Women need to connect with themselves and one another: Regina Brett

What is an enlightened woman?

The world is full of them, starting with that woman in the mirror.

I was surrounded by vibrant women at the Spirit of Women in Business Conference atKent State University on Wednesday. Bernett Williams, vice president of external affairs at Akron Children's Hospital, kicked off the event.

She told the sold-out audience that being enlightened starts with listening when your inner voice says, "This is not right." She learned that decades ago when she was all set to go on vacation with a boyfriend who ended up bringing a football pal along. She ignored her gut feeling, went and ended up hopping a Greyhound bus back.

Williams stressed that women need to connect with other enlightened women. She calls the girlfriends who hold her accountable her "front row friends."

Too many women worry about work when they're at home and worry about home when they're at work. Williams suggested making work your refuge from home and home your refuge from work.

"Sometimes we feel like we're breaking our own hearts," she said.

Ain't that the truth? Let's stop doing that.

Then I heard a panel with Barbara Singer Chang, Celeste Glasgow-Ribbins, Daisy Alford-Smith and Barbara Sykes. Here's what they taught me:

Be the leader in your own life. Be accountable for your own self. The most important opinion about you is yours.

Be clear about who you are and who you aren't. Declare what you want, first to yourself, then to the world.

Speak up for other women. Women hold up half the world, so if you find yourself at a meeting and there aren't any other women present, boldly ask, "Where are the other women?" United, women accomplish more, as the African proverb suggests: "When 

spider webs unite they can tie up a lion."

Management consultant Kay Potetz had us laughing over how we neglect ourselves and need to take our power back.

Too many of us forgo pull-ups and sit-ups. "I eat out and take out. I do not work out," she confessed. Her message hit home when she showed a cartoon of a doctor telling a patient: "What fits your busy schedule: Exercising one hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?" Got it. Time to get moving.

How do you know when you've taken your power back? "When the power of love replaces the love of power," she told us.

A power pack called Colette Carlson enlightened us at lunch. She's a human behavior expert, author and motivational speaker who used to be 50 pounds overweight. Her idea of a m nage trois was spending time with Ben and Jerry.

She called workaholism the "well-respected addiction" and confessed to spending too much time with the triplets -- "the Internet, the iPhone, the iPad."

She gave us this gem: "Stop multitasking and start multiasking." The solution isn't time management. "It's you management," she said. Make a not-to-do list and put down all those "shoulds." Instead of calling it selfish, focus on the ish: I Stay Healthy.

We left knowing it was time women stop competing and start connecting to ourselves and to each other. And it was time to stop beating up on our bodies. Colette shared a story about some women complaining about how age made their derrieres drop, how they used to look like J Lo, but "now it's just way low." 

"Love is messy," she said. "Everything is not perfect, but I am perfect with everything."

Starting with that woman in the mirror.


POSTED: Sunday, March 10, 2013 - 12:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, August 9, 2016 - 8:36am