Cal Lutheran Seminar Offers 1,200 Women a ‘Renewal Day’


For the past five years, Thousand Oaks resident Renate Lee has set aside a day to rejuvenate herself.


On Saturday, she was joined by about 1,200 other women at the annual women’s seminar at Cal Lutheran University.

“It’s a renewal day,” Lee said. “I have the tendency to get wrapped up in my daily life. Sometimes it’s good to have a look at what women are doing outside my circle.”


Women young and old came from around the state to attend the daylong “Creative Options” seminar, which offered a wide array of 80-minute workshops run by family counselors, educators and activists.

“I think women are very eager, anxious and enthused about possibilities and options in their lives,” said Kathryn Swanson, director of the Women’s Resource Center at Cal Lutheran, which sponsored the event along with the Thousand Oaks branch of the American Assn. of University Women.

The day got under way with speaker Betty Friedan, whose talk was opened and closed by standing ovations from the cheering crowd. The noted feminist spoke to the packed auditorium for more than an hour about the “mystique of age.”

Women and men, she said, should embrace their later years as a time of growth, change and a sense of self-confidence.

“If you obsess with being young, it diminishes the possibility of moving into future stages of growth,” Friedan said. “You are part of an ongoing stream of life, not only through your children and your grandchildren, which is a great joy, but also in the trees we plant . . . and in the causes we embrace.”

After her speech, Friedan said seminars such as the one at Cal Lutheran were events that encouraged women to continue changing and moving ahead in their lives.


“I think there’s a hunger and a need for new thinking and new vision,” she said.

Participants said Friedan was one of the highlights of the day.

“I really liked what she said about being genuine and embracing humanness,” said Lisa Quigley, 21, a student at the University of California at Davis who drove from Northern California with her roommate to attend the event. “I think her speech applied to all people of all ages.”

Betty Coppola, 64, of Camarillo said she came primarily to hear Friedan, but attended a workshop on breast cancer out of curiosity.

“There was a whole list, but I felt I should know about it,” she said. Coppola was one of about 20 women at the workshop, which focused on prevention--specifically, how to detect lumps.

“The issue of breast cancer needs to be reiterated,” said Annie Merz, 21, a student at Cal Lutheran who attended the workshop. “It’s just something everyone should know about. Everybody has the attitude that it won’t happen to me.”

The breast cancer workshop was one of 75 offered, ranging in topics from gun control to career planning and country line-dancing to self-defense tactics. The workshops ranged in size from classroom sessions with fewer than 20 participants to group activities with nearly 50.

This event was sold out weeks before the registration deadline, Swanson said, forcing the organizing committee to return applicants’ checks.


“We have maxed out at over 1,200 . . . and I would guess we’ve turned away 200 to 300,” she said, explaining that Friedan was a tremendous draw this year.

But for many women, having a day simply to celebrate themselves among other women was the real attraction.

“For women to get together and explore their own issues is a way to explore a path through a men’s world,” said 31-year-old Sylvia Deily of Westwood. “It inspires me to continue to work.”

Times staff writer Joanna M. Miller contributed to this story.