Idea to Life: A Personal Reflection of CA ’10”

  1. Kristen says:

    I am beyond blessed that you cast this vision, saw it through, and allowed me to be a part of it. Life-changing! Love you.

  2. Ann's Rants says:

    OH how I relate to EVERY WORD. I will be reading this. Repeatedly.

    Hope you are taking a moment to bask in your major accomplishment. A stellar, beautiful event–successful on every account.

    Don’t forget to look back and celebrate!

  3. Ash says:

    My pathetic little 50,000 words PALES in comparison to your accomplishment, but I love you for your unwavering support, encouragement and friendship.

    I’m still depressed I missed this.

    Like someone-took-my-blankie type depression.

    Never have any doubt or fear, my love, you rock. Creatively, and otherwise.

  4. Congratulations! As someone who’s planned her share of conferences, I take my hat off to you and your cohorts for building from scratch. I hope you all still have some energy to do it again so I can come!

    🙂

  5. I needed to hear the message of this post today. (but also, I’m so sad that I wasn’t there for CA’10. Next year?)

  6. Catherine says:

    I’m in awe. I just wish I could have been there.

  7. Alexandra says:

    Thank you for this, and you are so right. Only action makes dreams reality.

  8. karen duggan says:

    Lee (I finally got the ‘new name’ down..) what an amazing journey that just continues to inspire and inform so many of us that were lucky enough (or, dare I say, smart enough!,) to jump on your wagon. Thanks for sharing all it took to get to the finish line — which I am hoping was really just the beginning!!

  9. Anna Lefler says:

    Seriously, you are my hero.

    Not just for all the things you made happen…but for all the super-honest things you said above about fear and calling oneself “creative.” I can relate.

    I really, really admire you.

    XO

  10. Suebob says:

    Thanks so much for making it happen and for maintaining your lovely good humor and fun through it all. I’ll never forget it.

  11. Laurie says:

    You kick ass. I’m so grateful that you pushed through to do what you really, really were meant to do in this case. It all came together from the minute we set foot on that property and I honestly think the dividends are endless for all of us and others who are touched by the same kind of philosophy. As soon as you started talking at lunch on the first day I was so impressed by your willingness to try this just to see where it went. You have a tremendous spirit, Lee, and a great ability to connect with people and reflect their best back to them. Sometimes that makes all the difference.

    I’m really glad I took the chance and showed up. Funny to think that after two days I still miss you all but it’s true. 🙂 If you call I will answer.

  12. What I loved about CA is that is was real, and authentic, and heartfelt. It was like YOU.

    And you drew other like-minded people and there was such great power in that. My soul is still vibrating from it all.

  13. Karen says:

    As you know, I always feel the FEAR – hopefully someday I’ll be as brave as you.

    Congrats on an amazing venture, one that I hope to partake in next time.

    Love you.

  14. Laura Phelps says:

    reading this, I am happy, sad, depressed, excited, lifted, enlightened, feel left out, uncertain, hopeful…

    but mostly proud
    of you

    and so blessed
    that we have crossed paths

    but man, Lee, I don’t know..being creative can be torture sometimes

    miss you

  15. […] you actually deserve it.  I’m realizing I sure do. And I’m psyched it only took me planning a grassroots conference to learn this very important […]

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