To Go or Not To Go? The National Caregiving Conference And Why You Won’t Regret Attending


To Go or Not To Go? The National Caregiving Conference And Why You Won’t Regret Attending

Photo credit: Lillie Fuller

Are you considering attending the National Caregiving Conference but not sure if it’s for you? Was your first thought after learning about November’s conference, “Oh, that sounds like a great event” but then your second thought was quickly making excuses to contradict the first thought?

That’s what happened inside my head when I learned of the conference last year.

My first thoughts sounded like these: Attending the conference would mean that I’d get to meet Denise Brown, my amazing Certified Caregiving Consultant teacher, and mentor. I would also get to meet some classmates with whom I spent hours on calls and in chats. I would get to escape my house that was being overrun by three teenagers and have a hotel room all to myself! Oh, it would be fun! How could I resist?

Well, my second thoughts led me right to a state of complete resistance. I wasn’t earning income as a CCC yet, so how could I justify the airfare and hotel costs? Why would I need to meet people I already knew virtually? There would surely be an emergency with one of my teenagers if I left the state.

Simply put, beneath the excuses I was inventing for myself, I was scared to death to attend. Submitting a presentation proposal, getting on a plane, meeting tons of people, and putting myself out there would mean that I was making my CCC career real. And as long as I stayed put in my house and on my tiny corner of the Internet I was merely pretending to be real. I was staying two-dimensional. To become three-dimensional, I’d have to appear in person.

While I wrestled with the question, “To go or not to go,” my brother was able to call me out on my irrational resistance and made me see my fear for what it was, fear of stepping out of my comfort zone.

When I thought about this, I realized the irony of being afraid to do something new. As a former family caregiver, I had grown skilled in doing new things. But those new things, like learning how to care for terminally ill parents and all that goes with it, were not things I could choose to do or not do. Someone I loved was sick, and I had to help. There was no decision to be made in caring for my family. However, with this choice, it felt different.

For one, choosing to attend the National Caregiving Conference would mean doing something for myself. As a family caregiver, it is infinitely easier for me to put others before myself. (Anyone here know what I’m talking about?) Also, no one would die if I didn’t attend the caregiving conference. I could make the decision to stay comfortable and two-dimensional. There would be no repercussions.

Growing tired of listening to my brother’s nagging, I began mustering up my recently retired brave caregiver’s spirit. I wrote a proposal, bought the plane ticket, attended two inspiring intensives, spoke on two panels, modeled a bib in the fashion show, hugged online colleagues in person, had a blast with strangers in Uber rides to dinner, deepened existing connections, and made new friends.

Was the cost of airfare, the hotel, and a few delicious meals worth it? Yes.

Was meeting with colleagues in 3-D better than keeping them at a virtual screen's distance away? Double yes.

Was there an emergency with one of my teens when I left the state? Triple yes. In the time it took me to fly from Newark, NJ to Chicago, IL my partner was called to travel overseas for work, and my teenagers were left home. Alone. Did everyone survive and not burn the house down? Yes (and phew!).

Looking back on the months that followed the conference, existing relationships have grown into deeper levels of support. New collaborative projects materialized with people I once simply admired from afar. I gained a confidence in myself that would not have been acquired sitting alone in my home. I learned about businesses and ideas that are at the forefront of family caregiver support. I found (and am now a part of) a community of like-minded professionals with warm and welcoming hearts.

Attending the National Caregiving Conference was one of the best decisions I made last year. If you are going back and forth on your decision and adding to a pros and cons list, allow my story to be an extra check mark in your reason to attend column.

I promise you won’t regret attending. And when you are there, be sure to find me and say hello. In the meantime, I’ll be counting down the days until November.

(Our Second Annual National Caregiving Conference will take place on November 10 and 11 at the Chicago Marriott O'Hare, 8535 W. Higgins. We look forward to seeing you there!!)

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