November 4, 2004, Vol. II Issue 23
I love it when I get to see speakers in my own city so Saturday morning a week ago I was front and center at Legacy Women’s Services Annual Retreat, featuring Katherine Martin. You’ll be seeing Katherine, author and woman of courage in her own right, on my re-designed website, and very possibly at a bookstore near you. She’s been out promoting her new book, “Those Who Dare: Real People, Real Courage and What We Learn From Them,” just released in October from New World Library.
If the ladies attending the retreat thought they were going to spend the morning sitting down, they were in for a big surprise. Britt Bensen-Steele, movement maven extraordinaire, after a brief talk about finding our authentic selves, had us all out of our seats, swaying and tapping and dancing in place, as she led us in Nia. (I was grateful, as I was missing my regular Saturday morning class!). That’s amazing Nia. People who may not even know that they can move or want to, get moving!
Not to be outdone, and she will hopefully laugh when she reads this, Katherine led us all in an extremely effective and creative exercise about courage, as we moved around the room exchanging envelopes. Not only was it fun and revealing, but during and afterward, I felt connected to all of the other women in the room.
Connecting, it’s a good thing.
Katherine Martin: Real People, Real Courage
“Courage is not only loud, chaotic, and dramatic. Often quiet and unwitnessed, it is in all of us, waiting to be claimed. Step up. Be seen. Be heard. Make your life matter.” Katherine Martin
If you have ever hired a speaker because someone on your committee loved their book, you may have experienced a speaker who is a writer but not a very good speaker. Katherine Martin is definitely a writer by trade, and she is the dramatic exception in that she is an arresting speaker with a flair for the dramatic. Perhaps that comes from hanging out in Hollywood all those years trying to make it as a screenwriter. On the other hand, I think it comes from her deep passion for the topic of courage and connection with the people she writes about.
It was ten years ago when she gave up the seductive screenwriting dream that was eating her alive, and took up the call to write about courage. The giving up wasn’t easy. “I felt like I had failed, and I had nowhere to go to shake that feeling, no pretense to hide behind, no new gig that would disguise the feeling: All that time in Hollywood. For what?” she writes in the prologue of the new book.
“One of the most courageous things we can do is change. I say that regularly in reference to other people. Now I felt it happening to me. I was significantly changing, my identity shifting, and I felt out of control. Letting go was scary. Horrible for a tenacious person. Simply anathema. Courage, I discovered, is not only about persisting, but at times about letting go.”
In fact, Katherine has never thought of herself as courageous. She wanted to write about it so she could rub elbows with it. The process of writing three books about it has brought unexpected revelations about courage. As with her previous books, Women of Courage and Women of Spirit, she goes for the emotional context of a story, at times taking us inside the skin of her subjects, speaking in their voice in order to give us a sense of immediacy, of literally being in their presence.
At other times, she takes the reader with her as she goes on an interview or talks with people in the sphere of a courageous moment, so that we have a rich, layered exposure to the experience. She also shares with us lessons she’s learned over the span of many years writing on the subject, laying out principles of courage, how it works, misconceptions, tools for crafting a courageous life.
In her talks, Katherine shares other people’s stories and the story behind the story that unfolded for Katherine herself. For example, she told us about Ann Bancroft, the first woman to cross the ice to both the North and South Poles and numerous other high risk adventures. When Katherine interviewed her for her first book, Ann had just been inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame. She was a legend in her own time, an icon of courage, a perfect image of courage in Katherine’s eyes.
Imagine her surprise then, when at the conclusion of the spell-binding interview, Ann leaned in and said, “Katherine, I really have to be honest with you, that wasn’t courageous.” It turned out that in those wild, open, spaces, Ann is at home, at peace. It doesn’t take courage for her to go there.
What was courageous for her involved speaking up for herself in the academic world, where being dyslexic was interfering with her dream of becoming an elementary school teacher. With an authority figure telling her to settle for her B.A., she had a choice to make and she chose, hard as it was, to stand up for herself and pursue her dream.
“My learning disability and my struggle to get through school were great training that I would use later on when I needed perseverance,” Ann told Katherine. When she was having a hard day on the Arctic ice, she would remember, school was harder.
Ann’s perspective was a turning point for Katherine in her grasp of courage. “Here was a woman whose true courage had nothing to do with the expeditions that turned her into a public heroine. Hers was much more personal and universal, and, as such, more perfect than I had realized.” While most people can’t relate to three months in
Antarctica, they can relate to standing up to an intimidating person who’s trying to tell them what they should do or who they should be or that their dream will never come true.
“With everyday practical courage, we can craft more meaningful and authentic lives, not waiting to do something dramatically courageous but doing it daily, awake to what really matters and making a difference.”
In addition to her books, Katherine has created a critically acclaimed theatre performance from her work that has played to sold-out audiences. The Artistic Director of Portland, Oregon’s, Artist’s Repertory Theatre called it, “one of the most riveting, emotional, and ultimately inspiring pieces of theatre you are ever likely to see. It can change your life.” A Los Angeles performance starred Rita Wilson as well as Andrea Martin of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” It was most recently presented at the FORTUNE Summit for the Most Powerful Women, an annual event produced by “Fortune” magazine to bring together top executives and leading figures in politics, the media, and entertainment.
An award winning screenwriter and former magazine editor, Katherine has written for numerous national magazines such as “Ms.,” “Parents,” “Working Mother,” and “Women’s Sports & Fitness,” and for the “San Francisco Chronicle.” She lives in Portland, Oregon, and Orlando, Florida, with her husband, Franc Sloan.
Her books are absorbing. Her speaking is riveting. Learn more at http://www.peoplewhodare.com
For Fun and Enlightenment: What the Bleep?
Speaking of screenplays reminds me that I heard that an astounding movie, “What the Bleep Do We Know?” is finally making its way around the country. It premiered here in Portland last winter, because it was filmed here. It was so popular that it stayed for months! What a thrill it was to watch it sitting in the Baghdad Theatre that is actually IN the movie! Talk about déjà vu!
Here are a few reviews from the website to tantalize you:
“It’s a documentary. It’s a story. It has mind-blowing special effects. These three elements combine to bring about a film experience that will rock your mind and lift your soul! It’s a new genre about a New Worldview for a new audience.”
“What the #$BLEEP*! Do We Know!?” gives voice to the modern day radical souls of science, bringing their genius to millions. These maverick heroes at the cutting edge of their fields are at the forefront of a Paradigm shift even greater than those of the geniuses who preceded them. And this shift involves the greatest uncharted territory yet, Human Consciousness itself.”
“What the #$BLEEP*! Do We Know!?” represents a new trend in film that Hollywood has missed. It provides people with what many are most interested in and can’t find on any screen: Intelligent and Enlightened Entertainment. They just don’t know that you are looking for something that delivers the most thought-provoking concepts of emerging ideas in the most entertaining way.”
Get more at http://www.whatthebleep.com
Progress Report: Reinventing Ourselves
In her newest book, Those Who Dare, Katherine Martin told me that for the first time, she’s bringing her own voice to the page, taking her readers with her as she goes to an interview or talks with people. She said that was challenging, in that she’d spent a decade setting it aside. “I had ‘disappeared’ myself in order to authentically capture the voices of others,” she said. “Now it was time to bring mine forward, come out from behind other people’s stories.”
I can relate. When I started this business, I thought it was all about the speakers and I chose to stay in the background. Publishing this newsletter has been a huge leap for me, sharing who I am, and what all this means to me.
I wanted to let you know that we really are re-designing the website, and while we’re at it, changing our name and creating a new logo and look so that’s all taking a lot of time. If you go to the website and don’t see what you’re looking for, please give me a call because we have lots of new and exciting faces like Katherine Martin waiting to bring their energy to your next event.
Until next time, be good to yourself, for your well being and those you love.
ABOUT OUR SERVICES
My vision for The Speak Well Being Group is to be a connector for speakers I know, love and believe in, with the audiences who will be inspired, motivated, and transformed by their perspectives, knowledge, empathy, compassion, information and, most importantly, capacity to enjoy the process, laughing at themselves and with you along the way.
You’ll find many of our speakers on our website: http://www.speakwellbeing.com
Or please call anytime and let us assist you: 503-699-5031