This post originally appeared on Megan Kelsey Photography.

In this creative industry, there are dozens and dozens of workshops and conferences one can choose from to further their business and invest in education. I’ve attended the CLIC Conference, Creative at Heart, and a few online seminars and one-day events and they’ve all been wonderful! Investing in education has been a huge goal of mine these first few years in business and I’m glad I took that approach and made it a priority early on because for me it really has translated directly into business growth. I’ve walked away with some concrete, practical knowledge of how to take my business to the next level, how to gain a larger blog/social media following, how to spoil my clients, how to perfect my craft, and, if it was a GREAT conference, how to increase profits!

The Making Things Happen Conference was none of these things. And I mean that in the BEST way!! MTH was is an experience of a different breed. It’s hard to put into words everything I felt, and I’m sure many attendees would share that opinion. It’s truly indescribable!! I’m so glad I signed up for this mysterious conference that no one could really explain to me… that almost made it even more amazing because I had no idea what to expect. Because I can’t really give an accurate recap of what the MTH was about… I’m just going to share my 5 favorite things about this conference!!

MTH March 2016 Group
Photo by Robyn Van Dyke

1. The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This place couldn’t be any more charming or peaceful for this 3-day conference. I pulled up and thought… “Is that the HOTEL?!” It looked like a mansion from the early 1900s, and felt like one on the inside, too! The ballrooms! The common areas! The teal bathrooms!! I had a little too much fun browsing the historical timelines on the walls and the glass cases with artifacts from the hotel’s early days in the 1930s. Did you know Martin Luther King Jr. was the first African American to be served here as a guest and not a servant or employee? Crazy!!! The Carolina Inn provided a place to feel away from the world but also calm and comforted at the same time. It’s hard to explain but I just loved it and felt right at home and that’s rare for being in a hotel for 3 days!! 🙂

2. The rainbow-colored goodies. This is going to sound weird but the design of the conference materials just made me happy! I don’t want to give away any surprises for future attendees, but just know that it’s highly likely you’ll be taking home a bag full of fun things to remember your time by and to help you apply everything you learned once you get back to the real world! I’m still trying to organize all the stuff I got and it’s been a week! Haha! Shout out to whoever’s in charge of making conference materials look awesome because it’s working!

3. The PEOPLE behind MTH!! The team of speakers, organizers, and volunteers are just so genuinely warm and genuine. They are always up for a hug and are more than willing to give a listening ear or shoulder to cry on. It’s rare to feel so close to conference speakers but at the end of the 3 days I really felt like I could send any one of them an email and get a heartfelt response… and some I could even pick up the phone and call! These people do a REALLY good job at making you feel like they care about you and your well-being… and I think that’s because they honestly do. I’m really thankful for that.

4. The focus on you. Most conferences give the majority of meeting time to the speakers… and I get that. People come go to conferences to learn from and connect with these established and successful business owners and they LOVE it! Nothing was more awesome to me at the first conference I ever attended than hearing Katelyn James talk about how she poses!! But the MTH Conference isn’t really about that. It’s about YOU. I don’t want to say much else because that’s truly a part of the experience but I will say that I’ve never felt more confident in who I am and what I want out of life than I did after attending this conference. Gosh it was just so good to be honest with myself and face my fears head on… it was truly life changing and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.

5. This last one is kinda silly but… I loved the FOOD!!! If you know anything about me you know how much of a “foodie” I am and how I am generally not the “order a salad” kinda girl… though I have been eating salads more regularly lately thanks to some unfortunate health issues. But I let myself enjoy a Southern meal or two while down in North Carolina including a Creole jambalaya risotto that was delicious!! There were also a few conference surprises food-wise that just MADE MY DAY. I ate pimento cheese and hot pepper jelly on biscuits to my heart’s content and I have no regrets. And I didn’t even get a stomach ache!! I think that means pimento cheese can totally be a part of my regular diet now… right?! 😉 Yay for discovering new favorite Southern foods!!

In conclusion, the MTH Conference was unlike anything I have ever attended before. The best way I can describe it without doing it an injustice (because it’s truly indescribable!) is that it was like an intimate retreat on a larger scale. I’ve never felt so connected to and welcomed by a room full of strangers and that is TRULY rare to experience in this day and age of online interactions and less face-to-face heartfelt conversations. I mean I barely used my iPhone the entire time I was there and I was actually dreading going back to the LCD screen life. I want less of that and more real world experiences and moments!! If there’s one BIG thing I took away from MTH it’s that life’s sweetest joys can be those that aren’t “social-media worthy.” Something as simple as taking 8 seconds to stretch during a busy work day, going for a walk around the block on a sunny afternoon, or planting peonies along the side of your house can light up your life so much more than getting 500 likes on an Instagram post, 2,000 viewers on your blog, or 20 weddings booked in one year.

I want to make other number matters more to me and I can honestly say that as of right now, they do. The 3 hours I spent painting our apartment with Justin on Easter are something I will never forget… and I’m so glad I didn’t spend that time blogging for the week or answering emails! Life is about finding BALANCE between your work and the life you are seeking to build that is able to happen because of that work! That will be my next Mantra Monday post! But for now… just know that when the next MTH Conference opens up for registration, you should REALLY consider signing up 🙂 Thank you Lara, Emily, Gina, Nancy, Amber, Katelyn, Maghon, Carrie, Kristin, Rhiannon, and the Southern Weddings team for making this conference a unique and unforgettable one! I’ll never forget it.

Here are a few photos from my time at The Carolina Inn! I didn’t take any pictures during the actual conference but had fun going on a little iPhone safari around the hotel!! 🙂

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This was the obviously the nicest place I’ve ever stayed… shout out to my roommate Julie for being so wonderful!

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Annnd the bathroom was mint!! So pretty!

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They told us to wear comfy shoes… I took that advice pretty literally. Love my mocassins!

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So much history!

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Probably the dorkiest photo I’ve ever uploaded of myself on the blog… haha oh well!

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Photo evidence that the conference DID happen and I didn’t just wander around the hotel taking iPhone pictures! Haha!

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The last night I ordered room service for the first time. I think because I was inspired by this room service sign from decades ago!! So awesome! And the sweet potato fries were delicious 🙂 Loved my time at the Carolina Inn!!

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