Monday, November 22, 2010


That's the number of women that came to the Wardrobe Exchange benefiting Safehouse today. Actually, it was 9, but two came to be supportive-bless them- not to actually exchange.

It isn't that I'm not appreciative of the gals that came, or understanding of those who said they would, but didn't. It's just that I'm tired. Discouraged. Pensive. Flummoxed.

How can anybody possibly make an impact, make a difference, or even make a gesture, in a world so overrun with demands that 300 invitations result in 200 unopened? Even after eschewing Evite for the more costly, but ostensibly classier, Paperless Post.
Even when the event ran from 9AM to 9PM in an effort to accomodate all schedules. Even though we planned for the Monday before Thanksgiving rather than the Monday after (when holiday demands multiply).

Thank goodness for the kind souls who did show up.

I met two new friends, Astrid and Vicki, and that made it all worthwhile. It was also a powerful reminder of the lesson I learned from James Pond a few weeks ago. One girl at a time.

One woman at a time. One connection at a time. THAT is how we... will, can , must make a difference.


  1. I was one of the seven and am changed from the experience of being together with Gretchen! When I read about this opportunity on Midchix site, my gut response was, "What a wonderful way to share our wealth at many levels...(warmth on a cold night, stories, smiles, hugs, health, safety, and a bit of apparel if we found 'just the right thing').
    Well, it was so much more than I expected! First and foremost, coming in from the frigid cold and being welcomed and greeted by Gretchen in her warm home was a lovely beginning to the evening. Before I even began to hang up any of my clothing pieces, we were already in conversation. I was immediately reminded, that when we begin to listen to each other, and talk about things that are actually important to us, the world begins to change.
    I'd never had a conversation with Gretchen before, but within minutes felt her love, care, compassion and sincerity. I appreciated her candidness about the learning process of hosting this event with lots of effort and surprising little outcome. When she openly expressed feelings of disappointment, discouragement and doubt...I knew I was going to like this woman!
    In spite of these complex ponderings and truths...Astrid and I were receiving rich gifts from Gretchen that had nothing to do with wardrobe, but everything to do with 'exchange'. Beneath her raw and real feelings, flowed forth a deep desire to learn, a spirit of generosity and attentiveness, an articulated vision to improve things, lots of inquiry on families of origin and about others around the world.
    It was clear to me within the first 30 minutes that if 5-10 more people had been present, we may not have experienced this level of valuable exchange. Because it was a slower evening than expected, we even had the joy of conversing with two of Gretchen's children, both with the confidence and voice to share their own lives with gusto and ease...Hmm, this is part of the wealth that graced us last evening...the intergenerational dance of words and stories.
    This wardrobe exchange experience reminded me of my life's journey while traveling and working in the developing world. Whether sitting in a dung hut with only a few small holes for light on the African savannah, a thatched hut in the Costa Rican rain forest, or a cardboard shanty in a barrio on a Bogota hillside…when we turn toward one another in simple conversation hope for the future can be restored.
    Our simple act of slowing down to exchange life and stories brings us to a place of deeper connection to each other. Even the depth of our laughter from choosing some similar clothing pieces was much needed medicine for all or our souls!

    In the rhythm of this rich exchange, we actually did find some lovely pieces to take home. And because of our meaningful exchanges, I am confident that Gretchen, Astrid and I have become wiser and more courageous actors in our world.
    I agree with you Gretchen...change does and will conversation at a time!
    Thank you for opening your home, sharing your time, love, food and family. Muchisimas Gracias for splashing your heart and beauty on Astrid and I!