Posts Tagged unconference

Another epic birthday party

It’s Tuesday. The little one is playing in daycare, the husband is off to Amsterdam for a meeting and I’m at my desk at last, for the first time in what feels like ages. The clouds are still undecided to drop some rain or give way to the Sun. I hear rumbling in the distance. Rain and colder days are knocking on Summer’s door and that knowledge makes me long for an extension of the hottest summer in three centuries.

Two days passed since the last guest left and still I haven’t recovered fully. Between the day we left for a wedding party in Tuscany, celebrating the wedlock between our good friends Klaas and Amarens and today, two days after our own party on Friday and Saturday, there wasn’t much time to stop for a bit. Shopping needed to be done. Meat needed to be imported. Rooms needed to be cleared. Left overs needed to be taken care of. Floors needed to be cleaned. A two-year-old needed to be entertained. Sleep needed to be had.

Sixty something people had a lot of fun in our home and while their spirits trailed for a bit they are fading into the distance, too quickly. At the same time, while having a bit more time to reflect this Tuesday, fond memories are etched more clearly in my mind.

A Spotify playlist called A Walk Alone plays soft songs that reflect my mood perfectly. Happy, relaxed and gloomy. I flip through all the books that wait for me to be read, bravely resist opening the chocolate boxes while nibbling an Irish butter shortbread. The bottles of wine, beer and whiskey still need to find a place in our storage room.

Staring out of the window, I see the clouds make way for the Sun. I try to find words to describe what happened the past few days, but everything I write down feels incomplete and abstract. How do you put into words how much it means to you that friends travel across the world to attend your birthday party? That you can celebrate a new year in life with friends you haven’t been able to meet for four years (or longer)? Who’s lives have changed so drastically in those years, including my own, but still pick up where you left the conversation all those years before? How can I describe how much it means to me to be able to connect all those people Ton and I collected in our lives, bring them together in the same space and for all of them to hit it off? That they all openly exchanged life stories, inspired each other, geeked out together, built robots together?

It was an experience beyond words. It was, yet again, an epic birthday party.

A big hug for all who were there to make it epic. Thank you!


How to Unconference your Birthday – The Book

How to Unconference your Birthday – The Book

Schermafbeelding 2014-04-27 om 20.38.24

Download the ebook

Last year, when Ton turned 40, we organized an unconference to celebrate (of course we also had a bbq party!), and we invited people from our various circles. The topic was ‘Working on Stuff that Matters‘, ‘WSTM’. Some 40 people participated in the unconference, some 20 workshops were held, and it was an event that is still giving us energy almost 18 months later.

We always wanted to create something tangible as an outcome of the event, to create an ‘Epic Sh*t Multiplier’ as we called it on the day. We created an e-book, explaining ‘how to unconference your birthday’. The text was written during the summer of 2010. A professional designer (BUROPONY in Rotterdam, hire them, they’re great!) created the book itself in May/June this year. In the past days we sent out cards to all participants of the unconference to allow them to download the book. We’ll publish the e-book itself online later. Right now it’s a gift for those who attended. A small token of our appreciation for the big gift they gave us by attending the unconference, and the energy and inspiration that is still generating for us. Thank you.

Download it now, read it and share your thoughts on Facebook.

E-book shipping

E-book shipping (photo: Ton Zijlstra)