An International Women’s Day Conference, Retreat & Celebration on Isla Mujeres

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We Move Forward Women’s Conference Retreat Isla Mujeres Mexico

“I can’t.” It is an unlikely message for a We Move Forward newsletter, but it is my current reality.  I can’t host We Move Forward in 2017.  But I can and will in 2018, and I am happy to tell you why.

When it rains it pours, but you can’t stop her.

It was the first day of WMF 2016.  Her name was Lily.  She sat smiling and listening to the women in our small group tell their personal stories.  When Lily’s turn came, she spoke of being a mother, grandmother, and for most her life, a wife.  She then stated that “if you really knew me, you would know that I was very ill a few years ago and spent months in the hospital learning how to walk and talk again.”  Lily described how just before she was to be discharged, her doctor and some nurses asked to meet with her privately.  They expressed grave concern that Lily’s husband would not provide the support she needed to fully recover and live a healthy, let alone a happy life.  They were right – he did not.  A short time later and to her family’s surprise, Lily mustered the physical, emotional and spiritual strength and courage to bare her own weight, stand up, stand strong and walk with grace out her front door and into a very unknown future.  She spoke with clarity now, while describing her new life, one filled with travel and adventures “to places I had only dreamt about visiting before, like Isla Mujeres, and doing things I didn’t dare, like We Move Forward,” said Lily.

Lily’s story is one of hundreds of stories of bravery that have been shared at We Move Forward by women just like you, ordinary women committed to living extraordinary lives.  These are the women who show-up year after year at We Move Forward.

Lily’s story captures the reasons why I created We Move Forward, and why I am committing to holding the sixth conference in 2018. WMF is a place that:

  • Brings together good-spirited women of all ages, wages, and stages of life to form community and share stories of tragedy, triumph, and good times
  • Provides a healthy dose of reassurance that while the ‘unknown’ is at first a scary place to go, we can navigate our way around until it becomes familiar ground
  • Gives the spotlight to women who are not looking for it but really deserve it
  • Inspires us and reminds us that when it rains, sometimes it pours, but that can’t stop us from living our best lives

Ironically, the reasons why I created We Move Forward are at the heart of why there won’t be a WMF 2017.

Women who attend We Move Forward use it as a time and place, to sit back, catch their breath; reflect on where they’ve been and where they’re headed next.  Right now, I am struggling to catch my breath.  Those of you familiar with my story know that I created WMF at a time in my life when I was searching for meaning and purpose. I had supported my father through the final stages of cancer, and then moved across Canada for a new job.  My mother came with me, and my husband didn’t show.  After numerous attempts to save my marriage I eventually found the courage to divorce, again.  I came to the decision that I would rather live with the stigma that comes with another failed union than compromise my well-being any longer.

Throughout this time, I worked on We Move Forward in the evenings and on weekends.  I invested what time and money I had to take my dream from vision to fruition.  The reward would come every March, when women began disembarking from the Isla ferry, and making their way to We Move Forward.   I often hear stories of how the connections started happening while in the ferry line-up, with women reaching out to each other to inquire if they too were here for the woman’s conference.  After 5 years, so many friendships have formed among the participants, and the participants and speakers.  We’ve all been gifted with new good people in our lives, and WMF has also brought some important long-lost friends back into mine.  Like so many women who attend, We Move Forward has been my vehicle for coming clear on what I want more of in my life at this point in time and to act on it.

Over the past year, I left my secure job to pursue my dream job, a consulting and training business with my trusted best friend, Jen.  And, I recently unlocked the door to my heart, and I am learning to trust and love in a relationship again.

I would not be where I am today, confident, content (but tired 😉 without you, the women who literally co-create We Move Forward each year by bringing your kind hearts, open minds, and inspirational stories into that ocean-side space that quickly becomes our home for 3 magnificent days.  You don’t judge; you support and cheer each other on.  You have been my fuel. You truly are what and who keeps me and We Move Forward going.  And, as so many of you acknowledge, WMF is “a big deal.” It requires a massive amount of coordination and the learning curve has been one steep slope with many surprises, or sorpresas, as they like to say in Spanish.  I can’t adequately put into words how very grateful I am for the help of the team of talented, cool and committed people that pull WMF off.  I could not do it without them; together we keep making it better and better.

So why the pause?  Why say “can’t” to WMF2017?  My reasons go beyond merely needing time to catch my breath they also involve needing time to solve some challenges.  One of the things that participants value most about We Move Forward is that it is affordable.  I strongly believe that inspiration should be accessible to all women, and I need to figure out how to make that happen in an increasingly expensive world.  I am working with the venue now on pricing for WMF 2018.

Another highly valued thing about We Move Forward is that the featured speakers are humble women who while not looking for attention have garnered it by overcoming obstacles and taking on challenges – their stories build forward momentum and create positive change, individually and collectively among the WMF community.  Over the next year, I need to figure out how to bring more of these women’s stories to We Move Forward.

This is where I could use your help. 

I am looking for women who speak from their heart and experience, and who will actively engage in the full three days – because that is the spirit of We Move Forward.  If you know of a good-spirited woman with a story to tell, have her email me to inquire about speaking at We Move Forward 2018.  She needn’t be a polished professional speaker all she needs to be is someone who has a desire to share her message and experiences for the greater good.  janeen@wemoveforward.com

Lastly, I am hopeful that you will set the intention to come, and for many of you, to return to Isla Mujeres for We Move Forward, March 8, 9 and 10, 2018.  Please give some thought to friends, family and colleagues you know who would enjoy and benefit from WMF and invite them to visit: www.wemoveforward.com

Fittingly, I close off this newsletter with the words from the late Maya Angelou, “You want me to do something, tell me I can’t do it.”

Moving Forward…  Andale!

Janeen Halliwell

p.s. Stay tuned for the next newsletter – it will have the some long awaited pics from WMF 2016 ☺

Mark your calendars and start planning to attend with a group of friends
WMF 2018 – March 8, 9, & 10, 2018