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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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Women’s Symposium welcomes Julie Powell, talks of happiness

American author Julie Powell speaks at the annual SMU Women’s Symposium Wednesday afternoon.
HILLSMAN S. JACKSON/SMU
American author Julie Powell speaks at the annual SMU Women’s Symposium Wednesday afternoon.

American author Julie Powell speaks at the annual SMU Women’s Symposium Wednesday afternoon. (HILLSMAN S. JACKSON/SMU)

Talk of happiness and celebration of joy was abundant during the 46th Annual Women’s Symposium Wednesday.

Women from all over Dallas-Fort Worth gathered in the Hughes-Trigg ballroom for the event.

Karen L. Click, the director of SMU’s Women’s Center for Gender Pride and initiatives, introduced this year’s theme, “Happiness is…” as she explained what makes her happy.

“My automatic, you’re blowing out the birthday candles, go-to wish has always been for happiness,” Click said. “It seems that when women are together we’re always talking about happiness.”

She explained that, as opposed to the topics of previous years, which have included women’s health and politics, this topic was meant to be a more open-ended exploration that would allow the participants to finish the sentence.

The big event of the day was Keynote Speaker Julie Powell, the author of the bestselling book, “Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously,” which was popularized even more when Nora Ephron turned it into a film starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams.

When Powell took the stage as the luncheon was wrapping up, she introduced herself as being an inefficient expert on the subject of happiness.

“I think I’ve had a series of misconceptions about what [happiness] actually is,” Powell said. “I think I thought from an early age that happiness is something that has to be given.”

She went on to chronicle how her perception of the source of happiness eventually changed to approval, a belief she sees many young people clutching onto. It wasn’t until later in her life that she understood that happiness is something that must be accepted and that you must constantly allow it to come into your life.

Her talk was followed by afternoon sessions entitled “What is Happiness?” “Whatever Floats Your Boat!” and “Mona Lisa Smile: Portraying Happiness through art.” The sessions remained focused on pursuing and accepting happiness, through talks about the essence of happiness and activities that promoted it, including a chocolate tasting, massages and yoga.

Christine Jarosz has been participating in the Women’s Symposium for years and was asked to set up her table representing Words of Women a little bit differently this year.

“They asked us to focus on happiness, so I set up my table saying ‘happiness is making a difference,'” Jarosz said. “I’ve been setting up for about six or 10 years now. I’m starting to feel like an old-timer.”

Jarosz received one of the community awards at last year’s symposium and said that this year it has been enjoyable to really feel like part of the community.

The day culminated in the awards presentation and an improvisational comedy show featuring Heroine Addiction, an all-female comedy troupe.

Powell said the experience was a very warm one.

“It’s been very friendly,” Powell said. “I felt very appreciated, which was nice.”

The celebration of women continues around the globe with International Women’s Day on March 8.

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