Take your time getting something to eat and drink, but as you do I want to welcome you to the party and get things started with a little housekeeping:
Barb Mathey, my steadfast Wild Women sponsor since the beginning, 7 years ago if you can believe it! She has her Juenesse products here to show you. Barb also sponsors the goody bags!
Shelly Morris at the back with her lovely Lion & Rose soap smellies. Check out her latest product: deodorant. She has been making it for over a year now so it is tried and true! You can find Shelly on Facebook and at many Farmer’s Markets…
Lisa Bakke, catering
Bartender Dani Gregoire, Gatekeeper Kathy Wery, photographer Amara McCarthy
Table Hosts: Sabrina Blair, Dianne Gregoire, Barb Mathey, Emily Aldridge, Laura Croll, and Sarah Goodnough.
I have printed up half sheets to both thank all my table hosts and support team and to also give you contact information if you want to get in touch, so please feel free to take that with you.
Raffle - ticket at the door? Additional $1 or 6 for $5, cash, goes to WildChild (I’ll talk about her in a bit).
and, in case you missed it, last March the WWS became a nonprofit corporation and we now have the official 501c3 designation. All of this is continually developing and I am so excited to see what more we can do in the future. (introduce board Em, Lisa, Barb).
The WWS mission statement remains: to bring women of all age, race, and background together to encourage self care. I have worked really hard to develop and create a platform where I can present Self Care to you in so many different ways. I did this to both appeal to all your senses and to give us all exposure to different communities. I like the term self care because it is broad and can mean different things to each of us. For me, I do this because what is important to me is love, relationships, and connecting people.
When I took over the WWS I did it as a personal challenge and I had in mind to make a profit, run it as a business. Our Dad was a salesman and this is America so the definition of success was profit. But with each party I felt disappointed: I was applying number goals that I wanted to increase with every event. A couple of years ago I decided I needed to rethink this. I would get so wound up and anxious, but not in a good way, just thinking about the party. My talk with myself went like this: Mary, if you are not going to do this event with joy then it is time to stop. I decided that perhaps I needed a different definition of success for the WWS. With my focus on the stories that women have shared about how the party has touched them, whether it was a connection with another guest (singer Saeeda Wright met Stacey McCormack and got help from her with her marketing), or connecting with the music (because I firmly believe that we ALL need more real, live music in our lives!), or re-connecting with your own creativity (I hear Michelle has coloring books all over her house now and is loving how art is so soothing). And that has made all the difference. With my focus on what I believe is the right place, my numbers are up, seemingly all by themselves.
It seems that there is a groundswell of women who feel called to support other women, and as we discover our voices we want to help other women hear their own. I gather phenomenal women together like this because I love the magic that is created and the opportunities we have to support, encourage and care for each other, as well as practicing self-care.
I am SO excited that you have come today. Every day we have many options and it can be difficult to choose “self-care” if we think of it as “selfish”, but, from experience, I can tell you that time you spend making sure you are strong in your mind, body, and spirit directly affects your family, your community, and in turn, the world. Your helping hand is so much more powerful when you are strong in yourself.
I think sometimes we feel small and unable to affect changes but with understanding, education, and compassion we can make ALL the difference. this gathering is all about coming together as a community.
Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
I want to talk to you a bit about our Wild Child in case you haven’t had a chance to read about the concept on the website. In the interest of creating a space for women to thrive and grow, I believe we also do well to incorporate GRATITUDE. The Society constantly reminds me of this MAGIC of bringing women together to support and care for each other. With that in mind, $2 of each paid door fee is donated to the party's designated WildChild. As is appropriate, the needs of the WildChild are shared and/or she will attend the party. If you feel so called, it is possible to make additional contributions. And since my raffle items are so over the top amazing I have added the opportunity to purchase additional raffle tickets ($1 or 6 for $5) with all of that cash going directly to our WildChild.
The Dalai Lama said: “When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others.”
Many of you know our first WC Amara. I created this program, built these wings, as I fell so I am always open to new ideas and suggestions. My first thought was to have a new WC for each party but after only one party it felt too soon to add another wildchild so Amara has been designated for over a year now. One thing I do know is that Amara will always be a WildChild. She is a contributing part of these events and this community and, even more to me: a good friend. And I so appreciate her willingness to let her often difficult life experience contribute to and increase our awareness. So she has been and will continue to help me shape the WC program.
I’d like to introduce to you Lisa Carpenter, our newest WC. When I consider how to present a WC’s story to you, respect and sensitivity are foremost in my mind. I believe the backstory is important because it helps us understand the situation and her needs. It also puts us in the frame of mind to consider our own assumption of security and, truly, how quickly everything can change in a heartbeat. More than ever, if we are comfortable we must open our eyes to the struggles of others, especially in our own communities. Not because our neighbors are more important, but because this is our community and it needs to start here. But let me tell you what Lisa IS. She is a wife and a mom with struggles and hopes, fears and dreams. Chronic pain is a very crappy friend that camps out and never leaves. She is just two classes away from an associate’s degree in management and supervisory development with a minor in gerontology, leading to what she REALLY wants to do: dementia care and/or hospice care and administration, but is also working full time to support her husband, who is disabled, and her son. Early last December her landlord of 20 years decided they needed to be out. In 30 days. Right before Christmas. Homelessness was staring Lisa and her family in the face. Thankfully she was able to find a place to live, but daily struggles continue. And more than anything, Lisa wants friendship, sisterhood, and community
Consider this, how easy or hard has it been for you to attain each of these: work, sense of belonging, social connections, choice, education, healthy food, legal protection, housing, transportation, and medical care. I’m sure we have all struggled with one or more of these at some time, overall for many of us though, we take these things for granted. But so many do not have access.
And so to the theme word of Respect:
Since I chose ‘respect’ as my word shortly after the last party in October it has been on my mind and has been my intention. I find it pretty easy to give others respect, it has always been important to me so I feel I have practiced it all my life. A bit more difficult for me has been self-respect. I am the kind of person that will defer to others at my expense. Give people the benefit of the doubt before I consider the affect on me.
I often explore the negative of my theme word and one possible opposite of respect could be dehumanization. AGAIN, I’m going to draw from the brilliant Brene Brown. Her latest book is called Braving the Wilderness and has a whole section on just this. Brene is a research scientist so everything she does is data- and fact- based in the way my geeky mind just loves. She backs up her views with scientific research and case studies and it is fascinating. In asking the question: Is there a line in the wilderness between what behavior is tolerable and what isn’t? She found that the clearer and more respected people’s boundaries are, the higher the level of empathy and compassion for others. People draw lines when it comes to physical and emotional safety. But for many people emotional safety is often used to mean “I don’t have to listen to any point of view that is different from mine, that I don’t like, that I think is wrong, that will hurt my feelings, or that is not up to my standards of political correctness.” This compelled Brene to dig deeper and she ultimately found that it was more than that definition of emotional safety, the participants were talking about dehumanizing language and behavior, which Brene has also studied, for over a decade.
Dehumanizing always starts with language, often followed by images. The Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda, Indigenous people, Serbs and Bosnians, the Nazis, slave owners. And social media are the primary platforms for our dehumanizing behavior, a place where people rapidly push others they disagree with into the dangerous territory of moral exclusion with little to no accountability, and often in complete anonymity. We are so saturated by these words and images we are close to normalizing moral exceptions.
When we engage in dehumanizing rhetoric or promote dehumanizing images we diminish our own humanity in the process.
To address this we need:
1. The courage to be vulnerable.
2. The willingness to practice what Brene calls “Braving”: boundaries, reliability, accountability, vault, integrity, nonjudgment, and generosity.
3. Tools for navigating conflict. For example, one of the most courageous things to say in an uncomfortable conversation is “Tell me more”. Exactly when we want to turn away and change the topic, or just end the conversation, we also have the opportunity to ask what else we need to know to fully understand the other person’s perspective.
Along these lines of ‘tell me more', I read a book a few years ago now called A Curious Mind, written by Brian Grazer. A name you may not recognize, but you certainly know movies he has produced: Splash, Apollo 13, The DaVinci Code, to name a few. The book is a collection of stories about how he has led with curiosity and it has made his life infinitely richer. We can all do the same, create curiosity conversations and they make us more powerful. And not the kind of power that comes from yelling and being aggressive, but a quiet kind of power. A cumulative kind of power, for real people that don’t have superpowers. He turned it into a discipline of meeting a new person every day. I find his story so fascinating because it is such a simple tool, requires no training, and is something that I can so easily do, and I have been trying to stay curious.
And because I cannot talk to all my Wild Women without a Martha Beck reference, here is another great tool/phrase to have: if anyone has an issue when you speak your truth and you are in integrity please tell them “I respectfully do not care”.
I have talked about the rise of the Divine Feminine for over a year now. I know a lot of you are frightened and bothered by things that have been happening in the world, but I am seeing things happen that are giving me so much inspiration and hope! We ARE finding common ground, people ARE speaking up, and (at last) positive things ARE happening.
Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Handler are both outspoken, funny, sometimes outrageous - ok - most of the time outrageous, but they have both been producing segments where they walk straight in and spend real, genuine time with people that have (and loudly broadcast) viewpoints that are polar opposite of what they personally believe. And they model in a very beautiful way how to find common ground, how to listen, and how it is possible to make forward motion, even if it is the tiniest of steps.
I don’t find it all that new that women are speaking up, lord knows they have been for years! What is new is that, at last, women are being HEARD, and respected, and something is actually being done.
Eve Ensler: when we give in the world what we want the most we heal the broken part inside each of us.
Watching our Dad struggle with dementia and/or alzheimer’s was difficult and heartbreaking. Especially after we cared for Mom through the end of her battle with Parkinson’s only 2 years before. It is scary and sad to see life come full circle, your parents become so childlike. For me, respect was absolutely key. As when my children were small, even though they could not act as adults I always tried to respect them. The simple respect of careful listening can change your attitude, and make all the difference in our lives. ALL of our lives.
A friend of mine cares for elderly people, she posts poignant stories about her experiences in, as she calls it, “Dependsland”. You have to keep your sense of humor. I know. She tells her tales with such tenderness, almost reverence, and above all respect. She is one of the amazing angels on earth that hold people’s hands through that sacred time of dying. I used to think that I could never, ever do that but with time and personal experience (unfortunately!) I have come to understand it as an honor and privilege instead of being so afraid of it. Having sacred respect for another human puts it in an entirely different light.
My friend’s name is Dixie St. John. She is a fellow Martha Beck Life Coach, an equine coach, and SO much more. And this is one of her many stories where her unwavering respect for the people she cares for shines through in her words:
Yet, on that day, after a 20-year battle with Alzheimer’s, he had absolutely no idea what day or year it was. He no longer remembered the previous ninety-one celebrations of his birth or the content of the years preceding them. He no longer remembered the names of his seven children – or the fact that he even had any. He no longer remembered that he was once the well-respected chief of staff of a prominent Chicago hospital.
Even so, there were other things he did remember. Arguably, the most important things of all...
He remembered kindness. Even though he had no recollection of who I was from visit to visit, he’d perpetually greet me with a cheerful, “Well, helllooo Sweets! Now aren’t you just a sight for sore eyes! I’ve been waiting for you to get here.” No matter what head or heart or clothing I came in with, I always left with a profound sense of being seen. He never retained my name, but my essence was always top of mind.
He remembered courtesy. Despite the fact that, due to severe arthritis, every movement was painfully difficult, he absolutely insisted, INSISTED on holding doors open for me. If I didn’t pass through first he would smile, shake his head and declare: “After you, Sweets!” Once I’d pass through he’d take my hand on his arm and guide me forward. It was all I could do to get him to accept the passenger seat in the car. We finally came up with a working arrangement: he’d walk me to the driver’s side, open the door for me, and watch me get seated. Once he was sure of his chivalry, he’d sometimes – not always, but sometimes – permit me to jump up and escort him to his shotgun position. A delicate dance of deference, to be sure.
He remembered enthusiasm. Whenever we’d exit a building together - once he held the door open for me - George would pause, look up at the sky, breathe deeply, and, rain, cold, or shine exclaim, “Beautiful day for a beautiful girl!” He also had a Leave-it-to-Beaver expression that he’d use to punctuate all things final and approved: “And how!” Used after nearly every declarative statement, it became part of the syncopation of our discourse. Declarations of delight.
He remembered to look both ways. Whenever we’d attempt to cross an intersection while driving he’d reach over and place his hand upon my right arm on the wheel, and, from his passenger vantage point, crane his neck far beyond my view to survey the advisability of proceeding.
Me: “George, what kind of car did you used to drive?”
Him: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Are you warm enough or shall I put on more heat?
George: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Where shall we drive today?”
George: “I don’t know.”
Me: “George, how’s it looking to the left?”
Him: “All clear, Sweets!”
He remembered humor. One afternoon while walking out of a medical building, his suspenders snapped and his trousers literally FELL TO HIS ANKLES. He stopped, looked down, then slowly looked up at me and with a HUGE grin joked: “Uh oh, Sweets. Incoming wounded!” I can only imagine the impression we made to passers-by – him standing there, waiting for me to pull up his drawers, and me struggling to hoist his them over his Santa belly, all the while laughing hysterically at his assessment.
But mostly, he remembered music. Did he ever. On a deep, visceral level every cell of his long-lived body resonated with rhythm. The faintest whiff of any sound would set his feet to tapping, his head to bobbing, and his smile to widening beyond the Jack Nicholson capacity of humanly probable. Show tunes; 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s hits; crooner ballads; Motown; hymns; and don’t forget Christmas carols (his favorite!). If, after extended periods of “spinning” our playlists off the top of my head, I’d sometimes turn on a Top 40 station and watch him adapt to a tune he’d never heard. He’d slap his legs to the beat of contemporary rock and roll with the glee of a groupie. All was always right with his world and an innate soundtrack accompanied its orbit.
And so, twice a week, until the day before he died, because he didn’t remember the surface, we spent time relishing what remained of the depths. We’d greet each other with kindness; walk through the door with courtesy; get in the car, look both ways, and with enthusiasm, humor, and music, we’d drive.
And hour upon precious hour we’d sing.
That is just one of Dixie’s many, many stories told with the deepest of love and respect.
I’m going to bring you full circle here, back to my North Star, my ulterior motive…love, relationships, and connecting women.
With our growing Wild Women Society: I want to create and be part of a community that is dialed in and supports - whatever it is that is meaningful to you: having a wide variety of women here is intentional, so reach out. To me and to each other! If you want to be even more engaged at the parties I’m always looking for table hosts and support people. If you have ideas, suggestions, or feedback of any kind I want to hear from you! And our WildChild still has needs that we as a community could help her with. This, is our Common Ground.
So I leave you with the respectful, succinct, and kind words of the incomparable Dr. Suess: “
Thank you so much for showing up today!
Kingsley grew up in Chicago, the third eldest daughter of eight, with a strong desire to perform and sing from an early age. She taught herself to play guitar and piano. At age 10 she started a band. Inspired by pop music she began writing and producing her own songs.
She was offered a sports scholarship and went off to college. in her third year of college, Kingsley was diagnosed with a competitive heart condition that ended her track and field days forever. Undeterred, and secretly relieved, she was finally free to devote her full attention towards her true passion. She started an all-female a Cappella group, and developed skills in beat boxing and arranging, graduating with a degree in Vocal Performance and Business Administration.
Straight out of college, she landed in Portland, and is currently collaborating with a wide range of people to create her style of pop-inspired music that gives her an authentic platform to launch her songs.
At the last party Ashley Kervabon and Jessa Campbell both sang. I want to remind you (and let you know if you were not here in October) that Ashley created WomenCrush music. WomenCrush serves to create opportunities for rising women songwriters by hosting showcases, educational workshops & networking events. The next showcase is Wednesday Feb 21st at 8pm at the White Eagle in NPo. It is easy to get to and FREE.
And did you know that you can have a house concert with almost any of these amazing musicians??
Erin “Kiki” Teal Littlestar is the owner + founder of The Perlene. If you didn’t have a chance to scope it out online before coming I have been describing it as a very groovy WeWork PLUS, with open or dedicated workstations, a beautiful library, classes presented by members on everything from tarot cards to yoga to personal finance, and fun social hours. Kiki is native Osage by blood, Texan by birth, and Oregonian by heart. She is on a mission to create a world where feminine leadership is the standard, and all women are living full, satisfying, courageous lives. And congratulations to Kiki she just got engaged!
If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die. Maya Angelou