We've invited some wonderful women from around the world to offer their skills, gifts and life experience to the topics we're exploring during Feminine Eldership Rising. We are so grateful they've agreed to join us for this journey.
This is a map for awakening yourself to yourself; awakening the elder within.
If you are in your 50’s you may not yet really know what eldering means: but it is the decade of preparation and awakening: you are in the second half of your life.
If you are in your 60’s, you may not feel yourself physically as an elder, but you are in a cycle of completion, depositing your work energy, perhaps picking up grandmothering or mentoring in other ways, passing on your life work.
If you are in your 70’s you are in the final third of life, or even the final decade. Mortality is real.
If you are in your 80’s, mortality is a companion.
If you are in your 90’s, the body is wearing down and there is need for as much life review as your health and mental stamina allow.
If you are in your 100’s, you are a statistical oddity of survival—and the soul survivor of your generation.
Story is a map, and the map that gets one person through helps to get the next person through. I have known this since I read the diary of Anne Frank in 1960 and began writing my own journal -- now comprising several hundred volumes. Telling my life story to myself — breaking silence, shifting from complaint to activism, discovering ever increasing capacity for grief and gratitude — is the most significant decision I ever made. To open myself to the blank page has led to everything else I’ve accomplished. It’s never too late to grab onto the coattails of your life story: join me in setting out the map for this year of transformative conversations — the ones you will have with others and the ones you will have with yourself.
Christina Baldwin is a pioneer in the field of journal writing, personal memoir and autobiography. Among other titles, she is the author of Life’s Companion, Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice, The Seven Whispers, Spiritual Practice for Times Like These, and Storycatcher, Making Sense of our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story. She is the co-founder and co-author of The Circle Way, A Leader in Every Chair. She and her partner, Ann Linnea, carried and trained circle practice globally for 25 years and have now successfully transferred this amazingly restorative tool to a next generation of global teachers and practitioners. Now in her mid-70’s, she is focused on empowering people to speak and write stories that map our way to the world we want and need. She lives on an island in Puget Sound, Washington State in a community she thinks of as “just off the coast of America.” www.peerspirit.com
"Because the best kept secret in our world is that humans beings are meaningmakers and storymakers, I work in creating spaces and gatherings that nourish moments we want more of and give us the opportunity to separate from moments we want less of. As we do, something shifts in what we take for granted, and the way things are in the world, and especially for women and for those who identify as elders."
I am Chené Swart, greetings from South Africa! As a child of this soil, I am gripped by the gifts of narratives, human connectedness, diversity, moving through and transformation that inspired my audaciously titled book, Re-authoring the World! As a trained Narrative Therapist, I have been translating these ideas and practices with organisations, communities and individuals from various cultures and contexts. I stand on the shoulders of local and international partnerships that have deepened and widened the work with me. For the last 20 years I have been exploring how we can take back the pen and re-author with dignity and beauty our human presence in this world. The work I bring is an offering to change and challenge the way we look so that we can see and do differently in our relatedness with ourselves, one another and the world. I belief strongly that “the way things are” can be challenged, re-authored and transformed. https://transformations.co.za
For the good of the people, for the good of the land, Dovie Thomason is a gifted weaver of words. Her stories are a celebration of her indigenous upbringing - honoring those who came before, those with whom we share the land, sea and sky and those who are our future. With wisdom and wit, her stories remind us of the vital relationships between all beings. Her genre-breaking work has reached thousands of humans around the globe. On stage, her passion, curiosity and playfulness are evident, as is her dedication to “restorying” the lesser-told histories of indigenous experience.
Holding the delicate balance between beauty and brokenness, joy and grief, gratitude and outrage are essential to cultivating not just sanity, but creativity, meaning, and even joy, especially during difficult times. As the Earth and her people face so many ecological and social challenges, we can take up simple, effective, and fun tools for coping with compassionate wildness.
Trebbe Johnson is the author of three books, most recently Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty in Earth's Broken Places, as well as many articles and essays that explore the human bond with nature. She is also the founder and director of the global community Radical Joy for Hard Times, devoted to reconnecting people with places they've loved and lost. Trebbe speaks four languages; has camped alone in the Arctic wilderness; studied classical Indian dance; and worked as an artist’s model, a street sweeper in an English village, and an award-winning multimedia producer. She lives in rural northeastern Pennsylvania.
Like you, I am a complex being. My essence self is deeply curious, adventurous and tenacious, with a great love of the natural world and an appreciation for the complexity of what it is to be human at this time in our world. I developed a unique skill of not only learning how to ask questions but knowing the right questions to ask at the right time.
My life journey is about exploring both the inner and outer territories of life. I am as curious and dedicated to the realms of spirit as I am to those of the human systems that influence our daily lives and impact the choices we make.
The multi-layered aspects of me?… I solo wilderness journey for 5-7 days each year; test dead center on left/right brain capacity; love having my hands in the dirt; have kept my high school promise to do one new, scary “thing” every year; have owned and toured the US, Canada and Europe on four BMW motorcycles; am known for being a courageous and trust-worthy companion and hold the conviction that I am on this earth to be of service and make a difference for the good of all living creatures. www.lanaholmes.com
“We think we can grieve alone but grief requires community, you will never go all the way to the depths of your grief if you don’t have someone holding space for you because we are all afraid that we will drown in it. One of the biggest misconceptions we have about grief is the belief that we all grieve differently. I don’t believe this to be true I think we all avoid grief differently and this story helps us to do that.”
Hello, I am Quanita, I am a dark skinned Black woman born and raised on the Ohio side of the Ohio River, a place where my ancestors crossed in search of freedom. I believe that one important doorway to freedom is grief. Grief and joy are bound together they never come alone. When we have access to one we get access to the other. According to the Dagara Medicine Wheel from West Africa I am a Water Spirit and the medicine I bring to the world is the medicine of the water, forgiveness, reconciliation, peace making and the emotions. I often joke that my job is to travel the planet and make people cry. I have experienced time and time again the moment after grief, joy rushing in. www.nzuzu.com
"Love…it is always about love – the greatest healer. Love for the earth, love for others, love for myself.
As a child I experienced sexual abuse, emotional neglect and abandonment. As an adult the death of my 5 year old son, divorce and more. Through all of this I have always known that I needed to transform traumatic experiences into healing my heart and help others. It has been and continues being my life’s journey."
I am originally from Uruguay, and have lived in beautiful New Zealand for the past 35 years. I am a psychotherapist, coach, artist, mother and grandmother. I have trained in three different holistic modalities and have spent my life searching for tools and wisdom that bridge spirituality, healing, and science for my own journey as well as for those I am working with and have worked in the past.
Anger, grief, fear and anxiety have been at the core of these drivers and a deep commitment to healing myself and facilitating this in others .
I come from a privileged background and since childhood was moved by social inequalities. Justice and supporting women (people) to have their voice being heard, has been instrumental in my personal and professional development. I started as the (pioneering) director of the first HIV Clinic in the Wellington (NZ) region and helped creating the Prostitutes Collective, (a New Zealand-based organisation that supports sex workers’ rights and educates prostitutes about minimizing the risks of the job. It has been credited with controlling the spread of HIV/Aids in NZ). I also worked in an innovative art school which provides a creative voice (not only) to people with emotional, physical and psychological challenges.
My passion is to provide a space to free ourselves from our own limitations and to live a more multidimensional human experience. My ongoing vision at this time of my life, is to share this journey with other women and invite them to travel with me through an inspiring collaborative process. I love working with groups of women.
I am a student of Dr.Joe Dispenza's teachings and have witnessed and experienced the profound changes this has brought into my life and those of others.
Vanessa Reid (M.Arch) is a pioneering leader who brings her unique brand of artistry to the field of social innovation. She cut her teeth in Canada as executive director of Santropol Roulant, a vibrant non-profit founded by young people in which food as a catalyst for social change. Ever since, she has been immersed in creating cultures - personal, organizational, societal - that are alive and deeply aligned with all of life. This includes working with transitions, tranformation and the natural cycles of life - from the mess and excitement of creating new systems and initiatives to Conscious Closure and the living that is activated in the Dying.
Most recently living in Montreal, Vanessa has worked in the Middle East and Europe partnering on radically new systemic transformation initiatives, hosting depth learning with people and places, and witnessing massive change all around. As an architect, she brings a design practice to create spaces of individual and collective transformation; as a writer and former publisher of the award-winning ascent magazine, she brings a depth of spiritual, reflective, body and awareness practices. And as a global soul, she knows there is a great journey ahead and can't imagine a better time to be alive.
Watch Vanessa's TEDx Talk: Conscious Closure and the Wild Life of Dying
The calling to join this beautiful invitation through the Feminine Eldership Rising finds me honored and humbled. I am responding to it with an offering which derives from magical realm of Mythology, what Joseph Campbell named as “the Homeland of the Muses”**, a timeless heritage that is an ever-guiding torch. This offering to you all is articulated with the Quest-ion: “What is the Life and Service of a Muse in our Shifting World?”
“Elsewhere they called you Judith, here they call you Maria”* …Sings a Greek sea-song and from “here”, the island of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea, Greece, I, with this name, I greet you! I am weaving threads of arts, words, stories, energy to create textures of unity and connection. Springboards of inspiration and holding grounds of resilience. My work and contribution to the World vibrates though these webs: www.synergy-rhodes.com, www.nextstage.world, www.storiesofthenewearth.weebly.com
* (Song title: “Woman”, Poetry by Nikos Kavvadias, Music by Thanos Mikroutsikos)
** “I think of Mythology as the Homeland of the Muses, the inspirers of Art, the Inspirers of Poetry. To see life as a poem and yourself participating in a poem is what the myth does for you.” ~ Joseph Campbell
Pele Rouge has spent much of her life seeking the Divine. She fell In love with and became a carrier of an ancient body of Earth Wisdom Teachings after completing an eight-year formal apprenticeship with WindEagle and RainbowHawk, co-founders of Ehama Institute, based in New Mexico. These powerful Earth Wisdom Teachings are designed to foster wholeness and balance within the self and all aspects of life. At the heart of Pele’s passionate journey is her love of co-creating sacred ceremonial space in which people can gather to “do their work.”
She is mother of three daughters, stepmother of three sons and grandmother to her many grandchildren. Her large family is of primary importance to her and continues to be a major source of joy, learning and nurturance.
Her journey walk has taken her to more than 50 countries around the world. Her professional background includes service in the Peace Corps, a decade as a Continuing Education Specialist at University of California Extension, Santa Cruz, work as a Certified Financial Planner and as the Senior Context Designer for the International Center for Organization Design.
"A creative, spiritual soul, I grew up with a deep connection to the land and the animals, but I was also born with a fire in my belly. Keenly aware of the power structures inherent in my family and society, I set out to create a life on my own, one defined by freedom. Freedom of body, mind and spirit is a necessity for not only our soul's well-being, but also for our ability to shape our world. Because the the way we perceive and describe our world, influences how we act in it. Today, I feel called to nurture our soul and connection to nature and cultivate our courage to reimagine ourselves and the way we live from a holistic perspective."
Hello, I'm Lone Morch. An award-winning author, photographic storyteller and nature therapist, my work springs from the fertile soil of art, body, nature, narrative and change. A Danish native, I've live and worked in Nepal and America for the past 25 years, a life that's given me a deep appreciation of human diversity and an understanding of especially female identity and experience across cultures. Whether it's been through my academic studies, my work with sustainable rural development in Nepal, coachig of Kaospilot students or producing social environmental films, change has been the focus. In 1999 I lead a pilgrimage to a holy mountain in Tibet, which catalyzed a spiritual inquiry into a more ‘feminine’ way of being. Since, I've been exploring feminine wisdom and the consequences of it being silenced and disregarded in our world. In 2004 I opened a photo atelier for women’s self-discovery and for the past 14 years I’ve worked with women’s self-perception and sovereignty through photographic inquiries, workshops and more. My book Embody: Intimate Photographic Encounters with Women chronicles our experiences in photos and prose. My memoir Seeing Red: A Woman’s Quest for Truth, Power and the Sacred is a honestaccount of my personal dance with truth, power and the sacred. Fall 2018 I spoke about the power of the gaze to limit or liberate us at TedxAarhus. My work has been internationally published in magazines, newspapers, anthologies and blogs, and I continue to be a "messenger " of the earthly, wild and sensuous feminine. LoneMorch.com
"I was born in Brazil. Like almost all Brazilians, I am one-third Indigenous, one-third African and one-third European. I feel my home is Earth, any place on Earth where I can find a friend. Looking to the world's map, I see all continents alive and bright with people I love. How did I become this grandmother of all the world’s young people? "
My first Guru was my mother, who was always telling me to learn not only with her stories but with the stories of other people. I am the heir of Maria Ednir's talent to dream and take dreams seriously. The second Guru was my work as an educator, first as a teacher of poor students in São Paulo then as a communicator and a facilitator of educational changes in Brazil and worldwide. My work made me understand how unfair my country and the world are, and to acknowledge that we humans have created these social, political, economic, environmental injustices: therefore we can change them if we are able to cooperate and support each other. My work made me be part of great global initiatives to create other stories- stories of the future, such as the Restorative Justice, Solidarity Economy and Democratic Schools movements. The third Guru were the men I fell in love with and who inspired me to go beyond myself – they were for me masks of God or ‘fingers pointing the Moon’ ( how difficult for me was to see the Moon...). And the fourth Guru were wise women who cared for, corrected, validated and healed me. I’ve been walking on this planet for seven decades now and I have never traveled alone. During my journey, I’ve learned that connection (another name for love) is what maintains us alive. In this last stage of my life, I feel I am called to do for the younger generations the same my Gurus did for me. I continue to cooperatively create stories of hope, educating for Global Citizenship, for a Culture of Peace, for a new sustainable economic model. I am proud to be part of a story called “the Great Transition to other possible worlds”. I choose to believe humanity will overcome the present systemic crisis. My job is to sustain this Dream until I merge in it.
www.cecip.org.br ; www.curriculumglobaleconomiasolidaria.com
"‘I know things must change but it’s just too hard’. This is the phrase I hear most often. I hear it in organisations and in relationships. I hear it when a career change or improvement is required or when a project or great idea can’t get off the ground. And yet natural change is going on around us every day - the moon goes from dark to full to dark again, we sleep, we wake and while we might rail against changes in the weather, we greet each season as it arrives as a natural part of life. So might the response of Nature to the natural cycle of the seasons and the eldership of trees have something to teach us about managing change easily and elegantly? About ‘living treefully’? This question is my life and my passion."
I am a Life Coach and a workshop facilitator, I run Change Management and Career Management workshops for businesses and business people and I was for over 30 years a Television Producer of social documentaries and drama. I am a Druid with the international Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and have been walking the forest path for over 20 years. I am also a Marriage Celebrant. Since 1990 I have run my own company – The Woolshed Retreats – on my farm just outside Wellington, New Zealand, where I offer Total Pampering Days, facilitate my own 4 Elements/4 Seasons and Wheel of Segais workshops - a natural system for managing change and provide one-on-one life coaching both on line and in person. As a Druid I host ceremonies for the eight seasonal festivals and a monthly women’s Full Moon Circle. All of these are the essence of Living Treefully.
Juanita is the co-originator of the World Café, an innovative approach to large scale dialogue used in community and multi-stakeholder settings around the globe. Her award winning book The World Café: Shaping our Futures Through Conversations that Matter, based on stories of transformative dialogue and engagement, has been translated into 13 languages. She is also part of the book Story Bridge: From Alienation to Community Action.