APRIL 2006

Copyright Nancy Mills, 2006.
Issue 36. All rights reserved.

CIRCULATION: 2,340 (and growing!)


CHECK OUT OUR WEBSITE – http://www.TheSpiritedWoman.com (after you’ve read this newsletter!). You’ll read more about our workshops, find lots of resources and be able to shop at our new SPIRITED WOMAN! Store online. 

NEW & EXCITING!!! JOIN THE SPIRITED WOMAN CIRCLE, a remarkably inspiring monthly 1-hr. phone conversation series with famous women authors, actresses, radio personalities and more. Next interview is April 4 at 10 am PST with Frances Halpern – NPR radio personality. On May 2nd our guest is Selena Templeton, Calendar Editor of The Hollywood Reporter. To read more about the series and sign –up: http://www.thespiritedwoman.com/spirited_woman_circle/ Conversations $15 each.


Join other women who’ve already posted. We want to know more about you.


- Spirited Woman Quote
- Editor's Spirited Message
- Spirited Woman Q & A – Ellen Spencer
- Upcoming Spirited Woman Workshops
- Host a Spirited Woman Workshop
- New! Spirited Woman Events & Activities
- Blog ? of the Month & More
- Join the Spirited Woman Club - Get a Free Listing


     “It really is true. Anything in life can go from lemons to lemonade in an instant. So, why not squeeze the juice?” - Nancy Mills


Welcome to the world of SPIRITED WOMANHOOD.

It’s spring! As if you didn’t know. And things in SPIRITED WOMAN land are flourishing. Hooray for Hollywood and all that. Speaking of Hollywood our upcoming May 2nd SPIRITED WOMAN CIRCLE conversation is with Selena Templeton, the Calendar Editor of The Hollywood Reporter. This month on Tuesday, April 4th we’re featuring Frances Halpern, the popular NPR radio host of the “Beyond Words” radio program.  Wow.

I’m also thrilled to announce that our first SPIRITED WOMAN CIRCLE conversation with Janet Fitch was beyond great, and women from Alabama to Washington D.C. signed up for it. We had a really rare and intimate experience with Janet, and we were all very impressed with her candor. These calls are designed to inspire and uplift. There’s room on the calls for more of you – so I ask you – what are you waiting for? I welcome you to sign up on our website (http://www.thespiritedwoman.com/spirited_woman/circle/). It’s spring! 

Which reminds me, we’ve got two fantabulous spring events coming up. The first on May 6th is “SPIRITED WOMAN Goes Spirited With Lane Tanner,” the wild woman Santa Barbara winemaker. Lane’s a legend – and this is the first time, we’ve ever offered a combo workshop, gourmet lunch, and wine tasting all in one. Talk about a spirited afternoon in glorious Santa Barbara! Plus on May 13, we’re hosting our second Mother/Daughter SPIRITED WOMAN Workshop the day before Mother’s Day at the Black Box Theater. It’s a really memorable experience and a wonderful way to be empowered together. Come on - join us!!

And this month, our SPIRITED WOMAN Q&A is with inspirational dynamo and all around spirited woman extraordinaire Ellen (El) Spencer. Well-known for her colorful and celebratory paintings of women, El is also a dedicated woman's activist and health advocate. Her uplifting interview is a testament to overcoming great personal odds and I urge you to read every word.

As always, I would like to thank you for your support, comments, enthusiasm, and friendship. And for those of you new to the newsletter, I'd like to welcome you to our growing numbers. YOU inspire me, always. And I genuinely look forward to meeting you (again or for the first time) in person at a SPIRITED WOMAN Workshop or within our new SPIRITED WOMAN CIRCLE.

The SPIRITED WOMAN Newsletter is meant to be fun, informative, and inspirational. Your free monthly tool to stay connected with other spirited women nationwide. I welcome you forwarding this newsletter to ALL your spirited friends.

Nancy Mills


Ellen (El) Spencer is an inspirational “upper.” One of those people who fill life with their spirit, and celebrate it with gusto. I first met El Spencer last year, when she attended the Spirited Woman Workshop in Oakland, CA – the city in which she resides. I was completely taken with her as she bounced through the door, bubbling with enthusiasm, a twinkle in her eye, all raring to talk and meet and help and support the women in our workshop.

Her fighting spirit and nurturing way touched us all that day and since then El has become a treasured friend. Only 38 years old, El has had many highs and lows in her life. A celebrated artist known for her colorful paintings of women, she is also a dedicated environmentalist, poet, woman’s activist and health advocate, and an all around champ for the underdog. But, she is also a woman who suffers from a severe case of endometriosis, an extremely painful tissue related disease that affects the outer surface of the uterus and other areas.

Endometriosis has caused her enormous pain, numerous surgeries, and due to the complications of the disease, she and her beloved husband Jared cannot bear children of their own. Personally, I believe she is one of the bravest people that I know. Through her tears, always comes laughter. And no matter how much she faces, she is always ready to give back to others – pain or not.

She has donated her artwork to countless women’s organizations and she prides herself on “living in the moment” a rich, passion-filled life. With her identical twin sister Karen (who lives on the East Coast), and the support of her other two sisters, her husband, family, and her many friends, El is on a boundless roll. Her story is one of joy, courage, and compassion, and the true ability to reach down deep within and survive. Here’s El.

Q. You are passionate about your art, the environment, women’s health issues, and so much more. Is being passionate part of your DNA or is it part of your life’s journey?
A. Being passionate is something that was passed on to me from the women in my family, but it also became my journey - as in passion for my art and the environment. It is the one word that defines my life at this point. The passion in my family started with my grandmother who was a breast cancer survivor and she became passionate about life and living in the moment and she taught that to my mother. It was a very open discussion throughout my entire childhood to find out what you are good at and always stay present – that your passion was an element that would drive you throughout your life, yet it was learned behavior for us at the same time.

Q. What message would you like to get out to the world? For instance, is there a central underlying theme to your work?
A. Basically my art represents a voice from myself, a voice from other women who at this moment do not have a voice. It is a way for me to communicate to other people. Whether it’s my art or my activism, the underlying message is to not be afraid, to feel passion, to play, to have fun. It goes so deep for me that the thread of what I do is actually more of a generational thread – there have been artists and activists in my family for generations. This is just my turn in my generation to continue this. When I speak, I speak on behalf of not just myself, but all the women who have spoken before me in my family. Women’s activism has been in my house forever. I remember the day I wrote – activism and art are my two passions – and I was 12 years old. I didn’t know what they meant. I’m still trying to connect the dots. If I donate a piece to somebody, if I have an exhibit, I put activism out there whether it’s on a piece of paper, or on a sign, or a poem beneath the painting. It’s just whatever way I can empower and enlighten I do.

Q. You have a wonderful series of paintings where you celebrate “womanhood” in all its rich textures. How do you feel we as women should celebrate ourselves daily?
A. Everyday I wake up and I close my eyes and for as many minutes as I can give myself, I meditate on being grateful. Whatever makes you feel your spirit and love who you are. Be content. Celebrate your life, but celebrate in the present. The best advice that I can give, and I’ve given this to my sisters over and over again, and to myself is to just stay present. To live in the moment, don’t forget your past and reach for your future, but celebrate your moment. Be inspired by whatever inspires you. Play and fun are huge. Humor is the best thing. I had my husband, Jared, when we were in a rough time, tickle me 10 minutes everyday. Laughter is the best medicine. I knew how important that was to make light of the situation. Dance around. We all get caught up in our lives and we forget to just feel the freedom of being ourselves.

Q. Ellen, you’ve lived with endometriosis most of your life. How old were you when you were diagnosed?
A. Well, like many others, I was misdiagnosed for many years. I was diagnosed when I was 26, but I was sick at least ten years before. Every single month I was on the bathroom floor with my head in the toilet. It was horrible. But, I had watched my twin sister Karen go through this. When we were still in high school, she had an ovarian cist that had ruptured, and the doctors told her it was growing pains because we were about to leave for college. So we watched her stomach get bigger and bigger and she was bleeding internally for three weeks until they realized this wasn’t a growing pain, and she did have endometriosis, but they never correctly diagnosed her until they diagnosed me. Unfortunately she had many surgeries trying to figure all this out.

Q. Endometriosis causes you great chronic pain– how have you dealt with it and what advice would you give other women with constant pain?
A. That’s not an easy question. I actually started living with chronic pain after I started having the surgeries for the endometriosis. I had pain every month for many years, but it wasn’t until they started doing all these different surgeries.  My husband and I were trying to have children so we were doing everything. I lost track at 19 surgeries. The chronic pain has been the toughest challenge. What I say to other women who suffer is don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t blame yourself. Never give up your hope. It’s a day-to-day thing. You never know what tomorrow’s going to bring and you’ve got to find the humor in it and you need to find good doctors that you can work with alternatively or western. But you can never give up your faith. Jared and I laugh about this, but we cry about it. It’s prevented us from adopting at this point which is the other passion in my life – children – we tried for so many years. We will adopt, but I said when I don’t have the chronic pain. And I’m still having chronic pain. The hope for me is that I watched my twin sister go through this and come out the other side. So I know that’s there light at the end of that chronic pain tunnel and I believe it will happen – I just believe I can’t let it take my days. It can’t be my days. I have to take care of the chronic pain the chronic pain can’t be me. And that’s the best advice I can give somebody – and that is don’t let it rule your life.

Q. What have you learned about your inner strength and your marital love because of your struggle with bearing children?
A. This has been the toughest because it is very difficult to watch the person that you love suffer along with you so the strength comes from deep down inside of you. You know the loss of birth children is enormous. Of course we will adopt – absolutely. I am such a late bloomer that even my grief took years before I said I’m ready to accept that it wasn’t going to happen. Everybody has their own time with this and for me I went silent and that’s why I understand if I can’t speak for women, then I hope that somebody’s speaking for me. It was so devastating for me - I had a full hysterectomy four years ago -and it was the last resort - because, I was literally physically dying. I had so many blood transfusions that it was either going to be I would keep trying and die or this is going to happen. Even into the surgery I did not believe it would happen, so when I woke up I still didn’t believe it had happened. There was a lot of denial for me and that strength had to come from the bottom of my feet to help pull me up. It came from family and friends, and of course my husband Jared – but it was a big loss. I ran the endometriosis support network for San Francisco so I had a huge network of people. The interesting part – mostly women with endometriosis have children – so I always assumed we were going to be part of that miracle. I’m one of the few that actually hasn’t had the children.

Q. You’re also an identical twin. What do you and Karen draw from each other to help fight your battles?
A. I never would have survived this without her. She is everything to me. She is who I aspire to be. She said to me one day that she never wanted me to forget what Jared had told me – it was about a year and a half a go. This is what a twin does for another twin. I had absolutely positively put it away and she said, your husband said you have so much anger and sadness and grief still in you that there is no more room left for him and he wants you back. And I need to remind you of that. And it needs to happen now and for whatever you need, I’ll be that person for you. And that’s what she was. I cried and screamed and yelled and that’s what we do for each other. We have a code – we just say, “lift me up, lift me up.” That’s all it takes. We talk everyday. Every year we get closer on so many different levels that I always know what she is thinking and doing but at the same time I do it right back for her. We have moved into each other’s homes at different times of our life for that support. The husbands have been wonderful about it – but we needed that togetherness. Together we were a whole and we fed off of that. I wish everybody had a twin – it’s the most wonderful thing I could ever imagine.

Q. What did you do to celebrate Women’s History Month this year?
A. I did several things. Part of it was the donating I did to so many groups this year. I chose this month to work on teens and body image. That to me was crucial. Women’s history month – we celebrate all the women of our generational past - but what has come up is the generational issues of body image passed on.  So what we’ve done is gathered groups of teenage girls – I’m actually starting a documentary on this, of all different races to examine the women from the different generations as far back as we can go and the body image of all the women from the past.

Q. El, why do you feel that you are a spirited woman? 
A. I feel that I am a spirited woman because I embrace the celebration of the spirit of life. I embrace the passion of women’s spirits, of girl’s spirits, of everything – nature – everything out there. I feel I am a spirited woman because I feel that I have a path in this life to speak on behalf of women whose spirits are not able to speak right now. That is very important to me. That’s what I think drives me to be the best spirited woman I can be – is that empowerment.


El Spencer would love to hear from you. She invites you to visit her website at:
http://www.ellenspencerprints.com, or you can contact her via e-mail at: jfc2@pacbell.net or by calling 510-655-2242. For those of you who would like more information on endometriosis, the Endometriosis Association website is a good place to start at: http://www.endometriosisassn.org.

NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES: http://www.thespiritedwoman.com/newsletter/
Presently there are 35 past interviews online for you to read.


What a thrill! What a ride! It seems as though every day the workshop or the new circle is being mentioned - somewhere. Wow. Whether it's via the print media or the Internet, we're out there - catching on. Plus, Nancy is being asked to do more personal interviews in print, radio, and TV. So this is all great news!

Please go to: http://www.thespiritedwoman.com/press/ and read all about us!


Get out your SPIRITED WOMAN drum and dance around the house. More and more women are attending the popular SPIRITED WOMAN Workshop all across the country. Who-ee! Over 600 women have signed up to date. So, don't miss out! Be sure to check out the calendar listings below and see what's in store for your area.

The SPIRITED WOMAN Workshop includes three hours of creative playfulness and growth. Emphasizes your ALIVENESS and reinforces YOU ARE ENOUGH AS YOU ARE. Great for transitions, movement. Attendees range from writers/artists/healers to business owners. Led by Nancy Mills, Creator of the Spirited Woman Approach to Life. Limited to 12 women. Offered at amazing locales.

For more info on and to see new pictures on the workshops please go to:
http://www.thespiritedwoman.com/spirited_woman_workshop/. You can also call Nancy Mills at her toll free number: 888-428-1234 (in Santa Barbara call 805-698-3555) or e-mail her at: NancyMills@TheSpiritedWoman.com.

To sign-up, credit cards are accepted on-line at: http://www.thespiritedwoman.com/signup/ and via phone at 888-428-1234. Workshop checks are mailed to: Nancy Mills, P.O. BOX 20042, Santa Barbara, CA 93120. Checks must be received within 10 days of making a reservation. All payments due in advance of each Spirited Woman Workshop. All reservations final. Partial scholarships offered.

BE SURE TO GIVE A SPIRITED WOMAN GIFT CERTIFICATE. The workshop makes a wonderful, uplifting gift for a special person in your life. Makes a GREAT gift for daughters (age 13+). Go to http://www.thespiritedwoman.com/signup/ or call Nancy at 888-428-1234.


Saturday, April 29, 2006
Time: 1-4 pm.
Locale: Private Santa Barbara Estates  (TBA to attendees)
Cost: $95, Special Mother/Daughter Rate: $175

Sunday, April 30, 2006
Time: 1-4 pm.
Locale: Black Box Theater, 12420 Santa Monica Blvd., WLA, CA 90025
Cost: $95, Special Mother/Daughter Rate: $175

Saturday, May 6, 2006
Combination 3-hour Workshop, Gourmet lunch & Wine Tasting
Time: 12–5 pm
Locale: Private Santa Barbara Estate (TBA to attendees)
Cost: $125 (includes lunch, workshop & wine tasting)

Saturday, May 13, 2006
Time: 1-4 pm
Locale: Black Box Theater, 12420 Santa Monica Blvd., WLA, CA 90025
Cost: $175 Special Mother/Daughter Rate

Saturday, June 17, 2006
Time: 1-4 pm
Locale: Bird Rock Yoga, 4651 Mission Blvd., Pacific Beach, CA 92109
Cost: $95, Special Mother/Daughter Rate: $175

In addition to several California locales, Nancy's goal is to teach more out of state workshops - see city wish list below. She is also open to your suggestions for other cities and is currently available for speaking engagements.

Denver Area (including Boulder, Colorado Springs)
New York
San Antonio

And, if you're wondering…the SPIRITED WOMAN Workshop has been held in the following cities to date:




In your city.

It's great fun! You'll love it. Anyone who hosts a workshop in their home or business receives a free workshop, great publicity, and a chance to meet other fantabulous women. Since the workshop size is small, most spaces work out ideally. If you'd like to host a workshop, go to our host page and fine out how to do it: http://www.thespiritedwoman.com/host_a_workshop/. Or please feel free to call Nancy at 888-428-1234.


We want YOU to participate in our new SPIRITED WOMAN CIRCLE – a remarkably, inspiring 1-hr phone conversation series with famous women at 10 am PST, the first Tuesday of the month (except on holidays). To find out more and to register, go to: http://www.thespiritedwoman.com/spirited_woman_circle/ Our first conversation with Janet Fitch is now available to purchase in an MP3 or transcript version as well.

May 6th - SPIRITED WOMAN GOES “SPIRITED” with Lane Tanner. She’s one of Santa Barbara’s finest winemakers, this event will be a combination of a 3-hour workshop, gourmet lunch, and wine tasting. For more info and to sign-up:

May 13th – MOTHER/DAUGHTER SPIRITED WOMAN WORKSHOP at the Black Box Theater in WLA. Celebrate Mother’s Day the day before. Spend a special afternoon together that you’ll always remember. For more info and to sign-up:

Visit our new e-SPIRITED WOMAN! STORE. We’ve now made it easier to buy products, plus we still have our buy 5, get 1 free special going on. What a deal! Go check it out at: http://www.TheSpiritedWoman.com/spirited_woman_store/

For those of you who have never blogged – don’t worry – we have really easy instructions on our blog page on how to post. So, please try it. It’s fun!

Here’s the April blog question of the month.

What about spring drives your spirit wild?

Just click on: http://www.TheSpiritedWoman.com/go_blog_blog_blog/

We really, really want to know.

ALSO keep those other blog posts coming in too - and BE SURE TO TELL US WHY YOU FEEL YOU ARE A SPIRITED WOMAN. We want to know that too.


Janet Fitch you ROCK. Your insights, honesty, willingness to share your experiences, plus your openness in such a personal way really meant the world to all of us on the first SPIRITED WOMAN CIRCLE call. We got off the call feeling inspired and empowered by you. THANK YOU JANET, you are a wunderkind of energy, talent, and spirit.

THANKS, THANKS, & THANKS to the several spirited women who participated in the first SPIRITED WOMAN CIRCLE conversation – I say kudos to you. You’re enthusiasm, perceptive questions, and participation just meant so much. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for spreading the word all over the place – from Alabama (yep!) to Chicago – women are signing up. Wow.

And THANK YOU, as always, to the many wonderful spirited women who have attended the workshops and have hosted it…you are ALL fantabulous and fun.

Plus, I'd like to say a BIG THANKS to the many attendees who have referred their spirited women friends, mothers, and daughters to the workshop. Means so much.



Here's the good news. If you have taken the SPIRITED WOMAN WORKSHOP you are automatically a member of the SPIRITED WOMAN CLUB, and you'll receive a FREE listing (up to 60 words) - monthly. For those of you who have not taken the workshop (come on girls, you need to join the club!) - the listing is $25 per month per listing. What a great deal!

This listing board is a great way to advertise your service, business, workshop, event or WHATEVER - and to stay connected with other spirited women. Currently, the newsletter reaches over 2,200 women. Think of it as your very own SPIRITED WOMAN DIRECTORY. Be sure to check out what other women are offering and support them!  Also, see below HOW TO PLACE A LISTING.

To shorten our newsletter and to keep our ads current – the 10 most recent listings will be featured in the newsletter. The ENTIRE newsletter listing board is now on our website at: http://www.thespiritedwoman.com/newsletter_ad/

WOMEN'S YOGA, DRUMMING AND DANCE RETREAT in Mexico, June 1-4, 2006. Private Beaches hugged by volcanic highlands and lush jungles set the stage for 4 days of grounding, rejuvenation, creativity and transformation. No yoga, drumming or dancing experience required, customized to all levels.  For more information, please visit www.marlaleigh.com or email marla@marlaleigh.com

HUGS, HOPE AND PEANUT BUTTER: Bouncing Back After Hitting Bottom. Humorous essays illustrated by critically ill children. An inspiring book for any woman who's faced tough times. And isn't that EVERY woman?  Laugh out loud as the author recounts in Erma Bombeck style, her own life experiences and lessons learned from them. www.hugsandhope.org/pb.htm

THE GIRL BLUE PROJECT is a FREE, self-awareness program for teen girls combined with the performing arts and community service.  Our sole purpose is to awaken the truest potential in young women by promoting discipline, non-judgment, self-acceptance and self-discovery.  We are a grassroots, 501(c)(3) organization funded by individual and in-kind donations.  For more information and to support us visit: www.thegirlblueproject.org.

LAKESHORE WRITERS announces a new six-week Creative Writing Workshop from April 20- May 25, 10am -12:30 pm. All levels and genres welcome. Come write in a safe, supportive community. The workshop uses the Amherst Writers and Artists Method, where each writer is encouraged and supported to develop the artistry of her own original voice. For more information, contact: www.lakeshorewriters.net or teresa@lakeshorewriters.net. 510-465-2535.

BARBARA SCHIFFMAN: TUNE IN TO THE MOON as your energy-map for structuring projects, goals &/or life-shifts. Learn to  use the Moon's phases to focus and energize your projects or goals from EvoLuminus Coaching's Barbara Schiffman. Her Moon Cycle MasterMind includes weekly group phone sessions with guided Zodiac meditations plus online support and networking all month long.  Info: 818-846-3043 or mooncycle@charter.net.

"SHARING WITH WRITERS" is the official Authors' Coalition
(http://authorscoalitionandredenginepress.com ) newsletter. We're a group of serious writers--experienced and aspiring--who are dedicated to the mutual support and development of each others' careers. Sign-up by sending an e-mail with "subscribe" in the subject line to: HoJoNew@aol.com

DIVINE FEMININE, a Modern Mystery School for men and women with Caroline Muir, Joan Heartfield, Ph.D., Saida Desilets and Tomas Heartfield (www.divine-feminine.com) hosts 3 day Initiation Retreats and 10 day certification training programs. Write to us at info@divine-feminine.com to receive our free newsletter. Or call Joan at 808 572-1250.

CUDDLE PARTIES in SF BAY AREA!  Come join other spirited women (and men!) for the kind of pajama-party-non-sexual touch we used to love as kids, with the added benefit of heartful, respectful communication.  A most inspiring, rejuvenating way to spend an afternoon!  For more info, e-mail: suz@cuddlepartysf.com

WE’LL COACH YOUR INNER INNOVATOR OUT OF HIDING - Feeling stuck in your own business? Need to design more innovative products or services? Are you a coach, trainer, manager or artist who needs inspiring new programs? Seeking a creative retirement? At Creative Sage, we design exceptional creativity programs for businesses, nonprofits and individuals. Contact Cathryn Hrudicka, Chief Imagination offer: sage@CreativeSage.com http://www.CreativeSage.com

PARLOR PERFORMANCES - Jeannine Frank's "accidental performing arts series" (now in its 16th year!) presents comedy, cabaret, authors, & more in a cozy West LA concert hall -- and also books artists for fundraisers, conventions and special events. For free monthly e-calendar or more info, contact Jeannine at frankent1@juno.com or call (310) 476-6735.


E-mail a 60 word or less description of your listing (word count must include phone number and such) by the last day of each month (i.e., April 30 for May 1 issue) to: NancyMills@TheSpiritedWoman.com and put "LISTING BOARD" in the subject line.

All past SPIRITED WOMAN WORKSHOP attendees receive ONE FREE listing EACH MONTH. All additional listings are $25 per item per month.

For those of you who have NOT attended the SPIRITED WOMAN WORKSHOP it cost $25 per listing per month. Please follow the above instructions.

You can pay for listing via credit cards online at: http://www.thespiritedwoman.com/newsletter_ad/ or by calling Nancy Mills at 888-428-1234. Checks for all payable listings are to be received in advance of the next monthly issue (May 1) and sent to: Nancy Mills, P.O. BOX 20042, Santa Barbara, CA 93120.


Permission is granted to reproduce, copy or distribute the SPIRITED WOMAN newsletter with the understanding that the copyright notice and all the content is to be attributed to Nancy Mills, the SPIRITED WOMAN Newsletter. Copyright Nancy Mills, March 2006. All rights reserved.

Please Note: The Q&A portion of the newsletter IS NOT available for use in and of itself unless written permission is given by Nancy Mills.  Last month, someone posted our Q&A on her blog without my permission and that is not okay.




To UNSUBSCRIBE place "unsubscribe" in e-mail subject line to: NancyMills@TheSpiritedWoman.com