17 Dec Make the Most of Your Moments: 2015 Mass Conference for Women
There’s no question that the lineup of speakers was terrific: “Project Runway” Co-Host Tim Gunn; ABC Executive Producer Shonda Rhimes (to name a few). People who have accomplished more than most could imagine. But it wasn’t about the big-name headliners at the 2015 Mass Conference for Women. It was about the energy of the day. The feeling that not only inspires you to dream big, but that makes you feel like you can actually make those dreams come true.
I was there as a volunteer for Confidence Beads, asked by the director of outreach and social media (my friend and former college roomie at UMass Amherst). I arrived harried—coordinating child duty with my husband, finishing up assignments for clients, ordering those final Christmas gifts for delivery by December 24. But what happened as I descended the escalator to the event was “one of those moments.”
Some women wore business suits; others were in trendy jeans and belted scarves. No matter the attire, most had smiles. There was a buzz. We all seemed connected even though we had never met before.
I had a job to do. I found booth number 457: Confidence Beads. I knew the story of how the company started. In a few words, founder Linda Waters was running Back to Business, counseling women who were transitioning back into the workforce or contemplating new careers. The main obstacle, she discovered, was confidence. She soon found herself bringing clients small gifts to boost their confidence, and finally followed her own advice to do what you love. Live with purpose.
The themed bead collection reminds me of the daily affirmations that I vow to recite but never seem to make time for. Fearless. Fabulous. Warrior. Survivor. Never give up. Just watch me. Go girl. Somehow, being around the positive messages inscribed on the sides of these tiny colorful beads made me start to believe. Suddenly, talking to passersby about the beads wasn’t a job; it was a support group, a time to share stories, a time to network, a time to believe.
I watched Linda. She’s one of those people who make you feel like you’ve known them for years. Though we were there to showcase her bead collection, she couldn’t hang up her career counseling hat (she still runs Back to Business). It flowed out of conversations she had with women considering new ideas, writing books or launching businesses. It didn’t matter if they were strangers or longtime acquaintances. Somehow Linda became a confidant to all.
So what did I take away from the conference? Many moments that formed an unforgettable experience. A commitment to be the best I can be and to be comfortable with my choices—whether that’s as a mother, wife, writer, colleague or friend. A commitment to build up not only myself, but anyone who has a dream. And a commitment to work even harder to build up those who haven’t yet dared to dream.
Kristen Walsh is a freelance writer, editor and project manager. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.