June 12, 2008, Vol. 6 Issue 9
I like Linda Ellerbee’s attitude. She went on a 200-mile hike to celebrate her 60th birthday. I like her attitude for a lot of other reasons, as did the foundation luncheon audience where I heard her speak in May, but the hiking resonates with me. I’m drooling to go for a hike, any hike, now that one knee is on the mend. The only trouble is that I’m lopsided (until the other knee gets upgraded to match it) and far from trail ready this season. Yet, listening to Linda plants a seed . . .
For me and many of the audience members, Linda is someone we grew up with – an iconic journalist. We remember how she closed her TV broadcasts: “And so it goes …” (also the title of her first book). We followed her broadcast career as a woman who was known for being seen and heard. We remember being startled to learn she had breast cancer – in 1992, breast cancer was not publicly discussed as it is today – which brings up the point, of course, that Linda was one of the pioneers, talking openly about it.
Her theme, at the luncheon was, “Embracing Change,” and I think everyone in that audience went away that day with a sense of learning from a person who is living in the nooks and crannies of her early sixties, embracing every day, candid about regrets, observing aging yet never dwelling there, and offering a message of hope and inspiration for women of every age. And a great sense of humor. She’s a journalist, ever on the story. It’s about taking big bites, her attitude about life as well as food, and title of her most recent book, Take Big Bites. As long as we’re here to get a taste of it, she says, let’s go for it with gusto.
Embracing Change, Taking Big Bites
Linda Ellerbee has long been known as a woman who speaks her mind, and that’s exactly how she comes across from the podium – a strong presence, yet with a humble sense of self, enveloped in humor. As for credentials, she is a forthright journalist, award-winning television producer, best-selling author – also a breast cancer survivor, proud mother and grandmother.
The Providence St. Peter Foundation brought her in as the keynote speaker to draw a crowd for their 2008 Wellness luncheon and that it did. They were excited about attracting a crowd of 430 women and men, as well as the favorable response to Linda’s message.
“When I was young, I thought that change would always be easy, a friend, a lover — that it would always be my choice,” she said. That didn’t turn out to be the case, but it also wasn’t going to keep her quiet.
Her career — breaking barriers in the male-dominated world of television broadcasting, while she wrote, produced and spoke her mind — was moving along just fine until one morning in February 1992, while showering, she noticed a lump in her breast. Her doctor told her it might be a tumor. Ever the researcher, she at once read everything she could find about breast disease. When she called a surgeon for information he told her to go buy Dr. Susan Love’s book and “then you won’t have to annoy me anymore.” Linda did him one better and called Dr. Susan Love.
“I bring this up,” she said, “because if you’re diagnosed with any life-threatening disease, remember who owns the disease – not your family or your doctors – you own the disease. You have a right to ask questions (whether you get answers or not).”
Lots has changed, Linda told the audience, and it’s because women have been speaking up. When she was diagnosed in 1992, she was reconciled to losing her breasts and possibly her life and she was supposed to be quiet about it. That wasn’t her style.
“You were supposed to suffer in silence, die politely. People didn’t talk about it,” she said. “We’re no longer dying in silence. My generation decided to make noise – we’re not going to die silently. Today, $900 million dollars has been raised for breast cancer research and prevention. Our noise has changed the course of the disease.
“All women need to make noise and fight for more research and better breast cancer treatments,” she added. “It’s all about the power of one person. If you know what you stand for, and you stand for it.”
After an article she wrote appeared in USA TODAY, she started receiving thank you’s for being open about her experience. Strangers started talking with her candidly. Most important, she said, they gave her permission to laugh. “Some of it is dark humor,” she said, “but it’s humor. I can’t tell you how important that is. Laughter is the finest sound there is.”
“Sixteen and half years later,” she said, “I’m happier than ever. I do not define femininity or sexuality by my body parts. I live as if the cancer was never coming back because that is the only way to live. Cancer is not who I am. I’m alive because I had good medical care and I’m lucky, not because of my attitude. We don’t need a good attitude, we need a cure.”
“The hard truth is that we have to live through discomfort. I felt rage (and many other emotions) on my 60th birthday hike,” she told us. “The only thing harder than learning from experience, is not learning from it. To risk change, is to believe in tomorrow. We are all still sexy, we are still powerful, we are still here.” Wow, what a great message to take home.
To learn more about Linda Ellerbee’s career and background, and to book her for your special event, please visit our website, or give us a call at 503-699-5031.
Take A Big Bite –
Of Summer Pie!
We’ve been having a long, cold spring here in the Northwest. Our beloved Oregon strawberries aren’t quite as sweet and soft and succulent as usual. We finally got to the Farmer’s Market last week and were tempted by the long, firm, ruby-green stems of rhubarb. Rhubarb translates to rhubarb pie to me – the kind with the criss-cross pie crust top (I love to braid it!).
Now, I subscribe to the Cheryl Tiegs diet recommendation. If you’re going to have pie, have it for breakfast! Sounds reasonable to me. Nonetheless, I was dismayed when I dug my recipe out to find that the recipe for the rhubarb pie filling called for TWO cups of sugar. I just couldn’t do it. Rhubarb may be sour, but TWO cups? So, I substituted one of the cups (I used less – probably ¾ cup) with Super Stevia Extract which is an herbal sweetener I buy at Trader Joe’s. And, I used the new trans fat free Crisco for the crust. I have to admit, the pie was outstanding. My husband thinks we should make another one. That has to be the best testimonial.
Meantime, I came home with a half flat of strawberries today, and he stopped at the same fruit stand and bought two more pints. We met in the driveway, strawberries in hand. He looked at me and said, “PIE!” This time, however, I think we’ll opt for one of my favorite summer treats, Zonya Foco’s Simple Summer Fruit Pie at a fraction of the calories of that rhubarb pie, and totally yummy!
If you’d like the recipe, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And, remember, as Linda Ellerbee says, “Take big bites!” Make a berry pie 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.