If you could share 5 things as it relates to self-improvement, advocacy, awareness, love, care, worth, health, etc, what would you choose?

It's not the easiest question to answer, but somehow Carrie Eisenmenger and Brooke Starks, the creators of 5 Things Champaign-Urbana, always manage to pull together an amazing group of five women to speak and share five unique 'things' on 5 completely different topics and it is fantastic every single time!

5 Things is a fun, casual and informal event at the beautiful Willow Creek Farm. It's a wonderful opportunity for women in the community to connect on deeper levels, listening to the speakers, sharing stories of their own with one another and it is absolutely one of my most favorite events to attend. I always learn something new from the stories/tips/advice shared that leave me feeling more informed, empowered and excited to handle the rollercoaster that is life.

Last night's 5 Things celebrated it's fifth gathering and the speakers brought all kinds of new things to the table. The content shared throughout the evening was refreshing, funny, emotional and oh-so-relatable. It's reassuring to hear other women share many of the things that go through your mind but often feel like you can't share or speak out loud (because as we'll get into and my girl Holly talks about...guilt).

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

Jill Guth, Owner & CEO, Guth & Associates
The 5 Voices in My Head...After 30 Years in the Biz
Andrea Singh, VP of Operations & Human Resources, Royal Properties
5 Tactical Tips for Asserting Your Value in the Workplace
Denise Poindexter, Director of Executive Search Services, Stratum Med
5 Ways to Live Life Fearlessly
Holly Melby, Author and Blogger
5 Ways to Lose the Mom Guilt and Step Into Who You Are Meant to Be
Trooper Tracy Lillard, Sargeant, Illinois State Police
5 Ways Not to Get Arrested (a/k/a"You're Doing it Wrong")

Kicking off the evening was Jill Guth, Owner & CEO of Guth & Associates. From a very raw and vulnerable standpoint, Jill spoke from personal experiences as a child and adult sharing 5 voices that are often inside her head.

Jill Guth, Owner & CEO of Guth & Associates

As Jill was quick to point out, many times the voices in our heads are negative and I think I can safely say that most of us agree with this sentiment. It's up to us on an individual level to take the negative self talk/perception/reflections and turn those into positive messages instead.

Jill addressed emotions and how others can be quick to call out when we appear to be 'too emotionally involved'. Instead, what if we looked at the flip side of this? Emotion, fueled as passion, having the ability to actually make us more successful. We need to find and uncover our passions then live out those passions even if that means letting emotions drive the ambition to move us forward.

Be kind and considerate to others. While we don't need to share the same beliefs with one another, we can always choose to be kind.

Jill encouraged us all to find our tribe, that group of go-to gals that are there for you through thick and thin. Find that friend that is willing to call you out but at the same time cheer and support you through whatever you may be going through.

Lastly, and above all else, Jill talked about finding our own inner voice. This may take time and you may take on different voices over the course of your life. Personal experiences, good or bad, shape our voices. Acknowledge your past, listen to your voice and let it help shape a better future.

Andrea Singh, VP of Operations & Human Resources, Royal Properties, took the stage next to share five ways to assert yourself in the workplace. As she began the discussion, Andrea gave us a glimpse into her own personal journey and how that has shaped her into who she is today.

Andrea Singh, VP of Operations & Human Resources, Royal Properties

Andrea talked about value and knowing your worth. Having this understanding allows us to recognize when we aren't being valued or perhaps are under valued in the workpace (or even life in general!).

One of my favorite points of Andrea's was to 'be Beyonce'. Yes, girl! How can we find the confidence in ourselves much like Beyonce? And, while, yes, though she portrays this aura of confidence to the outside world, even Beyonce struggles. She's human, just like the rest of us. Beyonce also has self-doubt and gets overwhelmed but she knows how to put the doubts and negatively aside to then find and exude confidence.

Andrea told us it's okay to be selfish. Speak up when it comes to promotions, benefits, role changes, etc. We need to be our own advocates because no one else is going to do it for us. These even applies in day-to-day life. Invest in yourself so that you can invest in others.

Take time and don't rush. Consider your audience and know your ask inside and out before approaching the powers that be. Knowing who you are speaking to and what matters most to them can make or break the conversation. It might come down to thinking a little bit outside of the box when it comes to getting what you want in the workplace. Maybe raises aren't an option but there is alternative benefit you could request instead?

Lastly, be prepared for any and all outcomes. These conversations aren't the easiest but with Beyonce-like confidence, a well thought-out plan, and the willingness to have the discussion can go a long way. The bottom line...you will never know what is possible unless you ask!

Continuing the evening was Denise Renee Poindexter, Director of Executive Search Services at Stratum Med, sharing five ways to live life fearlessly. As my word of the year being BRAVE and working on getting out my own comfort zone this year, I was intrigued for what Denise would share.

Denise Renee Poindexter, Director of Executive Search Services, Stratum Med

First, Denise told us all to get rid of the list. You know what she's talking about right? The list that says you'll be married by 30, have four kids by the time you're 35, etc, etc, etc. In any case, if you have that list, throw it out. Things often do not go as planned in our lives. Why add unneccessary stress, anxiety, disappoint or discouragement but putting added pressure on ourselves to meet potentially unrealistic expecations from that so-called 'list'.

Denise suggested we all take the time to really learn who we are. Be it through therapy, self-reflection, reading, or anything else, do what will aid in discovering yourself, your passions, your flaws and your faults. Embrace, share and celebrate all the good that comes into our life.

Third, create a bucket list. Put things on that list that will help you grow personally and professionally plus get you out of your comfort zone. Recruit friends just like Denise did to help you create the bucket list. This not only helps make a more creatively fun list but you get the added accountability of completing a task with or for a friend.

Don't overthink it. We are quick to create different realities in our creative little minds. These false thoughts or realities often lead nowhere. Denise encouraged us to think like Nike and 'Just Do It'. Trust yourself. Trust your gut. Listen to that inner voice (you know the one that Jill helped us find) and it won't steer you wrong.

Last, but not least, Denise told us to love always. Even when it's hard (and it gets hard), love ourselves and love others. Much like Jill shared, always be kind to one another and extend grace.

Speaking from the oh-so-relatable aspect of motherhood, Holly Melby, author and blogger, shared five common myths of mom-guilt. You guys, Holly said many of the things that I think yet I don't ever say out loud, because of, you guessed it, guilt!! I totally resonated with everything she shared and it was so on point.

Holly Melby, Author & Blogger

Holly's five things...I feel guilty...

Because I work outside of the home. Been there done that. But what Holly shared was this...that we need these working moms. We need them to help us be leaders, teachers, doctors, business owners. Sons and daughters need to see their hard job-working momma and we need to allow them to provide.

Because I am a stay-at-home mom. Also, been there doing that. Holly acknowledged the fact that SAHM don't always get a lot of notice and that SAHM's are not 'just a mom'. There is more to it and it's real, difficult work. And, frankly, it sucks sometimes. Moms at home should not feel guilty about the struggles. Holly reassured us that it's perfectly fine to admit that being at home with the kids is not always awesome all of the time.

Because I lose my temper with my kids. I was learning as Holly shared while we may parent different or act differently with our kids, we are in many ways the same. Holly called attention to the trap of comparison. We need to stop comparing ourselves and instead do a better job of lifting one up one another.

Because I give my kids too much screen time. Holly talked about how when we were kids we would watch cartoons from the crack of dawn through late morning and no one batted an eye. Yes, sister! Let's just give each other a break and if your kiddo wants to watch Paw Patrol while waiting for their dinner to arrive because it means that you can actually enjoy your dinner, then just let them do it!

Because I don't like playing with my kids. This one I laughed at most because it is SO TRUE. I'm a mom of two boys and playing Pokemon, Marvel and superhereos is not my cup of tea. Thank you Holly for saying this because I think it often and do feel totally guilty for saying 'Oh, not right now' repeatedly when asked to play! Holly shared that it's not about how we spend time with our kids but that we spend time with our kids. Find the things that you enjoy to do together and do those things. In my house, that is going hiking, cooking, reading and the occasional coloring session.

Holly closed with reminding us, as moms, to take care of ourselves. Embrace the choices we make, lay down the guilt and support, cheer and encourage one another because let's face it, mom life is the best life but it's also a hard life!

Closing out the night was Trooper Tracy Lillard, Sargeant Illinois State Police, sharing five ways to help us all not get arrested. Yes, true story!

Trooper Tracy Lillard, Sargeant, Illinois State Police

Trooper Tracy's five things were simple and almost obvious in nature...

  1. Drive the speed limit.
  2. Drive sober.
  3. Buckle up.
  4. Put down your distractions.
  5. Don't drive like a knucklehead.

And, while yes her points were short, clear and too the point, what was more impactful were the real-life experiences she shared as it related to each of her five things. It might not come as a huge shock, but people drive CRAZY. Trooper Tracy's stories were WOW, just wow, and almost unbelievable but all things we needed to hear. And, while her five things weren't anything we didn't already know, they were things that we need to be continually reminded of. It's these truly simple and routine things that will help to keep us, our babies, friends and loved ones safe.

Once again, BIG THANKS to 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! I'm already excited for the next 5 Things event in February 2020!!

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 and available resources!

I love an evening at the beautiful Willow Creek Farm
Willow Creek Farm, calligraphy by the talented Apricity Ink.