There's something about connecting with a group of like-minded women that's good for the soul. Earlier this month, I gave a presentation, "Unwrapping Your Passion," at the Global Deaf Women retreat in Washington, D.C. This intimate retreat was the first of its kind for me-- I had attended many workshops and conferences, but never a kick-back retreat for women only--where American Sign Language flowed freely all weekend.
My hearing aids stayed off the entire weekend and I enjoyed the blissful silence. As much as I like having sounds from the environment pummel me on a daily basis, I love the peace that comes with hearing nothing at all.
The first person I saw was Sofia Seitchik, the founder of Global Deaf Women. Sofia has an amazing story-- she came to America from Russia as a teen in 1990 and struggled to learn a new language and culture. In Russia, she wasn't valued as a Deaf, Jewish female, but here in a America, she blossomed. She quickly picked up on the language and carved a new life as a leader and life coach.
What a fun retreat it turned out to be-- a weekend of networking, connecting and learning. With each new woman that I connected with, I came away amazed and awed at the work they do and the lives they're living. Bridgette Bonheyo runs SportsMX, Alana Beal has her own consulting company, Ellen Mansfield does creative tiles, Julia Cameron Diaz and Maria Lado are massage therapists -- these were just some of the gals I connected with.
I especially loved the tour of the Gallaudet home of Vicki and Alan T. Hurwitz -- there's so much history in that house. In the hallway is a painting of Abraham Lincoln and his son-- one of only two paintings in the world. The house is rumored to be the home of the ghost of Sofia Fowler Gallaudet, and Vicki shared some stories of what she thought were ghostly encounters- and of how the doorbell light would go off and she would open the door, only to find no one there.
When I arrived at this retreat, I knew only a few women there. When I left, I had fifty new sisters to share the rest of my life journey with.