Last night, I was invited to be a "Fab Femme" (a spotlight guest) at the monthly "social hour" meeting of a Dallas-based group called "Femmes International".
Haven't heard of this organization? I really hadn't either. All I knew was that it was once called "Le femme Focus", they were some sort of networking group, and they had recently changed their name. Other than that, I didn't have a clue as to who they are let alone what it is they actually do.
But last night...I found out.
"Get two women together, to start a conversation, and magical things happens."
Well, it may not be their EXACT mantra...but it's pretty close.
Not only that, it's a very insightful one at that.
Femmes International hosts some pretty heavy-hitting members when it comes to the world of business. As I looked out over this gathering of women, I was literally gazing upon a marvelous aggregate of accomplished entrepreneurs, creative muses, inspirational angels, heroic healers, and amazing visionaries. The amount and caliber of positive energy in that room was palpable.
We heard a report from Lucy McKenzie on a current project in Kenya that helps women by gifting them sewing machines so that they, in turn, can provide some really unique and necessary products for girls in their small, rural communities. The sister organization that is heading this is called ...what else..."Femme International". Their mission is to make and distribute Femme Kits (a gathering of reusable feminine hygiene products for girls).
These kits allow girls to remain in school during their menstrual cycle when they would otherwise be kept at home. Why? Because these villages have no flush toilets. They have no running water. They have no access to sanitary pads and tampons. The Femme kits include either a menstrual cup or 6 reusable pads which the girls can wash and reuse for several months.
The gift of the sewing machines has provided local women the means to make the pads for these kits. It also allows the women the opportunity to sew uniforms and other articles of clothing for resale.
Each social hour also includes an "In Her Words" segment, where one member is invited to stand up and share her story. Last night, we had the honor of hearing Janie Bornder's touching story of strength, resilience, and incredible tenacity. Janie is the executive director of Dress for Success--the local branch of this worthwhile international organization.
The mission of Dress for Success is simple: they offer long-lasting solutions that enable women to break the cycle of poverty. They not only provide professional clothing, but also coach women in interviewing skills, help them develop basic job skills, and assist them in writing their resumes. It's not a short-term solution. An impressive 84% of the women that get placed for employment remain employed in those positions after 1 year.
After that, we were introduced to some wonderful products that help keep our digestive health on track...products that I will probably be investing in very soon.
Then, it was my turn in the spotlight.
I felt...sort of inadequate standing up there ...after listening to these women who do such important, life-changing things...to talk about my little crafty corner of the world.
What I do is not life-changing. It is not global. It is not (even remotely) something that is important to anyone else besides me.
I am an artist.
What I do is for me.
I'm not in business to make tons of money on my art. Art is not my job. It's my passion. It's my saving grace. It's my peace and joy...it's NOT my vocation. Yes, I do commissioned work for clients. YES, I teach all aspects of paper crafting. But the big difference is...WHY I do it. It's not to put food in my mouth, it's to feed my soul.
So there I was, about to talk about my art, not knowing what to say when it hit me.
We had heard from ladies who fed our hearts. We had listened to ladies who healed our bodies...I was here to share what I do...to feed everyone's creative soul. My job last night was to be a muse. To inspire. To encourage creativity, in whatever form it takes, and to share with the assembly that it is, indeed, not only OK, but also NECESSARY to nurture YOUR creative soul. That having FUN and creating for creation sake...is as necessary as breathing.
At least I sure hope that is what I conveyed.
Femmes International was a refreshing and welcoming experience; one that I hope to participate in for years to come.
They truly do celebrate the commonality of their diversity.
Thank you, to Robin Roberson, Rose Colarossi, Becca Menig, and all the truly fabulous women I met last night (whose names I will eventually learn in time). It was an honor to be among such a truly positive force of humanity.
I invite ALL my women friends to come to one of their social hours (hosted the 2nd Wednesday of each month). Look for them on Facebook HERE