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The Compassionate Connection Between Women

September 20, 2018

Inspiration for women entrepreneurs and females

(My good friend Jill Bates showed up to hug me at the 23 mile of my Boston Marathon race).

My Thursday blog posts are dedicated to women supporting women in life. The topics of the blog posts will be unique as I journey through everyday life touched by women I know well, women I meet by fate or inspirational female stories I witness or read about. I believe our world will be more beautiful sharing stories of women supporting women in business, sports, equality and life. Today’s post is about life.

Yesterday, I entered a sterile laboratory to have blood drawn for my nine month struggle with Alopecia Areata which has stripped my once gorgeous thick hair off my head along with my eyebrows and eyelashes, the phlebotomist took me back to the room preparing to draw my blood when she said, “You have a beautiful face.” I responded with a “thank you” and then taking off my pink hat said, “but I lost all my hair,” and she said, “It doesn’t matter you are beautiful.” She then excused herself and walked out the room only to return with teary eyes to tell me she had lost her mother to cancer recently. I realized in that moment she thought I had cancer but I didn’t want to make her feel bad for assuming I had it and making her cry so I was silent. Before I walked out the door she told me she needed to hug me so I let her and thanked her for her kindness, love and concern. I wished her comfort in the loss of her mother. We were two women consoling each other in an unexpected moment and place in time.

It’s been difficult looking in the mirror every day losing my hair to find love and acceptance of a ‘new’ self. I took a five month medical sabbatical away from my beloved work of promoting women entrepreneurs to rest, restore and regenerate hair and health. But waiting for hair to grow is like waiting for grass, on a short lawn without any rain, to grow but much slower. My biggest concern has been if my husband and two sons would still “see me” through my new baldness and love me the same. I also wondered if the women who have are members of my company would do the same.

I am not the first person to talk about beauty standards in America and our obsession with celebrity, models and even English duchesses. Growing up in the United States, there is an expectation for women to be smart, thin, well dressed and beautiful. My grandmothers, aunts and two mothers, wore makeup into old age, dressed well, smelled even better and looked attractive every day of their lives. I naturally followed suit especially with a 23 year career of being a speaker and promoter of women entrepreneurs and event planner/manager.

Yesterday’s hug from this empathetic woman reminded me women see each other through their hearts not their eyes and we aren’t afraid to express it. I believe it’s the reason women will change the world one day from so much bitterness, anger and unrest because we have a natural way of caring for others. I hope next time you have a chance to share a compassionate word, deed or hug from another women, you do it and shed a strong pink glow of love out into the atmosphere.

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Wednesday Wisdom: Women Evolve Every Day

September 19, 2018

Inspiration, Wednesday Wisdom and Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs and Women

The past fourteen years of writing this inspirational weekly wisdom for women entrepreneurs has been my own unique perspective on the world of women in business. After twenty three years as a woman entrepreneur, I understand the essence of branding and know most women think of me when it comes to women entrepreneurs. I have been boldly focused on women for almost a quarter century and especially on women entrepreneurs for fourteen years with Women TIES, five years on women in sports with our Women’s Athletic Network, and since the 2017 Women’s March to DC with our Equality Division.

I love opening my morning email to find questions about where to find business support at the state level for women expanding their companies or women looking for a business connection in another part of the state. This summer I enjoyed poolside chats where women entrepreneurs shared their business hopes, dreams and goals and asked my advice. If there is one thing I know for sure now, more than ever before, is women are the center and focus of my life’s mission and business.

Yesterday a past member, who has moved to another state, responded negatively to my Tuesday blog post about women’s equality. She said, “I always loved your group and have been a member for a long time until you became radically political – politics does not belong in business.” I answered her with this simple message, “I am pro woman period. I take that perspective and write and produce events in any subject including women in business, sports and equality.” I understand her insight since I tried to focus only on my “women entrepreneurship” brand for years. But on the way from being 30 to 53 years old and talking to thousands of women I’ve encountered facing other inequalities in life; I evolved to support all things women.

If you have been following me a long time you might feel the same way. I honor your decision to stop following me if you are only interested in posts about women entrepreneurs; but if you are interested in other women’s issues in sports and equality, then stick with me. I can’t go backwards only forward. There is too much work to advance, rise up and secure equality for women. I don’t consider this ‘radical politics’ rather ‘bold love, support and activism for women.’

So today’s Wednesday Wisdom are words from Louise L. Hay to inspire you to evolve in any area of your life or business. We don’t remain the same women with the same exact mission. We learn and grow. In ‘evolve’, is the word ‘love’ so don’t forget to love yourself for evolving. I believe we expand positively towards a better, more complete self so embrace that truth and remain positive.

“Moving Forward”

In the Infinity of life where I am, all is perfect, whole and complete.
I am always divinely protected and guided.
It is safe to look within me. It is safe for me to look at the past.
It is safe for me to enlarge my viewpoint on life.
I am far more than my personality – past, present or future.
I now choose to rise up, above, my personality problems to recognize the magnificence of my being.
I am totally willing to learn to love myself.
All is well in my world.

The Truth Connecting Me to Christine Blasey Ford and Anita Hill

September 18, 2018

Inspiration for women, women entrepreneurs, working women, female employees

In 1991, I wasn’t a woman business owner yet but working in higher education at Le Moyne College as the Assistant Alumni Director annually planning 30 events around the country for alumni, parents and friends. I was a new mother trying to juggle work, travel and parenthood. I was creating many new memories that year as a first time working mother interested in climbing the “corporate ladder” when I saw Anita Hill testify before Congress about being sexually harassed by Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. I distinctly remember the interrogation coming from Joe Biden and Orin Hatch and always held resentment about them after that hearing. I was not yet a proclaimed feminist at the time but as I look back now, it might have been the beginning.

Perhaps I didn’t have to be a feminist in 1991 to relate to her story because I had come from my first corporate job at a Philadelphia investment banking firm that allowed sexual harassment. My male boss’ most important client was a sixty year old male who constantly called me, “Sweet Hips” and invited me to Spain with him. Although married, he didn’t care about asking. One day I said to him, “Why don’t you ask your wife to go with you?” My boss overheard my reply and called me into his office and said, “Tracy, you will respect my client. He is my largest client and brings in the most money.” I responded, “I will respect him but I am not going anyplace with him or doing anything I don’t want with him!” It was 1986 and the height of the company’s golden money-making years. I was a 21 year old female professional who was supposed to follow the rules in the patriarchal environment. I only lasted in that position six months until I couldn’t take the onslaught of the arms around my shoulders, gifts and sexist names.

So this week’s headlines about Professor Christine Blasey Ford revealing her name and story alleging Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually attacked her 35 years ago resonates with me. Although I was not sexually attacked, I was sexually harassed. The difference between me, Christine, and Anita Hill is I never shared my story until the #MeToo movement pulled up the memories giving me the platform and approval to share it with others. Although my client base for the past 14 years has been all women and I thought they would understand, I was still apprehensive about sharing my story. I can’t imagine having to share it in the height of our media frenzy and social media world. Like these two women, I shared it to help other women and not for attention on me or my story.

We must believe women. Women must believe other women when they come forward about sexual harassment or sexual abuse of any kind. If women don’t believe women’s stories, then who really will? I hope female senators believe and stand up for Blasey Ford’s story and trust in another woman’s encounter over that of a man until we have enough men believing in women’s stories. We know what happens. We had it happen to us in some way, shape or form.

We must support any sister in the #Metoo movement. It is essential to put an end to sexual harassment, abuse and harm to women‘s mind, spirit and body because today’s generation of women and the future generation of women deserve it. I was proud to stand with #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke and other sexual abuse and harassment women on January 2, 2018 at New York State Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address. There I found strong women determined to give voice to women willing to share their stories.

Sports Bring Women Freedom

September 17, 2018

Inspiration for women in sports, women who follow sports and women interested in supporting women in sports

I first heard how good Breanna Stewart was from my mother-in-law who worked for the Athletic Director at Cicero North Syracuse High School where Breanna played high school basketball. As usual the local newspaper did not cover the story of this rising female athlete, like they did not do very often with women in general on the sporting page; that was until she was scouted by colleges with big athletic programs like UConn where Breanna eventually played. Since I loved playing basketball with my father, male cousins and sons, I loved hearing about a talented young female in our local area excelling at the sport. I wish I saw her play but never did which I regret.

During Breanna’s stellar collegiate career, I began a Women’s Athletic Network, for women entrepreneurs who were also sports fans or participants, so we could gather together and talk sports, watch or play them. It was the first time I talk publicly about loving sports and finding other cool businesswomen who did too. Sports were not a regular conversation topic for women I knew until I announced the network. I was thrilled to find friends and a new freedom to talk about what I loved and another equality issue I felt passionate about – promoting female athletes and athletic organizations like the Women’s Sports Foundation.

It was no surprise to me that Breanna won four college championships earning MVP honors every year and then becoming the 1st overall draft pick in the WNBA, 2016 WNBA Rookie of the Year and 2018 WNBA MVP. She is simply a stellar star who is humble and deserving of such honors.

In October 2017, in the height of the #MeToo movement, Breanna shared her personal story of sexual abuse by a family friend during her childhood. Like so many of us #MeToo women, the need to share our story becomes a release. Some of us also find peace and freedom in playing sports where we can expend internal strife on the court, road or playing field lifting ourselves above the memories and empowering ourselves in a healthy way. Recently with my horrendous bout of alopecia leaving me a bald woman at the age of 53 for the first time in my life, sports has carried me through each and every day.

When I look in the mirror, I see an unhealthy bald woman with a non-life threatening disease called alopecia areata; but when I’m running, biking or swimming or training for a triathlon, I’m healthy and full of positive energy. I have started running without hat now. I don’t do it to get smiles or stares but to be me and to stride by stride empower myself. Nothing, and I mean nothing, ignites my positive spirit like sports. I couldn’t live without it.

Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart addresses media members after receiving the league’s Most Valuable Player award before a semifinal basketball playoff game against the Phoenix Mercury Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Even though I have never met Breanna, I am proud of her in so many ways including being a hard working female athlete who I believe will be the most decorated female basketball player of all time and her bravery to share her personal sexual abuse story. Not only does she have medals, trophies and titles to show others, she has an unbroken spirit that inspires millions of women everywhere. Play on Breanna. Play on women!

Life Presents Us with the Right to Vote

September 13, 2018

Inspiration for women, women entrepreneurs, females in sports

It is the middle of the most beautiful cloudless September day in Upstate New York so it was difficult to pull myself away from poolside where I was writing upcoming business presentations on women in business and sports to go vote in the primary election. As I drove with a brilliant blue sky above me, I contrasted it in wearing a pink hat, pink sunglasses and pink company shirts that says, “Women Supporting Women in Business, Sports, Equality and Life.” Today the shirt is reflective of my decision to vote for as many women as I can on the ballot for purposes of equality in elected positions and as part of my American life.

The polls opened at noon. I arrived at 1 p.m. The parking lot was mostly empty except for a “VOTE HERE” sign in the lawn. I entered the quiet building to find 3 women sitting together waiting for action. I greeted them with my typical upbeat female spirit telling them I was there to make sure I voted for women on the ballot and explaining why. I think I entertained them for a moment breaking up their quiet moment. I took my ballot went to the table and circled my choices. When I entered my ballot, I noticed I was the 16th ballot being entered. 16! Yikes! I know the polls had only been open for a short period of time but it shocked me. I said goodbye to the women and told them it was wonderful they were volunteering their time; then I went outside and immediately made a video message to inspire other women who follow me to get out and vote.

I know primary elections can have fewer voters. I also know sometimes candidates win elected office by one or two votes. I mostly know people I speak with are not happy with the way America is being led so if we aren’t going to run for office ourselves, we owe it to the women who are to get out there and vote for them! It is essential we exercise our right to vote in this beautiful free country of ours and for women willing to dedicate their lives to representing us.

As the blue sky fades to a beautiful pink one this evening as the sun sets, I hope the women who voted are proud they did. Its one distinct way we have a say in our democracy.

Wednesday Wisdom: Priorities, Planning & Mother Nature

September 12, 2018

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration and Business Success Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs

I learned long ago in my early event management years one can arrange for the best event of the year by planning the small details, sending out beautiful invitations and obtaining media coverage so everyone knows about the event only to discover Mother Nature has authority in the outcome of the celebration.

As Hurricane Florence speeds toward America’s eastern seaboard, I think about all the brides who dreamed of being married this weekend in this region now frazzled needing to move their location or date and notifying guests. There are also companies with golf events, non-profit fundraisers and black tie galas in the path of this monstrous storm facing the same scenario. I know how they feel because I’ve been a three decade event planner and because my sister and I are scheduled to race in our first triathlon on the Delaware coast this weekend which includes a ½ mile swim in the ocean.

Priorities come quickly into focus when making decisions. Mother Nature is powerful and undiscerning in whose path she’ll cross with life-threatening situations. I have said to many wedding clients choosing outside wedding settings to be prepared for the extra stress that goes into worrying about the weather. In the event planning and travel industries planners can secure insurance policies to cover extreme weather situations but often it leaves the guest to contemplate their participation stake in the event.

My sister’s mother-in-law died this week putting additional stress on our decision to participate in the triathlon – another unforeseen life occurrence that affects personal and business obligations. I wanted her to make the decision about our commitment to the triathlon, not me. I ran in the Boston Marathon so I feel I could swim, run and bike in remnants of Hurricane Florence. She is in a different mindset and so we decided last night to at least cancel our hotel reservations to get money back but keep the triathlon on the table until Thursday.

The company hosting the event has not made any announcements about their decision which doesn’t help their participants. I assume since it’s their 22nd year of hosting the event, in a month prone to hurricanes, they have event insurance to cover their expenses. I also hope they allow 2018 registrants to use their fees for 2019 in light of the weather situation. In the end I’m sure they are grappling with an event that could produce liabilities and financial loss, as business owners we sympathize with this situation.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is a clear reminder to women entrepreneurs and small businesses planning events or hosting corporate programs, to have a clear communication plan for cancellations as well as insurance policies to protect themselves. Mother Nature doesn’t only wreak havoc on events but to businesses structures, cars and revenue if a business needs to stop for a period of time.

Let’s keep our thoughts with the numerous businesses and individuals in the path of Hurricane Florence and pray for their safety and swift return to normalcy.

9/11 Anniversary – When Fear and Freedom Meet

September 11, 2018

Inspiration and Wisdom about Fear and Freedom this 9/11 Anniversary

As the beautiful old Christopher Columbus sailing vessel replica took off from Battery Park, the sun shone brightly across the New York City harbor. I’ve loved sailing since I was young growing up on a lake when I would take my sunfish out by myself to catch some air and peace of mind. It was just like Christopher Cross’s song, “Sailing takes me away to where I’ve always heard it could be. Just a dream and the wind to carry me and soon I will be free…” I wanted to give my sons a taste of that freedom after a long work week.

Fear has a way of stopping you in your tracks sometimes. As we set off on our sail with the brilliance of the sparkling sunlight hitting the new Freedom Tower erected after the September 11th attacks where I lost my dear friend Dan Brandhorst in the second plane that hit the second tower, I didn’t feel anymore fear like I did for years after the tragedy. I felt peace glancing at the tower upon this beautiful sailing vessel. Perhaps it was a gift from my friend who I’ve honored the past 17 years.

My oldest son turned to me and said, “Mom, you know we are going right past the Statue of Liberty don’t you?” I cringed at the thought since that statue has always frightened me since visiting it up close when I was young. I know it is a crazy fear but fear is illogical. As the warm breezes greeted my face with my two sons at my side, they made someone take a photo of us in front of Lady Liberty dissolving my fear. The love of others in moments of fear can help dissipate the emotion.

I thought I would need more than one cocktail to get me through the September 11, 2001 visions in my mind or the great size of Lady Liberty but instead as my sons chatted to each other, I embraced the feeling of peace hearing the lapping water, feeling the breeze in my hair and warmth on my face and the realization that fear can be overcome in a simple sailboat trip in a harbor. Your heart has to be open to receive the blessing and your mind ready to move forward.

So today I am grateful for my friendship with Dan Brandhorst, my love for water and sailing and my sons who with their presence elevated my spirits during the meaningful trip. Just like song said, “The wind will carry me and soon I will be free.”

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