First annual Breathe Now, a conference for women is now over.
We, the four co-founders first met each other on Twitter. We spent over a year planning this conference. This past weekend has been exciting, profound, fun, eye-opening, all at the same time.
Being the first year, the conference crowd was not as big as other major events. But I really liked the grass-roots feeling to it, and many people seemed to enjoy the intimate feeling as well.
There are so many things I want to write about, but I’m going to share some of the lessons and moments from Breathe Now.
1. It’s OK…to plan ahead
I was the moderator for this panel. Lisa, who is a visual practitioner, talked about some of the practical ways to map out the future you want, and Kristy talked about the importance of Wills and Power of Attorney. Barb talked about how everybody’s financial plan can be so different. This was a very practical session and I learned a lot. As a single/separated mother, issues concerning having a will hit pretty close to home.
2. It’s OK…to talk about it
I had an honour to moderate a panel on Mental Health. I adored both of the speakers, Airdrie and Jess. Their stories were both heartbreaking and profound. We had some great discussions after the presentation on having a support system, importance of reaching out, etc. After the session was over, Airdrie mentioned that the stigma on mental health is more prevalent among men and it might be a good idea to open up the discussion to both men and women. I like the idea. Mental health has always been an important cause for me, as I’ve known many people close to me suffer from the illness and it meant a lot for me to be able to have this session on Breathe Now.
3. It’s OK…to own your own beauty
This was another session I was really looking forward to. Panelist were all my friends- Tracey, Véronique and Teresa. It so happened they each filled the age groups 40’s, 30’s and 20’s. Tracey talked how she stopped apologizing for her appearance, Veronique shared her experience as a young model, and Teresa spoke about her journey on finding her own beauty. We agreed it was important to give compliments to others – and ACCEPTING it when you receive them. I’m sure many of you relate, but us women are incredibly hard on ourselves. We keep finding faults in us.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has hard time accepting compliments. This does not apply only to our appearances…For example, I was pleasantly surprised that so many people came up to me to congratulate me on putting up Breathe Now. My first couple of responses were – “Oh, it’s not a big deal… I didn’t do so much….I had all the help from the other three.”
But after this session I’ve reminded myself not to make any excuses for myself and just say “Thank you.”
Of course, I cannot not write about our two amazing keynote speakers- Rona Maynard and Bif Naked. Rona’s talk was warm, witty and full of great insights. She shared the story of her husband not being able to find the passport on their departure day to Amsterdam, their destination for an anniversary trip, and that she ended up leaving without him. (He caught up with her eventually.) I loved her mantra “This is not my problem” – as women often tend to carry other people’s burdens.
Although Bif’s style is quite different from Rona’s, her talk was very profound as well. She shared her story of childhood, and her journey up until now. She said, in a way, she was happy to get a breast cancer – better her than her mom or her sisters. She has also gone through a heart surgery few weeks ago and she said that definitely made her make “the list”….which was a great reminder for all of us to take care of ourselves. She encouraged us women to be compassionate with each other. It was an honour to meet her.
Big big thank-you for all the speakers, volunteers, and sponsors who made this conference possible. This couldn’t have happened without you.
And of course, big thank-you to my fellow co-founders – Janice, Janni and Angela-they were my rock and sisters.
We have received many positive feedbacks on Breathe Now (Don’t get me wrong, there is ALWAYS room for improvement, though) and I am incredibly humbled. I loved my friend Rita’s comment on her blog - “A big heartfelt thank you to angela, yukari, janni, and janice for the opportunity of fulfilling on my secret dream…and for creating something that we didn’t even know was missing until you started creating it.” Thank you, Rita!
Now I’m onto my next adventure…I know there will never be a dull moment, I might get frustrated or stressed out, but I will always remember to breathe.