Melanie Brown, a nurse turned motivational speaker and author, told an audience at the 10th annual Celebrate Women event held on Thursday, April 24th that there are a couple of absolutely key dates in their lives.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you’re born and the day we find out why,” Brown said.

Brown was the keynote speaker for this year’s event — presented by the Press & Dakotan’s Her Voice Magazine, HyVee, First Dakota National Bank and the Yankton Medical Clinic. It also featured a vendor fair, a dinner and the speaking event. This year’s theme was “Ignite the Power Within.”

Brown said that she loves to see the impact that events such as this can have on attendees.

“Events like this are really a defining moment in life for some people,” she said.

“They come to enjoy and hear a message, and if there’s something in the message that hits their heart and soul, it might be something that will make a difference in their life and maybe even make a shift in their life happen.”

She told the audience that one of her main goals is to help

women “uncage” their dreams.

“Most people’s dreams live in a cage,” she said. “I love to help people break through that, get out of the cage and live life fully alive. We have to have the courage to leave the cage.”

Brown also emphasized the importance of changing up life from time to time.

“Stir your life up a little bit,” she said. “Don’t just walk in the same-old, same-old. Think about what you can do differently to create a different outcome.”

Throughout her speech, Brown kept her audience enthusiastically engaged by encouraging attendees to cheer excitedly, shout out their dreams and culminating in bringing a volunteer to the stage to break a wooden chopstick with nothing but a piece of paper while the audience cheered her on.

Brown told the audience the chopstick exercise was meant to symbolize the need for people to overcome the obstacles before them to achieve their goals.

“When you have a dream in your heart, you have to walk through and break through an obstacle that comes in your path,” she said.

She added that it’s also important to be able to encourage others.

“When you can cheer people on and you can raise people up, it’s so cool, I love it,” she said.

Before ending with a poem from one of her books, Brown told the audience that each one of them makes a difference.

“I believe that every person in this room makes a difference in some way, shape or form,” she said. “I don’t care how young or how old you are.”

Brown said she was happy to see how the event brought so many women together.

“There’s so many wonderful women here tonight,” she said.

“The best thing about it is women coming together, there’s always great energy, lots of enthusiasm and there will be an impact made before the night is over. It’s great when we can share the power to believe that the best is in our future and the best will happen to all of us.”