Last night I attended one of my absolute favorite local events at one of my favorite places in town, 5 Things June at Willow Creek Farm! This was my fourth 5 Things event and they just continue to get better and better every time! I truly LOVE these get togethers hearing the stories/tips/advice from local women. I always walk away from the evening feeling more informed and empowered to handle life and last night was certainly no exception! Co-founders Carrie Eisenmenger and Brooke Starks have created such a powerful concept and event. It's one that I hope continues for a long, long time!

The gorgeous Willow Creek Farm.

I wrote recaps of the previous two 5 Things that you can check out (February 2019, October 2018), but to reframe the intention of 5 Things, let me share. The concept is pretty simple but the end result is so much more. 5 Things brings women together for an evening out, provides an opportunity to network with each other while listening to amazing speakers sharing 'five things' of whatever topic they have chosen in advance. It a fun, casual and informal environment. It's a place for women to connect with other women allowing for complete transparency and time to just be yourself.

The speaker lineup and topics for last night's event was fantastic, as always!

Nicole Gorman, LCSW, Host of The Gorman Guide
5 Ways to Boost Your Social Media Presence
Ghada Adhami, DDS, Owner All Smiles Family Dentistry
5 Things to Know Before Going Into Business for Yourself
Marie Polk, AVP, Associate Development Manager, Busey Bank
5 Promises to Renew You (When You've Given All You've Got)
Katie Deem, Interior Designer, Owner Country Charm
5 Simple Ways to Create a Cozy Space
Sarah Young, MD, Obstetrics & Gynocology, Christie Clinic
5 Sex Subjects You Don't Have to Hush

Fellow blogger and good friend Nicole Gorman of The Gorman Guide kicked off the evening sharing five ways to boost your presence and build your brand on social media specifically Instagram. As a huge user/consumer of Instagram myself, I found this super helpful as I am working on building my on own personal brand through my Instagram page.

Nicole's first point, identify your target audience. Think about what problem your personal brand or business is helping to solve and how your audience will resonate. Your Instagram feed showcases itself as the solution to that problem. Utilize the insights data that Instagram provides to help determine what and when to post based on audience demographics. Second, create quality content. Nicole told us to think of your feed as a resume of sorts. Make sure that the content you're sharing reflects the brand you want people to engage and interact with. Pictures taken with good, natural lighting can go a long way in building that quality content. Nicole shared a couple of her favorite apps, Lightroom and Plann, that she uses to create content. Third, be consistent. Nicole stressed the importance of showing up for your audience. Determine in advance how much time you can commit to sharing via your social channels. This goes hand in hand with point four engaging with your audience. Be active on Instagram when you are posting, interacting with your followers, and responding to comments. Last, but certainly not least, be YOU. In the filtered world of Instagram it can be very easy to fall victim to imitation or comparison. Stay true to authentic self and it will take you far. If you don't already, go give Nicole a follow and check out her affordable style tips for the the everyday working mom!

Next up was Ghada Adhami, owner of All Smiles Family Dentistry. Ghada shared five things that nobody tells you when you're going into business for yourself. I found Ghada's honesty and transparency with her five points refreshing and totally relatable!

First things first, when you're working on launching your own business Ghada stressed the importance of finding good mentors. Build those relationships and learn from what they have been through, what worked for them and what didn't. Utilize Facebook groups to find similar businesses in your community or beyond and use those groups as a support system. As it relates to local assistance, meeting with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is super helpful when getting started launching any new business. I can attest to this one and found the SBDC extremely useful as I was launching my personal training business! Second, do your research. You'll likely need a variety of different contractors all toting different value adds, the best price, etc. By researching yourself first you will feel more empowered when working with them. At the end of the day, don't let them push you around. Stand firm in your decisions, because you know who's boss (hint, it's YOU!). Ghada's third point, know when to ask for help. You guys this is key! It truly takes a village so take all the help you can get! Know that you don't need to do it all and it's totally okay to bring in additional resources. Delegate tasks or get a consultant to help with some of the decision making and execution. This leads right into the fourth point which is to create timelines. Being organized and on top of your to-do list will help you prioritize what needs to be done and in what order. Lastly, be okay with the fact that you may never be ready. Ghada says just do it! It's an amazing experience to go into business for yourself, it just takes a little bit of courage to do it.

After brief break, Marie Polk, associate development manager of Busey Bank, started things back up with five promises to make to ourselves especially when we feel like we've given all we've got.

Love this card with the 5 promises to renew you from Marie Polk.

Foundational to all the promises Marie outlined, let your strengths be your guide. Lean into potential opportunities even if you might a little fearful of doing so. Think about what energizes you. The purpose that you've been trying to seek out might be right in front of you. Even if it seems scary, learn to channel your fears in a positive way. Second, surround yourself with woman warriors which is exactly what we all did last night at the event. Find others that have skills and desires that compliment your own. Let them support you (and be okay with that!) but at the same time utilize your own strengths and talents to serve others. Third, "experience shit". Life is full of positive, happy moments but sometimes, let's be honest, it sucks. Let the suck happen. Stop thinking about doing so much and allow yourself to process your feelings when life doesn't feel all that great. It's completely okay AND normal to have fear, regret, anger but also allow yourself the joy that comes on the other side of all of those emotions. Challenge yourself to take the next step and come out the other side. Fourth, rejuvenate (your mind, body and spirit) in whatever way that serves you. For some that may be a bath or massage others meditation or a walk. Marie's fifth and final point that comes back full circle to the first promise, pour into others. Offer up to others the things that you are good at. Give back; find the thing that you do well, utilize your strengths and talents to serve and benefit others.

Continuing the evening was interior designer Katie Deem, owner of Country Charm. Katie shared with the group five creative ways to change up your home and easily create a more cozy space without breaking the bank.

Katie's first point was actually something I unintentionally already do and that is shopping your own house. Reuse and repurpose items in your home in a different way or in a different room. Move things around, rearrange the room if space and design allows. These minor changes can go a long way to changing up a space. Second, spruce things up with greenery. Green thumb or not, you can add greens (real or faux) to give your home a little life. Katie's third point, decorate your home with photos. So simple, right, yet I am so guilty of having a million photos on my iPhone that never get seen beyond that tiny little 5" screen. Just as Katie suggests, print a few photos and showcase them in different spaces around your home. Fourth, paint! Such a simple, straightforward way to freshen up a space. Color allows you easily transform a room without changing everything else. Katie's fifth and final tip, find different places to shop for your home decorating goods. This might be thinking outside of the box a little bit from your usual home decor shop stops. One of Katie's favorites is Amazon. I honestly hadn't even thought of Amazon for home shopping but you can guarantee that I will be checking it out now! I love Katie's idea of finding new pillow covers at places like Amazon. It's an easy and inexpensive way of changing a space seasonally and then you don't have a ton of extra pillows to store (and explain to your husband why you need so many!).

Sarah Young, MD of Obstetrics & Gynocology at Christie Clinic, wrapped up the evening with a topic that doesn't get openly talked about often....SEX. Yep, we went there closing with a sex talk that was super informative, funny, and full of helpful tidbits for all the women in the room.

Sarah opened her five things discussion talking about labido. We as women need to learn to be honest with ourselves and open to having the conversation when it comes to our personal sex drive. Avoid comparison when it comes to what one person may or may not say about what is or isn't right or normal. Make a list of your goes and no's when it comes to sex. If one column outweighs the other, think about why. Be open, talk with your partner and work to emphasize the goes while minimizing the no's. Sarah's second point, don't make it complicated, just show up as you are. Third, focus on your largest sex organ, your mind. The mind is a powerful thing, no doubt about it. Think about how often sex crosses your mind. Does it cross your mind? Change your mindset and think about sex in a positive way (and more often if you need to work on that labido). On the opposite spectrum, Sarah's fourth point is to think about your smallest sex organ, the clitoris. Get comfortable with yourself and your body. Last, and possibly most important, we need to normalize the conversation about our bodies and sex. Even as I type this, it feels weird to be sharing sex on the blog, but why? It's a normal, everyday thing. It's not something we as women should feel embarassed or ashamed of. Changing the conversation will help us become more empowered to take care of ourselves because if we don't we give that power to others. And, to those women that have daughters, normalizing the conversation will make them feel more comfortable as those sexual conversations unfold in their future.

The evening closed with a raffle of prizes donated by previous 5 Things speakers and a little networking time to socialize and meet some of the other women in attendance including the speakers themselves. It was once again a truly wonderful night of giving back to yourself, spending time with other women in the community that have the same sense of self-care, improvement and empowerment. It's great to see so many women from the community coming together to improve ourselves for the better.

From L-R: Nicole Gorman, Sarah Young, Ghada Adhami, Brooke Starks, Katie Deem, Carrie Eisenmenger, Marie Polk.

Thank you Carrie and Brooke for your amazing work with 5 Things! This event is absolutely a shining light in our community and something I look forward to every time! In fact, on last night's drive home, I was already thinking of what could be in store for October's 5 Things and I am excited just thinking about it!

Now it's time to put some of the takeaways from last nights' event into practice and incorporate them into my daily life! First, I'm headed to Amazon for some new throw pillow cases!!!