Nancy Scheibe

Celebrating the value, power and wisdom of
women over 50 through their stories

"A lifetime is the material that each of us has to work with.
Until this span is over, we are all still in process,
in the midst of an unfinished story."

~ Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D.
    Crones Don't Wine; Concentrated Wisdom for Juicy Women, Conari Press, 2003

How it Started from the founder,
Nancy Scheibe

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 was turning 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 of my life raising thousands of dollars, traveling thousands of miles, coordinating events in which more than 350 women participated, and writing three books!

As planning progressed, the mission of the trip evolved toward gathering the wisdom of extraordinary women. But I soon discovered that all women are extraordinary, which made the task at hand formidable. God, or fate, or my unrelenting imagination took over, and the dream developed a life of its own. Originally I planned to paddle from the headwaters at Itasca 595 miles to Red Wing, Minnesota, but after I made it to Red Wing the rest of the dream was revealed: I would paddle to the Gulf of Mexico, another 1,716 miles.

The Mission 

The mission of my dream became clearer: 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 wisdoms are being lost. I was determined to create an environment around Peace Fires 
where the Grandmothers’ words would be heard, valued, documented, and shared.

My dream began to materialize in 2004 when I paddled 570 of the 595 miles from the headwaters of the Mississippi to Red Wing. It continued in 2007 when 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.

I wrote a book 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

Grandmother is...

a title of great respect borrowed from the Native American culture. This term recognizes wisdom born out of time and experience, embracing women age fifty and older whether or not they have had children or grandchildren.

The Way Women Do Things

Dreams don’t develop in isolation, particularly with women. The Ripples Of Wisdom project landed like a pebble in a pool of water, creating ripples that touched the lives of many women and became a shared vision. The main planning teams included, Kitty Kennedy of Ely, Minnesota, Gwyn McKee of Gillett, Wyoming, Heidi Favet of Ely, Minnesota, Heather Jeske Pharr of Ely, Minnesota and many others who put in countless hours of fund-raising, promoting, creating policies and procedures, inventorying equipment, and doing all the to-do’s that are part of any trip.

Lake City Gathering, September 2007

About the Gatherings We 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.

We adopted a long standing tradition in many cultures and used a talking stick. Ours was a fan that was passed around the circle. The woman holding the fan was the only one to speak while everyone else listened. I wanted a fan made of heron feathers because of the relationship I had built with herons. During a trip to the Peace Fire in Chicago I met a man named White Buffalo Man. He listened to my story and said he felt guided to make a sacred fan for the trip. He constructed the fan with both heron and raven feathers, beaded his cultures symbol for the world onto it and put the trip logo on the back.

Peace Fires 

The Peace Fire was started in 1995 by Bruce Hardwick, a Fire Keeper in his home area of Rapid River, Michigan, at an international conference at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The fire was attended by over 1,500 people from the world over including Arun Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi's grandson. Later Peace Fires were attended by others such as Jane Goodall.

The purpose of the fire is to awaken our consciousness about peace, love, sisterhood and brotherhood. At the end of the conference, which became an annual tradition, participants made coal bundles which have been distributed around the world, where people are gathered with peace in their hearts. Participants at our Gatherings were given Peace Fire coals to take with them. For more information about the Sacred Peace Fire go to

Kee and the Herons

During the 2004 trip, I developed a deep connection to herons. They were constant companions on the river and guided us many times when we needed to choose between channels. When I returned and shared my story with my friend Dan Crealy, he was not surprised and believed it was his treasured native Grandmother, Keewaydinoquay (Kee). Kee had been dedicated to bringing peace and balance back to all people. He went on to say that Kee was a wise elder who was no longer alive. Many
believed her spirit had returned in the form of a great blue heron. Kee/herons continued to travel with us and guide us each day of this journey to the Gulf.

Each morning we went to the river's edge and took a few moments to conduct a ritual. We sang a sacred Anishinabe song, a favorite of Kee's, that Dan taught me when he first heard about my quest. The song calls us to stand together to fulfill our obligations to nature, the spirit world, the Creator, and future generations. I also said a prayer for safe keeping during the days journey, on land or water. I also said a prayer of gratitude for the honor of doing this work and for all the people who had come forward to make it all happen.
Ripples Of Wisdom Trilogy

The trilogy of books about the Mississippi River adventure include heart-stopping adventures, breath-taking scenery and inspiring women's stories.

First in Trilogy
Water Women Wisdom:
Voices from the Upper Mississippi

This books entails the adventure from the headwaters in Itasca State Park in Minnesota to
Red Wing, Minnesota. 
Purchase a copy now!

Second in Trilogy
Ripples Of Wisdom:
A Journey through Mud and Truth

This books entails the adventure from Red Wing, Minnesota to St. Louis, Missouri.
Purchase a copy now!

Third in Trilogy
Waves Of Wisdom:
Grace, Guts and Gators
on the Lower Mississippi

This books entails the adventure from St. Louis, Missouri to the Gulf Of Mexico.
Purchase a copy now!

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