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Serving hospitals, healthcare and women's groups

Tending and Befriending

March 17, 2005, Vol. III Issue 6

Dear Friends,

Christiane Northrup’s new PBS Show, Mother-Daughter Wisdom, highlighting her new book of the same name, aired on my local station last Friday night. This is an amazing show that I highly recommend you make it a point to watch if its airing in your market. To read more about it, here’s the link to a great synopsis:

One of the things that Dr. Northrup does best is link real life with scientific research. My ears perked up when she started talking about the power of relationships and bonding for women, as I was getting ready to write about a “Women’s Weekend Away” in this issue.

Now ladies, we all know a women’s weekend away is fun. After all it’s away from work, errands, responsibilities, etc. We don’t need proof. Here, however, is the science. Dr. Northrup cited the study by Dr. Shelley Taylor at UCLA, that found that women under stress don’t do fight or flight, they do what she called, “tend and befriend.”

“They tend to other people’s needs and befriend other women,” Dr. Northrup said on the show. “And when they do this, it is associated with a huge outpouring of the bonding hormone, oxytocin, the same hormone that is produced when breastfeeding or making love. It’s the bonding hormone that makes people calmer, easier to be around and that, Dr. Taylor believes, is what makes women live longer, an average 7.5 years longer, than men.”

So, if anybody wants to know why you’re going on that getaway with your girlfriends, just tell them you’re on a life extension excursion, and leave ALL guilt behind!

Yours truly,

Women’s Weekend Away: Tending and Befriending

Tending, befriending, and bonding reverberated through the halls last weekend as mothers and daughters, granddaughters and nieces, friends old and new congregated at the Harrisburg Hilton and Towers in Harrisburg, PA. The 16th annual Women’s Weekend Away, sponsored by PinnacleHealth WomanCare Resource Center attracted 325 women.

Bonnie Dean, keynote speaker for the weekend-long event told me two of the first people she met were sisters, 72 and 78. Patricia Bucek, Program Director for the Resource Center, said they have a mother-daughter duo that have been coming for all 16 years and another group of six sisters-in-law who make it an annual event. “At the last minute, I had a call from a woman in Baltimore who googled Women’s Weekend Away, and brought her group of eight.

“In our area, among other hospitals as well as non-healthcare groups, we are the longest running, only weekend long event with comprehensive coverage of personal development, creative, fitness, health, and business topics,” Patricia said.

“When we started, it was an activity to help draw attention to PinnacleHealth services, primarily childbirth education and parenting, when that was the main focus of WomanCare. About five years ago, we were like many other women’s programs, under close scrutiny to pull revenue. We looked at it for public relations value and to be a signature fundraising event to help compensate for services we provide.

“That’s when it changed slightly, and in addition to educational workshops, we added the silent auction and raffle to raise money. We also looked at the opportunity to sell logo merchandise.” Patricia continued. “It was risky, because we didn’t want to offend people with fund-raising or take away from education. We worked hard to maintain our relationships and have been making money ever since. We also looked for corporate and business sponsors, women-focused businesses, who could benefit from showcasing their services, and have formed some successful partnerships.

“It’s been a very valuable public relations and marketing opportunity for PinnacleHealth as a whole,” she continued, “getting us out in front with the media, and doing promotions with the media very early on. We get our brochure out in Nov-Dec. for the March event.”

The weekend festivities started at 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon with registration, the silent auction, a first-timers orientation and buffet dinner. Little did we know when Pinnacle booked Bonnie, that they were using a circus theme this year. It just so happens that Bonnie has added full clown regalia to her bag of tricks so she showed up for the Friday night opening festivities somewhat incognito and totally in character!

Georgia Mazzolla, coordinator for the weekend, said they realized after a few years that the women like to get together and dance on Friday night, so they bring in a DJ, and it’s turned into a big reunion spot for family and friends.

“I had a blast Friday night distributing my ‘You Make A Difference’ ribbons and ‘You are the Heart of My Success’ stickers. Nobody knew who I was,” Bonnie said with a wink, “but I learned all about them.” Actually, Bonnie had done her homework, interviewing half a dozen attendees before the event.

“The next morning in my “Fowl Play” breakout session, some of them recognized me and then paid me the greatest compliment. They said they’d never had a keynote speaker come in and be a part of the weekend, be one of them, instead of just flying in and out. I was stunned.

“I have to say,” she continued, “I was just so impressed with the entire event. It was so professionally run, all of the organizers were high energy, and the entire weekend was about the attendees. They were always part of the show, like featured circus performers. It really showcased them. That’s probably a huge reason everyone has such a good time and they come back year after year.”

Saturday’s schedule included 45 workshops organized by categories, ranging from the Active Woman to the Enlightened Woman, the Creative Woman to the Healthy Woman. And let’s not forget the Beautiful Woman. Oh, and the Women in Water category. That one got my curiosity up. Sure enough, there were workshops in the hotel pool all day long. Now the cool thing that I observed, is the women could skip around and be one type of woman for one hour, and another type of woman the next hour!

“The crafts workshops are particularly popular,” Georgia said. In honor of Bonnie Dean’s sole-ful sneaker habit (she owns 85 pairs of sequined, ribboned, light-up sneakers that are her trademark), there was even a Snazzy Sneakers decorating workshop!

Ongoing, in the ACCENTS ON YOU area, a variety of service professionals
volunteered their time to demonstrate skincare products, make-up application, reflexology, seated massage, and manicures.

The Resource Center provided an entire area devoted to FOCUS ON HEALTH,
providing bone density screenings, stroke screenings, total cholesterol testing, and other health evaluations and information.

And in a special heart care for women program for area residents, participants completed a cardiac risk assessment, received a blood test, blood pressure screening, and body-fat analysis on Saturday morning. This was followed up with a fifteen minute appointment Saturday afternoon to review results and discuss risk factors with a cardiac nurse educator, and receive an individualized plan for maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle. This program was underwritten by the PinnacleHealth Auxiliary.

As if that wasn’t enough, the women could also schedule themselves for a little self-care in the form of masssage, reflexology, aromotherapy bodywork or healing stone therapy (services were $50 each).

At noon, there was a luncheon and fashion show featuring fashions from designer Isaac Mizrahi from Target, and sponsored by Target Stores of Harrisburg. In keeping with the participatory spirit of the weekend, the models were, of course, women’s weekend away participants.

What would a woman’s gathering be without shopping? The Marketplace featured businesses with products and services especially for women all day Saturday.

At Saturday night’s festive dinner, Bonnie’s keynote was preceded by two surprise opening acts. Once again, in the participatory spirit of the weekend, the newly-fledged belly dancers from the afternoon workshop demonstrated their skills to music, of course. And, remember the “Snazzy Sneakers” workshop? Those creative artists showed off their projects, strutting and dancing across the stage with a spring in their steps and big smiles on their faces. Fun shoes will do that for you, as Bonnie well knows!

Next was Bonnie’s motivational program: “Bonnie Dean UP CLOSE and UNPLUGGED: Creating Polaroid Moments,” and she came out shooting, her Polaroid camera that is. “My program was all about the audience,” Bonnie said, “and by example, creating those Polaroid moments and sharing them with the ones you love. What’s really fun is I do interviews beforehand, and then I bring those folks up on stage. I ask them questions, and before you know it they’re making my points for me! I call it S.O.S.I.N.M.O.L. or Secrets of Success in Ninety Seconds or Less.”

Actually, that’s just one of the things Bonnie does. What she doesn’t do is a canned keynote. Like a camp counselor (she does have a degree in recreation), Bonnie deftly guides her audience through a whirlwind of emotions, and gives them the gift of appreciation. People go home remembering little things she teaches them that they can share with family and friends and do on a daily basis.

No stranger to adversity, Bonnie says, “If you can laugh through things, you can live through things.”

“We had a lot of surprises over the weekend and Bonnie is so easy to work with. She just totally rolled with the punches,” conferenceorganizer Georgia said. “And it was very special to have her with us for the entire weekend. She knows no stranger, making herself completely at home among us with her spontaneous and generous nature.”

On Sunday morning, a variety of spiritually-oriented workshops, including one led by Bonnie, were offered. The weekend ended with a buffet lunch and closing ceremony with a photo review Power Point Show of the participants enjoying all of the activities and each other. That, of course included lots of hugs and smiling faces, all bonding, befriending, tending.

Early registration fee for the entire weekend was $204. Day rates were also available. The hotel offered special room rates of $96 per night for a standard room for up to four occupants.

Like to get to know more about Bonnie and her programs? Give me a call at 503-699-5031.

In the Headlines: MacBluff?

Last week McDonald’s launched a worldwide initiative promoting healthy living. The idea is to counter criticism of its food and business.

The theme, “It’s what I eat and what I do . . . I’m lovin’ it,” will be promoted via television ads, packaging and an updated website, along with a series of Ronald McDonald videos teaching children how to eat well and stay active. Wow, can’t wait to see those, but it turns out I will have to wait until this fall for that, according to their website. While I’m encouraged by the intention of this corporate giant, a LOT remains to be seen . . .

According to the website, the McDonald’s Balanced, Active Lifestyles program is built on three strategic pillars: increasing menu choice, promoting physical activity, and providing more accessible information.

If you’d like to check out the increased menu choices, you’ll have to travel, at least for now, to McDonald’s locations around the world where, according to the website, some choices beyond the ordinary fast food fare have been introduced. Meantime, I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for whole wheat buns to arrive in America. I will feel they’re more serious about this when changes within the current menu choices (like whole wheat buns), show up versus simply adding a few apple slices and drink choices other than soda pop to the menu.

I read through all the rhetoric on the website about “promoting physical activity” and found nothing substantial indicating what they’re going to tell us. I do hope they’re using a new ad agency, as last year’s campaign showed a gal “joyfully” running up stairs in her spike heels, adult Happy Meal in hand. Bet she took those shoes off, off camera.

As for “providing more accessible information,” one of the avenues they’ll be using for nutrition education is their tray liners. Oh, Ronald, can you really see people reading about nutrition and exercise through their french fries and under their greasy hamburger wrappers? Yes, they have a way to go, but, hey it’s a start.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Care to share?

Female Friendships that Stick

I’d like to say one more thing about the topic of female friendship. As I prepare my wedding invitation list, I am struck by the power of the female friendships I’ve maintained since childhood. Friends from all over the country will be travelling for our wedding this summer (actually, I think they just want to see who this guy is ). And since I am a fifty-plus year old bride, the friendships come attached to various eras of my life and it’s going to be such a good time to have all these “eras” assembled in one time and place. I feel blessed.

Until next time, be good to yourself, call an old friend or make a new one, for your well being and those you love.

Yours truly,

My vision for The Speak Well Being Group is to be a connector for speakers I know, love and believe in, with the audiences who will be inspired, motivated, and transformed by their perspectives, knowledge, empathy, compassion, information and, most importantly, capacity to enjoy the process, laughing at themselves and with you along the way.

You’ll find many of our speakers on our website.

Or please call anytime and let us assist you: 503-699-5031

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