One of my goals this year was to break out of my comfort zone and try new things. After 30+ years in business, I decided to take an online “B School” business course with the amazing Marie Forleo that I found through Gabby Bernstein (Spirit Junkie), which led me to attend this Create & Cultivate Conference in Brooklyn last weekend. It is designed for online entrepreneurs who want to make a difference while also making a living.
Here is a quote from their social media:
“Create & Cultivate is not your average conference. We gather the next generation of curious creatives, entrepreneurs, and business leaders…”
I arrived at the conference venue at Industry City in Brooklyn on a drizzly spring morning exactly on time at 7:59 am. I don’t usually attend this sort of thing alone, but this trip was all part of my recent intention: “focus on the positive…follow your passion and get moving!” ...my new self-imposed directive for my life.
So there I was, dodging raindrops, as I waited in a entrance line that wound around the block. It moved slowly (if at all for the first 20 minutes) which gave me time to study the (mostly female) people in the crowd. It was an inclusive group to say the least. I was happy to see women of all colors, shapes and sizes ( plus a few men scattered about) in a wide array of super cool fashion statements. The mood was upbeat and energetic.
So why did I feel uneasy? I love upbeat and energetic groups. As the day unfolded and this massive, eclectic crowd moved from one event to another, my awkward self-consciousness grew. I was definitely out of my element, yet I was happy to be there. So, what was it that I was feeling?
Slowly, I began to understand. For the first time in my priveleged life I, a blonde Caucasian female, got what it feels like to be a minority—when you glance around and nobody looks like you, you feel out of place, and have to convince yourself that you do, in fact, belong. In this crowd of maybe 1000 people I was among the oldest there. Maybe 10% of the attendees were over 45, most in their 20’s and 30’s.
Hence, my first “Aha!” moment. It didn’t matter what I had done or accomplished in my realtively long life. I still felt like the new kid in school. My hippie-chic clothes weren’t quite right, I needed a manicure, I have wrinkles and age spots and my hair was pretty much a disaster. I don’t have dreadlocks or tatoos, multiple piercings or twenty thousand followers on Instagram.
I do, however, know what women want and need. No matter what the age.
Mired in the midst of my own discomfort (which I admit I 100% created in my own mind), I had an important realization. I believe in all ages. In fact, my goal for business is to cross the age barrier. As a seasoned designer, I always felt forced to pigeonhole our customer demographics into a narrow window. Those days are over. I declare them over.
I prefer to remain ageless. I want my ideas and inspiration to be open-ended and expansive. My retreats have always included women of all ages, the more variety, the better. Since the point of Create & Cultivate is to encourage brave and candid dialog, I committed, right then and there, to a different sort of diversity. I learned I have to own who I am at 65, with confidence, certainty, brutal honesty and a hard-won sense of pride. Something women of color have had to struggle to accomplish all their lives.
I feel passionate about bringing fun-loving spiritual seekers together of all ages, like a modern tribe. My most energizing retreats have gathered all decades— including my 15 year old grand-daughter, attending her first yoga retreat, to fledgling business owners in their 20’s, new mothers in their 30’s, career changers in their 40’s, empty nesters in their 50’s, widows and divorcees in their 60’s and those most interesting women in their 70’s and even 80’s. The elders bring perspective, self-awareness and wisdom that the younger guests welcome. We older tribal members need and want the fresh point of view and youthful excitement of the upcoming generations. It’s a win/win for everybody. And it makes for a richer experience.
One thing we all have in common: we are continually in transition. We are all seeking something. Each of us has our “in-crowd”, friends and places where we belong. Also, every one of us has our insecurities, no matter how self-confident and accomplished we may appear to be.
One thing I can say: this new crop of powerful women I witnessed at Create & Cultivate is indeed going to change the world! Let’s all get out of our self-imposed comfort zones and actively BE in this crazy game of life together.