Hermosa Beach Pier, CA
“Starting today, I am not going to waste one more day worrying about what I am not.” – Linda Williams
This past weekend was the birth of a new dream and hopefully, a new world and a new way of life and being for women at Midlife & Beyond. It was the birth of FierceCon. It wasn’t meant to be a conference. It was meant to be a connection. I wasn’t sure it would be.
There are no words to describe our experience. This is only the beginning. I’ll be sharing much more about the weekend and the incredible women who joined in this experience. But, it isn’t what happened at FierceCon that I wish to share with you today but what happened AFTER FierceCon.
This week, a very special Forever Fierce Sister, Linda Williams, opened her heart in a Facebook post I believe every single woman can relate to. It is the universal story: “I Am Not.” We so often tuck ourselves safely away beneath layers of shields and armor to protect our hearts. Linda lit a firestorm and began a movement within a movement as she touched hearts, opened minds, and encouraged women to let go of the stories that hold them back, the lifetime of “I Am Nots” to begin a new life of “I Ams.” The beauty of Midlife isn’t found on the outside. It’s found on the inside.
The theme of FierceCon was Rewire & Inspire. I encourage you to create some space, pour yourself a cup of tea and be prepared for some emotions to be stirred as you read Linda’s post. I can’t think of a better way to share the experience of FierceCon with you. May Linda’s heartfelt words inspire you. May her words touch your heart and awaken a realization that we are all much the same. We have the same thoughts, the same insecurities, the same fears, and the same doubts. We are you and you are us. Thank you, Linda, for showing us that vulnerability is courage, and courage is vulnerability.
Here is Linda’s story:
“My Experience at FierceCon 2018 Rewire & Inspire
I am not.
That is what I have spent the past year saying every day, and I didn’t even realize it.
You probably don’t know me because I am not a blogger, I am not an Instagrammer, I am not a corporate executive at the moment, I am not thin, I am not beautiful, I am not young, I am not photogenic, I am not outgoing, I am not comfortable at a party with people I don’t know, I am not a good piano player, I am not as accomplished as others, I am not as smart, I am not a mother, I am not a joiner…you get the idea. (For those who know me well I know they will read this and scratch their head saying WTF what is she talking about. ). But that is the tape that plays in my head for the past year and I think until this weekend at FierceCon I didn’t even hear it anymore, it had become part of my mental wiring. Put me in a professional situation or at home, I have many close friends, and I am a connector of people in my world. I am in command, confident, and driven but socially with people I don’t know I shrink ( see the list above).
It was such a treat to meet the women of the Forever Fierce volunteer team (and their extraordinary husbands) in real life. They are the friends I didn’t realize I had and I adore them. The first night at the party ( my worst nightmare is a party where I know only a few people and will cling to them like a life raft). I helped check people in because as long as I had a job to do then I am comfortable. As I watched the other women interact ( I’m an observer of people) most knew each other or of each other and it was lovely to see them together. But I am not one of them. I am that awkward looking 12-year-old girl who loved books and her closest friend was the children’s reference librarian. The girl who was smart and would read books aloud to her beautiful mini-collie Bonnie. I had the reading comprehension of a college freshman but the social skills of a 2nd grader.
Over the next few days at FierceCon, I had the opportunity to meet many of the women one-on-one and quickly saw there was a common theme among us all. We believe in Catherine and her mission of changing the perception of women at midlife; how we see ourselves and how the world and advertisers see us, that we must embrace everything about ourselves as individuals and not worry about what the rest of the world thinks. And for every person I spoke to, thank you for being you and I truly loved meeting each and every one of you.
On Saturday we had the gift of David Ji. Between his guided meditation and live interview, I felt he was there just for me because everything he said held meaning and insight. I was captivated by his wisdom and his humor.
Moving on in the day we heard two panels of women share their stories. Every. Single. One. Had a story that got to the heart of all the things I want to be and want to do. They were brave, funny, smart, insightful and willing to share the good and the bad with the audience. I took away several nuggets from each speaker that I vowed to incorporate into my own life. In some ways the insight and emotions were overwhelming, and at times I felt uncomfortable and wanted to retreat but I was meant to hear those stories. Watch the video replay (here and here); I can promise you that you will be fundamentally changed in some big or small way by the time it’s over. Thank you Janet Gunn Norton, Linda Barnby, Jacqueline Depaul, Jan Correll, Wendy Packer, Cathy Terrell Williamson, Tamara Batsell, Rose Dalton, Patricia O’Reilly Talbot, and Catherine Coluccio.
Saturday early evening we had a group photo shoot. YAY? I may have mentioned that I am not photogenic, I am not an Instagrammer, and I am not comfortable being in the spotlight, so a photo shoot is WAY out of my comfort zone. I am still that chubby 12-year-old girl with the really bad haircut and a mouthful of braces and I have the photographic evidence to prove it. Watching how comfortable most of the women were, just being in the moment and (not in their head) having fun made me wish I could be that way. But I am not like them.
On Sunday we had the honor of having Peter Lee, the CEO of Saranghae Skin Care give the keynote speech. Listening to him share his story of failures and success, watching him be authentic and genuinely being engaged with our group somehow created a shift in me and things started to fall into place.
One of my dear friends, Daria Matthew, joined me at FierceCon and asked me (more than once) what’s wrong with you? You’re not talking about yourself, you are so accomplished and have so much to offer. I just kept shutting myself down and off, but I didn’t realize anyone else could see that.
Did I mention that I’m not a sharer of my personal experiences because who cares and I’m not that interesting?
It was on the flight home that I began to put the mosaic of the weekend’s experience together and found clarity. The weekend was about rewiring and inspiring, so I decided to share my experience at FierceCon with you. And I also want to share something else.
Starting today, I am not going to waste one more day worrying about what I am not.”
Thank you, Linda, for having the courage to open your heart and allow your shield and armor to fall away. We invite you to join our Forever Fierce Revolution that begins inside of every woman. A Revolution from within has lead to a Revolution without. Join our latest movement within a movement, Project #ShieldDown, as we come together, linking our hearts and give ourselves permission to let those facades crumble and the beauty that lies within to shine brightly. If this post has touched you, changed you, opened your heart and allowed a bit more light to seep through the cracks of your armor, I invite you to share it with a friend. Let her know that you see her, really see her, as we see you. You are beautiful to us. Linda, you are beautiful to me.
Cheers Beauties. Stay Fierce.