Best-selling poet Cleo Wade emphasized the power of setting intentions and navigating one’s way to success in today’s world at the Aerie REALtreat conference in downtown Los Angeles Saturday morning.
The Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life author is also an #AerieREAL role model as she pumped up the audience at Rolling Greens Nursery in the Arts District then joined a panel with fellow ambassadors Olympic gymnast and Fierce: How Competing for Myself Changed Everything author Aly Raisman and body-positive model Iskra. Aerie is the intimate apparel lifestyle offshoot of American Eagle Outfitters.
Using advice from her book, Cleo said one of her intentions is to exude kindness when she’s most stressed.
“Another one I have is: Can I be patient? Can I not make rushing everyone else’s problem?” she said. “I’m sure you’re all familiar when you’re the one running late, but then all of sudden it’s the Uber driver’s problem if they’re not going fast enough. And then you’re like, ‘I have to be there in 10 minutes,’ if like you needing to be there in 10 minutes has to do with whether or not it’s 20 minutes away or not, and that is somehow their fault.”
Several of the estimated 100 women in attendance in Cleo’s speaking session went up to the decorated stage to share their intentions. Cleo said she requested Aerie put notebooks and pens in the giveaway bags to do the five-minute, intention-writing exercise.
“For me, intentions are a space where we can say I know I have these default settings as the person I am, but what does it look like for me to carve out the person I know I can be,” Cleo said. “That’s what we really do when we set intentions for ourselves.”
In partnership with Create & Cultivate (disclosure: I’m an insider), the event focused on tapping into women’s power for entrepreneurial success, so Cleo brought up the theme of making connections.
“If you’re someone who doesn’t like to be the first to walk up to someone to say like, ‘Your hair looks really amazing today’ or ‘I love your scarf,’ or ‘Hi, my name is Cleo,’ then maybe your intention for today is ‘I’m going to be the first to say hello,'” she said. “If you came here today, like so many of you I’m sure did, it’s such a beautiful and safe space to create fellowship and participate in sisterhood and make new friends then maybe your intention today is, ‘I am going to be open enough to allow connection to take place between me and another sister I walk or sit next to today.'”
She then had the attendees hug the woman sitting next to them with an introduction. The session ended with her reading a poem from her book while sitting on the edge of the stage.
Joining Aly and Iskra in the next panel, Cleo discussed how many use the internet to connect and grow a brand but recommended to be cautious of what works or won’t work for you.
“Before you endorse anything, there are people who are working with you, for you, not for how many people follow you or how many people’s eyeballs are on what you see or do,” she said. “And you do that by getting to know brands or people before you work with them, so that they are there for your voice, they are there for your story, they are there for the way that you have built your community rather than anyone reducing you to a number or anyone reducing you to an algorithm.”
And with so many connections, the act of gluing the connections can become stressful to the point where slowing down may be the best option.
“I think in that space it’s always OK if you allow yourself to not be Superwoman. I always say with the women who work with me, it’s like I don’t want to be Superwoman because she’s not real,” Cleo said. “That has to be OK because that’s the truth. So when it comes to whether having the answer or that one piece of advice—if I don’t have that, I don’t put pressure on myself to have that.”
Aly later said as the main takeaway she wanted to share with audience was partly inspired by Cleo’s book, and that’s to be “authentically you.”
“Know your value and what you want in your life,” she said. “If you are willing to, I would recommend when you leave here, or when you feel like it, to really take time and really get to know what you want and who you want to be with… I think it’s about really knowing your value and really getting to know what makes you happy.”
Cleo co-signed actively surrounding ourselves with people who support us with recalling a moment she shared with her brother in their mother’s kitchen one day in Louisiana. After realizing it would’ve been a good anecdote in her book, she said her mother was cooking food in a pan when she and her brother mentioned “haters.”
“She looks up from the pan and says, ‘Haters? What are haters? I have no idea who hates me. I don’t hang out with those people.’ I always think of that as some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten because you’re like, ‘Exactly!'” Cleo said. “Sometimes, I don’t think we realize we’re moving in this world looking for people to criticize us because we don’t believe in our own power and we don’t believe in our own place in the world. We actually look around whether it’s on the internet or in social spaces for people who might reject us or tell us we’re not enough.”
The panel ended with Aly having the audience engage in a 10-minute meditation rather than the originally scheduled fitness workout.