Last Friday, I had the opportunity to sit in a room of about 200 women and listen to the stories of other moms who, like you and me, are trying to carve out the best lives for themselves, their families and their communities. I laugh as I write that sentence because ‘sit’ I did not 🙂 Not with my little 9 month old who wasn’t really thrilled about sitting on my lap for 4 hours! If you were at Leading Moms with me, I was the one with the baby in the Ergo, slipping in and out of the theatre…but with a huge smile on my face. I was just so darn happy to be there, soaking in the passion and fire of a group of women actively seeking ways to better the world. Seriously. A great way to spend a Friday morning!

Though I wasn’t able to catch every word, what I did come away with was truly awesome. A special thank you to Natalia Nanton, Christine Pilkington, the entire Leading Moms team and, of course, the speakers who were instrumental in bringing me these 5 lessons:

1. Tell your children your stories. Yes. Thank you, Comfort Ero for this beautiful reminder of the power of the spoken word. Tell your children your stories from the time they are itty-bitty. At first, they’ll have no idea what you’re saying. They’ll just hear your soothing voice – and to a baby, a mama’s voice is like a lifeline…the one sound they know right from birth – they’ll hear how your language sounds and try to make those sounds themselves. Tell your children your stories as they grow. At this point, the stories will be entertainment. Tell your children your stories as they navigate the sometimes icky waters of pre-teen/teenhood. Your stories will be like ‘home’ to them and they may even begin to have an understanding of where you come from, and essentially where they come from. And when they are adults, your children will see the wisdom in your words and whisper the same to your grandbabies.

2. Never back down from who you really are. Possibly my favourite quote of the day, likely due to my obsession with authenticity. Thank you Louise Green of Body Exchange, not only for this quote but for the remarkable story behind your fitness paradigm. This is the year for me when all the parts of who I really am are showing up quite boldly. It’s hitting home that I’ve got 3 human beings who are observing me, listening to how I talk to myself/about myself, watching me act on what I believe in, and living the values I feel are integral for a healthy, happy life. Because I never want them to back down from who they are, I simply must do the same. And learning about the successes and fulfillment that others have achieved by showing up just the way they are is rather encouraging.

3. Because we should. Because we can. Because we care. That’s a whole lotta good reasoning from Andrea Thomas Hill, founder of Run for the Cure, and the Cause We Care Foundation who spoke about the importance of doing something…because even if your gesture seems small or the problem seems big, doing something is better than doing nothing. If doing something can help even one other person, isn’t it worth doing?And chances are, you will never help just one person. Because what you give to that individual will start a ripple, affecting his or her family and community. Ask yourself what you want to see changed in your community – there may be an existing group you can join forces with, or there may be an opportunity to start something new. I have always believed we have the time to do it, and our children are not obstacles but our partners in this.

4. We have the ability to pause, step back and become conscious parents.  Therapist Michele Kambolis, author of Generation Stressed, hit the nail on the head for me. The first few years of motherhood were super challenging for me. Dealing with post-partum issues, my mother’s death, being totally dissatisfied with my vocation (and feeling lost and disappointed because of it), and yadda yadda yadda… didn’t leave a lot of energy for me to be what I consider my ‘optimal mom self’. In my head, I had enough energy to take care of my own physical and emotional needs as well as my kids’ needs, but in reality, there was always something ‘giving’…and there was always something to yell about. (I cringed as I wrote that, by the way). But things are different now. So many things have ironed themselves out, and that energy that I always knew I had is finally starting to align with the energy I’m exuding. I could have looked at those first few years of motherhood and deemed myself unworthy of ever holding a title like ‘conscious parent’ – or I could embrace the fact that ‘that was then, this is now’ and step into my role as mom with the awareness I seem to more easily tap into now. Every moment is an opportunity to take a step back, choose how I want to react to something, and be the best mom I know how to be. Loving myself through it all – the hiccups and the high fives – makes it easier.

5. Take a second for yourself and connect with your inner girl. See what she’s got for you. I bet it’s pretty awesome. I actually missed Madeleine Shaw‘s talk which was unfortunate – I have been following her work for some time and enjoyed a little chit-chat with her when I caught her in the hallway. But thanks to Twitter and #LMinspire, I was able to follow along while bouncing the baby outside the theatre 🙂 What a fantastic quote. The other day, I pulled out the journal I wrote in during high school. Page after page, my eyes kept welling up, reading the thoughts of this beautiful young girl who so badly wanted to right the wrongs of the world. There were times I actually caressed the words and whispered, “I love you” without even realizing I was doing it. It was such a powerful way to reconnect, to really remember who I was before I became someone’s wife and mother. If you don’t have a journal to refer to, sit by yourself in the quiet, conjure up some memories and see what comes about. Take yourself out on a little date – somewhere you don’t have to be a grown up. Plunk yourself down on the swings at the school playground. Remember your awesome Self.

I just had a fabulous time reliving that day, and I’m already stoked about next year! Take a second to check out the ladies I mentioned in my post. Maybe you can join me next year?