"I am like you."

Let's read that again, "I am like you."

As Brooke Starks, co-founder of 5 Things, openly assured us at the start of last night's 5 Things, "I am like you."

While we might not always feel this way, we are all more alike than we think. True, we might be walking different paths. Or be at varying stages of life. We wear different hats and have different priorities. And, while the ups and downs, the twists and turns might be different from one of us to the next, we have all had them. We are all women. We are daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, coworkers and friends. We are all members of this community.

And, that is the power of 5 Things. Community. Brooke and co-founder Carrie Eisenmenger (who was sadly missed last night) have created this amazing 5 Things community within our #Chambana community.

It's a chance for women in our community to come together, forget differences and connect on deeper levels. Throughout the evening, we have the opportunity to listen to five speakers, share five things on various topics. I always learn something new from the stories/tips/advice shared that leave me feeling more informed, empowered and excited to handle my rollercoaster life.

Last night 5 Things celebrated it's sixth gathering. Carrie and Brooke knock it out of the park every time bringing five new impactful and inspiring speakers to the community. The content shared throughout the evening was refreshing, insightful, emotional and oh-so-relatable.

Last night's speaker lineup and topics, as I already alluded too, was amazing, as always!

Tekita Bankhead, Specialist in Education, University of Illinois Counseling Center
5 Things I Learned Trying to Be Perfect
Sarah Mohr, Owner, Mohr Time Personal Concierge Service
5 Ways to Simplify Your Life and Free Up Your Time
Gianina Baker, Asst. Director, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment
5 Thoughts Looking Through the Lens
Tina Davis, Director of New Rep Development, Northwestern Mutual
5 Ways to Integrate Your Life Instead of Trying to Balance It
Erika Harold, Attorney, Meyer Capel Law Firm
5 Ways Setbacks Set the Stage for Comebacks

Tekita Bankhead, 5 Things I Learned Trying to Be Perfect

Tekita took us back to childhood memories of her in grade school. She was a straight-A student and received rewards from her mother after every 'perfect' report card. Thinking back as an adult, this rewarded behavior might have been the root of Tekita's strive for perfectionism. But, as she went on to say, 'we don't have to be perfect'. In fact, it's more than okay to not be perfect.

How do we get there though? How do we get rid of the idea of having to be perfect to ourselves and others? We do we let go of a constant need to please? As Tekita shared...

1) Embrace failure. More specifically, Tekita addressed that we must embrace the freedom that comes along with failure. It's natural for things to not go according to plan. And by avoiding failure, we might actually be setting ourselves up for more failure. So, we've got to let that go. Failure happens. It's normal and a natural part of life. Being accepting of this is the first step.

2) Perfectionism robs us of the beauty of multiple solutions. There is great beauty in the between if we allow ourselves to get past the idea of 'one right way' because there is no 'one right way'.

3)  Striving to be perfect is actually self-limiting. Chasing perfection keeps us stuck where we are instead of where we are trying to go. Constantly trying to get it right takes away from other opportunities that may come our way. Tekita assured us it's okay to not know what we are doing (#praise).

4) Change is incremental not instananious. We've got to be patient with the process. Trust that it's working. Let yourself fail. Try all the different ways to do something. Take things one step and one thing at a time.

5)  Screw perfection and let it go. It's okay for us to just be. Think about your life and what real life looks like for you. Where are you chasing an unrealistic idea of perfectionism? Let that go, feel the unnecessary pressure release and an immediate weight lift from your shoulders.

Sarah Mohr, 5 Ways to Simplify Your Life and Free Up Your Time

Based on her own personal experiences and career as a personal concierge, Sarah's five things were very practical. And she started her five with a very simple idea...

1)  Break large tasks down into smaller steps. With the example of the dreaded task of laundry, Sarah suggested to do smaller loads of laundry throughout the week instead of letting it pile up day after day and then trying to tackle it all at once (#guilty). She challanged each of us think of at least one big task that we'd benefit from breaking down into smaller steps.

2) Sarah suggested once you've got an idea of those smaller tasks, turn them into a system. We are more likely to keep on or ahead of tasks if they become habitual and routine. Another great point that Sarah shared was that we don't have to take it all on ourselves. Again, guilty. In my own life, I complain about doing all the laundry all time time, but rarely do I ask for help. That seems like an obvious one that I can work on. What's one for you?

3) Give everything a place. Simple concept right? A place for everything and everything has a place. I love this idea and would love to get my kids and husband on board with this one!!

4) Create a nightly routine that will help you prepare for the following day. I'm a big advocate of morning routine but I love Sarah's idea of creating a nightly routine too! Small steps like laying out clothes for the kids the night before or prepping lunches before bed can help set up a smoother tomorrow.  

5) Live from a place of abundance rather than scarcity. To put in another way, Sarah suggested we live simply and intentionally and many of these ideas will fall into place.

Gianina Baker, 5 Thoughts Looking Through the Lense

My favorite comment from Gianina before she even dived into her five things, "You don't have to, you get to." What a simple, yet powerful way to flip the script in our minds when it comes to do something we might not love or want to do. Like today, did I want to shovel all this snow? Heck NO, but I get to because I live in a house that has its own driveway and I have a strong body that let's me do it. When we are preparing for the tasks Sarah suggested or the idea of letting go of perfectionism or shoveling the driveway we should remember, 'we don't have to, but we get to'.

1) Knowing your story. Gianina challenged the room to think about that. Do you truly know your story? What makes you, 'you'? Gianina shared stories of her family and her past stating, "I am because they were". I loved that. She truly knows her story and inspired me to think about my own.

2) Have you found your passion? And if you haven't, why not? Sometimes we feel like we can't or don't have time to live out or fulfill our passions. Gianina suggests we reframe our minds. Your gifts (i.e. passions) will make room for you. I'm blessed to have found my passion and my passion be my work. Find your passion ladies, you are worth that!

3) Who has your back? Find your tribe. Who are the people that will make room for you when you need them most? Maybe it's a lifelong friend or someone you just made a connection with last night? Love on your people and they will love on you.

4) Rest. Or more importantly, rest but don't quit. We're busy women with a lot of responsiblities. But if we don't take the time for ourselves to rest and recover it can be challenging to keep up with the daily demands thrown at us.

5) Which goes hand it hand with Gianina's fourth item, do nothing. That's a tough one. I like to be on-to-go and can sometimes find it difficult to do nothing. It's an area of growth that I'm constantly working on. Working on doing nothing, seems silly but yet it's so true (and tough)!

Tina Davis, 5 Ways to Integrate Your Life

Before she even began, Tina shared her thoughts on the idea of work-life balance and that there isn't really any such thing. We try to equally pour ourselves into our work and our lives but more often than not that means we are just overloading ourselves on both ends. Tina equated finding balance to putting together a puzzle on the table of life. There are several pieces representing all of the things. Determining how they all fit together is a helpful analogy to how we can manage our lives better.

1) Think through glass ball versus rubber ball moments. If you weren't there last night this might not be clear so allow me to explain on Tina's behalf. What happens when you drop a glass ball? No surprise here, but it shatters, right? It's broken, gone and maybe irreplacable. And, with a rubber ball? Well, it bounces right back (unless your my kid tossing a rubber ball and it goes who knows where but that's neither here or there). Ideally, you drop a rubber ball and it comes back to you.  It's not damaged so the game (i.e. life) goes on. If we think about moments in life as either glass ball or rubber ball it may help us determine what things in our life get priority over others. An example from my life is attending school celebrations/parties with my kids. This is most of the time a glass ball moment and something that I won't miss. They want me there and I want to be there. Where field trips might be rubber ball moments. They'll happen again and the kids will be okay if I'm not there.

2) Schedule it. Another simple thing yet one often overlooked. Tina suggests to sit down at the start of our week and plan things out. It helps to prepare and plan accordingly. It also gives an opportunity to consider those glass versus rubber ball moments and how they fit into the week. What needs priortized? What can be rescheduled?

3) Assess. Sometimes things are rocking and rolling and working just fine and other times they are not. It's important to evaluate the plan and see what's working and what isn't then adapt accordingly.

4) Be flexible. Allow yourself to be comfortable in the gray area. Life does not need to be all or nothing. Give yourself grace. Know that it's okay to push out certain to'do's if they aren't high priority when you have other more pressing things going on.

5) Ask for help. Tina says if you're struggling trying to make everything in your puzzle fit together to ask for help. It may be as simple as just talking to someone out loud to help you figure out how the pieces work together or actually bringing in another person to complete a task. There is no shame calling in friends, resources or others for assistance every now and again. It comes full circle with Gianina's comment of who has your back? Find those people and let them help!

Erika Harold, 5 Ways Setbacks Set the Stage for Comebacks

The final speaker of the evening was Erika Harold. Erika shared deeply personal stories of her past including bullying and discrimination that has shaped much of who she is today. Through her past, Erika was able to rise above adversity and setbacks learning many valuable insights that she shared with us last night.

1) You are worth fighting for. It's important to stand up for ourselves no matter what. Erika reminded all of us that we matter and we shouldn't ever let anyone tell us differently!

2) Leaving a toxic environment isn't retreating but it's reloading for future successes. Erika stated that we should never feele or be shamed for walking away from a bad or hostile environment/situation. It is not conceeding defeat but showing that you are worth far more.

3) Let closure be the resolution we complete for ourselves not necessarily what we receive from others. Just as we chase perfection, we may chase a closure that is, at times, unattainable. Move forward and do we you need for yourself to move beyond the situation.

4) Be empowered with the moral support that is necessary to rise above, to reach towards your goals and make your mark.

5) Help others achieve their own comebacks. I think that's exactly what Erika did last night. Opening up, being vulnerable and sharing her story with all of us.

The night closed with several great raffle prizes donated by women businesses in the community and time to network and chat with other women in attendance.

Once again, BIG THANKS to Carrie and Brooke for your amazing work with 5 Things! And thanks to all the speakers for your words of wisdom and speaking to us from the heart.

It goes without saying that this event is a shining light in our community. I look forward to and anticipate the next as soon as I head home for the night. I'm already excited for the next 5 Things event to be held June 23rd!! Mark your calendars ladies!!

If you're curious as to my recaps of the previous 5 Things events, they are all available on my blog! And, if you don't already, make sure you follow 5 Things on Facebook and Instagram! They also have a newsletter you can subscribe to from their website to stay in the know of all upcoming events (including the new 'Just 1 Thing' events) and available resources!