Women from across the Wasatch Front assembled to learn about wellness and balance at the inaugural Celebrating Women’s Conference held at the WSU Davis campus on Sept. 22.

The event was co-sponsored by Utah State University Extension and WSU Davis. The conference featured workshops led by northern Utah professionals on topics ranging from self-care, communication, intimacy, body image and
mindfulness.

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Attendees were in the same room only for keynote speaker Meg Johnson. Johnson, a Weber State alumna, was paralyzed 14 years ago when she accidentally jumped off a 40-foot cliff. She became a C-7 quadriplegic, affected by paralysis of all four limbs.

Johnson shared stories and even injected humor into her speech while recounting the first meal she prepared for herself after her accident.

Throughout Johnson’s talk was the message of GAPS: gratefulness, attitude, problem solving and serving. She said these are steps to stay emotionally, socially and spiritually able.

She remembered her mother often reciting the mantra “This too shall pass,” but Johnson told the audience they should not wait to be happy.

“We don’t have to wait for things to pass to have a good time, to laugh and to really enjoy our life,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s message aligned with the theme of the conference. Attendees had the chance of choosing which workshops to join to help themselves find wellness and balance in their life.

Alice Roberts, a clinical social worker with Wasatch Family Therapy, presented the workshop “When Saying No to Others Means Saying Yes to Yourself.” The workshop was designed to give women tools for setting boundaries.

Sitting on the stage and calmly speaking into the microphone, Roberts’ workshop was casual and geared toward generating an open, safe space to share.

Women at this workshop shared common boundary problems they face every day. Roberts shared a skill-building exercise about how to say no in order to not overburden oneself.

‘This is hard. This is scary, but it’s normal,” Roberts said of setting boundaries.

Shawnee Bishop is a registered nurse, clinical supervisor and an advocate for seniors and their caregivers. She led a workshop intended to teach women to self-assess and create personal markers for success.

Bishop and audience members became emotional toward the end of the seminar when Bishop shared a personal story of hardship. She advised the group to look ahead when facing adversity. She led the workshop without visuals and the admission that she does not have it all together.

“There’s not an exact science to this,” Bishop said, referring to balance in one’s life.

Kathie Merrill attended the event because she rarely has — or makes — time for herself. She attended Robert and Bishop’s workshops. She felt most impacted by Johnson’s lecture.

“Her spirit carried her message into my heart and, for the first time in a long time, gave me hope,” Merrill said. “I am a more hopeful woman thanks to her talk.”

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