By Tanya Ruckstuhl-Valenti LICSW, MSW

WOW 2010 Conference

I’m volunteering at the 18th Annual Women of Wisdom conference today.  I’m wo-manning the “trip tent” as my husband put it:  I’m here to provide mental health support in case one of the participants gets triggered and needs help.

Hopefully I’m not spitting in the wind by admitting it, but this has been the easiest volunteer gig ever. So far no one has needed support and I’ve been free to chat with a variety of presenters, volunteers, committee members, ogle and bid on all manner of gorgeous merchandise for auction and sale.   

(If Murphy’s laws are being followed, some suicidal, gun-toting, drug-addled person will show up needing an appointment as soon as I post this blog…)

This is my first Women of Wisdom, or WOW experience and I want to recommend it to all the ladies out there!  I’m usually a bit put off by gender-division events, both for philosophical as well as practical reasons. 

I avoid gender dividing because it’s hard enough to respectfully connect with people of different gender/race/culture/sexual orientation/etc.   I don’t want to feed the “You don’t understand me because you are different from me” defense prejudice that gives people permission to stop communicating with 85% of the planet.

That said there is a place and time to retreat into community with those who share your focus.  More women than men tend to be focused on inner transformation (not to mention wearing the flowing, flocked velvet garb ubiquitous in these events—what is up with that?  Do Robert Bly attendees all show up wearing shark tooth necklaces?). 

Snarkiness aside, I’m happy to be attending and promoting WOW as a retreat experience that serves to remind us that our lives can be about more than mere survival. 

The WOW schedule can be found at



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