What I’d like to share with you today is in three parts: first, gratitude for the support without which I could not pull this together and for the sisterhood that we create each time we meet like this. Second, the “why” of this get together, what I am aiming to create by gathering, and, finally, my thoughts on the theme of the party.
And what is this WildChild Fund?? Because I wanted to add a charitable aspect to the WWS - one where we could contribute more than just money, we could explore the possibilities of supporting as a community, making connections that are helpful and sometimes life changing, and practice sistering. I created the WildChild Program. Our first was Amara, who many of you know, and our second is Lisa Carpenter, who is here with us today.
This is ongoing and if you have someone you would like to nominate to be a WildChild please contact me.
New to the party is Paige, a Shaman and Functional Nutritionist who is offering intuitive card and crystal readings. She uses her divination skills to provide you with insight. If you have a question or are curious what messages your guides have in store for you, ask a shaman!
Paige's connection to mother earth and a call to return to the PNW away from her job in the hospitality industry kickstarted her journey as a healer. Definitely an old soul, Paige uses both Shamanic Energy Medicine and Functional Nutrition to empower you to become your own healer
I’d like to also introduce our Guest Artist Olivia Oso
Olivia has been a creative soul as far back as she can remember but did not have the tools to connect with her muse. At the age of fifty she met Paul Heussenstamm, a master painter and teacher of the ancient wisdom of the mandala, and learned art as a sacred practice. Through this Olivia was able to uncover deeper truths about herself and experience more connection to nature. Four years ago she met an amazing teacher that changed her life, Shiloh Sophia McCloud, a visionary soul who teaches women all around the world about intentional creativity. Working with Shiloh further deepened Olivia’s connection with the sacred and divine feminine. She leads retreats, teaches workshops, and offers private sessions in her studio.
The WWS has now been a nonprofit corporation for over 3 years. I’d like to introduce and acknowledge my board Lisa, Barb, Sue Ellen).
I like to begin by repeating the “why” of this group. Sure, at it’s most simplistic The WWS is a party. An excuse to get together, have some nibbles and bubbly, take home a fun goody bag and maybe even win the raffle. But under all that are many layers - everything from introducing you to a fabulous musician you can support, to one of my favorite topics, the Rise of the Divine Feminine. It is deceptively simple: when women gather together, when we really support each other, the result is MAGIC.
And the mission statement remains: to bring women of all age, race, and background together to encourage self care. My aim is to develop and create a platform where I can present Self Care to you in many different ways. I do this to both to appeal to all your senses and to give us all exposure to different communities.
Under the very broad umbrella of self care - I mean, it can mean anything from taking a bath to going to a retreat to taking time to meditate - there is a lot of room to explore the many ways to do it. I have several recurring themes to my events: 1. the magic of bringing women together, how very important and powerful it is, 2. How we can support others (each other, our Wild Child, artists, musicians, authors, and more), which leads to 3. The rise of the Divine Feminine and the needed swing back from extreme patriarchy to a place of balance (plus a little bit of privilege awareness and encouragement to ACT thrown in for good measure, because knowledge without action is like no knowledge at all)
In Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper Mirabai Starr contributed an article titled: Why we Need to Build an Interconnected Community of Women
Women build community. Not as a mason fabricates a fireplace or a developer plans a shopping mall to maximize consumerism. We create community the way we create a family or a symphony or a good meal: without a lot of grandiosity or demand for accolades. We empower one another. We ask questions, and then we listen, and then we respond. When I lead grief retreats or teach writing workshops — which are largely populated by women — it takes about five minutes before community begins to magically coalesce before my eyes. Without my doing a thing, the people in the room gravitate toward one another and take the risk to trust. They notice one another’s wounds and tend them, detect one another’s vulnerabilities and protect them, read the stories of one another’s souls and affirm them. How did that happen? I used to wonder. But I’ve begun to rely on the invisible force that transmutes a cluster of strangers into a circle of safety. It is the Shekinah (a Hebrew word for the feminine attributes of the presence of God) in our midst. She comes when we get out of our own way.
A more feminine flavor of leadership is not something that only women crave. It is nourishment for men as well. Feminine wisdom feeds the human spirit. There are countless women hearing the call, extending their hands, blessing and strengthening us to step up. We cannot and should not transmute the toxins of the prevailing paradigm inside the cells of our own individual bodies. The alchemy happens in a circle. We need to weave together our threads of care and transfigure this tapestry. It is only together that we can reimagine the territorial treaty we’ve inherited as a generous invitation to a communal feast. Look around. Your allies are everywhere. And they love you.
In A New Earth Eckhart Tolle also talks about it: “The suppression of the feminine principle especially over the past 2000 years has enabled the ego to gain absolute supremacy in the collective human psyche”, noting that although women of course have egos, the ego does not take root and grow as easily in women, who are more in touch with their inner body and more open and sensitive to other life forms, more attuned to the natural world.
He continues “But things are changing rapidly now with many people becoming more conscious, the ego is losing its hold on the human mind.”
Rebecca Campbell says it too in her book Rise Sister Rise
“The rise of the Divine Feminine is not about women rising over men. It is about remembering a time when every woman was seen as sacred. We are being called to bring about a balance between the feminine and the masculine energies. Within ourselves and in our world at large. Both are sacred and needed… the rising feminine is not something that exists only within women, but rather it is within all things and people…You’ll also find much reference to ‘patriarchy’. That word, like ‘feminism’, is so loaded. When I mention patriarchy it is to refer to the past few millennia, when society was led by a powerful few in a very linear way. An era when the sacred nature, power, and wisdom of the feminine was forgotten, controlled, silenced, or caged. …I don’t believe that the solution is for matriarchal energies to take (the place of patriarchy). Rather…an invitation for the intuitive, compassionate, wise, powerful, sacred, protective, fierce, feminine force that exists within each of us to rise, and for the sacred masculine to protect and support her rising and sacred work so that the planet can swing back into balance.”
Connecting women and encouraging the rise of the divine feminine is so important. My ultimate aim is to show again and again how seemingly small things can be done in such a way that they apply to all of the issues we are wrestling with. I mean, it all really boils down to respecting our fellow humans, but that message is getting lost too. Social media, disconnection, acquiescing to keep the peace, buying into gaslighting, all of that muddies the waters and causes us to lose our focus.
I definitely have a growing urgency and obligation to be sharing what I am learning. I am doing the world no service seeking, searching, reading, and gathering all this information then keeping silent. Women like me who have been quietly living their lives, keeping the peace and at the same time longing for peace for others - we owe it to the world and to our sisters to speak up, to connect, and to share the things we learn. I guess when I would learn something I somehow, irrationally, assumed that other people already knew about it. But that’s just not necessarily so. Plus, as Aristotle said: “The more you know the more you know you don’t know”! Now is not the time for complacency. Again, knowledge without action is like no knowledge at all
And again I want to share from that goddess Brene Brown (who has a fabulous special on Netflix, well worth watching), as we work our way toward the topic of fear but also remember the power of community:
To not have conversations because they make you uncomfortable is the very definition of privilege.
The people who are targeted by racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. are not responsible for initiating these conversations and building the tables where they should be happening. That’s not how this works. We have to be able to choose courage over comfort, to say look: I don’t know if I’m going to nail this, but I’m going to try because what I’m sure as hell not going to do is stay quiet. That’s what we can’t do. Yeah, you’re going to make mistakes, be uncomfortable, learn about blind spots you didn’t even know you had.
Take learning it into your own hands , not make other people responsible for teaching it. That’s how we’re going to move forward. But if you think there is going to be real conversation around equity and diversity while you remain comfortable, that is not going to happen. And it shouldn’t happen.
Vulnerability - uncertainty, risk, emotional exposure
you don’t measure vulnerability by the amount of disclosure. You measure it by the amount of courage to show up and be seen when you can’t control the outcome.
Here’s the thing: vulnerability is hard, and it’s scary, and it feels dangerous but it’s not as hard, scary, or dangerous as getting to the end of our lives and having to ask ourselves: what if I would have shown up? what if I would have said I love you? show up, be seen, answer the call to courage, because you’re worth it. You’re worth being brave.
I refuse to allow any question of human compassion to become political. A simple nonpartisan question to ask is “is this in any way dehumanizing?”, and then let it sit. Because losing sight of our basic humanity is just unacceptable.
Keeping in mind that one of my many underlying themes is that the small stuff is, in fact, important, Now some thoughts on topic of “Fear”:
Let me start by sharing my own personal fear story. I can only talk about this now because I have put a few days and roughly a thousand miles between me and, well, let’s call him (and dear God please let it be a him) The Perpetrator. I’m an Oregonian, born and raised so I know nothing about how to handle this particular kind of perpetrator. You all can laugh, but YOU (Gail Young) may not laugh about it any more.
So I’m spending a very hot evening in Palm Springs relaxing (well, trying to relax, because, sidebar, I have not watched TV in a very long time and that old Springsteen song about 57 channels and nothing on is SO TRUE. People, and I mean this in a nonjudgemental way because I very definitely watch low-value shows, but people, please, heed Jim Rohn who said “Every day, stand guard at the door to your mind”. Regular TV is a horrible place! End sidebar) Anyhow, I’m sitting in a lounge chair and I hear a soft plop on the table next to me, look over, and DEAR GOD there is a 3.5 inch COCKROACH right there one foot away waving its antennae on the side table. Honestly, just one foot over and he would have landed in my lap. OK, fine so there he sits and I’m a firm believer in knowing where the enemy is so it is on me to capture him. I do a little breathing and get a clear plastic container to trap him…carefully…oh I did NOT know that they move so fast I really thought I had it and it was no where to be seen. Oh now I’m thinking of booking a hotel room! But I gather (what’s left of) my courage and go into the master bedroom and stuff a towel at the bottom of the door. The next day I don’t see the General and after a pretty restless second night I’m ready to leave and hope he dies over the summer (yeah right, its a cockroach!). Last day, I go by the second bathroom and there he is! right in the middle of the floor. Ok, now what?? There were two men cleaning the pool so I went down and told them I’m an ill-equipped Oregonian and could they help me and one of them so kindly said yes. He came up with a net and a towel - told me to stay in the other room and within a minute he had it. And his name was, truly, Salvador. Now if you’ve read Courtenay’s book you know she took on waayyyy scarier stuff, but that’s my best, most recent fear story! And thankfully I lived to tell the tale and he (she?) didn’t!
One more thing about fear: of course doing this fills me with fear even though this is party #28…but contemplating what exactly it is that I’m afraid of (other than run of the mill disasters like an ice storm or a crucial no-show, which have in fact happened), really, and I would venture to guess that it happens to anyone that creates something deeply personal, it is that people will not like or support what I am doing, that people think I’m nuts for doing my “little parties for women”. Of course it isn’t this group, it is the imaginary group of people that run rampant in my head in the middle of the night. They are the village idiots that try to get me to run and hide. So again I turn to Brene Brown’s favorite Roosevelt quote about the arena, I’m going to try again and again because at least when I fall I will do so daring greatly. It helps, but still, that is the fear.
Fittingly, Eleanor Roosevelt said: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”
Silent film actress Dorothy Bernard said “Courage is fear that has said its prayers”
I had no trouble coming up with quotes and general advice about fear. It comes in so many forms, it is all around us everyday, it is simply part of being human. It has its place, but without understanding it and putting it in its proper place it can become debilitating. An excellent resource for this is The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker, a book I wish EVERYONE would read. You all know I love the science behind things and this author’s life’s work has been teasing the science out of our human intuition. That the subtle clues of our instincts give us what we need if we will just learn to listen to them. That there are specific, identifiable actions like Forced Teaming (an effective way to establish rapport where there is and should be none, ex: a stranger saying ‘we are a good team’), false or excessive charm, too many details (when people are telling the truth, they don’t feel doubted, so they don’t feel the need for additional support in the form of details. When people lie, however, even if what they say sounds credible to you, it doesn’t sound credible to them, so they keep talking), typecasting (labeling a person in some slightly critical way, hoping she’ll feel compelled to prove that the opinion is not accurate, like: are you a snob?), loan sharking (providing unasked for help that creates a debt), unsolicited promises (“When someone says ‘I promise’ you say - at least in your head - ‘you’re right, I am hesitant about trusting you, and maybe with good reason. Thank you for pointing it out), and discounting the word ‘NO’ (‘no’ is a word that must never be negotiated because the person who chooses not to hear it is trying to control you…if you let someone talk you out of the word ‘no’, you might as well wear a sign that reads, ‘you are in charge’)
and how each of these techniques often used by people who would do harm are made easier because women are raised to be polite, nice, and compliant. Reading this book I get chills, and not the good kind, because I can see how easy it is to fall into pretty classic traps. Rereading has been valuable because of the reminders and also because each time I see things in a new light. My 3 kids have read it also. I think what I like best about it though is that fear is, in fact, an extremely valuable gift and if we heed the lessons and know the patterns we can arm ourselves with strategies instead of pulling the covers up over our heads and hoping for the best!
I’d like to leave you with this quote by Marianne Williamson, likely many of you have heard it, but I always find it so inspiring:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Guest Musician Bre Gregg with Dan Gildea
Bre Gregg brings the vocals for Portland band Red Bird. Dancing between soul, blues and roots. Bre is known for her complete vulnerability on stage, captivating every audience. Her writing is filled with joyful, painful and deeply honest feelings about her experiences being human on this crazy planet…something we can all relate to.
In 2003, she was asked to work on a new idea for a radio variety show that would become Live Wire—now a nationally-syndicated show on over 100 stations nationwide. She was the host, co-producer and head writer for the first 9 years, then stepped down and became co-producer and head writer for three more years.
In 2016 and 2017, she wrote a book about a year in which she tried to teach her anxious brain that everything would be okay by doing things that scared her. That book is Okay Fine Whatever: The Year I Went From Being Afraid of Everything to Only Being Afraid of Most Things.