Alexis Bledel as Rosie the Riveter from Glamour Magazine, March 2009
The Mighty Summit was a very inspiring event. I was introduced to almost thirty successful women who came together to share their stories, work on their dreams and help each other meet their life goals. It was amazing, however, I wasn't there.
Laura was though, and here's her run down of the weekend from an organizer's perspective, with links to everyone else's summaries of what they got out of it.
Last year it was called the Broad Summit and it received some criticism for being a private, exclusive event that was sponsored and then marketed to all the people who weren't invited. I'm linking to the criticism not because I necessarily agree with it but because it's always interesting to read the other side of the story and the discussion in the comments is very enlightening about this group of women.
This year there were spots open for people to apply, so the attendee list was more diverse, and next year will be even better, as they are planning to host a similar event that anyone can come to. Guess where I want to be next fall!
The focus of the event is the "Life List" concept popularised by Maggie Mason. She is the founder of the Mighty Girl web site and she published her list there to try to gain support and sponsorships to complete her goals and dreams. People began to post their own life lists and since then there has been a snowball effect with the idea and women everywhere are talking about their own life lists and encouraging others to dream big and live life to it's fullest.
I feel like I have a lot I want to learn about the successful women in the blogging community. I want to contribute, I want to do something valuable, I want to be inspired and I want to inspire others. I've been adding all kinds of women with strong voices to my Google Reader and Twitter feed, not just the ones that attended the Summit. They come from all walks of life and do all kinds of interesting things. I've been reading their websites a lot lately to learn more about them. What makes these women special? What do they do that no one else is doing? How can I learn from them?
There seems to be a few common threads in the women that I admire. They live fearlessly. They take risks. They get involved. They are positive and uplifting. They help others out. They are working hard and passionately for what they believe in. They are successful. They are unique. They are modern feminists. They each have a story to tell. They are doing what they love. I want to be one of these women. And I'll start by making my own life list.
I love lists. I've got a running list of things to do, with daily things like "take a shower", to yearly things like "organize all my videos into one format and in one place". But those yearly items rarely get checked off. They are the big goals and they usually take a while to complete. Often they won't get carried over to a new list. The even bigger life goals just float around in my head. I am creating my own life list so the big dreams and goals have somewhere to live.
I've always had big dreams. When I was only fourteen I decided I wanted to live in a big city and by the time I was sixteen, much to my parents distress and disapproval (but that's for another blog post), I had moved from my small home town to Vancouver. While I was there I took a photography class and decided that I loved it and wanted to pursue it after high school. I returned home and at the suggestion of a friend, I applied to art college. To my surprise I was accepted. My parents thought I should be a nurse, but I wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic. I was such a rebel.
In college I realized that I wanted to be more than a photographer, I also wanted to learn about graphic design. I wanted to blend it all together. I was one of the first students in the communications department to pursue multimedia before there was even a program for it. I also set my sights on New York City and two years after graduating I was moving into my apartment on the Upper East Side, with a job at an interactive media agency on Park Avenue South.
Having met my college career goals, I then turned my focus to my goal of having a family. I met the man of my dreams, got married, got pregnant, quit working to be a stay-at-home Mom, had a natural childbirth, breastfed for more than a year, moved upstate into a mid-century modern home, had a natural childbirth at home in the water, and nursed again for more than a year. Now my boys are four and two, I have my happy little family and I'm ready to create my next set of goals.
I've often said to my husband, "We should do ____ someday." or "Wouldn't ___ be amazing?" But without writing it down, these ideas are never real and the years slip away faster and faster. It really helps to say something out loud, to consciously set a goal, to write it down and to put it out into the universe. That is how you make your dreams happen. Other people will help you along the way and circumstances arise to push you towards your goals. Take advantage of opportunities. Dream big. Take risks. Anything can happen.
This summer I decided to take an art class. That would have been on my life list if I had one a year ago. I needed to get the wheels spinning. I needed to have some time to myself. I was inspired by the women I met and the thinking that I did and two goals have come out of that. I am teaching myself how to paint and how to sew.
I got this amazing book called Painting for the Absolute and Utter Beginner. (Books are the very best ways to teach yourself new things!) I am starting at the beginning with color wheels and the basics of mixing complementary colors. Oddly, I have never learned this before. I know about color theory from a digital design point of view and a photography point of view, but never from a painting point of view. It's amazing. I'm mixing paint and painting in these little squares of color and learning so much. I love it. It's meditative for me.
My Mom taught me the basics of sewing when I was a kid but I didn't do very much with it. A few years ago I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas and my mother-in-law got it for me. Since then it sat in the closet completely untouched. I finally brought it out this summer and was able to get it threaded and working, thanks to those lessons that my Mom gave me all those years ago and the instructions. (ALWAYS read the instructions!) I've been collecting books with beautiful sewing projects in them for the last couple of years and I even purchased fabric a year ago but never did anything with it. Now is the time.
Thank you to the original Mighty Girl. I've admired you since meeting you at a wedding in North Carolina. You are an amazing, inspiring women and I look forward to seeing what you will do next. I appreciate learning about all the women who were a part of the Mighty Summit and I am inspired by ALL the women who live honestly and fearlessly and who put themselves out there in the world to live to their fullest potential.
Below is the first draft of my Mighty Girl Life List. I will be adding to it as I think of new things to do and crossing things off as I complete them. Do you have a life list? Have you done things in your life that were long time dreams? I'd love to hear about them.
Even men can create a life list! I asked Chris about his and do you know what was the first thing that he said? Shoot a machine gun. I love that it's such a manly thing to have on a life list.
Things I Want to Accomplish in My Lifetime:
Teach myself to paint | Paint a large beautiful painting that I love | Show my artwork and photography in a gallery | Teach myself to sew | Sew myself a dress | Write a non-fiction book and a web site about attachment parenting | Write a fiction book inspired from my own personal history | Organize all my family videos into one format and in one place | Grow a vegetable garden | Visit the International Space Station | Have tea with a Geisha in the Gion district of Kyoto, Japan | Tour North America in an RV and visit the top National Parks: Yellowstone, Yoho, Kluane (see the Northern Lights), Gros Morne, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier Bay, Acadia, Olympic (find a sand dollar in a tidal pool), Saguaro, Mount Rainier, Glacier | Buy the perfect piece of land and build a new modern home | Go back to the Post Ranch Inn for an anniversary celebration with my husband | Live in Big Sur for a year | Visit Berlin with my husband | Visit Graceland with my husband | Parachute out of a plane | Climb to Mount Everest Base Camp | Live closer to my sister | Live in Italy for a summer in a rented house | Build a real library in my home | Spend a girl's only weekend with my two college friends | Open a retail store selling beautifully designed things for the home | Visit Prague | Complete my family genealogy | Celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary with Chris | Stay overnight at James Turrell's Roden Crater | Stay overnight at Walter De Maria's Lightning Field | Learn more about Feminism | Take my photography to the next level | Submit an article to a magazine | Submit photographs to Communication Arts Photography Annual | Watch flowing lava at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park | Attend a Mighty Summit | Attend BlogHer | Ride a roller coaster with my kids | Own an apartment in the city and a house in the country | Go on a vacation alone with my husband | Go on a vacation where all I can do is relax and read a book | Learn how to scuba dive | Live in a house with an amazing view of the setting sun |