I would like to introduce our guest artist Suzanne LaGrande: Artist, Poet, and Magic Spell Maker. Her mission is to create art that awakens a sense of beauty, encourages generosity, and inspires the courage we all need to become our most magnificent selves.
I want to begin by sharing ‘why’ the WWS even exists. My mission statement is 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.
From the short video ‘The Best Part of Life’ by Glennon Doyle Melton:
“The building block of a structure is the joist, which is a special, strong beam that supports a greater structure. Sometimes a joist has to carry such a heavy load that it starts to weaken. When that happens the carpenter connects another board to the left of the weakening board. If that is not enough then another board to the right. The extra support makes it strong enough to carry almost anything. Guess what this process of joint strengthening is called (really): Sistering.
You can’t build a strong, beautiful, complicated structure, whether its a building or a life, without Sistering.
You might need a sister to your left and to your right to help steady you and strengthen you , to hold you together. Or maybe you stand to the left to provide the strength.
Women are special strong people who hold up the world. But sometimes life’s load gets too heavy and hard for us to carry alone.”
If you get a chance, watch that video, it is short and so sweet and Glennon has such a beautiful voice in it!
So here’s the thing about gathering women together...I repeat this every time because: 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.
Now, to the theme of ‘vulnerability’: Those of you that have been here to witness me using WWS as my therapy and my journey know what I’m saying when I tell you that the first time I got up here to speak I was DYING.
In January 2012 I took over WWS at Party #6 with a theme of Leap O Faith. And it was. I was excited to challenge myself. I was beyond scared. I called Della, crying, the night before because I had really never spoken with a mic in front of people before. I thought for sure I’d either black out or pee my pants. I may have blacked out a little. I was Vulnerable.
“Fear is the raw material from which courage is manufactured. Without it, we wouldn’t even know what it means to be brave” Martha Beck
And in my life: it was Christmas of 2009 when we discovered that our Mom had Parkinson’s Disease. Just after New Year 2010, serious trouble with my marriage. I was pretty much gutted and filleted, and began a very dark and difficult time of my life. Over 5 years later, I’m divorced, we lost Mom last year, and are now dealing with Dad’s health decline and his difficult 4th wife. But its been 5 years of: lots of therapy and self-help books, work on myself, and with hellalot of ‘sistering’. I share all of this because I cannot get up here and talk to all of you about vulnerability yet not be willing to be vulnerable myself.
The themes continued: Grow. Survive. Nurture. Perfection. Transitions. Intuition. Speak. Gather. Vision. Walls. Breathe.
And today, kind of the Granddaddy of them all: Vulnerability. Because they, all of them, really nestle inside the idea of vulnerability. And I still continue to wrestle with vulnerability and fear! I am willing to list out what exactly I am afraid of here - failure, judgement, criticism, general disaster that comes with planning a large event, did I mention failure?? Also, choosing Sheila this time as speaker: her book is about the very emotionally-charged and serious topics of suicide and mental health - but at the same time, it’s NOT just that it’s so much more. It’s education and it’s bringing another tough topic out into the light, and, at the risk of a spoiler alert (its not really!) Sheila’s last line is “Look to the living, love them, and hold on.” Such a positive message to send her readers off!
Madeleine L’Engle wrote A Wrinkle in Time, one of my many favorite books as a child...she said: ‘When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability...To be alive is to be vulnerable.’
A HUGE thank you to Brene Brown for practically spoon feeding me what I needed for speaking to the theme of Vulnerability! I just started an online class with her that covers her books Daring Greatly then Rising Strong with a weekly videos and worksheets. two classes in and I am getting so much from it!
She started the class with this quote by Theodore Roosevelt: “It’s not the critic who counts; not the person who points out how the strong person stumbles, or where the doers of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again...who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
And those of you who have been here before know that I love geeky stuff like statistics and words...Brene said that at one of her talks there were ASL interpreters. She asked them what the sign was for ‘vulnerability’ [weak in the knees] - she said, no, that’s not quite right and they huddled up and came back with [be seen], which was more what Brene was getting at. But the interesting thing is, Brene said that every time she feels vulnerable it comes with both interpretations.
She says: Vulnerability is the Center and Soul of all emotion.
She says: Vulnerability is not weakness, its the courage to show up and be seen when you have zero control of the outcome.
Paradoxes of vulnerability:
When I see you do something vulnerable it looks like courage; but when I do something vulnerable it feels like weakness. Vulnerability is the first thing I look for but the last thing I want you to see when we meet.
C JoyBell C, and I had to google her because I have not heard of her before, here is what comes up (gotta love this): is best known for her love of cake, especially that of the red velvet nature. She is the author of poetry and literature books, said:
“It’s the hard things that break; soft things don’t break. It was an epiphany I had today and I just wonder why it took me so very, very long to see it! You can waste so many years of your life trying to become something hard in order not to break; but it’s the soft things that can’t break! The hard things are the ones that shatter into a million pieces!”
One of Sheila’s blogs came across my FB page at the end of last March called “I can’t erase the past. I learned so much from it’. It is short, sweet (about her darling daughter), and hopeful. I sent a message to Sheila that day. And when Sheila and I met in early October to discuss her speaking at this party the first idea for a theme was ‘Truth’, which I really liked, but as I thought about her being a such a high profile public figure in Portland and her willingness to share her personal story, her very life - the one word theme vulnerability just stuck in my mind. I’m going to share more about Sheila when I introduce her in a few minutes - for now I give you one more thought from Brene Brown:
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
After I met with Sheila, I sent her an email that I was looking for a guest artist and to contact me if she knew of anyone. Apparently Sheila got an email right at the same time from a friend introducing her by email to Sarah Billings, which she forwarded to me. Sarah and I have become friends and I am completely honored and blessed that she agreed to come sing for us today.
Sheila Hamilton is a five-time Emmy Award winning journalist and the author of “All the Things We Never Knew.” Sheila’s storytelling resume runs through film, commercial television, radio and print. She began her career as an Associate Producer for public broadcasting, and then anchored and reported commercial television news for KTVX in Salt Lake City, Utah and KATU in Portland, Oregon.
I’d like to introduce guest artist Lorijo Daniels. Lorijo is a unique photographer who teaches her students how to develop their unique eye. She is engaging and fun, incorporating a variety of genres and methods in awakening and inspiring the artistic spirit, including writing, visual art, yoga and movement. She sees photography as a window into a creative, fulfilling life. It is an art with both personal and professional applications, one that we grow with at every age and stage.
I have had a wide variety of artists here for the parties. Art is subjective and affects everyone differently but the common thread and what I am hoping to achieve by always having an artist here is that art, whether you are immersed in it, creating it, or just simply looking at it, it feeds your soul and is the very definition of self-care. My mom always had some sort of project going, I remember her painting birds on boards long before ‘shabby chic’ and ‘put a bird on it’, needlepoint, knitting, and always sewing. It still makes me crazy (in a good way) to walk into Michael’s or Aaron Brothers - lord, the potential projects!!! But speaking for myself, I got practical, had a very cerebral career as a computer programmer, then focused on my kids and their art and development. I spent many years denying myself art - it was expensive, it takes time, worst excuse of all: I don’t “deserve” it...and I nearly forgot how soothing and amazingly therapeutic it is to create. So that is why I always have a guest artist and I thank you Lorijo for sharing what you do with the WWS.
I like to start off the party by reiterating my mission for WWS: it is simply to bring women of all age, race, and background together to focus on self-care. I expect that you will notice and be affected by different aspects of the party each time you come and I think that happens for many reasons: what is happening in your life, what you feel the need for at this time, even who you end up sitting next to. I still have my fears (even while I know that it is going to be true) that I will not make every guest happy, but know that I craft each party to appeal to ALL of your senses: the food and drink, the music, the visual of the arts, the wonderful smell of the soap, and your emotions...maybe they will all affect you, or perhaps just one will on this day, and that is what is I am aiming for.
I have repeated this quote by actress Phylicia Rashad several times now...I figure that the worst thing that could happen is that those of you that have heard it before will give a big sigh and then begin to say it out loud along with me. I take that back, I think that would be the BEST thing that could happen! This IS the very heart of what I want to accomplish with WWS:
Any time women come together with a collective intention, it's a powerful thing. Whether it's sitting down making a quilt, in a kitchen preparing a meal, in a club reading the same book, or around the table playing cards, or planning a birthday party, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens.
We all need to slice out this kind of time for ourselves, to have a safe place where we can encourage self care and focus on who we are over what we do. A place where you can come and just “BE”.
Sometimes I choose my one-word theme before the party and then I find my speaker, but more often I am talking with a potential guest speaker and the word just comes to me, loud and clear. When I sit down to collect my thoughts for what to say to you Wild Women I just love how many facets the one-word theme can have and that the opposite of the word always presents itself as a part as well. I read recently that inside every truth and every appearance there is a bit of opposite. The secret to getting is giving. The secret to giving is making yourself open to receiving, the glorious irony of creation that tucks its greatest truths carefully inside of paradoxes. Well I’m not exactly sure what the opposite of a wall is, but ‘window’ is what came to mind.
Jim Rohn said: “The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy”
So another way to look at it is that a wall for a human is protection and a sort-of opposite to that could be vulnerability.
According to Bob Marley: “Being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure.”
Brene Brown gave a Ted Talk on vulnerability, it is a very worthwhile 30 minutes so check it out if you haven’t already heard it. It is packed full of thought provoking ideas and I LOVE words! this is fascinating!
“The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ Over time, this definition has changed, and, today, courage is more synonymous with being heroic. Heroics is important and we certainly need heroes, but I think we’ve lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we’re feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage. Heroics is often about putting our life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line. In today’s world, that’s pretty extraordinary.”
And because I absolutely believe that it is imperative to walk the walk, here is my own story and bit of vulnerability:
About 7 years ago at a dinner party someone I didn’t know asked me what my passion was. To me, this is an embarrassing story but I share it for a couple of reasons - one is because this is the very vulnerability that allows us to connect, share, and become stronger, and the other is that it really forced me to grow. When I switched my career to stay at home mom, I spent a couple of decades focusing on my family. I do not regret this for a moment, it was my privilege and honor to spend my days with my kids. But what I found in that awkward moment was that I had no answer to that question ‘what is your passion’. I don’t even remember what I answered that night but I do remember first being mortified and then analyzing the hell out of the situation and here is what I discovered (and am continuing to discover): #1 It wasn’t that I didn’t have a passion it was just that I wasn’t giving myself any credit and I needed to be saying it aloud and often. #2 saying it aloud and often is not selfish, it is self-care! #3 Before you spend time banging your head against a wall because you think you have no passion and why does it seem that everyone else on earth has a passion and what the heck is wrong with me to be so lacking (ok, maybe I was being a little emo and dramatic but I swear that is how it felt at the time), take a deep breath and don’t worry!
You all know by now I’m a HUGE Liz Gilbert fan (you know, Eat, Pray, Love). Here are some words of wisdom from her:
Don't worry about finding your passion. Just look around today and ask yourself if there's absolutely anything you can find in the world that you feel even 1% curious about and then follow it.
That trail of pursuing your curiosity very loyally, with discipline, knowing that your curiosity will eventually take you to your destiny, I think that's where you find your passion.
Looping back around, finding your passion and the curiosity that can take you there requires vulnerability and the willingness to put yourself out there. WWS stretches me this way three times a year to put myself out there and really feel my vulnerability. I am managing it all better with experience, but I still have to work to calm myself and deal with the fact that this party will not ever be perfect. More recently, instead of beating myself up about the loose ends and missed goals, I am trying to focus on a goal of joy.
I have not read any books by the author Emery Allen (I don’t even know if Emery is a man or woman), but I found this quote:
“I think I fall in love a little bit with anyone who shows me their soul. This world is so guarded and fearful. I appreciate rawness so much.”
Walls and windows, guardedness versus vulnerability. Behind the walls we put up feels safe, but if you are willing to risk a little, to take little steps to do things outside your comfort zone, you may not always be safe but you will most definitely be LIVING.
Here’s the thing: it’s those walls that create isolation and make you feel like you are the only one with your struggle. It’s the willingness to be vulnerable and build a window, even if it is a teeny tiny one, that affords you healing.
I share these things that I wrestle with and that feels vulnerable and it scares me but inevitably I will have someone tell me that they struggle with the same types of things and when that connection is made and those feelings are shared, THAT is the payoff and THAT is when you will think to yourself: I am not alone
<Anna Sings> Anna Martin is a junior at LOHS and so unbelievably gifted and special. She fell in love with opera in 2011, when she was chosen to sing in the children's chorus for Portland Opera's production of Hansel and Gretel. She planned and produced her "Voices Together" concert this January, where the net donations to JDRF were over $10K. On May 2, Anna competed in the OSAA Voice Championship, where she won first place as a junior. Anna also plays on the girls' golf team at LOHS. She looks forward to studying voice and language in college, and hopes to sing on the stage at the Met someday!
Ingrid Kincaid is an internationally known speaker and workshop leader whose presentations are rarely politically correct. Her style is a unique mixture of creativity, down-to-earth practicality and ancient wisdom. Ingrid always challenges the status quo by inviting audiences and individuals to turn their beliefs and perceptions upside down. She offers private consultations either in person or by phone. She is passionate about working with women, helping them discover what’s possible when they remember who they are.
I like to start off the party by repeating my ‘why’ for the WWS. My mission is simply to bring women of all age, race, and background together to focus on self-care. I expect that you will notice and be affected by different aspects of the party each time you come and I think that happens for many reasons: what is happening in your life, what you feel the need for at this time, even who you end up sitting next to. When I plan the party I know that I won’t be able to please everyone, but know that I craft each party to appeal to ALL of your senses: the food and drink, the music, the visual of the arts, the wonderful smell of the soap, and your emotions...maybe they will all affect you, or perhaps just one will on this day, and that is what is I am aiming for.
And the second major reason for Wild Women is captured in a quote I have shared before by actress Phylicia Rashad: Any time women come together with a collective intention, it's a powerful thing. Whether it's sitting down making a quilt, in a kitchen preparing a meal, in a club reading the same book, or around the table playing cards, or planning a birthday party, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens.
We all need to slice out this kind of time for ourselves, to have a safe place where we can encourage self care and focus on who we are over what we do. A place where you can come and just “BE”.
When I started thinking about Vision as a theme my first thought was to get up and confess that I really have no vision myself but it is something that I aspire to have. But I’m glad I stopped to really ask myself this question because I have a pattern of not giving myself credit, but not only that, I made some assumptions as to what Vision really means. By definition vision is “the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be”, or “a vivid, imaginative conception or anticipation”. I assumed I didn’t really have “vision” because (more often than I care to admit), my wild and crazy ideas don’t come to fruition. It is easy to forget that when something looks effortless there are often thousands of hours of practice and, yes, missteps, mistakes, and failures that preceeded the finished product! And so, when I am beating up on myself for not being (fill in the blank here!) enough I must remember to stop, take a deep breath, step back, and recapture the vision. Because this party in and of itself is part of my vision. If I could capture what I want all my visions to be in two words it would be “Be Significant”. Or maybe the three: “make a difference”. And while I may never be significant or make a difference on a large scale, I hope I at least can on a smaller scale.
Taking the idea of vision more literally, Albert Einstein said: The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, his eyes are closed.
I had a friend say something that has really made me think, and I love and appreciate her honesty: “I am 50 years old and I am what I am”, that she doesn’t necessarily want to spend time being introspective. I love this about her so much! But, and here is the part where I lay my guts on the table for y’all by sharing my “patterns”, the actions that have held me back. #1 I need to take in other’s opinions without letting them change mine, and #2 I do not want to be done learning and growing, challenging and scaring the hell out of myself. WW has been a giant 3 year therapy session for me as I work through all the things that have happened in my life, and there have been a lot: turning a “significant” age, becoming an empty-nester, the trauma of divorce, and losing my Mom to name a few. And then my baby had the nerve to turn 20! While I am over the moon glad he is alive, the simple mathematics of having your youngest child that old are a little depressing!
I am a big fan of Elizabeth Gilbert and I’m very excited that she has a new book coming out in September. She has been sharing snippets on her facebook page, really yummy thoughts, like:
“creative talents and gifts are hidden deep inside all of us. Trying to uncover those "strange jewels" is one of the most challenging (but potentially joyful) experiences of a human life...and it's what my new book (and indeed my whole life) is all about.”
She sums up this vision with this: “One of the oldest and most generous tricks that the universe plays on human beings is to bury strange jewels within us all, and then stand back to see if we can ever find them.”
And my current favorite self help guru is Martha Beck. If you are not yet familiar with Martha Beck I encourage you to check out one of the many books or blogs she has written online, she is a world-renowned life coach, best-selling author, and Oprah Magazine columnist.
To go to the edge of your creativity means that you constantly challenge yourself to stay in the trenches, to solve and build and make, rather than waiting for effortless success or tearing other people’s work apart. When you look at the work of a creative master, don’t assume that it was easy; study it to see how the genius worked, and remind yourself that with an enormous amount of effort, you might learn to work the same way....Remember that you, like anyone else, can only realize the grand vision in your mind’s eye by working with the grubby, recalcitrant tools of the material world. (Martha Beck)
In closing, I’d like to dedicate this party to Ginger Rogers. Lisa and I lost our sweet mom in December. Now Ginger was a woman with very special visions. When I was in high school I drew a picture of my prom dress and she would work until the wee hours of the morning creating my beautiful and unique dresses, same thing with my wedding dress, Lisa’s too, and my brother’s wife, and all of our wedding veils too, including Gail’s. Always creative, always seeing the world through her rose-colored glasses, Mom taught me a lot about vision. Whether your dreams are to conquer on the scale of Albert Einstein, to create something beautiful for your daughter to wear, or just the whisper of an idea, my hope is that you pursue your vision with passion!
Well you know I love to surprise you and why not a world-class pianist?? Dmitry KreevaNOsaf (phonetic) is an honorary artist of the Republic of InguSHETia (phonetic) in the Russian Federation, laureate and diploma holder of five international competitions in Italy, Poland, Great Britain, Ukraine and Japan.
Lucky me, he and his lovely wife Ludmilla happen to be staying my neighbors (his friends) and I got to hear him play in a private concert at my home. Lucky for you, if you love his music you can hear him play in this very room on Tuesday Feb. 10 at 7pm
Guest Speaker Sarah Papp is a Certified Martha Beck Life coach. She has a degree in sociology from Sarah Lawrence College. After spending years feeling lost, stressed and burnt out she made a dramatic change in her life by quitting her job, learning and practicing mindfulness and forming her dream job by becoming a Coach. Today she is a master at helping her clients liberate themselves from inner barriers to form their vision and create the joy and freedom they desire in their life and business.