YBL Conference, DTLA, CA
“Stand up and find your Voice. Great shoes let you do it in style!” – Catherine Grace O’Connell
Midlife gave me a great gift. It not only gave me a new life, Midlife also helped me to find my Voice, a Voice that was silenced over five decades ago. I’ve learned that Midlife is a Catalyst. Midlife is the impetus that allows the Phoenix to rise and the Midlife woman to blossom while shedding old beliefs and ways of being.
A couple of months ago, David Harry Stewart, the creative Founder behind Ageist, reached out to ask me to speak at his recent event, YBL, “Your Best Life” Conference. David is not only one of the coolest over 50 individuals on the planet; he’s also connected to some of the hippest men and women at Midlife & Beyond who live colorful lives. David gathered a variety of voices who share a collective passion and purpose to help older individuals live their best lives. David and I are on fire to inspire and empower women at Midlife & Beyond to let go of what society has told you to be and, instead, live life you’ve always desired.
When I was asked to be on The Future is Female Panel, my first thought was, “What will I share and contribute?” My second thought was, “What would I wear?” The fun part of being on the Ageist panel is that David is super creative and always thinking outside the box. That meant there were no rules when it came to putting together the perfect look. David’s a master of innovation. I knew the set design would be vibrant, funky and cool. Fashion is a feeling and the feeling I wanted to embody on stage was to be fiercely confident. What better way to feel confident than to start with shoes from my dream shoe designer, Jaclyn Jones USA? I’ve been partnering with Jaclyn for the past couple of years. The moment I laid eyes on her exquisite designs, in the words of Jerry McGuire, “She had me at the shoes!” I’ll admit, before reaching my 50’s, I never understood the allure of owning zillions of shoes. My Mother had a collection that included well over 100 pair of designer shoes in every shape and color. Once I discovered Jaclyn’s designs, that was it. I was permanently inducted into the world of shoe fanatics although there’s a way to go to catch up to Mom. I’ve never looked back and I have yet to find a shoe designer that creates dreams you can wear in the way Jaclyn does. She’s not simply designing shoes. Jaclyn is designing dreams.
I reached out to Jaclyn’s right-hand woman, Shelby Houston, as I had been coveting a pair of shoes I’d seen on my friend, Jacqueline DePaul. She had worn them on a few shoots together, and I couldn’t take my eyes off these shoes. Fortunately for me, they had a pair in my size, the Lily of the Nile in yellow, and I immediately began building a look around them. A twist on the classic pump, the Lily of the Nile is the pair of heels your closet has been missing. It’s not only sleek but elegant. The bright yellow is unexpected and adds a healthy pop of personality. These showstoppers will get you noticed. The versatile double-strap heel allows you to go from day to evening. The bonus of wearing Jaclyn’s shoes lies in the ingenious design. Jaclyn’s shoes are made for walking! They are exquisite in their detail and beauty while also custom made with a 4mm cushy foam insole to ensure maximum comfort. I knew it was going to be a long day on my feet and comfort was a high priority. It’s the perfect blend of form and function.
I’ll have to remember to take along some of Jaclyn’s business cards next time as the shoes were definitely the center of attention. Their breathtaking beauty has a way of capturing a woman’s eye. What I love about Jaclyn is that she is intimately involved in every aspect of designing a shoe. From the design itself to the construction and manufacture, Jaclyn cares deeply for her customer and it’s reflected in the process. The shoes are made right here in LA from the finest materials including luxurious lamb leather. They’re more a work of art than anything else, with each shoe limited in production and inscribed with its own number. The gold heel plates are engraved with the most beautiful signature logo medallion featuring the California Poppy – an ode to the company’s roots as a Made in California brand.
I didn’t have to think twice about what to wear with the shoes. I recently discovered another designer, Nicole Frank, and had the perfect jacket from her collection to wear for the event. Nicole’s designs are centered around the concept of “The Wardrobe Evolution,” and are interchangeable while also highly innovative. The Nicole jacket comes with sleeves that zip off with various options. I chose the Miriam sleeve that was loaded with inspiration and the words of HOPE in glittering patches. HOPE is what David is selling to his audience – hope that men and women over 40 will aspire to live their best lives. I finished off the look with a simple white tee, a funky belt by Streets Ahead and a pair of classic navy bell bottoms by Veronica Beard. It was the perfect amount of hip and cool blended with a touch of classic. And if you are HOPEing for a discount you got one! Use Nicole25 to take 25% off of your purchase.
The event took place in DTLA at The Experience Factory. The sold-out crowd was filled to capacity with 40 speakers and multiple panels centered around a new way to age and aspiring the audience to live a colorful life, one that doesn’t conform to cultural expectations. The Future is Female Panel kicked off the day and was made up of a diverse group of women I was meeting for the first time. Gigi Johnson of Maramet Institute, Dianne Flynn of Accel and Aliza Sherman, author and passionate CBD pioneer. My dear friend and Fierce sister, Jacqueline DePaul, was on stage later in the day to interview Naveen Jain, the CEO of Viome. To see all the inspiring speakers, take a peek at the Ageist website and make sure to sign up for David’s newsletter to get on the list for his 2020 event. It’s one you won’t want to miss.
Finding my voice has been a process of self-discovery. It’s amazing what you discover about yourself when you’ve been silent for most of your life. It’s given me a sense of freedom I had never known. I find myself waking up filled with passion and purpose. At 58, I’m like a little kid with a new toy at Christmas. Had I known how much fun it is to speak from the heart and to spark other women back to life, I would have started long ago. Yet, the beauty is, it’s all perfect – divine timing. The message comes when the messenger is ready. And, CGO was ready! Today, I’m standing on my own two feet with a powerful Voice and in high style thanks to Jaclyn believing in me and my message. Thank you, David, for all that you do to inspire the world to think differently about aging.
Thank you for sharing your gifts and introducing us to aspiring individuals who help us to live our best lives. Thank you for allowing me a seat at the table, a voice amongst powerful voices that deserve to be heard. Thank you to my Fierce sister, the Ageless Rebel herself, Angie Weihs, for joining in the festivities and supporting the Ageist mission. I know I’m living my best life. I also know the best is yet to come because I’m now firmly in the driver’s seat. I’m the boss of my life. You’re the boss of your life. No one can fill your shoes the way you do. If you’re not living your best life, do it now. It’s never too early. It’s never too late. The timing is perfect because the only time we have is NOW.
Cheers Beauties. How do you plan to live your best life? I love hearing from you!
Source: Catherine GraceO