A Meetup of Empowering Women and A Feeble Attempt at Networking

From my last post, you might’ve gotten the drift that I attended a meetup this weekend.

I did.  It was hosted by a group that I found out about through a few bloggers.  The group is Forever Fierce:  The Midlife Revolution.  It’s is geared to the mature woman and has quite the following—over 3,000 members. That’s a lotta empowerment!

Ladies.  It’s a public group. Check it out and join!  It’s fun to be among our peers!

The meetup was organized by Eugenia Hargrove, creator of the blog “The Age of Grace”.  Eugenia gets a special shout out because she was so incredibly welcoming.  If she organizes a meetup in Philly, I wanna be her assistant!

Eugenia Hargrove, blogger and organizer of this event.  And a very welcoming woman!

Anyway, I mulled about attending.  In the first place, I suck at networking.  Actually, I have never even attended a networking event. I don’t even know if this was a networking event or not. I think it was.  If it was, I still sucked.  I’m socially awkward.

Before my divorce I was always extroverted, but through life changes, and my moves from NYC to New Jersey and then the suburbs of Philadelphia, I got weird.  My outgoing personality changed. And while I’m not exactly an introvert—I just began to internalize and I’m still that way.

Back to the meetup.

I was going back and forth.  I’m not going. I’m going. I’m not going. Then I read two blog posts from “Not Dressed as Lamb” The posts?  Why You SHOULD Do Things That Really Scare You and Why It’s Always Good to Admit You’re Wrong. I’ll tell you, I don’t know what it is but the more I read Catherine Summer’s, NDAL blog, the more I like it. She tells a good story.

The “No” word kept popping out of my mouth when I discussed going to this meetup with myself.

Then I realized one of my favorite bloggers, Michelle of “Shelbee on the Edge” would be there and she was very encouraging.  So, I decided to attend.

Bonaparte couldn’t have been any more supportive. He pushed me to go, drove me to the event and waited in the car for me the entire time.

It was my intent that if the meetup didn’t work out, we could drive downtown and just hang for the day. Or since we were in my old neighborhood of the Upper West Side, perhaps we could just spend a couple of hours at the Museum of Natural History and grab a bite to eat.  Unfortunately,  my son, Roman, was working at SNL for the night’s taping so we wouldn’t be able to see him, but nevertheless, it was a day in the City.

Photo by Kenya Pickles Jones. Some of the women at the meetup.  L. to R.  Dawn Bell Solich of Plumage 59; Michelle the cutie of Shelbee On The Edge; Cherie Peake James (Shoes) of Style Nudge; Eugenia Hargrove of  The Age of Grace (and also of those killer red booties that really belong with me); Catherine Grace O’Connell of Catherine Grace O; Tracey Crockett of  Chic.Classy.Spicy; Kimberly Kepler Higgins of Kandidly Kim; Jannette Mercer-Braddock; Michele Wojciechowicz Clark of seechele_styles (Is that coat to-die-for or what?)

The event started at 2PM.  When we arrived, I spotted a group of women outside the Chico’s store where the event was taking place. I recognized Michelle and she was a cute and bubbly as ever.  I didn’t want to get out of the car.

Another fabulous photo by Kenya Pickles Jones.  My timeline is off because this photo was taken toward the end of the event.  

When I tell you that I felt like that new kid at school who was petrified on that first day, I’m not exaggerating. Bonaparte, ever the father figure to me, gently told me he would be waiting for me but that I needed to go.  Memories of me standing in the schoolyard and being the last kid picked for punch ball floated through my mind.  Because of my crossed-eyes, I was never the athletic sort—and coming from a family of jocks—I could attest that I wasn’t exactly the favored child.

I’m that person.  And I have scars and a dental implant to prove it too!

Add to that, and the most recent rejections of my blog from “Like To Know It” and “RewardStyle” had my blogger self-esteem in the gutter.

Or was it simply that I would not be the center of attention that added to my anxiety?

I’m also that person.  Outstanding in my field. The center of my universe. In my own little world! Completely self-centered and very upfront about it.

I may have a point here.

The second I exited the car, I knew I erred in my choice of clothing. It was hot as balls.  My ensemble consisted of a fitted white tee, navy and discontinued J. Crew Minnie Pants, colorful paisley J. Crew Flats and a brand spanking new J. Crew Dover blazer. Did I mention this meetup was at Chico’s?

J. Crew head-t0-toe at Chico’s.  Well, not exactly HEAD.  I wore a Bobbi Boss wig. And it was sooooo hot that my deodorant failed.  I was the epitome of hot mess!

Visions of me melting like the Wicked Witch of the West played over in my mind. Yeah. It was that hot.

It was at this moment, that I figured I would be an observer of this meetup rather than a participant. But something happened.  Slowly, the observer in me started to disappear and the participant took over.

James, one of the photographers directing Kimberly and Michele to strike a candid pose. That coat though…

As soon as I let my guard down, the meetup began to be fun!!  I was thrilled to meet Michelle aka Shelbee on The Edge.   She’s even more adorable in real life!  I almost passed out when I met Cherie James, whom I have nicknamed “Shoes” because of the shoes showcased in her blog “Style Nudge”. The shoes.  I’m having a shoegasm just writing this! I also may have scared her with my overabundance of enthusiasm over her blog’s shoe photos!

Michelle Montoro of Shelbee on the Edge.  She’s upbeat and adorable! And her blog is featured on my favorite reads page!

Eugenia Hargrove, the awesome woman who organized this meetup and she of the pointy-toed fierce red booties, was very welcoming and her blog “The Age Of Grace” was a delight to discover!

Left to right.  Eugenia Hargrove. Those booties., Eugenia’s daughter, the captivating Channing–she writes for Refinery 29! Brenda “Chapeau”  you have to take a look at her Instagam feed, @avalon_nyc  her photo with Sting!!  Diana Gabriel, a jewelry designer and featured in “Advanced Style”  (Let’s hope she never read my post about my advanced style. Remember that post?  It led Ari Seth Cohen to comment!) Her IG feed is fun though and she has some really nice pieces. @dianagabrielnyc  Lydia Gobena  @birabiro–she’s an attorney and jewelry designer.  I may need her lawyer services for when my big mouth gets me into trouble!

Meeting and speaking with Tracey Crockett of “ChicClassySpicy” was even more special as we both have quite a lot in common.

Tracey Crockett and another pair of killer red booties!!!

Victoria Flynn is the coolest woman ever and if I lived back in NYC, I would be visiting her at the Clinique counter at Macy’s at least twice a week!

Victoria Flynn has the best hair and best tattoos ever! If you are in Macy’s at Herald Square, go visit her at the Clinique Counter that she manages. She’ll give you great customer service!

Pat and Ginger—the two Bronx Bombshells and sisters that I met, put me back at home while we discussed life as city girls.  I love them.

Left to Right.  Me.  Pat Iturbe, Ginger Acevedo and Michelle Michele Wojciechowicz Clark. Thank you Victoria for taking this pic!

We also had the pleasure of a celebrity scriptwriter in attendance!  Caytha Jenthis, producer and creator of the hit Amazon series, “The Other F Word” (not the one you think—get your mind outta the gutta. It’s “fifty”).

Season 2 starts this coming Friday.  It’s a comedy about four friends “starting life over” after raising kids.  Sound familiar?  Yeah!  I’m presently bingeing on Season One.

Season Two premieres this coming Friday. And get this. JUDY GOLD is in the cast  and so is Henriette Mantel!  Lordie Miss Claudie.  She had me at Judy Gold! But Mantel–I’ve seen her years ago and she is a riot!

I can’t even write a sentence and Caytha Jenthis’ professional bio reads like the girl with the perfect SAT scores!   The woman is to be admired—that’s for sure!  What an illustrious career!!! And instead of my feeling like a complete failure, hearing  and reading about her career and her successes actually gave me hope for my own future!  WTF is happening here to me? Could it be I am becoming empowered by osmosis?

Now THIS is a successful woman! She writes. She does cool stuff. She produces. I may have found my inspiration.

In fact, all the women I met were empowering. They were bright.  Intelligent.  And all had a remarkable story.  It is wonderful to be with women in my demographic.  We can oftentimes forget just how strong and powerful we are. And we need to be reminded.  We need to support each other too.   I thank the women who took the time out to follow me on Instagram.  Maybe my blog will pick up a couple of followers too!  It’s all good!

Photographer Kenya took beautiful shots and James helped to keep the troops in line!

I was fortunate to get this pic of Keyna and James–without them, there would be no really great pics!  Thank you for your eye for photos Kenya and thank you for your patience James!

We each received a gift bag stuffed with goodies and I won a $25 Chico’s Gift Certificate (Hmmm when will those leopard leggings go on sale?).

All this fun stuff!  A mask, cream, a book, my winning gift certificate and a bracelet..

This bracelet is the perfect way to incorporate animal prints as an accessory if  I just want a touch! Thank you Chico’s!

I may have gone in with anticipation and anxiety, but I exited feeling empowered and thrilled to meet up with quite the group of such stellar women!

Networking ain’t so bad after all! I think it was networking. I’m still not too sure! Maybe it was just having a good time!

Since I wasn’t really sure to go or not….The Clash!  Should I Stay Or Should I Go?  (I stayed!)

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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36 Responses to A Meetup of Empowering Women and A Feeble Attempt at Networking

  1. Michele Clark says:

    Great read 🌞❤️

  2. lovsjaz says:

    This could be my story. So glad you put yourself out there (doubts and all). I read you everyday and always get a giggle or a tip or two. Thanks for all of the efforts you put into your blog. I sometimes think…what a clever woman,I would love to meet her! p.s. I am 75 so I’ve been experiencing this ageing stuff for a long time!

    • Catherine says:

      OMG. Thank you Lovsjaz!!! You just validated my putting myself out there and being transparent. Not many people do that–so I thank you even more! Perhaps one day we will meet. LOL. We age from the moment we are born. My oldest child will be 34 tomorrow and naturally, I’m bringing his birthday around to ME. I can’t believe that it was 34 years ago…seems like yesterday I brought that ten pounder into the world! Thank you again–words like yours keep me going!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  3. TLC says:

    Your post makes me think there’s a chance for me after all! Lol

  4. LA CONTESSA says:


    • Catherine says:

      THANK YOU ELIZABETH!!! I was waiting for this comment and was hoping that you would say what you said. You just made my day!! I love you!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  5. margaret daley says:

    I have been reading about your deodorant journey. My favorite natural product so far is Schmidts that I found at TJ/Marshals. The cream in the jar has a little spatula and I just bought the stick to try. This morning I ordered a different kind online to try. I will keep you updated. I am trying more and more to use natural products. Lipsticks are another road that I have been traveling because I just dont want to eat chemicals off of my lips!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Margaret! Thanks for the heads up on the Schmidts! I like the idea of a cream deodorant. Definitely keep me updated. Hmmmm…what kinds of lipsticks have you found that are natural? I’m interested!!! XOXOXOXO

  6. Kim says:

    Wonderful read! I had some of the same feelings has you and I feel I’m social awkward also. I’m glad we both went and I’m not sure if it was networking or not. I had a fun day except it was toooo hot.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Kim!!! You know, I’m glad that I wrote my true feelings because I’m validating what others felt as well. That’s why I enjoy being transparent! LOL–yeah, I don’t think it was as much networking as just a meetup!! HOT!! As I write this it is 80 degrees and I’m in shorts and a tee. What happened to autumn???? XOXOXOXO!!!!

  7. fiona says:

    Well this was a surprise Catherine. From the way you write, you sound like a super confident woman but so glad that you did ‘that thing that scared you’ (great advice btw) and went to the blogger meet-up. I agree that they can be intimidating, I’ve been to a few, one in London where I felt like a country bumpkin! You’ve seen my blog so you know it is really basic…I don’t know how to do those techy things, these people were pros…they knew all the jargon and knew all the right people, honestly I felt like an imposter. As for your outfit, be you and be comfortable..(I’m guessing Chico’s is high end?) I reckon people wear stuff just to be seen in at these events, they probably wear baggy trackie bottoms at home! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Eugenia Hargrove looks a formidable woman, even her name sounds imposing. The two photographers are gorgeous, they should be on the other side of the lens more often.
    Btw I bought the elf primer today, gonna try tomorrow when I go to work.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Fiona! Well, I am more confident when I write. It’s almost like writing is my true personality and self. I’m that person who my family and friends whisper into my ear “Behave” or “Be Nice” when I’m about to go to an event. I have no boundaries.
      Anyway, simplicity is best, IMHO. I love the basics. A simple sentence is direct and to the point unlike speaking in jargon–your blog has the right idea!
      I would call Chico’s middle-of-the-road, not high end. I think the clothing is overpriced but man, I got my eye on those leopard leggings!!!
      I was glad that I went to the meetup because it was fun to meet with some truly wonderful women!!! XXOXOXOXO!!!!

  8. Bridget says:

    This looks and sounds like fun! Like you, I always hesitate to go to group things, but I’ve always been like that. Once I get there, I usually enjoy it. I think the thought of going is always worse than actually going -good for you!

    • Catherine says:

      Bridget! EXACTLY!!!! It’s like–Ugh. I have to get ready. What am I gonna wear? How long will it take to get there? I can stay home and binge watch Wayne Goss. I can clean the crown moulding–that’s where I stop. It’s better to go!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  9. shelbeeontheedge1 says:

    Oh my gosh, Cathe! I love you! My admiration for you is mutual (except that picture of me though, dear God, woman, what were you thinking?! hahahahha) I am so glad I got to meet you. You have no idea how I needed you, specifically you, to be there to make me feel comfortable. I was so excited when I spotted your pretty face and I only regret not getting more time with you. But we are gonna make that happen! By the way, I was always the last kid picked at gym sports, too…I would strike out in kickball and fall flat on my butt! Nobody wanted me on their team. But that’s all water under the bridge now, isn’t it…because we are forever fierce in midlife, my friend!

    Great post as usual!

    • Catherine says:

      Ohhhhhh Michele..See? We’re a lot alike!! Oh god, we always hate the photos that we don’t take! I love that photo of you! Yeah–I would have loved to spend more time with you, but we have that in our future!!! Go you!! It was a great day!! And I thank you for pushing me to attend!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  10. calensariel says:

    Sounds wonderful and interesting! Glad you went!!!

  11. angelin2014 says:

    I used tone a social butterfly, a real party girl, when I was young. These days not so much. On the other hand I cannot be bothered by meaningless social interaktion anymore, I guess I get enough of that at work:)) But I DO miss not meeting women my own age very much, or women who share my interests like writing and reading. So I envy you this meetup/networking session and hope you have many more as your blog grows!!

    • Catherine says:

      Point well taken Angelin! Back in my younger days, BC (before children) I was quite the party animal. And I agree with everything you said. My only sort of disappointment is that I really didn’t get any blog followers from the meeting–and I passed my card around!! So from a “professional” POV, my networking didn’t work. But–from an ‘I’m-glad-I-got-to-meet-you” POV, I’m thrilled that I went. Lots of really cool ladies!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

      • angelin2014 says:

        You know what I think, and these are just random thoughts so maybe I’m wrong – but those ladies may sneak around and check out your blog – but they are not your readers, those ladies have their own voices. But you are the voice of so many other women who reads you because You give THEM a voice. Know what I mean? And that is the true beauty of writing. So keep up the good work! XOXO!!

      • Catherine says:

        Hey Angelin. I never thought of that! Thanks for making me see that you are the voice of reason!!!! XOXOXOXO

  12. jilly says:

    Hi Catherine,
    Loved the read and always appreciate how you are so honest, so many people feel the way you do and are empowered to hear that you feel that way too.
    One tip to remember going into a situation like that, don’t feel that you are obliged to be ‘involved’ or be more ‘visual’ than you feel comfortable with; some-one else is running the show and no-one will notice if you sit back and enjoy . In fact if you go just planning to be an observer you lose all the stress and then often find yourself being very involved and vocal and have a great time.

    Here’s a blog you may know already but I think you might enjoy it, made me think of you straight away. lindavwright.com..A Texas lady who went to Paris and loved it so much she stayed. She has a shop called Crimson, wonderful ‘ I wish ‘ things and her stories and style are right up your Rue. (sorry)

    Jilly xx

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Jilly! Thank you for your positive words and you’re right. Sometimes it is much better to be the observer–thank you!!
      And thank you for that blog. I just entered the blog into my browser and can tell, I’m going to end up with that blog being a regular (even if the clothing is expensive). I’m admirable of anyone who does what she did–pick up and just move. I can’t wait to binge on her blog!!! Thank you!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!!

  13. Renee in Northern California says:

    Hi Catherine, my youngest son says, I’m 60% extrovert/40% introvert. In my younger years I was 85/15!! So, I totally get where you’re coming from! These days I’m very comfortable being by myself or hanging with the hubs or a few friends. But, when I am in large social situations I thoroughly enjoy them. Anyway, I do feel for me it is a muscle I should use more often, ya know “use it or lose it”, lol. Good on you, for just “going for it” and that has to feel good! BTW, my oldest son’s B’day is tomorrow…oops, I almost forgot until you mentioned your son’s B’day. If I could be so bold?? When are you planning a trip out west? Although, were choking out here from all the fires, yikes!!!
    Again, many, many, thanks for all that you do!!!

  14. You are so great, lol; you’re full of life! And don’t even think you’ve list your extroversion; it’s just who you are at heart…your true self. 😊 I’m the one who’s introverted. 😕 I’m so glad you were standing right in front of me when I arrived. You were a joy to be with and it was a pleasure to meet you!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Angie! Thanks so much. You were the first person to make me feel comfortable!! I’m so glad that you stopped by to read the blog–and I thank you for that!!! I’m off to read more of your blog posts!!! XXOXOXO!!!!

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  16. Nancy says:

    Loved this post and appreciate you sharing the names/blogs of the other participants…I am always looking to add to my blog reads from real women in my age range.

  17. Catherine, you are such an inspiration. I would have been in the same place, “Should I stay or should I go?” It seems like the older we get the harder it is to push ourselves outside that comfort zone. Glad you did and that you had a great time. You go girl! – Amy

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Amy!
      I’m so glad that we are on the same wavelength!!! And it’s true. We become very comfortable with our routines. It’s nice to break away!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  18. Juliet says:

    Late tom the party here – but I am so proud and in awe of you being brave enough to go, yep in real life I am an introvert until I get started (hey, I am a medical librarian – of course I am socially inept in real life, unless I have a script to follow and know what I am SUPPOSED to say, I tie myself in knots), but I have to say those ladies were damn lucky you went (and I am sure they are all smart enough to have figured that out). As for the title “empowering women” well hey, that surely means welcoming – real empowering women empower each others after all. So glad you had a good time.

    Now you just have to come to Glasgow (or even a Paris jaunt – that would do missy) 🙂

    • Catherine says:

      Hiya Juliet! Thank you so much for your inspiring words to me. It was hard to go to. I’m far more comfortable in front of my computer and allowing my keyboard to vocalize for me!! But–it was the first step. Man, if I could get paid for travel writing, I would request Glasgow!!!!!! XXOXOXOXO!!!!

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