Do you remember a post I wrote recently about being a goat-petter rather than a goal-setter? About how I don’t have a “life list,” and why I don’t feel like making one would make me a happier person? It’s right here. When I wrote that post, I truly expected to get a lot of responses from people telling me why I should have a life list, why setting specific goals is important and asking why am I being such a defeatist downer? Well, that didn’t happen. Instead, lots of you spoke up to say you felt the same way. I was in equal parts shocked, enlightened and comforted.
If you know about life lists and you read blogs, then you probably know who Maggie Mason (a.k.a Mighty Girl) is. Maggie is the queen of the life list — she even started Go Mighty to help people create their own life lists. My post was absolutely not directed at her specifically, but I was a little concerned that it would come across as an attack of some sort. I was relieved and happy when Maggie herself chimed in to say that despite her belief in life lists, she agrees with me — and that she tends to attract friends who are like me. Goat-petters and goal-setters, co-existing in harmony!
So anyway, you know what wound up happening? Maggie asked me if I’d be interested in speaking at Camp Mighty, an annual retreat now in its 3rd year. It’s all about connecting people through panel discussions, workshops and socializing to encourage the motivation and support needed to realize goals. They also raise a bunch of money for Charity: Water in the process. The whole thing goes down at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, and by all accounts, it’s a good time.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Anna, aside from the water part, this kind of sounds like your worst nightmare. Isn’t this exactly the sort of thing you think is a bunch of nonsense?” And yeah, that’s a fair enough assessment. I’m a cynic. I’m a jerk-faced cynic with all kinds of issues about everything. Large groups of people (especially when they’re predominantly female), make me uncomfortable. Bathing suits make me uncomfortable. Hugging strangers makes me uncomfortable. Having my picture taken makes me uncomfortable. The idea of public speaking makes me uncomfortable. “Networking” makes me uncomfortable. Why in the world would anyone fly across the country to do something like this when they could be at home on the sofa watching Three’s Company reruns with their dogs? And to paraphrase Woody Allen paraphrasing Groucho Marx, I just don’t want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.
Here’s the thing, though: Underneath the cynicism, I get it. I really do. And I’m really not a jerk-faced cynic all the time. I also understand that Maggie didn’t ask me to speak at Camp Mighty because she thinks I’m going to be converted to life list-ism. She asked me because I have a different perspective to offer, and because there are probably going to be at least a few people there with whom that perspective will resonate. I think I can do that — even if I’m not going to make a life list or go swimming.
So I said yes. And it’ll be good. Do you want to come? I hope you do.
Camp Mighty 2013
When: October 17–19, 2013
Where: Ace Hotel; Palm Springs, CA
Discount: Register with the code “DoorSixteen” to save $50 off registration
If you’re planning to go, please let me know! As uncertain as I know I sound, I really am excited about this — albeit super nervous and full of self-doubt and all that kind of stuff. I mean, have you looked at the list of speakers?! A bunch of my friends (including a few folks I’ve never met in person before!) will be there, though, and hopefully I’ll get to meet some of you, too, which makes it a whole lot less scary. See you there?
stick it to the man
Hah! I’m not sure there’s a “man” to stick it to in this scenario. I mean other than the swimming pool…
You go girl! Wish I was there!
These things scare the crap out of me (plus I would feel weird being the only brown girl there), but I am thrilled that you are going and bringing some of your unique perspective. Shake things up a bit.
Kelly, the lack of diversity (color and gender-wise) at blogging retreats/classes, etc., is pretty alarming. It’s the first thing I notice when I see photos from the events — a sea of white women. As yet another white woman I’m not bringing anything to the table as far as that aspect of things is concerned, but I still feel like a bit of an infiltrator. Maybe everyone feels like that?
By the way, my friend Kisha wrote a great blog post a few months ago about this issue — the lack of visibility of POC in the world of blogging. It’s a good read, as is the ongoing discussion in the comments:
It really really is. Back when I was blogging regularly, I met some of these events and it felt…uncomfortable, honestly. Not that I need to be surrounded by brown people to feel comfortable, but the lack of diversity was pretty surprising. The whole thing is kind of weird.
Camp Mighty (or Alt or whoever), if you are listening – bring someone in to talk about this subject. Could be interesting!
Yep, you are totally an infiltrator. That’s why I’m thrilled you are going. 🙂
Been reading Kisha’s blog (and loving it), but missed this post. Thanks for the link!
“went to” not “met”…wut, Kelly?!
Yep, I would feel weird being the only queer woman there. I enjoy reading a lot of blogs, but it seems the blogging conventions have such a weirdly homogenous following that I’m sure I’d feel uncomfortable. So many white, upper-middle class, straight women … but Anna, I have faith in you to stir the pot a bit! And I hope Maggie Mason read and absorbed Kelly’s excellent suggestion to bring someone in to talk about those demographic issues. It’s going to take much more than niceness to attract and build a more diverse community, unfortunately.
Good luck, Anna! I think it’s great that you’re going and I’ll be excited to hear your report.
Hi Jessica, I don’t want to do that thing where people use exceptions to disprove rules, but just for the sake of putting it out there, Camp Mighty HAS had at least two gay women speakers — Lisa Congdon the first year and AB Chao last year. (I don’t know anything about 90% of the other speakers past and present, so I can’t say whether they’re the only ones…and I don’t know anything about the demographics of attendees beyond what I can see in photos.)
I am SO relieved to see this topic brought up. I don’t personally feel equipped to address it directly in the presentation I give (Do we need a straight white woman talking about diversity to other straight white women? Probably not…), but I will definitely raise the subject while I’m there — both with the organizers and with the attendees. And if they need some suggestions about who they can bring out to talk about these things, I have plenty of suggestions. 😉
And no worries — when it comes to pot-stirring, I am incapable of leaving the spoon alone!
You would not be the only brown girl there. It may be mostly white, but there are mixed race gals (me!) black girls, Indian, Asian…
Jessica, Anna is right. Five out of our 24 speakers and presenters in the last three years have been members of the LGBT community. I assume we have several attendees who identify as gay, though I’m making an assumption here because I don’t … go around asking.
I should be honest here and say that it wasn’t something we did consciously, it just happened. But again, it’s a very welcoming crew.
Bravo! I think you’ll add a tremendous perspective to this event. Wish I could go!
Anna, thanks so much again for doing this. Especially for agreeing to appear on stage in a bikini. I think that’s really brave.
What is really brave is agreeing to speak when you’re freaked about public speaking. I do think there are a million ways to make a meaningful life, and I always want someone at Camp who says “Look, if this list thing bums you out, there are other options.” Thanks for being that person this year.
(Kelly, I’m sorry I don’t know the exact numbers, but you wouldn’t be the only brown girl there, and it’s an incredibly welcoming crew. Come! We are nice.)
Thanks Maggie! One of these days! 🙂
I think it’s great you are challenging your comfort zone and getting out there and doing it. I relate to your discomfort in this arena, and despite all the anxiety that may lead up to it, I bet it will be an experience you will never regret. Congrats! Wish I could be there to listen!
Congratulations! Sounds like such an interesting event.
I’ll chime in with the others above – I also think it’s valuable to do this kind of stuff outside your comfort zone, even scary things, especially when you know that it’s otherwise meaningful work. I have to do some schmoozing, public speaking, and even occasionally talking in front of a camera for my job and I find it terrifying, but deep down I know it’s good to face the fear!
The funny thing is, for people who do have life lists, this speaking opportunity might be the kind of thing that would make the cut. 😉
P.S. – Omg! Piper’s speaking too! Too cool.
Your “jerk-faced cynicism” is a breath of fresh air and an affirmation to many of us! I just took a class on social media and left feeling depressed and like I wanted to delete all my social media accounts. Is there a way to view your talk if we cannot attend Camp Mighty?
I’d love to hear your talk, too. I went to Alt in January as a way to step outside my comfort zone, and it was so overwhelming. I realized it’s not my thing at all, but I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t tried, so good for you. Just please don’t post your life list on your blog when you come back, okay? 😛
I’ve already posted mine, Catherine!
1. See And Also The Trees live, but not if it requires traveling outside of NYC.
2. More Chihuahuas!
3. Conquer adult acne.
4. Don’t go skydiving or engage in any other “thrill-seeking” activities.
5. Don’t sleep outdoors.
6. Be a decent person.
So far I’ve got 4 & 5 under control. Still working on the others!
I’m not sure, Karen! If the presentations are videotaped, I’ll definitely post it here. (Unless I faint, vomit, or completely screw up, or if my bangs are a mess.)
Stared at my bank account for a solid 10 minutes trying to decide if I could make it work, but alas, not in the cards 3 weeks after my wedding. HA. But MAN IT SOUNDS SO FUN! Good luck!!
Not 15 minutes ago I learned of an opportunity that, should I seize it, would take me well out of my comfort zone–in a good, but scary, way. So good for you for saying yes to speaking at this event! I’m looking forward to reading all about it.
you go girl! good luck!
Camp Mighty is the only gathering I have ever been to of this type. I wasn’t sure what to think or expect, but honestly? I really enjoy the weekend. It is mellow, all-inclusive (the people and the price) and the Ace is rad. I was very excited to see that you will be speaking this year.
And sitting outside in the desert late at night in a hot tub staring at the stars is actually pretty life-changing. No list required <3
I’m going to give what I hope is not horribly reductive advice.
1. Remember everyone gets nervous when speaking in public. It is normal.
2. If I recall correctly, you wrote once about authenticity being a key part of a successful blog. I imagine this is why you were invited to speak. Authenticity is a rare commodity.
3. At least bring a bathing suit to the Ace. I have a very similar body type to yours and very fair skin, so I understand your reservations, however, I went to the Ace a couple years ago just for dinner and drinks thinking there was no way I would want to be seen in a bathing suit. After 2 beers and the realization that the pool was heated and the sun was no longer out (no sunburn!), I really regretted not bringing one.
Those are my three cents, take them for what you will, and have fun!
Do dudes go to this?
HAHA. Well, from looking at photos of past years’ camps, it appears that at least one male (speakers excluded) has attended. AND…I can say with certainty that at least one male is attending this year. So if you decide to come, you won’t be the only dude!
I’m not going this year unless some magic befalls my pocket book, alas. Trivia: I live about 45 minutes from The Ace. It will still be warm, so all you should need is a light cardigan.
Having given a talk in front of a group of people and also been on a panel this year, I think I totally understand how you must be feeling. I really was terrified, but I knew I should and needed to do it, and although it was terrifying as I expected, I am so glad I did.
You rule, lady.
I’m not a list person. I think about things a lot. I plan in my head projects, and imagine what I will do, and what I want to do. But I’ve never had, like, goals or anything. I also don’t have favorites. No favorite color, movie, food, person, place, vacation.
I created an account on Go Mighty thinking I might convert. I was inspired by maggie’s posts and the idea that I SHOULD have goals in my life. But my list has languished and nothing is being added or completed. Maybe it’s also because I’m afraid that things i want to do are pathetic. I’m not unhappy, but will other people think i am because one of my goals would be “make an effort to be friends with people”?
maybe that’s why pinterest works for me. I do it for myself, and don’t really worry how people might view me based on my account. Because it’s a lot of “that’s awesome!” stuff and occasionally I make some of the same awesome things/events/prettiness happen in my life.
So…..I think it’s funny that I have never heard of Ace Hotel and then in 24 hours, Ilearn of two very interesting events that will take place there in the next few months…the Camp Mighty event and a weekend with Heather Ross to work on sewing/design. Must be a very cool place!
First off, hello. I’m new to posting comments on Door Sixteen, but certainly not new to the site itself.
For about two years now, I’ve been checking up on your posts almost on a daily basis. I came across your site, Anna, while searching for ideas on a wall-mounted bathroom cabinet for a bathroom my girlfriend and I were nervously about to partake in renovating. Finding your site was a revelation! Going back through your posts about renovating your house was so inspiring that it helped us along our task. It felt as if we had met kindred spirits.
So, over the last two years I have followed along your path by way of the Door Sixteen website, and I have to say, for someone with no life list or set goals…you sure have accomplished quite a bit. At least to me, as an outside observer and a stranger, you seem to have done some pretty cool stuff. I mean, you maintain a house AND an apartment; you have a job in design that produces tangible results that more than likely cross the globe and are viewed by countless people; you have a rather popular site that has inspired at least this one person (and probably thousands more); you were featured in Dwell (albeit minus the illustrated portrait, but whatever); and now you’re being invited to offer a different perspective on living life. Seems damn impressive to me.
Perhaps it’s not entirely about setting goals, but having ideals and seeing where the day takes you with them.
Wow, George, thanks for this.
I don’t know if you read the post that lead to all of this (the one about being goal-less), but yes, I absolutely agree that it’s about having ideals and a sense of openness when it comes to coping with life. I never meant to suggest that I advocate do-nothingness, only that having a literal, set list of potential future accomplishment is (for me) counterproductive.
And yes, a lot of it is about avoiding failure, but every day is a struggle enough already. I have a constant sense that I am going about everything all wrong — but on the other hand, I’m capable of starting every day (well, not EVERY day…but some days) with the belief that I am capable of doing things differently, or changing what it was that I wanted to do in the first place.
Again, thank you for your comment. I hope you’ll feel welcome to chime in again in the future — and I hope your house is coming along!
I wish you a really great trip. The people there are in for a real treat – as a person who struggles with the day to day “to-do list” never mind a life list, I find you a tremendous source of inspiration. Be your wonderful self!
Brave. Totally. All that ‘uncomfortable’ but of course you’ll be totally fine. Whenever I give myself that little push out of the comfort zone it’s always worth it. I wish I could come along and meet you, of course that would mean stepping out of my zone, but that’s not the problem its the distance – a long way from Old Blighty!
I think, nay I KNOW you’re going to do brilliant just by being your authentic self – which is all I’ve ever known you to be over the past few years I’ve been reading along and corresponding with you. I think you have a true sense of who you are – combine that with a strong voice and I would love to be in that crowd listening to your presentation my friend.
[and thank you for sharing the link to my post on diversity]
Hey, what’s the problem? Why are worried so much? There is nothing special in speaking in public (if I understood correctly what you were saying). You have plenty of time to prepare. As far as I can see the date it is 17th October…So don’t ever feel you’re uncomfortable, because nothing stays at one place. Whichever situation you get into, never mind because it will change. 🙂
I’m not sure “worried” is the right word, Maria, but I actually do think this is special. It’s important to me that I do a good job. I guess this kind of thing is boring/stupid to a lot of people, but it’s a big deal for me.
Anna, my very wise girlfriend reminded me, when I was contemplating taking a risk and doing something that felt completely outside my comfort zone, that it was probably the best sign of what I should be doing. She put it best when she reminded me that it’s “good scary, not stalker-in-an-alleyway scary”. Jump in and see how much you grow from the experience! I bet it’s going to be incredible. 🙂
Forget about life lists, speaking in public, networking etc. (all terribly frightening things… ) It’s in PALM SPRINGS !!! Go sightseeing, go thrifting, go antiquing you lucky girl !!!
PS. I actually never heard about “life lists” before reading this post… But that’s probably because I’m European 😉 And what please is a goat-petter ? Is that the same as cat-petter ?
Anyway, did I mention : its in PALM SPRINGS AND at the ACE HOTEL !!!
Looks like a good conference. I’m excited for you! I wish I had known earlier- I just got back from palm springs this morning! Being a life-long east coaster, it’s different out there but it’s lovely and I loved it! Also have some nice vegan places to visit like palm greens and native foods cafe. Enjoy it!
dude. that is awesome. good for you!
i’ve found as i’ve gotten older that i’m more willing to try things that scare me. and you know what? it almost always ends up being way better than i could have hoped.
Hi Anna! I’m going to Camp Mighty. I went last year and had a great time. If you start to feel overwhelmed there are plenty of places to escape to for quiet time – outdoor sofas with fireplaces! I will try not to hug you, but I may not be able to stop myself from petting your hair. It’s so pretty. 🙂 see you soon!
Maggie Mason should be on the Bullshit List but I do hope you have a good time and get SOMEthign out of this.
Well, I sure hope you got SOMEthign [sic] out of leaving this comment, Jana. Feel good about yourself now?
Good luck! You’ll do great, I’m sure. It seems like a good opportunity to learn and to meet new people!
You know what I’d love to see, your take on the Lean In book.
I have no idea what that is!
hi anna, did you see the guardian is having a contest to see who can design a better book cover for morrissey’s biography than penguin already has?
I did. Baffling! I wonder if the Guardian is just totally oblivious to the fact that Penguin Classic have (and have always had) standardized cover designs.
I am reading a great book at the moment that I thought you (and other readers of the blog) might be interested in. It’s called ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking’ By Susan Cain. I was just reading a part that talks about how a naturally introverted person can find the courage to step outside their comfort zone in order to fulfil a project they feel is important to them. I won’t go in to what reading this book has meant to me (let’s just say A LOT) but I think it is a very important book that everyone should read (introvert and extrovert) in order to understand themselves and each other better. I wish you huge luck with your speech and I am sure you are inspiring others to push out the boundaries of their comfort zones too.
She did a TED talk about being an Introvert! This may sound sad but it was the first time I felt like it was OK to be introverted. Maybe even a good thing.
Love following your blog! Have a great weekend!
Love, Jamie Herzlinger
You deserve to go and will be a perfect counterpart. Divergent thinking is critical.
P.s. edit the word goal – it turned into goat, which is funny, but not what you meant.
No, goat-petter is correct. That’s what I am — not a goal-setter. 🙂
I don’t know if it might interest you, but I thought this small video could be related to the topic somehow:
I like how they are presenting the topics, beginning with the story of stuff.
Anyway, I wish you a great weekend and a great time!
Hi Anna, (she says gushingly).
Just wanted to say that I’ve just come across your blog and having read through almost every post I think you’re freaking cool! I hate to gush really, and I don’t do it very often, (like NEVER). But I was so excited and enthralled by your posts– so refreshing to read, because you’re so real (and the same age as me…). Even down the the ‘in the bathroom’ outfit posts! Love it! I also own M.A.C Lady Danger (and a big fan of their lipsticks in general),and thought your post was very funny (I could relate!).
Interesting reading some of the comments above about the retreat/talk and the world of bloggers not being so culturally diverse/ or at least not represented at forums. I’ve just arrived in the blogging world (officially) after starting and stopping and deleting blogs and getting tied up with work commitments (I work as a broadcaster reporting on social history, arts stories, make documentary features etc), but I would have assumed by now that the blogosphere was completely open, a place where anyone and everyone had access to the platform as a means of expression. I’m almost shocked to hear that blogging events are predominantly mono-cultural (I’m of Chinese descent born in NZ).
I’ve certainly seen that the fashion blogging scene is extremely multi-cultural…
Hmmm, I wonder what can happen to change the aforementioned situation. I look forward to reading how your talk goes.
I’m a list maker/scrawler/messy diary writer, goal setter. My desk is always in total chaos (which is when I know I’m being my most productive… because I haven’t the time to sit and tidy it!). For me lists and setting goals enable me to organise my thoughts, cross things off (so satisfying),but I’ve been living the past 7 months without a messy desk or lists as I’m looking after my first baby(…crazy times I tell you!).
Anyway, enough about me. Just wanted to say hi really. Also I’m really curious about your work as a book cover illustrator, and would love to write a profile story (for my blog) about your ‘process’ if you’re interested/have the time… I find people’s creative processes really interesting, as I also trained as an actor and I see parallels with other art forms.
BTW, I see you’re into music. You might like these guys if you haven’t heard of them already. http://unknownmortalorchestra.com/
Oh and Jemma (commented) Susan Cain, The Power of Introverts! I LOVE that book. Finally made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the world.
Anna, where’ve you been hiding? I miss your posts, come give us an update on Camp Mighty (or anything else you feel like sharing ;)). Had the pleasure of flying over to the US to visit some friends in Brooklyn, last week, quite an amazing city you live in!
All the best from Brussels!
I attended Camp Mighty this past weekend and loved your session. (I was the first question-asker of the bunch, very typical Type A). You’re one of the first “corporate job during the day / creative endeavors at night” person I’ve met that I identify with so wholeheartedly. You did a great job and I hope you put yourself out there more to share your experiences in venues like this. Great job!