If you’re unaware of the myriad offerings of the Women’s Resource Center, a great opportunity to learn more is coming up quickly: On Tues., March 12, the Center hosts its biggest fundraising event of the year — the Renaissance Luncheon — at the Ritz-Carlton.
“For our donors, [the luncheon] lets them know the good programs and services their money is supporting,” Executive Director Janice Zarro explained to me last year. It’s “an opportunity to showcase our values and the impact we are having on our community.”
And that impact is significant.
Each year, nearly 13,000 women take advantage of the Center’s varied programs, which include everything from peer referral counseling, finance education and Excel spreadsheet training to lessons on starting and managing a business. On the personal side, they offer classes in navigating life as a widow, learning yoga, handling divorce, bouncing back from adversity and creating the life you desire – just to name a few.
The Renaissance Luncheon is a cornerstone in helping the Center continue to do what it does for the women of our community and has developed into a can’t-miss event — attracting close to 600 men and women who want to support the Center and draw insights from the outstanding keynote speakers. The theme for this year’s luncheon is “Redefining Balance,” and the keynote speaker is Anne-Marie Slaughter, the author of the much-discussed and controversial 2012 Atlantic essay, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.”
The event begins with boutique shopping at 10:30 a.m., followed at noon by lunch and Slaughter’s talk. It also includes drawings for prizes and a silent auction — some of the goodies include a five-course meal for eight, courtesy of Zest! of Sarasota catering.
A ticket for the luncheon will run you $95; you can purchase one online by clicking here.
She’s hasn’t resumed her singing, but I know she will. And as corny as this sounds, I realize this is joy. “Our truest life is when we are dreams awake.” Henry David Thoreau
Yesterday and this morning, feeling pretty awful on a personal basis and then, sullenly checking in with facebook, saw this and my world changed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbJcQYVtZMo
Even if I weren’t best friends with the director, Racing the Rez would be on my must-watch list. The documentary follows the stories of two high school cross country racing teams in Northern Arizona, where tribal bragging rights and a state championship are on the line. But it’s also a peek into a culture we rarely get to see — that of the Navajo and Hopi who live on America’s largest reservation. By following these boys, we’re really following a whole community.
I met the director, Brian Truglio, when I was at Bucknell University on a poetry scholarship and when he was running a monthly poetry discussion forum called the Full Moon Poets Society. We’ve been best friends ever since. Brian first visited the Navajo Nation in 1991, and taught there for a number of years.
Racing the Rez picked up a Best Documentary award at the Arlington International Film Festival, and has been broadcast several times in many states, including here in Florida. I heartily recommend checking it out. The best way to find out if the film’s showing on your screen soon is to follow the film’s Facebook page. Brian regularly posts there about when and where the film can be seen.
He’s applied to next year’s Sarasota Film Festival as well, so (fingers crossed) you might even be able to see the film on the big screen.
Kindness is the one gift that should always be regifted. It’s a gift no one would ever be offended to receive knowing it had first belonged to someone else. And it’s a gift that once made, the giver would undoubtedly only be pleased if you passed it along to someone else.I gave a talk on Friday — 90 or so people in the audience — and spoke at one point about the extraordinary generosity of my Reality Chick, Reality Online, and Sense and the City readers who, over the years, have contributed thousands and thousands of dollars during my annual fundraising drives for All Faiths Food Bank. I told the audience that my fee for the day’s talk was going straight to All Faiths, since every year I donate whatever I earn during the month of November from speaking and newspaper writing fees to All Faiths. (If you’d like to participate in this year’s drive or just learn more, click here.) I spoke about kindness and caring for everyone in our community — about the incredible need many are facing and I related times in my life, too, when I’d been in need and strangers had stepped up to help me.
After my talk, as I was preparing to leave, a woman approached me and pressed a check into my hands. “Your talk today moved me,” she said; and she asked me to make sure to send along her check, which she had just written, with mine when I send it in to All Faiths.
Such an unexpected kindness. Such an appreciated gesture. And her contribution will make a tangible difference to several someones in the upcoming weeks in our community. That’s the perfect regifting scenario: the group was kind enough to hire and pay me to speak; I was kind enough to earmark the fee for All Faiths; a stranger in the audience was kind enough to amplify those kindnesses with her own donation. Who know where this one small strand of kindness — begun when this group was kind enough to invite a column-less columnist to speak — will end?
Seasoned M.C. readers know the name Gary Halperin: He’s the certified professional-level Kripalu Yoga teacher whose classes have helped me develop mental clarity, emotional satisfaction, and psychological calm (um, right — tell that to my cats when they’re meowing at 6:15 in the morning!). Gary recently emailed me to tell me about a new special he’s running for yoga beginners — starting Sept. 6, and if you mention this blog, there’s a free class in it for you! (read below)
The class will teach standard yoga postures, emphasizing body awareness and safety. Have you been intimidated by yoga before? Thought about joining a class but just couldn’t pull the trigger? Then Gary’s the man for you.
The lessons kick off at 6:45 p.m. this Thurs., Sept. 6, and continue 6:45-7:45 p.m. each Thursday in September. The classes are held at The Radiance Center, 2868 Ringling Blvd., in the Gold Tree Plaza. The four-class session is $40, and be sure to mention my blog to Gary. That shout-out will get you one free class on top of the beginner series — you just have to mention this blog when you register. Not a bad deal at all!
One of the women I admire the most, a friend, mother, fellow writer and fabulous artist named Wendy Winn, lives across the pond in Luxembourg. But we’re lucky that Wendy’s equally talented mom, Judy, lives here in Florida, and we’re lucky that today she’s releasing a new e-book, The Silver Seahorse.
I don’t have an e-reader, so I haven’t yet read the book, but if her writing is anywhere near as lovely as she is, Seahorse is bound to be a good read. I haven’t seen Judy in years and years, but I’ve always remembered her as a groundbreaking woman (she is, among other accomplishments, a licensed pilot), and now she’s breaking new ground as an e-book author.
Here’s the back cover description:
Nessie Polite has everything figured out. She’s about to graduate with a master’s degree in architecture, has a job in the wings and a longtime boyfriend who is a lawyer. Then her mother, Kaylynn, is killed in a nasty auto accident that may have been murder…a murder meant for Nessie.
She inherits a special seahorse necklace Kaylynn always wore and a half interest in the “Silver Seahorse” gift shop. But now someone is stalking her, her supposed dead father is a fantasy, and to top it off, her boyfriend is cheating on her. Who is her father? And who wants to harm her? Will she find answers in her home town of Beulah Beach – or must she travel to the island of St. Thomas? Will she find true love or true danger in her quest for answers?
Click here to read more, and to purchase the book directly from the publisher, MuseItUp.
I’m really excited to announce the release of a new memoir by Jay Lefevers, an Arizona businessman who battled and beat a brain tumor and cancer.
Appropriately titled Cancer on the Brain, Lefevers’ book is an inspiring record of surviving multiple brain surgeries and fighting cancer, while also running a real estate business, being a husband and father, and coaching a winning Little League team.
I worked with the author on some of the editing for the book and have previously blogged about a film he was involved in backing — Another Happy Day.
For me, Cancer on the Brain is a fascinating memoir about remaining focused on living life — even when facing possible death — and how and why we all need to be our own best healthcare advocates. If we don’t watch out for ourselves and our loved ones, and aggressively advocate for our health and the kind of care we receive, we run the risk of being subject to distracted doctors with jam-packed patient waiting rooms and well-meaning but over-burdened medical professionals.
Lefevers has a unique tone — he’s tough on himself and he’s tough on the world around him in some ways — but that’s what I enjoyed most about his book: his unflinching honesty about himself, his experiences and how he interpreted his circumstances and how he chose to meet the challenges of multiple brain surgeries but then after surviving all that, having to face cancer (lymphoma) and enduring the ensuing chemotherapy.
I sometimes bitch about my life and this thing or that thing not going my way … I moan and groan about not having enough time to do some of the things I want to do or spend time with the people I say matter to me … and then I read a book like this. About a guy with a business employing 15 people, a wife, three kids about to go to college, a couple of cats and a whole team of Little League players — all looking to him in one way or another to keep their lives and interests on track — and he still manages to find time to ride a roller-coaster (despite metal stitches in his head) and walk the Freedom Trail in Boston (despite the fact that he essentially had to relearn how to walk after the brain tumor had numbed out his nerves and left him unable to feel his foot).
I found it inspiring to read about the way Lefevers stayed fully engaged with his life — even when faced with the possibility of losing that life. I need to take a lesson or two from this book.
You can snag a copy of Cancer on the Brain at all your usual online book-buying haunts — at Barnes & Noble stores across the country, and, if you happen to live in the Phoenix area, Lefevers will be giving a talk in July at Scottsdale Barnes & Noble.
If you’d like to help spread the word about Cancer on the Brain, just visit the book’s Facebook page by clicking here and “liking” it!
I’m full of all kinds of movie recommendations this month! The trailer above is for the documentary No Impact Man, which tracks one family’s quest to reduce its waste to zero over the course of a year. The man who hatched the scheme, Colin Beavan, stops using electricity, watching TV and using gas-powered transportation — dragging his initially skeptical family through the process as well.
No, I’m not planning on following in Beaven’s footsteps, but the film offers a ton of practical ideas for how to live a more sustainable life, and I encourage you to check it out. It’s available on DVD now (and there’s also a related book).
That right there is a (very) foul-mouthed glimpse at the film Another Happy Day, unveiled at Sundance last year and now available on DVD.
The movie tells the story of a twice-married mother of four traveling to her parents’ estate for the wedding of her oldest son. The cast is dynamite: Ellen Barkin (Sea of Love, This Boy’s Life, Ocean’s Thirteen), Kate Bosworth, Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream), Thomas Haden Church (Sideways) and Demi Moore. And so’s the pedigree of first-time director Sam Levinson, the son of Barry Levinson, who has helmed major Hollywood hits like Rain Man and Good Morning, Vietnam.
The movie is a tense, sharp-tongued family drama dripping with black comedy, and I’m not surprised the move won a Best Screenwriting award at Sundance 2011. The dialogue is just that provocative and cutting.
I month ago, I filled you in on my top Sarasota Film Festival picks, and even though Another Happy Day didn’t come anywhere near our local fest, I’m happily adding it to the heap of festival-style films I’m recommending this year. Well worth a rent.