The River Birch Project Fall Event — Recap

The River Birch Project LogoFilm Viewing and Discussion

The Women’s List

a PBS documentary by Timothy Greenfield Sanders

 Meet 15 Women Who Have Created and Defined Contemporary US Culture

Inspiring! Uplifting! Provocative! Fun! Compelling!

About thirty of us gathered to view the film along with lively discussion.  You may purchase this video from PBS (as we did), and / or view the trailer or complete version here.

“It’s sometimes surprising to discover the cumulative progress women have made in recent times. Just think, what field has not been enriched by females in art, theater, finance politics, law, entrepreneurship, science.  The list is as impressive as it is enlightening. To realize that we’re no longer pioneers, the startling exception, the first to fly, or swim or sail prodigious distances in bad weather. No longer the first to untangle problems in science, math or physics.

No. We are multitudes, and society is clearly the better for our peaceful invasion.  There is no modernity and no justice without the talent, the passion and the steely intelligence of women.”

Toni Morrison

Our discussion covered many elements inspired by the film, including a discussion of what it means to be a feminist.  What does this really mean for those who came before us as well as those who are young today, and for men, as well as women, male youth as well as female? Our discussion was about knowing one’s own power, own voice, in service to what matters, and in service to humanity.

There also was lively discussion on the topic of Self-Doubt and Confidence.  See this brief and fun TED Lesson: Tips to Boost Confidence!

Curated Resources on the topic of Women and Leadership, from last night’s event.

We look forward to seeing you at future events!

For Event updates and announcements watch this site.

For More Information on The River Birch Project

The Story of The River Birch

Women, Professional Roles, and “Having It All”


The RiverBirch Project focuses on Women, Leadership, & Life!  On the topic of Women, Work, and Family, two important events are upcoming:

  • Having It All, a locally produced documentary, premiered in July, sponsored by KCTS and ParentMap, and then KCTS aired the film in August.  If you missed it, there’s another chance to see it on September 24th. To see the trailer, and for more information about this honest and timely film, check here.
  • Anne Marie Slaughter is coming to Town Hall, October 5, 2015, on the topic:  Women, Men, Work and Family.  Her 2012 cover article in the Atlantic “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” re-ignited the current U.S. conversation and most recent ‘new women’s movement’ and prompted the start of our own dialogue and The RiverBirch Project. Ms. Slaughter is speaking on topics from her new book, Unfinished Business.  Tickets and more information available at Town Hall.

RiverBirch Project Update:

We’ve taken an 18-month pause with The RiverBirch Project, and many things have ensued since our last event…The reasons for pausing can be summed up by:

My Coaching practice is thriving and has required even more time and attention.  All the while, I’ve scanned and connected with others who are convening conversations on similar topics, to be able to bring these back when the time was right.

There’s also been a tidal wave of new offerings in print, social media, and events, on the topic of women, leadership, and navigating professional / personal lives.  Truthfully, I paused to ponder: What’s ours to do in this space where there is now so much available?

In the social and print media, however, most of the conversation is along the lines of advice.   Still, I believe there’s a space for convening a conversation without advice, but with dialogue, convening conversations for learning and awareness, and support…the original purpose for The RiverBirch Project.  We will resume in October with a new RiverBirch event, and will subsequently offer these gatherings as there’s time and interest.  Watch this site for future posts and the event announcement.

For further information about The RiverBirch Project, look here.

Best Wishes,


Event Follow Up: The Role of Authenticity in Healing

Perspectives from Three Women Physicians

About thirty of us gathered to hear Pat Dawson, MD, Astrid Pujari, MD, and Julia Smith, MD, speak on the topic of Authenticity and Healing.  Their reflections were deeply personal, thoughtful and inspiring.  Participants expressed deep appreciation to our speakers.

To learn more about each of them, or to reach the speakers:

For the books mentioned at the event,

 Thoughts about the program:

We will remember Pat’s story, and her ‘aha’ about her role with patients and how it freed her to not feel she had to fill up others, (which was depleting), but to work ‘with’ patients and respect their resources.

…and Astrid’s retreat, being near the presence of the Jesuit priest, and how it changed her to see that how we choose to see others and ourselves is life-defining.  (She felt at peace in his presence, and it was because he saw her as good and whole), and we must see ourselves as good and whole, in order to bring this to how we see others,

…and we remember Julia and her teaching that all this is a journey, an individual and at once universal developmental journey, and at our own pace we face and learn from our own demons and joys…

Our evening focused quite a bit on challenges and difficulties, (and through this crucible we emerge).  So it may have felt heavy… and authenticity also includes reveling in JOY!  We may tamp down our own response to difficulties in order  to ‘fit in’ and not make people uncomfortable, and we also, then reduce the spectrum of experience on the JOY side, too!  I’m reminded of the children in our lives, and my two golden retrievers, who are “in the moment” and model what it means to authentically experience joy.

Poems and Quotes:

You asked about poems and quotes, from the program, both contributed by Julia Smith:

Martha Graham to Agnes de Mille, Dance to the Piper

“There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action.  And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.  The world will not have it.  It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open… You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.  Keep the channel open… (There is) no satisfaction whatever at any time.  There is only a queer , divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the other.”


The Thread, by William Stafford:

There’s a thread you follow.  It goes among

things that change.  but it doesn’t change. 

People wonder about what you are pursuing.

You have to explain about the thread

But it is hard for others to see.

While you hold it you can’t get lost.

Tragedies happen; people get hurt

Or die; and you suffer and get old.

You don’t ever let go of the thread.

Thank you

…for participating in this evening, and this conversation.   The RiverBirch Project:  Women, Leadership & Life! events will be held 2-3 times a year, and announced via postings here. To be sure to receive announcements, please subscribe, via RSS on this site.  (Your email will not be shared or used for any other purpose.)

~Lynn Hagerman, June 2, 2013