Monday, August 19, 2013

101 My Haven Conference Story

I started blogging almost four years ago.  Four years!  Can you believe it?  And it started out as a place where I shared things we were doing around the abode, and also a lot of personal updates, milestones, successes, struggles, family stories, etc...  As my readership grew, I have posted less and less personal updates, and more and more projects and inspiration.  Part of it was because I am guessing that for 99% of you, projects are more interesting than anything happening in my life, and why you visit.  But it is also because it is easier to put yourself out there and share personal things when it is just your neighbor and your mom reading your blog.  Now, it is a bit more scary to open up...

However, I do think that certain things happen that are completely personal and blog related and worth sharing.  They may not be a huge deal to everyone, but they are to me and I really need to be better about taking days to reflect more often.  So today, I am taking a break from projects, and sharing my Haven story.

What is Haven you ask?  If you have been part of the blogging community for awhile now, either as a reader or a blogger, my guess is you have heard of Haven, and probably even read 3,748 recaps within the last two weeks.  However, every recap is a bit different, because Haven is different for everyone.  I don't believe any two people will have the exact same experience, and that is what makes it so amazing.  But in general, it is a two+ day conference in which DIY/Home bloggers gather to share their skills and stories, either through attending classes or teaching them.  There are endless sessions about DIY, decor, organizing {hurray!} and even photography.  And it isn't just about giving you the skills to get more hands-on within the walls of your home, there are also classes for bloggers to learn how to work with sponsors, build your brand, etc...  SO much goodness in two days!


So now, the oh so super personal piece of me that I typically keep locked up.

I suffer from social anxiety.

Huge.

Not diagnosed, but it is all up in my crazy pants head and I am fairly certain that I am absolutely terrified of crowds and public speaking.  So much so that I lost my cookies before I started filming for our little HGTV appearance.  And there are even times when I won't get up to go to the bathroom at a busy restaurant, for fear of not being able to find it and roaming around aimlessly while all diners point and laugh.  Cuckoo's nest stuff right? 

Knowing that, last year when I finally had the guts to go and purchase my Haven ticket, I felt relief when they were already sold out.  Whew.  I knew I should go, but grew nervous at the thought as I "wouldn't know anyone" and wondered what people would think about "the girl behind the blog".

And then the recaps came.  Tons of my favorite peeps sharing their oh-so-fun stories about their time at Haven.  And I was sad inside that I had missed it.  So many happy faces I had been reading for so long, all together in one place, having a great time.  I told myself in that moment that I would NOT miss the next Haven.  That I knew for sure.

So I stayed prepared and up to date on ticket and conference news, and was sure to jump all over the ticket purchase and hotel stay as soon as it was available.  I got a ticket... I got a ticket!!

I looked at my hubby instantly and said, "Want to go to Georgia with me?".  We don't get the chance to travel alone much, so we figured that not only would he be the support I would need after a long day of socializing, that we would also be able to snag some time away together.  That instantly helped with any nervous feelings I had about the conference.

Then, I found out that my super fantastic local blog buddy turned great friend, Jackie, was going as well.  Suddenly I wasn't nervous any longer, I was downright excited.

So tip number one for those nervous to go, find yourself a buddy.  It helps ease nerves and that overwhelming feeling.  And if you don't know other bloggers, drag along a friend or family member. 

And then it happened.  I got an email.  The beautiful gals running the conference invited me to do a class on organizing.  SO amazing right?  Yeah, probably for someone who doesn't fear public speaking and crowds. Oh boy.

So I thought about it and I thought about it some more.  I could take the easy route, or I could put on my big girl panties and do the class.  In my previous job, I was required to speak from time to time, and although they were always probably laughable moments, I learned something each time, and the more I did it, the easier it was the next time.  Being removed from that for years now, I knew I would have to throw myself back in front of people, before I completely turned into a full time hermit.  I had no choice, I had to speak.  So I said YES!  From there, my mug was plastered on the "Speakers" tab of the conference website and there was no turning back.  First time attending a conference.  First time speaking at one also.  Just breathe.....

I asked Chris from Just a Girl {a super incredible chic also running the conference}, if it would be better if I were to partner up with someone for the class, and she oh-so-awesomely volunteered.  Tip number two, public speaking is FAR easier when you have a partner in crime. 

So we worked together via email up until the conference, on our content and presentation.  I was actually getting excited!  What?

Everything was going really well.  Our life is pretty busy with kids and sports and other work obligations, that I didn't have time to stress about the conference.  Which was wonderful.  But then the week of the conference came.  And at the same time, it started to also feel like my busiest week of the year.  We had baseball to travel for, a presentation to finalize and oh yeah, I also decided to launch my 2014 planner printables that week too!  Needless to say, stress levels were running high and sleep was running low....

And I got sick.

Massive head cold sick.

The day before departure.

Fab.

So I started sucking down honey and hot lemon water, and asked you all on Instagram for help bringing me back to a happy place.  Thank you to everyone who suggested Emergen-C and Zicam.  Both played a huge part in me functioning at the conference!


The conference ran Thursday through Saturday and we got in Thursday afternoon and thanks to a lack of Wi-Fi on the plane {what plane doesn't have Wi-Fi?}, I had a bit of work to finish up before heading to the Welcome party.

While finishing said work, my Instagram feed instantly was flooded with pictures of the party.  HUGE crowds of people.  Oh. My. Nerves.  Crowd anxiety set in.

Can anyone out there relate?  Anxiety is no fun. I get nerves that I am going to walk around aimlessly and no one will have a clue who I am.  I get nerves that people will love my blog, but meet me and think, "Whoa, nerd alert!"  I get nerves that I will trip and face plant in a plate of hors d'oeuvres.  Nerves that what I am wearing is too dressy, not dressy enough, too bright or not at all flattering.  Nerves that my hair is sticking up, that my makeup is smudged, I have lipstick on my teeth or that I totally picked the wrong shoes.  Nerves that I will instantly blurt out something lame or spew out words that make absolutely no sense {because as we all know, I do that from time to time}.

But you know what?  None of that mattered.  It was all for nothing.  These people do what I do.  They blog.  They love DIY.  They are sweet and caring and smiling and they accepted me with open arms {head cold and all}.

{me, jackie, cassie, courtney, carmel and anneke}

These girls.  Seriously, the sweetest gals around.  I love everything about each of them and they made the first evening of Haven amazing.  I had been working with them all virtually for so long, I was more nervous about meeting them than anyone.  Sort of what I would imagine Internet dating would be like.  You share bits and pieces of yourself and your heart virtually, but meeting in person can be a whole new thing.  They could be an 87 year old man with an odd foot obsession.  But no foot obsessed guys here.  Just amazing, beautiful and talented women.   And I fell head over heals in love with each one of them.


I decided to call it a night early, that nasty cold was just too much to handle, and wasn't going to benefit me for my morning class.  So the hubster {who was enjoying quiet, chaos free moments up in the room} took me out for dinner and I got a pretty good night of rest.

The morning of day two and I nervously walked down to the conference area, and was instantly greeted by a long time reader who was as kind as they get.  Nerves were tamed, I mingled with a few new friends and I found my way to the opening speech by Ana White.


Of course, she needs no introduction, and was a great and inspiring speaker.  She has also grown her blog from her passion, and had a lot to share about that process and ways she has streamlined it so she can spend more time doing what she loves and less time behind the computer screen.  My hat is off to her, she really knows what she is doing.

And then I was up.  It was my turn.  Feeling a little shaky, I sucked on some lemon slices, drank a bunch of water and took a deep breath.  "I think I can I think I can I think I can....."


And I did.  I spoke at a conference.  Sure I was a little nervous, but the second I saw the sea of pretty, smiling faces, I just turned on my blogger switch and chatted about what I love.  Organizing.

{A special thank you to Jackie for snapping photos of me during my class.}



And it wouldn't have been as easy without Chris.


It is amazing how we hadn't even met in person until 30 minutes before our class, and yet, we clicked together like two organizing crazed gals do.  I love her humor and style and gift for making ordinary, extraordinary. 


Above and beyond teaching the two classes {one on Friday and another on Saturday}, I met SO SO SO many readers.  That was my favorite part and it was really great putting a face with a name.  So a huge shout-out {Holla!} and Thank You to those who came up and introduced yourselves and shared your stories and sweet smiles with me.  My heart has never felt more full.

Once the classes were over, I was able to spend the rest of the day mingling, relaxing and enjoying the conference. 



{the lovely Jenna from SAS Interiors}

The conference is a great place for bloggers to meet up with companies and partner with sponsors.  So if that is your jam, you won't be disappointed.  All sorts of amazing DIY companies were there, and although I wasn't personally there for that, I couldn't help but stop and touch the pretty tapes at the 3M booth.


I did, however, really really enjoy attending many of the classes that were offered {and was sad I couldn't go to more!}.


The gorgeous Courtney, Cassie & Carmel offered boatloads of great tips about using Social Media as a blogger.  I picked up a few helpful hints as they chatted all things Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  I also learned that I like to make things as challenging as possible and manually do things that can be done automatically.  Thanks for making my life easier ladies!


Kristin from The Hunted Interior {who is a styling genius and makes it look so natural and easy}, Emily from Emily Clark {who is the tiniest, prettiest gal with the sweetest accent and knows how to rock pink heals and design a room that is magazine worthy yet family friendly} and Sarah from The Yellow Cape Cod {who I was introduced to at the conference and can't wait to start following}, inspired me to re-arrange the items on my kitchen shelves and buffet the first day I was back home.  I also am planning a big furniture swap in the near future, thanks to their super inspiring class.


Ashley and Mandi have been long time virtual friends of mine, so of course, attending their class was at the top of my list.  And they receive the biggest gold star for the best opening presentation slide. Ever.  And they made us all realize that as bloggers and DIY'ers, we will go through phases of learning about ourselves and our styles, and that is completely natural and OK.  They also reminded us that is OK to try things and fail.  That is how we become better and find what works for us.  I have all sorts of fails when working on rooms, and I hope to show those more because those mishaps are how I ultimately land on a room I love.


And no surprise, Ashley is just as brilliant, darling and sweet in person {and she still owes me a girly camp-out in that fab teepee she created - holding you to it girl!}.  And Mandi.  She honestly could be a super model and her personality soars for miles and miles.  Her energy is contagious and I can't wait to partner up with her on projects in the future!

I also attended a couple of other classes that were blog based and learned that I have absolutely no clue what I am doing when it comes to valuing myself and working with advertisers.  Part of me is OK with that because I would blog for free if I could, and the other part of me realized that there is still so much about blogging that I don't know after four years of doing it.

The first night, once classes were over, Jackie and I snuck off with my hubby for dinner.  It was a nice and quiet night with lots of laughs, stories and good food.


It is OK to sneak away from a conference.  I personally believe I enjoyed it more because I was able to take some breaks and spend moments away.

However, by the last night, I told the hubby he was on his own for dinner.  The conference was over and I was going to take some time to soak up my final moments with the girls who I felt like I have known for an eternity.


{courtney, michelle, cassie, me, emily, kristin}


So in the end, if you ever wonder if you should attend a conference, do it.  Don't over think it, just say yes.


I left the conference learning a lot about myself and my blog.  I felt inspired to go home and make changes to my home.  I turned solid virtual relationships into real life friendships and met so many incredible people in such a short amount of time {and was sad I wasn't able to spend even more time with so many of you}.  Nothing can compare to that.  I conquered my fear of public speaking {although I will always be nervous in those situations}, and realized that there was never a reason to be nervous about going.  Sure, the crowds can be a little daunting at first, but when you take a moment to slow down and look around, all you see is people looking to have a great time and wanting to make new friends .   You will laugh, you will learn, you will cry, you will bond, you will feel insane amounts of happiness and you will go home completely and utterly exhausted in the best possible way.


A huge thank you to the Haven team for seeing something in me, inviting me to chat about what I love, and bringing me closer to so many fabulous gals.  Thank you to those who took time from the conference to attend my class and say hello.  I will forever be grateful for the experience, and am already counting down the days until next year!


Pssst!  If you snapped a photo with me at Haven, I would love to keep it in my personal album, so if you could be so kind to email it to me here or tag me on Instagram, I would be beyond grateful.  Thanks lovies! 


101 comments:

  1. There is always so much to learn from others in the same field. I have been following your blog for a long time, and wanted to let you know, that when we moved into our new home this year, a lot of your tricks and tips were what kept us sane. Thank you for that. I love your planner templates as well, very handy and very cute! Keep up the great work. And a small tip on social anxiety/public speaking, talk to the audience like you would talk to a friend...forget that you are "presenting" something, instead make it a point to make them understand what you are talking about, like you would to a friend. It has helped me everytime..
    Cheers..

    Visit me @ http://willfullyelegant.wordpress.com

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    1. Thank you so much for the sweetness! It makes me giddy to know that you are able to find solutions and inspiration here. :D

      I love your tip and couldn't agree more. I built my presentation like my blog, so it wasn't all that bad once I got going. Day two was even better since I had already been through it once. Wahoo!

      Thanks again!!

      xo,
      Jen

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  2. Thanks for this great post Jen !!! You're so sweet! Haven looks like Heaven :) xoxo Iris

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  3. SO happy you had a good time! I always get anxious going to Communication Conferences (and I TEACH public speaking at Univ. of Georgia!). You have a lot of good to share! I tell all my girlfriends about your blog and they LOVE you and your colorful style. GET IT, GIRL! :) [BTW--can you come be my BFF? I'll teach you how to give presentations like a pro and you can teach me how to keep my closet and dresser under control]

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    1. Love your plan! BFF talent swap it is! ;) And it's a smidge nice to know that even pro speakers get a little nervous.

      Thanks so much for your sweetness!

      xo,
      Jen

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  4. I've been reading your blog for ages (& love it), but haven't commented before. Today, though, I feel compelled to say thanks for telling us about Haven (which, living in Australia, will unfortunately be a lot harder to ever get to!), but especially thanks for sharing something so personal. Although sharing personal stuff certainly must be harder now you've got so many readers, it's great to know that a pro blogger has a human side with quirks, foibles & anxieties like the rest of us! I say bring on the sharing whenever you feel like it - I for one think it makes your blog even better :)

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    1. Thanks so much Emily! <3 I think a Haven in Australia is in order, I would totally attend! :)

      xo,
      Jen

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  5. Jen, Today must be let it all out day lol. Several other bloggers have written about there battles with depression and anxiety today. I have to say I have the same struggles with social anxiety to the point that I think I have a sensory processing disorder. I wrote a post on it a while back and the response was huge. It's really nice to hear the personal side of the girl behind the blog. Thanks for this post, it helps us all connect through are triumphs and struggles. Lesley

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    1. It is always nice to know that the blogging community comes together in more ways than one. Such a great forum to support one another through all of our triumphs and struggles.

      Oodles of xo's!
      Jen

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  6. Really great to read a piece like this on such a huge blog - nice to see the lady behind the blog, social anxiety and all! We all have something that makes us suffer and it is inspirational to see how you don't let your social anxiety hold you back!

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  7. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sure you helped
    a lot of people who are dealing with the same issues. I love your blog. It's the first blog I started reading. You're truly an inspiration!

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    1. Thanks so much for being such a loyal reader Amanda!

      xo,
      Jen

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  8. Hey Jen! I really enjoyed reading your recap. I'm so glad you had fun teaching your class. Meeting you was such a treat. You are the sweetest. Can't wait to do it all again next year!!

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    1. Thank you so much Brandi! Meeting you was one of the highlights of my trip!

      xo!
      Jen

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  9. Jen, you probably met more people at haven that are similar to you than different (I mean about anxiety.) Even the best public speakers, singers, actors get nervous in all sorts of even extreme ways. I think people do such a great job of putting on their public happy face, that others don't realize that they are also trembling inside. I know I am always so disappointed in myself over my own anxieties, and they can be SO difficult to shake off. They can feel like chains! BUT--I am so happy for you that the anxiety ceased when you were giving your talk. If I had been there in the audience, I would have been smiling too!

    Anyway, two tips for speaking public I can give you are these (in case you've experienced either of these symptoms): If your mouth gets dry, bite the sides of your tongue. No one can tell you are doing it, and it will produce more saliva instantly. It really helps! Second, don't be afraid of pauses while you speak. When you are nervous, a common symptom is to begin speaking too fast and at a higher pitch. This can cause you to feel even more breathless than you already might, and then all of a sudden, any pause feels like an eternity. Actually though, pauses have a wonderful effect on the listener. Even long ones. Plan them into your presentations in deliberate spots. It will help you keep a slow pace, it will have a great dramatic effect on your audience and you can really catch your breath in those moments.

    This comment is already getting so long, and I anticipate you will have hundreds today! I'm just so happy for you that your experience was so positive. You really are an inspiration Jen! I hope you are recovered from your cold, and can enjoy the last few weeks of summer! -Anita Y. in Southern California

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    1. Thanks so much Anita! Great tips, never knew the one about biting your tongue. So good to know!

      I appreciate your daily sweetness!

      xo,
      Jen

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  10. Nothing surprised or shocked me about your post and I'm so happy you got "yo big girl panties" on and went. You reminded me of my first experience at CHA (Craft & Hobby Association Conventions) over 8 years ago. I knew lots of people from the internet but no one really knew me. But I went with a buddy and we had a blast. Now 8 years later I've given classes, given speeches and know most everyone and its a total blast each time but so exhausting. I've blogged for 8 years and have just started another blog about life and diy and all that fun stuff. So its kind of like starting over in a new land for me LOL. I think "think" I may try to go to Haven next year and see all you gals I admire in cyber-land next year. So I will have my BIG girl panties on too and know NO one but I'm sure it will be fun. Thanks for sharing your story!!
    hugz,
    Suzanne

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    1. Wow! 8 years! Way to go you! It is inspiring to hear how you have grown with the convention over that time.

      You should totally go to Haven next year. It is nothing but an awesome couple of days!

      xo,
      Jen

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  11. I'm SO happy we had the chance to finally meet Jen ~ you're definitely not alone in your "social feelings". I personally am pretty quiet in large groups and was so thankful my husband was there with me. He is such the social butterfly of a group; he had a blast {as did I}! You did such a great job on your presentation that I had NO idea you were even nervous. I learned so much at the conference, nerves and all, I can't wait until next year. The planning team did such a fantastic job, and I'm so happy they asked you to be a part of their team girl. :-D {p.s. you are just a gorgeous in person!}

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    1. You two sound just like my hubby and I. He is definitely the social one of the two of us. And I adore that your hubby actually attended the entire conference with you. So adorable to see you guys together.

      So so wonderful to meet you doll!

      xo,
      Jen

      P.S. YOU are just as gorgeous! Such a beauty inside and out! <3

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  12. when will come 'malaysian' turn to meet you? ;p

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  13. Thanks for the honesty .... I am right there with you on the anxiety train. I find that if I can just make myself do something it's never as bad as I had dreamed it was going to be.... good for you for stepping out & being brave!!!!!
    Emma
    {From my little pink couch}

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  14. I love your blog! And you are a wonderful inspiration to me! Thank you and thanks for sharing your heart today!

    BTW, love your 2014 planner. :)

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    1. Wahoo!! Thanks for the planner love! <3

      xo,
      Jen

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  15. Jen,
    I love that you are so honest and shared your battle with social anxiety. I hate public speaking and I'm in sales! You're awesome and an inspiration. I'm such a nerd with organizing and reading your blog is so much fun. Hope to meet you someday!

    Jen H.

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    1. Thanks so much Jen! Hope to meet you too! Meeting readers is one of my favorite parts of my job. :)

      xo,
      Jen

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  16. I can completely relate to your emotions of meeting blogger friends being blogger myself! Enjoy and keep blogging , inspiring me darling;)

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  17. Jen, You have cheered me right up! It's 1.00 in the morning here in London (England) and as a very new teacher I am beginning to feel very nervous and unprepared for my new class. I actually got such an attack of nerves (even though school doesn't start for another three weeks) I couldn't sleep so got up to check out your blog, to which, as a pretty disorganised person in need of guidance, I am addicted. Believe me, you are not alone with social anxiety and I am really impressed that you felt the fear and did it anyway. Your blog is brilliant - I love reading about all your projects and you've inspired me to bring some harmony to the chaos! Our kitchen cutlery drawer has been transformed from "Ahh! Don't look at me! " to "Aren't I pretty?" thanks to you. And the rest of the flat is starting to benefit from your inspirational ideas.
    Love from Jane, London

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    1. Thanks for the super sweetness Jane! I am thinking of you as you take on your new class. I am guessing the first couple of days are a smidge challenging, but I am sure you will be amazing and have a blast with those kiddos!

      And the comment about your cutlery drawer... Made my heart grin big!

      xoxoxo,
      Jen

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  18. Hi Jen - Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story. Wonderful because people who were there and attended your class (ahem...me)had no idea that you were going through that! You were so well spoken and poised, I would have never thought. Thank you for having the courage to come to the conference. You definitely made it better! Also, thank you for opening up to your readers! You're great!

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    1. YAY! You just made my night! I felt like I eased up a bit as I started, but it is really great to know you couldn't tell I was trembling just moments before I started. I sincerely appreciate you attending the class! It was so great to meet you!

      Smooches!
      Jen

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  19. Jen! Such a beautiful and heartfelt recap. I savored every word. You are such a shining star and finally meeting you was seriously one of the reasons I attended. You are gorgeous, talented, sweet and just so kind hearted. Thank you for putting yourself out there. I had no idea. . .you sure hid your nerves well. And I think I can speak for all of us when I say it is definitely overwhelming in some, way, shape or form no matter who you are. Great recap. So blessed to call you my friend.

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    1. Courtney, you know I love you like crazy sweet friend! SO happy we were able to spend time together and I am counting the minutes until we can do it again.

      xoxoxoxo!

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  20. Jen-

    Thank you so much for your honesty in this post. I too suffer from anxiety and it does make like awful difficult at times. I haven't told a single person I know in real life (other than my parents) about my blog because I've been too nervous about what other people will think about it.

    I have gotten a lot better since my doctor diagnosed me and now I can take medication for my anxiety, but up until then I would get nervous in silly situations like checking out at the grocery store.
    Anxiety definitely doesn't get spoken about enough and I really want to thank you for talking about yours in this post!!! =)

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    1. Good for you for talking to a Dr. I think that step alone can be hard for so many people. Glad to hear it has helped. I have also gotten anxiety going into busy places alone, however, it was much worse before I had kids, they really helped me get over a lot of that, but I can completely understand and relate.

      Hugs! And have fun with the blog and do it because you love it! The rest will fall into place. :)

      xo,
      Jen

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  21. You are beautiful inside and out. Thanks for always putting yourself out there. Reading your blog is one of my favorite things to do each day<3

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  22. Awesome, Jen. I loved reading this. I didn't get a ticket this past year, kind of feeling like I'd be a loner, and then had the same experience you did last year, seeing all these amazing photos of girls I "know" having a blast. It's on my list for next year :) Thanks for the encouragement! Also...love your green shirt :)

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    1. Oh, I SO hope you come next year! You are definitely on my list of "hope to meet someday" peeps.

      xoxoxo!
      Jen

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  23. Jen,

    This was beautiful I enjoyed every word. I was just asked to speak at a MOPS group in the Fall on organization. I feel exactly how you described but I am hoping that speaking about a passion and knowing that everyone is so incredibly nice will out way my incredibly nervous feelings. :-) Thanks for sharing your genuine recap from the heart.

    ~Sarah

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    1. Thank you so much Sarah! I am cheering you on from here as you prepare for your speech. I am sure it will be fabulous!

      xo,
      Jen

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  24. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and congrats on the amazing experience you had at the conference. You and your blog are such an inspiration. :)

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  25. Wonderful story. I love reading your blog. You are my inspiration. You are such a tiny thing. What type of exercise program do you follow? Keep up the great work

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    1. Oh my, far too kind! Maybe the camera was being nice and removed 10 lbs? :)

      I have been trying to eat cleaner, stopped drinking soda and have been running in any spare time I can, but that is it for me. I still have a lot of strength to build and toning to do, but just those few things have made me feel better all around.

      xo!
      Jen

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  26. Hi Jen

    I have followed your blog for a long time now. In fact yours was the first as I have three boys and chaos could well be any of our middle names :) I have watched from afar thinking Bloggers are so together, confident, business minded, entrepreneurial etc. I could never do that……BUT after reading your amazingly honest words here, I am thinking we are all the same. Public speaking is a breeze to me, but build a blog that people might want to read, not so much. So, thank you, THANK YOU. You have given me the confidence to get out and give it a try.

    Keep up what you do. You are amazing. Come visit down under one day. Aussies love organising too!

    Suzanne

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    1. Oh yes Suzanne! We are just like everyone else. It is always important to remember that we write to try to inspire and share creative ideas, and in doing that, it is easy to leave out the messy stuff. Life is far from easy peasy around here, but I try to find the beauty in every day and share those bits and pieces to keep my social media spots happy and positive.

      Best of wishes as you pursue blogging! It is the best hobby ever.

      xo,
      Jen

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  27. You did it! So cool! :) Love your blog!!

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  28. Jen,
    I love you even more after this post! I am so glad we got to go to Haven together. You were the only person I knew going in. And, during the trip I discovered I have some serious social anxiety, too. Hence, my red, just finished crying eyes when I met you the second night for dinner. Man, how did you know a quiet dinner with you and your hubby was just what I needed?! It felt like home that night, and then the next day my anxiety was so much less!

    You were so fabulous the whole time. Your class was amazing and you seem like a natural public speaker, even if it doesn't feel like it inside.

    I am looking forward to going with you to Haven 2014! It will be easier the next time around :)

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    1. Who knew we could learn so much about ourselves at a DIY conference, lol. SO happy we had one another, you really have become such a great friend. And I couldn't agree more. It totally felt like home, I love how you described that.

      Thanks for being so good to me!

      xo,
      Jen

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  29. Just one more reason you are so relatable and amazing! It takes so much courage to go into a situation like that in your shoes. I loved your tips. I'm definitely social and enjoy being around people but I need to have some downtime too...you made that OK. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  30. Jen - I just love you to pieces. I'm so proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone (we all know how scary that can be). I wish I could have been there to hear you speak - I'm sure you were amazing! You looked BEAUTIFUL and I love that your husband came to support you (he's a keeper). :) Congrats on a wonderful trip and thanks for sharing it with all of us!

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    1. Thanks Erin! It would have been SO great to finally meet you. Someday I hope! And my Mr. totally is a keeper, I love that he was there to hug me after my class was over. He has always been biggest support system!

      xo,
      Jen

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  31. Well done for sharing a little about your struggles with social anxiety. I'm sure you are not alone and congratulations for challenging yourself and attending Haven! Sounds like you had a faboulous time. Something like that would be fantastic here in Australia :)

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  32. I love your blog & I loved your Haven story. I am new to the blogging world & I hope one day to have a blog as amazing as your & attend Haven. :)

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  33. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing about yourself. I'm actually relieved. I love your blog (I've been a follower since you were a red headed day care provider) and what you've done in your home is amazing, but I always got this sense that you were just SO, SO, PERFECT! I know that no one actually is "perfect" but you're the closest I've ever seen. So, on the one hand I'm sad to know that you have problems with anxiety, on the other hand, it's a relief to know that you're not perfect, which makes you more relateable. I don't know if this will help with your anxiety, but I used to be super, super, extremely shy and self conscious, until I realized that no one was looking or thinking about me because they were all caught up in being worried about themselves. Takes the pressure off somehow. :)

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  34. Whoah! What a long day for you. COngrats for all your activities. I admire you especially those organizing parts..

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  35. Jen,

    1st - Good for you for 'outing' your anxiety.
    2nd - Bravo for your supportive hubby standing by his wife; what a great role model for your boys.
    3rd - I attended your Saturday morning session and enjoyed everything; the tips, your authenticity, your slides. You and Chris made a wonderful team (opposites DO attract!)
    4th - You are way too young + pretty to *always* be behind a computer screen.
    5th - Life is about growing, experiencing discomfort (occasionally) and sharing who you are as a person; a mom, a blogger and a creative genius!

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  36. What a lovely long post, I really really enjoyed reading it. I think quite a few women out here can relate to your social anxiety and also on how it makes them miss out on things. I for one can...
    And now I'm off to check out quite a few of the blogs you linked to. ;-),

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  37. Jen, Thanks for sharing your heart. It is so hard to think that you get nervous in front of others, you seem so outgoing. I personally love blogs that share on a more personal note, for me it makes it more interesting and relate-able to know the blogger on a more personal level. So thanks for sharing. I meet some of my blog friends for the first time this summer and it is a little intimidating and I shared many of the same feelings as you. But it ended up being so fun.

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  38. I'm so glad you shared your recap! I was kicking myself hard for not getting a ticket, so I plan to be first "in line" for one early next year! :)

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  39. Haven sounds like it was amazing!! You really are an inspiration to me. I also suffer from anxiety. Anxiety and OCD paired with a few other things... It's really rough but you get through it and you find ways of coping (healthy ways!). Knowing that you were able to overcome your anxiety and put yourself out there at the conference is really inspiring, thank you for that! Go figure that I'm an actor, who would think that would be possible! But I've realized it's because it's really easy to get up and recite a script and something totally different to get up and be yourself. So I pretend to be someone full of confidence, and it seems to help most times. "Fake it till you make it!" It's still myself, I just fake the confidence until eventually I feel it.

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    1. Wow, way to overcome your anxiety enough to do acting. You should be beyond proud! And I love the "Fake it 'til you make it" quote! :)

      xo,
      Jen

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  40. What a brave thing to talk about on your blog! I love this post. Thank you for it!

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  41. I didn't think I could heart you more :-)

    I'm the same way when it comes to big social situations. I over-analyze EVERYTHING to death. Blame it on being hyper self-aware? I don't know! I've been known not to get up in a busy restaurant b/c (seriously) I feel self conscious walking to the bathroom & not knowing what to do with my hands along the way. Yeah. But to my friends, I seem quite outgoing. Maybe that's why humor is my angle?! Deflects the awkwardness.

    To me, you've always seemed like a social butterfly w/ little effort! Thanks for opening up & sharing your experience, gorgeous gal. So happy that you presented & had an amazing Haven experience!!!

    PS. That Chris is pretty awesome herself.

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    1. Thank you for this! You totally rock the humor and I never would have guessed that about you. Let's make a pact to never be nervous walking the bathroom again, lol.

      Love ya girl!

      xo,
      Jen

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  42. Congrats on your conquering your fears...and the next times will be easier... and easier.... Sounds like a perfectly wonderful time, and a great chance to grow. Thanks for sharing it all! Rosie

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  43. Jen - I just finished the book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts" by Susan Cain, and it talks about a lot of what you described with the social anxiety! It was quite illuminating for me to read this book since I've always thought something to be wrong with me as a shy introvert, but that's not the case at all. Thanks for sharing your struggles too!

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    1. Thanks for the book suggestion Meg! Off to add it to my reading list! Sounds perfect for me!

      xo!
      Jen

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  44. Here's A huge fan from Puerto Rico. Anxiety is a problem when you don't decide or determine to fix it. And you just slapped anxiety in that social activity.
    You're really so talented and having shared your proyects in the way people with no idea of decorating (like me) can understand makes you a blessed and gifted young lady.
    I found your blog in a moment I was struggling with my house organization. I have other talents not having to do with decoration. That means there's a lot going on in my house and I decided to do something about it. So I started with my dinning room and master bedroom. Wishing hopefully you can see them and comment. It's a hard and slow but consistent project that needs help because I know something's missing but cannot decode it.;) I say to myself: Just keep swimmin' - Dory
    Well Jen, all I have to say is eres la mejor...(you're. The best) God bless you. LIZ

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  45. Honey, you were able to get not he airplane int he first place so you've already gotten farther than I would have!!

    I've been battling social fears for decades. It's comes and goes. But my fear of flying... trumps it all! I know I've missed out on so much because I hyperventilate just walking into an airport and it hurts every time.

    Hugs! You're not alone. But you DID IT!!! So any future events will be that much easier for you.

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    1. So sorry to hear you have a hard time flying. I can totally understand, I flew alone for the first time ever this year. Before that, absolutely no way would I go through an airport without a friend or family member. I hope you will be able to conquer your fear someday!

      Loves!
      Jen

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  46. I've been reading your blog since the beginning and love it and am so proud of you for taking the uncomfortable but important step out of your comfort zone to attend the conference and to agree to speak. I think we all experience social anxiety to varieng degrees. I can so relate to the feeling of being uncomfortable, usually I feel like everyone is staring at me but not in a good way. I am so grateful my 2 daughters are the complete opposite of me when it comes to being comfortable socially. Phew!!! You looked fantastic in the pics you are so pretty and adorable and I'm so happy for you on all your success! Keep up the great work! XO Beth

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    1. Thanks so much for being such a loyal reader, means oodles to me! And for the super sweetness!

      xoxo,
      Jen

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  47. Jen, I am so afraid to talk in front of people too! It started in college. I would be almost hyperventilating and feeling like I could hardly swallow. Fast forward 10 years later and I am still nervous so I avoid it! Funny thing is, I am a fitness instructor and don't get nervous at all teaching to my classes. I should try to get over it so I could speak health and fitness topics at conferences but I don't try. Thanks for sharing!:)

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    1. Isn't that amazing? I think it is easier when you are talking about what you are passionate about. I know that helped me a lot this time around.

      Smooches!
      Jen

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  48. Love the honesty! And I love being able to empathize with you about not only my compulsive organizing habits, but also my fear/disdain for crowds. :) I'm glad you were able to attack and overcome your fears, because that is honestly inspiring to fellow crowd-haters like me. Thank you for opening up and sharing!

    Also, this is the first time I've commented, so let me just say how much I love your blog. I always look forward to reading a post, and you never disappoint. Thanks for the inspiration (both decorational AND emotional)! :)

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    1. Thanks so much Abbie! I am glad you took a moment to comment. :) And I appreciate your uber kindness!

      xo,
      Jen

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  49. Thank you so much for your honesty! I've been coming to terms with my anxiety issues lately and I definitely dread (and avoid!) being in a sea of people I don't know. Scares the hell out of me. It's great to read how you powered through it and had a really valuable experience. I would love to attend Haven next year!

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  50. Fantastic! I am so glad to see this update. And for putting yourself out there, I give you kudos! I too have that fear of tripping and landing my face into a platter of hors d'oeuvers, or having my words come out as jibberish.

    Way to go, and thanks for telling us all about it!

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  51. Hi Jen!
    I´m Jenni from Finland :). I love your blog, really do. I´m very thankful that you had the courage to open up and tell about your anxiety. My husband fears social situations, even going to supermarket is hard sometimes!

    It´s very important to talk about these feelings and disorders, so people will understand what they really are about. That is the only way to get rid of prejudisies and negative labels those words arouses.

    I´ve from the very beginnign told my friends and family about my depression. I´m not ashamed of it, and no-one should be! And you telling to so many people, unknown people. ..I really look up to you!

    Attending and giving those lessons, meeting people are the best ways to overcome those fears! Only by doing, you have chance to feel more comfortable next time and the next time!

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  52. I'm so thrilled that I found your blog! I'm a first-time reader and commenter. One of my best friends recently told me about your blog at a girl dinner. She was like, "I can't believe YOU don't read her blog already!" And, here I am!

    I'm so glad that I read today because your Haven recap is the first one that has really made me want to go to a blogger conference. I've been blogging since May and I didn't get the whole blogger conference thing. You showed me that there's nothing to be scared of and that you can learn a lot about yourself there, while making connections with friends.

    Thanks again for your transparent post and I look forward to reading more of your blog!

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    1. Wahoo! So happy you found me {and commented!} Nice to meet you Jen! {great name btw}

      xoxo,
      Jen

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  53. Jen,

    Thank you for sharing your Haven story! You are amazing & just too cute!!

    I haven't commented in a while - life has been crazy/busy. You were such a pleasure to work with back when I was with Willow House.

    I have continued to follow IHeart ~ & will keep reading as long as you are willing to share all your wonderful ideas.

    I hope to go to a conference one day... they sound like so much fun!!

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    1. Agree, it was a great pleasure! So happy to hear from you sweet Paula!

      xo,
      Jen

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  54. Hi Jen! Your honesty (a.k.a. keepin' it real) has been one of the reasons I love your blog! Not to mention you are funny and have such a sweet spirit! :D Putting yourself out there is never easy but it's usually worth it when you do. I used to be terrified of public speaking because I didn't want to look stupid or be laughed at. But I stepped waaaay out of my comfort zone and became a trainer at work. I did that for two years and I pretty much got over my over that fear. I say pretty much because its been several years since I trained and every now and again if I need to speak in front of people, part of me will want to jump out of a window. But I get over it pretty quickly. Anyway, Congrats on stepping out of your comfort zone. Keep bein' you!!!!

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    1. Thanks so much Natasha! And kudos to you for squashing that fear and turning it into your job! Love that!

      xo,
      Jen

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  55. Jen-

    If you're a nerd then you're my most super favorite nerd in the whole wide world :-). I love your blog so much and all the inspiration it gives me to be more on top of my busy life! I am a fellow nerd and lover of all things organized. I also suffer from anxiety and OCD tendencies, but the more you force yourself out of that comfort zone the better you will become at managing the stress associated with it all! I'm so proud of you for going to Haven and I'm sure so many people were thrilled to see you live and in the flesh. You're a celebrity to some of us loyal readers and I would be thrilled at the chance to meet my organizing idol in person for sure! Please keep up the amazing and inspirational posts, you make my days so much brighter :-).

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    1. Blushing big time! You really made my day, so thank you to the moon and back!

      xo,
      Jen

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  56. LOVE this recap! Jen, thank you so much for sharing about your fears and crowd anxiety! I would love to go to a blog conference {in theory} but then I start thinking about the crowd factor, "What if I look stupid? What if I can't think of anything to say? What if no one talks to me and I end up sitting alone at everything?" and I get totally freaked out. After reading this, though, I may just have to suck it up and do it! Eeeek! Thanks again for being so real about your fears!

    ~Abby =)

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    1. Ooooh, I so hope you decide to go, it would be great to meet you Abby!

      xo!
      Jen

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  57. I would like to thank everyone who has opened up and been so honest about their anxieties. I too suffer from social anxiety. So bad that I sometimes have trouble enjoying family time due to the overwhelming fear of crowds or the unknown. If anyone had advice or tips I would love to hear about them. And to Jen, I look forward to reading your posts everyday. In such a short time I have learned so much from your blog that has made my life easier which has made my family happier. For that I Thank you!!! xoxo to all

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  58. Thank you for putting yourself out there and conquering your fears. I know that hearing others stories helps us all see that we are just people and humans all struggling with something.
    It was more than a pleasure to meet you during the conference. I also wish we would have had more time to chat and really connect. I guess there is always next year!! I so enjoyed your session about organizing and got some great tips to share with others. Thanks Jen...you are the sweetest! XOXO

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    1. SO great to meet you in person Amy! And yes, let's chat longer next year!

      xo,
      Jen

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  59. You're such an inspiration! I was too nervous to go this year as I'm a very new home blogger, but I think you've talked me into it for next year! Sounds great. And congratulations for going, and having such a great time.

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  60. So hard to believe such a beautiful and successful lady could be so anxious, but just goes to show you we just never can judge a book by it's cover! I'm pretty much a social butterfly but ironically I'd be nervous meeting you! :) I have Haven on my radar for next year and hope to get the opportunity to do just that!

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    1. Aww! No need to be nervous darling! And yes, come to Haven, sounds like you would have a blast with fellow bloggy girls. And make sure to say hello! <3

      xoxo,
      Jen

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  61. Thanks for sharing your vulnerabilities. I'm so impressed that in addition to going, you accepted the speaking offer! That is something that I've been pushing myself out of my terrified comfort zone to do lately. I refuse to let fear inhibit my life ;-)

    Congrats! I'm inspired and proud of you.

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  62. Hey girl! It was a blast finally meeting you! You are so super sweet and adorable in person. I only hate we didn't get to see each other more! ;} If it makes you feel any better, I get super nervous as well. Like, worry about pit stains nervous. ;} TMI? Probably. Anyway, would love to do the teepee thing. Maybe I'll bring it with me next time. You are so fun and I'm glad you are feeling better! ;} Have an amazing week

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  63. Jen, you wrote such a heartfelt post and it makes me even more upset that I didn't get to meet you- YET! Next year for sure. You can be so proud of yourself for facing your fears with courage even if you had to "do it afraid." I'm so happy to hear what a great time you had. It's true that these bloggers have big, beautiful welcoming hearts.

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  64. I would have had no idea that you suffered from social anxiety Jen! Thank you so much for being so real and honest.

    As a complete introvert myself, I'm hopeless in big social situations and blogging conferences really scare me! It's the combination of meeting so many new people, and worrying about whether they will think you're the same in real life as online for me. It all makes me want to curl up under the blankets and not come out :)

    I love your idea of going with a buddy and having breaks - I'll be using those tips for anything I go to in the future.

    I'm so glad you enjoyed it - looks like so much fun for everyone. Thanks again for such an open hearted post xx

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  65. I think sometimes we look at other people and they appear to have it all together, and then we ask ourselves what's wrong that we can't have, do, be that way. So glad you shared your experience. Hope to meet you at Haven next year!

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  66. I read this post when you put it up a couple of weeks ago and it stuck with me. I'm a new blogger, and although socially appropriate and somewhat participative, I'm a closet introvert.... so blogging is a very comfortable way for me to open up.
    I was told to read a book called "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" and although I'm only 1/3 through, this book is ME. I think this book might also be YOU.
    Have a read if you get a chance... I'm finding reassurance on its pages and I think you might as well.
    100Things2Do.blogspot.ca

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