I had the pleasure of attending The Women’s Conference Satellite Summit last week, the largest one-day forum for women in the US. Founded in 1985 by then- California Governor George Deukmejian and his wife, it has grown to be a powerful forum on women’s issues under the leadership of Maria Shriver, the First Lady of California. The theme of this year’s conference was “It’s Time” and many of the speakers shared their perspectives on the theme as a call to action to be inspired and “transform ourselves, our communities, and our world.”

Shriver herself set the tone in her opening remarks – mixed with pride (at all the conference has come to be and represent), sadness (as her time as First Lady comes to an end), and hope (for continuing to make a difference and for writing the next chapter in her life). Now frankly, I did not know much about Maria Shriver other than that she is part of the Kennedy clan, used to be a broadcast journalist, and is married to The Governator. But as I settled into my chair and listened, I was moved by the depth and candor with which she shared her journey of the last seven years and revealed the wonder and fear of looking at a vast unknown for the first time in her life. “Being outside your comfort zone doesn’t mean you can’t handle it,” she said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t do it or that you are powerless. Being outside your comfort zone just means you’re uncomfortable.” Here are five truths I gleaned from Maria Shriver’s speech:

  • Be OK with not knowing – If you are someone who takes pride in always having a plan and clear direction, try stepping out and living in the open space of possibility that lies ahead.
  • Know that you have the wisdom you need – Shriver told of the strong bond she had with her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who passed away last year, and how she never made a big decision without talking it over with her mother. She explained that as she sat by her mother’s graveside not long ago she realized that she has all the wisdom she needs – the wisdom handed down from her mom and her own inner wisdom.
  • Let it unfold – Sometimes opportunities and possibilities reveal themselves slowly. In fact, what may first appear to be a dead end or wrong move could become a rich experience.
  • Fill your own shoes – All of us have roles and labels based on our family, job, or position – wife, mother, sister, entrepreneur, caregiver, etc. Shriver urged the women and men in the audience not to be defined by those labels, or to hide behind those labels. She said that as a journalist she was the messenger of others’ truths, and now she is finding her own truth and her own desires. “I don’t have to fill anyone else’s shoes,” she said. “It is enough to fill my own.”
  • We are all works in progress – So be easy on yourself. For most of us, Shriver said, our past and present will prepare us well for our future.

Consider these truths and those of your own as you step out into uncertain waters. It’s time!
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