I lived a long-time dream last fall: I was a speaker at a women’s conference. And it was incredible! It really was one of those moments where you feel your heart sing because you’re doing something that fills your cup and makes you feel so completely alive and full of purpose.
I wrote up a lot of this recap pretty shortly after and never really finished it, so it’s about time I wrap this up and hit “publish”, because there were so many good things I’ve been wanting to share!
Real quick: here is the recap of my talk! I wish there were video but I just have some sneaky vertical clips by my sister, ha! Below is some backstory, as well as my takeaways and experiences at the conference in general. (PS: there’s another event coming up and I SO wish I could be there to support several friends who will be speaking, it looks amazing! But I’ll be two weeks postpartum at most so… probably not realistic this time around, ha!)
First, let’s rewind to early last year. I’ve always felt drawn to public speaking. (I know, not everyone’s cup of tea, ha!) I had a few opportunities here and there as a news anchor, but as life happened I assumed speaking would be a thing I’d do when I was older, established as an expert in some field, just… someday. Early in 2018 I felt full of energy, and I took some pretty big steps to achieve some life goals: I finally launched my photography business, for one! I didn’t publicly share this as one of my new year’s resolutions because it was still such a baby of an idea, but I also committed myself to apply to speak at SALT — a college friend of mine had spoken there previously and it seemed like a great fit. (The conference is described as “a gathering place for LDS women: We focus on strengthening the Latter-day woman by helping her draw closer to her Savior, Jesus Christ. If you are seeking peace, connection, or knowledge, this is a place for you.”)
I felt like some of my experiences in the news industry and with doing social media fasts could be beneficial to others, because the intersection of media and spirituality is such a passion topic for me, so I wrote up a proposal and submitted a video. That was a lot of work in and of itself! And then I waited… and got an email that I was invited to speak! It was surreal, and so exciting. I put a lot of sweat and tears into sharpening my presentation, making a beautiful slideshow, really focusing down the essence of this message. And I was especially nervous about being able to be calm, composed and efficient in getting my message across.
But the day came, and it was amazing. It went SO smoothly, and I got to connect with so many women afterward who had resonated with what I had to say. My theme was “Mary kept these things, and pondered them in her heart”: Letting Revelation Percolate In Our Lives In a Culture of Instant News.” I talked about rewiring our brains for revelation and focusing more deeply on the things that truly matter, despite an immersive media culture. (Recap here if you’d like to read it! That post is actually a short blog post based on my speech, sadly I had to cut quite a bit from a one-hour talk as you can imagine, but I look forward to sharing more at a later date for sure!)
I was absolutely drained after the adrenaline of speaking for such a big audience, so I think the best part was getting to sit back, relax, and ENJOY this amazing retreat! (I was so glad to speak in the first session for that reason!) Elise Curtis, the founder, has such a knack for bringing together a diverse group of women with a common love for the Savior and passion for self-improvement, and it was truly inspiring. I was full to the brim by the end of the day!
Sneaky photo by my sister Sylvia, ha! My sweet mother-in-law came to the whole day with me, and Sylvia came for my presentation, it was wonderful to have their support!
I loved this backdrop the organizers set up, attendees were asked to send in photos of women who inspire them, so it was fun surprising my sister and MIL with their photos on the wall ❤ And I added a few others that I shared with friends and family later!
At one point my MIL and I split off to go to different sessions and dang it, from what she told me of Brittany Ratelle‘s talk on modesty as a contract between us and God, I really missed out! Luckily she shared some of her highlights with me 🙂 (The benefit of dividing and conquering!)
The whole day was spent just soaking in the energy and faith of other amazing women. I was honestly drained by the end, it was almost too much awesomeness! But I also felt so energized, so alive. This experience helped me focus a little bit more on what it is I want to do with my hobbies and side projects — and gave me new ideas for this blog, so that is exciting to look forward to!
Here were some of my main takeaways from the other speakers:
- The opening keynote speaker was Tamara Chamberlain, who gave a beautiful talk about the wonder of the atonement (I loved her description of a child’s pure wonder at the beauty of the world and how we can feel that way about the Savior). It was also neat chatting with her later because she’s BYU dance faculty and that was such a huge part of my life! She was so kind to give away copies of her children’s book on world dance (she’s a former BYU Folk Dancer and is involved with the team now at BYU — unfortunately I can’t remember exactly in which capacity!) and Adelina loved reading it so it was a precious gift!
- “Finding Joy in Motherhood” with Melisa Osmond & Cheri Magill (more on her a bit later!) : “God will send down ideas from Heaven just like He gave the children of Israel manna” — what a comforting thought, and it’s absolutely true. I love that Melisa talked about Wonder Woman and her power of femininity — standing as protector over her family and all that is good: “Your wrath upon this world is over, I am Diana of the Amazons.” I’m cool with feeling a little bit more like Wonder Woman in my daily life!
- I need to give meditation a try. Brooke Snow gave an amazing presentation on spiritual creation and the power of thought and I loved getting to pick her brain afterward. She is a fantastic teacher and has such a soothing voice! (She has a podcast too, I enjoy learning more from her there.)
She started us off with a little guided meditation/visualization exercise, which in and of itself was really powerful because we got to experience exactly what she was attempting to teach us. Then she talked about the power of spiritual creation — God created the earth and all of us spiritually before a physical implementation, and words themselves have power: when God said “Let there be light,” those weren’t empty words, they were action words!
SEE — SAY — FEEL is how she describes the process of spiritual creation. We observe something, we express what we want to do, and we feel it. And we bring it to pass.
That God is sometimes called the great “I AM” is no coincidence — we are given that same power of creation with our own words, thoughts, and actions. “I AM” are sacred words, she suggests, spoken because we intend to make them happen, not necessarily because they are immediately true in the moment. So she suggests for example using affirmations: “I AM calm” isn’t just wishful thinking, it’s a way for us to reaffirm who we are, what we value, what we’re working toward and aspiring to. Isn’t that such an incredible idea?! I ended up using those affirmations for my new year’s resolutions this year, which come to think of I need to refresh a bit right about now… man, this year is flying by.
- I need to work on being more mindful, too. I got to chat with Kim Christenson right after my class because we were definitely on the same wavelength on our topics! She had so many great things to add in her round table later that day about mindfulness for moms. I loved the reminder to “experience first, post later” and her recommendations for books on mindfulness (adding Essentialism by Greg McKeown to my list!) and the Headspace app for meditation. (I’ve been using it on and off since, it really is helpful for a meditation newbie like myself!) Plus she was really fun to connect with because we have such similar backgrounds and interests. She blogs at Talk Wordy To Me (love the title ha!) and shares great reading and mindfulness thoughts on Instagram as well, @talkwordytome_.
The music was another highlight! I didn’t realize we’d have such great performances — we started off with a beautiful rendition of “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” by… a former classmate! Stayley was a friend from the BYU Communications department, I had no idea she sang but man can that girl sing! It was such a fun surprise to run into her, and kind of funny because it’s not the first time we’ve unexpectedly crossed paths: when we were in college we ran into each other on opposite ends of our internships. (She was interning with a PR company that brought KSL news to an event, and I happened to be the one covering it as an intern for KSL, ha!)
At a few other times throughout the day we were treated to some other great musicians as well — one of the breakout sessions is where I discovered Cheri Magill, who was performing a few of her songs about motherhood in the context of the lesson she was co-teaching. I absolutely adore her album about the highs and lows and beauties of motherhood. I obviously had to go home and buy it on iTunes! Here’s a little taste ❤
The lyrics to her song “Still” really resonated with me — it’s like she knows me, ha!
“The silence strings my doubts along, I think I’m doing all of this wrong / I want to take back the words that flew, I’m still learning the things I’m trying to teach you / And yet you shout my name when I walk through the door, You hold me just as tightly as before / Despite my fears and flaws, I know you will love me still.”
Check out her album, Tour Guide!
Lunch was delicious and we also had a service project & presentation by Operation Underground Railroad, an amazing organization whose mission is to rescue children from sex trafficking. I love what their presenter said, that Jesus was the first abolitionist.
One of my absolute favorite things about this conference was all the “networking” or really just making friends! I met so many fascinating people. It was fun in the few days after to reconnect with a few attendees online as well — like this sweet girl who is a QUEEN of DIY home decor and renovations and with whom I just briefly chatted during SALT! (Seriously, she blows me away and she’s doing this in a smaller home, which I love — I feel like Instagram can make us think we need to have a million dollar house to do anything pretty with posts like “budget options for self-installing your custom-designed mosaic windows in the attic” ha ha! But Amanda is just out there DOING IT and making it look fabulous!) I met cool homeschooling moms, business owners, bloggers, writers, podcasters… so many awesome and inspiring people doing good in this world.
I only briefly saw her in passing, but Rio of Work + Wonder was there, she was a sponsor of the event and I just LOVE what she’s been doing with her General Conference workbooks and the community she’s built around personal gospel study. (I actually got a chance to contribute to their newsletter just this week, so we’ll see where that leads. I’m excited to share it with you guys!) I’m so grateful for her work in this world, it’s such a shining light online! I also ran into Jessie of Miss Genealogy, I love what she’s doing to encourage family history work and show the exciting and more modern record-keeping aspects of it too.
The closing keynote speaker (after another beautiful song by Jalyn Macedone!) was Kim B White, who’s fighting a rare and incurable form of cancer. She’s been through so many surgeries and procedures but has survived for five+ years with an amazing attitude. It was really powerful to hear her testify again and again of ways she’s seen the Lord’s hand in her life. I really respect her for being vulnerable enough to share her story, too — there are rough and ugly moments in a fight like this as you can imagine, and she isn’t afraid to share the ups AND downs in a very real way. You can follow her story on Instagram at @KimCanKickIt.
And then we ended with another musical number, which pretty much had everybody standing and swaying! It was a Gospel song, “I just can’t give up now,” performed by an awesome duet called Daysha (unless Daysha is one of their names and she asked a friend who isn’t on the program to join her last minute, ha).
I was so tired at the end of the day, but in the best way. And on top of the incredible experience, Elise (the organizer) really spoiled the speakers, so I lived in this new favorite sweatshirt throughout the fall!
(That’s me crashing in the hotel bathroom while the kids fell asleep and my poor husband went to take a break from entertaining two kids on the go all day, ha!)
If you’re still reading, you’re awesome and thank you for sticking around. I’ll wrap it up: I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to share my own story and talents and to have my cup so completely filled. Just being around so many wonderful people was inspiring, exciting, and energizing. I came home with renewed faith, purpose, and passion, and I’m pretty sure that’s what this conference is all about — at the end of the day, we were in a room full of hundreds of women united by their faith in Christ, using that energy to spread good in large and small ways throughout the world. It’s a pretty powerful thing!