Last night I attended the second 5 Things CU event here in Champaign at Willow Creek Farm and I am in love with this event!! I have become pretty passionate about self empowerment/improvement and personal development over the last year so this type of networking, social, self-care event is right up my alley. I am so glad we have something like this in our town and I am already looking forward to the next event in January!

The concept is simple, 5 women sharing 5 things ranging from fashion advice, brand building, skin care myths to general life hacks, mindfulness tips and many more awesome takeaways that can immediately implemented into our daily lives.

Because I will inevitably lose the notepad with the numerous notes I took from last night's speakers, I thought sharing my notes via the blog would be a good way for not only me to remember the good tidbits that were shared but maybe someone else can reap the benefits as well.

The lineup from last night's event was fantastic. As you can see from the list in the photo above, the topics were all amazing, easily applicable and relatable.

The first speaker of the evening was Lynne Barnes, COO of Carle Foundation Hospital. Lynne discussed five ways to be efficient, effective and still have fun. She talked about planning as if your life depended on it, because in fact your life does depend on it. Plan in the context of your principles and priorities will help you in determining where you should place your bets and allocate your time accordingly. When it comes to the larger picture, planning is subsidiary to those big ideas. Put your focus on that big idea and when life changes, as it naturally does, be prepared to recalibrate, start over, and/or restart to help you meet your goal; your big idea.

My favorite quote of Lynne's was 'be bold, be brave and be gone'. Put yourself out there, be prepared to speak your truth, share what you have to say and then move on.

Pay attention. Become aware of not only your needs but the needs of others. If you notice someone needs something, how can you help? Can you help fulfill that need? Paying attention to the needs of others can put a deposit in your emotional back account and who doesn't need a little more of that?!

Lastly, and maybe another favorite is to exercise secretly. Sneak in exercise when you would least expect to. Glute squeezes in line at the grocery, a tricep dip when you sit in an armchair, squats will you wait on hold on the telephone...the list could be endless if you really think about it.

Lynne was followed by Jenny Wagner, the owner of EnRoute Fashion Boutique. Jenny shared five wardrobe essentials that we can all benefit from heading into the fall/winter season and beyond.

A blazer, long black button down, cardigan, black jeans and a nice sweater are all pieces that should have a home in our closet. Each of these pieces can be dual-purpose meaning they can be dressed up or down taking you from work to the holiday party and everything in between. I've got most of these pieces already but could use a blazer after hearing last nights topic and I love the ones showcased at the event. Jenny also shared some very cute accessories including some day/evening bags that I still am thinking about.

All the pieces that Jenny showcased were very flattering and cute and I will definitely be making a trip over to EnRoute in the near future to check out the entire shop!

Rebekah Albaugh, local photographer and co-founder of the Reset Conference, spoke next about five ways to personify your brand. As I am continually working on building this blog and its accompanying social presence, these points definitely hit home.

Creating and sharing visual content is a key component to building and personifying your personal brand. Developing your own content is a great way to share what we as individuals are doing and helps draw people in and create interest. Video, even more so than still photography, can be most valuable to draw people into your brand. When thinking about the overall aesthetic of the brand, consider complimentary color tones and the holistic look of your brand.

A few other key points...developing a personal connection goes a long way. Knowing your audience, who they are, what they look like will help in engagement and building your brand. Practice consistency. Keep your messages straightforward and be creative and not afraid to think outside the box.

Lastly, and most importantly, Rebekah discussed being authentic. Allow yourself to be vulnerable when it comes to sharing and let others in. Share real life occurrences and photos staying true to yourself.

The fourth speaker for the evening was Natasha Luckey, MD at Carle Plastic Surgery Center. Natasha debunked five skin care myths with the group and as a fair skin, freckled, dry skin redhead, I definitely took a few notes from what she had to say.

Most importantly and probably the most difficult is to avoid the sun. Since that may often be impossible, the next best thing is make sure we are using sunscreen. Use it liberally and use if often. Beyond that, making sure we have a good skin care regime will help us take care of our skin long term. While she didn't mention any specific products, she talked through washing, toning and moisturizing and having those three steps always in your skin care routine.

One thing that I had heard of before but never used was retinoids. She mentioned anyone over the age of 25 should implement retinoids into the skin routine. Retinoids can reverse sun damage so definitely something worth looking into. As they can dry out your skin, the key is to use just the right amount and avoid using too much.

Injectables such as botox can help to increase the tone and elasticity in our face. I thought an interesting point she made was that if the wrinkle is no longer a wrinkle-in-motion botox won't do any good but if the the opposite is true, botox is definitely something that could help.

Lastly, if we can do all the aforementioned tips, hopefully that will avoid us from the last point and that is cosmetic surgery. I left Natasha's topic having a few more questions than answers especially with the retinoids but definitely great information.

Last but not least, Penny Moisson, a life coach at Empowered U Coaching, discussed taking five minutes daily for a powerful pause. I am passionate about mindfulness and have been working on incorporating more of this into my daily life so this was the perfect topic to end on.

Penny talked about the idea of taking more 'pee breaks' in our daily lives. And when she says 'pee breaks', Penny outlined them as:
P - Pause
B - Breathe
R - Reflect
A - Action
K - Kiss

In our five minute mindfulness break, we need to take this time for ourselves. Pause all activity, stop what we are doing, turn off our phones and disconnect for just a few moments. Then, breathe. Find your center, ground yourself and simply focus on your breathe. Use this time of silence and breathing to reflect. Think about the last hour, the day, a recent event that has occurred and as an outcome of that reflection come up with an action step. What is one practical thing that you could implement based on your reflection? Lastly, kiss ourselves. Take care of you. Be kind to yourself, provide a moment to give yourself a little self-love.

The evening closed with a little networking time to socialize and meet some of the other women in attendance and talk with the speakers themselves. It was 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 and empowerment as you and coming together to all improve ourselves for the better.

I'm excited and motivated to put some of these great tidbits into practice within my daily life. So many great takeways. Can't wait until the next event in January of 2019!