I would like to introduce our guest artist Anji Grainger. She is an award winning watercolorist and instructor whose works and special commissions can be found across the United States. She gets inspiration from the magic and wonders of nature. Anji is drawn to see and focus on what others may not notice and to capture, and preserve, fleeting moments of beauty. Her hope is that the viewer will be drawn into her work with a new vision, wondering what lies within, and perhaps the next time they walk in the outdoors, they will take the time to look closely at the jewels of nature around them.
And, of course, thank you to Della Rae! A little history here: The Wild Women Society, was founded by Della Rae in 2009. When she announced in June of 2011 that she was ready to pass the torch, I was there and my immediate thought was “No freaking way!”. But apparently fate thought otherwise because when she floated the idea again in October I began thinking “hmmmm, maybe...” Della and I had a series of conversations between October and December when I finally made the leap. In fact, I began the tradition of having a one-word theme for each party and in January 2012, it was Leap-o-Faith (ok, I made that into one word). It has taken time for me to truly step into my role, and I have forever to go since I plan to keep growing.
Based on my mission statement to bring women of all age, race, and background together to encourage self-care, I really feel that the parties have grown and become richer each time. And consistent through all the parties are you amazing women that attend.
ok, so, my theme this time is “breathe”, something I need to remember when I get up here! And not just today but in the week leading up: will it all come off as planned? do I have enough food? do I have enough champagne? what if a key support person doesn’t show up? what if NOBODY shows up?? AAAAGH! Breathe!
Those of you that have been here to witness me using WWS as my therapy/journey know what I’m saying when I tell you that the first time I got up here to speak it is possible that I didn’t breathe once until I was done. But I was determined to put myself out in front and to learn how to step into this role I created, to be your CIO (in case y’all don’t know my official title, its CIO, chief inspiration officer). And here’s the thing about gathering women together...I say this every time but it always bears repeating: you may think you are all alone or that people are critical or that you are not important, but bring a group of women together and (this is the important ingredient) be willing to share your truth and your heart and...there’s the magic.
So I’m learning to slow down and breathe when I speak. And that my voice does have something valid after all. Because the rapid fire speech was twofold: get it over as quickly as possible, and who would want to hear what I have to say?? But In fact, along the lines of finding your voice, my personal guru Martha Beck posted this (it may have been a while ago but about 2 months ago is when it spoke to me - and I mean it shouted at me - this was written JUST FOR ME):
“Next time someone voices an opinion that contradicts your own, don’t play dumb. Voice your thoughts and see what happens. At worst, you’ll weaken a bond that wasn’t authentic. At best, you’ll find that you can disagree with someone and still be loved. This is the best way to build genuine relationships instead of tentative, battered alliances based on the currency of compliance.”
In the book world, this fall has been a perfect storm of some of my favorite authors publishing, and their books are great! Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic, Brene Brown’s Rising Strong, my backlog is huge! And their words around creativity and curiosity have been so helpful to me.
Maybe I haven’t been ready to hear these messages, but there have been a few that have been so freeing, like, this seems silly to say aloud: you don’t have to have a reason, a purpose, or even skill to create. Consider all the dumb reasons you might have that you cannot (fill in the blank - sing, draw, write, dance, paint, throw pots!): too expensive, too time-consuming, it’s a luxury you don’t have/deserve, it won’t look good, I can’t sell it! But what if “indulging” in your creativity feeds your soul and leads you to something even bigger, piques your curiosity, makes you a better human??
In her new book Liz Gilbert tells a story about a 40 year old woman who took up figure skating after not having skated since she was a child, a quarter of a century,
“So she followed her curiosity. She bought a pair of skates, found a rink, hired a coach. She ignored the voice within her that told her she was being self-indulgent and preposterous to do this crazy thing. She tamped down her feelings of extreme self-consciousness at being the only middle-aged woman on the ice, with all those tiny, feathery nine-year-old girls.”
She goes on to say that we should note that the story doesn’t end with her winning a championship medal, and it doesn’t have to. Point being create for no other reason than that it makes you happy.
And there is an added bonus when you feed your creativity. Doing these things can lead you to what Martha Beck calls Wordlessness, it’s Stillness, it’s the place where you can really Breathe. I recently took a Martha Beck course called an “Integrity Cleanse”; she says: find stillness, perfect stillness allows integrity to come up like oil in water. Give yourself space to get quiet every day and allow truth to rise. If you’ve ever been so absorbed by an activity that you don’t feel the need to talk yourself through it step by step then you have experienced a form of wordlessness. Painting, meditation, dancing, working with animals, just playing, walking, or hiking, there are many ways to experience it and as much as I love to connect, for my sanity I MUST have some balancing disconnect time where I don’t touch my phone and shut my laptop....I try to do more, but my disconnect time is when I exercise.
And all of this together adds up to this idea that when you show your heart (your vulnerability) good people will see. The way you create your own village in the world is to tell your truth.
This song is called :Sure on this Shining Night and you can find the lyrics on a little quarter sheet on your table. Anna tells me it is basically about taking a minute to take in your surroundings and appreciate life.
<Anna Martin sings here> Sure on this Shining Night
(Anna Martin is a senior at LOHS. She is looking forward to studying voice and language in college, and hopes to sing on the stage at the Met someday!
So I have thrown quite a few ideas out at you, and that is in the hopes that whatever speaks to you personally will stick. I have a lot going on here at once by plan: sometimes you may come and be in a quiet or even off mood but still, I hope one small thing, someone you meet or the speaker or even the wild-tini may stick with you and help feed your creativity, and take you to that place where you can just Breathe!
When I am searching for a little back up in the form of quotes to support what I am presenting to you, I love finding what I’d call old gems: the quotes that read absolutely true today, but were written centuries ago, because I sometimes fall into the trap of believing that just because these people lived so long ago they were somehow different from us. So here’s an oldie from Marcus Aurelius:
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
<Julia Logue sings> Breathe
Miriam Vareldzis holds a unique position in the world of scent: simultaneously west coast Indie Perfumer and east coast Fragrance Industry Insider. She has worked inside the world’s largest fragrance houses and is also the founder and creator of 40notes Perfume where she weaves together her gifted sense of smell, experiences from a career in the fragrance industry in New York City, training in architecture, design and music, and influences from her many international travel destinations. Her specialty is guiding west coast companies in the use of 100% natural essential oils, absolutes, isolates, and hydrosols in the creation of their fragrances. Miriam holds close a treasured quote by the poet Rumi for inspiration:” Let the beauty we love be what we do ”