Motivational speaker encourages building a better you

Doing your best and letting God take the rest is the winning formula for life, according to speaker Barbara Barrington Jones.

(Lichelle Jenkins/ The Signpost)
Motivational speaker Barbara Barrington Jones presents to her audience at the WSU Davis campus on Wednesday. (Lichelle Jenkins/ The Signpost)

Wednesday night, students and community members gathered in Weber State University’s Davis Campus D3 Ballroom to listen to Jones’ story. Sponsored by Davis student services, all were invited.

Jones, who calls herself a motivational speaker, author, image consultant, philanthropist and more, has been sharing her experiences for over 30 years.

She says her ability to help others stems from her own battles. Jones’ first husband was physically and emotionally abusive, she explained.

“He held me at gunpoint three times,” Jones said.

After 12 years of marriage, Jones’ husband killed himself, leaving her a single mother with two children. Despite this, she emphasized humor and an eternally positive outlook in life.

She began her speech with a series of lighthearted jokes to illustrate this.

“What is life without a little bit of humor in it?” Jones asked. “I have to work at having humor, but really, humor is what makes life worth living.”

Jones said depression in women is at an epidemic level. She attributes much of this to women focusing on the future instead of the present.

Comparing it to a traveling train stopping at different platforms, she says women are always thinking that they will find happiness at the next stop.

“There is no final destination to arrive at once and for all,” Jones said. “The true joy of life is the trip and the station is only a dream that will constantly outdistance us.”

Jones explained her personal experience with this when she was just a teenager dancing with New York City ballet.

“It was the dream of my entire life, and I made it. The train arrived and this was the station,” Jones said. “But if I really wanted to make the station, if I really wanted to make the company, I had to look like a ballerina. I became so sick, so anorexic, so bulimic that I was sent home.”

Using her past as fuel, Jones now dedicates her time to building up other women. Among many other generous endeavors, she runs an annual retreat for women, a teen girl’s camp and a success training workshop.

Peer mentor for Davis student services and nontraditional student center Patty Danklef organized the event. She attended one of Jones’ retreats and said her experience was incredible.

“At the time, I had just moved back to Utah and didn’t necessarily want to be here,” Danklef said. “I just could not get rid of all that hate that was in my heart, and that’s so unlike me.”

Danklef said she hopes hearing Jones speak helped the audience as much as it helped her in the past.

“When we open ourselves up to other people and their experiences, it allows us to incorporate things that they’ve learned,” Danklef said. “Then we don’t have to go through the same things sometimes. Smart people learn from other people.”

WSU freshman Kelsi Griffeth attended the event for her women and gender studies class.

“It was pretty uplifting,” Griffeth said. “To me, I think it was a refresher, like recharging my battery.”

Jones left her audience with what she calls the happy dance, which can be used as a reminder to not sweat the small stuff. Moving her arms in a circular motion in front of her, she crooned a short tune.

“It doesn’t matter,” Jones sang. “It really doesn’t matter.”