Brought together by an idea for a documentary by Marina Rice Bader, and shot by Andrea Meyerson and her crew, a fabulous group of women gathered in Mid-July at the lovely home Marina shares with partner Nicole Conn. The gang was all there: Elaine Sturgess, Shirin Papillon, Cathy Brooks, Fontessa de Ridder, Barbara Niven, Melanie Rice, Robin Lowey, Dana Verducci, Kim Breault, Jennifer Davis, Donna Fuller and myself included. I asked Elaine to tell our readers her impressions of the amazing journey that led to this gathering -ED
Tribe. In many ways it is a primitive term, one that evokes a sense of primordial evolution, one that pares back the nature of relationship to instinctive unity, basic feelings and emotional connections centred deeply in trust and love.
Finding your natural Tribe is rare. Partly because our society is so strongly patriarchal and partly because of (and despite) a World where interconnection is greater than ever through media like the web and far reaching telecommunication. The problem is, those connections are largely virtual, remote, made from a position of physical isolation and often impersonal.
So when I was recently involved with the creation and evolution of a new tribe, I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say it was an amazing, inspiring, transforming experience that has changed my life. It’s the result of a journey that started after watching the movie Elena Undone, made by LA based Soul Kiss Films. The movie had a profound effect on me because it so closely echoed my own relationship with my partner of 17 years, Maria, who passed away 18 months ago from cancer. As a result I made contact with the movie’s producer Marina Rice Bader and discovered the story was based on her relationship with now life partner, writer and director Nicole Conn. After a series of communications, I decided to get involved with helping them with their next movie, A Perfect Ending by becoming a Film Family Funding member. It has proven to be one of the best decisions of my life. That initial connection was made out of a sense of natural affinity that started what I hope will be lifelong friendship. And that will not just be with them, but with a wider circle of women, all of whom have connected and become involved with Soul Kiss and these two remarkable women out of a deep sense of gratitude and love for the immense contribution they make to our community by telling our stories, supporting and empowering us and in turn encouraging us to do the same for others.
Having become involved with the movie’s development, it didn’t take much to persuade me to fly out from my home in Britain to attend the movie’s premier in San Francisco. From the wonderful pre-screening party organised by Epochalips, through the movie screening itself, the after party and a next day brunch with the cast, crew and other funding members, I felt embraced, supported and loved. I watched a movie that blew me away in its brave and oh so intelligent delivery of the messages that love is love, that we are all beautiful no matter what, that imperfection is the only perfection, that we should all believe in ourselves and others. But most of all, I enjoyed the company of the most compassionate, loving and inspiring women I have ever had the privilege of spending time with. I left for my flight home with a new sense of beginning from my time with the creators of A Perfect Ending.
And as it turned out, that was just the beginning. Just a few days after returning home, I received an email from Marina telling me that she had been so inspired by the whole group that she had come up with a new idea charting people’s involvement – and could I possibly return to LA the following week to stay with her and Nicole along with some of the other participating women. Well such is the strength of my feelings for this awesome group, that I turned around and flew back out – feeling slightly mad and totally committed to supporting her. What followed was a week of glorious connection, a huge amount of fun, lots of love and laughter, tears, the development of connections that run so deep it almost hurts, an unbelievable sense of belonging – and the inception of our Tribe. And all of this has been documented on film by the creative and talented Marina Bader and the production team of director Andrea Meyerson – I can’t wait to see the result. I hope it inspires countless more the way that I have been inspired. I can’t recommend more that you go and see A Perfect Ending – and if you can support the work of Soul Kiss, then please, please do so, it may just give you a new beginning too.
Elaine Sturgess is the owner of My Kitchen Store, online retailer of a wide range of kitchen DIY products based in the UK. Also a regular contributor to online magazines Birds on the Blog and The Culture Butterfly and ardent supporter of Soul Kiss Films.