Remarkable Lives, Remarkable Legacies:Women as Architects of Change

Dear Treasured Traveling Companions,

I am writing this from Southern California with ash still raining from the sky as a result of the devastating fires that surround me in Long Beach as I visit my three grandsons. To the north is Malibu, to the south is Orange County and San Diego, and to the east are the fires in Lake Arrowhead and the forests of San Bernardino County. The creepy orange glow of the sun struggles to be seen through the already too smoggy LA basin. How can there be happiness knowing tragedy haunts so many. And yet, if we are willing to see, positive things can emerge even amidst such heartache and challenge. From the ashes rises the Phoenix.

Just a couple of days ago before the fires had made any progress toward containment I had the opportunity to attend the afternoon session of the Women’s Conference 2007, a day devoted to honoring women hosted by Maria Shriver. Here women gathered for a day of empowerment, inspiration, acknowledgment. The meaning of the day expanded as together we imagined ways to provide relief for affected families. Together we reflected on them, loosing their homes, jobs, and life as they had known it, and attempted to vision resilience for new beginnings. What we focus on expands, and so we visioned peace and courage for these families, and the safety of those risking their lives to fight the fires.

It was amazing to hear the powerful presentations of women such as Maria Shriver, Jamie Lee Curtis, Linda Ellerbee, Nora Effron, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient and activist Jody Williams. Distributed were the Minerva Awards. The Maria Shriver Minerva Award features Minerva, the Roman Goddess of war and wisdom.

According to mythology, with her helmet on, Minerva is a tireless warrior; without it she is the goddess of peace. Today, women are warriors in their everyday lives who nurture, protect and fight for the people and causes they hold dear. In her endeavors, Minerva embodies the qualities of courage, wisdom and strength.

It was equally as powerful learn more about the recipients of this award as it was to overhear the conversations of ordinary women while standing in line awaiting to be inspired. In a way, it was as touching to hear these informal circles of women sharing from their heart and imagining outside the box the ways that they might be of service to those who were experiencing loss in the surrounding communities. Through contributions of time, energy, and money and informal commitments made, a day devoted to honoring women altered it’s focus to include offering relief to the fire victims. Happiness honed by heartache teaches us that we are all one and connected in some way.

This conference is an event I will now plan to attend each year, and many women there had already made it an annual ritual pilgrimage. To hear/see clips of this year’s conference, and years past, visit: http://www.californiagovernorsconference.org/.

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