Nashville. We called this area home for 3.5 years and as quick as we blew into town, we soared out when my husband was offered a full time job as a professor back in Virginia where we came from. I left kicking and screaming because I wasn’t done. There were so many wonderful people and places we were deeply connected to here. But the thing is, the full time work just was not available for us at that time. David’s students ask him all the time why on earth he would ever leave Nashville to come back to our teeny tiny town in Virginia. The answer is simple: for them. I’m not kicking and screaming anymore. I’m sinking my roots and my boots into the Virginia clay I call home because I believe in blooming where you’re planted.
Even still, any chance we get to visit our old stomping grounds, we take it. My husband was already lined up for a fabulous conference called Story. So I googled to see if there were any other writery type conferences or things in the area I could take advantage of and latch onto for this trip because of course there was no way I was letting him come back “home” without our son and me. I couldn’t believe it! TRIBE! It was happening the weekend before my husband’s conference. Jeff Goins’ piece, “You ARE Writer” was what helped give me the confidence to kick my habit of putting a “someday” on my calling. I embraced the fact that I actually already was a writer and started acting like it after I read this five years ago. (Right after we moved away from Nashville, actually). So when I saw that his Tribe Conference was happening the weekend before my husband’s conference, we decided that it would be a much better investment than a ridiculously expensive plane ticket out of our small town for me to pack up our one year old and hit the road to attend this conference and then connect with my husband later. And do you know what I learned the most through it all? I learned about the value of having a real tribe.
It’s tough to keep consistent community in our little spot on the map because it’s a college town. I was sharing this with a friend in Nashville and he nodded and pointed out that it’s much like a military base with all the people that shift in and out every few years. We have people in Virginia that we are intentionally connected with that bless us and sharpen us tremendously. And even after being gone for five years, our roots in Nashville run really deep because our community is still in one place.
Y’all. I could not have even gone to this conference if it had not been for my Nashville people. We stayed with friends who treated us like their own family. Not only did my friend Julie take care of our boy, she did my laundry! Not just switching loads— but washing, drying, folding, and ironing. What?! She washed my son’s cups to be sure they didn’t get moldy. She rode in the back seat with him on the way to church in case she needed to body block him if something were to happen. She made us chicken pot pie. And then my other friends? They all took turns watching our boy, rolling him right into their own lives, and did all the things to care for him that they would for their own children. The all obliged me in taking pictures so that I could savor all that my son was enjoying with them and their children while I ran with the opportunity to connect with other writers, thinkers, and influencers being totally sharpened, refreshed, and inspired. I teared up so many times throughout the weekend thinking about how grateful I was that God had assembled a tribe here locally for me to support the dreams and callings He has given specifically to me… a stay at home mom who writes.
My tribe has people from all over the world, collected from various seasons of my life. It’s not uncommon that I bounce ideas off of people from Kenya to Cambodia and from North Carolina to California. A tribe does not have to be restricted to a geographic territory. A tribe is a group of people that sharpens you and helps you become the best version of who God created you to be.
At this conference, I found more people and principles to add to my tribe.
I’ll be impacted more intimately by the people I sat beside. Those will be tribes people that I connect with in the ordinary. I loved the concept of a conference like this being a watering hole for like minded people. Sure, we all bring different varieties and perspectives to the world of writing, but the thing that brought us together was a passion for the written word and getting important messages before the eyes of those who need our stories the most.
So these are the things I am still letting sink in from those that stood on the platform:
“What can I create that will help with the problems my readers are facing and light them up?” Pam Slim
“If you want to build a community, you have to be a community.”
“Voice is the thing that distinguishes you from everyone else.”
“We don’t build a platform so the world can make much of us, we build a platform to reach the world.”
“Things get really exciting when your work activates other people.”
“Help people rise and become their best selves. That helps you become your best self, too.” Jonathan Fields
“Your struggle is the gold.” Ishita Gupta
“You write to fulfill a personal dream, but also to impact someone else’s life.” Chris Marlow
“Inventory your life so your vocation matches it.” Tsh Oxenreider
“Show up every day. You can’t steer a parked car.” “Don’t start with motivation. Motivation is a result of doing. Motivation will come after you show up.” Sean McCabe
“Focus and finish.” Crystal Paine
“A story well told can change the world.” Shaunta Grimes
“When you are filled with joy and fear at the same time, it’s called joyfear and is a defining moment in your life.” Leo Babauta
“Nurture the seeds God has planted in you.” Dan Miller
“Develop your writing muscle. Focus on what’s the most fruitful.” Jackie Bledsoe
“Whether a book is published a year earlier or a year later makes no difference. If you aren’t ready, it’s ok. What will last the longest and stand the test of time? What matters is the journey to being timeless.”
“Making great stuff is marketing really great stuff.” Ryan Holiday
“Be honest through grief. This is my real self. I’m going to make it.” Natalie Brenner
“Goals you don’t finish don’t disappear. They become ghosts that haunt you.” “You want a new idea? Try to finish an old one!” “It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being better than you were yesterday.” “Starting is fun, but the future belongs to the finisher.” Jon Acuff
So there you have it, my friends. In a nutshell, this is what I took away from the Tribe Conference. I hope that some of this translates to offer you a bit more nourishment for your tribe and your drive. You need people in your local tribe, but oh, how you need people in your global tribe, too.
Who is in your tribe? What principles and people are you letting into the band of boosters to your life and calling? If you’re feeling kind of thirsty in your calling, go to a watering hole. Find people who will sharpen you to become the best version of you— the one God created you to be and no one else.