Let me preface. "A Span of Seven Years" was so involved, so intriguing, that we almost forgot to record the evening. Image by image, you can see the intensity captured throughout the night. Here is what our brilliant mindshine guests had to say about our January theme...
Rebeca Lopez, a highly respected attorney at Godfrey & Kahn, spoke about her seven year journey that led her to go to law school. "When I was 19, I was talked out of a management opportunity. 'You're a young, petite blond and it would be hard for you to command respect,' I was told." These sentiments motivated Rebeca to apply and land a job with Senator Russ Feingold, who was looking for a bilingual staff member to lead Latino Outreach around the state of Wisconsin. "I eventually managed the office - which was very apropros," she laughed. Rebeca's experience working with Feingold empowered her to jump head first into law school.
Tiffany Herrera finds great luck with the number seven. "I have seven letters in my first and last name, so I always thought seven was my number - that it related to good things - and that it somehow meant that I am a good person."
"That touches my heart," Rebeca said. "I think it's refreshing to hear someone identify themself as good. People are often so self-deprecating."
"It took me a long time to get there," Tiffany said. "It was probably within the past 7-10 years - when I started volunteering for the Wisconsin Humane Society - that I realized... " "That you were pretty amazing?" questioned Michele St. Amour. "...that I was put here to do something. That I'm a good person."
Emily Watson, owner of Wood Violet, spoke business. And flowers. "Over seven years there is enough time to make a big decision, try it out, tweak it, watch it grow - watch it succeed." Emily went to school for conservation in Madison, which eventually inspired her dream to start a flower farm in Wisconsin, and led to her current business model which includes floral design for special occasions. "I can almost always provide locally-sourced flowers. Overall, I am dedicated to selling all American-grown flowers, which is one of the few things that's remained the same since starting my business."
"I've always been interested in how the body regenerates cells every seven years," shared Michele St. Amour, Operations Director for the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network. "You can develop allergies in adulthood that you've never had in your life because there are new cells involved. Suddenly you have diabetes or you no longer have asthma. It's fascinating." Michele also mapped out the next seven years of her life. "I am going to focus more on art. More on me. It's kind of like all of those cells changing over - I'm going to change everything back to me because, before you know it, seven years is gone."
As for the light(ish) comedy of the night, Katy Corey chose to read love excerpts from her diaries. "Over the span of seven years, I journaled every single night. It was therapeutic. It was an important, spiritual practice. And now - now I have a documented collection of hilarious stories." Katy opened with an entry from 9.9.1999. She was a freshman at Marquette University debating whether or not to break-up with her high school sweetheart. She also shared a day in the life as Disco the Camp Counselor, and friendships made with Dizzy, Shoty, Bugs and Seven, a cross-roads decision that led to a sour break-up under the Eiffel Tower, and walking the streets of Guatemala with her Peace Corps companion the day the Pope died. "I wish I would still take time to write. Maybe I'll capture the next seven years."
Kelly Andrew spent the seven years before starting Filament at one job in the nonprofit world. "At the beginning of that seven years, I was excited. Over time, I built things. I was proud, and throughout the course of seven years I learned a lot about myself: what I could give, who to surround myself with, and what I could help do in the world. It's amazing what you can build in seven years, and how quickly it can change - sort of like a divorce or car accident. You build something and think you have it all together, and sometimes it just goes away. After a short amount of time, I don't see myself in business suits anymore! For better or worse, no matter how long that life took to build, it won't necessarily take that long to disappear. That's life, I guess."
As the evening drew to a close, it was clear to all of women in the room: we are talking about real issues. Real life moments. And it feels powerful. It feels like we've devoted a lot of heart to our communities and to this incredible life journey over the past seven years.
Stay tuned for our next mindshine, to be held tomorrow evening. We'll be enjoying another Tall Guy and A Grill menu, drinks, and talking on the theme of: Handholding.