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Acts of Caring

“My mission in life is to be kind, compassionate, caring and loving in order to find and feel the deepest joy of life.”
~ physician and author, Dr. Debasish Mridha

The events of the past year have resulted in unwanted consequences, even the erosion of compassion — for ourselves and for each other. Here, we hope to inspire awareness of the gifts of caring we give and receive.

When bad news hits — especially in complex times — knowing how to cope effectively is key. Author Cynthia Hayes summarizes various coping styles and self-care techniques in the face of unsettling events.

The Children’s Advocacy Center witnesses the everyday positive impact law enforcement and first responders have on children in their darkest hours. As National Youth Violence Prevention Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month approach, we salute these Hometown Heroes who save lives every day in many ways.

On a practical note, organizing your home spaces to keep frustration levels down is a form of self-care. Interior designer Diane Torrisi identifies the ways to make your at-home workspace a haven.

Hope for Haiti’s upcoming Hike for Haiti gives local students an opportunity to appreciate the challenges kids in Haiti face in order to get clean water and an education. The virtual program is an experience in caring for others at the most tender of ages.

Laughter being an act of self-care, we present the wit of èBella correspondent Lois Sabatino, who takes us on a journey through some of the best (and worst) public restrooms ever.

We continue our coverage of the NextGen speaker series with a lesson from Shelley Broader, former CEO of Chico’s FAS, regarding what it takes to remain competitive these days.

WGCU continues its Women in History programming this week featuring nine famous females, from Mae West to Amelia Earhart. You’ll be captivated by the remarkable stories of these women, each who made history in her own right.

We hope your life is strewn with acts of caring — for yourself and for others.

 
 
 
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THE LIGHTER SIDE OF LIFE

Going My Way?

A seriously comical look at restrooms everywhere

by Lois Sabatino

I’m thinking of writing a book called, “Ladies Rooms I Have Known.”

I know it will be a best seller because there isn’t a woman around who doesn’t hit the ladies’ room either before or after wherever she goes.

 

Can you tell me something? Why does every directional sign say Rest Rooms? You don’t rest in there. You get in and you get out. That is, unless you’re in a fancy country club where you walk into the ladies’ room’s outer sanctum with its plush carpeting, comfortable French provincial chairs and those matching squirt bottles with hand lotion, mouthwash and cologne you wouldn’t think of using. You might sit down and gossip with a girlfriend for a few minutes while the guys are outside having a fit because you’re not coming out.

We can thank COVID-19 for one thing: restaurants are usually spotless, right down to the lavatories. Before, you never knew what you would find inside, even in expensive restaurants. The manager always swore it was the women’s fault because they are messy in ladies’ rooms, with used tissues left on counters — and let’s not talk about the toilet paper.

Men’s rooms seem to be much neater. I know, because in the days when there were long lines outside ladies’ rooms during concert intermissions, I always skipped the ladies’ crowd and walked right into the men’s room, where there were seldom lines outside. Of course, I might have met some shocked man standing at a urinal, but usually, the place was empty, and I got in and got out in no time.

And how about the ballroom-sized bathrooms in mega-homes? You could have a party in there, with those twinkling chandeliers and cathedral ceilings, not to mention fancy bidets and toilet bowls with monogrammed windshield wipers.

But it’s the public rest areas and highway gas stations that are real adventures.

Remember before the virus, when you drove from one end of the country to the other and stopped at a rundown gas station because you couldn’t stand it any longer?  It was usually the one with the rolling linen towel that hadn’t been washed since Eisenhower was president. Talk about rushing in and out! 

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Ladies’ rooms in rest stops up and down highways from Naples to New England are interesting. Florida’s have those cavernous entrances with dusty diorama and machines with stale candy and terrible coffee. But the stalls are nice and clean compared to many states. Forget Georgia and New Jersey.

But once in a while you would hit a real winner, like the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, CA. The Disney-like motel is famous, not only for over-the-top décor and themed bedrooms, but also for its variety of elaborate urinals, which are noted as tourist attractions on Google and by chambers of commerce. It’s a popular stop for tour buses filled with both men and women who head for the crazy urinals, with giggles and snapping cellphones.

You think I’m kidding? Go look at the main attraction: You enter the main building, walk down the staircase to the right, past the wine cellar, past the Flintstone rock cave pay phone and into the men’s restroom on the left. There, you’ll find a spectacular urinal that’s a huge waterfall, activated when a beam of light is broken by somebody walking in to do his thing.

  

In those happy days before COVID-19, when we traveled out of the country, I remember the lavatories where a serious-looking chubby lady sat holding wrinkled paper towels and a little cracked plate for tips. Many an American man walked into a French men’s room, gawked at the woman sitting there, and walked out, feeling cramps for the rest of the day.   

It will all go in my book, which I thought of calling “Going My Way,” but Bing Crosby already made the movie. It will have a list of spiffy ladies’ rooms around the world. But before it’s written, if you need the list, give me a call and we’ll see what we can do.

Naples resident Lois C. Sabatino, the first female executive at United Technologies, is a consultant in public and community relations, special events, fundraising and motivational training.

 

ENTERTAINMENT SPOTLIGHT

Groundbreaking Women

WGCU programs continue to explore remarkable lives​​

In celebration of Women’s History Month, local public media source WGCU is offering programs that celebrate the creativity, activism, bravery and talent of women throughout the month of March on three of its channels. Here’s what’s on tap this week.

 

Wednesday, March 24 at 7 p.m. (WGCU WORLD)

Penny: Champion of the Marginalized

This is a multidimensional portrait of Penny Cooper, a celebrated criminal defense attorney, art collector, supporter of female artists, and protector of the underdog. Cooper’s life brims with stories mirroring the profound changes in our country from the 1940s to the present. In this revealing documentary, Cooper proves herself quite the raconteur with seemingly unlimited anecdotes. Her stories are engaging; sometimes funny, and sometimes distressing. The film is a collection of these moments as told by Cooper and the people who have been impacted by her dynamic spirit.

 

Wednesday, March 24 at 10:30 p.m. (WGCU Encore)

Erma Bombeck: Legacy of Laughter

Examine the extraordinary life and career of beloved American humorist, Erma Bombeck (1927-1996), whose honest tales of domestic life gave voice to millions of homemakers. Archival photographs, video clips and personal memorabilia trace Bombeck’s life, from her childhood during the Great Depression to her work as a women’s rights activist.

 

Thursday, March 25 at 9 p.m. (WGCU WORLD)

American Experience: Amelia Earhart

Explore the life of the trailblazing pilot who broke records but then mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific Ocean on a solo flight around the world. An enduring American hero, Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

 

Friday, March 26 at 7 p.m. (WGCU WORLD)

American Masters: Flannery

Explore the life of Flannery O’Connor whose provocative fiction was unlike anything published before. Featuring never-before-seen archival footage, newly discovered journals and interviews with Mary Karr, Tommy Lee Jones, Hilton Als and more.

 

Friday, March 26 at 8:30 p.m. (WGCU WORLD)

American Masters: Mae West, Dirty Blond

Dive into the life and career of groundbreaking writer, performer and subversive star Mae West. Over a career spanning eight decades, she broke boundaries and possessed creative and economic powers unheard of for a female entertainer in the 1930s.

Sunday, March 28 at 9 p.m. (WGCU WORLD)

American Masters: Twyla Moves

Explore legendary choreographer Twyla Tharp’s career and famously rigorous creative process, with original interviews, first-hand glimpses of her at work and rare archival footage of select performances from her more than 160 choreographed works.

Monday, March 29 at 7 p.m. (WGCU WORLD)

American Experience: Emma Goldman

This program paints a portrait of the young, brilliant Russian emigrant, called “the most dangerous woman in America,” and expelled from the United States 34 years after she arrived.

Monday, March 29 at 8 p.m. (WGCU WORLD)

Forgotten Fame: The Marion Miley Story

Although professional athletics were deemed improper for women in the 1930s, trailblazing golfer Marion Miley’s exceptional talent and winning personality captivated sports fans across the country. But at age 27, Marion was tragically murdered in her home at the Lexington Country Club in Kentucky.

 

Monday, March 29 at 9 p.m. (WGCU WORLD)

Georgia O’Keeffe: A Woman on Paper

Artist Georgia O’Keeffe has been called the “Mother of American Modernism,” well-known for her flowing, colorful works depicting flowers and plants, dramatic cityscapes and Southwestern landscapes. The half-hour documentary focuses on the little-known story of O’Keeffe’s time spent in Columbia, S.C. as an art instructor at Columbia College. There, O’Keeffe found her voice with a series of innovative black-and-white abstract charcoal drawings.

 

Wednesday, March 31 at 9 p.m. (WGCU Encore)

American Masters: Louisa May Alcott

Starring Elizabeth Marvel and Jane Alexander, examine the literary double life of this celebrated author, who wrote scandalous works under a pseudonym.

 

Most programs re-air during the month. For times and subsequent broadcasts, go to wgcu.org/tvschedules.

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PERSONAL POWER

A Psychological Ordeal

When bad news hits in bad times, there are still ways to cope

by Cynthia Hayes

For many people, it’s been a year of bad news. And the day-to-day stress of coping with a pandemic means we all have less bandwidth available for the stress of additional bad news.

How do you cope when you hear the extraordinary, like, “You’ve got cancer,” when you’re already running on empty?

 

Coping with stress is hard, and there is no single right way to do it. Genetics, past experiences, personalities and the resources and support around us all influence how we experience stress. And we find ways to cope that reflect that variety.

Some of us don’t like ambiguity, so we want to solve problems right away. Others need more time to adjust to a new reality. Some gather information. Others prefer not to know.

Some of us strive for independence. Others rely on those around them.

Denial, distractions, humor, prayer, exercise — all are valid. But what works one day might not work the next, so it’s good to have a few approaches to fall back on when bad news hits.

Coping by Doing

What we do influences how we feel. A classic example is sleep. Getting a good night’s rest helps us function better the next day, which allows us to do a better job of solving problems.

Similarly, exercise releases endorphins that create a sense of well-being. Gardening, housework, sports and more formal exercise routines can help and may even improve your sleep.

Watching your diet to be sure you are feeding your brain and keeping your body healthy while minimizing nicotine, caffeine and alcohol can also help bring clarity to the problem.

Other things we can do to cope include defining a purpose, expressing gratitude, using humor and being social. Biologically, we are social creatures and tend to thrive when we are close to other people: family, friends and colleagues. In fact, the more social networks we have, the more resilient we seem to be.

Coping by Thinking

The flip side of the “doing” approach is the “thinking” approach. Problem-solving, prioritizing and distracting 
ourselves help us to deal when a big stressor is staring us in the face. (Are there other worries and responsibilities we can reduce or eliminate to better cope? Can we reframe the problem or adjust our standards to make things more manageable?)

Problem-solving means clearly identifying the problem, brainstorming to generate a list of solutions, evaluating the pros and cons of each and choosing the best option. Breaking problems down into smaller issues may make them more solvable.

Best of Both Worlds

Take a deep breath. Relax. We’ve all heard that advice. Turns out, it’s really good guidance, bringing together the thinking and the doing approaches to dealing with stress.

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How can you help yourself relax?

Self-soothing activities that focus on the five senses help us live in our bodies and enjoy a break from what’s going on in our minds. Looking at a beautiful scene or listening to music can evoke a sense of calm. Smelling fresh bread, savoring a piece of chocolate or taking a warm bath all signal the body to let go of anxiety.

While these strategies won’t make the underlying issue go away, they are restorative, helping you better deal with the stress when you return to it.

Massage is another body therapy that affects the mind. It feels good, and studies have shown that it reduces pain, fatigue and anxiety. 

Similarly, prayer, meditation and mindfulness kindle a relaxation response that quiets the body, reduces stress and promotes healing. Concentrating on the repetitive sounds of prayer focuses the mind and dissolves the mind-body connection. Studies show it lowers your heart rate, reduces blood pressure and settles your nervous system.

Yoga, progressive relaxation, guided imagery are all practices that encourage mindfulness and help turn down the level of stress hormones in the brain. Acknowledging our thoughts and releasing them is a useful way to become unstuck from difficult emotions.

If one way of coping isn’t working, try another and another until you find the coping practices that work for you. Over time, you’ll be better able to handle life’s stresses and have a greater capacity to recover from setbacks, face fears and maintain hope when bad news hits.

People who cope well suffer less stress and anxiety, so there is less wear and tear on your body and brain. But if your stress levels continue to climb, consider seeking professional help.

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Cynthia Hayes’ book, “The Big Ordeal: Understanding and Managing the Psychological Turmoil of Cancer,” addresses coping with bad news and the emotional turmoil of a cancer diagnosis. Learn more at www.TheBigOrdeal.com.

HOMETOWN HEROES

You’ve Got a Friend

Officers and first responders are heroes to victims of child abuse

by Karen T. Bartlett

April is both National Youth Violence Prevention Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Aren’t they the same thing? We asked Jackie Stephens, CEO of the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) of Collier County, to explain how — if at all — they relate.

 

“They absolutely do relate,” Stephens says. “Many studies have shown that violence against a child, if unaddressed, can have a direct, correlative effect on future violence by that child.”

 

Specifically, she explains, a young person who was physically abused as a child may not know any other way to channel their anger and pain. The CAC is Collier County’s only organization focused on helping the most severely affected children heal from the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic trauma to decrease that potential while increasing their chances to become happy, loving adults. 

 

CAC’s team includes forensic interviewers, mental health therapists, pediatricians and family advocates. Referrals come from first responders, the Florida Department of Children and Families, Child Protective Services, hospitals and local law enforcement agencies.

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The late Sgt. Jeff Reidy shared a poignant moment with Leo Desai at the 2019 Pinwheels at the Pier.

“So often over the years,” says Stephens, “we’ve watched the hearts of tough, all-business Naples City Police officers and Collier County Sheriff’s deputies melt before our eyes the first time they’re involved in rescuing an abused child. At that moment, we know that this man or woman will be an advocate for these children for a long time,” she says.

 

“Right now, we’re mourning the loss of a special CAC friend, Sgt. Jeff Reidy, the 41-year-old father of four young children who served in the Naples City Police Criminal Investigations Unit specializing in special victim crimes and domestic violence. For many years, his work kept him in contact with our Child Protection Team, which serves the most severe cases. He, and many other law enforcement officers and first responders, often made themselves available to support our educational and community awareness programs.”

 

CAC’s next awareness event, in observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month, is Pinwheels at the Pier on Friday, April 9. Each year, blue and silver pinwheel “gardens” are planted in public places around the country to represent a commitment to making a world where every child is safe from abuse. Pinwheels at the Pier, established in 2016, is thought to be the largest such garden and the only one planted on a tropical beach. One year, the display of more than 4,000 pinwheels took the shape of a 20x20-foot pot of flowers that could be seen from more than a mile. This year, a team of FGCU students is designing the display as a community service project. 

 

The April 9 planting will take place from 8 a.m. until early afternoon, when the pinwheels will be gathered for reuse next year. Individuals and companies are invited to adopt pinwheels online for a small donation, or bring their own to plant on April 9. There’s no charge for participating.

 

This year, a special pinwheel will be planted by the Child Protection Team in remembrance of Sgt. Reidy with a private staff moment of silence.  

 

For information about the CAC and Pinwheels at the Pier, visit CACcollier.org.

 

Karen Bartlett is a writer, photographer, publisher of family guidebooks and author of destination travel books. Learn more by visiting KarenTBartlett.com.

ELEGANT COASTAL DESIGN – EXPERT TIPS

4 Tips to Improve Your At-Home Workspace

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Diane Torrisi, owner, Diane Torrisi Designs

While the pandemic threw us all into the same storm, we have different boats! The following tips from interior designer Diane Torrisi, owner of Diane Torrisi Designs, will help you make your at-home workspace a priority.

 

No. 1 – Give yourself a 'view.' It can be a window, dramatic wallpaper, inspiration board or your children's artwork. And don't forget the 'view' behind you — especially if you Zoom frequently!

No. 2 – Be creative with your desk and chair (within the style of your home) and avoid the ‘pulled together at the last minute’ look. Floating shelves can double as a makeshift desk when space is an issue.

No. 3 – Use task lighting, but avoid unwanted glare on your computer screen. 

 

No. 4 – Organizing your desk at the end of the day helps you start tomorrow on the right foot! 

 

For more design inspiration, listen to Torrisi’s “Tastefully Yours” podcast here:

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A GOOD CAUSE

Students Walking in Solidarity with Students

 

By Stephanie Jepsen, Hope for Haiti Chief Development Officer

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We’re often told to imagine situations unlike our own in order to build empathy for someone else, somewhere else — putting oneself in the shoes of another.

 

Such an opportunity exists to benefit Haitian children, who walk incredible distances to access education, health care and water in rural Haiti. In a year with many challenges, the inspiring event, Hike for Haiti, builds community locally and globally. 

 

From April 1 through May 2, 2021, you are invited to join Hope for Haiti’s third annual Hike for Haiti Challenge, a virtual event, where you can hike in solidarity with students, helping to raise critical funds and support for education and public health.

 

For first grade student, Elle, the event is a rallying cry for her class and the whole school.

 

“I’m thankful that I don’t have to walk across a mountain to get to school, and I’m ready to walk 10.5 miles with my friends to show we care and can help make a difference,” Elle says. “We are raising money to help the teachers and students in Haiti. I would like them to have the same supplies and opportunity we do at Saint Ann (Catholic School).”

 

Dr. Juniace Etienne, a French teacher in the Collier Public Schools and an adjunct professor at FGCU and Florida Southwestern, has involved her students in this event since the beginning. Born in Haiti, Dr. Etienne understands how critical it is for all children to have the opportunity to go to school.

“The Hike for Haiti facilitates an experience for students to understand the theme, ‘Les Défis Mondiaux- Global Challenges,’ that they study in class,” Etienne says. It helps them connect the dots of what they read in the text to the reality of what other young people their age are enduring. It also gives them a chance to make a difference by helping the Haitian students reach their educational goals.” 

Encouraging students of all ages to lead by example and get involved, she tells them, “Perhaps you have a classmate from Haiti or you may know someone from your community who is Haitian. This event gives people a sense of purpose by contributing to the needs of the less fortunate in a place that is not too far away.”

 

Dr. Delphine Gras, an FGCU associate professor of language and literature, was born in the South of France, where she witnessed injustices on a daily basis. The effects of racism and colonialism were ever-present. Her teachings help students gain a better appreciation for Haiti, its history and culture, but also enables them to become more civically engaged participants, who actively seek to have a positive impact on the world around them.

 

One of her students, Bryn, says, “I like the way in which this project helped bring awareness about Haitian culture around FGCU and helped people in Haiti.”

 

Dr. Gras and her students are gearing up for a successful hike.

 

“Who wouldn’t be inspired by the drive and perseverance that children in Marre-à-Coiffe demonstrate on a daily basis? It is truly humbling to walk in solidarity with them and to gain a better understanding of their challenges,” she says. “We all have the power to make a difference, one step at a time.”

To join the hike, which is open to people of all ages, visit give.hopeforhaiti.com/hike or click below.

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LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE NEXTGEN SPEAKER SERIES

Agility

Shelley Broader, former CEO of Chico’s FAS, highlights the fundamental shift for successfully conducting business in today’s competitive marketplace. Watch the video to learn why this change requires companies to be able to “surf the waves.”

 

Continue learning from world-renowned entrepreneurs and CEOs with the NextGen Speaker Series. Register now for the March 26 interactive virtual event with Bill Sanford, the CEO who turned STERIS Corporation into a multibillion-dollar organization in less than 10 years.

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