Women of Influence – Making a Difference

Welcome to the Junior League of Birmingham, Michigan’s 2017-18 year. I am so excited to have the opportunity to serve all of our members,  new, active and sustainer, as President.
Red woman's shoe, sketch Our theme for this year is “Women of Influence, Making a Difference.” Two of our near term speakers, Peggy Tallet representing the Enough SAID initiative, and Sherry Welsh, a practicing life coach, are perfect examples of two women who have spent their lives being women of influence making a difference.

Peggy Tallet rocked the first General Membership Meeting of this year with her presentation about Enough SAID, a collaborative community initiative to test the thousands of rape kits that had been abandoned, and forgotten, in police storage units. Enough SAID strives to advocate for public funding and raise private sector donations to test the kits, investigate each case and prosecute the offenders, thus securing justice and closure for victims, while ensuring a safer community.  #EnoughSaidenoughsaid-logo

One of the many reasons I wanted Peggy to address the JLB is the Enough SAID initiative came to​ fruition as a result of a collaboration between three organizations: The Michigan Women’s Foundation, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and Detroit Crime Commission.  Enough SAID’s success is exponentially more poignant, when you consider that so many moving pieces, personalities, organizations and institutions, had to all fall in line.

The nearly three hundred Junior League chapters across the country have experience in forging similar coalitions. The JLB, and other Junior Leagues, have a rich history of community partnerships formed to right social wrongs and address specific areas of injustice.

The JLB has had internal conversations about forging a relationship with the Michigan  Women’s ​ Commission and the Enough SAID initiative.

Similarly, the JLB welcomes the wonderful and talented Sherry Welsh. Sherry realized the dreams of many other women. SherryWelshAfter many decades as a senior automotive supplier executive with responsibility for hundreds of millions of dollars of business, as well as​ hundreds of employees, around the world, Sherry deliberately pivoted her career. She now coaches people on success in the work place, work life balance, and effective communication techniques.

Sherry is also a published author, and has generously offered to gift her book to the women who attend our training session, “Life Happens.” Sherry’s message is well aligned with the JLB mission, as we teach women to be more effective communicators and negotiators in all of our activities — the community, workplace, home, family and any other areas of our lives. #WomenAndRaises

Peggy and Sherry are both “Women of Influence, Making a Difference.” In addition to all of their accolades, titles and accomplishments, I am proud to share that for more than two decades, Peggy and Sherry have both been close, loyal, brilliant, well-dressed and fun-filled friends of mine.

For that, and for the friendships that I enjoy with JLB members, and for the friendships I have yet to forge with JLB members, I am tremendously grateful.

We are all “Women of Influence, Making a Difference.”
– Noelle Schiffer, President, Junior League of Birmingham, Michigan, Inc.

#WomenAndRaises #EnoughSaid #JLBInfluencers

 

 

Just Be

Are you a multitasker?  What does that mean exactly and how does it relate to how successful you are in navigating the world we all live in?

“Human multitasking is the apparent performance by an individual of handling more than one task at the same time. The term is derived from computer multitasking. Multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention.”

So let’s break it down. How can we relate?

If you’ve rushed through your morning feeling frazzled and only half in focus, you’re probably not alone. Many of us are trying to manage it all. We are wives, mothers, co-workers, friends, daughters and volunteers, etc. We don’t have time to think about the actual impact of multitasking on our ability to accomplish our goals.

And let’s face it, failure is not an option.yoarehere

So we make lists, check and recheck our calendars and make the effort to fit it all in. Many of us go to bed at night going over how we could have been more efficient and kicking ourselves for dropping the proverbial ball – because there’s just not enough time in the day.

Many of us probably don’t even know how to just be. We just know that EVERYTHING needs to get done, preferably yesterday.

There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests that the human brain is actually incapable of multitasking. When we focus on more than one task, the brain is actually toggling between the two or more efforts, which ultimately does a disservice to everything.

“Contrary to popular belief, people are less efficient – not more – when they multitask. That’s because it takes more time to complete one of the tasks, especially as they become more complex, versus focusing on a single task.”

For example, there is research that shows that talking on a cell phone and driving a car at the same time puts you and those around you at risk.  Although you cannot perceive it, your brain cannot give both tasks its full attention. Your reaction time behind the wheel actually slows down.

And similar results are found when we try to do too many things at once. We may find ourselves standing in the kitchen with no memory of how we got there or why we were heading to the kitchen to begin with. If that happens, we were most likely immersed in doing something else, like checking our email or going over tomorrow’s calendar.

And did you know that the act of multitasking makes the human brain feel great? It actually triggers our brain’s reward system, which equates to an emotional high. This could account for why we continue to talk and drive at the same time, even after we become educated about the risks.

In essence, when we attempt to multitask, we are not totally present to experience every triumph and every sorrow in its vast complexity. We are not stopping to immerse ourselves in the project or interaction at hand and appreciate every single second. We are in fact, not there. At least some small part of us is missing.

And let’s face it, life is way too short to be absent, even for those moments we’d rather forget. And there’s really no chance that life is going to slow down, unless we begin to make different choices.

So how can we take back our lives, at least on some sort of manageable level? According to the experts, it’s simple. Be present. Be mindful. Pay attention.

It seems easy. It’s not. It takes practice. And lot’s of it.

Just as we condition our bodies at the gym or we exercise our mental prowess on an important work project, it takes a tremendous amount of work to bring ourselves back to the present moment.

We can practice the art of being present. In short, we can remind ourselves to be mindful. We have the power within us to experience every moment of our lives.  We can actually savor that cup of coffee, instead of gulping it down. Or we can stop and truly  listen as our child tells us about his/her day.

We can hit the pause button at any moment and just be. We have the privilege of being the guardians of what we allow into our sphere. We alone get to choose what we let into our lives.

This year, the League will continue to bring the practice of yoga to young people from across Oakland County through our Kids in the Kitchen programming. The League will focus primarily on helping our young people focus on getting the exercise they need to stay healthy.

The League's Kids In The Kitchen Yoga Program. Students in Tree Pose.

The League’s Kids in the Kitchen Yoga Program. Students in Tree Pose.

Although a physical practice, which dates back to 3000 B.C., yoga also embodies the art of remaining present. It is the practice of being mindful and allowing things to just flow.

In short, it’s a state of being that we can choose to adopt. Some yoga masters say that practicing yoga is not about the postures at all. Rather, it is about learning to let go and allowing the mind to be simultaneously calm and present. It is just one of the precepts millions of women use everyday to reconnect with themselves.

Tomorrow you will wake up to walk the dog, feed the kids, write the book, pay the bills, lead the meetings or finish that project, etc. Take time to remember that your brain works best if you allow yourself to be completely and gloriously present, no matter how boring the task might be. And you might do well to remind yourself that it can take up to 10,000 hours to master any skill or process. Be patient with yourself as you take on the challenge of stillness and just be.

 

You Are Enough

How many of us feel like we have to do more, say more, think more, produce more and well, just be more. Not that the pursuit of more should be discouraged. In fact, we all belong to a community of women, by which we strive to help each other to become more than we are now.

We take pride in helping each other reach our goals and dreams. But when is it enough? When do we step back and find peace in who we are, just as we are, without the “more?”enough1

That’s a tough question to answer. We live in a world in which we have the power to become anything we wish.

We all have the potential to be a CEO if that’s our highest calling.  But many of us were raised to believe that without the labels of lawyer, doctor, financial manger, mother, wife, etc.,we have ultimately failed.

Our Western society often associates having more with success. If we have more money, more status and more followers on social media then we have some how made it. We can then sit back, relax and enjoy the “more.”

And when we’ve reached the end of our journey and we’ve realized all of our goals, we inevitably meet someone that has just a little more than we do. From our perspective,  she has a better job or she is prettier, taller, richer or smarter, etc. You get the idea.

All of sudden our “more” is not enough. We are left wrestling with the notion that we will never be enough. No matter how much “more” we have, there will always be someone with “more” than us. What a dangerous game to play.

And while it’s quite healthy to surround ourselves with those we wish to emulate, it becomes unhealthy when we don’t consider ourselves to be worthy.

When we can’t afford that house in the best neighborhood or we don’t accept all the beauty that we possess, both inside and out, it’s probably impacting our lives in a negative way.  At the very least, we may feel less than.

And there’s no doubt that we live in society, which gives us plenty of opportunity to find comparison. In the Kim Kardashian age, how do we prevent ourselves from assuming that someone has it so much better than us?

For most of us, at least within the League, we are given that chance on a regular basis. We have the opportunity to practice gratitude for what we have because we realize that there are so many people that have so much less. And we also have the distinct privilege of helping others who are truly disadvantaged.

Recently President Julie Gheen and Presidential Assistant Jillian Bommarito attended the New Horizons 50th Anniversary awards banquet. An organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for those living with disabilities, the Junior League of Birmingham founded New Horizons.

In its 50th year, the organization is still positively impacting thousands of people every year. “The Junior League is royalty to us,” said New Horizons board member Doug Otlewski, as he talked about the importance of the League to his organization.

So how does this relate to you? How are you relevant to New Horizons and the work they that do everyday? What does this have to do with finding “more?”

Consider this. Fifty years ago, the women of our League could never have imagined the large-scale impact of their actions. They saw a need and developed pathways to assist others in improving their lives. They wanted more for those that couldn’t help themselves.

League member Betty Fisher was responsible for launching New Horizons. Although most likely archived somewhere, we don’t know the rest of the names of those League members that started the organization. They weren’t on a reality TV show and they never made a dime as a result of their activities.

However, I think most of us can agree that what they accomplished was more than enough. Their beauty may not be measured by traditional standards, but there is no doubt that each League member who contributed to the New Horizons project could have been described as beautiful.

As League members, we are striving to create a positive impact in our communities.

We find that when we staff the volunteer booth at the holiday parade, lobby for human trafficking laws, organize a fund raiser, work on Little Green Gardeners or participate in League communications and membership development, etc., we are all serving a higher purpose.

By helping others we become less concerned with what we don’t have and more concerned with the greater good. We are walking down the same path of those ladies who created New Horizons.

We are digging deeper than our bank accounts, our labels or our latest lipstick. We are looking beyond our “selfies” and our next vacation. Through our actions, we are setting into motion hope and prosperity for others. The people you help may never know your name. But you’ll know, and that’s more than enough.

 

President of the Junior League of Birmingham, Julie Gheen and Presidential Assistant, Junior League of Birmingham, Jillian Bommarito

President of the Junior League of Birmingham, Julie Gheen and Presidential Assistant, Junior League of Birmingham, Jillian Bommarito