Reflecting on MisfitCon


As the waitress sits me down at my booth at The Frying Pan, I giggle a bit at the table top advertising their “premium coffee.” The nearby table has exceeded the Hawaiian shirt quota for the city as I hear one of them begin a story with, “that Montana boy that married the Eskimo girl…”

The past two days have been some of the most inspirational and needed days that I’ve spent surrounded by top quality humans.

The city of Fargo, North Dakota may not be awake yet, but I’ve been wandering the streets taking photos and now crave the special sustenance that a greasy spoon breakfast joint can always give. When it arrives I know that things are different here as I gaze in amazement and horror at the slab of butter that is melting over my morning hash browns.

MisfitCon 2014 was an event that had to be experienced in person to fully understand.

To me, it was a gathering of people of every shape, size and color from around the globe who want more out of life. They realize that living a purposeful life is the only path for them.

A living, breathing, art experiment where you sit down and have no idea who is speaking or what they’ll share. There is art, food, music, poetry, advice, love, dancing and marshmallows. Attendees hug, cry, share, create and become friends in magical moments. Part summer camp, the best party you’ve ever been to and a creative salon of old.

Where else would the festivities begin with a black, bisexual, disabled poet and end with an emotional thank you from the residents of the host city? In between you’d hear from yo-yo champions, entrepreneurs, best selling authors, free-style rappers and an activist potter.

Poet Claudia Alick

Jonathan Fields

Amos Kennedy

AJ and Melissa Leon are the masterminds of this menagerie of amazement. They are dear Friends of mine and I love them for asking me to be part of something so special.

AJ & Melissa Leon

The time they put into curating every last drop of experience in this weekend is beyond words.

Sitting down to breakfast, we were greeted with affirmations from a local artist. The coffee was from a small roaster and hand brewed by a member of the staff.

Sure, we could have drank out of any coffee mug, but instead we were presented with hand thrown mugs, cups and bowls that a local artist had created specifically for the event.

MisfitCon 2014

MisfitCon 2014 Breakfast

Cheese Makes the Morning Brew

MisfitCon 2014 - Day 2

Nelson & Joyce

One long table served to insure that we interacted with out neighbors. Over chorizo breakfast tacos, we discussed photography and what we hoped to get out of the weekend. Who knew that later on we’d find ourselves at another long table, but this time inside of a skywalk as we filled our bellies with fresh cornbread and vegan chili.

As we made our way from the yoga studio to the art gallery, you could feel the excitement. How could you not, when you looked up and a massive billboard proclaimed that we were indeed in the land of the Misfits.

MisfitCon 2014 Billboard

I speak and attend conferences around the world and have never saved my name tag from one.

Yet, when they are individually crafted and decorated with dried local flowers how could you not take it home and hang it in a place of honor?

MisfitCon 2014

MisfitCon 2014 Name Tags

A notebook is always in my pocket, but I put away the one I brought and eagerly opened the custom one made for the event. I had a feeling that before the weekend was done, it would be full.

I also had the pleasure of talking at length with the woman who made them. I’ll always cherish it with fond memories.

MisfitCon 2014 Notebooks

Rather than trying to explain all that I felt and saw, let me share some quotes and thoughts directly from my notebook that were shared by the speakers:

  • You can bend time when everything else is aligned.
  • Values must be actionable.
  • Love always has a cost.
  • I believe in the mark of the maker.
  • I’m not a misfit. I’m a perfect fit.
  • I didn’t quit my job. I quit my employment
  • You don’t start wearing a band t-shirt until after you’ve been to three concerts.
  • Every new art form you learn about makes you better.
  • Having a lifelong passion means you must grow up innovatively.
  • I didn’t need to be told no when I can tell myself yes.
  • Honestly is about showing people how fucked up you really are.
  • Stress is what pushes a little more sugar into the best wine grapes.
  • We are not afraid of the unknown. We are afraid of the known ending.
  • Stories of comfort are rarely told.
  • You can judge a city by how fast they walk and if their smiles.
  • Art is a pain killer.

As you can see, there was a variety of topics discussed.

MisfitCon 2014

Victor Saad

MisfitCon 2014

Tyson Adams

Vegan Chili on a Skywalk for Lunch

Emmanuel Jal Performs at MisfitCon 2014

I was asked to give the day two opening talk. While, I had arrived with a talk all planned out, I decided to scrap it and start all over after the first day.

My focus was on how much I hate the question of “What Do You Do?”

I shared my desire for each of us to encourage our kids to follow their hearts. To make sure that they know it isn’t always an easy road, but that we supported them. How we are setting the example for the world around us.

MisfitCon 2014 - Day 2

Pop Up Art Shop inside of The Pegasus

MisfitCon 2014 - Day 2

Vegan Chili on a Skywalk for Lunch

As a speaker, I always hope that my words connect with the audience I’m in front of. I knew I had accomplished this when a single mother came up to me and thanked me for letting her know that it is ok to be scared. She thanked me for sharing how rough the road has been lately and how it was a relief to her to know that others are going through similar things. I gave her a huge hug and encouraged her to keep pushing forward.

Every good journey needs a book to go along with it. As I boarded the plane in Boston, I began reading Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life by Tom Robbins. It was the perfect side dish to the main Misfit course. I devoured both and my mind is spinning from the beautiful combination.

MisfitCon 2014 - Day 2

Greg Tehven Shares the Story of the Spike

There will be more thoughts shared in the coming days. My photos hopefully captured a bit of the magic of the weekend for those who could not be there in person.

Fargo is an amazing city that not enough people know about. I’m tempted to find a way to head there for a few weeks and write my next book. Not sure how to make that happen, but perhaps my new tribe of Misfits will have some ideas.

I Took My Camera For a Walk Around Fargo


Such a Gorgeous Billboard in Fargo

Thank you to everyone I met this weekend. Thank you for the kind words and nudges of encouragement.

Thank you to all the residents of Fargo who made me and all my fellow Misfits feel welcomed and loved.

A Very Special Moment

Thank you to the entire Misfit Inc team and all the volunteers for making this weekend as special as it was.

Thank you for reading.

  • Amy Neal Miyamoto

    A gorgeous visual and reflective synthesis of a hard to explain magical series of shared moments with a newly cherished cadre of magical people! 😉 <3

    • Whoa….THAT is a mouthful 🙂

      • Amy Neal Miyamoto

        Haha, but I got it all into one sentence! Your images are a delight! Oh and after reading this I stand by me recommendation of the #standwithme documentary. 😉

      • 🙂 I’ve got to look it up and see if I can rent it somewhere.

      • If we’re doing documentary reccommendations, do not miss “Beauty is Embarrassing” about the artist Wayne White 🙂

  • Randi Olsen

    Beautifully written and captured! Thank you for being a part of the Misfit mayhem this year.

    • Thank you. Now I’m even more sad that i missed last year.

  • I said it elsewhere, but CC, I am just so fucking honored beyond words to be at the top of this essay. I’ve been hearing of you for years, and I got partway through your book a while back, but somehow the universe knew to wait for the right moment to put us in the same town. I’m really solidly grateful.

    As for coming to Fargo to write your book: I need to go see Fargo this winter, because I am planning to live there, but I’ve never moved somewhere with snow, before, and I’ve never seen Fargo in the snow. It’s winter for so much of the year there that I know I need to see it like that. So, you know, let’s plan a winter quarter writer’s retreat? 🙂 I’ll post the idea in the big group soon <3

    And don't forget the Misfit Playbook 🙂

    • You didn’t finish my book? I think I might need to change that photo! 😉

      Seriously happy we got to meet and the painting you gave me….well I’m still beyond words over how special that made me feel. It is absolutely beautiful.

      Also psyched to see you are a fellow Freedom Writer. I knew there were more of us out there who love that piece of software.

      Winter + Writing = LOVE IT!

      • I promise to finish it 🙂 I have it on kindle, actually, so it just occurred to me that I had it in my pocket the whole conference, even 🙂

        Don’t spoil the ending for me…..

      • No twist ending. I promise.

  • “Honestly is about showing people how fucked up you really are.”
    About time someone figured that out!

    • Plenty of people know, but many are scared of the truth.

      Read your post. Now curious which posts of mine piss you off 🙂

    • Hi Swbuehler – I wish I knew what that epigram meant. In context, at MisfitsCon it must have meant a lot for CC to make a note of it.

  • This is beautifully written and captures perfectly the essence of Fargo & of the Misfits. Glad we got to spend some time together!

    • I SO happy you and I got to chat a ton while there. Sorry to hear about your spike. I can’t believe so many made it through security because they really shouldn’t have 🙂

      • ha – agreed 🙂 Thankfully the people of Fargo rock so I will get one in the end 🙂 (ps. Trying to make in to Boston soon!)

      • Let me know when you make it. I know at least a couple of people here who would love to see you.

    • Lucky you Steph…

  • Absolutely come and stay for a few weeks and write that book, we’d love to have you!

    • Thank you. I need to find a cabin, storefront, trailer or someplace to live and work for a couple of weeks.

      Wonder if there is a Tourism Board or something I could help make that happen. Have to plot and scheme 🙂

    • You are so welcoming – every day I find out more about the experience of Fargo

  • What a perfect summation of MisfitCon. Thank you for writing this and being the observant and reflective human that you are.

    • Thank you!

      I was going to include your poem until I noticed that you said you were taking it down in seven days.

      I’m so glad that life had our paths crossed.

      • Oh yeah! thanks for reminding me! I better get on that.

      • I still haven’t taken that poem down. I just couldn’t bear to allow the awesomeness of the moment to be ephemeral.

  • lucrecer

    This is hands down one of the best recaps of a conference I have ever read or seen. You make me want to go. Thank you for sharing, my friend.

    • YOU would love it. Knowing you enough, I can easily say that if there is any way you can make it next year you should.

      • lucrecer

        I am definitely going to add it to my calendar for next year. You are the second person I am aware of who has spoken highly of this conference and the impact it had on them. Plus, I can only image the photographic eye candy this place has. I would be in heaven.

    • Me too Lucrecer – From Cork Ireland I want to go write a series of books in Fargo – and be there when MisfitCon comes again

      • lucrecer

        No kidding, right? I am definitely going to put it on my list of conferences to attend next year.

  • Wow! Thanks for letting me experience Misfit Con again through your eyes! Beautiful photos and reflections. I was delighted and honored to be included in your photo montage in my electric yellow Misfit T. More gatherings soon as we nomad around and meet up on this planet – and in Fargo!

  • Where there is equal parts love and magic – everything can happen.

    Misfit is a truly remarkable community. I’m eternally grateful to be a part of it, and I’m glad that you got to experience exactly what I experienced both times in Fargo.

    I can think of a few people who would gladly put you up so you can woodshed that next book. Do it!

    • I might just take someone up on that offer. It seems like the perfect place to escape to and write.

      • Definitely! Reach out to Greg Teahven (@gregfromfargo), he AirBNB’s his place I believe and knows everyone in a 100 miles radius 😉

        Be awesome to get a nice little cabin in the woods, grow an awesome beard and wear nothing but flannel and overalls. Imagine the possibilities!

      • Exactly!!!!

  • What an amazing event…even though I wasn’t there, between you telling me a little about it last night, your accounting here and photos, I am inspired…just what I needed. Thank You! This looks like it was a unique experience that more should share. I think instead of it getting larger, I think perhaps having more events in other places might be a good way to share this without losing the intimacy.

    • Great to see you last night and I’m glad you enjoyed this.

      I honestly can’t imagine the team letting this get too big and losing the magic. It means too much to them.

      • Yes, that would be a mistake. I have been reading through AJ’s site. Lots of great things there. I hadn’t realised what he has been up to.

  • From Cork on edge of the south coast of Ireland I’ve done my best to tune in to the buzz of Fargo. I’ve had my own little MisfitCon experience – helped by the extraordinary meetings AJ & Melissa gave me over here in Limerick & Ballincollig.
    But this blogpost by you CC has opened up a new level of attraction.

    • I’m so glad to hear that.

      It truly was something special and it was a CHALLENGE to capture it in words and images, but as a creative I’m glad to hear I accomplished it.

  • Ooooh, I wish I’d been there. And you know how much I love the little misfit character! Ditto what @lucrecer:disqus said:) Cheers! Kaarina

    • lucrecer

      I am completely inspired.

  • Well penned CC. Great to see you and get some QT. Again, soon, I hope.

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  • I want to go to this! Your words and images say so many things to me that just make me smile! The book you read on the way home is one that I kept looking at the two days in a row that I visited my favorite little bookstore in Raleigh, NC this weekend … now I think I should get it. It sounds like you had a great time, and I am very happy for you!

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  • Gordon

    I am so glad you enjoyed the hidden gem of the city Fargo. I am originally from there now living on the east coast. People are always surprise about how great it is

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  • Bree

    Great read. I’m now scratching my head trying to figure out if I have any band t-shirts that I haven’t see more than 3 times…