March 1, 2012, Vol. 10 Issue 4
A likely date night invitation at my house is, “Would you like to go see this speaker with me?” My husband most graciously accepts, and generally has a good time — at least that’s what he tells me. That was the case recently when I was invited to preview Anne-Louise Sterry and her alter-ego, Aunt Lena, at a conference in nearby Wilsonville, Oregon. While I enjoy his companionship, I also like to see Jim’s reaction and get his feedback — as a check on my own. So, this time, I thought it might be fun to turn the tables and ask him to write the review (and let me edit for a change) so that’s what we did. Here goes:
Anne-Louise Sterry/Aunt Lena
Live Life Audaciously
When Barbara invited me to go with her to hear Anne-Louise Sterry, I went along out of curiosity – and also because a date night out is always an occasion. That, and Barbara has a knack for picking the really good ones.
We got there early enough to sit and talk with Anne-Louise before the program. She radiated friendly energy, curiosity, and a sly intelligence that intrigued me — and she talked about growing up in New Jersey, where I lived for a short time. Little did I suspect that I was getting an introduction to her presentation. But I did notice that I was laughing already like I would with a special old friend.
She opened the program singing a song especially created for the group and that became a sing-along — just the beginning of more audience participation to come. Her opening story had a bit of a cocky North Jersey approach, but that was quickly softened as she moved into talking about her family, growing up in Hoboken, the Sunday dinners – heartwarming stuff. And food. The way she describes Italian home cooking – well, it’s a good thing we had just eaten dinner. And gradually she honed in on one middle-aged aunt, Aunt Lena, and began telling stories about her at Sunday dinner. Actually, she didn’t just describe her — before I was really aware of the transformation, she was her aunt — adding accessories, make-up and finally the persona of her aunt with the Hoboken accent as thick as her waist, if you know what I mean. And a funny aunt she was – going on about food, clothes, men, marriage, advice for a young girl, what-evah. Then she was teaching us how to speak Jersey’ese – wattuh (for drinking) and buttah (for bread) and the dauwtah who wanted the buttah. The audience, half of whom were men and most of whom had never been east of Denver, was enthralled, alternating between boisterous laughter and weepy sympathy, and chanting their language lesson at her direction. She had them from word one.
I don’t know how an audience in Bayonne or East Orange or New York City would react to her revelations about growing up Italian in Hoboken. Maybe they would be too close and too sophisticated to find this more than vaguely amusing. Or maybe she has a special down-home program for them. But I know people in our part of the world were entranced. She introduced a warm, family-centered part of America that we seldom remember and maybe never experienced in that exact way. Yet she made it come alive so that across a wide ethnic and geographic divide her family was like my family – crazy and tough and close and into each others’ business and opinionated and the single most important thing in our lives. And when she was done, we all rose to applaud her and to appreciate what she had brought up in us from an ordinary Sunday dinner in her family’s walk-up apartment (apaawtmunt). I had a wonderful time that evening, and I would go back in a (New York or North Jersey) minute.
Reviewed by Jim Newcomer – Barbara’s husband
Barbara’s Notes: Good job, honey. Thank you! And readers, let me add that all of this craziness is aimed at encouraging Anne-Louise’s (and Aunt Lena’s) audiences to live life fully — and audaciously. With a background in psychology, education, performance art, and as a psychiatric nurse (yes, you read that right), she brings much more than her family heritage to the stage. Themes of living kindness, embracing personal responsibility, re-wiring the brain, and the power of changing your story are woven throughout her presentations. They can focus on change, workplace communications, relationships — all of life’s challenges. They all become a bit more palatable when delivered with the gravy, Aunt Lena’s homemade tomato sauce, that is.
To learn more about Anne-Louise and Aunt Lena, visit our website or give me a call at 503-699-5031.
Adrift by the Sea
I’d like to testify for the mid-winter getaway — just a couple of nights/days with no agenda. My husband (and I) just cashed in his Christmas stocking stuffer — a 2 night getaway at the Adrift Hotel & Spa in Long Beach, WA, on the coast, about 2 1/2 hours from Portland. It was a GroupOn deal that I’m glad I took advantage of. We lucked out with a gorgeous completely blue sky, dawn to dusk, sunny day – the rarest of gifts in a rainy Northwest winter. Long Beach is the longest beach in the world and on the inland side is Willapa Bay where the Willapa oyster beds are. Ah yes, and I am an oyster lover. The first thing we did was go in search of a hole-in-the-wall kind of place we discovered on a trip to the Olympic Peninsula 5 years ago. And we found it! It’s in South Bend, WA, “Oyster Capitol of the World” and I recognized it immediately by the smoke coming out of the outdoor barbecue in the parking lot by the road. That’s where they barbecue oysters in a sort of Mexican version of Oysters Rockefeller with lemon, butter (Yes, I said butter. Never mind.), and secret herbs and spices. Yummmmmmmmmmm!!! Heavenly. A one-of-a-kind experience. The rest of the time we kind of wandered between meals, walking the beach, reading, a short hike at Cape Disappointment, flying Jim’s kite, and eating more seafood. Lovely. No agenda, no speakers, and just enough Wi-Fi to keep in touch and out of trouble.
Until next time, take care of yourself for your well being and those you love.
PLEASE NOTE: The information shared in this e-news is designed to help you make informed decisions about speakers and the programs they offer. It is not intended as a substitute for any treatment prescribed by a doctor. If you suspect you have a medical problem, seek competent medical help.