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Anna G. Larson, Published February 01 2013

Awesome unleashed: Event aims to help women find their inner ‘Spark’

IF YOU GO

What: Spark of Awesome retreat

When: March 7-9

Where: Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, Minn.

Info: The cost is $745 plus lodging and includes guest speakers, workshops and activities, morning yoga sessions, meals and snacks, prizes, swag bags and other special goodies.

The retreat is open to women of all ages, and the deadline to register is Feb. 8.

MOORHEAD – What do you really want out of life?

Laura Caroon, of Moorhead, wants women to contemplate that question at Spark of Awesome, a three-day women-only retreat she organized.

“I want to inspire women. I want them to cultivate and activate their inner awesomeness,” the 28-year-old says.

Caroon knows the importance of living a life she loves. She always wanted to be a business owner, and so she took her night and weekend passions and turned them into her full-time gigs – and that’s something she wants to share with other women.

Caroon owns Frozen Music Studios Photography, co-founded Midwest Junk, a website for vintage and repurposed antique collectors, and distributes Shaklee products, a home-based direct sales business that sells environmentally friendly products.

“It’s important to remember your passions and stay true to that,” she says.

The idea for Spark of Awesome stemmed from a photographer’s conference Caroon attended in Atlanta.

“I loved the whole atmosphere and connecting with women,” she says. “I wanted to recreate that feeling.”

Maria Bosak, owner of Eco Chic Boutique, went to an event similar to Spark of Awesome seven years ago. At the time, she had just left her corporate job of 12 years and was scared to venture out on her own.

“I was always a believer that life happened to you and not the other way around,” Bosak says. “The event I attended seven years ago showed me how to control my own destiny. It also surrounded me with positive, compassionate, big thinkers.”

Inspirational speaker, author and business strategist Danielle LaPorte is the keynoter at Spark of Awesome. LaPorte presents her message of desire and creating a life to love in the United States and Canada.

“She’s so straight-forward and motivating,” Caroon says. “It’s like she speaks right into your heart, and there’s no sugar coating. She gives women permission to be exactly who they are and to learn to understand what they want.”

LaPorte has been featured in Elle, Body + Soul, Vogue Australia, Better Homes & Gardens, Globe & Mail, The National Post, The Huffington Post, Entertainment Tonight, USAToday and BusinessWeek.com. She was also a news show commentator for CBS, and is a former director of a Washington, D.C., think tank, where she managed a team of analysts studying global trends for the Pentagon and the World Bank.

LaPorte says she’s on board to speak at Spark of Awesome because she knows that everyone needs an extra push to go after what they truly want.

“I think culturally, we’re not conditioned to give ourselves permission to really want what we want on a deep level. It’s tragic,” she says. “There’s the more obvious issue of going after what you want, and doing, acting on your dreams, but there’s something that has to happen before that. You need to fully own your desires.”

Women who aren’t sure if they’d benefit from the retreat should consider going to witness other people dreaming their dreams, LaPorte says.

“Just to be a witness of people strengthening their ambition is incredibly nourishing and also this is an opportunity for community,” she says.

For Bosak, attending events like Spark of Awesome is a way to make connections.

“Finding common ground with others and making connections is huge in life,” she says. “You need a support network and other events are so fast paced and hurried that you don’t get the down time to really connect.”

Besides LaPorte, Spark of Awesome attendees will hear from local female professionals including Susan Mathison, owner of Catalyst Medical Center; Tonya Stende, president of Dale Carnegie Training, ND; Julie Haugen, institute director at Impact Foundation; Deb Watne, grants director at Dakota Medical Foundation; and Laura Egland, owner of Vision Architect.

In addition to Frozen Music Studios Photography, Caroon rallied support for Spark of Awesome from other local businesses like Eco Chic Boutique, McCulley Optix Gallery, Summit Chiropractic, Padgett, Dakota Medical Foundation, Impact Foundation, Catalyst Medical Center & Clinical Spa and PositivelyBeautiful.com.

So far, dozens of women in their 20s to their 50s have signed up for the retreat, Caroon says.

“It’s great for women to connect with all ages because they’re all at different stages in their lives,” she says. “I would like this to spark women to live a life they love.”