Southend’s passionate ladies started to arrive around 9am, gathering around the tea and coffee station in the Cliffs’ Admiral Room, trying to remember the names pinned to each other’s tops as we engaged in introductory conversations with the other conference attendees before we were taken into the Maritime Room at 9:30.

Eden conference name tag

The day formally began with an introduction to the inaugural conference. At least I think it did, but there was a whole load of microphone feedback coming from the speakers! Thankfully, that got sorted out so Susan Giles could take to the stage to read her beautiful poem, entitled “Passionate Women”. What a fantastic way to start the day!

The author, Kym Cifti, was next to take over the stage, bravely recounting her experiences of fear and how fear can rule and ruin you in the blink of an eye. She helped us all to realise just how amazing we all are and how we are all winners proven just by the fact that we even exist! Our entire existence is based on the fact that we won the race to life. We didn’t ask anyone’s permission to be here. We won the race then nine months later, we popped out and announced: “Here I am!”. That image will always stick with me now for as long as I live, and give me the courage to carry on laughing and living.

Jill Poet, female business woman extraordinaire!, gave her talk around the concept of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. She spoke about the role of women in business and the games that we often have to play to win. (For example, not bringing your children with you when you’re asking the bank for a business loan.) Jill is the managing director of ORB (Organisation for Responsible Businesses) whose mission is to show SME businesses what they can do to be socially and environmentally responsible.

Anna Heim is a truly remarkable woman who has been through so much in life, and is so much stronger for it. She walked us through the history of women’s rights and the dark trenches that women have crossed to get to where we are today in the 21st century. And just to drum it into all of us, she put on “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves” at the end, for us all to dance and sing and shout along to as the song blasted through the speakers in the background of it all.

Jamillah Yoozooph, local blogger and minimalist, retold her tale of her journey to minimalism and how simplifying her life in this way helped her to overcome her past struggles in life. How in trying to keep up with this throwaway consumerist culture, we are just creating clutter in the world and clutter in our minds. She claims to never buy anything anymore unless she absolutely loves it.

In the afternoon, we were told to partner up with someone who we had not previously met, and discuss the most amazing moment of our life and what it was that made it amazing. We then helped each other to dissect that moment in hope to realise exactly what it was that made it amazing, and how we can apply that new found knowledge to experience those feelings again.

The day consisted of some hugely inspirational talks from the event’s speakers and conversations with women from various walks of life. I hope I haven’t excluded any of the speakers in this article, as to do so would be a shame, but to be quite honest everyone who attended was amazing. Whether you were seated in the audience or standing on the stage, I think everybody was moved. It was amazing to get to know strangers so personally, opening up to each other on a very intimate level after having only just learnt their name. All that and a lot of coffee!

A big Thank You to the girls who made this event possible in only two short months:

Southend Passionate Women’s Ambassadors!

Southend Passionate Women ambassadors

Bronwyn Oldham photography