Friends. I have just come back from an incredible weekend and it has inspired me to write about it. This was the second annual Chicago Planner Conference and I was overjoyed to be asked back as a facilitator and teacher. Last year was my first planner conference EVER and I cannot recommend the experience enough.
I had no idea these existed but a planner conference is a weekend of hundreds of planner friends who come together to share their love for all things planners, paper, pens, markers, crafty things. There are sessions that explore different art techniques, aspects of planning and time management, make and take crafts, panels featuring your favorite planner pals talking shops and hustles. And of course, a TON OF SWAG. Complete with freaking Planner Fairies (read: volunteers) making it rain TN’s, washi, and stickers.
These conferences are HUGE events that the leadership team planned for as long as it takes babies to grow, and the blood sweat and tears of all the vendors, speakers, volunteers, and sponsors. And they are VERY “people-y” as Amber Kemp said. There are a couple throughout the country that vary in intensity and size, such as Planners Go Wild, Sugary Gal Shop NYC Planner Conference, PlannerCon, etc.
SO, without further ado, here is what my experience was like this year!
I was so grateful to get out of the snowy tundra of Minnesota and head over to Chicago. It was a HELLISH week leading up to it but I was finally on the plane. I go to these events with just me, and I really like having the time to choose whatever I want to do outside of the conference schedule.
And apparently all I wanted to do was SHOP because I definitely made a dent in my wallet getting TN’s from Pegatina Plans and catching up with friends like Amanda (@themomlifeplanner) and perusing new Baron Fig notebooks at For Good Cause. Everyone was setting up but it was amazing to reconnect with friends. Last year I felt very out of place, by myself – and this year it just felt easier knowing a few more people.
That evening I got to meet other sponsors and speakers, and I absolutely hit it off with Felicia from Gold Mine & Coco, Ashley from Cloth & Paper, and Audrey of Things Unseen Designs. Getting to hear about their hustles and stories was inspiring since it’s more of their work but what REALLY got me was when we could bypass the polite bullshit and talk about real deal things like realities of children or the insanity of Fyre Festival and Abducted in Plain Sight. That’s what I LOVE about these things is connecting with genuine and kick ass people.
Pictured: Me and Mommy Lhey, Felicia, and Debbie
One of my personal traditions is to go to a musical during the conference weekend. Last CPC I went to Hamilton (!!!!!! I was not throwing away my shot), during SGS NYC Planner Conference, I went to see an old friend in Wicked, and this year I HAD to go see Dear Evan Hansen. As I suspected, I cried basically all of the second act.
Once I got home, I had to finalize my slides and agenda for my workshop. I KNOW – am I even a Planner????? Here’s the thing. Since I teach and train for a living, I’ve gotten used to finalizing agendas last minute when inspiration strikes lol. I swear I’m not (that) lazy.
The energy of the opening is honestly unreal. Everyone gets to sit at a table of 10-12 that’s sponsored by a shop or company, filled with goodies for each person. PLUS, people at your table might also give you table gifts in addition (it totally ranges from candy to mugs to stickers to pens- just as a “nice to meet you” treat). We got to listen to the stories and lessons of SpeckledFawns, KrissyAnneDesigns ,and Amber Kemp of Damask Love. All I have to say is I was resonating with Amber ON A SPIRITUAL LEVEL. Girl if DIY does not pan out, standup comedy will. They along with Mommy Lhey were both generous enough to give away kits and swag to EVERYONE in the ballroom like it was fricking Oprah.
After that we transitioned to workshops. I had the honor of teaching during this first block. Y’all, I have taught so many classes, so many workshops and yet I am nervous EVERY TIME. But I got to open up a dialogue about why self-care is so hard and how we keep sabotaging ourselves when we try to set boundaries. And people SHARED. The stories and things people opened up about were so raw and real and I was so grateful to Felicia, Erica of The Jewel Box, and so many others who reminded me about how much power we really have.
After lunch doing make & takes I also got to do a session on vision boards with Sage Greyson and then a panel on Side Hustling with the amazing women of Planner Girl Chatter and Audrey. Sometimes you just hear realness and are drawn to it – and I hope these connections carry through to the next time I get to see them.
After a closing (where I, naturally, did not win A SINGLE THING LOL), I had to save my energy before I had to hold another class. This was probably the hardest part – I actually very casually ate my dinner by myself in the lobby, recharging until I had to expend more energy. This kind of pace is not for the most introverted folks!!
We debuted a class called Cocktails & Calligraphy and IT WAS A BLAST. People were a little tired but we had fun learning brush calligraphy and joking around. Teaching this class is one of my favorite things to do. It was humbling to hear that people had such a good time and felt like they were actually able to do calligraphy for the first time ever.
AND EVEN AFTER THAT, I tried my hand at some Mommy Lhey karaoke alongside some other talented, talented people and got to place second!! I hadn’t sang on a stage in a while and it was so fun to do among some of the most supportive people I’ve met. After a mini dance party I crawled into bed at like 1:30am!
And just when you think festivities are over, I went to brunch the next day. I didn’t get a picture but it was a STUNNING setup at Pinstripes. I’m talking chocolate fountain. This was a last chance for me to chat with people and I got to talk more with MaryAnn (@marysocontraryplans), a SPITFIRE planner girl from NYC who makes me laugh and tells it straight up, and my girl from @cjayplans who is side hustling hard and gave me some amazing tips to up my tech game (thank youuuuu).
There was a snow storm coming through Chicago so thank GOODNESS we were only delayed for like 30 minutes before taking off – and I was ready to be home after somehow managing to pack all that swag into my suitcase. It’s honestly a freaking MIRACLE. So now what?
After all of this, here’s what I know:
OKAY I had a lot to say, whoops!!! Is there anything I missed? Anything you’re wondering about?! Let me know in the comments!