Compassion is a wonderful trait but one needs to be slightly dispassionate in order to be sincere. Here’s what I mean by being dispassionate: stay calm and unbiased when someone is struggling or stuck. Here’s how you know if you’re ruffled by another’s distress. Do you feel uncomfortable? Do you try to make her feel better and ease her pain?
I did something super fun this morning – I went to a photographer for a studio headshot. I had won a bid at a silent auction and ended up with a certificate for one free studio session. She had me bring a change of clothes and accessories – ha! I was excited to finally meet her because her work is all over town. Her studio was great, her portraits are intimate and she made me laugh. We hit it off – we talked shop. She wants to join a women’s forum.
My dad respects me and I respect him but he has a temper and gets badass angry when someone disagrees with him. He makes his disapproval obvious and it’s not fun to be around. I guess my family is not special in that ours is the only one with meshuguna.
wForum is my business and it’s my job as facilitator to create a safe and valuable learning environment. I know the potential power of a trusted group of peers but I also know the tension of a new group and the risk that comes with high expectations.
wForum informally and quietly grants scholarships to members with financial constraints. In 2014 our charter set up 6 scholarships and there are 2 scholarships available for this year. If you didn’t know about wForum scholarships, read on.
The seed was planted 15 years ago for these retreats, when my daughter and I went to Wisconsin on a mom-daughter retreat. We had great fun; we learned to better listen for more heart-to heart talks, and we still remember the time we spent together. To the women who led that retreat, I send much love and gratitude.
It’s an exciting week for wForum. We mark a few milestones – our first Board meeting and our first annual Moderator Symposium, which have been months in planning. Oh, and just in time for moderator training, we have updated our online library of four publications for Year1 and Year2. None of this would have happened without you, contributors past and present.
There are distinctive moments in wForum when one member talks about her 5%, and it stands out as a breakthrough moment. Her impact is so significant that every member learns something about herself. Because everybody has a 5%.
The 5% is the very private and very tough stuff to talk about. And while there is a whole world in which you are capable and competent and making a good life for yourself, there are things you don’t like about yourself. Calling it ‘the 5%’ calls it out.
I learned something new about listening while on retreat at Casa de Maria. I’ve studied and taught listening most my life, so I know how to listen for feelings and metaphor. I pay attention to non-verbal cues and listen between the lines for what’s not being said. But all these skills get in the way of listening from a neutral position of simply being present for someone. Waiting for my turn to speak is not the same thing as being silent when listening.
Traditionally, the Thanksgiving meal was hosted by grandparents or the eldest member of the family. Today, the dinner is often given by a middle-age couple, who invite both young and old to join them. The meal brings the family together, and people are reminded of family history as grandma’s recipes are shared and old stories are repeated. The stories tell how the family has weathered difficulties, forgiven each other for problems in the past, and come through it all.
I know that asking for help is a sign of strength, but it feels more like weakness to me. I don’t like feeling needy. I don’t like not knowing. You would think by now (58 years is a good number) that I’d be on friendlier terms with the idea of help and support- isn’t that what Women’s Forum is about? Isn’t that life in a nutshell – help? Well. I’m pretty sure that even when push comes to shove, I’m not asking for help. I have some kind of self-image to protect: Independent. Capable. Responsible. Never weak.
So there it is: I have an (irrational) belief that asking for help is weak. I don’t know how to ask and I can’t allow it. My friends are on to me about that – wiser ones can spot the syndrome. They know how to disguise helping – for example, casually mentioning Anne Lamott’s new book, “Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers.”
Since the launching of wForum in Aspen, I have followed a model. The model is that I serve as each group’s initial moderator, teach the group how to work together, build rapport and after a few meetings, the circle solidifies. When the new moderator steps forward, my job is to bow out of the circle and offer support from behind the scenes.
Welcome to Women’s Forum. We are a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting women’s personal and professional growth. Please take a moment to hear from our founder, Adelaide Waters, about the potential of wForum to change lives. And Welcome to Women’s Forum!
If you want to hear more from our wForum community, please check out what our members have to say:
wForum members intuitively know that quality time with other women is good for our health. What makes that so?
Women’s Forum is very important to me. You would know that if you knew me. However, I never thought of time spent in wForum (or with my best girlfriends) as scientifically contributing to my good health. But is it?
A few years ago I was contemplating starting my graduate degree. But how could I find the time, juggling multiple jobs and family needs? After some soul searching, I concluded that life is too short and that I should follow my dream, sooner not later. I moved next to the school I wanted to attend, prepared all the documents, updated my portfolio, and proceeded with my sails at full mast.
I received the Fall Course Catalog from my local Community College. There’s a cool new offering in the School of New Media for a 5-week class on Social Media. If I gave myself time to think about it, I’d procrastinate registering, so I signed up right away.
Why would I hesitate? Because I don’t get it, this whole social media thing. Even though I know about tweeting and posting on Facebook etc, I don’t do it. I don’t understand why I would want to. Can you hear the defensive insecurity with which I say that? It’s true.
What if you received a call a former colleague with a lucrative job offer for the kind of role you once find thrilling? But you had closed the door on that chapter and moved on, or so you thought. Then, when you call back, thinking you will say ‘thank you’ yet decline, your colleague sweetens the deal.
“wForum has helped me to say no to some really negative people in life and be more intentional in who I want in my circle. It helped me to strengthen my beliefs and my sense of self, to be able to stand up for myself, and really say a big NO to the negative, the drama, the self-involved. I am happy to find myself here, and I am seeing real improvement.
How many of us struggle to be vulnerable in public because we think of vulnerability as weakness? When I witness others being vulnerable, I think of them as courageous. Seeing real truth and openness in other people is inspiring, but letting them see it in me? Now that’s a different story. I worry that if I show you my real self, the parts of me that are disorganized, trite and clueless, you’ll run quick in the other direction. So I edit the shadowy side of me and dress up the stuff that feels incomplete or inadequate so you will (maybe) approve of me. Sound familiar?
“I value the companionship of women who challenge me, support me and share their experiences. I value every minute I spend with them. Six months ago I felt alone and somewhat isolated because of my career and family demands. Women’s Forum has provided me with an outlet and a true connection. (…)”
Kim M., Aspen CO
“The level of trust and intimacy we have found as a group deepens every time we are together. The commitment we each have to our circle provides us with a foundation that is a spring board into our lives. I am so grateful for the love, the laughter, the tears, the honesty. We will share many passages of life together knowing this strong circle of women holds us together, like an invisible, golden thread.” Valery, Carbondale,CO
“I’ve learned a way of communicating in wForum that has improved how I relate, both at home and work. I feel more willing to say what I feel or ask for what I need, which opens the door for others to do the same.” Carbondale, CO
“We have evolved into an inner circle of trusted friends; we have laughed, cried, supported, and held one another thru a myriad of experiences. I am fascinated to ride life together into the future.” Erica M., Basalt, CO.
“I’ve gained so much insight, not only into myself, but into how we all have wisdom to share, how our unique perspective can enrich, enliven and sustain the members of our group in unique ways. We can dive deep together while maintaining a feeling of safety and nurturing presence for each woman and her individual experience.” Harmony S., Carbondale, CO