Catalyst Con: Get Inspired

This past weekend fulfilled its name sake to the point of poetic justice. I was fortunate enough to attend Catalyst Con, a 3-day conference in Long Beach dedicated to conversation and activism around sexuality. I am filled to the brim with excitement and motivation from the con, but for now I can only offer a smidgen of what I want to. Why? Because I’m a bit overextended. I didn’t do enough pre-conference care, and it has left me feeling wiped out.

Here’s how attending a conference shouldn’t go:

  • Do not move halfway across the country a week before a major conference you’re super invested in. Then again, what would you have done if you missed it?
  • Do not unpack at warp speed and leave yourself not much left in the way of physical/mental capacity. (although I do like getting a workout…)
  • Do not leave the relationship with your partner in a sort of ‘paused’ place, where needed connections and conversations will just have to wait. You’ve already spent a month apart, isn’t that enough to make you interested in finding a better emotional space?
  • Do not tarry getting on the road and leave your already easily-stressed self on the 405 in Friday afternoon rush hour.
  • Do not arrive to a conference and have all of a minute to decompress before jumping into hours of evening conference time.
  • Recognize you are eager to attend any and every event, but that it may distract you from thinking deeper about any inspiration you get from a particular session.

That being said, keep in mind to do the following:

  • See many idols in your field who have inspired you to find your path.
  • Find the courage to introduce yourself to some of them.
  • Recognize the need for community.
  • Talk to new people, make connections and expand yourself.
  • Learn how to pick the conference session that’s going to give you the most. Don’t attend what feels like information you’re comfortable with and know. Get out there and listen to something new.
  • Clone yourself so you can attend more than one session at a time.
  • Socialize with peers! Talk shop with minds that push you to expand your perspectives on sexuality.
  • Blow your mind up. Have a career-altering conversation that leaves you scrambling to your room to write all of your new inspiration down, and leaves your head spinning for the entire 7hr drive back home.
  • Take time. Write about a session. Find some down time and read. Sit in the sun. Converse with friends and practice NOT talking about sex for awhile!
  • Get some nature time on the travel home. Love the earth.
  • Get grounded, take care of yourself, and process the event.
  • Reconnect with the people in your life, and if you have one – recognize the health benefits of petting your cat.
  • Sleep more than a few hours.

Oh how Reid’s article on surviving conferences would have helped! I’m working my way through one of these, and trust me – I’ve outlined some of the things I need to keep in mind for the next conference.

What do I take away from this Catalyst? Today, I keep returning to the feeling that this con was a long time coming. While Dee Dennis and her collaborators are experienced with setting up conferences like Momentum Con, I was struck by how smoothly this conference went. It felt like an established event that had many years of adjusting to find its cruising altitude. I appreciated the huge crew of volunteers. I applauded the Scarelteen fundraiser (over $1000 raised!). I reveled in the scope of sexuality topics addressed.

I can’t wait to go to the next one slated for DC, March 15-17. See you there?


Joanna Dawson earned her Masters in Public Health (MPH) before working for years in the non-profit world with sexuality, sex-positivity, GLBT themes and health education for young people, adults and communities. Sexuality is a complex, diverse and evolving component of our lives, and she works to equip folks with the tools to take charge of their sexuality and their health. Joanna is dedicated to promoting sex positivity as an advocate, educator and ACSM-certified personal trainer. To join in her pursuit of wellness, health and a fulfilling lifestyle follow Joanna's blog.

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1 Response

  1. This was such a wonderful post! I left Catalyst feeling like I might burst with all of the brainstorming, networking and connecting in general that went on this weekend! You were such a big part of that for me, Jo! That being said, I agree that for the next time, I will invest more time planning my very own pre and post-con self-care rituals. Which will be a nice change since I currently have, oh I don’t know, NONE.
    Thank you for being so very wonderful and inspiring, my dear. See you at Catalyst East in DC!