There are milestones that we, as women, share. We can collectively roll our eyes, laugh or cry at the memory of buying a first bra, going on a first date, having a first kiss, getting married (or not), deciding whether to have kids (or not), and being a mom, a single mom, or stepmom. We’ve all faced decisions about whether to work our way up the ladder, further our education, step out and start our own business or to take a different route altogether. Eventually we all change roles as we go from daughter to caregiver, supporting our ageing parents and eventually letting go once they are gone. After each of these milestones is reached, we are faced with the same question – “What is next?” The answer lies in taking stock of your ‘You Are Here’ location on your life’s journey, and being mindful of the direction you want to head next. And then you move forward.
With Every Ending There is a New Beginning
At 48, I’ve done my share of moving forward. I’ve held the titles of student, wife, divorcee, wife again, and stepmom. I’ve owned businesses, completed a graduate degree, worked on four continents, travelled to 33 countries and sailed 9000 sea miles. I’ve worked hard and truly lived. But even with all those experiences under my belt, I was not prepared for how difficult it would be to move forward when I lost my father to pancreatic cancer. The grieving stopped me in my tracks.
In the summer of 2010, my father was failing. After a heartbreaking visit to his doctor where he was told, “Scotty you are dying,” I witnessed hope fade from my dad’s eyes and leave his frail body. I put my work as a consultant and trainer on hold and moved in with my parents. A visit to Victoria Hospice followed, at which time the inevitable became our reality. My dad moved in a few days later. And, at 1 a.m. on July 26, 2010, he breathed his last breath, with me and my mother holding him as tightly as we could.
The months that followed were rough. My mother went to Isla Mujeres, the Island of Women, Mexico, to heal, as it is known for its magical qualities that mend people’s souls. I visited my mother there in March 2011. I was still grieving and finding every day to be difficult. It was during this trip that I had a vision: I will host an International Women’s Day conference and celebration on the Island of Women! It was time to take on a project that would ignite my soul, and that had an element risk, as risk-taking is something I espouse through my work. The conference needed a name. I called it We Move Forward because the 3-days were about women re-energizing all that makes them whole, body, mind, and soul, and steering their life in the direction of their passion and purpose.
It would be different from other women’s conferences. Inspirational speakers would go far beyond just giving a canned talk and then leaving, they would participate in the full 3 days. Group discussions and activities would have women shifting inspiration into action. We Move Forward would create positive change and it would include local women through sponsorship.
Believe and Create
I felt passionate about my vision, and set out to create it. I had a snazzy website developed, booked a conference space, and approached potential sponsors. I got on a bus in Mexico and visited international women’s clubs in Cancun and Merida, encouraging women to join me on ‘Isla’ in March 2012. I made my voice heard on television, radio and social media.
I had never taken on something so big and so full of promises – promises of inspirational speakers, promises to pay these speakers, and promises of an experience of a lifetime to registrants – that is, if there were registrants.
You see, registrations didn’t take off as I had hoped. They trickled in. Consequently, some of the people who were eager at the beginning of the project began to lose interest. Many dropped off. It didn’t look like a money maker after-all. I crawled forward.
The Show Must Go On!
In January 2012, I sat down with my registration sheet that contained 21 names, my project plan and calculator. I needed 63 registrants to pay for my promises. If 45 women registered, I would lose money, but still be able to run the conference. But at 21, I was deep in the hole. Do I quit or do I move forward, I asked myself?
I reflected on why I wanted to see We Move Forward happen, and the scrapper in me pulled herself up by the bootstraps and took a broad step forward. And, on March 8, 2012, 81 women gathered on Isla Mujeres to celebrate International Women’s Day. The 3-day conference surpassed everyone’s expectations with women calling it “crazy amazing”, “life-changing”, and “a MUST for all women.”
I am thrilled to say that We Move Forward is heading into its 3rd year. The WMF community continues to grow in numbers, with many women returning again and again. The WMF experience continues to propel women in one direction – forward. From March 7-9, 2014 women will celebrate their accomplishments and how they have moved up, over and around life’s challenges, in the company of women just like them – ordinary women that are capable of extraordinary things. That is the essence of We Move Forward. www.wemoveforward.com
“We are all ordinary women that are capable of extraordinary things. Taking time out to get clear on our desired future brings us closer to experiencing it. Surrounding ourselves with like-minded & hearted women is the perfect environment to build our confidence to take our next step forward. Believe in yourself and pay attention to those who believe in you too.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Janeen Halliwell, Founder & Director, We Move Forward, Island of Women, Mexico and Principal, Consultant & Trainer, People Minded Business Inc.