Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hello, Thursday. What have you done with this week?

Jamie is still on the street next to my office. I moved her this morning because of street cleaning, and she drove around the block okay, but I could smell burning, which is never good. She's going to get towed to Max in the morning, who hopefully will take care of her (he's not answering his phone) and then I'll be running errands again.

So, I went to the Women's Conference in Long Beach on Tuesday. Our boss takes a group of 10 women each year and this is my first time going. In the past, the ladies have come back feeling inspired, uplifted, and empowered. I looked forward to some great inspirational discussions. Plus I had signed up for two interesting-sounding breakout sessions, one of which was "How to manage your health so stress and work don't kill you" presented by Dr. Oz. I do love me some Dr. Oz and, boy, do I need some stress management tips. What we got was panel discussions in which the panels kept going off topic and tears--lots and lots of tears.

It started with in the morning sessions with Somaly Mam, a former Cambodian prostitute who was sold to a brothel as a young child and managed to escape. She doesn't know her real name, as Somaly is what they called her at the brothel. She doesn't know her real age, she thinks she was 10 when she was sold. She, with the help of her husband, has founded schools and halfway houses in Cambodia where she rescues many young girls from brothels and educates them. One of her girls is now studying at a university in the United States. Her speech was difficult to understand but the gist was "help the young girl you see in the streets, hug her and love her, and never give up until we make the governments understand that girls and women are not toys and property to be sold and played with." It was pretty powerful stuff and our group passed a package of tissues down the row.

In the afternoon, we had Katie Couric, who spoke about resilience. She spoke of being a plucky young woman starting out in the news field and all the men who told her she'd never make it, never be on air, never be an anchor. Hey, that's pretty inspiring. Then, she talked about losing her husband to colon cancer and her sister to pancreatic cancer. (tears start here) She ended on a high note about never letting them tell you you can't do something.
After Katie, Maria Shriver led a panel discussion on dealing with grief. Maria told us that she is not okay. She is still very much grieving her mother, Eunice, and her Uncle Teddy. (tears begin flowing more rapidly) She talked about her mother's final moments and how she asked for Eunice to send her a sign after death to let her know she was alright. Then, she told us a story about strolling along the beach in Hyannisport and seeing a former nun on the beach, who appeared out of nowhere, and who gave Maria five prayer cards from Mother Teresa, for Maria and her brothers, and told her that "your mother sent me." The story got more fantastical after that and we all looked around like "Maria's losing it," but then came the panel. Susan Saint James, who lost her 14 year old son in a plane crash that also severely injured her husband, Elizabeth Edwards, who lost her 16 year old son in an accident and who is also diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, and Lisa Neely, Patrick Swayze's widow, who was last minute substitute for Kelly Preston, who didn't feel she was ready to talk about her son's death. Wow! (Forget about wiping the tears; tissues became ineffectual) I mean, seriously, could it get any more depressing? It went 30 minutes overtime, too. Through all of the crying, we did manage to take away some ways to cope with grief and how to help a friend who is coping with it.

Thank God for the booths and the free stuff. I loaded up on goodies. Actually, I had a great time with the ladies from work and the afternoon breakout session I attended was great. Dr. Christiane Northrup discussed the female mind and the female body, and how our minds have so much to do with our health. Then she finished with a wonderful meditation session that left me refreshed. All in all, I enjoyed the experience.

1 comment:

MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

Gah. I'm tearing up just reading your bare-bones description of the event!! You are a stronger woman than I. I never would have made it to FM afterward - I would have gone straight home, to bed, with Vitamin V.