Gathering celebrates value of women
Thursday night’s sold-out Gather the Women event at Miners Foundry went beyond my wildest expectations.
It was the fifth annual gathering in Nevada County, so it’s not that I didn’t know the drill.
The energy in the room – the “feel” of the space – instantly made me at ease. The walls were lined with small altars of fresh flowers, candles, silk fabrics and statues of deities from many religions. Harp music flowed from the great hall, punctuated by the sounds of conversation and laughter.
But it was the women’s stories that grabbed me.
It started with the small stories, as women chatted and introduced one another prior to the program.
Then came the musical stories – some songs written expressly for the event – and the dancers, twirling the gold thread that symbolically connects us all.
Gather the Women founder Marilyn Nyborg spoke about the value women have and the premise that men and women share power to right the wrongs of the world.
I was the first speaker (scary!) and talked about what it was like growing up in the ’50s when books only showed women as teachers, nurses or secretaries.
Next up was Cheryl Wicks, who spoke of her passion for helping animals and how cleaning kitty litter boxes at the Animal Shelter led to her six-year odyssey of saving 6,000 animals from a death sentence.
Then Tania Carlone had the 250-member audience mesmerized as she told of losing an infant girl far along in her pregnancy and the subsequent experience of birthing her now-2-year-old daughter, Francesca.
The next speaker, Janis O’Brien, told the rapt audience about her son’s struggle with alcoholism and prescription drug addiction; the result being that O’Brien and her husband are raising three small grandchildren in their retirement. As if that wasn’t enough to keep a retiree occupied, O’Brien – upset at her homeless son’s plight – co-founded the Hospitality House homeless shelter.
Reinette Senum told the women about her search for her birth mother and the despair of learning she had died of breast cancer many years ago. She talked about what she’d learned of Jane, her birth mother, and the discovery of a brother who looks a lot like her.
Others from The Union were also in attendance. Here are some of their observations:
I walked away with new hope for my granddaughter’s future after attending my first Gather the Women event yesterday evening. As a rebel with a cause from the ’60s, I was thrilled to see that the spirit is still with us to create positive change in our world.
Now in my late 50s, until last night, I didn’t know what I could do that would really make a difference for my grandchild, Maya Sophia, and for all the Mayas on this small planet. But just seeing the attendees yesterday was an “ah ha” moment for me. Old women, young women, homemakers, professional career women and every other label you can imagine were gathered together to combine their power for positive change. And similar gatherings were happening throughout the world.
Colors and smiles swirled around me in the candle-glow, beaming with our inner beauty and the joy of camaraderie … 250 women gathered together for a few hours to tell stories, inspire and celebrate each other and ourselves – how amazing we are.
Being in a room full of women is always energizing to me, but being at the Miners Foundry Thursday with 250 women was off the charts. First, I saw a lot of people I knew, so it felt like old home week. Some I had seen the day before but others not in a while, so we took pleasure in reconnecting and catching up. Second, there was excitement, a vibration of expectancy in the air, that was fun. Third, I felt the power – women of talent, skill, insight, vision knowing that they were making a difference in the world, whether their particular worlds were the family, organizations or causes. Hearing the speakers and talking with individual women was just so inspiring. Some shared painful experiences, others victories, but the sharing was honest and from the heart. I couldn’t help but feel privileged to be there. Long live Gather the Women!
The energy of the whole event was very comfortable. It was like coming home. I came away with my heart and eyes open, waiting for the signal of what great wonderful thing I was put on the planet to do, as a woman. I have been to similar events in the past and have always come away inspired, empowered and proud to be a woman. This time was different. This time I am a mother of a 6-year-old daughter. She slept the whole time in my lap, perfectly content, surrounded by the energy of many women, many mothers. I have often wished I had the help of many mothers while raising a daughter – the way it used to be, and is, in many other cultures. Every woman there had a story, had wisdom and guidance that I wish I could have channeled and passed on to my little girl, so that she will someday have it all to call upon when she needs it to pass it on to her children.
This was the first time I attended the annual Gather the Women event, and by the end of the evening I felt relaxed, at peace with myself and empowered. I was there with several friends and ran into other people I knew, but even if I had gone alone, I would not have felt alone. I can’t remember the last time I have seen so many radiant, smiling faces in one place. There were no strangers.
I felt inspired and moved by the speakers as each one shared her story. I also enjoyed the interview with Jean Bolen via DVD, the live music, the dancers and the wonderful food. The art for sale by local women was beautifully done and reasonably priced.
The most important message I took away from the experience was a reminder that as women, we can and are changing the world through learning to love ourselves and discovering how we can contribute to the good of the planet. There was no complaining, whining or male-bashing, only a building full of the loving energy of women.
To contact Readership Editor Dixie Redfearn, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4238.
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