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I had my own set of goals going into my day that has every one of those E’s. I wanted to explore how others handled situations such as lack of confidence, stress, and anxiety, I wanted to educate myself on something I didn’t know before the conference, and I wanted to empower myself to feel confident and strong in the person that I am, and help others do the same.
I made my way to the auditorium where I was greeted with a stand full of lanyards. Nothing screams official like a lanyard with your name on it. After getting settled in, and hearing speeches from Lisa Olivere and Meghan Geary, the chairwomen of Woodland Worldwide.
After the introductory ceremony, I headed to my first seminar; “Mindful Artmaking”, taught by Kristen Lengyel, the art chair here at Woodland. The seminar caught me off guard. I expected to be on how to create art that has meaning, purpose, and great thought. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was actually about using art as a way to cope with stress and anxiety. As someone who has a lot of that, it was an insightful class. Starting off with breathing exercises and stretches we got ready to make art, in a mindful state, where we were not distracted by the things going on outside. The art was nothing like the Mona Lisa; It was a bunch of doodles to release any pent-up emotions that may be hindering our minds. I felt more relaxed and positive than I did going into the seminar.
My next seminar, “Taming your Stress”, was hosted by Christine Morrison, Olivere’s best friend. The seminar’s goal was to help teach ways to reduce stress and anxiety using mindfulness. We started the class by having a group discussion, and an activity that showed us where people are most stressed by dividing the room into a scale from 1 to 10 that represented our amount of stress. Morrison would then say a topic and you would move to the part of the room that represented your amount of stress. I found myself often torn between the “5” range, as I have a lot of small stresses, such as homework, and clubs. This is something I never took the time to analyze about myself. We then sat down and did an activity on mindfulness using raisins. Using our five senses; sight, scent, touch, taste, and hearing, we put our full attention on the raisin, fully analyzing it, thinking of how this little raisin used to be a grape, and now it is all pruny, and textured…another thing I learned–raisins are truly an amazing snack and they will be on my grocery list. Oh, and mindfulness is a truly excellent way to relieve stress. Once again, I felt even better walking out of that seminar than I did walking in; not to mention the two Hershey kisses I got to practice mindfulness on. Sweet- literally.
After eating my lunch, I went down to the library where there were cookies being served. There was plenty of time to talk with friends, or if you don’t feel like socializing, as I often don’t, you can sit in the corner being mindful. I analyzed that cookie way more than I should’ve, but hey, I was mindful.
I went to my third and final seminar of the conference; “Communicating with Confidence”, presented by Principal Kurt Ogren. Not only do I have stress and anxiety, but I often hold back my words, and not always seem confident so I was quite excited about this seminar. It began with a discussion on what a confident person looks like. Most people said it was in the way they dress, how they speak, all of that, and while that is correct, I found it surprising that body language was the overarching way to show confidence. Ogren taught us that a good firm handshake and eye contact was the perfect way to convey confidence. He also taught us tricks, such as imagining a good place, to keep yourself professional when someone may say something that might upset you. On top of it all, we got to see a photo of Ogren as a kid; I’d say it was a successful seminar.
By the end of the conference, I had met my goal. I explored, educated myself, and empower myself and felt ready to empower others. I got a grasp of other peoples ideas on stress, anxiety, and confidence, I learned new ways to cope with stress, anxiety, and show confidence through mindfulness and body language, and I also empowered myself because during those seminars, I felt at peace and truly relaxed, despite whatever may be going on in my world, and that felt good. I’m not sure about everyone else, but I’m already ready for E3 2019!