I kicked off my Eventbrite blogger tour Monday night with the In Her Shoes February women’s workshop. The event took place at a pizza place off the North and Clybourn red line stop. Inside, I was directed to their banquet room where I picked up a nametag and colored notecard. “The card is to write down a favorite inspiring quote,” the girl manning the door told me.
Luckily I had read the event listing ahead of time and knew to come prepared with some words of hope. I jotted down, “Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith” –Margaret Shepard. Seconds after, I was approached by one of several friendly women I’d meet throughout the night.
I’m making a point to say how friendly everyone was because it really helped calm my nerves. I didn’t know anyone at the event and thought I’d have to rely on the dreaded “cold call” approach to meeting people. If you’re at all a networking-phobe like I am, you’ll thank me for this bit of prior knowledge.
First I met Kasia, the founder of In Her Shoes, who told me about the nonprofit’s origins. She told me she wanted to start a group that brought women together to connect, inspire, educate and support each other in a healthy and positive lifestyle. What the organization is not is a therapy session, a networking group, a man-hating meetup. In Her Shoes member, Lena, clarified this to newcomers as the workshop began and our salads and bread arrived.
Introductions were next and we moved around the long table hearing from about 12 women. Backgrounds and ages varied and at least two quotes were from Oprah. One woman admitted to forgetting her quote and simply said, “live life to the fullest.” While this exercise could have been corny, Kasia did a great job moderating and prompted us to speak if we felt moved.
Next up was the night’s featured speaker, a remarkable woman named Tami Principe. Tami is a survivor of both domestic violence and cancer and she spoke about rebuilding and finding peace. She told us to treat our Facebook feed like a radio station, to tune out the negativity and hide the habitual drama makers. My biggest takeaway from Tami’s talk was that you should really care less what people think. When someone says something nasty to you it’s because they’re unhappy with parts of their own life. So stop taking things so personal! This of course, is easier said than done, but hearing her talk was a great reminder to put things into perspective.
We concluded the night by writing down either a question, thought, or secret and putting it into a bucket. Then we went around the table once more and read each anonymous note. And although the monthly workshop is not a “therapy session” per se, this part of the night was about release and unloading. This note in particular sparked a lot of conversation: “How do I encourage my husband to go back to school?”
Aside from monthly meetings (every third Monday), In Her Shoes holds an annual fundraiser and retreats. If you’re looking for a place to connect with strong, intelligent, positive women, I’d recommend checking out one of their meetings. You’ll be greeted by a friendly face and you’ll walk away feeling empowered.
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