WICA is ‘wow’ed by women

With speakers like a 17-year-old building a cabin on wheels, a cave diver who has seen places most people never will and a former pediatrician who now studies people at the end of life, the creativity will be sparking at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts as women on Whidbey tell their most interesting and touching stories.

The stories also delve into tough truths about life and the pain of disease and disappointment, as well as the beauty of overcoming difficult life changes and moving forward.

The WOW Stories gathering will be an all-day event, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 30. Tickets are selling out, so purchase a ticket for $25 from WICA while they last.

This is the first time the group has attempted such a day of storytelling. Diana Lindsay originally got the idea from TED Talks, presentations by speakers on a variety of topics, including design, technology and entertainment.

“The idea was, we all knew women with incredible stories,” said Lynn Willeford, an event organizer and moderator. They thought it would be fun to hear some of those stories, Willeford added.

Lindsay corralled her friends, Willeford, Rene Neff and Debora Valis, into forming Serious Fun Productions to put on the first WOW Stories gathering as a benefit for the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts and Whidbey Island Nourishes, Willeford said.

“I saw this as a love poem to the wonderful women of Whidbey,” Lindsay said.

When thinking of women with incredible stories, the group came up with pages and pages of names. They narrowed it down to 15 ladies ranging in age from 17 to 79. Some of the talks will last a few minutes; none will be longer than 15 minutes.

“The people who are attending are not just going to hear speakers. We keep it lively,” Willeford said. Interspersed with the talks are performances by singers Nancy Nolan, Karin Blaine and Siri Bardarson, pianist Maureen Girard, and Island Dance and actress Deanna Duncan. There will even be a little yoga from Amanda Murphy and Zumba from Chizue Rudd to keep the blood circulating, Willeford said.

During lunch, which is provided by WIN, people can sit wherever they’d like to and join “picnic blanket chats,” Willeford said. The small groups can talk about any topic: relationships, creativity, balancing work and family life, to name a few.

Speaking will be Shannon Arndt, Celina Dill, Mary Fisher, Sarri Gilman, Maureen Girard, Suzanne Kelman, Amber Kizer, Diana Lindsay, Ann Medlock, Betsy MacGregor, Golda Moore, Cary Peterson, Laura Price, Vicki Robin, Peggy Taylor and Veronica von Allworden.

Among these women are best-selling authors, a police detective, a teenaged owner/builder, a cave diver, a pediatrician who switched careers to study people at the end of life, a screenwriter, a Buddhist gardener, a professional musician, a therapist who turned an old motel into a center for homeless teens, an electrician specializing in alternative energy and several woman who turned their passions into successful nonprofits, Willeford said.

“We got a little bit of everything,” Willeford added. “We have some pretty lively speakers.”

What Willeford and the organizers hope participants get out of the experience is simply a fun and inspirational time.

“The idea is to share our stories and to inspire each other and just have a good time. We’ve had a great time planning it and I assume everyone will have a fun time,” Willeford said.

“We think you’ll feel as good about living on Whidbey after WOW Stories as you do after a Rural Characters concert,” Lindsay said with a chuckle.

Tickets to WOW Stories are available from WICA by calling 221-8268 or at www.wicaonline.org. For more information, visit WOW Stories’ Facebook page.