A cornucopia of women's company

On one brilliant September Friday, my life overflowed with womanly communion. Have you ever wished you could spread such hours over a week or so, but that day is it?

A longtime friend, Marla Goldstone, is a workshop leader who has developed a one-day event called "The Next Chapter", for women who wish to make any kind of transition with more assurance and insight, while still acknowledging the role of chance, surprise and the unknown.

Marla has distilled decades of experience (her company is called Working Wisdom) into this new event and wanted to try her material with a small group. She occasionally visits Montréal, so I offered my home and sent invitations to a number of women facing a personal or professional transition. Marla requested only six besides me, so the workshop filled in a flash.

The day engaged intellect and heart, and brimmed with music, stories, reflections. I appreciated Marla's respect for each person's privacy; a participant could open up or remain silent; either way, we viewed our life trajectories through fresh eyes. 

That would have been plenty for one day, but I was also invited to a women's dinner party, so after a few hours' interval spent with friends also heading there, we arrived at L.'s gracious home for an autumnal five-course feast.  

The evening reminded me of my posts on entertaining, when someone comments, "I would love to, but I'm too busy to do it." L., a university administrator, did not consult guests or seem to fuss about her menu: "I'm serving duck confit, a green salad and rice", she announced, and invited us to claim the other courses, and bring whatever we wished.

The duck confit comes vacuum packed, ready to oven-roast; she boiled a pot of rice, dressed her simple arugula salad, and voilá. Her husband had prepared a dish of baked apples for us, before departing for the evening. Someone brought a platter of grilled vegetables sprinkled with feta; two sisters brought melon and proscuitto, I brought a cake. 

That's a marathon day of intense connection—so intense one woman fell asleep sitting up at the table! When I hear the phrase "too much of a good thing", it's always sounded so Calvinistically killjoy. Maybe there is "too much of a good thing at once" but I'd have to see about that.

At the workshop, Marla admired Susan's necklace, only to learn that she is a jewelry designer, and the piece was for sale. 

That's not the first time Susan has sold one of her designs off her neck. "I've learned not to wear the ones that aren't for sale", she said. (Shown, one of Sue's necklaces on me.)

Thanksgiving is coming in a month (October 13, in Canada); the question asked at the table every year is "What are you thankful for?" 

I will carry enduring gratitude for this day, for time for reflection and discovery among remarkable women, and the joys of a communal table.

PS. Several readers asked for advance notice. On Thursday Sept. 25, I will offer a fall/winter sale of Hermés scarves from my overfull collection. The post will be up at 7 a.m. EST.


Madame Là-bas said…
This day sounds as though it was really rich in ideas and involvement. For me, the transition from paid employment to meaningful retirement activity that utilizes my skills and aptitudes to the benefit of myself and others, is a goal that I have not fully achieved. The company of like-minded women is often inspiring. We are usually great at sharing ideas and food. That necklace really looks lovely on you.
Good Morning! I was "let go" last week from the small social service charity I was running--such a shock, at 55+. The workshop sounds truly excellent. Was also admiring the necklace you were wearing in your photo, before I read that your friend Susan made it! Does she have a website or Etsy shop?
Merci, Duchesse...
The gathering of women friends feeds my soul...I love the ease with which your hostess planned her meal. It reminds me that the menu needn't be complicated to be savoured and enjoyed.
How one falls asleep at the table in a setting like this does surprise me!
materfamilias said…
Wonderful! I'm envious of that day, although I'm not sure I could have got through it without going home for a serious nap! Too little time for women friends in my life at the moment, and I'm trying to get my head around how to change that. . .
Duchesse said…
Mme.: I am guessing it is a question of finding a good match. If you have a Volunteer Bureau where you live, that's a good start. Another way is to simply check the web sites of good causes that are meaningful to you; they often post requests for volunteers on them.

C'estChic: Susan sells only through very occasional shows in the Eastern Townships or Montreál. If you live nearby, e-mail me and I will give her your address for upcoming shows.

One of the woman at the workshop was in same position, one employer for 20+ years... it is a shock.

hostess: She can sleep •anywhere•, in any position!

materfamilias: As I recall you have hosted teas or casual dinners. The approach of others bringing a course (or wine) worked wonderfully.

materfamilias said…
You're right -- inspired by one of your posts early last year, I began hosting a semi-regular Friday cinq-a-sept. A few bottles of wine, some crackers, cheese, whatever anyone wanted to contribute -- and I loved that for the laughs and tears and stories that carried me into the weekend. Haven't managed to clear the space yet, what with new babies (!) and all, but I hope to get this launched again. Your inspiration once more. . . Thanks!
FoxandFinch said…
What a refreshing get-together. Women used to meet monthly in women's clubs and card parties when I was young and they were 55+, I remember my grandmother telling us (grandchildren) we were welcomed any day but club day. I always thought it was some secret society. I maybe it was!
Duchesse said…
FoxandFinch: The present equivalent seems to be he book club; one friend's has run for 22 years! My mother had regular bridge games, which always made for extra special after-school treats.
LPC said…
Ah, I had days like that when my kids were young. Not so much, any more. Sounds just wonderful. I find one needs to stay in practice for group conversation and I fear I'd be sorely rusty by now.
Mardel said…
Oh it sounds like such a full but richly rewarding day. A gathering of women friends is something I miss, and need to do something about.
Anonymous said…
Re: Hermes scarf sale.
Yes, I'm being pedantic, but starting at 7 am EST (when many of us are still on daylight saving time) leaves half the continent in the dark. Literally.
Duchesse said…
Sylvie: This blog is read world-wide, so •any• post time is bound to be undesired by some readers. Realizing that, I opted to continue with the same post time I have used for nearly seven years.

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