Have you ever been in the same room as nearly 8,000 other women? I hadn’t, until one very special Thursday in October. That’s when I arrived at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, all pumped up for an incredibly powerful, one-day event on issues important to women. It was a day chock full of enlightenment, empowerment and engagement.
Was it everything I expected it to be? Perhaps even more? You bet it was! Here are seven moments of inspiration from my day spent at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women.
1. Empowering, Inspiring Keynote Speakers
The stage was set. An energetic vibe surrounded us, blanketing us in waves of girl power. And finally, it began. Local 6abc news anchor Tamala Edwards kicked this conference into high gear, right into the stratosphere of enlightenment and empowerment.
Who wouldn’t feel empowered by such incredible, uplifting stories regaled by television powerhouse and author, Jane Pauley and media rockstar, Jill Abramson? Listening to how they each overcame adversity, learning to not just survive, but to thrive in the face of life’s challenges, kept us glued to our seats, and uplifted our inner psyches.
Who wouldn’t feel inspired by social change dynamo Candy Chang and her transformative creation, the Before I Die Project. This incredible, creative community project sprung from the depths of devastation, and one woman’s desire to not just heal from within, but to help heal and inspire a community. It was – and still is – a testimony to everyone that we are not alone in this life, as long as we choose to see the world around us. It is a testimony that we should live our lives without regret.
2. Learning How To Become Brave
While listening to four amazing, talented women discuss how they “became brave” during the session, Transitions and Risk Taking: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave, I experienced my own monumental shift to “becoming brave.”
As we all know, life throws us curve-balls. Sometimes we catch them. And sometimes they spin our lives into uncharted territories. Our esteemed panel of “becoming brave” experts – Jane Pauley, Jessica Bacal, Molly Watson, and Patty Chang Anker – have all been there, done that, and done it with aplomb. Listening to how each of these women faced their own life-altering curve-balls, how they embraced those curve balls and continued moving forward was beyond inspirational. It was the epitome of becoming brave.
Most resonating in my own “becoming brave” moment were the words of Patty Chang Anker, author of Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave. My teachable moment was learning to not let yourself be defined by fear, most notably the fear of failure. To instead, embrace that fear head-on. Challenge it. Even savor it. But don’t let it consume you, because tackling your fears is tantamount to becoming brave. So go on, catch that next curve-ball. Embrace your fears. Be brave!
3. Dishing With Chef CJ
Charles J. Deery, also known as Chef CJ, is the executive sous chef for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Eastern Regional Medical Center. Each day, he and his staff cook up scrumptious meals from scratch for patients and staff at the Center.
Dishing with Chef CJ was such fun! His enthusiasm for creating healthy, yummy meals from scratch struck a cord with me. Being mom to a childhood cancer survivor, it is imperative to me that my family maintains a healthy lifestyle. Chef CJ’s approach to healthy eating inspired me to take a second look at how I feed my own family. Not to mention, his home-made power bars were a huge hit with my kids. Thanks Chef CJ for the recipe, and the inspiration to better feed my family.
4. Comparing Notes with Nicole
Nicole Armstrong is the social media specialist for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a childhood cancer organization near and dear to me. Nicole works her social media magic for Alex’s Foundation, helping raise awareness of childhood cancer and the desperate need for research to further pediatric cancer treatment.
Comparing social media notes with Nicole was both educational and inspirational. Nicole’s social media wisdom inspired me to change up my own social media efforts as part-time web/social media support for a small children’s non-profit organization. Nicole’s social media prowess has helped propel Alex’s Lemonade Stand from a grass roots non-profit into a global force in pediatric cancer, and is a true inspiration. A huge shout-out and thank you to Nicole for taking the time to talk with me!
5. Experiencing The Ultimate Power Lunch
And if a morning chock full of motivational moments wasn’t enough, pull up a chair and grab a bite to eat for the ultimate power lunch. This exhilarating girl power get-together was far from over! Setting the stage for an afternoon of exceptional experiences were 6abc news anchor Monica Malpas and PA Conference for Women board president, Leslie Stiles.
Girl power was certainly on the agenda this afternoon! Next up? Beth Rubino from online shopping giant QVC. Then there was the playful, yet meaningful banter between Tory Johnson and Robin Roberts, as they explored a whole host of inspiring topics. Each woman was incredible in her own rights. Combined, they were girl power amplified!
And lastly, who can forget the amazing Linda Cliatt-Wayman, principal of Strawberry Mansion High School. Her story, and the story of the high school students of Strawberry Mansion, was beyond exceptional. She and her students are the true definitions of “becoming brave” in the face of adversity. It was a standing ovation most deserved for Ms. Cliatt-Wayman. She is inspiration personified. Just, WOW!
6. Enjoying Networking At It’s Finest
Oh the networking places you can go at the PA Conference for Women. From the hallways to center stage, through the exhibitors’ hall to motivational keynote speakers, there were networking opportunities around every corner. Even in the restroom lines. Yes, indeed! Those restroom lines could get long when there’s 8,000 women in the house!
The Pennsylvania Conference for Women set the stage for connections to be made. New opportunities to be discovered. New friends waiting to be met. Inspiring ideas waiting to be shared. It didn’t matter your walk in life. All you needed to do was reach out, and somebody would grab your hand. Now that’s networking at it’s best!
7. Realizing A Moment of Self-Discovery
Best of all, my day at the PA Conference for Women empowered me to be, well, me! At the end of the day, as I collected my thoughts, packed my bag, headed out the door and back into my own life, I realized that I am brave, in my own unique way. I am in control of who I am. And that’s the way it should be!
Most importantly, I realized that I am grateful. Grateful to have been surrounded by an amazing group of women. And a few men, too. Grateful to leave feeling enlightened and empowered. Grateful to have learned that I can face my own fears, and be brave while doing so. I am grateful that I could express a most special moment of gratitude upon this chalkboard inspired by Candy Chang, and filled with the gratitude of others.
Looking Forward to November 19, 2015
Save the date! If I’ve planted even the smallest seed of interest about the Pennsylvania Conference For Women, then mark your calendar for November 19, 2015. Yes, it is a ways off, but it will surely be worth the wait. And don’t worry. Stick around my blog as I’ll remind you next year when the conference date approaches.
You can also sign up at the Pennsylvania Conference For Women website to receive conference updates as well as registration notification. And if you plan to attend the 2015 conference, don’t delay in completing your registration. This conference is so awesome, it sells out in the blink of an eye!
Hope to see you at the 2015 Pennsylvania Conference for Women!
Have you attended a conference that was so inspirational, so motivational, that you just had to write about it? Have you been to the PA Conference for Women? Share your experiences in the Comments section below!
Images from C.Biederman and PA Conference for Women.