I’ve been to many a women’s event, but I’ve never been to one quite like Sisters You Can Do It, a Women’s Empowerment Summit. I first heard about Sisters You Can Do It from my husband. Yes, a man told me about a women’s empowerment event and thought I should go check it out. That’s an endorsement all in itself! He heard about the summit from a dear friend and co-worker of his. She was participating as a volunteer for the summit and was collaborating with the visionaries and co-founders of Sisters You Can Do It themselves, Sheila Howard and Patricia Adams. She shared that their dream of was to unite women of all diversities and that their desire was to breathe life back into them and inspire them to pursue their dreams. My husband instantly thought their vision for women sounded much like my own, and rushed to tell me about it.
I then heard about Sisters You Can Do It from three different women who had gone to the event previously. They each encouraged me to come and assured me I’d have fun and leave inspired. Their excitement and passion for it was so genuine. With confirmation coming in left and right, I felt this women’s summit was something I was meant to experience. What I wasn’t sure of was if I would leave feeling like it had been worth my time. As it turned out, I wasn’t disappointed. Not one bit. It was not only worth my time, but it was worth every dollar! My only regret was that it didn’t last the entire weekend, just the one day.
I bought my ticket and awaited the day anxiously. When I arrived, I was captivated. Business owners and entrepreneurs lined the hall outside the Hotel conference room and along the interior walls. And they were all “maned” by women! It was like going to a mini Women’s Expo!
Inside were large round tables and comfortable chairs, beautifully decorated, strewn with gift bags and treats for each and every guest. Coffee, tea, juice, and water sat on a table with delicious breakfast delicacies to ensure the ladies would all be ready for an eventful morning. They also feed us a substantial lunch along with desserts later in the day as well. Women love to eat, and it was gooood. The meals alone probably cost the hosts more than the price of the tickets, not to mention the gift bags waiting on the tables for every guest. But that just shows you their heart. It isn’t about getting rich off the women who come, it’s about loving on the people. Isn’t that what we’d all hope to find in leaders? Those are qualities we can easily admire and hope to aspire to.
I found a seat near several of the women who had told me about the event and was greeted by many I didn’t even know. The positivity and excitement in the room was an encouraging beginning.
As the upbeat music started, our hosts took to the front of the room, dancing and rejoicing, greeting the ladies as they passed by, smiling with true joy as they went. I looked around at the faces of the ladies in attendance. Everyone was attentive, waiting expectantly for what came next, and for the event to begin. The energy in the room was tangible and the love pouring out of the hosts promised me that I was in for a special experience. The excitement was contagious, the joy was penetrating. I couldn’t wait.
Each speaker spoke truth, hope, and perseverance into the hearts and minds of the women in that room. Their messages were inspirational, igniting the soul, and reviving many dreams. I’m usually an upbeat and highly driven person, and even I felt inspired and motivated to keep pressing onward and not give up on my dreams and the desires of my heart. I’m just like anyone else. We all could use some encouragement and building up. Even if you think you’re impenetrable to the negativity and discouragement of others, the reality is, you’re not. We might say the words and dismissive actions of others don’t bother us or hurt us, but they still leave their mark. They still sting. And with enough negative words, they eventually burrow deep into our thoughts and slowly coil around your heart, strangling your passions and your dreams so subtlety, that at first you don’t even notice it’s happening. Then one day you can hardly breath. That day, I felt a washing away of those negative words and the truth of my calling ringing clearly once more within my heart.
I was further moved to see the impact of the speaker’s words as they penetrated the brokenhearted and spoke life back into those who had lost their sense of purpose and hope. As I gazed across the room, I could sense many of the women in the audience had never had anyone tell them they were special. Never had anyone tell them they had anything within them of value to offer the world. Never had anyone tell them they were good at anything. But that day they heard, “Sister, you can do it!”
The day was also filled with laughter, hard truths, encouragement, inspiration, activities, great food, the making of new friends, and of course, shopping! Come on, we are women! We have to throw shopping in there to have a real women’s day out. It was icing on the cake!
As the summit neared the close, many women cried or choked back tears as co-founder and host Sheila Howard sang her closing song. It’s one she’s become known for, called Designer’s Original.
I’ve gone for the past two years and I’ve had a blast every time! This year, it’s their 5th annual celebration and going to be extra special! The theme is, Denim and Diamonds! I was also asked to speak for a 10 minute “Quick Hits” session. I am truly honored to have been asked and can’t wait to share my heart with the ladies.
Now, some of you out there will take one look at the flier below and think, “Oh that’s for black women. I won’t fit in. Maybe I shouldn’t go.” Let me stop you right there and set something straight. Take a moment and re-read the name of this event, “Sisters You Can Do It”. As Sheila Howard put it, “We intentionally choose to call it Sisters You Can Do It, not Sistahs.” The visionaries and hosts of this event just happen to be black women, but above all else, they are simply women.
As Sheila Howard told me recently when I sat down with her and Patricia Adams to talk about their vision for Sisters You Can Do It, “This event is about ALL women, coming together to support one another. Every woman is welcome. Every woman matters. We all have gone through life as women and know what that feels like. We get so happy when we see the conference room full of diverse women; Black, Indian, Hispanic, white!” Sheila Howard further explained that, “This event is about sisters, ladies, women. Yes, we might have had different experiences living our lives as black women or white women, but we’re all still ladies. We need to support each other. Encourage each other. Lift one another up!”
And she’s right! We all know what it feels like to feel less than, second class, underpaid, used, abused, treated as weak or stupid, and told we are just breeders and feeders because we were born a woman. Let’s stop separating ourselves by race, social status, age, or education, and stand up together and start being supportive of one another! Enough is enough! If we can’t respect and support one another, how can we expect men to respect us or the world to take us seriously? Stop contributing to the problem, and become the solution. (Can you tell I feel strongly about that issue?)
Patricia Adams added, “We want to encourage women to stop being competitive with one another. They get so jealous and resentful when someone else makes it instead of them. Rather than be happy to see their sister thrive, they become bitter. We want to show women a different way to live and that we can love one another.”
“Sisters You Can Do It is about sisterhood,” Sheila shared. “And sisterhood is built on trust, love, support, and acceptance of other women. We embrace and value our differences. We want to teach women to love who they are.”
It seems that with the pursuit of any calling and all good things, there will be those who will doubt your abilities and for whatever reason, they can't see the vision. Patricia and Sheila had their share of doubters, but pressed on and followed their dream anyway. They didn’t let negativity or disbelief stand in their way. And because of their commitment and faith, they are celebrating five years of uplifting and empowering women to realize their potential and go after their dreams!
Sheila and Patricia have very different backgrounds and stories to share. They have each faced their own kind of struggles and battles to make it in life, love, and career. Their experiences have shaped them into two sides of a perfectly crafted coin, designed specifically to be the right women for the significant job of building up others. God knew what he was doing when he brought these two ladies together in friendship. Theirs was a calling that needed a rock-solid partner to share the same vision and desire with, if it was ever to come into fruition.
It is no small feat to organize a huge event like this, find guest speakers who have the same heart and vision as they do, and oversee the creation of the decorations, coordinate with vendors, make creative food selections, and put together gift bags and prizes. It has taken them sweat, tears, and yes, they have had to invest their own money each year. Theirs’ is a sacrifice of love for they truly care deeply for the women who come. Their greatest desire is to see women’s lives changed forever. Their prayer is that the message of hope and empowerment will reach women across the United States, and one day, across the world.
Sheila and Patricia’s mission is, “To see women grow and stop being afraid. They need to just take that first step and keep moving forward toward their dream!”
That leads me to one more thing, though these are women of faith and they openly acknowledge their faith in God as their source of strength and love, they do not push Him on anyone who comes through those doors. All are welcome, and all are accepted and respected. They didn’t create this event to be a “church thing” or a “Christian thing”. It is a women’s event. It just so happens that the founders and hosts love the Lord and believe Jesus Christ is the son of God. It’s simply who they are. So don’t worry! You don’t have to be anxious or afraid that anyone is going to corner you and get all religious on you. But please know that if you happen to decide you want to know more about God and his son Jesus, you are more than welcome to ask.
“Realizing your potential” is the heartbeat of this year’s 5th annual Sisters You Can Do It, Women’s Empowerment Summit. For those who wish to participate, the suggested dress-up theme is to wear denim and diamonds. Don’t worry ladies! You don’t have to own any real diamonds to come sparkling in your bling. Costume jewelry is more than acceptable and no one will judge you for it. And as far as denim (jeans), I think we all own at least one pair. Got holes in the knees you say? No sweat. Slip on those holey babies and come relaxed!
Women – Please come join us on December 2nd at the Holiday Inn Hotel located at 9175 W. Stockton Blvd, Elk Grove, CA 95758. The summit starts at 10 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. for shopping and to grab a seat! Enjoy a delicious breakfast and lunch as you listen to awesome speakers such as the visionaries and hosts themselves, Sheila Howard and Patricia Adams, main guest speakers Darlene McPhaul and Stephanie C. Harper, and quick hits speakers Niccole Taylor and myself, R. J. Machado De Quevedo. There will even be activities and prizes, and a special presentation, Cookin’ with Candi, which is always fun and comes with a scrumptious treat!
Come surround yourself with greatness and absorb the energy that fills the room when hundreds of women get together in a spirit of unity with their hearts and minds set on one purpose; to be inspired and feed their souls. You will laugh and maybe even cry. You will feel stirred, encouraged, and leave changed. Gifts will be given and prizes won. And the cost is only $45 for this day of fun, uplifting, refueling, and sisterhood. You can get your tickets on sycdi5.eventbrite.com.
Invite your girlfriends! Invite your neighbors! Invite you sister, mother, or any woman you know who enjoys a good time or who desperately needs to have a good time! I think that’s about all of them. They won’t be disappointed.
I look forward to seeing you there!