Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Girdles, Pantyhose and Spanx

It was such a privilege to speak to an incredible group of women back in October of 2011.  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
Women Empowering Women

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 there it is, the phrase "Women Empowering Women"!  I come from the high-tech computer industry, so I love a good acronym - W.E.W. - what does that spell? W.E.W. (yell it loud like Whoo!)- -Can I have an amen?!

So...I'm still in my studio talking to myself, right? Only now I'm yelling, "W.E.W.!" "W.E.W." -and my husband walks in and says, "What are you doing?" I explain that my talk is going to be about Women Empowering Women, The Ripple Effect and Women Helping One Another. Suddenly my husband says, "Whoa". I say, "What?" He says, "W.H.O.A. - Women Helping One Another. Whoa 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.E.W." one more time!

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 had the privilege of speaking twice at Launch Your Creativity, participated in Rita Reade and Christie Repasy's beautiful Vintage Marketplace, 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 who could not be here today-I have their permission to share this story with you. Julie Nutting, who is an amazing Fashion Paper Artist-she's been published numerous times in the Stampington magazines and Paulette Adams--an incredible artist extraordinaire, seamstress, her ceramics are stunning --her blog was featured in Romantic Homes magazine last month. Both women are bloggers. So Julie was having a bad day and blogged about it. Paulette - having never met Julie--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. Beth Livesay was also there. This group of very accomplished artists shared from the heart and because they were transparent I discovered their fears and concerns were the same as mine. I was not alone. Paulette 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- Lydia-and I didn't know Lydia that well - she had taken my painting classes and was good friends with my neighbor. The other woman was Sharon Hughes, whom I had never met. 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. In October, I recall Sharon sharing at one of our meetings that she wanted to put on an event that would inspire, encourage and empower women, the next thing we knew she'd met with Cheryl Turner and the date/time/place were all confirmed--and today we are all the beneficiaries. Women empowering women.

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 and Sharon are believing mirrors for me. Can you write down three believing mirrors? Believing mirrors don't have to be family members or BBF's - they can be teachers...I've taken several of Rita's soldering classes. I learned a lot and consider her a friend. So, when my Vintage Marketplace booth didn't feel quite right- I asked Rita for input--and am so grateful that she didn't just say - "oh, it looks great". She gave me very thoughtful and insightful advice. She is a believing mirror. 

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 girl's gotta have support.

Thank you. 


  1. Your speech was awesome! Had coffee with Julie Nutting yesterday and told her about your speech. We have a group of 4 already and are meeting on the 19th. Thank you for your wisdom!
    Much Love,

  2. I can still hear you....LYC was and is a great experience. Thank you Jenelle. Rita

  3. I just love this! You are keeping it real my friend...

    I was recalling the first time we met and began to chat... I felt as if we had grown up together, a kindred friendship an artful sister!!
    We even got lost together! haha

    I can't agree more about the negative input...well I like to call them Negative Nelly's that come into our paths and try to tear us down and discourage us...we need to build each other up and share our art filled lives, and cheer each other on to the finish line!!

    Thank you for sharing from your heart,

    Kay Ellen

  4. Sweet Jenelle,
    I LOVE your speech my friend...I so wish I had been there to hear you present it!!! What a moving tribute to the creative spirit & what it takes to make your passion become your reality. You are so right, Women Empowering Women...W.E.W. lol Support is key & simply being BRAVE surely helps! ;)
    Wonderful job...

  5. So glad you published this!! Looking forward to hearing more speeches from you : )

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this powerful message with us. It moves us to stop standing in the shadows and let the light that is within each of us shine. Inspiring!

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