11th Annual Women’s Journey Conference – 2013

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What a fabulous way for this Food Stalker to spend a Saturday, at a “day spa” for the soul! Dedicated to empowering women and building self-esteem in young girls, Women’s Journey Conference 2013 on Mother’s Day Eve at University California Irvine brought generations of women – mothers, daughters & grandmothers – together to celebrate the journey and plight of girls and women everywhere. Attracting women of all backgrounds, talents, and experiences to share their wisdom and advice, it was an empowering and uplifting day, to be sure.

Since its inception in 2002, Women’s Journey Conference has assisted women of all ages to improve their feelings of self-worth and efficacy. Providing motivational workshops, inspiring (often famous) speakers, invigorating entertainment, shopping opportunities and time-out for self-reflection, this day encourages women of all ages to heal, inspire, lead empowered lives and live their unique dreams and talents. Reminding each and every attendee and participant how beautiful, valuable and powerful she truly is, speakers like Marianne Williamson, Marci Shimoff, BJ Gallagher and Claire Zammit reminded us to smile and own our individual and collective force to go forth and thrive.

The program opened with founder Patty Turrell and Congresswoman Sharon Quirk Silva touting their shared vision for a bright future, nurturing the future from a place of love. Other guest speakers and entertainers included Kelly Fitzgerald, Tricia Freeman, Gino Walker, Adanna Dru and Josefa Salinas (Emcee Radio talk show host at 92.3 The Beat). “Calico The Band” sang newly recorded tunes with acoustic guitars, who, among others, incited in the 170 sponsored girls attending and all regular attendees a sense of community, self-worth and possibility.

One thing we share in common is the love to inspire others, network and communicate face-to-face as much and as often as possible. Sure, this adventure has been colorful and we could hover on perceived ‘mistakes’. This conference helps us all appreciate the adventure that this life is and to appreciate the opportunities that emerge from what many of us might mistakenly call ‘mistakes’. Are they really? Or are they decorating your soul to move you to the next level of brilliance?

These women know what it takes to be a winner, to build lasting and honest relationships, rooted in love and gratitude. Gratitude is a critical ingredient for a fulfilling and successful life, a skill that will, hopefully will be passed on to future and current generations, whether they attend the conference or interact with those who do!

While mothers and attendees enjoyed the inspiring program for adults, young girls experienced activities designed to strengthen each and everyone as a unique gift to the planet.  I was especially thrilled to see women Veterans and women in active duty present with their daughters in the sponsored portion of the program. Let’s all extend a huge round of applause for the women who dedicate their lives to serving our nation and their daughters as beacons of the future.

Beyond that, Women’s Journey Conference extends its reach to at-risk girls from various foster care and non-profit organizations, such as Child’s Pace, Child’s Help, Orangewood Children’s Home, Orange County Child Abuse Center and more. They welcome homeless women,  women in recovery and women living in shelters with their daughters. All in all, they are an institution focused on lifting women up, celebrating the feminine spirit and inspiring our audience to greatness – each and every one of us, where we’re at, regardless of background. Volunteers wear T-shirts reading “Everyone Matters”  – how could you not feel amazing!?

Each of us can grow and redefine who we are by sharing and owning the journey that is ours – all of ours. I’m looking forward to sharing my insight at next year’s conference about being fabulous at fifty. We all have the gift of reinventing and coming into our truest, deepest selves, no matter what our age!

My motto – Don’t wait for inspiration, go after it with a club! Here’s to a day of inspiring and uplifting women…

“Your value is not in how you look, how much you weigh, how nice your skin is, whether you have no wrinkles or cellulite. Just you being an openhearted, radiant, blessing force of love…you are the gift in itself”.  —  Kute Blackson


With an Italian background, she cites her Mother and grandmother ( Mamie ) as the major influence of her love for food.  Yes, homemade pasta hung from the clothesline in the kitchen and rolling 100 meat balls for a holiday dinner was the norm.  Raised in Pennsylvania. she spent time in Atlanta, Georgia and ultimately settled along the stunning coast of Laguna Beach, Ca. Self taught in everything, she learned to appreciate the amazing flavors, scents and uses for exotic herbs and spices and applies her knowledge to cooking today. Despite enjoying other creative endeavors like painting, photography and clothing design, she realized she would never love another career the way she loves all the stories surrounding food.  And it's capturing those stories that has not only become her greatest passion but a culinary drug worth passing around!  After all, food is a shared experience and no one better to share it with than the entire world. And thus the Food Stalker was born, utilizing all that passion and her fearlessness to capture even the most impossible stories. It's one thing to write about food, but far more exciting to actually capture it and all those stories that make every scent come to life.  And once she sets out, there's no stopping her, because no one follows that scent better than her---and no telling where she'll end up next.  

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