We’re very excited to introduce contributor Liberty Lausterer! Liberty moved to Wyoming with her husband and cats in July 2013. She is excited to explore the vast riches of this place, its people, and the cross-country skiing trails. Originally from eastern Nebraska, she studied history in college in Iowa, followed by graduate work in California. She spent the past nine years as a Lutheran pastor and is ready to see what new opportunities await her in Wyoming. Her hobbies include writing, swimming, herding cats, the adventure of high-altitude baking, trolling the web for interior design inspiration, and she is currently learning to knit her first hat. Welcome, Liberty!
by Liberty Lausterer
This weekend (November 8th-9th) I attended the UW Women’s Leadership Conference. The conference was intended to empower women in Wyoming by teaching us to embrace our strengths, leave behind our weaknesses, and take hold of a life that brings us true happiness. The two day event featured a keynote speaker and three workshops, all intended to equip women with the tools necessary to live strong lives, embracing the very best of what we have to offer.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Erin Foley, teaches Communication Arts at State University of New York at Oneonta. In her keynote, entitled “The Fearless Female and the Freedom to be HAPPY,” Dr. Foley posed the following questions to women:
What if we were less obsessed with beauty?
What if we embraced confidence instead of modesty?
What if we got comfortable with confrontation?
What if we focused on abundance instead of scarcity?
What if we focused on our strengths and not our weaknesses?
Foley explained how cultural beliefs teach women to play down our strengths, creating a false sense of modesty and feeding into a mentality of scarcity. Rather than affirming ourselves and other women, we tell ourselves “I am not enough.” This hypercritical, “Mean Girls,” environment breeds desperation and jealousy. Women end up fixated on all that we are not, instead of engaging with the things that make us feel energized and strong.
The time we spend eradicating our weaknesses pulls us away from cultivating our strengths, says Foley. She defines a strength as the place where your skill meets an emotional state. When you are doing something well, and it leaves you energized, you have honed in on a strength. We may be good at many things, but if they don’t fill us up, we won’t be able to sustain the energy to excel at them. We can perform well in an area, and still end up feeling weak, tired, bored, and frustrated. Foley challenges women to look for the moments that feel good to us, lean into them, and we will lead more fulfilling, strong lives. “Excellence,” says Foley, “is fueled by passion.”
For a suggested donation of $10 this conference certainly delivered ten fold on content and encouragement. It feels especially meaningful when placed against the backdrop of Wyoming’s equality heritage. In a state with a long history of strong female leadership it is encouraging to discover ways women are coming together to support each other, find inspiration for our passions and purpose, and forge new pathways as leaders in Wyoming.