FARGO – "Live your life. Live it large. Live it full," Fawn Germer told an audience of about 600 women gathered Tuesday afternoon in the Crystal Ballroom of the Ramada Plaza & Suites here.

The speaker, author and former journalist offered this and other words of wisdom during her hourlong "Work-Life Reset" presentation, which marked the first anniversary of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber's Women Connect program.

Germer called her latest book of the same name her "most difficult yet" because of its personal nature. In it, she describes how she "reset" her life after a difficult year in which, among other things, a seven-year relationship ended and her parents died within months of each other.

When you suffer setbacks in life, the Dunedin, Fla., woman said, "Accept. Cope. Adapt."

During her presentation, she talked about how she left the newspaper business after 20 years, how she struggled to get her 2001 book "Hard Won Wisdom" published, and how the women she interviewed helped steer her on her own life path.

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One of the women she mentioned, famed oceanographer Sylvia Earle, taught her the importance of risk-taking, for example.

"You have to be willing to take a risk and bet on yourself," she said. "Risk is the only way to test yourself."

Before Germer took the stage, Craig Whitney, president and CEO of the Chamber, praised the program, which offers monthly sessions for female professionals to address their challenges, celebrate their accomplishments and help them build connections within the community.

Since its launch last year, Women Connect has reached over 1,700 women and 600 organizations.

"There's a secret to making this whole thing work, and I think that secret is connection, and sharing - sharing your time, your energy, your ideas, and sharing your resources," said Jodi Heilman, vice chairwoman of Women Connect.

Carrie Carney of Bell State Bank and Chelsea Monda of Sundog announced an offshoot of Women Connect they started called PUSH to encourage women to form small support groups to help them set and reach their goals.

Next month's Women Connect event, "Leading Outside Your Comfort Zone," featuring Lt. Col. Teresa Luthi McDonough and Maj. Penny Ripperger of the North Dakota Air National Guard, will be Feb. 23 at the Avalon Events Center.



For more information about Women Connect, visit www.fmwfchamber.com/women_connect.