Saying Yes to Life What a Weekend with Travel Writers Taught Me

I did not mean for it to happen, but last weekend my soul was fed.

I attended a conference for travel writers.  Before leaving, I was focused on the conference part of the invitation, and unintentionally ignored the “Travel Writer” part.  I thought long and hard about going, and decided to reply “no” for this year.  “Maybe next year” I thought, “when things are calmer and I am better at what I do”.

The Power of Niagra Falls
The Power of Niagara Falls

I had lots of good reasons for declining;  the conference was clear across the country, my kids are little, and we have recently moved (also clear across the country).  Opting out was legitimate, reasonable, and justified.

“Jen,” my husband said “I’ve got this.  You go.  This is a real opportunity and you have no idea what will come from it.”  He appealed to the part of me that knows saying “yes” propels life, so I went.

“I don’t know anyone” I thought as I left.  “These are real writers and they are so much better than me.  What could I possibly give them? What will I even say?!”

Something overtook me though, a force or innate knowledge (if I call it intuition some will read flaky), and I grew confident in my decision to attend.  Before the wheels of the 757 lifted, I knew I was headed in the right direction.

Travel Writers Know About a Whole Lot More than Travel

Here is what nobody tells you about travel writers;  they say “yes”.  To everything.

Do you want to stand in hurricane force winds and rain at the bottom of Niagara Falls?”  “Yes.”

“Do you want to ride jet boats through class 5 rapids of The Niagara River and be completely submerged in waves?”  “Yes.”

“Do you want to walk through a haunted trail in the rain with candles as your only light to a castle where a headless ghost dwells?”  “Yes.”

“In heels?”  “Yes.”

“Do you want to pick apples and go for a hay ride at a beautiful farm on the Niagara Wine Trail?”  “Yes.”

What fed my soul last weekend was being in “yes”.  The individuals I was with opt-in to life authentically, intentionally, and easily.  This mentality extends to people, thoughts, and friendships.  They have opened themselves in a way that allows them to live fully- or at least more fully than I have been living.

The Day My Soul Was Stirred

What last weekend gave me is a deep soul stirring- one that conjured up memories of world travel and living big locally.  It reminded me that life is participatory, and that we need to shake things up when they feel stale.  The new friendships and acceptance by these successful writers did not build my confidence.  Rather, they inspired me to explore and honor my potential, to be authentic with my voice, and to celebrate my unique contribution to the world- through writing, playing, and parenting.

Who knew I would find 2 new friends and joy at the bottom of Niagra Falls?  Pictured from left, Jyl Johnson Pattee of Mom It Forward Media, Krista Parry of Powdr Enterprises, and Myself
Who knew I would find new friends and joy at the bottom of Niagara Falls? Pictured from left, Jyl Johnson Pattee founder of Mom It Forward Media, Krista Parry,  Senior VP of Powdr Enterprises, and Myself.  Photo by the inspiring Kara Williams, co-founder of The Vacation Gals.

Most importantly, this weekend confirmed my commitment to LIVING! with my kids.  I want them to live as I did this weekend. I want them to see the excitement in new people and places,  and to experience the fullness that comes from real acceptance of themselves and others.

Gratitude is an accurate word for me being included in the TMS Family Travel Conference this past weekend, but my feelings run so much deeper… my soul has been opened back up and I am ready to see the world again.  For travel writers, I cannot imagine better words to read.

A massive thank you to Niagara USA for the warmest of welcomes, and for showing us your city, perfect for LIVING! in.  Here is just one of the ways we had fun in Niagara Falls, USA:

16 Replies to “Saying Yes to Life What a Weekend with Travel Writers Taught Me”

  1. “this weekend confirmed my commitment to LIVING! with my kids. I want them to live as I did this weekend. I want them to see the excitement in new people and places, and to experience the fullness that comes from real acceptance of themselves and others.”

    Here, here! Sounds like it was a great experience and this was a great read.

    • Indeed it was Allie! We are just coming to the point where my kids need less every minute of every day 🙂 While I would not change the fact that I give them everything they need when they need it, they are starting to need less. We are entering a new stage in our family history, one where we can experience more. It is exciting and hopeful and I am grateful that I was given this experience at a truly formative time.

      Thanks so much for your ever thoughtful comments, Allie. They are always appreciated.

  2. Jennifer,

    One of the highlights of the conference was meeting you. Thanks for the heart to heart chat and inspiration to take more risks with my children’s education. I loved learning about how you’ve embraced life. I loved sharing with your my journey. Indeed, travel is so much about embracing life, the world, and all of creation.

    • LiLing,
      I feel the same way. I am grateful that my flight was cancelled and I had to take a later shuttle 🙂 I had really forgotten how much travel stirs us- even if we never set foot on an airplane. I am looking forward to staying connected with you- and our airport conversation sits on my heart.

    • Kara,

      I have been telling my husband all about you 🙂 I feel fortunate that I not only was able to hear you speak, but got to spend time getting to know you. Joanne’s closing remarks were so meaningful to me- you are surely one of my dots!

  3. Your fears were my fears. So glad we were able to squash them. More than anything I walked away feeling like I just met the most amazing people ever. Not your typical “conference”. Love this post. Thank you.

    • Candace,

      It is always the same thing isn’t it? We think we are the only ones feeling anxious and scared, and then we find out we were not alone at all! Thanks for sharing this with me, Candace. Surely this was not a typical conference. Thank goodness 🙂

  4. Awesome post, and I LOVED meeting you. This was hands-down the best conference I’ve attended, with the most special group of people. I feel like I’ve made friends for life, and can’t wait to see you again. I love the idea of being in “yes.”

  5. I love that your enthusiasm helped me to also say “Yes!” to life this past weekend and get over a couple of fears. What an exhilarating time touring Niagara County! So nice meeting and hanging with you and getting to know such a fabulous group of people. I hope we can do it again. It definitely fed my soul!

    • Jyl,

      Being in “yes” is an amazing place to be. As moms, it is easy to forget that. Not because we want to, but because our focus is, rightfully, completely on others during their early years. This is what this weekend was for me- a realization that my family is ready for the next thing. My kids are a little bit older and are able to meet many of their basic needs themselves. It is a good time for me to say “yes” again- not just for me, but so that they live in “yes” too.

      Your words and spirit set us in the right direction, Jyl, and I am so glad to know you!

  6. As co-host, I couldn’t have a better thank you for the hard work and commitment from so many people, partners, sponsors, destinations and attractions that went into making this happen. I try never to use the word “No!”

    • Kyle,

      I have been reflecting on the amount of work that must have gone into this conference. While we will never know the details, we know the result; it was perfection! Every speaker, transition, and event was flawless. Each time block built on the one prior, and created an overall experience of loving both TMS Family Travel Conference, and Niagara Falls.

  7. Jennifer, reading your post made me want to cry because I could feel your wonderful and warm spirit running through it. I’m glad that I had a chance to meet with you and share much more than I was intending to this weekend. So glad you and I both said yes! and I hope our travels will allow our paths to cross again.

    • Tawanna,

      I am glad that you felt comfortable enough to share. I’m thinking of you and your family and remembering your big beautiful smile! I have a feeling that our paths will cross again, at least I hope!