Friday: Own Your Past

The Buzz – In a word: electric. Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” bookended the day as we sang along with the 80s queen during the day’s warmup. Today’s event was sold out, and the positive vibes were on overload as groups of friends danced together in aisles and jumped up and down to 90s hip hop.

Host Brit “B” Barron got the party started by playing a video about the evolution of the RISE conference. Only two years ago the conference maxed out at 200 attendees. To offer perspective, the Dallas conference this year sold out in THREE hours and seats 7,400. This dramatic increase is a testament to Rachel’s consistency over 15+ years, which is a good reminder for the next time you struggle with consistency. Consistency is the key to success. Period. Without it, success isn’t even an option. If you maintain your tenacious spirit, imagine where YOU could be in two years.

And that is a perfect place to start the buzz of the day.

The 411 – Once again, Rachel spoke at length during the morning and afternoon sessions. Guest speakers included authors and motivational speakers Jen Hatmaker and Trent Shelton. 5-4-3-2-1 dance parties were interspersed between speakers. Um, let’s just say I identified with Rachel when she said she peed a little bit every time she bopped to the music. Every. Single. Time. And I had both of my children via c-section! Aging sucks.

Jen’s rousing talk emphasized sisterhood over competition, how to respond with a mighty “hell, no” in the face of misogyny, and the mantra that pursuing goals “doesn’t mean you are picking your dreams over your kids.” Jen might be my actual soul sister. She is a woman after my own heart. So often as mothers we feel torn between our families and our dreams, as if we must choose. It’s an understatement to say that’s not fair.

While I reference similar sentiments in my article from July 2nd, “Two Huge Reasons Why We Don’t Pursue Our Goals: Our Significant Others and Our Children,” Jen phrased the concept in a way I’ve never heard before and that I very much respect: A woman’s ambition must be navigated through a “complicated system of checks and balances.” Meaning, if we want to step into our power and go all in on our goals, we must simultaneously consider any combination of Am I being selfish? Am I being too ambitious for everyone? How long do I have until I have to stop pursuing this? Will my kids suffer? Will my marriage be affected? I don’t want to offend any male readers, but I’m willing to bet that most men don’t put themselves through this litany of questions and self-doubt as they chase their dreams.

Former NFL player Trent Shelton shared many of his REHAB cornerstones in the afternoon. He implored us over and over to not let our past dictate our future, to let our pain be a source of power, and outlined ways to create a positive environment for ourselves. Perspective is key, he reminded us. “Your perspective can be your prison or your power.” He relayed truth bomb after bomb as he shared personal stories.

While I believe we must seek personal growth for our own reasons, a nugget he dropped on us really resonated with me: “Your choices will become your child’s consequences.” What habits have you created that speak to your children? What are you modeling? Little eyes are always watching us. There is always room for improvement, of course, but I’m proud that my children are seeing me place a priority on my health. The day this article will be published on my website is my 300th day without sugar!

Also, my son has been showing entrepreneurial tendencies lately; he’s been coming up with ideas of how to make extra money so he can buy certain toys. He loves to draw and recently shared his idea for an art stand with me and my husband. I’m proud to say that he’s observing my entrepreneurial spirit as I pursue my writing dreams.

 Check out my Instagram post today (Followyourspark) for a copy of the complete schedule.

Highlights – The highlight of the day to me was the “Stand Up for Your Sister” activity. I wish you could have been there to experience it for yourself because it was that powerful. I will try to describe it so that you can visualize exactly how it happened. Each attendee had a checklist of items that we were to complete. Items on the checklist included things like I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused, I’ve abused alcohol, I hate the way I look, I’ve been emotionally or verbally abused, I’ve abused food as a way of coping, I’ve considered suicide, and more. After we completed the checklist, we folded it up, and kept passing it to another person until we didn’t know who had ours.

Then Rachel and B read each line out loud. The instructions were that anytime an item was checked off on your list, you were supposed to stand up to represent your sister’s pain. Remember, 7,400 women were in the convention center. Every line was like a stab to the heart. If you could have seen how many women stood up when Rach called “I have been raped,” you would have been devastated, too. At least two-thirds of the audience stood. It was heartbreaking. Trauma after trauma after trauma. The visual representation of our pain was gut wrenching. Many of us were crying. I checked off several on the list, too, and was therefore represented in the numbers, but I was crying because of the magnitude of our sisters who had been abused, taken for granted, and minimized. You should have seen how many had considered suicide, including myself as I will detail below.

At the end of the activity, we passed the checklists forward, and the people in the front row of each section threw the papers over, representing that we were no longer going to allow our past to define us. To see how many people were affected by the same issues reminds us that we are not alone. In our worst moments, we tend to isolate ourselves, but as I tell my students, that is the exact time we need to reach out the most.

We ended the activity with a mind shift from pain to power. We owned our pain now. We acknowledged that the past will always be a part of us, but now, it is a source of strength.

Check out my Instagram post today (Followyourspark) for a copy of the “Stand Up for Your Sister” checklist.

Takeaways – We tend to think about the negative events from our past as “baggage,” but today we focused on shifting our mindset. Instead of thinking about the negative events as just horrific things that happened TO you, maybe there is a way to find meaning and make peace with them. I considered the two worst things that happened in my life. While I am not ashamed of them, I only carried sadness in my heart every time I thought about them. I will forever feel sadness, but now I understand that they are significant examples of my strength.

After my son was born, I experienced extreme postpartum depression and was hospitalized. I even considered suicide. I can’t do this period of my life justice in a single paragraph, but it was the worst time in my life. After much therapy and support from my husband, we eventually tried to have another baby. Then I miscarried. At the airport. When I was about to leave on a girls trip to celebrate my 40th birthday. Again, it was horrific. I will always remember that baby’s due date and the pain we went through, but dammit, I made it through those things! I AM STRONG. I AM AMAZING. Look how I got back up again. Look what I would be missing if I hadn’t: My precious baby girl Julia, with all her toddler tantrums and love for Woody from Toy Story.

I know my story isn’t the same as yours, but please consider reflecting on your pain points as sources of strength, too. I’m not going to tell you everything happens for a reason because I don’t want to diminish your grief, but two things can be true at the same time. You can be sad about a past event and still grow from it.

Another lesson that resonated with the audience is Rachel’s passion toward embracing failure as part of success. Thousands of women have secret talents and desires that they never express or pursue because of their fear of failure. They let this fear get in the way of ever beginning their journey, before it has an opportunity to take flight. Often, we sabotage ourselves in this way: If you never even try, then you don’t have to deal with the failure. But the truth is that failure is part of the package. Anytime you try something new, you will fail. You will mess it up. You will have to reevaluate your attempt and design a new plan. You will have to reflect on your shortcomings.

FAILURE IS PART OF THE DEAL. In a powerful conversation with an attendee named Ashley, Rachel asked her if she would be willing to commit to failing for a year. Hear me out. If something is new to you, of course you will stink at it at first. It might take 25 times to improve or a few years to build up your business, but it comes down to this: Are you willing to keep showing up? There is a reason the RISE conference is the first of its kind – because no woman before Rachel was willing to struggle and fail as long as she did. She learned from every single experience she had and built her business over 15 years. If she gave up when it was hard, she wouldn’t have made it past the first month. What’s your excuse?

 P.S. Rach’s exchange with Ashley ended with us dancing it out to the song “Gangsta’s Paradise.” It was a moment.

Hollis-isms: I kept track of how many times classics were referenced for diehard Rach fans.

                  Pam – 6

                  Cousin Crystal – 1 

                  “Not an ad” – 1

                  “Let’s Goooooo!” – 4

Up next: Own your future!

Did today’s topic resonate? What aspect of your past do you struggle with the most? Do you think it’s possible to view it as a source of strength? Comment below! 

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