On Tuesday we left Vancouver early to attend an event in Seattle, which intrigued us with the fact that our favorite and most influential photographer and educator, Sue Bryce was going to be there.

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The event turned out to be much more than what we had hoped for. It was really a heart-touching experience, one to cherish and revisit often for inspiration and encouragement.

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To begin describing it, imagine an airplane hangar somewhere near a park, (it took us a while to find) with a round stage in the middle of huge open space, and 500 women buzzing around in excitement. All colorful and vibrant, with their heels, purses, friends, sisters, business cards and ideas on what is to come. As we approach the space, out of a limousine comes out our star and walks just meters in front of us. We took this as a good sign that we are meant to be here, since the first person we run into is our whole reason for being here. As we get registered and comfortable, we find there are mini-cupcakes, Starbucks coffee, marshmallows and cookies; all beautifully organized, and waiting for us to be enjoyed. The whole atmosphere feels like a ball, like a convention of all feminine, lovely, colorful and exciting. It felt like we are being pampered the way a woman should be from the moment we walked in. What a joy! :)

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But that’s just the beginning. What is to follow is much more significant. And that is, the speeches we got to hear from some of the most influential, amazing women, which all had one thing in common – they each had a transformational message to share with us.These messages were summoned by their unique (and most often extremely difficult) life experiences which fueled them to go out into the masses of women and empower them. There is no price on that. When a woman opens her heart to an audience of other women, there is such compassion in the room, such recognition of the spirit. We were all united in our pain, gain, sorrow and joy.

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 We felt connected from the first minutes as the woman who created the event, Melody Biringer, opened up about her own failures and hardships. The room was full of beautiful vulnerability, raw honesty, sexy fabulousness, and important nudges. Some of these sparkles of wisdom that were shared with us, I would like to share with you, in honor of spreading the love and acting in radical generosity (some of the concepts were were infused with by the speakers).

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Melody Biringer said, “Take risks! Fail! If you don’t have a failure, that is your failure.” “Find your passion and set it on fire!” As an example to this, Melody shared her own story of being lost for inspiration and then talking to a friend which asked her what she loved most in life. Melody said, “Marshmallows”. And a marshmallow she created – Urban Campfire – was full of marshmallows – literally. We had marshmallows at every table. The marshmallows of wisdom were even sweeter.

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Jen Louden shared her wisdom metaphorically with this beautiful line: “Barns burn down, and now I can see the moon.” Her idea is that in every life, we see barns burning down – hardships, losses, divorce, you name it! Some barns we set on fire ourselves – we leave jobs, relationships, we move away, sell a home… And her life experience has taught her, that yes barns do burn down and they will, but what a revelation follows – “and now I can see the moon.” Another favorite from her is: “You become the woman who can answer the call by answering the call.” Get it? Don’t wait to get good, just do it and you will become it.

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Maria Ross had the audience sitting with their mouths open as she talked about her brain injury – her near death experience – and how she came out of it without any sense of identity. She then went on to talk about defining yourself and that it does not come from the outside. We define ourselves in challenging situations, when we use challenge to define our core. She advocates patience and taking small steps towards success while focusing on your strengths. “Don’t forget to laugh”, she says, “no matter how hard life gets.”

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Sara Dean said that in every situation we have a choice to be the person we want to be. She advocates practicing being this person. “Fake it until you BECOME it,” she says. “Confidence is the state of knowing truth about something. Know where your talents lie and have the confidence to change the world with them.” “Set a goal and focus on always moving forward with respect, graciousness and optimism.”

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Shasta Nelson was such a joy to listen to. A natural public speaker and what an adorable personality! She shared her story of the importance to listening to ourselves when we feel lonely.”This is a sign from our body,” she says “to pay attention and get this need met.” Shasta created a website called GirlFriendCircles.com and I encourage you all to sign-up because it is a great idea and will add hugely to our overall happiness as women. I bought Shasta’s book called “Friendships Don’t Just Happen” and am excited to get into it!

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April Wilson shared a story of her friend’s passing away unexpectedly in a taxi accident in Las Vegas. Her message is to “live each day as if it is your last.”

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Gillian Muessig said to look to your friends to tell you what you have accomplished. Sometimes they are able to know better what we have done, where we have excelled, and how great we actually are.

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Sue Bryce. The reason we were there. This woman is remarkable and I am sure everyone left feeling this way after her speech. Sue brought the house down with her emotional and raw story about believing in yourself, knowing you are good enough, knowing you are worth it, and getting out of your own way to receiving good things in life. Sue is a believer in overcoming fear and self-doubt because all of it is just an illusion. “Self-hate is there, but you can choose to tell it to shut up and get out of your way.”Sue made herself a success, despite having no money to start with and a boss who told her that she was worthless and would never achieve anything.She sure showed him. But after all, her finishing punch line was, in response to her boss’s apology years later, “But it was never about you…”. Which meant in the context of her speech, that everything we receive is just a reflection of how we feel about ourselves, how we treat ourselves inside. So there is no reason to hold any grudges. It is all in our hands to change how we are treated and how much success we are having, because it all comes down to loving yourself and knowing that you are worthy of happiness and are good enough right now, just as you are. “You must love yourself in order for anyone else to love you.” Simple truth. But so powerful, as she proves with her own personal example.

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Agapi Stassinopoulos was like a huge ball of sunshine! She got us all dancing, singing, and crying with joy as she told each of us how beautiful we are, opening up her heart to us and pouring out so much love and authenticity, it was almost hard to handle. She is a remarkable woman, a true star, shining so much bright light onto the world that you can’t help but smile in her presence! Agapi talked about her movie-like life story and how she found God and her mission. Her speech had so much meaningful volume to it, that I could write 5 pages just about her alone. It is hard to summarize. But since I have to, here it is: “Love! Don’t be bitter, be sweet! Open your heart! Be perfectly imperfect! You are beautiful! You are good enough! You are a child of God. The key to life is radical generosity!”. And generous she was! At the end of her speech, Agapi shared her “Oprah moment” as she happily announced that each one of us will get a free copy of her book “Unbinding The Heart”.We were thrilled! We already started reading her book and it is great – so full of love, light and authenticity. Very touching.

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Danielle LaPorte was the closing speaker of the day and she talked about desire. There was a ton of wisdom in her speech, and like Agapi, it is hard to condense into a paragraph. Some of her messages were: “Be fierce but flexible. Courage is about being in the room. It’s about presence. Where is your desire?” Desire mapping is about how you want to feel. It is about identifying your core desired feelings which drive your intentions. Always move towards what you want. Want what you want so intensely, that the excuses start to burn off of you. Do you love the problems that come with your industry? Stop selling and start resonating. Joy changes your life. How much joy can you handle? Guilt is inevitable on your way to what you want. LOVE! love love love love!” She finished her speech reciting ‘Love’ to us, filling us to the max.

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Wow, what a day. After the speeches there was food, wine, S’mores and book signings. That’s when we got to get close to our dear Sue and give her a hug, take a picture with her and express our gratitude for everything she has done and continues to do. At the end, we weren’t even tired because the energy of the day has brought a new kind of vigor to us. It made us feel alive, loved, and guided.

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The event was a brilliant mix of serious wisdom and girly fun (cupcakes, champagne, gifts, conversation..) and we wouldn’t think twice about attending again.I would definitely recommend it to all women. Let us join each other and empower each other to love bigger, to give more, to be vulnerable, to be real, to be authentic, to admit our pain, learn from it and share, to love ourselves and each other, and to act on our deep core values and needs.

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Thank you for reading.

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Huge love and gratitude,
Natalia Iakovleva