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.