Almost a year ago now, I got an email from my friend Kat Schmoyer letting me know that I had been selected to lead as a panelist at the Creative at Heart Conference in Memphis – cue the confetti! This had been a dream of mine since starting my little business. I have always loved to teach, encourage, and share my experiences and knowledge openly… and that has naturally led me to seek positions of leadership since about middle school! Being the oldest of three with only one parent probably tied into this as well. I just love to help people. There have been plenty of times I’m sure that I’ve just started giving unsolicited advice without even realizing it. Haha. So when I have the opportunity to formally lead and teach, the stars align, and I feel like I’m living out what I was made for and using my passions to their fullest. It’s the best thing!

Creative at Heart is a wonderful conference packed full of information and overflowing with opportunity. I was so excited to attend my second conference, see some old friends, and explore a new city (I love the south, so I couldn’t wait to see Memphis)! The BEST part about this trip was that it was the first time I was traveling for business that Justin got to come with me!!! This was my first business trip since the wedding and I was thrilled to have my husband accompanying me! It was so special. I can’t even tell you how awesome it was after years of traveling alone. I knew I wanted to do as much exploring and adventuring as we could in the few days we were there, so I booked early Saturday morning and late Tuesday night flights and we had almost two full days to see this city. It was the perfect amount of time to get to know the home of the blues.

I brought my film camera along on our exploring and didn’t take a single digital photo… and it was incredible. There is something about film that captures a moment in a more authentic and true to life way than digital… I can’t put my finger on it, but I know there is something so special about these photos. I’m going to love them for years. Each image I see brings back a memory I forgot I had, and I remember the moment so clearly when I took the shot or when Justin captured a photo of me. Maybe it’s because we have to be so much more intentional with the settings, light, composition, etc. when taking a film shot that we remember the moment more clearly… I’m not sure!!! All I know is that this roll of Kodak Portra encapsulated our trip so well. The colors, the light, the architecture… it’s all so reflective of what walking in Memphis felt like!

We started our Saturday with baby back ribs & pulled pork sandwiches at Central BBQ near the Lorraine Motel, the site where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in the 1960s. It was harrowing seeing the old cars parked out front and the wreath hanging on the balcony where he fell after being shot from across the street. After taking a few moments to reflect, we walked to a coffee shop a few blocks north, saw more old cars actually just driving around (how cool!!!), and then headed to the welcome dinner at the Peabody Hotel, where we would be attending the conference the next couple of days. I learned so much, loved leading Bible study each morning, and Justin got to see the inside of the industry I’ve been a part of for the last five years. He “gets it” so much more now, and his advice to me comes from a place of being better educated and informed!! I’m so thankful he got to be there!

On the last day we were in Memphis, we had BBQ for brunch at King’s on Beale Street (YUM) and then finally got to see the Duck March at the Peabody! In the 1930s, a couple of drunk hunters thought it would be funny to put their live decoys in the fountain… and it kind of just stuck I guess! Haha! The ducks live on the roof in a miniature Peabody Hotel under the care of the duck master, who lays out a red carpet for them every day at 11 and 5 to walk on and off the elevator and into the fountain in the lobby. It’s hilarious and cute and absurd all at once. I cried because I thought it was so adorable and special. I hope someday our kids get to see this, too!

We spent the rest of the day walking the city, taking photos of the buildings, and making our way to the giant pyramid where a Bass Pro Shop now resides. We even had time to visit the Fire Museum of Memphis, which was completely empty, so we had the entire museum to ourselves… which was SO much fun. I’ll never forget watching the live fire simulation and actually getting a little scared in the smoke maze… not sure how Justin does this stuff in real life! It was such a fun time and afterwards we made our way back to our apartment building, grabbed our luggage, and then had one more drink (spiked chocolate lattes!) in the Peabody lobby before heading to the airport. It was such a memorable time and seriously the best BBQ of my life. I can’t wait for our next business trip together, and I’ll be bringing my film camera out again more and more as I get the hang of this!! I’ll treasure these photos forever.

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