February, 2012

Secrets to Becoming a Sexy Mama


What makes mama sizzle? It seems, from our informal Sex and Motherhood survey of over 150 Vermont mothers, it’s complicated. Overall, Vermont mamas divulged that they desire more sex, but life’s distractions—babies, nursing, sleepless kids, mopping the floors, co-sleeping, disruptive teens and such— got in the way. We asked mothers this survey question, “What are the barriers to an active sex life?” One mama responded with, “Kids! Even when the hellians get to bed and stay there, there is a good chance one of us was up most of the previous night, dealing with nightmares, sickness, who knows what, and is too pooped to pop.” Forty-five percent of mothers surveyed reported that sleep deprivation was their top complaint.


Sexperts and Skin

Bottom line, mamas need sleep and sex, but the question is how to achieve those lofty goals with teens and toddlers running around at all hours of the night? They need what sex therapists and married duo, Dr. Israel Helfand and Cathi Helfand, call “skin-on-skin” time. Skin-on-skin time may or may not end in orgasm. It could be savoring a shower together, or massaging each other. It’s a moment for couples to physically connect, but this takes time. And time is what mamas don’t seem to have.


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Two Women


WholeSomeBodies Teaches
Joyful Sexuality


In 2000, a small workgroup of women began to meet in living rooms and outdoors at Montpelier’s Hubbard Park to begin the newly formed Vermont Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force. We were sexual violence prevention practitioners, health educators, and anti-violence advocates and challenged ourselves simply to define healthy sexuality: what was it exactly?

That work blossomed into critical steps toward transforming the usual ‘sex education,’ so often based in fear and embarrassment and secrets, into a positive, and indeed joyful, way to understand human sexual development. We named the project, which developed into a published curriculum in 2004, Joyful Sexuality; the program continues to evolve today, including a name change to WholeSomeBodies in 2009.


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Weaving Dreams into Beautiful Business Success


When you enter Ann’s Weavery, a visually gorgeous gift shop and weaving studio in Middlesex, among the many enticing textile art pieces you will find are the wildly original mis-matched socks, called “Solmates.”

Ann Lovald, who opened her Weavery shop in 2009, and Marianne Wakerlin, who began her Solmate’s journey in Strafford, Vermont in 2000, share a cordial business relationship—and so much more. Each woman’s story is a blend of passion for her art, determination to lead her own life, hard-earned business acumen, and decades laboring in other careers that ultimately gave each the ability and motivation to build successful Vermont businesses.

For each, the businesses were born at a point in life when it was time to “reinvent” herself, as Ann put it. Living in Vermont was an important factor for both women and each report the legacy of her mother lives on in her business. Of course, Ann and Marianne are also quite different from one another. Their art is a dramatic contrast.

Weaving is an exacting art that takes careful planning, and patience setting up the loom before beginning to weave – a perfect metaphor for Ann’s clear-eyed business planning. Ann also works with a more muted palette, a definite contrast to Marianne’s socks, which are riotously colorful, even wacky. Marianne’s business decisions haven’t been wacky by a long shot, but she did take a much bigger leap of faith in the beginning. Today, Ann is the sole employee of her shop; Marianne has many employees and supplies shops like Ann’s with wholesale goods.

And that’s part of what makes their shared story compelling: Ann’s and Marianne’s differences beautifully underscore the need for women business owners and artists to stay true to their own values and make their own unique life choices on the path to success.


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Marianne Wakerlin

Michelle Ollie Delivers Comics
and a Serious Vision


Michelle Ollie’s career in the world of comics started with her paper delivery route. It was the 1970s in Milwaukee, and every morning, she woke up to four-foot stacks of newspapers waiting for her on the porch. They first needed to be assembled. But before setting out on her route, she would always stop to read the funny papers. “The comics were my favorite part of the job,” she recalls. “The iconic imagery, the drawings, the storylines.” Peanuts. Animal Crackers. Hi and Lois. Nancy. Andy Capp. Spiderman. Tumbleweeds. Family Circus. Ollie grew up on these graphic portrayals of life and society, at once real and imagined.

Three decades later, 1,000 miles, an MBA and a winding career path later, she’s back in the comic business. This time she’s co-founder of The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, where a new generation of cartoonists are re-imagining the tradition of sketched social commentary and visual storytelling.

Offering a two-year Master of Fine Arts degree as well as certificate and summer workshop programs, The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) is an institution filling a void in the art school world. Students come from across the country and around the world, seeking a graduate-level curriculum that is wholly focused on cartooning. CCS provides exactly that, and at the same time, is providing White River Junction with a growing population of artists who are boosting the area’s economy and vibrancy. Ollie, along with award-winning cartoonist and graphic novelist James Sturm, founded the school in 2005 and has played a key role in the revitalization of White River’s downtown.


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Michelle Ollie