Ann Voorhees BakerBlog

This Is What I Wrote When I Launched Women At Woodstock 4 Years Ago

Ann Voorhees Baker

I’m sitting in my hotel room in Simi Valley, sipping an early-morning cup of coffee and enjoying the sunshine and the quiet, and the warm memory of last night’s joyously raucous celebration at the wedding of the son of my dear old friends Joan and Terry. I’m thinking about how I’ve known Colin, now a handsome young groom, since he was a toddler, and how weird that is. When I was his age and celebrating my own wedding, I never thought for a second how wistful and strange my parents and their friends might have felt, for the same reason – the unbelievable progression of time whether we like it or not. I’m thinking about how the first time I met Joan – at a playdate for our kids to which I’d been invited – I huffed out of her house halfway into the morning when Colin – or was it his brother Tommy? – came after my daughter Sarah swinging a croquet mallet at her head. Or at least that’s how I remember it. For all I know, I was in such a hyperprotective mode that the kid was merely playing with the thing and got too close to Sarah and I imagined the awful thing that could happen, and I nabbed up my daughters and fled. Can’t know after all these years. Both scenarios are possible.

I’m also thinking about Women At Woodstock, now in its fifth year, and how it’s evolved and grown. Grown? You might ask. What could I mean? Certainly Women At Woodstock has not “grown” – not like a “successful” conference pulling in swelling crowds of excited women clamoring for a chance to glimpse some boomer superstars on a stage in a large convention hall somewhere. No, not like that at all. Grown more like a living thing – slowly rising up out of the soil, unfurling leaves, budding, blossoming. Like life. Like the lives of the women who’ve come to join the “sisterhood” that we are. I feel good about what it’s become, because it’s real and it’s built on true friendships and caring and hard work and humility and kept promises. It’s truly what I envisioned. And I swear Women At Woodstock has done me more good than it’s done any one woman who’s attended over the years. From the women I’ve met, I’ve gotten courage, knowledge, new ideas, information, inspiration, and generosity. I’ve heard women tell me over and over again that I should feel better about myself. I’ve been hugged a hundred times. Yeah, no, way more than that. I’ve witnessed women make the decision to do what they said they wanted to do, and change their lives dramatically.  My mind has changed, my outlook, my plans for the future, my actions. I’ve most definitely been living a better life than before. By miles.

So I dredged up what I wrote 4 years ago today about the start of Women At Woodstock, and I’m gratified to see that what I was thinking and feeling then is still true today. (Except now I’ve cut out the daily wine at sunset, except when I’m out socializing; diabetes, which I’ve learned only of late runs on my mother’s side of the family, is creeping up on me as I’ve been diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Shit. Well, shrug, adjust, and move on. Right?)

So this is what I posted on May 30, 2012:

It’s Day Number 2 of the official launch of Women At Woodstock, and I am watching the sunlight fade outside my window.  The wonderful women in my Costa Mesa Mastermind Group (Michelle, Vondie, Robin, Stacey, Pauline) and in my larger group of friends and acquaintances, and in my new core group of WAW presenters and advisers, have been calling and emailing to ask me how it’s going.  Are plans coming together?  Do I have everything mapped out?  Have I visited Emerson Resort in person?  Do I have the support I need?  Are Experts for the Expert-Connect lined up?  How’s it coming on the goodies for the gift bags?

They’ve also urged me to share what’s going on through this blog.

So here goes.

WAW is flowing – a wonderful, feels-right experience from the start, ever since last August when I had an incredible hour-long phone conversation with Amy Ferris, an accomplished writer – author of successful books and screenplays – whom until that moment I did not know. A colleague had recommended me to her as a possible publicist for an upcoming project [the now-published Dancing At The Shame Prom, upon which a Women At Woodstock workshop was ultimately based], and I was making that “initial consult call” wherein I was supposed to wow her with my well-demonstrated expertise, enthusiasm, value, and fit for exactly what she needed in a publicist.  After which I would presumably follow up with a stellar proposal which she would then sign with enthusiasm, and thereafter I would make a substantial fee.

But, what happened was, within minutes of our initial connection, we began talking about other stuff – like lifelong goals and wants and needs and passions: about women, and connected-ness, and getting older, and getting back to that mother-world mystical sharing and caring and support and energy thing that we women do.  Or that we can do, if we set our minds and our purpose on a common intent.

Amy and I mutually derailed our conversation straight off the tracks and we bumped along together quite happily through fields and streams and mountains of thought as we set our creative juices and our visions free.

It was in that hour that Women At Woodstock really launched – out of my head and into a plan.  And from that point to this, Amy has sent many, many women my way, and those women have sent others, and I’ve had countless conversations with even more women who’ve heard about this thing and contacted me.  It had to be all about us – women of the Boomer era, and we had to gather in that iconic place of our generation – Woodstock.  Where else?  The process to date has been rewarding and I’ve felt a building enthusiasm and strength as the weeks and months have gone by.

So when I switched off the “Maintenance Mode” plugin from this website on Monday night, giving it life, I felt elation.  Ta da!  Here we go!

The next day was a bath of happiness, as I received emails from all quarters congratulating me on a great site.

The next day – today – has settled into dull rumination and nail biting.  (Why didn’t we immediately build to 1,000 Likers on the Facebook page; why did we not sell out registrations within hours of the launch?)

Of course I’m joking.  Being an internet marketing specialist, I absolutely know that things don’t happen that way except in the case of superstars and superpowers.  Alas, every success (mostly) takes work and endurance.  I know.  But wouldn’t it have been fun, if…?

It’s now sundown.  Time for a relaxing glass of wine.  And – time to grow up and grow into this and set real goals and expectations.  Like – within the next 2 weeks, my goal is to bring in our first sponsor; to sign two Expert-Connect partners; to tally up our first 12 registrations while the Early Bird rates are still in effect; and to collect our first 3 contributions to the WAW Scholarship Fund – no matter how big or how small.  And – I want to find a videographer to work with on creating a documentary of our event.

So those are my real goals for the real launch of Women At Woodstock: 1 sponsor, 2 Experts, 12 registrations, 3 scholarship donations, and a videographer connection. These are do-able goals.  Or so I hope.

At bottom, I am not worrying at all.  This retreat just feels so right.  I know that it will not happen without consistent and concerted effort. But this is when it’s especially good to be over 50; I’m wise enough to know that these two truths go hand in hand: you can’t succeed without hard work, but you can never turn your work into exactly the result that you envision.  What is meant to be, will be.  Might as well relax and enjoy the ride.

6 thoughts on “This Is What I Wrote When I Launched Women At Woodstock 4 Years Ago

  1. Ann
    i love reading your entries–it’s like we are at home, schmoozing, while the kids play….to get through those ‘witching hours’ of 4-7pm…
    congratulations on four years!
    xo Carole in Cleveland

    1. Thanks so much, Carole. I do have such fond memories of those ‘witching hours’ – the kids playing in the house on a winter late afternoon, you and I hanging out in your cozy kitchen, me sitting at the table, you standing at the stove cooking dinner before Art came home. How can those moments be so long ago?

  2. this is really well written. But I have no idea what it is. Is women at Woodstock a group of people who were there? Is it people of an age who could have been there? Is it people who wished they were there?

    1. Thank you, Madelyn – I’m glad you like my writing. Women At Woodstock is an annual gathering of women who fit all of the above – women who were coming of age at the time of Woodstock, some of whom were there in the summer of ’69, some who wished they could be, some who witnessed it from afar. We all felt something shift. We have Woodstock in our bones. We “Women At Woodstock” gather every fall in Woodstock, NY for a 3-day weekend of workshops, guided discussions, yoga, great food, wine, networking, brainstorming, and just plain old fun. If you click on “WEEKEND RETREAT” in the menu at the top of this page, you can find out about our event coming up this year. (P.S. This year we’re also hosting a Writers Retreat the week after the Women At Woodstock event. You can find out about that by clicking on “WRITERS RETREAT” in the menu.) P.P.S. I visited your Travellady Magazine website and I love it – great concept to share articles from over 200 contributors about their travels, each writer with his or her own preferences and tastes.

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