Remember when I wrote this blog post a few weeks back? Well, I'm here to follow up on the event because it completely rocked my world. Eight hours was all it took for me to leave the Kim Sing theatre in Los Angeles and feel like my world had just been popped open for the first time. Typically when I am asked to participate or speak at events, there's a goal for me to educate and inspire others, and I thought this time it would be no different.
But it was.
This time - I walked away feeling educated and inspired. To my core.
Let's refresh back to the purpose of the event - Show Up LA. Show Up Series is the overall program, organized by my incredible friend, Brittany Potter. LA was the first destination for this event, and she plans on taking it all over the country and possibly the world. Show Up Series is a place to celebrate you, as you are, today. A place where we believe in putting ourselves first. Where self love is never selfish. Where mental health is just as important as physical health. We find beauty in the raw, authentic, and real. We embrace those who are willing to be vulnerable. We find power in our struggles. We remind each attendee that they are worthy of love, that they are enough.
This wasn't like any event I had ever been to. The day kicked off with a mental health panel, which I was honored to speak on. I felt like it set the tone for the entire day. The keynote address and panels that followed ranged from the fear of being alone to body positivity - a term that I thought I understood, but definitely didn't until I walked out of that theatre.
The room was buzzing in the cutest set-inspired theatre I've ever seen. There was an open kitchen in the large room with a familiar face hustling around, balancing pots and pans all while filling the room with the best smelling quiches I have ever had. That person ended up being Dan Paustian - a recent MasterChef finalist, who I gained an immense amount of support from and respect for that day. Meanwhile, people were setting up boutiques on site, building donut walls, sponsors were dropping off endless amounts of product, a meditation dome was being set up (coolest thing EVER), and people were arriving left and right. I was so excited to see the friends of mine who showed up to support - Daniella, Founder of Happy Pill, part of the new OOTify app team who I work with constantly via conference calls but hadn't met in person, and familiar faces from The Obsessive Outsiders I was both shocked and honored to see.
When my panel was announced first, I sat down next to three women who I now have an immeasurable appreciation for. Jillian Rose Reed (actress and celebrity spokesperson for Breaking The Chains Foundation), Rachel Leyco (award-winning filmmaker, actress and writer) and Carly Woods (actress and screenwriter). As each of these women sat there talking of working in the entertainment industry with their bipolar disorders, navigating Hollywood through manic episodes, eating disorder recovery journeys, and culturally unsupportive families when it comes to mental illness, I realized that I truly would have never known the mere depths of these ladies stories if I had just seen them at work or on set in Hollywood. They were each powerhouses, working with Disney, MTV, along with many other prestigious companies - and here they were sitting with me in between them. I was simply me - just a girl with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although I was the only person in the room who had OCD - I sat up tall and hoped something I said would resonate with someone in that audience. Something that would resonate when it comes to the taboo of mental illness - and especially the stigma of OCD. It's always a trip to tell my story with OCD, which is so completely opposite of the stigma - and watch the jaws drop in the audience. Every. Time.
As the panel came to a conclusion, I was humbled and so happy - all of my fellow panelists and audience members came up to me throughout the day telling me how excited there was someone there to represent Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder - how few people ever do and the importance it had on the day and audience. They were right - there was representation of just about everything under the sun there, except OCD, and I proudly carried that weight on my shoulders. Never thought I would use "OCD" and "proud" in the same sentence, but...LIFE, amiright?
The speakers that followed as I sat right in front of them soaking up every word truly gave me a new perspective on so many areas in life. Mr. Self Love (Armon Anderson) got up there and seamlessly told stories to which myjaw actually dropped (a rare occasion), speaking of going from truly and utterly codependent to becoming the self love guru of our generation. Paul Fishman, Self Love Coach, started us off with a dance party and ended with us intently staring in a portable mirror in each of our goodie bags - staring into our own eyes and repeating self love statements after him. Loralei Bayette, spiritual mentor and self love coach got up on stage busting out poems and words of hope of how a life can transform in ways so many of us had never even thought of.
After intense, tear-jerking breakout self love sessions, we then heard from a panel of body positivity models and influencers. Going into this, I thought "body positivity" meant just that - owning all your flaws. Goes to show you how stigma really is a problem. I learned that day that the entire term of body positivity originated as a sense of identification for girls who were plus size and unwelcome in the entertainment industry. As these women sat up there representing so many areas of entertainment, I just sat in the audience in complete awe. The conversation was something I had never heard publicly spoken of, let alone how much it would resonate with me. Sarah Tubert (actress, fitness enthusiast and captain of the US National Deaf Women's Volleyball team), Dana Patterson (curve model, eating disorder recovery advocate, coach and mentor), Nadia Mejia(singer, full time model, former Miss California USA 2016), Sharlene Taule (actress and singer), and Erica Lippy (full time fit model, blogger and podcaster), all sat up front telling stories of LIFE and how they dealt with remaining publicly positive about their bodies in the industry after not only seeing it all, but being a victim of it all.
Other notable represented women like Alyssa London (speaker, Miss Alaska USA 2017), Alexa Curtis (blogger, non-profit owner, and host of Fearless Everyday on Radio Disney) and Britt from Smoothie Conversations, talked about starting their own business, changing lanes, and being women of substance, through mental health issues, financial issues and body image issues.
And of course, our main keynote speaker, Lindsey Simcik, from the Almost 30 Podcast, one of the top ten health podcasts on iTunes. This woman is pure GOALS. Proud, confident, gorgeous, successful - and has been single for seven years, by choice. And she has NO problem with it. Her talk centered around digging down deep in each of us as to why people are so afraid to be alone. Whether we are single or in relationships, somewhere between it all we are all a little bit afraid to let certain ideals or people go knowing the alternative we are left with - just ourselves. It is THERE in which we need to start.
There was just something about the collection of people in the theatre that day. The twenty different speakers who showed up, the audience who were so engaged and gregarious, the food and sponsors who gave a new industry, a new conversation - a chance.
Event Photography Credits: Emma Garofalo, Weston Saint James, and Yoko