Archive of ‘The Write Stuff’ category

My 2022 Word of the Year

I learned a long time ago that New Years’ resolutions don’t resonate with me. I make them, and I break them without a second thought. There are a few reasons for this. For starters, resolutions are typically too broad. Lose weight. Get organized. Write more. Volunteer often. Yes, I could drill down each of these statements with smaller steps, an overall plan, and a foreseeable goal. And then, to seal the deal, I would find the perfect app to accompany it.

To be honest, I already have the steps, plans, goals, and apps in place. And I’m working through each of these goals slowly but steadily. So, what do I need resolutions for? To commit to the same things I committed to last year? Seems a little silly to me.

Nevertheless, I like to jump on a good bandwagon, and writers have the perfect tradition for this. We pick a word of the year. Instead of making resolutions, we challenge ourselves to find a word that encompasses the kind of focus we want to achieve year-round.

It’s a pretty tall order, but I highly recommend it, especially if you aren’t a resolutions person.

Just to recap, in 2018, picked the word “coffee” and vowed to meet up with people to have coffee and catch up, network, or just for laughs. That was a fun year. I can’t find the word I chose in 2019, but for 2020, it was “believe,” and last year’s word was “today.”

For 2022, I wanted to pick something that motivates me and inspires me to grow and change for the better. Who better to turn to for inspiration than author and motivational speaker Brene Brown. She once said, “connection is why we’re here. It is what gives purpose and meaning in our lives.”

I agree with this on so many levels. What are we here for if not to find purpose and meaning in our lives? So, my word of the year is CONNECT. It speaks to me for several reasons. Here are a few of them.

Personally Speaking

For the past few years, I’ve said that I have a book in me. I am finally getting that book down on paper. In order to write a book, you have to connect on a deeper level with yourself, your past, and your future. This is what I have been doing for the last year with the help of the writing community, where I am an active participant. Soon enough, I will connect the dots on my story and hopefully be fortunate enough to share it with the rest of the world.

I will also start a new chapter in my life later this year as an empty nester. Both of my kids will be in college, which will be quite an adjustment. I admit that I’m feeling a bit anxious about it. But, I am combatting that anxiety by connecting on a different and exciting new level with my husband and my semi-adult children.

While I’m looking forward to the personal growth that will bring me, I’m also not rushing it. I plan to be present for all the special occasions and little parenting moments I can collect until I have to drop Andrew off at college.

Professionally Speaking

From a career perspective, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the people I’ve met along the way. I have an excellent professional support system made up of mentors, colleagues, friends, and family who continue to encourage and inspire me. I am so grateful to them, and in 2022, I want to reconnect with them, help them in their journey, and see where that leads. Networking has never been a chore for me. I thrive on meeting and learning from new people. LinkedIn was a big part of that when I was looking for a job. Now, I want to look for opportunities where I can share my expertise, continue learning, and give back to those who have been so good to me.

A Word on Disconnecting

When I think about connecting with what’s most important to me in 2022, it also helps to recognize what makes me unhappy. In 2020, I left a toxic work environment for a much more supportive one. This made all the difference in my life this past year. I’m much happier, healthier, and better for it. And now I know that life is too short for jobs, people, and things that don’t bring us joy.

I also want to disconnect from doom-scrolling on social media and watching hours and hours of news programs. I’ve been a news junkie all my life, but it has not served me well lately. At this point, I’m scared of the pandemic, the politics, and the pandemic politics. I want to be informed but need to find more balance here. And sometimes it is better to unplug from all of that shit instead – with the exception of Jake Tapper and all of the late-night talk show hosts. They still bring me plenty of joy.

I will also continue disconnecting from the world for a while with a good book. I read 30 books in 2021 and set a new Goodreads goal for 35 books in the new year. I’d actually like to read more than that, but we will see what happens. I also learned to DNF (do not finish) books that I can’t get into the story. Again, life is too short.

One More Thing

This post is the start of a new blog challenge for me – the Ultimate Blog Challenge consists of 31 posts in 31 days. Some days I’ll have plenty to say, and other days I may post a photo or a quick story. I hope you will read, comment, and share your stories with me too. Don’t want to miss a blog post? Subscribe above to get a post in your inbox every day!

Happy New Year! Let’s connect!

XO,
Elisa

 

My Creative Leap into HippoCamp

Do you know that moment when you walk into a room and immediately know that you belong there? This is exactly how I felt when I walked into HippoCamp 2021 for the first time earlier this month. But before I get into that, let me tell you how I got there.

Several years ago, I spent a Saturday at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia at a career day for writers, artists, and other creative types. This event was where I first heard Hippocampus Magazine founder, Donna Talarico, speak about creative nonfiction (CNF) as a writing genre. Her 45-minute workshop was a breath of fresh air to me because I wasn’t sure where my voice fit at that point in my writing career. I have this little-known blog of slice-of-life pieces about my kids, book reviews, and strong opinions about Dunkin Donuts over Starbucks coffee. Most posts are light-hearted, but sometimes I share more personal stories like my struggle with depression and anxiety. My audience is small but strong, and my parents are my biggest fans. I’m proud of this blog, but I want more.

Sitting at Career Day, I looked for my nonfiction cohort, but I didn’t find too many of them there. However, Donna told us about a magical conference where memoirs, personal essays, flash nonfiction, and other great works are born, nourished, and celebrated. I can’t tell you why it took me so long to find my way to HippoCamp 2021, but I felt right at home once I arrived.

Wanting to make the most of my conference experience, I relied upon Donna’s article in Brevity: “How to Make the Most of a Multi-day Writing Conference” as my guide. Here are some of my wonderful experiences, thanks partly to the advice I took from her piece.

Get Outside of My Comfort Zone

When I walked into the workshop entitled “Survival Handbooks for Creative Writers,” the first thing I saw was a table of scrapbooking supplies. There were books of stickers for every kind of interest, hobby, or emoji that speaks to me. And then, I saw glue and scissors and colored pencils and markers and started to sweat. You see, I once left a Creative Memories scrapbooking party in tears because art projects have always overwhelmed me.

But, I decided to put that behind me and jump in to make my own writing survival guide. I filled it with reminders of what makes me happy – my dog, family, and love language – words. I stepped out of my comfort zone and completed the task at hand. And while I didn’t share it with the group, I was proud of myself and brought home a lovely conference souvenir.

Participate in the Back Channel

I’ve attended many conferences before, but I’ve never seen anything like the community that forms on Twitter and Instagram before and after HippoCamp. The buildup to the big event gave me the confidence boost I needed. I didn’t know anyone on Friday, but I introduced myself anyway when we met in person. By the time I left on Sunday, I had said goodbye to people who felt like old friends. And now, I am still following them and meeting other attendees online. I’m learning so much from their wisdom and basking in their post-conference glow. I hope to get to know them better between now and next year.

Be Polite and Cordial

If I could boil down the conference vibe into one word, I’d have to say that HippoCamp was a super-friendly event. (If I add a hyphen, it still counts one word, right?)

Not only did I find writers like me here, but also people who went out of their way to be warm and welcoming. I would love to share a meal with or go out for a girls’ night with any of them. Heck, I’d share an Airbnb, and that is something I do not say about some of my closest friends. My heart dropped when we had to cut conversations short because the next workshop was starting. I looked forward to meals because I was met with a smile and found intelligent and engaging discussions there no matter where I sat.

My One Takeaway

I came away with many ideas and action items that I almost don’t know where to start. Thankfully, at the end of the conference, Donna shared some of her wisdom. She asked us to think of one thing to focus on first. This “thing” is different for everyone, and I hope my fellow attendees will share their takeaways soon.

Here is mine: I went to HippoCamp with a book idea and left with a clear vision for how I will tell my story. This is exactly what I wanted from my conference experience, and boy did it deliver!

Thank you to all of the conference organizers and attendees for an amazing writing experience! I can’t wait to see you next year at HippoCamp 2022! In Judaism, when we don’t want to say goodbye – we say L’hitraot, which means until we meet again.

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