Our top Portland picks!

The Hello Sessions is happening NEXT WEEK, so we thought it was high time that we share some of our favorite spots in Portland. We choose to have The Hello Sessions in Portland because it makes the trip worthwhile--we find that people come for the conference, but also for all the fun and charm and weirdness that the city has to offer. Portland locals, please add your favorites in the comments!




Toast: A little hole in the wall off the beaten path, Toast is a lovely little spot for breakfast. The menu changes seasonally, but we've never been disappointed by the offerings. And we ALWAYS leave totally full and happy. 

Biwa: This spot is open until midnight, and serves up casual Izakaya (Japanese gastropub) style foods like ramen, sashimi, gyoza, and yakitori. 

Lovejoy Bakers: One of our favorite breakfast or lunch spots, Lovejoy Bakers has a gorgeous selection of baked goods and hand crafted coffee options. We're particularly fond of the steel cut oatmeal, which is topped with a brown sugar brûlée. 

Little Bird: Award winning chef Gabriel Rucker's second Portland establishment, Little Bird, is fine dining in a laid back atmosphere--and if that's not Portland in a nutshell, we don't know what is. The plates are inventive little works of art that are almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. 





WORK/SHOP: As its name implies, work/shop is a space where you can both work (or learn) and shop in this Instagram-worthy spot. Some of our favorite Portland makers, like calligrapher Rachel Jacobson, teach workshops here. You can also find some excellent locally made gifts (for yourself or others). 

The Meadow: Flowers, chocolates, salts, and wine. Need we say more? 

Alder & Co.: Everything in this spot feels special. Think: clothing, jewelry, candles, and cozy throws. This is one of those places to buy yourself something special to remember this trip by. 

Lounge Lizard: So many awesome vintage finds at Lounge Lizard! Everything is curated and cleaned, so all you have to do is choose among the treasures. 





PSU Farmers Market: Rain or shine, this farmer's market is open every Saturday all year long! Gorgeous fruits and vegetables, several food stalls (it's hard to choose among them...) and excellent local honey, wine, and chocolates to bring home as gifts--for yourself or others. 

Skin by Marywynn: Hands down one of the best spa experiences of my life! Even though I now live on the East Coast, I only get facials when I can go to Marywynn's. They are hardcore believers in oil cleansing, and your skin will feel baby soft when you leave. 

Ground Kontrol: Calling all gamers! You'll find everything from Ms. Pac-Man to Mortal Kombat II here, as well as a fully functioning bar. 

Living Room Theaters: If all that travel and networking leaves you in need of a couple of hours of quiet, check out this little movie theater. It's located directly across the street from The Cleaners and plays indie movies while serving up scrumptious restaurant-quality cuisine (and drinks!). 

Powell's: This could totally fall under "shops" but going into Powell's is a whole experience. One could spend hours in this bookstore (and we have!). If you're traveling, you might find it difficult to limit the number of things you can fit in your suitcase. Going to Powell's is a bit like time traveling--when's the last time you spent a whole afternoon browsing through books? 


A gift for you on The Glitter Guide!

Anyone else feeling a case of end-of-summer blues creeping up? It feels a lot like Sunday blues, except at the very least, there's the prospect of sweaters, pumpkin spice everything, and apple picking around the corner. You aren't alone!

As the little ones head back to school, we've been thinking about how to make the second half of the year as tremendously productive as possible. Summer gave us the chance to take a breather and now it's time to sharpen those pencils and begin thinking about how to push ourselves ever closer to achieving those goals. 

Over on the Glitter Guide this week, I wrote a post revealing the absolute best tips I've received about how to get more done each day. This is the advice I live by, particularly when I want to hit the ground running. Are you doing any of these? 

At the bottom of the post, you'll find a little gift from us and the ladies of the Glitter Guide, just for you. 

Wish we were neighbors

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Denver to speak at a conference and I got a chance to catch up with three friends I wish I could see more often, including Jayme (of the Saveur recognized Holly & Flora) and Heather (official Hello Helper and author of the awesome blog The Caterpillar Years). 

With each of these friends, it was easy to fall into conversations we had started months or even years before. We're all at a point in our lives where everything seems to be in flux--moving homes, starting businesses, having kids, traveling the world, new jobs--but it felt as though no time had passed at all. The hours flew by and then we were saying good-bye yet again. 

My go to phrase is, "I wish we were neighbors!" Because, in my fantasy world, I would get to see all the people I love every single day. 

While there's always Skype and Google Hangouts and Facetime--and, hey, let's not forget about the telephone--there's nothing quite like seeing old friends or meeting new ones in person. For example, Melissa and I knew each other before meeting at a conference, but once we had spent time together there and in Oregon, there was a strength in our friendship that felt very real and unbreakable. 

When you spend time learning among people who get you, who understand why you want to chase your crazy big dreams, who want to help you capture them and set them free, it's as though someone has put magic in your wings and suddenly it's just so much easier to take off. 

So come to Portland. For a couple of days, we can be neighbors, and we can help you to take flight. 

Why Hands-on Workshops Work

When I was little, my English professor mom taught a memoir writing course. She showed her students how to create a sensory experience through their writing with an exercise that I called "the bento box workshop".  

It consisted of passing around different levels of an old tin bento box with different things in the compartments--marbles, candies, gummy worms--while the students closed their eyes. Using their senses of smell, touch, sound, and sometimes taste, the students came up with adjectives for what they were experiencing. When they went back to write, their once flat stories came to life with descriptions of air that was "thick with the scent of mock orange" and sun-warmed rocks that "felt nearly human in their warmth." 

It was only as I got older that I realized how unique it is to include daily hands-on activities in a college classroom. When I asked my mom about it, she said, "You can tell a person what they need to do, but they're not going to retain it unless they have the experience to draw from."

We built The Hello Sessions out of this understanding that people learn best bydoing. While we could get inspired at other conferences, we wanted people to leave our event confident that they'd be able to put their new skills into action because they had already done so.

After leaving Portland this fall, you will have:

  • Created a step-by-step outline of a plan to grow your business 

  • A road map for attracting not just a large social media audience, but one that will become your tribe, clients, and customers. 

  • Experience with creating videos that inspire engagement without a lot of video editing know-how or expensive equipment. 

If you truly want to learn how to elevate your creative business and you learn best by getting your hands dirty with new skills, we would love for you to join us in Portland this October


If you're following us on Instagram, you may have seen last week's post with my favorite quote from Maya Angelou (above).

With the terrible violence that we're seeing close to home and abroad, to people we know and to faraway people who are more like us than we'll ever know, it's easy to feel helpless and very small. But it's in the smallest gestures of kindness and love that we can begin to see change happen.

Each time we choose to treat each other as humans rather than the stereotypes or caricatures that have somehow eaten into our culture, we make a contribution into the richness of our futures and the futures of our children. 

Every person you encounter has a story living within them that is all their own. We owe it to ourselves to take the time to learn as many of those stories as we can. Listen more; speak less. 

For everyone who feels helpless, we want to cultivate empowerment through random acts of kindness and we want you to join in. 

We challenge you to perform an act of kindness and post about it on Instagram with the hashtag #HelloKindness. If you aren't sure where to begin, check out our friend Anna's blog post with 134 Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness from her blog And Then We Saved. We can't wait to see what you post. 

We know that this doesn't begin to address the unfairness in the world that leads to this kind of violence. But maybe, in the tiniest way, our acts of kindness will put a little light into someone's day. And in the darkness, even the smallest ray of light can go a long way. 

The Hello Sessions 2016 Kickoff Party!

One of the things that made The Hello Sessions so magical last year was the incredible Schoolhouse Electric Co. opening night party, and we're thrilled to announce that we'll be kicking this year's event off at the SECO headquarters once again! 

On October 6, 2016, Schoolhouse Electric will provide The Hello Sessions’ attendees exclusive access to their Portland location. Our SECO friends will be partnering with local companies to create a uniquely Portland-flavored fête! In addition, our attendees will get 15% off of any items purchased within a week of the party.

The SECO headquarters are housed in a brick factory building in Northwest Portland, and every inch of their showroom is Instagram-worthy. Each vintage-inspired piece of their collection is lovingly curated. Even their theme, “Want better, not more,” calls out to us as creative entrepreneurs!

Last year's party marked the beginning of so many new friendships and collaborations, so we can't wait to see what comes out of this year's event! 

We're looking forward to seeing you there! 

P.S. Last year's Schoolhouse Electric kickoff party

Announcing our keynote speaker! (Also, when you can get your ticket.)

One of the things that sets The Hello Sessions apart is that, by some unspoken agreement, everyone checks their ego at the door. Attendees who had just started blogging and successful longtime bloggers made authentic connections and even learned from each other. It is, in our eyes, the single best thing about our community. 

Last year, after our first round of sessions, I knew that things were going well when artist, author, and veteran blogger Lisa Congdon came up to me and said that Chris Gardener's workshop (on creating an editorial calendar) had given her so many ideas about how she could approach blogging. 

Lisa's humbleness and humility are core to her success and her ability to continuously evolve in all facets of her life and business. From day one, we have wanted The Hello Sessions to grow with you, and as we thought about our second year, we could think of no better guide to authentic, soul-deepening growth than Lisa Congdon. 

We are thrilled that Lisa will be opening up the sessions on October 7, 2016 as our keynote speaker! For everyone in attendance, it's going to be a moment that sets the tone of the day; one that prepares us for learning, friendship, and forward momentum. We can't wait. 

Lots of love,
Joy (and Melissa + The Hello Sessions Team)

P.S. Tickets will go on sale June 15, 2016! Learn more here

Where We're Having The Hello Sessions 2016

May is the month when we'll be revealing all the details about The Hello Sessions 2016! We've been working on this year's event literally since the day after last year's, so we're excited that we'll finally get to share all the exciting things we have in store. 

THS 2016 was crafted around the feedback we got from all of you who came last year. You told us that you loved the workshops but wanted something smaller, more intimate, where you could move from one workshop to another with the same group of people. You were also very clear on what you wanted to learn about. It's so fulfilling to create something just for you!

First things first, we had to find the perfect space. Our needs: 

  • Plenty of Instagram-worthy lighting
  • Located in a convenient Portland spot
  • Lots of potential to make it our own

We looked high and low, and in the end the place that stole our hearts was The Ace Hotel's event space The Cleaners! With its location in the heart of The Pearl District, its huge windows, and its pitch perfect vibe, we knew immediately that this was the perfect place for all of us to gather this year. 

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more info on THS 2016!

How to Tell a Story (Advice from Nora Ephron)

In 2010, I went to see Nora Ephron read from her book I Remember Nothing. Nora Ephron's work has shaped so much of my understanding of womanhood, love, career, and badassery, and she was just as authentic in real life as I had imagined she would be. In that talk, she said something that I think of often: "If you're not going to cook a really good meal just for yourself, who are you going to cook a really good meal for?" In other words--put yourself first. 

Her son just released a documentary called Everything Is Copy, which examined Nora Ephron's life and work, and also her death, which was surprising to nearly everyone who knew her. When I found out that she had died back in 2012, I remember feeling deeply that there were so many stories she had left to tell. In the documentary, there were a few more--and some lessons that I know you'll appreciate as much as I do. 

Own the story. "Everything is copy," is something Ephron's screenwriter mother used to say to her four girls. Whether something horrifying or cringeworthy or awesome happens to you, if you turn it into copy it's your story to tell. Ephron took the shame and heartache and anger that came out of uncovering her husband's infidelity when she was seven-and-a-half months pregnant and turned it into the novel, then the movie, Heartburn. We're constantly being told to look forward, not backward. But sometimes, in looking backward, we can find our best material. 

Tell the truth. A reporter once pointed out that Ephron was rather unkind in her representation of a certain celebrity. Ephron retorted, "You have a soft spot for her don't you? I don't. I think she is a spider dipped in chocolate." What made Ephron stand out in her early days was this ability to clearly and succinctly explain what was going on in her head. Okay, so we can't all go around saying exactly what we think of people--but we can stop sugar coating things so much. When people have a clearer understanding of your perspective on things, you may find that you can move forward with more speed. 

Be multifaceted. Do what you want. Her essays full of sharp edged humor and often indelicate observations, so when Ephron started making movies like Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail, critics were thrown. But Ephron did make movies that were closer to the style of her essays, and they just didn't work. I hadn't even heard of half of them. Don't feel beholden to just one thing. Just because you're known for one thing does NOT mean you need to abandon another seemingly uncharacteristic passion. 

I didn't know Nora Ephron personally, but I miss her. That's what creating does--it touches people who don't even know you and makes them feel understood. This week, go on creating. You never know who you're reaching. 

Lots of love,
Joy (and Melissa + The Hello Sessions Team)

P.S. One of my favorite Nora Ephron essays

How to change your energy & get out of a rut

A couple of weeks ago, I was home in Hawaii when a local friend said to me, "Ugh, I made plans for tonight but I just don't want to go. It sounded like fun when I agreed to it but now...traffic! Putting on a bra! It feels like so much work." But then when I later asked how it went, she replied, "Oh, it was great once I got there!"

These stories always give me a bit of relief, because I fall into this cycle all the time. And, in fact, it turns out that it also happens to people who seem to have all their shit together, too. 

Two stories:

Our dear friend Lisa Congdon just wrote about how bad the timing was for her recent trip to judge a quilting competition in Los Angeles--and how, in the end, the experience opened up new artistic pathways for her, like a gallery show all her own in NYC. (Congrats, Lisa!!!)

Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser says that there were many nights leading up to the launch of the site in which she found herself questioning everything. But then, in the morning, she found the power within herself to keep on going. (Today, Food52 is worth $6 million, by the way.) 

So how do you change your energy in order to gain momentum? It can be hard, we know. But here are a few suggestions that can help to scoop you out of any sense of malaise to give you a push in the right direction:

Do the easiest, smallest thing first. As they say, getting started is the hardest part. By easing into things, you can gently slip into a new project, a social engagement, or even just that difficult Monday morning without feeling like you're fighting an uphill battle. Oftentimes, taking action--any action--is enough to charge your energy. 

Turn on the tunes. And dance! Nothing will snap you out of that funk faster than an impromptu dance party. Might we suggest some Missy Elliot? 

Break it down. List out all the little steps you need to take to accomplish your goal, and realize that that's all that's standing between you and something great. A list! Look at the list and decide on what scares you. Think about why. Then find solutions. (Don't know how to talk to investors? New list items: take a course on that; talk to experienced entrepreneurs; read books on it.) 

Think of the benefits. Why did you agree to do this in the first place? Will this project free you from your job? Did you agree to go to that networking event because there's a chance you'll bump into your blogging idol? Remember why you said yes, and what you stand to gain. 

Do something else. When all else fails, turn your focus elsewhere. When we were working on the conference last year, it was easy to get so deep into it that we couldn't see where to go next. That's when it's time to cook dinner, read a book, take a walk, listen to your favorite podcast, or chat with someone you love. You'll come back refreshed and ready for what comes next. 


Who's holding you accountable? (It's not you!)

Every day at 11am, my co-workers and I gather in a large office, turn on some music, take off our shoes, and get on the floor to plank for anywhere between two to four minutes. While we're faithful to our little ritual--we even schedule meetings around it, if we can--we all fell off the wagon when the university closed over the holidays, despite the fact that our calendar reminders continued to pop up daily!

Having someone (or several someones) around to keep you accountable is so important for most of us. Speaking of which--hint hint--how are those resolutions going now that we're heading into February? If you need some help sticking to a plan that will help you achieve your goals, here are some ways to hold yourself accountable--either solo or with some help:

Download the StickK app: Set a goal and put a certain amount of money on the line, which you can keep if you accomplish your goal, or which will be donated to the charity of your choice if you don't. Lots of people advocate for designating that your donation go to a charity you don't really believe in so that you're more motivated to keep the money. We say: whatever works! 

Meet regularly with a friend: This is something Melissa and I do to keep ourselves accountable for every little piece of puzzle that is The Hello Sessions. There are definitely weeks where life takes over and I realize that I haven't tackled things on my to do list until the day before--but there's always that deadline to light a fire under my butt! As an obliger, this one is a biggie. 

Create consequences and rewards: During winter break, there really was no consequence to opting to lounge on the couch rather than do my three minute plank--no immediate consequence, anyway. (Long term: hello, jiggly abs!). The StickK app reinforces consequences, but you can also come up with your own. No planking this week? Then I'm going to have to go to that arms and abs class this weekend (ugh). Planking for five days straight? Manicure time! 

Let everyone know. Post your goals to Instagram and update everyone regularly on how things are going. Announcing your goals publicly is always helpful--the consequence being that giving up is kind of embarrassing once you've stated your intentions. 

Are you working toward a goal right now? Let us know what they are by tagging us with #HelloGoals on Instagram. We'd love to know what you're up to! 

Getting more energy for 2016

While we're inching toward more sunlight each day, these long, dark, cold days of winter tend to weigh heavily on my productivity--and I know lots of you can relate. But this winter has been a little easier thanks, in part, to these four things:

Light alarm clock. When I told my friend Pauline that I was struggling to get up in the dark, she recommended this alarm clock that slowly becomes brighter, mimicking the sunrise. The change it's made in my energy levels was immediate and profound. There's something to the gradual half hour rising process that works a thousand times better than being jolted awake by the alarm on my phone. 

Just 15 minutes of exercise. With the cold temps and a jam packed schedule, it can be difficult for me to get any exercise in, but committing to just 15 minutes each day makes the commitment seem a lot less daunting--and I can fit it into those otherwise-missed pockets of time. My office recently installed a walking treadmill, which is awesome. Sometimes I'll jump on the elliptical during my lunch break. And there are great, short yoga videos on YouTube. I usually end up working out for longer than 15 minutes and my energy skyrockets. 

Vitamin D. Most people are low in Vitamin D during the winter months because of a lack of sun exposure. Taking a supplement has helped my energy levels enormously. If you're standing in CVS trying to decide between D2 and D3 supplements, my doctor suggests choosing D3, which is more easily absorbed into your system. 

Stop light gratitude. I picked this tip up from the Happier podcast, and since I have such a long commute it works especially well for me. Instead of staring blankly into space or (tsk tsk) picking up your phone when you get to a red light, use the brief moment of time to think of something you're grateful for. I often think, "I'm grateful to have a career that rewards creativity," and then, when I'm having a 2pm slump, I remember this moment of gratitude and it works better than caffeine at getting me back on track. 

I hope any or all of these are helpful as you jump into your goals for 2016!

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

Every year, we look forward to the holiday gift guides that go up on blogs around the web. It's fun to get ideas for what to get the people on your list, but it's also fun to discover new things to add to your own holiday wish list!

We've rounded up some of our favorite small-sized items that would fit perfectly in a stocking. Whether you're looking to up your stocking stuffer game or need some last-minute presents for friends, family, or neighbors, these gifts are sure to impress.

1. Printed balloons from Revel & Co.

2. Chatbooks Instagram photo books

3. Whitefire Match Box from Design Life Kids

4. Belong Magazine

5. Cards from Gingiber

6. Custom printed goods from Zazzle

7. Finding Home Farms Maple Syrup

8. Prints from Lettered & Lined

9. Entertaining at Home by Alexandra Hedin

10. Mom's Stuff Salve

11. Miniature photo frames from Kate Aspen

12. Do Your Best gold foil print from Pars Caeli

13. The Coastal Table Magazine

14. Giraffe Print from Laura Touhey

15. Handmade silver earring from Bare Branch Jewelry

You've got mail (the good kind)

When I was a little girl, I had a pen pal in England named Gemma. We sent puffy packages to each other across the globe--pictures, jewelry, snacks, and letters that criss crossed over oceans and one very big continent. Those letters changed the course of my life. They're the reason that I arrived at Heathrow at age nineteen, where Gemma was waiting to whisk me away to a new part of my life, and of myself. It's safe to say that snail mail has always been my preferred method of written communication.

So I get excited about checking the mail every day of the year, but I especially love it in this month leading up to Christmas. Like many of you, our usual stack of catalogues and credit card offers becomes outnumbered by holiday cards sent from all over the world. Whenever I see a handwritten address or a brightly colored envelope, a little bit of sunshine comes out and warms my soul. 

James and I usually have our picture taken during our anniversary trip to Vermont, since our elopement photographer gifts all of her clients free annual photo shoots. But this year, I was in Portland for The Hello Sessions and didn't have any vacation time left to take our trip. I was kind of bummed about doing a non-photo card but then felt about a million times better when I saw the ones that Minted has in their lineup this year. So excited, in fact, that my cards are already printed, addressed, stamped, and waiting to be mailed. 

To check out the card we decided on, visit our Instagram feed. And if you aren't quite the eager beaver that I am, don't worry--there's still plenty of time! In fact, Minted is offering 15% off of their cards using code BF2015. (Spend $150 and you'll get 20% off using the same code.) 

We hope you had a delicious and happy Thanksgiving! We can't wait to see the awesome mail you send and receive in the next few weeks. 

Let's rock the end of the year together! 

Joy (with love from Melissa, too!)

Minted sent me credit for this post, which arrived in the form of these awesome cards. Thanks for supporting the brands that support The Hello Sessions! 

Know who you are

That's Elizabeth, second from the left! 

That's Elizabeth, second from the left! 

Last weekend, three weeks after The Hello Sessions, I finally got a chance to see my friend, the gorgeous and elegant Elizabeth Crane Swartz, for lunch. Despite living all the way out here in Massachusetts, Elizabeth attended THS this year, and it was so wonderful to hear her impressions of the conference.

But one thing she said especially resonated with me: "I'm working on a series of blog posts about the conference--what I learned about what I do, but also what I learned about me." 

This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately--the connection between who we are and the choices we make. Since we spend so much time peeking into the lives of the people around us, it's natural that our brains start shouting at us to get in line with what other people are doing. But, in reality, no one else's path is going to be right for you. You have to do the hard work of carving your own way. 

One thing that I've found especially helpful in figuring out how to make my own way is Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies framework. Everyone, she says, falls into one of these categories. And while they overlap, you'll pull most strongly from just one. What's powerful about it is that once you understand which category you fall into, you'll be better able to understand how to work with yourself to accomplish more, live more fully, and enjoy the process. 

For example: I'm squarely an obliger, which means that I am far more likely to meet the expectations of others than my own expectations. As we ramped up to The Hello Sessions, I basically gave up on eating well, exercising, meditating, and a whole host of other self-care things because of this giant outer expectation. Rubin suggests that for people like me, it's important to set up parameters outside ourselves, in order to achieve our personal goals. Workout buddies, group activities, even apps help us to feel accountable to someone or something outside of ourselves. Knowing this about myself has made a huge difference, just in the past couple of weeks! 

To know yourself better, check out the quiz on Gretchen Rubin's website. Are you a rebel, an upholder, a questioner, or an obliger? 

We talk a lot about constantly improving our skills, but within that we need to make room for a broader conversation about constantly improving our understanding of ourselves and the people around us. It's then that we can stop holding ourselves back, playing the blame game, and comparing ourselves to others. 

Because you, my friend, are made to do great things. 

Joy (with extra love from Melissa)

Thank You + Plans for Next Time

Exactly a week ago, we were at Schoolhouse Electric, mingling with friends old and new as we kicked off The Hello Sessions in style! We can hardly believe that a full week has passed since then. 

The conference was everything we could have hoped for and more. We knew Tiffany Han would rock her keynote, but little did we know that the reverberations of her advice about being women who support other women would permeate every second of the day. We loved seeing new friendships forming, and the best compliment we could have received was that everyone, no matter the size of their audience, felt welcomed and comfortable. Goal: accomplished. 

We also really wanted people to develop new tools, and to come away with new skills to put to use for the future. After the first set of workshops, our friend and workshop speaker Lisa Congdon let us know that Chris Gardener's workshop on building an editorial calendar had sparked all kinds of ideas on how she and her wife, Clay, can organize their business over the next year. I'm pretty sure that's the point at which my heart stopped beating out of my chest with panic. 


Some of you probably thought we were being cheeky when we said that we didn't know if The Hello Sessions would happen again. We weren't. But after spending time in Portland with some of our favorite people, and seeing attendees come away with new friendships and new skills, there really wasn't a question. It wasn't perfect, and we learned a lot of hard lessons, but it was pretty incredible because of the amazing group of people who were there. Melissa and I didn't even have a "should we do this again?" conversation. Instead, the first post-conference conversation we had was about dates, location, and speakers.  

We might be crazy, but it looks like we've jumped right back on the carousel. 

To everyone who came to the conference: thank you. To our INCREDIBLE Hello Helpers who saw us through all of the behind-the-scenes debacles: you rock our world and we owe you big time. To our speakers: you are very much the reason this conference happened at all and we are so grateful. And to everyone else who has supported us from near or far: we love you. 

Check out the photo albums from the Schoolhouse Electric kickoff party and The Hello Sessions on Facebook, and please feel free to share them on your blogs and social media accounts--but don't forget to credit our amazing photographer, Linnea Paulina. 

We'll keep this inspiration train going with recap posts and more information on how to keep your creative business thriving. And, as we know more about next year's conference, we'll share it with you. 

Joy and Melissa

Are you packing yet?

This morning, one of my new co-workers was asking about The Hello Sessions and she said, "Do you know what you're going to wear?" 

And...I just stood there with my mouth open, wanting to explain that I wish I'd had the time to figure that out. But the truth is that Melissa and I--between my new job and her book project, my three hour commute and her four kids, and all the final details of the conference--still have no idea what we're going to show up wearing on the day of the conference. Probably not sweats. We haven't gone beyond that. 

Are you stressing out about packing for The Hello Sessions? I hope not. We've been in that position of buying new clothes to go to conferences, feeling like we needed to look a certain way--I once bought a dress with a tutu, to my great shame. (Some people can pull this off. I am not one of those people.)

Once, with first conference jitters, I signed up for a pre-conference workshop called, "What to wear to [name of conference]" and in it I learned the word twee as in, "Basically, if you're dressed like a fashionable kindergartener, you're all set. Big bows, polka dots--really, anything twee." 

This is not that conference. 

So what should you wear? Listen, we're not saying you shouldn't dress up--if you want to, please do. But if you want to show up in jeans and sneakers and your favorite sweater, do it! Because the point of all of this is to talk and eat and especially to learn (and eat).

As DJ Jazzy Jeff would tell you, "You go to school to learn, not for a fashion show." 

This isn't exactly school, but it kind of is. Like a fun, flower-filled school where you get to learn things you want to learn and there aren't any tests. And everyone thinks you're the bees knees. 

In other words, come as you are. We can't wait to see you. 

Love, Joy and Melissa

How to find your authenticity

Sometimes I come cross a very simple idea that completely changes the way that I look at some aspect of my life, and I just stumbled upon one that I wanted to share with you. It's this:

Instead of thinking about what you want to be, think about WHO you want to be, and let that guide you. 

It's really easy to get lost in the day-to-day movements, the highs and lows--whether you're in an office or working independently. A miscommunication with a blog sponsor, or even just a grumpy cashier at the grocery store can make us spiral into negativity. 

But if you can ground yourself each day in thinking about who you want to be, it's so much easier to come back from minor setbacks like these. I find it helpful to use an adjective to describe who I want to be. Mine is "grateful." Yours might be "kind," or "enthusiastic," or "generous." Keep your "who" in mind and you'll bounce back faster. 

In our world, it can be hard not to play the comparison game--to feel like you need to look, act, or be a certain way. But if you can come back to the root of who you want to be, you'll guide yourself toward authenticity every single time. And that feels like the recipe for a richer life. 

Something we thought you might relate to

For the past couple of months, I've been kind of obsessed with podcasts and, in particular, a new one called Millennial. Megan Tan is a recent college grad who's floundering in the first year after college, and, in an effort to stay true to her creative core, is working on something of her own. The podcast is beautifully produced (by Tan herself) and so totally honest. 

In the most recent episode, Tan encounters an obstacle: people want to sponsor the podcast and she has absolutely no idea how to go about handling the inquiries (despite asking for them). So she just...ignores them. She shuts down. After awhile, she realizes that what she's hiding from is the uncomfortable fact that she doesn't even know where to begin. 

This is what happens to so many of us in this beautiful online world we've built. Everyone we know creates beautiful posts with images that look professionally captured; Instagram feeds are curated impeccably; we have friends whose work we see in the shops we love. And while all of this is hugely inspirational, it can also cause the perfectionists inside of us to scream, "Don't start until you know exactly how to do this perfectly!" 

And, let's face it, there just isn't such a thing as "starting perfectly." 

No. There is only starting

On our keynote speaker Tiffany Han's podcast this week, workshop leader Lisa Congdon talks about just that--about how those early days of beginning any passion project are messy and not quite right, but so important to figuring out your style, voice, perspective, and direction. (And, hey, it's also an amazing preview of what Lisa will be working with attendees on in her workshop!)

So this week, let's all vow to get to the bottom of our fears so that we can begin unknotting them one by one. Up close, in the light of day, they are rarely as monstrous as they seem. Even if your first step is minuscule--making just one call; buying that domain; writing for 10 minutes--you will have started, and that's what matters. The next time you think about your big dream, you'll already have begun.

Millennial: What's Your Worth?
aise Your Hand Say Yes: Lisa Congdon (2)

Our Portland faves!

People have asked why we chose to hold The Hello Sessions in Portland, and the answer is simple: it's our favorite city! Portland is full of creativity, independent businesses, and quirky corners, and we think it's the best place to inspire you to plant the seeds that will turn your big dreams into concrete realities. 

Here are our top 10 favorite things to do in Portland--we hope you can fit at least a handful in when you're in town for The Hello Sessions!

  1. The International Rose Test Garden. In October, the weather will still be nice enough to take a stroll through the test gardens. Portland isn't called Rose City for no reason! This is a gorgeous way to spend an afternoon--bring a book and a picnic, and you're set. 

  2. Salt and Straw. This small, local ice cream chain features weird but delicious flavors like chocolate caramel potato chip cupcake and green fennel and maple. If you could take a bite out of Portland, it would taste like Salt and Straw ice cream. 

  3. Powell's. The city of books! For of us bibliophiles: heaven. It's also within close proximity of The Ace and all of the shops in The Pearl District, and we could happily spend an entire weekend within the three block radius around this store. 

  4. Vault Martini Bar. Guava drop martini. Boom. 

  5. The Living Room movie theater. Indie movies on couches with gourmet food? And vino? It's like someone dreamed up our perfect date night. 

  6. Multnomah Village. The most charming little neighborhood, complete with a wine bar (in a Craftsman house), an indie bookstore (Annie Bloom's), antique stores, and a great breakfast spot (Marco's). 

  7. The PSU Farmers Market. Total Instagram fodder everywhere you look--carrots, radishes, meats, cheeses, eggs as big as your head, and steaming hot biscuits. The stuff of Saturday morning dreams. 

  8. Stumptown. Yes, there are Stumptowns elsewhere. But these are the originals! And hey, you can't be in the Pacific Northwest without some really excellent coffee. And hipster watching. 

  9. Food Carts. They're everywhere, and most of them are excellent. Check out Eater's top picks. (We're partial to 808 Grinds, Koi Fusion, and Tabor, ourselves.) 

For those of you who are already in Portland, what are your favorite spots? Tell us on our new private Facebook group for attendees, where you can also introduce yourselves before the conference even begins!