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Women’s conference celebrates 5 years

PROCTORVILLE — Women of all ages, from seniors in high school to senior citizens, spent Friday learning, networking and diving deeper into their community at the 5th Annual Women’s Conference presented by Ohio University Southern on Friday.

More than 100 women, and a few men, met at the Proctorville campus to hear sessions on topics like journal writing, volunteer organizations, community service, relationship tips, the negative side of sugar, business etiquette, kickboxing, personality styles and Internet safety.

Kristi Barnes, associate professor of psychology and chair of the planning committee, said in addition to learning something new and networking, the event helps women appreciate what it means to be a woman and the different roles they occupy.

“One of the things I enjoy about these conferences is you get the opportunity to meet people you might not otherwise cross paths with, to see what they love and see how passionate they are about what they do,” Barnes said. “They appreciate other women in their lives better, but also get a better sense of self.”

Ella Jones, associate professor, spoke at a breakout session on golf. She has been playing golf for three years, along with her 12-year-old granddaughter and her 84-year-old mother-in-law.

Jones explained some golf terminology and some basics of the sport. She wanted to encourage women to try the sport. She didn’t walk onto her first course until she was 50 years old.

“It’s a really good thing for girls and women,” Jones said. “It’s fun to see that there is a group of young girls coming along, and we need more of them.”

Jane Kurucz, M.D., of Huntington, led a session on the benefits of a Paleo lifestyle. The Paleo way of eating consists mainly of natural, unprocessed food.

“Paleo-eating is a fascinating thing,” Kurucz said. She said it is empowering to realize women have so much control over their own health, simply by the foods they choose to consume.

“It’s the difference between surviving and thriving,” Kurucz said. She said the food that is eaten sends a message to the body.

“You can either give your body a grow-and-repair message or a decay message,” she said. “Your immune system, your memory, joint pain – all is very much tied in to what you’re eating.”

Kurucz said Paleo eating gives your body better blood sugar control and lowers inflammation.

“Your body is going to do what you tell it to.”

Kurucz said women have a tendency to take care of everyone else’s needs.

“We always put ourselves on the bottom of the list, and we never get to the bottom of the list.”

She advises that if women are not healthy and whole, they can’t take care of everyone else.

“Being on the top of the list isn’t being selfish. It’s being prudent,” she said.

Christie Clarke, 46, of Ashland, came with a group of friends and said she especially enjoyed the session about day trips presented by Dave and Toril Lavender. They spoke on how to organize the day trips, what goes into planning, and how much they cost.

Tesha Bentley, 22, of South Point, came to the women’s conference for the first time and plans on going back to the next one, especially enjoying the breakout sessions.

“They’ve been really informative,” she said.

One of Bentley’s favorite sessions was on middle eastern cooking.

“It was good, with so many people getting out of their comfort zones.”

Ohio Rep. Dorothy Pelanda spoke during the luncheon, sharing how her family values have contributed to who she is today.

Pelanda shared how trying to shop for a wedding dress and take the bar exam during the same time-period taught her two important lessons.

“I could have it all, just not all at once,” she said. “And I could succeed at anything — I just had to focus on the immediate task.”

These lessons helped her later in life as she made a major career choice. After 30 years of practicing law, she chose to close her law practice.

“I could be a good lawyer or a good legislator, but not both.”

She ended the luncheon with three pieces of advice.

“Dream big,” she said, “accept failure as a necessary consequence of learning, and value every interaction with another person as an opportunity for growth and insight.”