I haven't been doing my Smart Woman Online interviews for some time, much to many people's disappointment. I will try to revive them and to start with - this interview with the inspiring Nancy Mills will get us back on track. This is the first in a two-part series... As an introduction, I hope you'll not only visit Nancy's site but think about her beautiful prayer scarf as a Mother's Day gift - for your mother or yourself! Enjoy!
Lip-sticking: Nancy - tell us about Spirited Woman - when did you start it? Why did you start it? Tell us about the 'color' - your site is one of the most eye-pleasing sites I know of with a lot of truly inviting colors - not to mention the great content!
Nancy: Do you want the long story or the short story, Yvonne? I'll go with the long.
In 1999, I had just broken up with my boyfriend in Los Angeles, CA. My neighbor heard me crying. She knocked on my door and asked me what would make me happy? Through my streaming tears, I answered, "A trip." At one time I had been a highly-regarded travel journalist and a trip was not a stretch as a way to cheer me up.
She then asked me, "Where would you like to go?" And to this day almost 12 years later, I still don't know why I answered, "Montana." I hadn't written about it, I didn't knew anyone there, nor had I even remotely thought of a trip there. As fate would have it, two days later she knocked again at my door. "My mother is going on a driving trip to Montana next week, and one of her friends, can't make it. Do you want to go with her?" she asked.
"Sure," I answered. And just like that, I went on a road trip with three strangers.
When we got to our destination which was Polson, Montana, we stayed in a woman's house situated next to an Indian Burial Ground. She and I went for a long walk. At the back of her property there was a rock.
I said to her, "That rock is in the shape of a woman."
She said, "Yes, we call her Spirit Woman."
I remember turning to her and saying, "That is what I am going to do for the rest of my life."
What is the moral of this story? You never know where destiny is going to lead you or why something will resonate with you. You never know how you will be led to change others' lives. My original plan was to write a book, titled "Spirited Woman." I wrote the manuscript which never got turned into a book, and from there I started the Spirited Woman Workshops which led to the Spirited Woman website and more.
It is funny you asked about the colors on our site. Just yesterday, I posted this question on our Facebook page, "Do you feel better wearing other colors than black, white and beige?"
I got many responses, but this is how I responded (which fits into your question): "Here is my color story. I LOVE COLORS. Anyone who knows me (or just looks at our Facebook banner) knows I love color. When I started Spirited Woman in 2002 and then had a logo made in 2006 - everyone said, 'All those colors will dilute your message.' Yet, in my gut, I felt one of the essences of a Spirited Woman was color. I cannot for the life of me imagine a Spirited Woman dressed in beige. Can you?"
Lip-sticking: We live in a time of turmoil, would you agree? How does our spirituality fit in? Women are truly spiritual, as you know well, but sometimes we need that gentle touch, that spark of inspiration, that warm hug that says, "I believe in you," especially from our sister-friends. Who is your #1 sister-friend? Tell us about her.
Nancy: Yes, we do live in a great time of turmoil. It seems much more so than ever before. And I even grew up during the bra-burning era - which was intense, let me tell you. In terms of our spirituality as women, I too believe it is in-born. Yes, we all need someone to believe in us, as I write and say, "We are all born spirited women. It is our birthright. Our internal passion. Our knowledge that will change the world."
Once we realize that we do not have to learn how to be - that we are - internal self-belief becomes easier. I truly feel it was only when Madison Avenue came along and started selling us stuff, that we all needed to be more. Were not enough as is. I really resent that about Madison Avenue. They did a tremendous dis-service - especially to women - since it is mainly women who are the household's primary buyer.
In terms of my personal #1 sister-friend - I would have to say "the earth" and nature. It is MOTHER EARTH. That is a fact. And it is from nature that I feel most inspired. It is that tree in front of me. The breeze on my face. The rock of wisdom. Yes, that might sound lonely in a way - but for my life, it is what makes me feel the most mirrored and embraced.
Lip-sticking: Your Facebook page is a popular place - I see a lot of activity there. On the 23rd of April, you said: "As I wrote about a month ago, I was deeply affected by a hawk landing on my balcony," then you said that experience 'changed your life.' Tell us a little about that...
Nancy: This is a very personal story. One I have not shared before; in print, that is. I recently sub-let a condo in Playa Vista, CA. While I was there, a magnificent hawk (white with brown spots) landed on my balcony. This was literally like finding a needle in a haystack, since there were about 90 8-foot wide balconies in this complex to choose from.
Once the hawk landed, he turned around and stared at me through the window. It felt like 5 minutes, even though I am sure it was less. Believe me when I tell you that hawk spoke to me. He said the name "Sarah" which is a very significant name in my life (I wrote a manuscript, "The Calling of Sarah"), my grandmother's name was Sarah and a favorite teacher's name is Sarah. Within a day of him landing - a friend came to visit. I told her the hawk story, and she said, "Didn't you know that Playa Vista was built on an Indian Burial Ground? Stacey (our friend) even wrote a song about it."
I had absolutely no idea. I started reading about hawks. How many call them "the visionaries." It is their job to lead you where you need to go. They are messengers. They are also protectors. Since that day the hawk landed, March 22, 2011 (only a little over a month ago,) my life has not been the same. I have been led to people and places that I had no idea would be in my life. I was even led to a place in California - the Ojai Retreat. I had never been there before and when I arrived there were 40 hawks flying over the property. As I was walking to my room, I "heard" the word Montana. And I knew then that I had to re-connect with the woman in Montana - the one with the Spirit Woman rock in her backyard. I had not spoken with her or communicated with her since 1999 which is not like me at all - I am a connector.
I was amazed I had not told her about Spirited Woman. Just amazed. I was able to find her phone number and it was as if it had been five minutes since we spoke. I knew then I needed to go back to Montana to finish my Spirited Woman story. Why I hadn't thought of it before, I have no idea. I asked her if I could stay at her house, finish some unfinished business with the rock in her backyard. She said, "Sure, come on, just come on." As if it was the most natural thing in the world. It was only a few days later, when I got an e-mail from her, that I saw she signed her name Patti Littlehawk (which is not her last name). When I asked her why, she said, "A Lakota shaman named me Littlehawk - because hawks seem to follow me everywhere." And I say this my friends - there are no accidents - in life.
It took a hawk to show me the way. And this summer I am definitely going back to Montana.
Stay Tuned for Part II...