I just returned from a day at the Santa Clara Convention Center (February 24, 2015) at the Lead on Watermark Conference for Women https://www.leadonca.org/
EMC was a sponsor and it was wonderful to attend and network amongst SAM peers, Field and Support management and team personnel as we drank in a star-studded lineup of women pioneers and leaders.
Diane von Furstenburg, Fashion leader
Jill Abramson, first woman to serve as Washington bureau chief, managing editor and executive editor of The New York Times.
Jessica Herrin, CEO and founder of Stella & Dot
Rosalind Hudnell, VP HR and Chief Diversity Officer for Intel Corporation
Candy Chang, Creator of Before I Die Project
Dr. Brené Brown, Research professor at University of Houston Graduate College of Social work and author of two #1 New York Times best sellers, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, and The Gifts of Imperfections
Kara Swisher, co-CEO and co-owner of Revere Digital
And, of course, Former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton
Not only were the keynote speakers enriching but the breakout sessions were diverse and filled with powerful messages on Leadership, Career Advancement, Personal Development as well as networking/mentoring opportunities.
My top favorite speakers: Candy Chang, who I found inspiring at the most primal human connection level, Brene Brown who suggested we cannot affect change in either or lives or the lives of others if we do not step into the arena. “We cannot know our strength until we fall and learn how to pick ourselves up with the support of others. The most powerful woman in the world is the one who has fallen and learned how to get back up.” And Hillary Clinton, whose stage/room presence was unbelievable. She spoke with eloquence, quick wit, with a macroscopic viewpoint reflecting her experience and vision, and the power to lead on towards change at our societal level. Interviewed by Kara Swisher, she answered questions about terrorism and ISIS, STEM and emerging research from the work the Clintons have been doing with the Gates Foundation, the necessity of women around the world to engage for a better world, the needs of both women and men in our society to address childcare and equal pay for improved lifestyle, microfinance, etc.
But this blog entry is not about the conference. Is it about a connection made with a fellow traveler of life. I’d like to focus on Connie Chang for a moment, creator of http://candychang.com/before-i-die-in-nola/
Her presentation was simple, a simplicity I’m sure was designed to touch every human heart. She certainly touched mine. As she spoke of the anonymous dreams come to life on the sides of abandoned structures I was reminded of my own Bucket List.
I don’t have a lot left on it. I don’t intend to live longer than 50, I don’t see the utility in it and feel that for me, personally, living longer is fulfilling a law of diminishing returns. I’ve traveled, I’ve had a lucrative career, I’ve raised a family, I have created blogs and journaled. I’ve written books and done art, and bonded with friends. I feel very strongly that being a storyteller is the best thing I can do to imprint myself into the future and have tried my best to live a life worthy of being a good story.
But as I spoke to Candy after her speech, talking about how we as humans feel a primal need to connect in order to feel like WE matter, that WE make a difference in our very short time of our existence, she said I should goal the things that matter the most. So I mentally swept through my list. What do I want the most before I die?
It is simple. I want to make sure I have left enough of the good things of me with my children.
That’s it. That’s all that is left on my bucket list.
I hope I have made a difference. Being a mother has been the most challenging role of my life and I have spent many nights awake and many nights with tears…feeling like I have not done enough to prepare my children for a life that is full of love and value. It is the one role that I cannot consider myself a success because I have struggled so much to adapt to the skills necessary to find mothering fulfilling.
So to my children: Jessica, Chance, Kayla and Justin. I love you. You make me crazy but I love you. I hope that somehow during the times when you were sitting as a toddler on the counter with me as I taught you how to crack eggs for cookies or to knead bread, or to take a good photo, or to be sensitive to the pain of others or to work hard for the things you want in life. I hope I have taught you loyalty. I hope I have taught you to love. I hope I have taught you to be aware and active in alleviating the suffering of those around you. I hope I have taught you to love music because it is a healing art. I hope I have taught you that giving is better than getting. I hope I have taught you the beauty of growing plants and flowers.
I hope all these things stay with you as a good memory of me when I’m gone.
This is the Thing that matters most to me. This is all I want before I die.