December 26, 2008

E Pluribus Unum

As is our annual tradition in our Concord, Massachusetts neighborhood...we gathered together, assembled and lit 1200 candles to glow into the winter night. As each family lit the candles in front of their house, the individual small flickering flames joined together in the cold winter darkness as one cohesive glow illuminating the neighborhood. This tradition seemed especially appropriate and poignant this year, as we, together, face challenges and new beginnings in our country and world...e pluribus unum...out of many, one.

December 12, 2008

The Hero's Journey

We are all on a hero's journey...a metaphor for our lives. At the recent Massachusetts Conference for Women, I became acquainted with a beautiful poem, Ithaca by Constantine Cavafy, which conveys the hero's journey in prose. How often are we only on a quest for Ithaca, the Holy Grail, get the picture...goal driven without respect to the wisdom we gain along the way? May your journey be long and adventurous on your way to your Ithaca.

Ithaca (by Constantine Cavafy)
When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many,
when,with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber, and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca on your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what these Ithacas mean.

I would love to hear your comments on how this poem speaks to you and your hero's journey.

December 11, 2008

Massachusetts Conference for Women

I was honored to be one of nearly 5,000 women filling the halls of the Boston Convention Center today for the fourth annual Massachusetts Conference for Women, featuring more than 85 speakers, including headliners Lesley Stahl of CBS 60 Minutes, columnist Liz Smith (who, by the way, is 85 years old and still going strong), publisher Joni Evans, columnist Judith Martin (Miss Manners) speaking about their new joint venture,, Holly Robinson Peete and Marianne Williamson. The Conference’s theme, “The Next Chapter of You,” was highlighted throughout the day encouraging attendees to invest in themselves and give back to their communities.

Jessie M. Gaeta, M.D. was honored with the Conference’s Be the Change Award. The award recognizes a woman who rises above and beyond in the realm of service by shining light on an unmet need in her community. Dr. Gaeta dedicates her life to caring for the homeless. As a practicing internist at Boston University Medical Center and Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, she treats homeless patients on the streets and in shelters. Dr. Gaeta also leads policy advocacy at the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance. By raising awareness of the public health implications of homelessness and the cost-effectiveness of a Housing First approach, she has successfully influenced lawmakers to create social change through the institution of new approaches to ending homelessness.

Click here for photos of the 2008 Massachusetts Conference for Women

I attended some amazing breakout sessions with speakers, Ariane deBonvoisin, Abby Seixas, and Marilyn Paul, whose strategies of change, self-care and organization of the inner and outer aspects of our lives expanded on Marianne Williamson's keynote statement: "The only antidote to the chaos is a deeper way of living".

The fifth annual Massachusetts Conference for Women is slated for Dec. 10, 2008 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. I am planning on attending again, and would love to have some of you join me!

Did you attend the conference this year? I would love to hear your comments...what were the take home messages that resonated with you?