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I got to the hotel a little later than I originally had planned, and so rushed up to my room to do a quick re-fresh.  After reapplying some lipstick, spraying on some perfume, and giving myself a little “You can do this!” pep talk, I rode the elevator downstairs to head to the Haven Meet & Greet Event.

I stepped off the elevator and saw her immediately–Marian, or Miss Mustard Seed as you may know her. In case you may be new here, I have a little blog crush on Marian.  Her blog is the first blog I ever read and is quite honestly the entire reason I started mine.  I was so inspired by her story of success and her creative style that I became convinced I could do this whole blog thing too.

I knew she was going to be at the Haven Conference and wanted to meet her so badly, so when I saw her sitting quietly in a corner with another lady I ran right over and asked to take a picture with her.  Here it is!!!

*crickets, crickets*

Except, that’s actually not what happened. I so wanted to go over and confidently introduce myself and assume we would hit it off and be instantly best friends and take the cutest selfie ever, but I hesitated, and instead continued walking.

Maybe it was pride, maybe it was nerves, maybe it was just that I was hungry–I don’t know. But I decided to leave Marian be and hope that I might get the opportunity later to try again.

To help make this story of my conference experience make more sense, it’s time for me to make a confession.

I have a problem with in any new situation, always trying to go for “the big win.”

I guess at the core it’s just ambition–and ambition is not a bad thing, but really a great blessing.  But I have learned that in my desire to always get the big win, I usually miss out on the so many other, wonderful “small wins” that are waiting at my fingertips.  Those small wins are usually richer, longer-lasting, and more authentic, which in the long run really makes them a greater achievement than one big win.

I knew I would struggle with going for the big win at Haven, and I was reminded of that the first moment I stepped off the elevator and saw Marian.

Thankfully my loving husband reminded me to go in with the attitude of a learner . . . to look for the small wins that were awaiting me at every turn . . . to let go of the ambition and just take in everything that was around me.

So after the Marian encounter, I gave myself a little pep talk about the need to just relax, be a learner, and let go of my giant expectations (funny, sounds like a reverse pep talk, doesn’t it?)

Here is my story then of my Haven Conference “small wins” . . .

I shared a room with Ashley, a fellow Texan and Fusion merchant.  She became my “safe place,” the person with whom I could admit my addiction to my morning coffee and decompress at the end of a long day of information overload.

I marveled at all that I don’t know about Facebook with Laura, and (hopefully) offered her some encouragement that it is possible to learn how these crazy algorithms work.

I talked about life as a mom to three little boys with Pam, and confessed to her how much I was missing mine.

I ate breakfast with Rachel and Sandy, and started navigating the crazy world of marketing yourself to the Brand Sponsors with them.

I talked with Vicki and Jennifer about how much I love Fusion, and marveled at how fun it must be to blog as a Mother/Daughter team.

I sweated bullets and drank lemonade with Sharon while we talked about how we live just down the road from each other.

I ate a late night dinner of chicken enchiladas with Nancy, Sharon, and Dianne, and talked about our love of junkin’ and how we all have so much more to learn about the blog world.

I finally met an internet friend Rachel, and confirmed in my heart that if we lived in the same town we would be great friends.

I was inspired by the amazing success of KariAnne and laughed and she graciously chided me for not knowing how to take a good selfie.

I had a surprise connection with Jenny as she overheard me talking about Fusion at lunch.  I walked away from my time talking with her energized and feeling like I found a great potential blog friend.

I sat a table over a meal with Kim and had my spirit soar when she said she knew my blog.

I visited with Julie and Lauren, told them all about Fusion, and connected over our mutual Texas roots.

I cried with Bree, a fellow follower of Christ, as we talked through how to pursue our love for beautiful spaces while also staying true to our call to live in contentment and with an eternal perspective.

I talked in person with beautiful Rachel, another internet friend and fellow furniture painter. She offered me great encouragement that a year in blogging can make all the difference, and gave me a tips about what Brand Sponsors to go after.

I connected with Kim over the shared experience of two difficult pregnancies, and delighted to hear about her unexpected publishing opportunities.

I peppered Melanie and Wendy with questions about their Fusion Mineral Paint business and what it looks like to have your own shop. Their authenticity about the realities of running your own storefront was invaluable.

I talked with Rachel and April about the challenges of blessings of being a mom to young children who also happens to run a business out of her home.

And lastly, I was reminded by Mandi that writing a blog isn’t just some silly endeavor, but can really be something that changes someone’s life.

That’s a lot of small wins, don’t you think?  And you know what? All of those small wins add up to be one, big, gigantic win 🙂  So if you were included in this small win list, please don’t be offended that you were listed as “small.”  You are not small in importance or effect at all, but rather please know that you touched me this past weekend in a significant way.

But I bet you are still wondering about Miss Mustard Seed . . . After all this talk about being a learner and going for the small wins, yada yada yada, I’m sure you still want to know if I ever did get to meet her.

The answer is yes 🙂

My very last session of the conference, I walked into the room a little late and saw a few open seats right near the front next to who else, but Marian.  I decided it was now or never, so I sidled right up next to her and acted like me sitting next to her was the most natural thing in the world.

After talking with a few other people around me, I finally got up the nerve to tap her shoulder and introduce myself. I told her about how she has been my inspiration, and about how everything I know how to do I have learned from her.

I was hoping she would remember a few of our online interactions or show some indication that she has an idea who I am . . . but she didn’t.  And that’s OK!  Honestly, it was the end of the conference and I know she had been approached by 6 million people wanting to meet her, and how in the world can she remember every single person who has ever emailed or commented on her page?

We talked for a bit about furniture painting, and I was thinking about pulling out the camera and asking for a picture with her, but then I decided to let it go.  Meeting and talking with her was enough to count for the win.

That was when she reached over, whispered something to her friend next to her, and pulled out this:

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She offered me this brush from her new line, in partnership with Shaunna West of Perfectly Imperfect.

Since I told her I paint a lot of furniture, she wanted to give me one.  “We are really trying to offer them to people who are serious furniture painters,” she said.

Of every piece of swag I brought home from the conference, this brush is by far my favorite. It is my big win–and it’s a bigger win than a picture with Miss Mustard Seed.

It’s a bigger win because it’s a statement of my legitimacy in my own right.  Yes Marian, I am a serious furniture painter.  I am not Miss Mustard Seed, nor will I ever be, but I am Melanie with Lost & Found and I paint beautiful furniture. Owning me as just me is a big win.

Thank you to all of those who were kind, encouraging, and instructive this weekend at the Haven Conference. I am so glad I went and so excited to see where all of these small wins take me over the next year.

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