in this issue
International Women’s Day is part of a month-long tribute to the contributions of women around the world and the ongoing quest for parity
by Kathy Grey
Celebrated in countries around the world, March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD).
The history of the holiday has been subject to myths and self-serving objectives over the years. Still, according to the World Economic Forum, “International Women’s Day was marked for the first time in March 1911,” but it wasn’t until the United Nations proclaimed March 8 as International Women’s Day that the holiday gained popularity worldwide.
One hundred years after the first International Women’s Day, the forum notes, “sitting U.S. President Barack Obama called for March to be known as Women’s History Month.”
“History shows that when women and girls have access to opportunity, societies are more just, economies are more likely to prosper and governments are more likely to serve the needs of all their people,” Obama said.
In fact, a 2022 Pew Research Center report on excellence in leadership cited honesty, intelligence, compassion and innovation as ranking high on the rating scale. It further noted that when comparing these traits between men and women, women scored higher in most categories.
Outlining priorities for 2023 to the General Assembly, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “Gender equality is both a fundamental human right and a solution to some of our greatest global challenges. But half of humanity is held back by the most widespread human rights abuse of our time … Gender equality is a question of power. The patriarch, with millennia of power behind it, is reasserting itself. The United Nations is fighting back and standing up for the rights of women and girls everywhere.”
IWD 2023 and the Status of Women
The 67th annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67), the UN’s largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment, takes place this year March 6–17 under the theme, “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”
Topics to be covered during the 12-day time period include ending violence against women, peace and security, humanitarian action, leadership and governance, economic empowerment, innovation and technology, women with disabilities and youth. CSW67 sessions will be webcast on UN Women and UN Web TV.
Focus on Technology
In its media advisory, U.N. Women states that the digital age is creating new and unprecedented opportunities to improve the lives of women and girls around the world.
“CSW67 provides a unique chance to shape our digital future for the better. Governments, civil society organizations, experts and activists from around the world will unite to face the challenges — and further the enormous potential — held by technology for the empowerment of all women and girls,” the advisory reads.
“Digital technologies are rapidly transforming all spheres of life, including our economic, social and political systems — establishing new entrance points and platforms for historically marginalized groups. It is also creating unprecedented threats to their well-being,” U.N. Women cautions. “Online spaces provide new venues for violence against women, offering perpetrators increased anonymity and impunity. Discrimination in the tech sector and bias in automated systems themselves perpetuate and further entrench gender inequalities,” the release continues.
Cause for Celebration — and Continuance
The Center for Global Development summarizes IWD succinctly: “While International Women’s Day provides a day to celebrate another year’s worth of progress for women and girls, it is also an important reminder of how persistent gender inequality remains and why researchers — from education, global health, development, finance and more — must work just as persistently to document and better understand the lived realities of women and girls. Not just on International Women’s Day, but every day.”
Ride With Us to Fight Cancer
Be a local hero at the 2023 Pan-Florida Challenge Cancer Ride
No matter your age or ability, choose the distance that works for you, from 10 to 100 miles. All funds raised by cyclists support cancer prevention research at Moffitt Cancer Center and provide nutritious, cancer-fighting weekend backpack meals to at-risk kids.
Supporters may also donate or become sponsors.
Be a local hero!
When: Saturday, March 25, 8 a.m.
Where: Paradise Coast Sports Complex
3940 City Gate Blvd. S., Naples
More Info: https://panfloridachallenge.org
In Sickness and in Love, It Takes a Village
My journey through my husband’s illness and beyond
by Sheila Varnum
Life has a way of grabbing your attention, sometimes in shocking ways.
My husband was a super athlete, always in great health. At his October 2021 physical, his doctor said, “You are amazing! I want to be you when I am 80!”
A very short 10 weeks later, he got the stark news that he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and that it had metastasized to other parts of his body. After a disheartening visit to Moffitt Cancer Center, we knew we were in very deep trouble.
For a couple of nights, we just cried, thinking of what this enormous change in our lives would mean. Our beloved family of friends cried with us and told us they would support us on the road ahead. I was very grateful for their support, but I still remained totally underwater in my thinking. Why was this happening to my beloved Todd? Whatever would we do?
In disbelief, incredible pain and totally overwhelmed, I wished it all could just disappear. I could not even imagine a life without him. But I knew I could not waste all my energy wishing I could change the circumstances.
It was what it was, and I had better get in gear and step up to the plate into two roles that would need to be in motion simultaneously to care for him. One role was being Todd’s primary caregiver and the point-person for the journey we were now thrust into. The second role would be to find ways to take care of myself through a process I knew would be extremely grueling.
Both roles would demand the very best I could bring to the table. I was losing my best friend and my beloved husband. I felt so unready. But it was apparent that for me to fail at either role would cause a failure of the whole.
By chance, I was talking to a friend, and she happened to mention a friend who was facing a similar challenge with her husband. She, too, felt totally overwhelmed and could not even fathom how she would cope, which was a mirror of my feelings. But she told me she got some help and set up a “system” that really saved her.
“What kind of system? How did it work?” I asked.
She said the woman gathered her friends together, and they set up a team to help with the caregiving. Each person volunteered their unique skills. This served to lessen the burden on everyone and provided a lot of different faces and people for the husband to interact with. And, most importantly, it provided the caregiving woman with a lot of help as well as a break for some down-time. She emphasized the need for “care for the caregiver.”
It sounded like a lifesaver to me.
The A Team
I called our friends together, and each volunteered their skills — and heart — to form our “A Team” made up of:
A patient advocate (scribe for all notes, medications and doctor visits and our driver).
A couple who arranged all our food deliveries. (People fed us for the whole three-plus months. They continue to do so today, but as a treat to me now.)
Three nurses, plus an extra in New Jersey, who was an infusion specialist, helping me with chemo regimen.
An incredible family physician and his nurse.
One psychotherapist for all the times the despair overtook me.
Todd’s best friend and his wife, who came all hours of the night and day to help.
One of my dearest friends ran my business for the duration.
Two of our other friends ran all kinds of errands and helped with chores.
My sister, who came from New York toward the end to help run our house.
Ninety-eight days later, my beloved Todd left us. At about 2 o’clock, he opened his eyes and called my name. I was right beside him. I whispered to him that we had filled his pockets with all of our love and kisses for his journey and that it was OK to let go.
He sighed, closed his eyes, and the angels escorted him home.
I had thought the journey was the hard part. Little did I know how painful the aftermath would be. I really thought I could not go on. But I had promised Todd I would not waste my life by grieving and being overcome with sorrow. Now I had to find a way to honor that promise.
With only a small amount of energy, I decided every day I would continue to be grateful for the gifts I had and not be focused on what I now did not have. I decided to just get out of bed and get moving and try to stay focused.
It’s almost a year later, and the healing is finally beginning to take hold.
My friends told me that when I got some space and time after his death, I would be able to see that caring for him would end up being my proudest moment. It was. It just took time and the love of a village.
Starry Nights: Under the Stars in Santorini
An enchanting evening where every child is a STAR!
Join us March 25 at The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburón, for cocktails, dinner, entertainment, music by Powerhouse Next Generation, dancing, a Maserati raffle, a silent auction, and more!
Funds raised will support Youth Haven’s mission to provide home, hope and healing to abused and neglected children and teens in Southwest Florida.
When: Saturday, March 25, 6 p.m.
Where: The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburón
2600 Tiburón Dr., Naples
More Info: https://starrynights.youthhavenswfl.org
FOR YOU INSPIRATION
Thriving in Uncertain Times
How to practice resilience in your personal and professional lives
by Elisa Schmitz
There will always be chaos. There will always be change. You will always be dealing with fires in your life. It’s really about how you respond to the chaos that will determine your success or failure.
I had a great conversation with Michael Palmer, an acclaimed business coach and host of the Successful Bookkeeper podcast. [See its subject time stamps in the box below.]
In these uncertain times, we’re dealing with more chaos and fires than ever before. That’s why I stress the importance of resilience, as well as the abundance mindset and growth mindset, to enable us to not only survive the turbulence, but also to thrive.
The way we think influences the way we act – and, ultimately, what we are able to achieve. If we’re filled with self-doubt and fear, we won’t be able to achieve the success we dream of. As Michael and I discuss, life is full of change and chaos – and there will always be another fire to battle. What separates successful people and businesses from unsuccessful ones is how they adapt, pivot and work through the chaos. Now more than ever before, we must be nimble and resilient in order to succeed.
We can’t let fear hold us back. We have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We have to build our confidence so we have more courage to deal with the chaos. Our lack of self-belief often comes from traits we believe make us different; that make us feel like outsiders. Yet it is those very differences that empower us with unique strengths and perspectives that only we have.
We need to use our unique strengths to our advantage and shift the power dynamic in our favor. That means embracing failure as a lesson to learn from and shifting our mindsets from ones based on fear, to ones based on abundance and growth.
If you’re unsure where to start or how to let go of the fear that’s been holding you back, this conversation can help you transform the belief that you are being burned by the fire and get you into the mindset of becoming the fire instead.
I hope this insightful conversation helps you transform your chaos into the success you deserve.
Elisa Schmitz is a serial entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of 30Seconds.com, a digital media platform where busy people come to inspire and be inspired 30 seconds at a time. Previously, she founded iParenting, a “Best of the Web” dotcom that was acquired by the Walt Disney Company, where she served as director and executive editor of the Disney Interactive Media Group. Schmitz has been a newspaper columnist, magazine editor, radio and video host and content creator for various Fortune 500 companies. To learn more, visit ElisaSchmitz.com or 30Seconds.com.
02:07 – Elisa talks about her career journey
04:44 – The birth of 30Seconds.com
07:52 – Riding the business owner rollercoaster
09:33 – Learning to embrace the chaos
12:27 – Seizing your moment when it comes
15:25 – Practicing a resilience mindset
22:42 – Elisa’s strategies for success
27:48 – Making friends with your fear of change
32:34 – Where to find Elisa’s book, “Become the Fire”
Podcast Time Stamps
Empowerment Through Solo Travel
Women find strength in exploring the world alone
by Jennifer A. Huber
“You’re traveling alone. Aren’t you lonely?”
I first heard this question in the mid-2000s while sitting in a passenger van with a dozen strangers. We were touring California’s wine country.
“I love it!” I confidently replied.
The woman who asked sat by her husband and said she is afraid to travel alone and could never do it.
I traveled alone before, but at that moment, I realized and understood the reluctancy other women have about traveling solo.
Venturing out on your own into a place you have never been can be frightening. But it’s also a liberating and rewarding experience.
Following more than three decades of traveling solo myself, I still have a little bit of anxiety before heading out. But I push my hesitation aside and say “yes” to adventure.
These are five benefits I enjoy from traveling solo.
As I write this, I’m single. I have friends and family I can and have traveled with. However, plans can fall through. When this happens, trips don’t happen, and I’m home alone when I could have been on my own adventure — for an afternoon or for a week.
Planning a solo trip means that if I want to travel, it falls on me to make it happen. I’ve decided my fear of missing out (FOMO) surpasses my fear of traveling alone.
Doing What I Want to Do
When traveling alone, you set the itinerary and decide what you want to do, see and eat.
I enjoy the company of others when traveling, but there’s a lot of compromise when you’re on the road with other people.
I like sharing experiences with others because it’s a special moment you will always share. However, it’s OK to be selfish sometimes and do what you want to do.
Meeting New People
Connecting with others is a natural instinct.
When traveling with people you know, you’re set in a comfort zone and can easily rely on them for companionship. But one of the satisfying rewards of traveling alone is meeting new people.
When traveling with those you know, you might miss making connections with others who might lead you to unexpected adventures. Traveling alone, you’ll want to connect with other travelers or locals to enhance your experience.
Overcoming fear is an adrenaline rush.
When I first started traveling for business, I hated traveling solo because of fear. I was afraid of what people were thinking about me, afraid of getting lost and afraid of being lonely.
Dinners amounted to overpriced room service meals eaten in the glow of a hotel room television screen. I was steps away from historical landmarks, yet I did not venture out of my hotel, other than to attend business meetings.
How sad is that?
During a business trip to London, I realized if I did not get out of the hotel, I would see nothing postcard-worthy to write home about.
I ended up waking up at 5:30 a.m., figured out how to navigate the Tube (London’s version of the subway) and checked out Buckingham Palace before my 10 a.m. meeting.
I felt good about myself for figuring out how to do it. Soon, I was pushing the boundaries of my personal comfort zone a bit further with each trip.
This resulted in building confidence in all aspects of my life. Sure, there are still many things that intimidate me, but I know to tap that confidence to help me overcome my fears.
Seize the day, because life is too short.
Years ago, I was briefly married, and several years after my divorce, my former husband passed away unexpectedly at the age of 43.
I was devastated. We were living separate lives, but he had a special place in my heart.
From that point forward, I knew I had to embrace every second of life. Rather than wishing and hoping for experiences to happen, I decided to make things happen, much of which has been accomplished by embracing traveling alone.
Solo Travel is Liberating
Traveling solo can be intimidating, scary and lonely. At the same time, it’s thrilling and rewarding because it builds confidence and independence in your day-to-day life.
When you are traveling alone, innate survival skills kick in, and you learn to solve problems in the face of obstacles.
Traveling solo, you are the one setting your schedule, itinerary and pace.
The most significant reward about traveling alone is learning more about yourself and realizing you can do anything.
Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor writer. The North Port, Florida resident is the voice behind Solo Travel Girl's Adventures and the book, “A to Z of a Solo Travel Girl: Traits of Women Who Travel Alone, Not Lonely,” available on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
In Honor of Us
International Women’s Day, Women’s History Month salute the power of women
March is a special month for women. Not only is International Women’s Day on the calendar, but the entire month is dedicated to women’s history.
We’re focusing on the strength of women, not only with a look at the importance of our special holiday and month, but perspectives of wonderful, strong women among us.
Sheila Varnum shares her experience of eternal love, loss and the village that helped see her through it and beyond.
Author, blogger and “Solo Travel Girl” Jennifer Huber offers her expert advice about wanderlust and going it alone.
Self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” Elisa Schmitz lends the link to her inspirational podcast interview and encourages us to not fear, but “Become the Fire.”
In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History month, we present these words of wisdom, spoken by chemist Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only woman to receive two:
“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”