Renee McKenna, when asked how she likes to be introduced, was momentarily bollixed and for good reason. She is not just busy, she is industrious, creatively productive at every turn and defined by constant personal growth. She is a spiritual teacher, teaches art to kindergarten and 5th grade, is a painter and a public artist (sometimes midnight stealth to install non-damaging art – yarn bombing, a Girl Scout leader, therapist, and most recently the leader of the women’s march in San Francisco.
She talks about being young, troubled and in trouble, about thinking that if she did the right outward thing, got the right job, the right degree, the right boyfriend that she would feel okay. No, none of that worked, but a recovering woman saved her life at a point when Renee was ready to hear the truth that set her on the path of reclaiming the life she was meant to lead. Renee talks about giving things away in order to keep them and shares how this led to her becoming a therapist. It was as she was cleaning houses to make her way through college, that another guiding light appeared in the form of a client who was a hypnotherapist. For those of you interested in the mystery of hypnosis, do yourself a favor and listen to Renee demystify it.
Because she likes direct experiences, her part in the San Francisco Women’s March is really not so startling. Powerful but not surprising. Because her focus was always on the internal, Renee had never been involved in political life, but she had taken to peeking in on Facebook to stay informed with the presidential election. On November 12th, she opened up Facebook and saw the Million Women March in Washington, felt a jolt and booked tickets for DC. When she posted on Facebook that she was going, within an hour she had 50 replies asking her what it was. She is a self-starter who does not, as you recall from her stealth yarn bombing, always ask for permission, but she started a Facebook group to help people get to Washington. Hours later she had one thousand members.
When asked if she would like to be the lead of a San Francisco Women’s March, she said yes, sat down with twenty women she had never met and then organized this whole march through Facebook. In less than eight weeks, she had an event that should have taken a year to plan. Renee hoped maybe 30,000 people would appear for the march, but 100,000 flooded Civic Center Plaza. Renee, who bought a thousand rain ponchos to give out because she had heard a storm was expected, says that what the march did was way beyond women’s issue, it was about open connecting, about caring for all our citizens, about justice, about loving each other and standing for the positive rather than against the negative. People were shocked. Lives were saved. Listen to Renee hear how.
Does this need to be followed up with another march soon? Is this one enough? To listen to Renee talk about why this may have been enough for now is a lesson in the value of being in the present and not losing ourselves in the concern of what next. When it comes to the art of getting things done, it is best to hear this story in Renee’s own voice that carries with it a vibrancy you can see in everything she does, candor, humor, power, spiritual insights, sweet-tempered fearlessness and the strength of unwavering love.
Love letters? Of course. She does get thank you notes from citizens for her stealth bombing. But her life is filled with possibilities. Why does she write letters that she does not send? She is an important part of a huge history as this march is already seen as an historic event, so any letter in her own handwriting will be an historical treasure in years to come . What about a letter to Mark Zuckerberg in thanks for the powerful and unmistakable part that Facebook played in making this march a reality?