My being diagnosed with breast cancer after I purchased my ticket to the GIRLBOSS RALLY, is truly a scenario of, "Life happening when you are making other plans . . ." As some of you know I have been jet setting around the U.S. these last few weeks, all of which were planned prior to my diagnosis. However, it's this last trip to L.A, to attend the GIRLBOSS RALLY, that I want to talk about. The name is not only BADASS, it's also self-explanatory. I knew when I booked this ticket (against my financial advisors recommendation), it would at minimum, put me in a room full of other women who were go-getters and serious about their shit. I was tired of always seeing these amazing events that I would love to attend and telling myself that I don't have the time, or the money to make it happen. Well this time I had neither, AND I was tired of that same fucking excuse! LADIES THERE WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH TIME OR MONEY when it comes to putting ourselves first. THANK GOD I took my own advice for once! This event gave me an euphoric shot of, "no time like the present," and an even greater wake-up call. (Yes Cancer does that as well, but not in the same way, duh!)
Ok pay attention :). First of all the event was in L.A, so that already makes it better then sitting my ass in Toronto's bi-polar weather. (Toronto was -15 degrees Celsius with snow the whole time I was away). Saturday, March 4th 8am, 500 women from around the world (literally, I met women from across the U.S, Canada, Europe, Australia, AND South Africa), lined up outside the Hudson Loft awaiting entry to, Sophia Amoruso, author of #GIRLBOSS and founder of Nasty Gal, first ever GIRLBOSS RALLY. I had no idea what to expect, however the branded wall outside and the well coiffed team in rockin' pink GIRLBOSS bomber jackets, already was a good indication of #badass shit to come.
And when we got inside, she didn't disappoint! Iridescent name badges, Girlboss dj, glam squad room, delicious organic juices, larger than life inspirational quotes on every wall and a perfect curated space that fostered excitement. Now I could go on and talk about the amazing speakers like Lilly Singh (TDot representin'!!) , Whitney Cummings, Gabby Bernstein, or Sheree Waterston, (If you don't know these dynamic ladies look them up!).
Now I could talk about the roof top patio, the clear book bag stuffed with amazing swag, the awesome set design, or Sophia Amoroso's sleek black jumpsuit that I will be destined to own one day. . . However, I want to talk about what was happening in the days and weeks leading up to the event. When I bought my ticket, I had no clear idea who I wanted meet, or what business I was building next. I just knew anything could be possible in a room with like minded women. I even convince 2 of my homegirls to come with me. Then I was diagnosed 3 weeks before we were set to take flight. Needless to say, my perspective changed, now I was obsessed with what I would say when people asked me what I did? How would I introduce myself? I hadn't even told the friends I was going with that I had breast cancer! (I told them both days before we left and in true Monique friend fashion they were awesome about it.)
Reviewing the list of speakers before we left, I wasn't sure what I wanted to ask these experts, my views on, well EVERYTHING, had changed. I mean I still loved business and strategy, but I didn't think I would be starting a new business anytime soon. People had wanted to hire me to consult on their business these last few weeks, and I was so afraid of what my health would be like in the coming months, I had to decline. What I loved about this event is you could pick your speaker room ad I noticed In one of the rooms there was a woman named, Samantha Paige, who would be talking about health and wellness. Prior to be diagnosed I glossed over this and told myself, "I know tons on health and wellness, I don't need to hear more about that!" Idiot! Funny how life works . . .
Now I know why I was meant to go. Samantha shared her 20-year journey with cancer and pre-empted double mastectomy. She shared her story behind her photo documentary and posing topless for Equinox Ad campaign that graces a huge billboard on Sunset boulevard.
TALK ABOUT BRAVE! So you can only imagine I was sitting on the edge of my seat soaking up every word. She shared so many golden nuggets that I was struggling to listen and type notes on my phone at the same time. Things like:
"I removed my implants because they were making me ill, and I didn't even know it."
"We are taught what is "beauty" and what it is not, and what is "feminine," and its all bullshit. It's made up. I am not, not feminine because I have no breasts, I am not, not beautiful, I am me."
"I as tired of living with filters, for the first time I am living raw and real and everyone will just have to fucking deal with it."
I am paraphrasing but you get the point.
At the end of her interview, I was ready with my question, and for anyone who knows me I am a pretty good public speaker, (if I do say so myself). But when one of the girlboss staff put the mic in my hand I froze, and the tears starting stinging my eyes. F! I said to myself. "Umm, hi, I um would first like to say thank-you so much for sharing your story . . " my voice was soft, not the powerful loud one I am so use to. But with all 200 + eyeballs on me I couldn't stop now. "I know there is no accident I am in this room, listening to your story, when I booked my ticket to the Girlboss rally I didn't know I would be diagnosed with cancer just a 1 month later . . ." By this point I'm struggling to catch the tears falling down my face, each one threatening to fuck up my perfect make-up job. I'm also mindful I am wearing a stark white blazer and cannot have brown foundation all up and through. I wiped my face and continued, "My question is, what advice would you give me as someone just diagnosed, or what do you wish someone told you that you didn't know?" At this point I notice other women wiping their tears and others passing around tissues, including the friends I came with. Samantha looked at me, as if to say, "I get it, I am so sorry." Then she said, "I am so sorry you have to go through this, but you will get through it." Then she paused for a while and said, "I would say . . . get pissed, get sad, get angry, feel it all! People will encourage you to be positive and you will want to bypass these emotions. Don't do that. Don't let your emotions take you out, but feel it all because your feeling it and going through it is where you will discover your strength." It was perfect.
Afterwards we did get to speak more, we hugged and she said I could contact her anytime. That meant a lot. She also said, that no matter how many stories people will share with me about someone they know who went through it, they will never understand. And that's ok, they just want to help. You take care of you and don't make it a priority to take care of other people's feelings, that's not your job right now."
So yes I could talk about the unmatched branding of this event, the beautiful women decked out in their fashionable wears and amazing products I acquired from the goodie bag . . . However what I took away is what my sharing in a room with 200 + strangers set in motion.
A bunch of strangers coming up to me throughout the day wanting to give me a hug, LOL! They said things like, "Thank-you for sharing your story, you are so brave . . . I just wanted to come meet you and give you a hug is that ok? . . . I'll be following your journey and praying for you . . . I know you got this because you are a Girlboss." It was just AMAZING!
So yes the Girlboss rally was about women coming together to build businesses in the areas of fashion, beauty and media, but it was about more than that. EVERYONE had a circumstance or internal state that was getting in their way of building the business of their dreams. This rally was about women empowerment and making moves towards our goals unapologetically. Thank-you Sophia Amoroso for creating a movement for the times. For the the badass girl bosses who say, "You don't Iike me or what I am doing, ok thank-you for sharing . . . Now get the F out of my way! LOL!!!!
(pic me and sam)
"Life is challenging when your outside world is out of alignment with who you really are, there is so much time wasted trying to be what everyone wants you to be." Samantha Paige