March 30, 2006, Vol. IV Issue 7
At long last, here we are with graphics and pictures in FOR YOUR WELL BEING. If I had known it would be this easy, I would have done it sooner! Let me know what you think!
I’m beginning to think that northwesterner Sue Kirby has Southern blood in her veins. Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, Alabama liked her so well in September, they had her back to kick off their “Your Best Self Now” series in January. In February, she visited Shelby, North Carolina where she uplifted the women who attended the Woman’s World/Spirit of Women Day of Dance event sponsored by Cleveland Regional Medical Center.
Then last week, when Sue called me from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, she couldn’t say enough about the Southern hospitality that was extended to her and all the women who attended the First Annual Spirit of Women Symposium presented by Forrest General Hospital. And they couldn’t say enough good things about her.
To be geographically diplomatic, I should mention that between those programs, Sue found her way to Mexico, Missouri, where she opened the day for Audrain Medical Center’s Women’s Health Conference. It seems that no matter where Sue takes her message, this California girl (who now lives in Seattle), connects with women on common ground.
And that’s what we will continue to do as well, for the new subscribers joining us, as well as those who have been with us from the beginning: share common ground about events, speakers and health news that tickle our fancy and our funnybones, and perhaps challenge us to kick it up a notch.
Rising to the Occasion, Southern Style
“As I flew into the Biloxi-Gulfport airport,” Sue told me, “I got a birdseye view of the hurricane devastation. With a heavy heart, I got into my rental car and started traveling 75 miles north toward Hattiesburg. The roadside scenery was the worst I’ve ever seen. I was shocked. I had thought the damage was just on the coast.
“As I drove, all I could think of was that I’d have to do my best to help these women celebrate life . . . under these circumstances? It felt like a pretty daunting assignment.
“Was I ever in for a surprise,” Sue said. “As it turned out, I felt the spirit coming from these incredible women to me.” And the day was full of surprises. One lady popped out of her seat to announce she was celebrating her first day in her FEMA trailer. The audience exploded in applause.
“We are so thankful we could provide a day for women that was full of inspiration, education and motivation,” Millie Swan, Director of Physician and Public Relations for Forrest General Hospital, told me. “Especially after suffering the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, we wanted to provide for women, who are usually the caregivers, a day to be encouraged, to laugh, to cry, to network and to realize that they are special.”
The Thursday event went from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Lake Terrace Convention Center and drew 400 women. Cost was $25 for Spirit of Women members and $35 for non-members, and included a continental breakfast and lunch. Keynote speaker, Heather Whitestone, Miss America 1995 kicked off the morning with a presentation encouraging women to realize their dreams. Whitestone, as Miss Alabama, was the first woman with a disability (hearing impaired) to win the title in the 75-year history of the pageant.
At lunchtime, Deanna Favre, breast cancer survivor and founder of the Deanna Favre Hope Foundation was honored with a Spirit in Action award. Deanna, a Mississippi native, is known as the wife of Green Bay Packers quarterback Brent Favre, and has made a name for herself in the fight against breast cancer. “Deanna’s talk was extremely heartfelt,” Sue told me, “bringing hankies out throughout the room.We joked that we could travel the country as the laugh and cry team.”
Kaye Ray, chief executive officer of Southeast Mississippi Rural Health, and Meghan Smith, member of the Spirit Girls Squad at Forrest General Hospital, also received Spirit in Action awards. Throughout the day, there were exhibits, gifts, inspiring talks, shopping, food and music. Breakout sessions covered everything from health to decorating, parenting, car repair, relationships, and travel. The women, whom Sue observed were particularly smartly dressed, also enjoyed a spring fashion show.
“We could all take a lesson in gratitude, graciousness and the gift of hospitality, from these Southern women.” Sue said. “The décor, the friendliness, the attention to detail, this is what we call spirit.” As the closing keynote speaker, Sue had the challenge of delivering on the title of her talk, “Change of Heart: From Frenzied to Fabulous, Secrets to Creating a Balanced Life.”
“I realized that these women have been worse than frenzied and they are already fabulous. They’re the ones who were in the trenches, encouraging everyone around them, telling their families that everyone would be all right. They’re the ones who made magic out of nothing. I wanted to honor and respect them and their courageous spirits.” “It just shows you how we all have it in each and every one of us,” Sue told the audience. “You brought it up when it was needed most.”
Independently, Millie expressed similar sentiments: “Every woman truly has a precious spirit,” Millie said. “This was evident in our speakers who shared their personal stories. These stories touched us and reminded us that we are all human and that the real strength comes from above.”
Spirit of Women is a national movement for women’s wellness led by local hospitals and supported by corporate partners and national media with the mission to motivate women to make positive changes in their lives by emphasizing their total well-being…mind, body and spirit. Two of our speakers, Jana Stanfield and Bonnie Dean were featured in the most recent issue of the Spirit of Women publication, Extend Your Reach. This is a 20 page issue packed with information about Spirit of Women news and programs. I have a limited supply of extra copies and I’d be happy to mail a copy to anyone who is interested in learning more. Just reply to this e-news and write Reach in the subject line and type your address in the body.
Putting a Price on Spirit
I think the natural disasters of the past year have put things in perspective for many of us, whether we were in harm’s way or experienced psychic pain as we watched and read the media reports. We all have obstacles. Time. Budgets. Staff. Talent. I find that I am often my own biggest obstacle. Things aren’t as hard as I imagine them to be (like changing this e-news to graphics). What if I got myself out of the way more often?
Millie Swan, of Forrest General Hospital, had a vision to provide a first class event for her community. “I really had to take some risks and luckily it all worked out,” she said. “It’s tough as a director to make decisions sometimes that have a lot of costs involved, but your gut tells you it will be worth it in the end.”
I know you are often asked to justify and quantify the impact of your events. Spirit, however, is one of those things you just can’t put a price tag on. When your administration questions the value of your women’s event, remember Hattiesburg. What you’re bringing to the women of your community is as immeasurable as a few words of encouragement and can impact a woman and her family for a lifetime. Dig deep. Be creative. Listen to your gut. Trust it. Commit. Take action.
Until next time, be good to yourself, for your good health and those you love.