Another conference is in the books! While this was not my busiest, or most stressful, or most exciting conference on record, it was definitely the most interesting. Being a mom, not to mention having my baby there with me, put a whole new spin on the conference experience.
I was lucky enough to have the help of my mom, and after she left, my husband, so that I could leave Parker in good hands to attend conference events. But I still spent a good amount of time with my little guy; here we are in the airport waiting to board the plane and then hanging out in the hotel room between sessions.
It’s funny how the conversations change when you get a bunch of moms together (who also happen to have the same profession). Sure, I had plenty of chats about business, entrepreneurship, clinical work, and other music therapy topics, but some of the most memorable had to do with parenting and balancing all that come with it.
This year, Deb Layman and Kimberly Sena Moore hosted a concurrent session called Is the Work-Life Balance a Myth? — and I was lucky enough to serve as a member of the panel. Not only did I have a chance to share my story, but I learned so much from the other panel members and session attendees. It was really fascinating to hear how other music therapists (especially business owners like me) juggle the day-to-day duties of mommyhood and their careers. What I heard over and over is that it’s okay to not “do it all”, which is something I’ve struggled with since Parker was born.
But don’t get me wrong: becoming a mom has had plenty of positive effects on my work, too. During my maternity leave this summer, I started looking into NICU music therapy and felt inspired to pursue training in this area. So I registered for the NICU-MT lecture training at conference, and it was easily the highlight of my week.
Dr. Jayne Standley led this 8-hour training with the help of several other presenters, and I soaked up every minute of it. Learning about a completely different realm of therapy was so exciting; now I’m counting down the days until I go to the fieldwork training in Orlando this February.
Of course, learning and professional development are high on my list of priorities when I attend conference. But another important priority is spending time with my friends, since I only get to see them once a year! Kimberly, Michelle Erfurt and I — also known as the hosts of the Music Therapy Round Table podcast — have our booth in the exhibit hall, but we also get together for a special dinner every year during conference.
Michelle’s husband, Ed, who is an honorary member of the Round Table after years of setting up and manning our booth, always joins us for this dinner. And this year we had the treat of my husband, Zach, joining us as well. Parker was also in attendance, and he even took a little nap so that we could enjoy some adult time while we ate. Cheers to that!
I spent quite a bit of time in the exhibit hall, which meant seeing lots of familiar faces. I ran into Freddy (see below), who I met last year as a student (he’s now an intern getting ready to enter the field as a new professional!) among many other wonderful friends. I would try listing them, but there were SO MANY that I would no doubt leave a few out by mistake.
I also had the opportunity to meet tons of new people. It was so fun to hear from students, interns and fellow professionals who read my blog, use my songs, and are inspired by my work. But let me tell you: I’m the one who is inspired by all the amazing things happening in our profession thanks to my unbelievable colleagues.
Attending conference this year required a LOT more planning, packing, and juggling than ever before, but it was SO worth the extra effort. I’m feeling completely re-energized and ready to take on some new professional challenges, which of course I’ll be sharing with you along the way.