Rise x LA: Conference Recap
Last week, I had the chance to attend Rachel Hollis' RISE conference, where women from every walk of life can come together to be inspired, supported and enveloped in a community. Even though I was only able to attend for one day, it was incredibly rejuvenating!
I was disappointed to have missed the VIP Garden Party at Rachel and Dave's place on Thursday evening, but in true #MomLife fashion, it was impossible to leave the house at bedtime with little Leo still not weaned, which I had expected to happen by now!
Registration & Check-in
Friday was the first official day of the conference, I was beaming with excitement that I'd get to leave the house (ALONE!) and spend a day on ME!
As I walked up to the Alex Theatre home of Rise 2018, I was blown away by the long line of women waiting to get inside and experience RISE alongside me. Right away, a feeling of community and belonging came over me... I had left my family my kids to be there, alone, but I felt safe and surrounded by hundreds of women there to put in the work, just like me!
After registration, I walked right into a lovely little pop-up shop and hangout area where I got to experience brands like liveFASHIONABLE, KIND (the official snack partner of the Happy Mom Conference!), and The Chic Tribe gift shop.
The hostess with the mostest, Rachel Hollis, was in the courtyard greeting her guests and chatting it up!
I love that she was right there with her community, embracing them and encouraging them before the show even began. She's so approachable and warm with her audience and fans (but you already knew that because you've read her #MomBossMonday feature, right?)
Time to head inside
By now, it was time to grab a program and wait for the show to start. And what a start it was! The show opened with a group dance and movement session with fun jams and LOTS of energy. These women were fired up waiting for Rachel to grace the stage!
One of my favorite moments at the start of the show was when MC @BritBarron asked the crowd to share some good news. We heard all sorts of celebratory news, from "I just got engaged!" and "It's my birthday!" to "I'm 11 weeks PREGNANT!" and "I got approval from my doctor to take a day off chemo to be here today!"
It was such wonderful inspiration to kick things off... then, Rachel "walked" on stage and the Chic Tribe went wild!!!
"5 4 3 2 1, time to dance your ass off!"
Rachel would shout this from time to time throughout the day to pump up the audience. This woman's ability to own a crowd is uncanny (just watch the video!)
During her speech, Rachel shared stories of her personal experiences and reminded us that we get to decide if life happens to us or for us.
She shared a very personal story about losing her brother, and how that taught her that everything DOESN'T happen for a reason... but that you can find purpose in everything that happens to you.
Getting real with Rachel Hollis
After Rachel's story, we started a group activity to help us face the tough issues in our own personal lives. The goal was to "stand up for our sisters in the room" and help each other overcome these struggles.
It got serious in the room pretty fast. We were given a sheet to checkmark the things affecting us in our lives... things like "I have suffered from depression" "I have been emotionally abused" and even as gut-wrenching as "I have been raped".
We had to check off each box that applied to us, and then Rachel asked us to fold our paper and pass it to our neighbor. Everyone was hesitant to do this... you can imagine the fear of disclosing such personal information to a stranger.
But Rachel told us to trust her, so we passed our papers along to the woman next to us.
Then she asked us to keep passing and keep passing and keep passing... until there was no way in hell to know who was holding your paper.
As Rachel and Brit read each line on stage, we were asked to STAND FOR OUR SISTER who answered the paper we were holding. Every single woman in the room was brought to tears looking at the women standing around them and Rachel acknowledged the pain and suffering that was amidst the room in the most beautiful and respectful way.
letting go of the lies that hold us back
It was time to turn the negative into a positive... because not everything happens for a reason but you can find purpose in everything that happens, let go, and move on!
So let go we did... to the tune of Frozen's "Let it Go", we all crumpled the pieces of paper in our hands and tossed as hard as we could toward big waste basket bins in the front of the room. All of our negative thoughts, the pain, the weight in our shoulders... we threw it all away! I was balling at this point.. this activity was so needed at that very moment in my life.
While eating and chatting and laughing... I realized that I don't remember the last time I had a girlfriends' lunch! It was so nice for mama to feel that again. Two words: adult conversation! (And I hope that other mamas get to feel the same way after the Happy Mom Conference, too!)
After lunch, the amazing Jen Hatmaker took the stage, and I think I fell in love with this woman! She was so real, raw, and authentic. She didn't hold back, and she wasn't hiding anything. I loved that a lot of what she spoke about related to her life as a mompreneur because I could so relate to many of her stories. Plus, she was funny as hell!
One point that really stuck with me was how excited she was to be amongst us "builders" because we were all there to build something... and we need more of that in today's world where everything feels like it's about to be torn down.
Following Jen's talk, we got to learn about an incredible organization near and dear to both Jen and Rachel, whom are both adoptive parents. Austin Angels sets out to give kids of the foster system opportunities they would not otherwise have, like support in applying to colleges, or help finding a job, or getting basic necessities and support for the families raising them.
The room came together to support, and I even raised my hand to suggest that we all post into our social pages in that moment to bring more awareness to the cause. It was a beautiful part of the event.
Encouraging spouses to be supportive when pursuing dreams
Then it was time for @MrDaveHollis to take the stage as the only male speaker of the event. He definitely gets the "most supportive husband ever" award in my mind!
He talked about how he admittedly wasn't the best husband for a long while as he felt some resentment towards Rachel for pursuing her passions so fiercely. As a man who was comfortable in his kush job with a big steady pay check as the President of Distribution at a film studio, he didn't care to look beyond the comfort of that until Rachel showed him the "light".
There were lots of funny mentions of business guru Tony Robbins and how Rachel was a different person after one of his seminars. Dave jokingly said he hated Tony for it for a long while. It seemed to him like Rachel cared only about one thing, personal development.
It got to a point where he almost lost his marriage and wife because she was on a fast train on a path to success, and he wasn't ready to hop aboard. He decided she was too important and realized he wasn't being the best husband.
Now, while it may not have required him to make such an extreme change, he decided to quit the kush job and has taken on a new role as CEO of Chic Media and has solidified his place as Rachel's forever partner in crime, marriage and business. (Cue the tears again, ladies.)
What stood out to me most from his talk is when he said, "You're either living or you're dying." If you really think about, it's the truth! If you're not living the life of true potential that is God's plan for you, then is that even living?
Elyse of Trailer Cast
Next up, the moving journey of Elyse of @trailercast, who opened up about a childhood filled with emotional and physical abuse. What she had to endure was heartbreaking, she almost lost her life giving in to the lies, but she turned it around and is now helping others get passed and move on from their past.
My favorite part of her talk is when she referred to the Missy Elliot line, "I put my thing down flip it and reverse it" she was talking about taking a hardship or bad experience, a negative and looking for a positive in it.
don't let anyone else dictate your dreams
Rachel took the stage again for her second Keynote where she talked about not compromising on your dreams.
She shared a personal story about how none of the publishers wanted to release her first book as it was written. Every single one told her to do the same thing—add sex to the story. It was in the time of the Fifty Shades of Grey craze and apparently if it wasn't sexy, it wasn't going to sell.
She stood her ground. She didn't want to change her book, and she believed in it the way it was. After balling on her bathroom floor about it and the rejection she felt every single time she heard, "NO," she gathered herself and her courage and decided she wasn't going to give up on her dream.
She decided right there and then that she would figure out how to publish her book herself. Her book Party Girl was born and more successful than she had ever dreamed!
Had she listened to all of the no's, she would have given up on her writing dreams and wouldn't be where she is today: a best selling author and killin' it with her most recent book, Girl Wash Your Face.
Then she shared about her difficult times as a foster parent, and the times along the way when she questioned if it was the right role for her, because the pain that came along with it was so great.
She loved the children that came into her home like they were her own, but they were ALWAYS taken away... and each time, her dream of becoming a new mom again was taken away.
During one particularly painful foster round, she fostered twin newborn babies right out of the hospital when the father decided a few weeks later that he actually wanted to keep the babies. She gave up, but only for a little while, with push from her husband, Dave Hollis to "not give up on your dreams when things got tough".
Since then they have decided to adopt their beautiful baby Noah who recently turned one! What a big way to show and prove that dreams do come true!
Noah made the sweetest guest appearance and guess who was in tears again... I looked around, and I wasn't alone.
Then, to close out day one, in true mama fashion, Rachel said she would be sitting down to read us one of her son's favorite bedtime stories, Rosie Revere, Engineer.
I had a feeling the tears would be coming again, and I was right. Rachel wept as she read the words about Rosie, a shy girl by day and inventor by night. Rosie sets out to build a contraption to help her aunt fulfill her dream of flying. She fails, or so she thinks, until her Great Aunt Rose teaches her that the only way she'd be failing is if she gives up. The lesson is simple: DON'T GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS.
Last, but definitely not least, I cannot forget how Arielle Astoria floored us with her powerful words and inspiring message! It's my second time watching Arielle speak one of her poems live, and nobody leaves her speeches without goosebumps.
Thank you to Rachel Hollis for a beautiful day of inspiration and community! I'll never forget the experience of RISING.
Dave, Rachel, and family are dropping everything to move to Austin, Texas and start a new chapter filled with amazing opportunities ahead... including the Rise Together conference for couples. I wish them all the best and success on their new journey!