‘SHE’ celebrated at Woman’s Day fest

The idea that led to the creation of Mary Anne Radmacher and Liz Kalloch’s new book was simple, and one that Radmacher had for most of her life: positive notes can inspire and empower people.

When Radmacher was a young girl, she wrote “love letters” to family, friends, neighbors, enclosing a positive message on a rolled up piece of paper or a folded note, and leaving it somewhere someone was sure to find it.

“I didn’t wait around to watch them open it,” she recalled, “but I did get this pleasure in knowing that (someone) would find my note and it would bring a smile to their face.”

In 1997, Radmacher wrote the poem, “She,” but it wasn’t until a few years ago that this accomplished writer’s full idea to uplift people came to fruition. She and Kalloch, a colleague-turned-friend, decided to create a line of greeting cards with Radmacher’s words and Kalloch’s illustrations. But the two women soon learned they had more to say than would fit on a card, so they created “SHE: A Celebration of Greatness in Every Woman.”

The book features 25 qualities that Kalloch and Radmacher felt are undervalued in women, and it aims to empower women to recognize these traits within themselves. She is nurturing. She is inspiring. She is determined. She is a lifelong learner.

Radmacher and Kalloch will be featured speakers in celebration of International Women’s Day, Saturday. The duo will also share their new book.

Sonoma County, Radmacher pointed out, was instrumental in the creation of International Women’s Day on March 8 and International Women’s History Month throughout the month of March. Sonoma women led the national campaign that resulted in President Jimmy Carter declaring the week of March 8 as International Women’s History Week, and eventually nationwide recognition for the full month.

While their book is meant to encompass traits all women have, and encourage women to embrace those traits, certain qualities in the book speak to the authors more. For San Rafael resident Kalloch, that quality is “She has a voice.” Kalloch explained that women tend to hold back, or their opinion gets passed over. When they do speak up, they may not be perceived in the same regard as a man who speaks up. But, she said, women should speak up because “we all have something to say.” Radmacher, who lives on the small Whidbey Island, off the coast of Washington, said each week she finds a new quality that speaks to her. This week it’s “She is willing,” because “it’s important for me to remember that ‘no’ is part of the vocabulary of kind willingness … especially when I am in the public eye and so much is expected of me.”

While “SHE” celebrates the very positive qualities of women and the strides women have made throughout history, both Kalloch and Radmacher acknowledge challenges still exist that inhibit gender equality and demean women.

According to Radmacher, among those challenges is the issue of remembering the women who won the rights that are now taken for granted. “Women died, were imprisoned and were beaten for marching for the right to vote. … And even still we take our vote for granted – many women don’t vote.” The hand-colored vintage illustrations throughout the book, Kalloch said, are all from an era before women had the right to vote.

Radmacher also said that the concept of equality seems to make many women feel like they had to “do it all” and often leads to judgment of women who do less. “Emancipation means freedom and yet women are slaves to too much: maintaining the home, preparing meals, working full time, raising kids, volunteering, being in a relationship.” The sense of equality, Radmacher explained, has actually diminished choices women have.

The co-authors agree that one of the biggest challenges is the lack of collaboration among women. There is a lot of competition, Kalloch noted, adding that the book is a prime example of how women can collaborate and create something meaningful. “I’ve seen the amazing things when women come together and work on things and uplift each other and support each other,” Kalloch said. “I hope this book is a reminder that when we support each other we are so much better – that goes across genders, too.”

This festival-like event will be held on International Women’s Day, Saturday, March 8, at the Native Sons Hall, 937 Coombs St., in Napa.

Dr. Rhea Zimmerman, producer and director of “Love Bomb The Movie,” and Pam Burns-Clair, local author of “We Who Took a Leap – From Where Our Mothers Left Off” will also be featured at the event. The program starts at 10 a.m. and goes till 5 p.m. with lunch available for purchase. After the opening speeches, attendees are encouraged to mingle with book signings, wine tastings and local entertainment included.

For more information, email mimiglavin@theplayfulgarden.com.