Nothing makes me happier than taking pictures of people who are often unhappy with pictures of themselves, and having them love what I have captured. Ladies, I hope that you see what I see: Beautiful, amazing, energetic women who shine.
The Space Party, where chic meets geek. I LOVED how many pink and blue wigs there were and amazingly, once I found the Higgs Boson girl I started seeing Dark Matter Sarah everywhere. It was so weird. Unfortunately I did not get a picture of the best costume of the night. Pluto showed up with her therapist and she was a crying mess all night. Poor thing, it sucks to get demoted. This year was so fun, check out all these amazing sparkly outfits and costumes!
Last week I showed you Friday morning at Camp Mighty. The rest of Friday was filled with more creative inspiration and practical advice. Margaret Stewart was up next, illuminating us on the reasons why we create.
Margaret's talk was titled, "How I Hurt Myself Knitting." On a flight home from London, she stayed up the entire flight knitting and developed a serious injury in her arm. Her doctor told her knitting injuries are common. Who knew knitting was dangerous? She began to wonder why she was compelled to knit tiny sweaters for her friends with new babies when she could have easily bought something. So she asked twitter, "Why do you make things?" She got a lot of great answers but very simply, we create things for ourselves and we create things for others. We create to hold in our hands the things that we dream. We create because it's fun. Creating gives us a sense of purpose. We create to please others and to show that we care.
She segued into creating successful platforms on the internet to enable other people's creativity and invite participation like YouTube, Pinterest and Facebook. These sites are open ended and have no story or script. The user gets to decide and tell their own story. These are designs that empower people and amplify other's voices. It's about the people who use it and the power is in the aggrigate view. Margaret played the trailer for the YouTube, crowd-sourced movie Life in A Day, have you seen it? I watched on the plane home from last year's Camp Mighty and it was awe inspiring. It re-enforces the concept that the individual matters, YOU matter, you will be heard and all together we can create a compelling picture.
So, Margaret would like to know, what are you going to make? She told us to find and defend our time to make things. Makers Gonna Make and we ARE what we make.
Jordan Ferney, Jihan Zencirli and Philippa Hughes took the stage together to give brief talks about how they made their creative businesses happen. I regret not getting any pictures of Philippa from the Pink Line Project, I was too mesmerized by her story about transforming Washington, DC with art events to pick up my camera. The biggest message I got here is that there is no formula, each person's path to creative entrepreneurship is unique. However, two things these ladies have in common is PASSION and doing BIG things. Figure out what you love and just go for it. Find a need and fill it. Be Bold. Be Focused. Keep your eye on the big picture.
Brittany Gibbons in partnership with Lands' End talked about positive body imaging and dressing well for your figure no matter what size you are, Natalie Bowman from Bing talked about growing brands with social media and Susan Peterson and Alison Faulkner lead the group in a craft project from their new digital book, A Hip Handmade Holiday.
The day ended with a beautiful sunset and relaxing by the pool. Some of the best moments at Camp happen in between all the things we are learning and doing. The spontaneous conversations and friendly talks are what make Camp so special. It's a small, intimate group and so you usually have time to really get to know people.
Check out Flickr to see the complete set of pictures. Tomorrow I'm going to show you pictures from the Space party! There were some super amazing costumes, dancing all night and of course, Smilebooth!
I took a lot of pictures and I've edited only a quarter of them! Here's the first set from Friday morning. We had breakfast, heard speakers Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl and Derreck Kayongo of the Global Soap Project and got a personalized gift from Bing and Wantist. It was a kick-ass, inspiring morning.
Maggie gave a talk on things she has learned over the years as she has been crossing things off her life list. It was the first time she spoke about it and much of what she said resonated with many of us. Sheri felt like Maggie was talking directly to her, and I'm sure many others did as well, me included. These were her lessons:
- Your Words Determine Your Happiness
- Action is Transformative
- Check Marks Don't Equal Happiness
- Our Opinions of Ourselves are NOT Fact
- Be Rigid Only if You Want to Snap
- My Body is a Compass
- It's About Who You Love and Who Loves You
- You Can Predict the Future
Next up was Derreck Kayongo. I noticed him at breakfast, before I knew who he was, and almost told him how much I loved his "look" but I got shy and didn't say a word. I wish I had.
Derreck is an inspiration. He made us laugh, he made us cry and at the end of his talk he led us in singing an African song about peace. I hugged him afterward, to say thank you, with tears in my eyes. Here were some of his thoughts about how he achieved what he has:
- Pay attention to everything around you and connect the dots. You are here for a reason.
- The most beautiful thing in life is failure. Learn from it. Fail towards success.
- Never underestimate the power of ingenuity.
- Allow critique.
- Don't define yourself by your situation.
- Let your product be a symbol of hope, but make sure people use it!
By noon on Friday I could have gone home and felt like what I had experienced was already enough, but there was more!! I was not even half way through the weekend. If you would like to see a few more pictures, check out my Flickr set. More to come.
For now, I am so thankful that I was able to go again this year, I am so thankful for inspiring, creative and amazing friends and I am so thankful for all the amazing things that people make and do. What an incredible world we live in. Have an excellent Thanksgiving. xo
I'm back from Palm Springs and my second visit to Camp Mighty. (Here's the first) I decided to go back to keep up the momentum, continue my personal and creative growth and to see people who I know and love online but don't see in person very often. You just can't beat those face to face interactions and hugs. I also wanted to meet more amazing people and boy, did I. There is no shortage of amazing, fun, colorful and awesome people at this event.
This year had some significant changes that I thought made it more fun and informative. The afternoon sessions were more business oriented, focusing on creative projects, and the final dinner was family style, with everyone together in the same room at huge tables. There was the same amount of inspiration, teary moments and crazy space party shenanigans. The people that were presenting and attending were equally as amazing as last year, but this time I knew more of them before I arrived.
There were WAY less nerves and social anxiety for me and I felt so much more confident and relaxed. I also spent more time in the hot tub. It's really my favorite place at the Ace Hotel. It's always so good, warm and happy. On the final night, way past my bedtime, we saw shooting stars. It was a perfect way to end the weekend.
I've got so much to share and I'm pretty sure I can't do it all at once or even all this week, but I promise to share the things that I learned and experienced with you soon. My first thing to tackle will be my pictures. I shot some good ones you guys. I'll be editing those and posting them on Flickr as soon as I can. And the learning, wow, we heard some good stuff. I'm going to figure out a cool way to share that too.
Until then, have you started your life list yet? It's really time for you to do that. I'm telling you, it will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
If you were there, leave a comment below and tell me what you thought of the event! (Link to your blog if you've posted about it already.)
More soon. xo
I've been waffling on this goal for months and it's time to do it. The two big service contenders are Etsy and Big Cartel, but before I set up a shop and start uploading my pictures, I need to figure out the work flow. I need to know what I will do when an order comes in for a print, I need to decide how much to price prints at, I need to figure out where I will get it printed, on what kind of paper and how will it be framed, if at all.
The easy part is figuring out where I will sell it, the hard part is figuring out the rest. I wish there were a place that did all the printing, framing and shipping for me, but I guess if there were I would get a much smaller cut of the profit. I'm also wondering whether I should invest in a good printer and print them myself, although my gut is telling me that route might prove to be an expensive initial investment.
I think what would help is if I got a few test prints done, got a few things framed to see how it looks and how long it takes. I have to approach this as if I am making art for your walls. If I can test out a few things and see what I like, then I can have the confidence in what I am selling.
Can I ask you for advice?
If you sell things online, can you share with me what you have learned? What is the most difficult part of the process? Do you use Etsy or Big Cartel? Is there another place I should be thinking about?
If you think you might be interested in purchasing my photographs, can you tell me what you are looking for? Do you want prints framed or do you want to frame them yourselves? What are your price points? What sizes are you looking for?
Help a girl out? Please leave a comment below, or send me a message. Thanks!
On Friday, I posted the first of five goals (from my Life List) that I will be sharing this week at Camp Mighty. My second goal is to become an American Citizen. The recent election really stirred a desire in me to vote. I grew up in Canada and voted there a few times before I moved to the States but since moving here over twelve years ago, I have been unable to vote. I had work visas for the first few years and now I am a permanent resident, but only citizens are able to vote. I was eligible to apply for citizenship three years ago but I didn't have the urge to do it until now.
I've downloaded and printed out the application and I'm ready to begin the long process of gathering all the paperwork and documents that are required to apply. It's not cheap, the fee to apply is at least $700 and it's similar to the permanent resident process, but with a civics test at the end! I handled the last application without requiring a lawyer and it took about 8 months from start to finish. I hope this one goes as smoothly.
I never really thought I would be doing this. The desire to vote and participate in politics surprised me but I think my oldest son's interest is part of it. I want to show him how to engage politically and teach him that it's an important right that we should take seriously.
I've also been influenced and spurred into action by Heather Barmore, Liz Gumbinner and Kelly Wickham. I may not be ready to start talking politics all over the place here, but I want to thank them for making politics understandable and accessible to a small town girl from Canada who wants to show her boys how to be the best American men they can be.
I am still very proud of my Canadian heritage and I see this as an addition to my identity, rather than a replacement. I will always be Canadian, and now I can be American too. For a while I worried about having to renounce my Canadian citizenship, but I've looked into and it seems I will be able to hold dual citizenship with no problem.
I won't miss out on the next federal election. Do you think there is a chance a women will be running for president? I really hope so, that would be so awesome. She'll probably have my vote for sure. I look forward to voting in federal elections with Milo when he turns 18 and Quinn when he turns 20. I will be so proud to see them participating in their community and in their future.
Camp Mighty is next week and I can't wait! I'm ahead of the game this time and I have already picked the five goals from my Life List that I want to complete this year. If you have a look at my list, they are the ones that are in bold. I'm going to do one post about each of them over the next week and through Camp Mighty. Typically, I don't post about goals until they've been completed, but because of Go Mighty, a related community website where you can share your life list goals, I've been thinking a lot about these five goals and why I am choosing them.
My first goal, and one that I am just beginning to work on, is to write a book. Initally I had on my list "Publish a Book", but I realized that can come later. Right now I just want to focus on writing it and not worry or think too much about the publishing part, or even the part about other people reading it. If I worry about other people reading it, I might not write the hard stuff that I really want to write.
I love to write, and I think I have gotten better at it because of blogging, but blogging is a very different kind of writing. It's more conversational, often bullet pointed and can be more train of thought ramblings. I've dipped my toe in memoir writing, and even published a few things here on the blog for an online writing group that is now called Write on Edge. It was a great experience and the people who participated were so supportive, but publishing everything online once a week brought some anxiety for me and limited me in terms of what I felt comfortable sharing. I think I just need to do my writing in private until it's bigger than just a few pages.
Last year I purchase a book from Jen Lee called Writing Your Story. It's a fantastic workbook that comes with an audio CD, but it was hard to motivate myself to get in there and do the exercises. As if she knew I needed it, last month Jen started an online workshop called the Story Academy, to work through the book with other people and to delve deeper into personal story telling. Jen is so inspiring and amazing and with this direct involvement from her, I have finally cracked the book open and begun working. I've been learning so much and I have also really enjoyed watching people tell their stories at The Moth. I'd love to go to a Story Slam event in NYC and I'm even considering putting my name in the hat to get up on stage and tell a story! It freaks me out a bit, but it seems there is something (crazy) inside me that wants to do this.
The final thing I have been doing to work towards this goal of writing a book has been Alice Bradley's online class, The Practice of Writing. Alice is incredible, funny, warm and smart and her daily emails, affectionate admonishments and writing prompts have got me finally filling up a writing journal that I have had sitting in my drawer for, oh, twelve years. I think I am really starting to get it. And while I am just at the very beginning of this process, I have hope that I can make this goal happen.
My first book is probably going to be crap, but I am going to write it anyway and see what happens. I have so many stories to tell, from my own personal experience, but also important messages that I want to share. I'm still not sure what kind of book I want to write, but I feel like I have ideas brewing that fall into the memoir and YA fiction categories. I'm excited at least, to see what I can spin together.
Last year, the attendees of Camp Mighty reached our goal of raising over $20,000 for Charity Water, and partially funded a drilling rig that was sent to Ethiopia. I was so proud to be personally responsible for $550 of that amount, with the fantastic support of my family and friends. I got an email in June that the rig had been fully funded and was on the ground drilling. Here's a picture of "Camp Mighty Team 2" written on the side of "Yellow Thunder." Isn't that awesome? We helped do that!
I'm returning to Camp Mighty this year and that means we are attempting to raise $20,000 for Charity Water again. It's a huge amount of money and we can't do this alone, so once again, I really need your help! You might remember why the efforts of Charity Water are so important:
"Water changes everything. Join Us."
I am responsible for fundraising at least $200 of the total this year, but I know we can raise more than that, can't we?
This year I have decided to give away a *custom piece of art* for EVERY $20 donation made in my name. (That means if you donate $40, you get two!) By custom, I mean your favorite color, your favorite face and you favorite three words will all be combined into one fabulous 4x6 piece of art.
All you have to do is go to our Camp Mighty Charity Water fundraising page, hit the blue "DONATE TO THIS CAMPAIGN button", enter in a donation amount for $20 or more, enter your first and last name and put "for Leslie Fandrich" in the comment section. That last part is super important so I can track all the donations made for me. I will mail you (probably before Christmas, so you could get these as gifts!) a custom piece of art that will include, as I said above, your favorite color, a drawing of you or someone you love and up to three words. Here's an example that I did for myself: Gold + my face + "Sparkle and Shine" = Awesome reminder of what I have to do each day.
Your custom art will be painted and drawn on a 4x6 inch piece of 140 lb watercolor paper. I'll use watercolor or liquid acrylic paint and archival Micron pens. It's perfect for framing however you choose. (The frame above is NOT included.)
Here are some combinations you might want to consider:
- Blue or Pink + your baby's face + your baby's name = Adorable keepsake.
- Brown + your dog + speech bubble with "I LOVE YOU" = A reminder of what Buster is thinking all day.
- Pink + YOU + "Survivor" = Proud breast cancer survivor.
- Red + your Grandma + "Kick Ass Grandma" = Unique and slightly inappropriate Christmas gift.
- Silver + Dr. Evil from Austin Powers + "One Million Dollars" = Financial goal and favorite movie quote all in one.
You get the idea, right? Good. Now go donate $20 to one of the best charities on the planet, don't forget to put MY name in the comment area of the donation form, email me (lesliedf at gmail dot com) your preferences for your custom work of art and feel awesome that we are helping to bring clean water and beautiful smiles to people like this:
Charity Water is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, so all donations made directly to the organization are tax-deductible.
Thank you so much for all your support! This is a great cause, one that I know I will continue to support in the future. It's such a wide spread problem, and such an easy fix.
GO CAMP MIGHTY!
A bunch of my Camp Mighty compatriots and I got together in Brooklyn over the weekend for a little reunion. We were strangely color coordinated, and Amber and I ended up accidentally wearing the identical dress. Identical! What the what? Of all the dresses in the world, we choose the same one. It was perfect. The rest of the beautiful people had on shades of blue and grey and both Margit's husband and mine were wearing handsome tweed-ish jackets. There were 2 Robs, 2 Chris', 2 Marks and it was just all so weirdly MATCHY. I like that kind of thing. It's so lovely when things line up and seem to follow some mysterious logic. It's as if the universe all makes sense for a moment.
Jen and Chris were wonderful to host the get together and had a whole spread of food and drinks to keep us content. They have a wonderful apartment in Brooklyn with a giant balcony that is almost unheard of in NYC. Erica had flown in from Canada with her boyfriend Rob to work on an item on her life list: to see every NHL team play, which they did the next day when they saw the Bruins and Rangers play at Madison Square Garden. It was also their first trip to NYC! We gifted Amber with a new book and a promise to read it with her and chat about it over the internet, to fulfill her life list item of being in a book club. Which fulfills an item on MY life list, which is to help 5 people with an item on their life list. I love how these thing pile up into a big heap of awesome. Rebecca and Robbie had also flown in, from Milwaukee, to come to the party and visit the city. It was quite a gathering of fantastic people.
Surprising Amber with a book club:
Life List progress report for our little group since last November:
Anna: Training for a triathlon in March, taking swim lessons so she can learn how to swim laps and planning a super fabulous stress free wedding.
Chris: Gave his mother-in-law a big sack of Xmas presents and booked tickets for a trip to Japan.
Jill: Taught herself to knit, started decorating her bedroom with a professional interior designer, began working with a design studio on a blog redesign and has submitted articles for print publication.
Leslie (that's me!): Had family portraits taken, volunteered 20 hours at her son's elementary school, attended ALT Summit, wrote a Photo 101 article and got feedback, started folding origami creatures and booked tickets for a spa day with her sister Jill.
Robbie: Solved Rubik's cube, ran a 5K and planted a tree.
We've been so busy! It's amazing what you can do if you set intentions and goals, write them down, share them and ask for help. These simple principles of Camp Mighty are so empowering.
Below is an outtake from the group picture, which is way more accurate of how the night was going versus the perfectly posed picture at the top of the post. We had so much fun! Check out a few more pictures from Rebecca.
I have a bunch of other posts about Camp Mighty, so be sure to check those out too if you want to get in on the action and play along. Just click on the "Camp Mighty" tag at the bottom of the post. Have you written your life list yet (here's mine) and started achieving your (big and small) dreams? It's never too late.
Lisa Congdon's talk at Camp Mighty was excellent and full of great advice. I admire her artwork, as well as her story about how she became an artist. She radically changed her career path, transforming herself into a successful commercial artist in just five years. She is a prolific collector, which I totally identify with, and she started a project in 2010 called A Collection a Day in which she photographed, on a grid, a few items from her collection every single day. It has since become a book.
Lisa's remarkable life change began, as some good things do, with a traumatic event. The relationship that she had been in fell apart and part of recovering from that was resolving to start fresh in every aspect of her life. She had grown up in a family of artists and had always made things, but she finally decided to pursue a career making art. It took her two years of simultaneously working at her job at a non-profit and making, showing and selling art before she was able to quit her job and dedicate herself to her art.
In examining her path to a successful artist, she identified seven critical things that have helped her to succeed:
1. BE A NERD. Nerds are defined by passion and love for what they do, they often live thier lives to the fullest and are not afraid to make a fool of themselves.
2. DAYDREAM OFTEN. Imagine being magnificent and map out your hopes and dreams for yourself.
3. TAKE RISKS. What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail? Failing is also ok though, we learn from our failures, risks always pay off because every effort is valuable.
4. PRACTISE & HONE. Just practise, perfect and experiment. Repeat. Then ask for feedback about what you are doing. It will make it better if you can listen to what people think about what you are doing.
5. EMBRACE THE SUCK. You must work through the ugly stage and take it to the next level.
6. SHOW UP. Supporting others in the community is invaluable, be there for the people in your tribe.
7. STAY TRUE. This is the most challenging, but it is the most important.
Lisa is an inspiration to us all, to live the life we dream of and to be successful at it. She just began a new daily project on her blog called 365 Days of Hand Lettering, in which she will hand letter something every day. She's starting with the letters of the alphabet and will do sayings and words as well. I look forward to this project, as I've become interested in hand lettering myself while drawing these Camp Mighty Talk summaries. (As an aside, the letter R is very hard for me to draw!) I also just bought a 1950's book on lettering (inscribed to someone named Wolfie!) so perhaps you will see something about this topic from me too. Hand lettering is the perfect blend of art and design.
This is the last Camp Mighty Talk! I hope you have enjoyed them. If you would like to watch the complete lectures for yourself, you can visit the Camp Mighty Vimeo Channel. Or check out my other illustrated Camp Mighty Talks for Brian Piotrowicz, Evany Thomas, Buster Benson and Kenna.
Kenna, a Grammy nominated artist and the organizer of Summit on the Summit, had the audience charmed from the start, telling us about his mother and asking us to sing happy birthday to her over the phone. He was very comfortable on stage and is clearly passionate about what he does. It was inspiring to hear about his experience planning and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for the global clean water crisis.
Kenna said, right at the start of the talk, that to be well, you should do well. He meant that giving back and helping others is a very important part of being happy and feeling fulfilled. When choosing what cause to focus his energy on, he realised the answer had been communicated to him a number of times by his father. When he finally started listening, he heard stories of his father growing up in Ethiopia without clean water and when he learned that his uncle had died as a child of what was likely a water born illness, his dedication to bring clean water to communities throughout the world began. When you are looking for a cause to support, find something that is already close to your heart, it will be more personal and meaningful.
When choosing how to best raise money and bring awareness to the cause, he decided to do something extreme to attract attention. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was something he had already attempted to do and it seemed like a good endeavor that people would tune in to, whether or not he succeeded. Participating in the climb himself made it much easier to ask others to join him and he was able to get a number of culturally influential celebrities and educators to climb with him, raising the profile of the project and getting a documentary of it filmed and aired on MTV.
Before Kenna began his charity work, he had always hoped to have a larger audience, but he realized that you could wait forever for things to be just right. Whatever your platform, whomever your audience, it's never too early to start working for a cause you believe in. In addition to that, he stressed that action is not always what is required, sometimes your voice can be just as powerful. Helping people to understand the problem is as important as solving the problem. We can't all climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but we can draw attention to it, talk about it and spread the word.
When speaking about sponsors and advertising he brought us all back to Brian's talk when he said it is important that everyone's intentions match. His team turned away many lucrative sponsorships because the company's policies or practices didn't line up with the sustainability goals of the climb. He stressed how important it is to hand pick sponsors and to request money from marketing budgets and not budgets that were already earmarked to help people.
Kenna is already planning a second climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, and Maggie Mason, the original Mighty Girl, has agreed to climb with him, joking that she was going to head to the treadmill immediately to begin training. Of course she'll have all of us Mighty Campers on the internet cheering her on.
Next up is Lisa Congdon. She was the final speaker at Camp Mighty and her talk focused on how she radically changed her career path, transforming herself into a successful commercial artist in just five years.
Buster is a really smart dude. He began his talk by telling us about dopamine, the devil on our shoulder, that regulates our impulses to do things. When dopamine in is balance, we are calm and in the moment or motivated and goal-oriented, but too far on either side and we are a hopeless mess stuck in bed, or a manic crazy person buzzing like a bee.
Dopamine is released in our brain all the time and it "tags" certain behaviors, thoughts and experiences in different environments or social situations as good or bad. These tags become our CUES. Cues are everything and influence our behavior constantly. They are the source of superstitions and rituals and it is these cues that make it SO HARD to change our habits and behaviors. If there is something in our life that we want to change, we literally have to battle our own brain to improve ourselves.
However, there is HOPE! With all the research and studying that Buster has done, he's identified four ways that we battle our cues. The first way, eliminating our cues, would probably make us crazy forcing us to live in a white box and do nothing. The second way, fighting our cues, requires grit and stamina and it can be painful and kind of sucks. The third way, distracting ourselves from our cues, works sometimes, but it's not something that we can count on to work every single time. Buster suggests a fourth way, which is to BE AWARE of our cues and to work with them and use their power to our own ends.
This idea, of acceptance and awareness, is so critical to growth and change. Many times, simply recognising WHY we are doing something that is not good for us is enough to get past it or stop doing it. Looking at ourselves truthfully and understanding our motivations, our weaknesses and our patterns will help us to devise a way to tackle the issue and create new behaviors. We will gain strength in our knowledge and understanding of our cues and triggers and be able to better cope with them.
In my opinion, one of the best ways to do this is to write. Writing it out, in a letter to yourself or someone else, in a journal for your own eyes, or even on a blog like this for all to see is a wonderful way to sort out your thoughts and feelings about your cues, to figure out why you do certain things and how to do better.
Change and growth is hard, and we need all the help we can get in managing it. Thanks to Buster we can begin to understand the chemical situation in our brain that makes these things hard and realize that being our best selves might be a life time process that is ongoing. It is the struggle that defines us and pushes us into new territory. If we simply keep trying to be better and we face our greatest challenges, we will have won.
Update! ⇒ Watch Buster's talk on the Camp Mighty Vimeo Channel.
Evany was adorable on stage, maybe a little nervous, but all the cuter for it. She talked about "How To Do Things That We Fear", like attend a cuddle party, and emphasized that we can do ANYTHING for 3 hours. ANYTHING. Hearing her talk about her experiences at the cuddle party was hilarious and one of the highlights of the weekend for me. So, so funny. If you should ever find yourself in a similar situation I hope you can go though it with the same grace and understanding that she did. Her biggest lesson from it was one of the rules of the cuddle party (of which there are many.) SAY NO. If something doesn't feel right, say no. Practice saying no. It's ok to say no. She realized that by being ALLOWED to say no, she actually said YES more. Funny how that works, isn't it?
Evany used awesome examples like women's body building, a yo-yo championship, and her grandfather's Barbershop Group to illustrate her points about practicing otherly love. She has a wonderment with the world that I totally LOVE. If everyone appreciated the world the way she does, it would be a much happier place. She also told us a really sweet story about veering off course and happening upon a high-school performance of Cats, in which a slightly overweight boy in a tight leotard turned 12 perfect pirouettes to increasing applause and excitement from the audience. She called him sausage boy, but we all knew she really loved him and what he represented. If we end up in a place we didn't expect to be, rather than be upset about it, embrace it and look for the magical moments you might have otherwised missed.
Everyone seemed to especially love her point about "Being Gold". When faced with a life changing or challenging decision, she suggests choosing the path in which you can be the best version of yourself. Instead of leaning into the safe and the easy, lean into the best version of yourself, the brightest, shiniest and the most valuable. Be Gold people. Be Gold.
Update! ⇒ Watch Evany's talk on the Camp Mighty Vimeo Channel.
Next is Buster Benson, who explained to us all that in order to change our life and our habits we must fight our brain chemistry. Hardly a fair fight, but he does have some great advice.
I'm going to share my sketchbook with you, specifically the pages that I am making, from the notes that I took, during the talks at Camp Mighty. I am a touch shy about these, there is a "stomach-is-in-my-throat" kind of feeling about my sketches not being good enough or some crap like that, SO BE KIND TO ME. I am not sharing them because I think the drawings themselves are super awesome, (though I do like the city I drew, what do you think?) but because the messages are awesome and I want to spread these seeds around to people who were not in Palm Springs with me. I'm sure some of you are all Camp-Mightied out, and believe me, I kind of am too, but here's the thing: It would be easy to just move on or continue doing what I was doing before, but I got so many great messages over that weekend, that I am STILL processing them. I want to sit with these messages a while longer, mull them over and really absorb them.
Brian Piotrowicz was a co-producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show and is now a producer on the OWN channel. He's learned a lot working with Oprah and while I've never sat down to watch her daytime shows, I admire her and I am trying to study her a little, watching her Life Classes and Master Classes on OWN. I am looking forward to her Next Chapter shows, as they seem to be digging deep and looking for the hearts of some important people and issues. But, back to Brian. He was really sweet and charming and it seemed that his message resonated with a lot of people. Even if you can't get into the "feel good, let's cry" nature of the content he is producing, the idea that everything we do should be driven by intention is an easy one to grasp. He went one step further though and emphasized that it's important to focus on positive intentions because whatever we put out into the world comes back to us in spades. So, be good y'all.
Update! ⇒ Watch Brian's interview with Maggie on the Camp Mighty Vimeo Channel.
The whole point of my weekend in Palm Springs was to share my Life List (Have you written yours yet? If not, here's a good place to start) and to choose five items to complete this year. It's all well and good to make a life list, but unless you are actively pursuing your goals, it's not doing you much good, is it?
I had highlighted about ten items on my list that I felt I could accomplish this year, but I waited to choose "the five" until I was sitting at lunch and in the moment. I surprised myself by choosing an item that I HADN'T highlighted and it turned out to be the item that I got emotional about. (#4 below) Clearly it is something that I need to do.
Standing up in front a group of 25 people and stating what we wanted to accomplish this year was a very powerful exercise. It was empowering to boldly make these statements, to feel supported in them and to in turn support others. At times like a group therapy session, there was laughter, tears and even hugs. Later that night, at our final dinner, each attendee was given this lovely necklace with five gold rings to symbolize our commitment to these goals.
However, despite the power of a group therapy session, my most important message is that you do not actually need to attend a Camp Mighty or a Mighty Summit to do the same work. You can write a life list, choose five goals for the year, and BUY YOURSELF the necklace! Share your goals with a close friend, your book club, or a sibling. Post it to Facebook or your blog and ask for help in achieving your goals. Send it to me! You might be surprised by what comes from it. The more that you talk about your goals, the more likely it is that you will achieve them.
I actually chose six items to accomplish this year because one of them, our family portrait, had been scheduled and rescheduled and I knew I'd be able to check it off without much effort soon after returning home from Camp Mighty.
1. Have a professional family portrait taken. CHECK! We did this on Sunday! It was so much fun. As a photographer, my instinct is to just do our family portrait myself, but it's really, really hard to be both photographer and subject. Really hard. I just wanted to focus on being a family and let someone else worry about the logistics of taking our picture. I can't wait to see them! Milo and Quinn were so awesome, jumping and dancing and being fun and cute. I look forward to making this a regular thing every few years.
2. Make a pinhole camera. I love the idea of getting back to the basics of photography. Not only will I shoot film, I will also make my own camera! It's crazy talk in this age of digital gadgets and that's what I love about this goal.
3. Volunteer 20 hours at my son's school. I would like to find a way to be involved where I can make a real difference in the school. I think there is an organisation that meets monthly and I'll be looking into that. I also love the library and the art room and I wonder if there is a way to make a difference those places too. I have already put in about 7 hours in various places, but I'm not sure I have found the place that I can make a real difference yet. If anyone has experience with volunteering in your child's public school, I'd love to hear it.
4. Spa weekend with my sister. I began crying when I said this one in front of the group. I think because it's something I really want and need. We used to spend a lot of time together before I had kids and now it's mostly family time when we visit each other. I would love to have hours of uninterrupted time to just talk with her. We have already discussed a few plans and while I'd love a whole week with her in Iceland or something grand like that, the reality is that we might just do a spa afternoon in one of our home towns during a regular visit. That's ok. It's the spirit of the goal, to spend alone time with my sister in a relaxing, supported environment that I really want and need.
5. Help 5 people complete an item on their life list. Help me, help you!! I have a year to help five of you complete an item on your list. At Camp Mighty I read through everyone's lists and I chose items from my personal collection of stuff, mostly books, to give away in the hopes that these items would help people complete their goals. If you cross an item off your list and I helped you with it in anyway, won't you please let me know?
6. Write Photography 101 articles. I have plans for this website, in particular offering more instructional, photography related content. I asked for help in developing this content and have received a few offers from people to proofread and test out my instructions. If you are interested in improving your photography skills, please let me know what you are looking for. I am starting with a guide on how to shoot in manual mode on your digital SLR camera.
The next year will be a good one for me I think, setting these goals will help keep me focused. Being the overachiever that I can be, I'm thinking I might even be able to do MORE than this. What do you think? What are your goals for the next year?
View all my images from the weekend in my CAMP MIGHTY PHOTO SET.
Note: I didn't photograph the weekend as thoroughly as I would have liked. Sometimes it's difficult for me to be totally in the moment and to also photograph it. However, I knew that there would be other people taking pictures and so what I am lacking (like a picture of me in my authentic Space Camp flight suit! Here's another great one by Rebecca.) you can find in other places. For photographs of the Thursday night welcome party, first log into Facebook and then visit the Ecco Domani Facebook album, and for photographs of the first day's speakers and the Space Camp party visit Maggie's Camp Mighty Flickr stream.
I've got one more post coming up, about what I learned while I was there. Stay tuned.
How do I summarize Camp Mighty? It's likely impossible to fully communicate what a moving and epic weekend this was for me and also for many others, but I'll try.
1. The ACE Hotel in Palm Springs is super cool. You will be seeing lots of pictures of attendees in front of the ACE sign you see up above. The food, staff, different spaces around the hotel and details in the rooms were amazing. It was a combination of camping, motels and mid-century modern all wrapped up into a very cozy package.
2. It's mega uncomfortable to be faced with meeting new people, especially people you admire, but sometimes they are so gracious and warm and welcoming that it makes all of the nervous energy and bathroom trips so totally worth it. (Alice? I am looking at you.)
3. It does actually rain in Palm Springs. I was there when it happened. BUT! If you spend four hours in the hot tub drinking champagne punch you will hardly notice.
4. Maggie and Laura are a force to be reckoned with. How they do these events without exploding into a million pieces is beyond me. I loved them both even more in person and I hope they liked me, because they haven't seen the last of my eager face. Oh no. I'm like a Mighty Head now, or something. Look out.
5. My friend Jill is a rock star. I could not have done this trip without her. Driving around in a red Mustang with her was so much fun! Seriously. Everyone should get a cool car to drive around in once in their lives. She made that happen, along with many other things, like helping me take the picture in front of the ACE sign. Whatever she couldn't make happen, I dragged her into. We are a good team like that. I also learned more about her in our four days together than I thought possible. Without the distraction of the combined five children that our daily life entails, we talked more deeply than ever. I also hugged her without any pants on.
6. I totally won at Camp Mighty. There was a contest in which we were supposed to paint our hands with a message for Ronald McDonald House Charities. If 100 people from our group painted our hands and tweeted it, we would win $5000 for the Palm Springs RMHC. Then, they would pick a winner out of those 100 and donate $5000 to that person's home town RMHC. Basically all of us painted our hands and we totally won the Palm Springs RMHC donation. As for the home town prize? It went to me. ME!!! I am still stunned as I write this. It's amazing and I feel so honored. I don't think I've won anything ever in my life. I have to check about all the details but I think my "home town" location is going to be New York City. I have finally arrived.
7. Of course we also raised money for Charity Water. The total amount raised by everyone who participated in Camp Mighty (including the Ace Hotel!) was over $25,000. That's an astounding amount of money!! So we reached our goal and funded a third of the cost of a drilling rig for Ethiopia. The SUPER cool thing was that we raised enough money for 1,111 people to get clean water by 11:11am on 11/11/11. Man, when numbers line up like that, you just know great things will happen. Epic things.
8. I have, like, 40 new friends. What? I just couldn't help it. The women and men* who attended this event were all so wonderful and interesting that I came straight home and added them all on Facebook, and they ACCEPTED! There were so many interesting stories. Some were immediate connections. Amber is my new photo geek buddy and we are going to shrink and clone Anna so she can live in our pockets. Other relationships will hopefully develop more over time and through the internet, but we got a head start with face-to-face interactions and shared experiences. Everyone was so nice, generous and supportive it was really incredible. Most egos were checked at the door and I'm pretty sure everyone who had a vulnerable moment got a lift up from someone.
9. Speaking of vulnerability, I totally cried during our life listing lunch. It completely surprised me. Not everyone did, but I found for me that it was surrounding something I really wanted and really needed. Now I just need to make it happen. CJB? I am warning you right now that we are going to a spa somewhere for the weekend. Just you and me. We need it. Iceland, or Japan? You pick. Might as well hit two life list items at once. Am I right?
10. My husband. I am so lucky. He's been so supportive of me venturing off, away from him and the kids, to do this. He's the most awesome of everyone and you guys? He totally rocked being a single parent for like FOUR DAYS all by himself. The kids were sick and they couldn't go down to my in-laws, so Chris took time off work and stayed home. I am in awe of his support for me and his willingness to be such a good Dad. Milo and Quinn love him more than ever. I fear I may not be the favored parent anymore, but you know what? That's ok with me. Chris deserves it and I'm proud of him for how great the weekend went while I was away.
* Yes, there were a few, very wonderful men there and most were with their wives. Awww.
So that's my Top Ten. I've got more coming, about what I learned and the themes from the weekend. This is really only the beginning.
⇒ TALES OF CAMP MIGHTY (Go here to read the RECAPS and SUMMARIES from all the other attendees!)
I am counting down the days to Camp Mighty! Today I have last minute errands to run for the trip and tomorrow I am getting my nails done and doing final packing. It's always amazing when you have been planning something for a while and it's finally time to get ready to go. In a way I feel like I have been waiting for this for a year, since I first heard about the invitation-only Mighty Summit. I didn't know how I was going to get myself invited, but they made it easy for me by creating a similar event that I could buy a ticket to.
If you have looked at the website, you'll know that Camp Mighty is focused primarily around Life Lists. Before the event we were supposed to write our own, HERE'S MINE, and then while we are there, we select five items that we plan to accomplish in the next year, and ask for help with one item. But Camp Mighty can be far more than simply Life Listing our personal goals. We are also supposed to read other people's lists and see if there is anything that we can help them with. At it's heart it is a networking event, where the goal is to meet people and work together to accomplish our collective goals.
Our first collective goal, before we even got to Camp Mighty, was to raise $20,000 for Charity: Water. Each camper is responsible for $200 and we either donated the money out of own pocket or asked for donations. Some of us raised more than our individual goals so we will certainly exceed the $20,000 mark. I raised $550 with my own donation and the help of my generous family and friends! Thank-you Maddy & Jerry, Pauline, Jill B., Keith & Sue, Robin and Kathleen! My team has almost raised it's $5000 share. Do you want to help put us past our goal? Just donate here and put my name in the comment. The money goes toward buying a drilling rig in Ethiopia to bring clean water to villages that are far from their only water source. This is a new type of charity that is focused on a very specific task, and it's run in a way that takes 100% of the donations and puts them to use in the field. It's this kind of new thinking, about how we can help those in need, that the world needs more of and that Camp Mighty is promoting.
Camp Mighty is new thinking too. It's unlike any other retreat or conference out there. It's community building, selfless and philanthropic. It's the best of what's good about blogging and social media. It's helping others reach their goals, it's teamwork, it's idealistic and non-judgmental. It's about passion and what makes our hearts beat faster. It's about inspiration, living by example and helping those around us. I've come to realize in the last year or so and maybe while becoming a mother and a blogger, that sometimes a really good way to help yourself is to help other people. Through giving, we build ourselves up, we can often accomplish our own goals and we receive help in return. Camp Mighty is at it's best when it's connecting people together to do good things for other people. Sometimes it's as simple as just inspiring someone, but it's also about teaching, giving and sharing. It's about spreading the love, sharing the wealth and building not only better lives for each other, but a better world together.
Of course, it could also just be about renting a Mustang convertible with your best friend and sipping cocktails pool side, right? That in itself is an admirable goal for a stay-at-home Mom like me who hasn't taken a vacation without my family EVER. Just getting together with a few friends and hanging out for the weekend without a care in the world is going to do me so much good that when I return, I'm sure my family will find me more refreshed and energized than I've been in a long time. Obviously we must take care of ourselves first, and sometimes that's all we can manage. But once we get settled with ourselves and happy with our life, it's important to turn towards the world and ask what can we do to make it a better place. Sometimes that means grand gestures, like raising money for a charity but it could also mean small bits of unexpected joy.
You probably won't see a blog post from me until next week while I am off on this adventure, but that doesn't mean that I won't be sharing. Tune in to my Twitter stream or the #campmighty hashtag on Twitter to see what's going on over the weekend. Expect to see lots of exclamation points! And I will be frequently using words like "Awesome!" and "Great job!" and "Amazing!" I will be meeting some of my favorite bloggers and listening to some very inspiring people. If you have contributions, comments or questions for me or anyone at camp over the weekend, please let me know via email (leslie at lightsandletters dot com) or twitter and I'll do what I can to respond.
Have a great week and if you find yourself wishing that could stow away in my suitcase and come with me, see what you can do in your own life to live in some of these principles. Write your own life list. Offer to help a friend. Do a good thing today. Smile. Take a break. And then plan to come with me next year.
I'll be attending Camp Mighty in just a few weeks with over 100 other amazing people and I am beyond excited. This is going to be an experience of a lifetime. Before we arrive in Palm Springs though, we are teaming up to raise money for Charity Water, a wonderful cause that uses 100% of it's donations to drill wells around the world that bring clean water to thousands of people who would otherwise have to walk long distances to gather dirty water. The cause is amazing, and has accomplished so much in just five years, watch this video:
Watch more videos about the great work that Charity Water has done, including Water Changes Everything, and this shocking 30 sec PSA which imagines what would happen if New York had no running water.
Each of the four Camp Mighty teams is responsible for raising $5000 and all together our entire group hopes to donate over $20,000. I'm meeting one of my life list goals (#10 under Giving is "Find a charity to support") by donating $200 for my personal share, but I'd like to see if we can raise more than our goal.
HERE IS WHERE YOU COME IN!! ⇒ Please go to the Camp Mighty - Team 2 page and donate any amount that you are able to, $5, $10 or even $25. Every little bit helps and every penny goes directly towards the materials needed to drill wells in Ethiopia. If you could leave my name in the comment area on the donation form I would appreciate it!
Anyone who donates $25 to Camp Mighty's Team Two and puts "Leslie at Lights and Letters" in the comments, will receive an 8x10 print (unframed) of their choosing from my Photography Portfolio.
Contact me to arrange delivery.
Charity Water is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, so all donations made directly to the organization are tax-deductible.
Additionally, you can also purchase items or services from other Mighty Campers that will go towards Charity Water fundraising:
Lisa is selling this fantastic print for $18, with all proceeds being donated towards Charity Water. (She's on my team! Go TEAM!)
Erica will bake you banana bread if you donate more than $25 in her name. Yum!
Amy of Just a Titch was selling a virtual “raffle ticket.” She raised over $300!! Each ticket cost $2 and the lucky winner got a $25 Amazon Gift Card, Homemade brownies, a mix CD and a few other random goodies.
Jamie is raffling off her first generation iPad. It's a 64 GB 3g + wifi iPad and it comes with it's own case and usb charger. It was $900 when she bought it last year, and the used versions are going for $400 - 500 on eBay right now. But you could win it for $5! How awesome would that be? (She's on TEAM TWO also! You really want a $5 iPad, don't you?)
Eden is raffling off a beautiful necklace that she made, a camera and an Amazon Gift card.
Alison is selling greeting cards at Thistle Craft Studio and will be donating $1.00 from every card sold to Charity Water. Go buy 10!
Andrea of Four Flights of Fancy is selling ad space on her blog with 50% of the proceeds being donated to Charity Water. For $20 you'll get a 200x200 button ad for the month of November and the sponsorship will include a dedicated blog post to you and/or your shop!
Megan sold Dalia pins in her Etsy shop, but they sold out in hours! Darn it, I really wanted one!
Kristen of Rage Against the Minivan will promote your business, blog or cause in a future blog post to her huge daily audience for a donation of $50 or more to Team 4 with her name in the comment.
Leah at A Girl and A Boy is giving away a Flip cam. Each raffle ticket is $5 and will get you a friendship bracelet just for entering. She's only accepting the first 40 entries in the raffle, so hurry up!
Mai is making super cute plush Owls with all proceeds going to Charity Water.
Amber is hosting an open bar in NYC, $5 suggested donation with raffle prizes, drink specials all night, full burger menu and a photo booth that hopefully doesn’t suck.
Finally, and again, I will give you an 8x10 print (unframed) from any photograph in my portfolio for every $25 donation to Team 2 with "Leslie at Lights and Letters" in the comment. So far I've raised $350 in addition to the $200 that I put in for myself! That's a total of $550 for Charity Water!! Thanks to everyone who has donated for me: Maddy & Jerry, Pauline, Jill B., Keith & Sue, Robin and Kathleen. You guys rock.
That's all I can find so far, but if more campers create campaigns for donating I will add them here. If you are a Mighty Camper and have created a campaign that you want me to include, just let me know!