Women from the 60’s and 70’s seem bound and determined to live life their own way – and a prime example is the event called Women At Woodstock, a first-ever retreat for women 50 (or so) held at the Emerson Resort and Spa in Woodstock New York October 7-10, 2012. The purpose was to gather women in midlife for an inspiring three days and three nights of speakers, performances, workshops, and one-to-one expert consultations to help foster change, action, and new undertakings at a point when they are entering into a state of newfound freedom. Women At Woodstock was not your traditional conference, said the organizer, Ann Voorhees Baker, a native of Southern California. It was intended to be a very personal experience for every participant – presenter and guest alike.
Baker, age 59, describes herself as “just a woman with a varied career history” (lawyer, then publisher, then head of a marketing firm, now an internet marketing specialist – and a wife and a mom). She’s not a professional event organizer. But she says she’s been feeling a strong pull lately to examine what she’s been doing with her life, and choose wisely what she will do now. “I know I’m not the only one feeling this,” she says. She decided to gather women from the Baby Boom generation to share energy, knowledge, resources, and support – with an intent to make positive changes in their lives, no matter how big or small. Women At Woodstock is meant to provide women the time and the space to choose their own direction consciously and wisely, much like when they declared their majors in college. “Last year, I found myself talking about having a croning party with other women my age – friends and colleagues from all over the country,” says Baker, who organized a croning party with friends in a cabin in the woods when she turned 50, “and the enthusiasm for the idea was tremendous.” Spurred on by the encouragement she received, she decided to make it happen.
The event drew some impressive women to speak and conduct workshops: Suzanne Braun Levine, the original editor of Ms. Magazine, Amy Ferris, author and co-playwright of Marrying George Clooney, Alice Barden, an actress and playwright who will perform Alice and Elizabeth’s One Woman Show on the opening night; Barbara Hannah Grufferman, author of The Best of Everything After 50; Jody Feagan, founder of the San Miguel Literary Festival; Cindy Joseph, a supermodel who started her career at age 49; Elizabeth Geitz, author and an Episcopal priest; business leaders; dating and relationship experts; social media experts; and more. Over 15 different workshops were offered on everything from writing careers to social media to starting a business to finding love after 50. In addition, the women were able to schedule private one-on-one consultations with experts in various fields. A welcome party in the outdoor rotunda, dinner, and Barden’s one-woman show kicked off Women At Woodstock on opening night.
Ann now plans that www.WomenatWoodstock.com will be a continuing forum for women over 50 to share their ideas and goals.