Third in Trilogy
Waves Of Wisdom:
Grace, Guts and Gators
on the Lower Mississippi
Travel from St. Louis,
Missouri to the Gulf Of Mexico.
How it Started from the founder,
Have you ever had a recurring dream and wondered how amazing it would be to wake up one day and find yourself living it? As an eight-year-old girl I had dreams about paddling from the headwaters of the Mississippi at Itasca State Park, which I’d seen on a family vacation, to Minneapolis, where I played on the river’s banks almost every day. With my feet in the water I watched boats pass and imagined that I’d traveled the whole way on one of them, seeing how a creek just ten steps across turned into the big river in my backyard.
That eight-year-old’s dream resurfaced when I turned fifty and I wanted to prove to myself that life is just as vital at fifty as at any other age. I wanted not only to paddle the river, but also to meet the women who lived along the river’s banks. This idea evolved into a mission that made my fiftieth birthday adventure trip into a much deeper experience–one that eventually involved spending eight years raising thousands of dollars, traveling thousands of miles, coordinating events in which more than 350 women participated, and writing three books! Along the way I discovered that all women are extraordinary.
The Ripples of Wisdom Quest, as it came to be called, would celebrate the value, power, and sacred abilities of women by providing opportunities for Grandmothers to share their voices, by collecting their truths, and by sowing the seeds of these truths far and wide.
The core belief behind this project is that women over fifty come from a generation that tends to be silent and unheard. Our culture hasn’t placed value on their perspectives, and their valuable stories and healing wisdom is being lost. I was determined to create an environment around Peace Fires where the Grandmothers’ words would be heard, valued, documented, and shared.
The dream materialize in 2004 when I paddled 570 of the 595 miles from the headwaters of the Mississippi to Red Wing. It continued in 2007 as I paddled 634 of the 683 miles from Red Wing to St. Louis. In 2011 I traveled the last 1033 miles from St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico paddling 523 of those miles.
A book was written about each leg of the journey down river. Each book; Water Women Wisdom: Voices From the Upper Mississippi, Ripples of Wisdom: A Journey through Mud and Truth and Waves Of Wisdom: Grace, Guts and Gators on the Lower Mississippi include the wisdom we gathered from the extraordinary women we met and the adventures we experienced.
Lake City Gathering, September 2007
About the Gatherings Held
Gatherings of women are held around Peace Fires along the way. At the Gatherings, the Grandmothers were asked to share their stories and wisdom. Nine Gatherings were held on each of the three sections of the river, with a few impromptu Gatherings along the way. Women of all ages were encouraged to attend the Gatherings that were held outside, generally at dusk - in any weather. The women in attendance were given a list or questions to get their thoughts flowing. The questions were suggestions and were often completely ignored if a woman's heart and soul had something else to share. The Gatherings were recorded for accuracy.
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