More about the Women of In Sweet Company:
Sister Helen Prejean C.S.J.
A Catholic Sister of St. Joseph, her Pulitzer Prize nominated book about being the spiritual advisor to convicted murderer Patrick Sonnier was made into the Academy Award-winning movie, Dead Man Walking. Her work to abolish the death penalty earned her a nomination for the Noble Peace Prize.
“Spirituality is also about the reconciliation of opposites. It’s about diving deep inside yourself beyond polarities to a place of unity where everything holds together. It’s very holistic. … When you operate out of the wounded places within yourself, places that are not your truest, the extremes seem irreconcilable. Life is too deep for cynicism or polarization. It just is.”
Learn more about the life and work of Sister Helen Prejean
Grandmother Twylah Nitsch
An elder of the Seneca nation, Gram was the founder and leader of the Wolf Clan Teaching Lodge, an international organization that promotes the teachings of her ancestors. Her Seneca name, Ya-weh-node, means “She Whose Voice Rides the Four Winds.”
“If you continue to avoid Truth Within, your difficulty lasts longer and hurts more because it also affects Love Within and Peace Within. Eventually, your pain compels you to grab hold of the Truth you tossed aside so you can integrate it into your life and remember the experience of Oneness with all creation that is locked inside you …”
Learn more about the life and work of Grandmother Twylah Nitsch
Miriam Polster, Ph.D.
An internationally renown Gestalt psychotherapist, teacher, and Professor of Psychiatry at University of San Diego School of Medicine, her work and her example encouraged the development of archetypes that celebrate women’s lives.
“Every woman needs to redefine the heroic spirit for herself in a way that is relevant to her everyday actions as well as to the epic moments of her life. … If you have a belief system that enables you rather than restricts you, you’re more able to deal with error within yourself or in others in a more forgiving way.”
Learn more about the life and work of Miriam Polster
Alma Flor Ada, Ph.D.
Born in Cuba, this Fullbright scholar is an award-winning writer of over 100 children’s books. Her work celebrates the universality of human experience and inspires peace-making efforts in culturally diverse neighborhoods and nations throughout the world.
“I have a responsibility to reflect on and plan actions which, from the perspective of my limited intelligence, are noble and loving. At the same time, I must have faith that whatever happens will be all right. In action, I reflect on the best thing to do, but in faith I know that everything will be OK.”
Learn more about the life and work of Alma Flor Ada
Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress
Rev Artress is Canon at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral and a licensed psychotherapist. After walking the labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral in France, Lauren founded the Labyrinth Project and began teaching others around the world to use this ancient tool as a vehicle for healing and spiritual transformation.
“People today want clarity from their spiritual practice, something that speaks to the deepest parts of them. And we’re tired of living with the guilt and the boredom of practicing a belief system that doesn’t allow us to feel comfortable with being human — or that doesn’t inspire us. We’ve got to stop hanging out there in the wind, living without meaning – or being unaware that it’s meaning and aliveness we’re searching for. … we need to change our seeking into discovery and our drifting into pilgrimage.”
Learn more about the life and work of Reverend Lauren Artress
Academy Award – winning actress, star of stage, screen, and television, she is also a film director and producer, an author and lecturer. A founding member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and a member of NOW, CORE, and Amnesty International, Olympia is deeply committed to women’s issues.
“… the heart of the goddess is transformative energy, the same energy that turns the seed into the plant, the tadpole into a frog. It’s something women understand intuitively and intimately through our bodies – if we have the courage to claim that kind of knowing. … But if we’re not willing to be honest with ourselves about what we feel, we don’t evolve.”
Riane Eisler, Ph.D.
Feminist, historian and author of the groundbreaking book, The Chalice and the Blade, Riane founded the Center for Partnership Studies, an international education and consulting firm dedicated to creating “partnership societies”.
” …what we have faith in is crucial to our own survival and to whether or not the circumstances that brought about the horrors we endured are perpetuated. One of the main obstacles to changing things for the better is this belief that ‘somehow, it – brutality – was meant to be.’ The whole point is to change our thinking so that we no longer use any excuse to accept brutality.”
Learn more about the life and work of Riane Eisler
Le Ly Hayslip
When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, Le Ly’s book about her experiences as a peasant girl growing up in Vietnam during the war, was adapted into the Oliver Stone film, “Between Heaven and Earth.” She created the Global Village Foundation to help heal the wounds of war for American and Vietnamese people.
“You have to separate yourself from what happens to you if you are to survive. When bad things happened to me, I just watched them as if I were observing something on the beach … I would think about something happy, something uplifting, something bigger than myself … You make your own heaven or hell. … Someone else can rescue you, but only you save yourself.”
Learn more about the life and work of Le Ly Hayslip
Founder and President of Women for Women International, her foundation provides women in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Kosovo, Pakistan, Colombia, Nigeria, the DRC, and Iraq with the skills and financial resources to move from poverty to self-sufficiency.
“To what extent fate dictates my life or I dictate my own fate, I’m not yet sure. But I don’t believe I should be passive and let fate lead me where it will. I must take an active role in getting to where I want to be. Some things happen you don’t count on, that take you in directions you don’t count on, but even then you have a choice about how you’re going to respond.”
Learn more about the life and work of Zainab Salbi
Katherine Dunham, Ph.D.
Dancer, choreographer, peace activist, and anthropologist, she broke the color barrier of classical dance. A Kennedy Center Honoree and recipient of numerous international awards, she was the first African American to choreograph for the Met.
“Think clearly about what you want to accomplish. Discern! Discern! Don’t create something that is false for you. Don’t sit at the table and eat what’s put in front of you! Before you pick up your spoon, look at what’s on your plate! Take it in with your eyes. If you decide to take a bite, savor the taste … then love and enjoy what life has done for you.”
Learn more about the life and work of Katherine Dunham
Margaret Wheatley, Ed.D.
Consultant, teacher, writer, her ideas on organizational management revolutionized workplaces around the world. Her book, Leadership and the New Science, and the Berkana Institute, her educational institute, promote dialogues and workplace renewal practices that foster relationship building.
“If we have a sense of that place within us where we know and trust ourselves, a place that’s clear about what we stand for and what’s important to our life, where there’s always a feeling of peace, then we can withstand the enormous shifts going on around us and know what action is appropriate to take. We’re not reacting in the moment or feeling like a victim of circumstance.”
Learn more about the life and work of Margaret Wheatley
Rabbi Laura Geller
Recognized for her efforts in bringing women’s spirituality to American Judaism, Laura is the third woman in the world to be ordained a Reform rabbi. She is the spiritual leader of Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, California.
“.. a rabbi and teacher of Jewish mysticism once defined spirituality as ‘seeking God’s face, then crafting a life that can be lived in the presence of God.’ It isn’t just about getting into the presence of God, because we are in that presence all the time. The central question is, ‘How can I fashion a life where I actually live in that awareness?’”
Learn more about the life and work of Laura Geller
Voted 1999 National Mother of the Year, she and her husband are Evangelical Christians and raised their two sons, one of whom has Down Syndrome, and her six nieces, who are Mormons, each to follow the spiritual path that speaks to their hearts. Gail works to create positive role models for the disabled community by helping young people with disabilities find work in the entertainment industry.
“… there are many ways you can respond to what happens to you and what you choose to do makes a difference in how things turn out. Sometimes the choice is clear, sometimes you need to make your way through several options. Sometimes you make a choice that keeps you hanging out there longer than if you’d taken another road. I don’t think there are wrong choices, just longer trips—or maybe deeper sadnesses along the way.”
Learn more about the life and work of Gail Williamson
Sri Daya Mata
President of Self-Realization Fellowship, the world-wide religious society founded by Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, she was one of the first American woman in modern times to lead a global religious movement. She directed SRF’s educational, medical and charitable work around the world. Her Sanskrit name means “Mother of Compassion.”
“The Bible says, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God … and all these things shall be added unto you.’ When I first came into the ashram, I took these words from the scriptures and gave 100% of myself to proving they were true. How else could I know for certain whether something does or doesn’t work unless I proved it to myself? When I made that effort, I found the answers I was seeking.”
Learn more about the life and work of Sri Daya Mata