By Ninette Cheng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
What is the secret to happiness?
Women from all walks of life gathered Friday, Sept. 26, to discuss this age-old question.
The Women of Color Empowered luncheon occurs three times a year and is organized by Northwest Asian Weekly. The theme of the event was “The Ps of Happiness: positive thinking, prosperity, possibility and peace of mind.”
The luncheon honored three women and featured six panelists and was hosted by Madeline Hayden.
The first honoree, Nancy D. Solomon, is a relationship expert and author in the practice of human potential. Solomon cited how important positive thinking is in determining one’s happiness.
“(There is) no such thing as problems — just things we don’t understand,” she said.
Rosanne Olson, the second honoree, talked about her new book, “This Is Who I Am,” and how her experience creating it tied in with finding individual happiness. Olson told the story of a woman she photographed.
“At first she wanted to lose weight before she would consider herself perfect enough for me to photograph her,” Olson said. The woman came back later wanting to be photographed nude immediately because she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Isn’t it crazy that we need a serious diagnosis before we realize how beautiful we are when we’re about to lose it?” Olson said. This thought lead Olson to photograph 54 women discreetly nude as well as talking with them about their perceptions about their bodies.
The final award recipient was Carrie Huie-Pascua, the director for the Department of Human Service of Benton and Franklin counties. Huie-Pascua selected “prosperity” as her answer.
She defined prosperity not as money, but rather, the human relationships in life including “(my) family, friends, my teachers, my mentors, my community, my work and co-workers.”
The luncheon featured five panelists who discussed questions regarding the five Ps.
The panel featured Mimi Gardner Gates, director of the Seattle Art Museum; Dr. Mona Lake Jones, a writer, orator, performer and current Poet Laureate for King County; Dr. Uma Malhotra, a faculty member of Virginia Mason and the University of Washington (UW) Department of Medicine specializing in infectious diseases; Polly Olsen, director of community relations and development for the Wellness Research Institute at the UW and Native American activist; and Kyung Song, health reporter for The Seattle Times.
The panelists suggested new Ps to add to the keys to happiness.
Song suggested, “purpose,” Gardner Gates suggested “passion” and Olsen suggested “presence” for her Native American culture.
“I see a ‘P’ missing here and that’s physical health, physical fitness, mental health, mental fitness,” Lake Jones said.
She also added, “the ability to persevere.”
Lake Jones drew much applause when she recited several of her poems about sisterhood including “Choices-Mm.”
“Should I demonstrate, tolerate, negotiate, educate or just kick ass?” she recited.
“We’re smart,” Lake Jones said. “To persevere, we need to remind ourselves of that.”
Song brought up a unique idea — that happiness could come from being oblivious. With a smile, she advised that young people ought to hold onto their obliviousness for as long as they can.
Rosanne Olson and Lake Jones both spoke afterward of how much they enjoyed taking part in the luncheon.
“I’m always very happy to be amongst my sisters of color,” Lake Jones said. “It’s just so energizing. The amount of beauty in that room and diversity is just incredible to me.” ♦
Ninette Cheng can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.