Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Girdles, Pantyhose and Spanx

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It was such a privilege to speak to an incredible group of women.  I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for the number of requests I've received to post my speech.  I've included it below- straight from my notes. I would love any comments or feedback you may have.


Girdles, Pantyhose and Spanx
W.H.O.A! - Women Helping One Another
"We are So Powerful When We Work Together"

So...I'm talking to myself in my studio, right? I'm trying to get to the essence of what I'd like today's talk to be about--because over the past year I've discovered the importance of surrounding myself with women who are encouraging and empowering. So I'm saying words out loud like Inspire, Encourage, Empower.
"My husband walks in and says, "What are you doing?" I explain that my talk is going to be about Women Helping One Another. Suddenly my husband shouts, "W.H.O.A!". I say, "What?" He shouts, "W.H.O.A. - Women Helping One Another." W.H.O.A! is such an appropriate word because when Women Help One Another - obstacles, fears and negativity are stopped dead in their tracks. Powerful. I thought it was so cool I had to shout "W.H.O.A!" Can I have an amen?!
Why do I want to talk about Women Helping One Another?  Well, since last October my art and art business have had the most incredible year--prior to that--I'll give you the Reader's Digest version--I was a  VP in the computer industry, got fibromyalgia and had to give up my career. I was devastated. I discovered my entire identity was wrapped up in that job. I felt like Juliet in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet -when she goes to the Friar and says, "I am past hope, past cure, past help." With nothing to lose, I picked up paintbrush--it was so healing! It literally gave me back my self esteem. Art allowed me to heal and reinvent myself. I wanted to "pay that forward"so I started teaching adults who don't know how to paint - how to paint. And that is what I did from 2006 until last October. Since October,  my hand painted ornaments were sold at Knott's Berry Farm, I've been published in Romantic Homes, Victorian Homes, taught Coptic Journaling at Whimzy and in two weeks I'll be at Glitterfest--I share this with you very humbly --because since 2006 I had the same aspirations and dreams to move forward - to sell my art --what changed? What happened to me that was different? In each instance, where there was a large step forward--I could trace it back to being encouraged and empowered by another woman--either directly or indirectly. I call this The Ripple Effect.
I could talk about the Ripple Effect that occurred between Picasso and Matisse, and how their work inspired and influenced one another, how their friendship empowered them to go the distance, how they then influenced their contemporaries and went on to inspire the entire art world--their work still inspires us today. But for today, I'd like to keep the examples a little bit closer to home. I'd like to share with you what I've experienced over the past year.
There was an artist who saw my ornaments back in 2006 and told me they would be perfect for Knott's.
She offered the contact info. I thanked her and politely declined - explaining that I wasn't ready yet-I hadn't been painting long enough. She approached me again in 2007. 2008. 2009. Each time I politely declined, saying "I'm not ready". In my head I thought I needed to take more classes and needed more designs, but the truth is -- I was in fear that my art wasn't good enough. In 2010 she didn't approach me--she gave my phone number to Knott's and they contacted me directly, asking me to come in for an interview. As a courtesy to my friend, I thought the least I could do was suit up, show up and show 'em my artwork. I did and was delighted with their response. That is how my ornaments got into Knott's. Women Helping One Another. Powerful. It's the Ripple effect.
My favorite example of the indirect Ripple effect involves two women artists--Both women are bloggers. One was having a bad day and blogged about it. The other artist, who did not know her--read the post and reached out to her. They got together and created a workshop which I had the good fortune to attend--and for me it was life changing. Here was a group of very accomplished artists who shared from the heart and because they were transparent I discovered their fears and concerns were the same as mine. I was not alone. The artist reaching out to someone she didn't even know had a profound effect upon my life. You never know where your kindness, your giving of yourself will ultimately land. The Ripple Effect. Women Helping One Another.
Last summer, Lydia Reza approached me and asked if I'd be interested in meeting with a couple other artists to support one another in achieving our creative goals. I jumped in. In the beginning there was six of us--by October it was down to the core group-just three of us. We started meeting once a month and called our group, "The Broad Squad". We shared our goals, created action items and held each other accountable. Sometimes we just shared and it was a therapy session. I always left the meetings inspired and on fire. Very quickly, these women became my very dear and close friends. Women Helping One Another.
I love Julia Cameron's phrase, from The Artist's Way, she writes "in order to acheive escape velocity" she makes a list of friends who support her and a list of friends who don't. Those who don't,  Julia calls W.B.'s --for Wet Blankets--no one wants to wrap themselves in a wet blanket--she suggests we wrap ourselves in something else-something dry. Heated, fluffy towels.
Let's talk about those first - your heated, fluffy towels need to be your believing mirrors - those people who mirror and reflect back the truth of your art and your dream in a possible, positive, affirming way. They are believers, they know that sometimes Creative Success means creative failures, they believe in "trying and trying again". They are generous. They believe in you and your dream.
My husband is a believing mirror, Lydia Reza and Jenny Doh are believing mirrors for me. Can you write down three believing mirrors? Believing mirrors don't have to be family members or BBF's - but they do need to be people you trust and feel safe with.
Now ladies, we've gotta talk about them, you all know them - Creative Snipers. Those people who you share your dream with and they tell you why you can't achieve it. Dreambusters. You say, I want to write a novel, and they'll tell you why you can't publish in this economy. J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, was rejected 12 times before she was published. 12 creative snipers said her work wasn't publishable. But nine of those rejections came through her agent. Her agent must of been a believing mirror who said, "This is awesome work, and we're going to keep submitting it". On the 13th submission, a small publishing company in London decided to publish it--to world acclaim. I think a lot of creative snipers are un-actualized artists, so I try to regard them with compassion. I'd like to think if they knew better, they'd do better. They may be wonderful friends to take to a yoga class, but its important to be aware that they are not a safe place to share your art.
So we talked about the Ripple effect, we've determined who our believing mirrors and creative snipers are - now its time to discuss "girdles, pantyhose and spanx" - in a nutshell - ladies, women need support! Creativity flourishes in a place of safety and acceptance. Success happens in clusters. If you don't have one already, I'd like to suggest creating your own Dream Team. Your Broad Squad, like the one recommended in the book,  Cash in a Flash. Author Robert G. Allen calls it a mastermind alliance - his definition? "Two or more individuals coming together to accomplish more than either could alone." Like Matisse and Picasso. Allen believes that to be a great person, entrepreneur, leader, artist, speaker or author you MUST have a dream team - "read any biography or autobiography and you'll find examples of this.
Men need support, too. A great example of a Dream Team, a success cluster, is a group of men who were friend BEFORE they were famous. They pooled resources and supported one another's dreams. They are George Lucas, Steven Speilberg, Brian de Palma, Francis Coppola and Marty Scorsese. Everyone benefits from pooling resources and generosity. Can you write the names of a potential dream team where you can pool resources and support one another's success?
I believe launching my creativity to the next level occurred because I was surrounded by supportive women, believing mirrors who empowered me to take the next indicated step, held me accountable. I am so grateful to these women - my "girdles, pantyhose and spanx" --cuz ladies, a gal's gotta have support.


  1. Jenelle~Its been a pleasure getting to know you and watching you grow. Its your time to shine!

  2. You rocked at Lauch Your Creativity!

  3. Hello,

    Just passing by and saying hello. I landed on your blog and this amazing post...from Kay Ellen's blog...


  4. Jenelle, two words caught my eye when I quickly read your post...FIBROMYALGIA and your sidebar statement of "...I want to encourage all--especially those gals between 40 and 60, 70, 80 to follow their creative dreams. It is never too late to reinvent ourselves."
    I NEED reinventing....especially at the age of 74 !
    I will send you an email and explain further if I may.

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