Spring saw the release of the 13 Wise Women book, a collaboration of thirteen local women who have opened up their lives and their thoughts, sharing their knowledge and experience, in the hope of creating positive change for other women.
Some of these extraordinary ordinary women told us about what it was like to be a par of the project.
Gail Mortimer (project facilitator)
Q: How did 13 women all work so well together?
Everyone had the same “bigger picture” if you like and that really did help to keep us all focused on our target market and the Why the How and the Outcome and on the same page.
Facilitating this project was easy. When you work with empowered and focused women dedicated to a project, supporting each other all the way, the outcome can only be positive. The most rewarding part of the project for me was watching each and every one of these ladies, step out of their “comfy zones” and deliver their chapters.
I also learned so much from each and every one of them, and will be forever grateful to them all for helping me realise my dream of inspire and encourage women to shoot for the starts and live their dreams. They are all extra ordinary women and all have of them have been inspiring, insightful, have honest stories to share, with tips and words of wisdom from the experiences, all written from the heart. So, to answer your question, all of these women worked so well together because we did it with love and a “bigger picture” and enjoyed ourselves.
Q: What was your experience of putting your life into words?
I came into the 13 Wise Women book project later, as I was overseas when the group started. With limited time and a looming deadline I thought the best way to write my chapter was to take a week off, take myself away to somewhere off the grid to think, reflect and write.
And that is what I did.
I loved writing my chapter, because I actually love to explore and express ideas through the written word. It was a unique opportunity to reflect on just how far I had come and how much I had achieved. However, in writing your own story you also leave yourself a little vulnerable to others interpretations and opinions.
My biggest challenge and fear was the weeks leading to the launch of the book. This is when I suddenly realised others would be reading my story. As the launch date loomed I started to become more anxious. I am a very private person and I had spent years deliberately not sharing my health issues and hardships. But what I realised after publication was that my story actually resonated with so many. It created a rare connection with them, where they got a glimpse of where I had come from and why I do what I do. And that has been wonderful.
Q: What was your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge in being a part of the 13 Wise Women book was making sure I had the time to be fully committed to the project.
Juggling a busy family and growing business along with taking on a new project such as this was always going to be a challenge. I think it is character building to try new things and go outside your comfort zone, I tell this to my kids all of the time.
However, my personality is such, that if I am going to do something, I want to do it well. I want to give 110% and be fully committed. There was a time in the project where the “hard part” – writing the chapter – had almost been completed, however knowing the industry, I also knew the amount of hard work that was required to get the book to publishing stage and beyond. I was worried that I would not have the time and energy to give to the project moving forward.
Gail was a great mentor and really encouraged me to stick with it. Of course, I found the time – I made the time – and really enjoyed the opportunity to work on the branding and the whole look and feel of 13 Wise Women, which is what I love to do. And I guess, in essence, that’s what this book is all about. Making time to try new things, reach for the stars and just give it a go.
Q: What did your learn about yourself during this process?
I was contemplating creating a children’s book but had no idea how to go about it when I received an invitation to contribute to 13 Wise Women, and I realised it was the perfect opportunity for me to experience the writing process first hand.
It was the very first time I was accountable to others for what I had written on a personal level. I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that consumed me when I was expected to hand over ‘my baby’ (and my inner most thoughts) for
others to share.
I learnt that we were all in the same boat and it was a perfectly safe environment in which to do so, and from this intimate sharing new connections and friendships prevailed.
We are 13 busy women, each with our own agendas, joys and challenges faced before, during and after the penning of our chapters. I will be forever grateful that my path has crossed 12 others, especially Gail, in the creation of this first of many books by many other wise women.
Q: What did you take away from working on 13 Wise Women?
It has been an amazing ride, with phenomenal women and I have been blessed by the experience.
When Gail asked me if I wanted to be a part of this experience I knew that it was exactly what I was meant to do. Also having a program of Self-Defence that was named the same (WISE), made the decision even easier.
It was going to be a challenge for a girl that struggled and nearly failed English at school. When I started to write, it was a process of writing from the heart and I knew that the rest would take care of itself. I wanted to share the experiences of life, love, forgiveness and belief to women who may think that it is not possible for them. By sharing my own experience, and giving them a starting point, as I did in my life, I wanted to show that all things are possible if you put your mind to it.
I always worked from the point of view that life happens for you, not to you. I also wanted to let others know that to change is just a step away. Life is short and it is too precious to live with regret.
I wanted others to find belief in themselves instead of waiting for other to give it to them, and thanks to the courage of all the women in the book whom shared their brokenness to their joy, that it is there for everyone and that you are not alone.
Q: What did your learn about yourself during this process?
Until pen is put to paper the reality of the learnings and achievements to date can simply be a culmination of doing what you do, being who you are, meeting and overcoming small insignificant hurdles, one day at a time, to meet the needs of others. Be it family, friends, colleagues or clients these interactions are shaping us, challenging and strengthening us, laying the steps to something bigger and greater than our current selves.
For a big part of my life I have let life drive me. Writing my chapter for 13 Wise Women helped me to realise the gravity of the choices made and that I, like everyone, am the ultimate creator and driver of the life I want to live. That daring to dream big and seemingly insurmountable dreams has enabled me to create new services to add value to the Geelong business community and to the lives of people in the Geelong region.
In sharing our stories, I hope many other people will dare to dream big, step up and make valuable contributions to their communities when it’s their time to shine.
Q: What did you think when you were asked to take part in 13 Wise Women?
I was honoured to be involved in the writing of 13 Wise Women and a little bit daunted at the same time. The thought came to mind instantly as to, “why me,” and, “what am I wise about?”
I decided the strength in my story came from my hardest time in my life and, by sharing the good and the bad, this would really help people to see that anyone can become successful if they love what they do.
When I started out following my dreams it was those that shared the good and bad that truly helped me the most, so I stepped out of my comfort zone and shared the real story behind what gives me my “why”.
This was a big leap of faith, as once it’s printed you can’t take it back. I hope that by sharing how low I have been in the past encourages others to never give up believing they too can have more.
You can find out more or buy a copy of 13 Wise Women online at 13wisewomen.com
Article from Ruby Magazine Summer 2016.