Hello beautiful goddess
Two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be seated front row at the #WomenLeadingChange conference, organised by the Wake Up Project. 700 women gathered that day, in an auditorium where the feeling of sisterhood was almost palpable. The photo above is of us all stretching in unison, united through yoga. I often wonder how the world would be if we had the courage to take that same sense of connection into our everyday lives...?
The day kicked off with a bang, through MC Jo Wagstaff bravely sharing her story of being completely disconnected with her body and femininity as a high flying corporate executive many years ago. Her confessions definitely set the tone for the day, where truly incredible women also shared their stories of heart break, family struggles, death, child birth, compassion and forgiveness.
Today, I wish to share with you the highlights and pearls of wisdom I took away with me, with the hope that they inspire you on your journey.
Yoga teacher and spiritual activist Seane Corn engaged my soul from the moment I heard her mouth open. Her daily self-care ritual involves yoga, meditation, prayer, diet, sleep and therapy. But what hit me hard was her wisdom on loving ourselves and loving others. "Nothing blocks our intuition, as women, as much as low self-esteem. When my value comes from something that is external, it will change. This then impacts our self-esteem - and no one can take it away from us, unless we let them".
I'm often asked about how to love 'difficult' people in our lives. And Seane had such deep wisdom on the matter, that she learned from a club goer back in her days as a bar tender in a gay nightclub in New York City. The man, who was dying from HIV, placed his hands on her chest and said "God lives here". He then told her to look around the room. Every single person there, was also an expression of that Universal power. "Ignore the story, see the soul, remember to love - you'll never regret it".
Author and CEO of the Quest for Life Foundation Petrea King issued all women present a beautiful challenge, "(As women) we are the ones whom though the generations flow. And it's hard to lead from a place of disempowerment". Petrea's childhood was not easy, being diagnosed with Leukemia at a young age, and growing up alongside a very troubled brother who would eventually commit suicide.
However, her challenge was for us was to take life with as much self-compassion as possible, via what she described as the 'four C's'.
1. Regain CONTROL over your response to life
2. Maintain a COMMITMENT to living by realising your priorities, communicating them, and forgiving when necessary
3. Find a sense of healthy CHALLENGE
4. Ensure a sense of CONNECTION to nature, community and our own hearts
Model and writer Tara Moss was not what I expected at all as a speaker. I really love it when life takes your perceptions and blows them away! Her struggle to be taken seriously as a writer and academic was incredibly interesting, and her latest book 'The Fictional Woman' sees her targeting stereotypes of women and what moulds they 'should' be fitting into. She grew up feeling as a girl that she should "do what you're told, even when it doesn't feel right". Some startling facts were also presented in her talk: the top Google searches featuring the words 'girls' or 'women' were horrifying, there is a 2:1 ratio of male protagonists in popular fiction and 89% male protagonists in films. These were not intend, in my opinion to intimidate, rather to inspire us to rise up and be the protagonist in our own story. "I'm often asked in interviews: Tara, can women really have it all? I always say have YOUR all. Whatever that means to you".
I was incredibly heartened by the fact that most speakers touched on self-care for women, and Tara's recommendations were that we a) prioritise our health b) truly value our time and c) not only learn self-care, but find what really works for you.
Journalist and blogger Sarah Wilson is not only the creator of the 'I Quit Sugar' movement, but also my not-so-secret girl crush. I met Sarah last year at an industry function, and she was completely genuine and approachable. Her style is quirky and raw, which I find to be a breath of fresh air. As the face of 'anti-sugar', Sarah has received a lot of criticism and backlash in the past few years, and has not been immune to online 'trolls', aka cyber bullies.
Rather than become bitter or give up all together, I found her to be resilient. She referred to one of her techniques for dealing with criticism as 'sitting with yourself at the back of the cinema', and watching the scenes unfold as objectively as you can. She also confessed that she doesn't see people or circumstances as 'good or bad', but rather shades of light and dark. This really resonated with me, as I find that women are far too good at punishing themselves when something seemingly 'bad' has happened. We have all sorts of colours living inside of us, as humans.
Musician and founder of 'Big Hearted Business' Clare Bowditch was a powerhouse of red hair, acoustic guitar and lipstick, as she entertained us all. I welcomed her main theme of searching for the perfect person, and how it has almost become a disease in our daily lives. "If perfect isn't in me, it must be in you... and if it's not in you, then... why are we here?!" I can very much relate to her search, and used to love finding the next 'big hero' to worship, until I realised that they were just as full of flaws and bad habits as I was. I invite you to watch my video on the Freedom of Imperfection here.
What followed was a sing-a-long unlike anything I have experienced before! Clare took us through small sections of her songs, and I felt as though it was more an exercise in self-expression, creativity and quite frankly, not taking ourselves so seriously. Imagine the harmonies created by 700 women...!
By stark contrast, Tami Simon, founder of publishing house Sounds True was calm and present, yet fiercely intellectual. I sensed that her greatest virtue was an endless search for the truth, for speaking her own and sharing the truth of others. "Great leaders speak the truth, even when it goes against convention... the most important thing is to trust your own experience...".
Tami shared with us her 5 biggest life lessons, and this was one of my favourite parts of the day. Each one had a personal anecdote to it, the oyster around the pearl. But I will summarise them for you here:
1. There is no 'end point' to the spiritual journey. You will never 'arrive' at an enlightened destination.
2. Everybody is representing a partial communication of what's true. Take the best of what they represent.
3. There is no escaping pain and loss.
4. Everything depends on how much you trust everything.
5. The importance of friendship. Friendship is 100% of the path.
The last speaker of the day was Lucy Perry, an award winning leader in the not-for-profit sector. By the end of the day, my brain had turned to mush from all the laughter and tears. Her talk came as a welcome relief, as I felt that I was sitting down for a glass of red with a good friend. Lucy took us through her life's story, from graphic designer to CEO of a women's charity, raising $7 million in only 3 years. I appreciated her vulnerability in declaring that she had recently been forced to step down from that position via the board of directors. Having worked for an NGO myself in the past, I could appreciate how hard this must be for her.
However, she kept her head held high, and proceeded to take us through stories of child birth, marriage and the joys of being a woman. Here was a truly brave woman, not afraid to call it like it is, and speak her truth. Her biggest piece of advice throughout it all? "Develop an amazing team around you, a cheer squad you can always call on". Lucy, I couldn't agree more.
I would LOVE to read your comments below on all the wisdom presented throughout the day. There was a lot to absorb, I know!
Thank you so much for reading this week’s Monday Meditation.
In love and gratitude