S3-EP19: Island Women Speak About Their Pandemic Year: Challenges, New Best Things and More

Apr 9, 2021


Island Women Speak, the popular multi-generational women’s storytelling event that Debbie produces, could not take place this winter. In this short episode, Debbie invites three past performers onto the show to offer a taste of the intimacy and wisdom that the live audience has loved in the past.



One of the biggest “gaps” for Debbie this past year was the absence of Island Women Speak, the multi-generational women’s storytelling event she has produced and directed on Deer Isle, Maine.

For the past three winters, on a cold January night, seven local women representing seven decades from 20s to 80s have bravely stepped on stage to tell revealing five-minute stories about their lives, in the tradition of Moth storytelling. The other half of the storytelling equation is the audience: packed into Stonington, Maine’s historic Opera House theatre for warmth and intimacy, their presence has never failed to create a safe space for storytelling.

It has been a special evening that this community has talked about for weeks and months afterwards. It’s meant so much to Debbie to work with these extraordinary women and to help make the event happen.

Well, it was NOT to be in January 2021.

So she decided to invite three past performers onto the show, representing three different decades (or teams), to get their differing perspectives on this pandemic year and to offer a taste of the intimacy and wisdom that the audience has loved in the past. In this short episode, you’ll hear from three women about loneliness and uncertainty but also about resilience and perseverance, the sturdy outlook on life that is typical of Mainers. 

Representing Team 30 is Amanda Larrabee who is a landscaper and mother of a teenager.  For Team 50 is Becky Siebert who has served the community for decades as a nurse. And for Team 80 is Lorraine Knowlton, a retired minister. All three are lifelong residents of Deer Isle, Maine, the remote coastal community that Debbie now calls home.

Debbie asks each of them a series of questions about their pandemic year:

– What has been most challenging for you?

– What is your NEW BEST THING that has come out of this year?

– What do you want more of?

– This has been a year of loss, but has it been a lost year for you?

Tune into this short episode to hear three women, three generations, and three perspectives on the ways we’ve all experienced this past year and how we are looking ahead.


Watch videos of their  Island Women Speak performances:


Mentioned in this episode or useful:


Note from Debbie

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Thanks to our media partners

Encore.org, our newest media partner, is an ideas and innovation hub tapping the talent of those 50+ as a force for good. Founder and CEO Marc Freedman is an award-winning social entrepreneur and author, most recently, of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations. Looking for a great gap-year transition program? Check out Encore Fellowships, which match skilled, seasoned professionals with social-sector organizations in high-impact, paid assignments.


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Next For Me is an important new resource for the 50+ crowd focused on rewriting life. Taking a gap year or timeout may be the best way to figure out "what's next" when you're in this stage of life. Founder Jeff Tidwell explains, Next For Me "connects and inspires our generation to evolve our post-50 lives through new work, a new purpose, or a new social contribution."