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     Dragonfly Ranch Healing Arts CenterHealing Arts Retreat
Las Vegas Red Hat Convention 2005

July 22th, 2005

Aloha All,

When I heard that the Red Society was gathering 6000 strong for a convention in Las Vegas, I decided I wanted to be there. I had wanted to join the club in Kona but found that it was closed to new members. So I became a “Queen.” I named my chapter the South Kona Red Hatters. I became a club of one: me!
I had no idea who I would meet or how I would be received in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas Red Hat Convention June 2005:

When I arrive in the parking lot of MGM Grand, I meet a woman from Las Vegas, Dee, who tells me her group (one of 300 Red Hat chapters in Las Vegas) can include me in their evening at the Riviera “La Cage” show at the end of the convention.
She takes me under her wing at Studio 54 where she introduces me to her Queen Mother, Mops.
Mops tells me I can go on the tour of Sherry’s Ranch the world's most famous bordello.”
I’m told that the women who work there are surprisingly “beautiful and compassionate.”
I really didn’t expect to hear such nonjudgmental observation from older, straight women in the Red Hat Society. These women are a select breed of light-hearted women dedicated to having a good time!

Sue Ellen, our Exalted Queen Mother, makes a splashy entrance on the Studio 54 dance floor, being lowered down from ropes overhead.
The music is especially selected to make us all want to dance and laugh--A continuous flow of dancy sounds like:“Girls Just Want to Have Fun!”
The next day, I meet some women looking ever so elegant at a bar in the hotel. I ask, “May I join you?”

Red Hat Convention

They embrace me in their group from Florida, making me feel quite welcome and at home. They rave about my style and compliment me for being so interesting. It is so totally mutual that we have an instantaneous Admiration Society.
When Howie Mandel comes walking by with a photographer and writer from the Los Angeles Times, we invite him to join us.

Howie & Barbara
Howie Mandel & Barbara
  He asks what we are all about. Then he gets right into the swing of things when Shirley loans him her ostrich feather hat.
He recalls reading about that poem with the purple dress and red hat. With tongue in cheek he says, “Now, I fell that we are having a bonding experience."

Heartwarming experiences, one after another began happening. Every woman I speak with is smiling and friendly.
Ruby, a spunky 85 year old woman from Texas tells me that she got a hug from our Exhaled Queen Mother, Sue Ann ˜the originator of the Red Hat Society. “I don’t think I’ll ever bathe again,” she tells me, holding her hand over her heart, swooning in dramatic style. She says, “I told Sue Ellen that she is to women what Christ was to Christians.”
Ruby’s beautiful old face is so animated and fun, full of wisdom, humor with wrinkles testifying to having lived. “ You are so adorable,” I tell her. With a witty twinkle, she quickly replies, “I can’t help it.”

Before long, we declare to each other. “I love you!”. It spontaneously happens after Ruby tells me she wants to “die laughing” with her boots on, “learning more about God.”
I tell her about my movie script called, “To Die Laughing.” We realize that we are on the same page!
I invite Ruby to visit me at my health retreat in Hawaii. She assures me she will be visiting me.

Ruby & Me

When Sue Ellen announces the number of people who came from Hawaii (22 of us), I
find a whole new table of new friends. I sit and talk with “Hula Rabbit” whose sister, Lucy,
has 4th stage breast cancer. We speak soberly of making every breath count. When I meet Lucy, we talk about the importance of taking good care of herself and to enjoy whatever time is left. I can’t help but shed a tear or two of deep caring, as good friends do.
A Korean woman named Kayleen recently lost her dear husband. She shares with me the time her husband called out to her and said that he had strange feelings in his body and thought the time had come for him to die. “Are you ready?,” he asked her. She said that she lied and said, “yes” because she had learned from Hospice that he needed to hear that. He then proceeded to say his final goodbyes, thanking her for being such a wonderful wife and good friend. Then they sat and waited.

  She tells me they waited waited. And nothing happened. After 40 minutes, her husband finally apologized. He said, “I’m so sorry. I never died before.” They got a big laugh out of it and it was several days later that he died. I asked her if the dress rehearsal made it easier and she said it did. I asked Kayleen if she knew very much about Howard Hughes.

She had seen the movie, Aviator. She told me that Hughes was quite eccentric and had a little brain chemistry imbalance that made him be extremely creative and sometimes behave strangely. Having observed me, and listening to my funny stories for a few hours on the bus, Kayleen very gently, with that soft Asian way, tells me that perhaps I have some things in common with Howard Hughes. I laugh heartily. She, who is going to work in the conservative Ronald Reagan museum, kindly let me know she finds me to be outrageous.

The pajama party made me know that I am in good company. Outrageous is the name of the game. “Gliz is good” and “Nothing is too much” are the only rules.
Never have I witnessed thousands of old women behaving with gay abandon, wearing crazy hats and outlandish costumes ˜all for the FUN of it.
They make no bones about choosing to do nothing but laugh and have a good time. No more charity work (unless it is fun).
The motto is, “It's all about me.” In my enthusiasm, I bought a glitzy pin that spells out, “ It's all about me.”. I almost returned it.

But then, I talked to myself and said, “Self!” (I call myself Self.) “Isn't it about time you put some energy into caring for yourself for a change?” the answer was a resounding YES! You’ve been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt about looking after everyone else. Give it a break, Self! Every woman at the conference is making a concerted effort to make sure they switch over to looking after themselves after a lifetime of caring for children, husbands, parents. The result is amazing.

  I keep wanting to stop these fancy, high-steppin'’ women in their purple and read regalia and take their pictures. All of us are, as sue Ellen points out with full on humor, “Royalty.”
I wish I could be an artist and paint these classy statements of ebullient joy in red and purple.

They all have such individuality and panache! They are so full of open-hearted kindness and love, eager to share with their “sisters”.

A chapter from Michigan adopt me at breakfast. The queen mother, Barbara, tells me about her husband’s death followed by the loss of her Winter house in a Florida hurricane. She say, “I felt like I wanted to die.” After a heavy pause, she adds, “But my Red Hat sisters.” pointing to her friends at the table, “pulled me through.”
There is a reason that this Red Hat phenomenon is booming at the rate of over 100 new chapters a day with over a million members in 22 countries.

Before long, it will be everywhere in the world. Just wait until Japan hears about this, if they haven’t already! They say when America sneezes, Japan catches a cold. I can just imagine a multitude of women over 50 in Japan wearing red hats! All the younger women will be in pink hats before long!

Meeting Dr. Maxine Harper is a high light for me. She is FUNNY! She teaches laughter therapy.
We talk after her lecture about having Laughter Playshops at the Dragonfly. I love the idea of having Japanese women joining in this fun at the Dragonfly. The cultural exchange will be such a blast—with lots of giggling and belly laughing. Talk about Liberation!

The motto for my chapter is, “Giggling is good. Belly laughing is better!”
I can’t wait to call a meeting with my new Red Hat Sisters!

     Barbara Ann “Kenonilani” Moore


Information or Reservation: 1-808-328-2159
Guest number: 1-808-328-9570

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