This time of year gives us the opportunity to gather together as friends and family to appreciate our blessings. We on The Women’s Conference team wanted to share with you what we’re thankful for this year. We hope you’ll share with us what you’re thankful for, too.
I am so thankful I had the incredible opportunity to be First Lady of California – thankful I had the chance to work with such an amazing group of people and to have such amazing children. I am thankful for my family and friends. I’m thankful to be alive and living in the USA.
I am thankful for the new love in my life, my dog, Noodle (even though she is eating one of my plants as I type this). I am beyond thankful to the shelter that rescued her from the pound and put up the cutest photo of her online, which I became obsessed with, and eventually led to her adoption.
Ande Dagan, Website Producer
I am thankful for the good health of my family and friends, especially those who are battling cancer successfully as I write this. I am thankful for the physical strength that allowed me to survive another year of helping to produce the greatest Women’s Conference ever. I am thankful for the fortitude to make it through the toughest challenge I’ve had as a parent of a high school student —helping my son Ethan go through the nightmare of applying for colleges. And I am really thankful for the sense of humor that helps me think these aren’t just challenges to overcome, but moments in which I can still see something touching and funny.
Alexandra Gleysteen, Executive Producer
I am thankful that as an escape from my desk job, I teach yoga on Sunday mornings at 8 a.m., affording my devoted students and myself a weekly experience in breath work and exultation.
Liberty B. Conboy, Senior Aide
I’m thankful that there’s a holiday that asks us all to step away from the myriad challenges, frustrations and demands of our intensely busy lives to reflect on our long list of blessings. If only we could remember to make this a daily, not a yearly, ritual – to show gratitude for the people who turn our lives into a series of adventures.
Cherie Simon, Website Editor-in-Chief
I'm thankful for the love of my life. I'm thankful for family and friends who make me a better person. I'm thankful for being able to work with a strong sense of purpose. And I'm thankful for living near ocean sunsets. It's hard to take life for granted when you can witness the day die each day.
Matthew DiGirolamo, Marketing Director
I am thankful for my children Dana, Seth and Adam. I am thankful for my health. I am thankful for my incredible six years of working with Maria Shriver and for being part of an extraordinary team of extraordinary people. I am thankful that I will soon meet my first grandchild.
Kathy Hersh, Director of Business & Legal Affairs
I am thankful for the air I breathe, the food I eat, the family who loves me for who I am, and the wonderful friends I have made through Maria's amazing organization. I am also thankful for whirlwind trips to Miami to raise money for Best Buddies.
Sean C. Molloy, Conference Assistant
I am thankful for my health. After spending two weeks tied up – and useless – with the flu, I have a sense of just how powerful good health is. With it, you can do virtually anything; without it, I, anyway, am very, very hindered. Wishing good health (wealth and happiness – but mostly health) to all.
Emma Brownell, Website Editorial Manager
What are you most thankful for? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!
“Honey, I just want you to be happy” are some of the most loaded words we single women in our 20s/30s can hear. What the words impart is a loving and generous sentiment -- concern for our welfare. What they imply is something quite different.
Namely, that we are not happy status quo. That there is something “else” that would make us truly happy. That the happiness, achievement or wholeness we feel now may be lovely, but it is nothing compared to the happiness, etc. we will feel once married.
I heard these words recently when speaking with a family friend who is much like an aunt to me. A few weeks ago, I realized an achievement with my blog, MartiniRescueSquad.com, that I consider a big deal. No one else has to think it’s as enormous as I do, but I was excited.
My aunt e-mailed 70 of her closest friends about the achievement. As various people replied to her with congratulations and encouragement, my aunt forwarded me each message.
One of those came from a mutual family friend Lucy, who lives back east. “I love you, Paige!” she wrote, and added that she wanted to catch up the following week, when she’d be staying with my aunt and her husband. I replied that I would love to have them all over for dinner -- Aunt Janie, Uncle Gil and Lucy. Although I'm not a cook, I can handle that number.
That Thursday, two days before Lucy arrived, my aunt called me breathless, “Paige, Honey, this is extremely important - are you going to invite Lee and Annette to your dinner for Lucy next week?”
Lee and Annette are a married couple about my age, and they come from the same town as Lucy.
“No, Janie, I had not planned on it, but I will if you think Lucy would like that.”
“Oh, Honey, it’s very important that you let me know right away. Our neighbors want to have Lee and Annette for a barbeque they want to throw for Lucy and would be mortified to have the three of them attend two of the same parties in the same week.”
I’ve heard of many traditions and mores in my lifetime, but have never heard of that one. On the contrary, in any group of friends and neighbors, I have been at the same parties with the same people within the same week many times.
“That’s fine, Janie, tell your neighbor to go ahead and invite them. I will invite them the next time Lucy comes to town.”
“No, Honey, I don’t think you understand…our neighbor wants you to have first dibs on inviting Lee and Annette, but would be horribly embarrassed if they were at the same party with Lucy twice in the same week.”
That is absurd.
“I’m sorry, Aunt Janie, but that does not make any sense,” I said. Please tell your neighbor to invite Lee and Annette and I’ll have you, Uncle Gil and Lucy as originally planned.”
“Paige! Lee and Annette have all of those cute men they want to introduce you to! If they do not spend some time with you and get to know you better, they will probably not make any of the introductions.”
Oh, OK, so I see where this is going. It’s not about how tacky it would be to have the same three people at two parties in one week, it’s about marrying me off as quickly as possible.
“Honey, I just want you to be happy.”
“I AM happy, Aunt Janie.”
“I know…but I just want you to be really happy…Oh, and our neighbors want to know if you will come to the barbeque as well. The Saunders will be there with their cute son.”
So there it is -- the driving force behind this whole back-and-forth was finding a mate for me, i.e. changing my lifestyle so I will finally achieve legitimacy and the happiness that comes with marriage.
Finding the right man and starting a family with him is a top priority for me. When the time is right. I put myself out there, date a fair amount and am blessed with a rather varied cross-section of friends. I don’t sit at home and mope.
However, I’m not sure it’s healthy to base every choice I make in life - down to whom I invite for a small dinner - on the likelihood that it will lead to me meeting Mr. Right.
It seems a lot of us confront such messages and doubts as Aunt Janie’s. The truth is, our happiness is really ours to determine. If we are happy as we are, we don’t have to let anyone else’s concerns delegitimize our lifestyle choices. If we’re not happy with things as they are, we’re in the perfect position to change them.
Paige Nesbitt is a Los Angeles native, an author and a blogger. Her blog www.martinirescuesquad.com is based on her manuscript, Martini Rescue Squad, A Peer Expert's Guide to Being a Single Woman in Her Twenties or Thirties and Loving It. Nesbitt has a Bachelor’s in Theater and French from Vanderbilt University and an MBA in Finance from Pepperdine University.
More by Paige Nesbitt:
One in six Americans are going hungry. Of those 50 million people without enough to eat, 17 million are children.
What can you do? Join California First Lady Maria Shriver and The Women’s Conference as we make a donation to the California Association of Food Banks to provide one million meals to California families in need.
Today, Maria Shriver will launch the Million Meals Initiative in San Diego with a lunchtime visit to Father Joe’s Villages, an organization that serves more than 5,000 people a day through its soup kitchen. Shriver will then visit the San Diego Armed Services YMCA to join partners and volunteers to help distribute packages of healthy food to more than 1,000 families. The day’s events will culminate with a visit by Shriver to Qualcomm Stadium for the Million Meals Food Drive, which is being organized in partnership with the San Diego Food Bank and San Diego Chargers.
The Million Meals Food Drive was kicked off on November 20th, when the general public was invited to donate non-perishable food items. San Diego Chargers players joined the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and other volunteers in the food collection efforts. The goal of the Million Meals Food Drives is to collect enough food to provide an additional one million meals to California’s families.
The San Francisco 49ers organization is also participating in the Million Meals Initiative. At their November 14 home game, the 49ers collaborated with the San Francisco Food Bank to collect 2,100 pounds of food and $2,100 in cash donations from fans as they were arriving at the game. Yesterday, the 49ers partnered with Sacred Heart Community Service to facilitate another Million Meals Food Drive, where they collected 1,400 pounds of food and $5,100 in cash donations.
“The Women’s Conference organization has worked on the frontlines to feed women’s minds, bodies and spirits, and during this time of need, we are committed to helping California women feed their families,” said Maria Shriver. “I am so pleased that individual Californians and thousands of organizations all across the state are joining together to support struggling families… I hope the Million Meals Initiative inspires even more Californians to join us by donating to Million Meals food bank partners across the state—so we can keep this spirit of giving alive throughout the year.”
The food donated through the Million Meals Initiative will be delivered to Californians through the California Association of Food Banks’ 43 member organizations and more than 5,000 organizations across the state. In addition to the food banks, five organizations have also been selected to receive grants including Father Joe’s Villages, Sacred Heart Community Service, and three organizations led by the conference’s Minerva Award winners: Betty Chin’s Betty’s Blue Angels, Christy Porter’s Hidden Harvest and Janice Mirikitani’s Glide Memorial Church.
Californians can donate food, dollars or time to a Million Meals partner in their neighborhood by visiting www.cafoodbanks.org.
For more ways to contribute to your community, read 10 Ways to Give Back This Season
For more about The Women's Conference We Connect program, which is driving this initiative, visit www.weconnect.net
Sure, it can be tough to stick to a workout regimen if your job takes you out of town, but there are plenty of ways to keep to your fitness routine while also breaking up the monotony of your “business” dealings—and releasing that business trip-induced tension.
Here are a few things you may want to pack so you can get your groove on, whether you’re staying at a 5-star hotel (with a 5-star gym) or your joint has a tiny, or worse, no gym:
(For a different type of travel workout, you might ask the hotel staff about renting a bicycle.)
Once you’re packed and safely at the airport, kill time (since we need to get there so dang early anyway) by getting some exercise. Wear your walking shoes and store your carry-on bags in a locker (if available). Walk briskly through the terminal while waiting for your flight. Pump your arms to increase your heart rate. Light exercise before a flight will actually help you fly better by oxygenating your blood, relaxing you and helping with jet lag symptoms. During your flight, get up occasionally to stretch and walk.
If you’re traveling by train, walk through the cars every 30 to 60 minutes. Walk outdoors when the train stops to let passengers on and off. If you’re driving, take frequent breaks to get out and stretch. Even a short walk around a rest area can boost your mood and energy level.
No matter where you are going, or for how long, it’s easy to fit in fitness – keeping you healthy, balanced and sharp!
Carolyn Scott is the executive producer, creator, host and writer of The Healthy Voyager brand, www.healthyvoyager.com. Her web series, radio show, site, blog and social network show you how to live, and travel, healthy & green.
From the time I was a little girl I was driven to help others. My three never-married aunts, who lived together their whole lives, guided and influenced me. They were women who traveled the planet, built great friendships and had successful careers. My aunts came out of the Great Depression with the attitude that you pull together as family, and with this united strength, you have love and resources to share with others. They taught me that one person can make a difference—and that person could be me.
In the beginning, my community was my elementary school and my role was defending the child being bullied at school or helping the kid who couldn’t read. As I got older, my world expanded, and I became involved in advocating for universal health care and fund-raising for environmental causes. As a young woman, I dropped out of college and traveled to South America to live; I came back to the States a year later, driven to finish my education, so I could help people poorer and less fortunate than myself. By the time I was an adult, I seemed to be unable to take a vacation, or make a painting without immediately projecting forward how I could use this initially self-motivated activity to help others.
Now, I live between three countries (India, Mexico and Tibet), working as a consultant to nonprofit organizations worldwide, helping them make their dream into a solid plan of action; documenting the rare and endangered flora of the Tibetan Plateau as a scientific botanical illustrator; writing a novel, and leading tours to Tibet as part of an ecotourism partnership with Tibetan villagers and nomads that sends 100 poor children to school, supports political prisoners, and provides health care for frail, elderly Tibetans.
Every one of these aspects of my life is rooted in the same values my aunts passed on to me when I was five—help others and have great adventures while doing it. I start and end every day with a statement of intention that reminds and refocuses me on what is truly important: “May everything that I think, do and say today help me end suffering in others.” Every evening, I sift through my day to see if I have stayed true to my values and that intention.
My Life Strategies:
Dianne Aigaki is a writer, social activist, artist and philanthropist. Besides being a consultant for nonprofit organizations and training over 4,000 people worldwide, she has been an artist for 35 years, working in acrylics, watercolor, stained glass, print making, and cyanotypes, a technique used in the 1700s to document rare plants. As a woman explorer, she is a member of both Wings World Quest and the Society of Women Geographers, the two premier women’s exploration organizations in the world. Her blog is www.dianneaigaki.wordpress.com; her website is www.dianneaigaki.com
On a daily basis we are bombarded with images of who we should be, what we should look like, and how we should act in public. If you fail to define your identity for yourself, a perverted sense of self will form. True confidence comes from within, and genuine beauty radiates from an intrinsic joy that no one can take away. Developing a healthy relationship with yourself is an essential investment — one that many of us must purposely make. But it’s worth it. Think about it… you are the only person you are guaranteed to have a relationship with for the rest of your life.
There are many ways to strengthen one’s sense of self. One of the most beneficial habits that I’ve developed is taking myself out to dinner. I refer to it as my Table for One experience. Initially, it was vastly intimidating. I was convinced that everyone was staring at me, judging me for being alone, as if I didn’t have any friends to join me. But I was allowing my own insecurities to taint the experience and squander a wonderful opportunity to grow. I decided to put my worries aside and enjoy my own company. (The added benefit to my Table for One was getting out of my comfort zone – which helped build up my inner strength and confidence.)
Our relationships with others grow mostly through communication. I always like to say that intimacy is no more than the act of sharing thoughts with others. So how do you go about sharing with yourself? Journaling is a great way. I find that the more I write, the more I’m able to reflect. It gives me the tools to ground myself and realize how I’m actually feeling in the day-to-day.
Most people wait for others to show them adventures that they’ve never experienced before. But you can expose yourself to new experiences on your own – often without leaving your own town or city. Almost every major city in the United States has a museum of modern art. Not in the mood for fine art? Go horseback riding, to a cooking exhibition, or to see a play. You can expand your world simply by stepping outside of your comfort zone.
There is a famous quote in To Kill a Mockingbird that says, “Everything must grow or die.” Life is about getting out of your comfort zone – it is about growing. Knowing who you are and having confidence in yourself is key to pushing boundaries and exploring the world – physically and intellectually.
Jennifer F. Beatty is the 19-year-old author of Point of Difference, a motivational book on how to become the best version of yourself. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA and is currently a sophomore at The George Washington University in Washington D.C. The expected publish date of Point of Difference is 2011.
“I’m so worried about my Dad. He is forgetting things lately and seems confused. How can I find out if he has Alzheimer’s? And if he does have it, what do I do?”
As a geriatric care manager, I frequently receive calls just like this. Fear of the unknown can be the most troublesome part of caring for someone you love when they begin to demonstrate changes in behavior. The following information can decrease your stress and help you ensure that mom and dad get the best care possible.
Each year a million people start a mental decline called mild cognitive impairment (MCI) with memory loss somewhere between normal aging and Alzheimer’s. Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in the U.S., there are many reasons why someone’s memory can decline. Some of these causes are treatable. Generally, Alzheimer’s disease has a gradual onset of symptoms over months to years and a worsening of cognition. If the memory loss or confusion comes on quickly, this could indicate that something other than Alzheimer’s is going on. You’ll want to ask for a thorough evaluation by someone who specializes in memory impairment as a first step – this could be a psychiatrist, neurologist or a geriatrician.
The evaluation will include testing for conditions that look similar to dementia – but aren’t, such as:
Imaging the brain can also be helpful to check for a tumor, stroke, or increased pressure on the brain. These tests can help determine the cause of memory loss, and if it’s treatable.
Once dementia is confirmed, the next step is to determine whether it is Alzheimer’s. (There are different kinds of dementia, other causes of memory loss and then there are declines that are still considered “normal aging.”) If it is Alzheimer’s, there are medications that might be helpful in slowing the progress of the disease. People with Alzheimer’s may do better in the long term if they have early intervention. And do stay in touch with your loved one. If they exhibit any of the behaviors listed here, it may be time to consider getting them live-in help or moving them to an assisted living facility.
This will be a hard time, but there is information and loving support available for you and your loved ones. There are books, support groups, websites, geriatric care managers and others who have gone through this before you to guide you every step of the way.
Cheryl Mathieu, Ph.D., M.S.W. is a geriatric care manager and Alzheimer’s specialist, founder and president of AgingPro.com, the nation’s most comprehensive eldercare resource. She is also the author of “The Essential Caregiver’s Toolbox.” Using education, compassion and humor, “Dr. Cheryl” assists caregivers to gracefully manage the many challenges of their aging loved ones.
Over the next decade, women around the world will enter the workforce at an unprecedented rate. Close to 1 billion women, many of whom have either never worked or worked at a subsistence level, will be contributors to the world economy. Small business formation specifically will be a key driver to the growing influence of women around the world. The recently announced Intuit 2020 Report describes the growing influence of women as the "She-conomy."
Being an Architect of Change was much discussed at The Women’s Conference; entrepreneurship and small business formation certainly embodies that sentiment. Currently, women are starting businesses at twice the rate men are. For those women who are still on the fence or do not know how to get started, here are 5 critical first steps to fulfilling your entrepreneurial dreams:
Starting a business has never been easier or timelier. We look forward to seeing the She-conomy in action!
For more information on how to get started, please check out Intuit.com.
Susan Mason is the director of Intuit's Financial Freedom Foundation.
“Girls who look like you don’t become doctors,” said the father of my 8th grade classmate. This was one of the first of many sexist and discouraging comments I’ve heard in my life. I started modeling at the age of 12, but it had been my dream since I was a child to be a doctor. I remember when I was working a charity as Miss Delaware Teen USA, an older man told me that I was “very pretty” but should still “consider going to college.” He didn’t believe that I had gotten a perfect 1600 on my SAT’s and was starting Harvard University in the fall.
Now as a Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon, and also a board certified Head & Neck surgeon, having completed not one, but two top surgical training programs, I dare any man to question me.
How have I survived being a woman in a man’s field? How have I fought through the stereotypes to come out ahead? A few tips I have learned along the way:
Dr. Catherine Huang Begovic is a Plastic & Reconstructive surgeon in Beverly Hills CA and CEO of her cosmetic and plastic surgery practice Make You Perfect, Inc. She is also a board certified Head & Neck cancer and reconstructive surgeon. She is on the board of BeautyTV.
I am watching the slow demise of my mother’s family. My mother, Irene, currently suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. She is the middle child of a family of 6 children. She is one of only two still alive. Two of her sisters passed away this year (one also having suffered from Alzheimer’s disease). Even though my mother had not seen her sisters on a regular basis for years, and she is suffering from Alzheimer’s herself, she continues to grieve their absence.
I am fascinated by how this disease affects my mother’s memory. Many times she believes that my sisters and I are her sisters, as opposed to her daughters, and frequently calls us by her sisters’ names. But when we must tell her of the passing of one of her sisters, she is very clear on whom we are talking about, and she is determined to see her before it is too late (which it usually is…).
I see how the disease works on my mother’s mind and know what time of her life she is living – when she was young, when her sisters were healthy. To relate to mom we very often have to adjust to that time as best we can – let her think we’re her sisters, play the roles, not rock the boat. It’s an odd thing to have to do, but we find that it keeps her steady and comfortable in a way that constantly reminding her of reality doesn’t.
As I think of my mother’s family and my aunts (the women my sisters and I are now taken for), I think about who they were: strong women who had many children, the youngest having the fewest -- only 3 boys! Proud Irish Catholics! These women led their families to great growth and success - no failure was permitted. And I look at my sisters and see the same type of women: strong women who don’t accept failure.
While my generation has not had as many children as the previous had -- in fact, only two of us have kids, and one had her first at the age of 46! -- the children we have are strong, smart and successful. I watch the respect and love the children have for their mothers and aunts, and I see how these women impact their lives -- similar to the impact our aunts had on us!
I read the death notices of my aunts and am surprised to learn things about them I either did not know or forgot. They were all born during the early 20th century when women were meant to remain at home and raise children -- which they did and did very well, but they were also teachers, office staff, volunteers and homeroom moms. All continued education beyond high school. They were also very devoted to each other. Some of my cousins and sisters believe that my aunt Anita, who passed away earlier in the year, had something to do with my Aunt Kate passing away a few weeks ago -- the power of talking to God and convincing him to bring Aunt Kate home! Wow what influence!
The years pass – but even in the face of disease and death, my aunts’ legacy of strength, influence and devotion does not waiver. I am blessed to be a part of this legacy.
Rosemary Russell, daughter of Irene Russell (currently suffering from Alzheimer disease) is the owner and president of Business Women’s Advisory Council located outside Philadelphia, Pa. Rosemary is a retired Human Resources executive with the passion and mission to help women succeed in business.