A best selling author and a U.S. soccer icon discussed how to power through tough times and feel empowered during a Northeast Iowa Community College-hosted event Wednesday.

New York Times-bestselling author Glennon Doyle and her spouse, retired U.S. soccer player Abby Wambach, spoke at an online event as part of the college’s “Moving Forward Speaker Series,” which focuses on brain health following the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 50 people tuned in to listen to Doyle and Wambach.

During the event, Doyle and Wambach talked about what it was like to experience the pandemic and challenges that came with it.

“It’s been awful, it’s been wonderful, we’ve been terrified, and we’ve been ecstatic,” Doyle said.

Wambach talked about how calm Doyle seemed to be as they heard about COVID-19 on every news station 16 months ago. Doyle put her response to the pandemic in the context of her struggles with brain health.

“I have suffered with anxiety and depression since I was 10 years old,” Doyle said. “For those of us who have always been afraid and figured out how to survive and thrive anyway, this was our moment. I could be there for a world that joined me in a level of high anxiety.”

Gender and its relationship to behavior and mental health was a theme of the conversation. Doyle noted ways in which women often feel compelled not to pay attention to their own desires and instead to focus on others.

“It’s important to realize it’s not your fault,” Doyle said. “Women aren’t just wired to be people pleasers, we were conditioned to be people pleasers.”

Wambach said her perspective as a woman in sports has helped her not fall into that trap.

“I am a very quick and decisive person,” she said. “I go with my gut most of the time. I don’t question myself. And I do believe it is because I spent a lot of time around other strong ... women.”

Emily Creery was among the attendees at Wednesday’s event. She lives in Hawkeye, Iowa, but recently started an internship with NICC’s career services department.

“I’m very big into feminism and empowerment, so it was cool to spend the evening surrounded by women,” Creery said.

Jodi Kremer, of Peosta, also attended the event. She has been a long-time lover of Doyle’s books and follows the couple on social media.

“Abby is such a leader, and Glennon is so empathetic,” Kremer said.

Kremer works in the TRIO Student Support Services program at NICC and has loved ones who struggle with brain health issues.

“It’s really important for me to understand how I can support them,” Kremer said. “I want to make them feel loved, like somebody cares and that they are heard.”

Creery and Kremer both remarked on how Doyle and Wambach approached failure. The speakers discussed how they do not like that word.

“Failure has such a negative connotation attached to it,” Wambach said. “We need to see it as a pivotal point of possibility.”

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