A couple weeks ago, in anticipation of my recent birthday celebrating the entry – rather crash, squarely in to midlife madness, I got a call from a friend. That call led fortuitously to my intuitive impulse to sign up for a workshop in L.A. – one that was happening in a week from then. That was the What If Daycamp last Friday in Los Angeles. It has been a very long time since I've been able to actually take a workshop for myself. I needed something outside my familiar realm of photography and something that would provide challenges to my personal comfort level with sharing my needs and insecurities.
What If workshops are not about photography, although there were many familiar faces from the photography industry there. In fact, I think we only mentioned a lens once during the course of the fast-paced day, and that may have been a contact lens, I can't quite remember. Thankfully, we looked at the bigger picture. Argh, there I go with the photo puns again…anyway, we focused (see, I can't stop) on 4 main topics: Our Relationship with Money, Daily Effectiveness, Facing Fears, and Embracing Vulnerability.
The leaders of the workshop; Jen Bebb, Tamara Lackey and Natalie Norton all set an amazing precedence of honesty, openness, and sincerity – which in turn gave all the participants an unusual level of comfort to share and confide. This being the key to the workshops success: you have to be willing to share your vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and goals to be able to get help. Period. I've never been great at this myself, I have to confess. Throughout the day, opportunities arose for me to challenge my own fears, step out of my bubble, and bare my soul. I worked hard at it and the harder I worked, the better it felt. I have a lot to work on still, and this was an encouraging step in the right direction. I emerged with clear images of where I need to go and what I need to work on.
Truly, the strength of the What If workshops lies with the experience, caring, and intimate qualities of the leaders. Each of them brought their own challenges, shared in an honest way, that completely disarmed the group. Their was laughter, tears, swearing, and general baring of the souls. But mostly, at the end of the day, there was a sense of relief and confidence. Each person came looking for something different, and each now had direction – and the support of our new (and old) friends.
Each workshop also has a guest presenter, and I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my favorite, and most inspirational friends on the program, Dane Sanders. Dane spoke to the idea of vulnerability – and it specifically resonated with me that vulnerability is not to be confused with weakness. Quite the opposite. Vulnerability is having the courage to admit you need a little help, or don't have all the answers. Weakness is pretending you do.
If you get the opportunity, I'd highly recommend attending a What If event. It is refreshing. It's rare to find an event that is so full of honesty, sincerity, and helpful, practical tools. I can't wait to attend another event to measure and evaluate my own progress.