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

 

 

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

Take The Covey Challenge

The Seven Habits

With the start of fall and the League gearing up for another frenzied year of parties, community projects, fund raisers and get-togethers, it seems like a good time to set new goals. It’s time to be proactive and get organized. We’ve all clearly got a lot to do. The kids are all back in school and September often marks a time of growth and change at our places of employment. Summer is officially over. Very few of us are strangers to the “to do” lists that come along with a new season.

As we start fresh, it might be wise to consider what it means to truly be proactive and look beyond to the end game or finished product. Why should we begin any process with the end in mind? And what does it really mean to be proactive anyway?

Research suggestions that by setting very clear targets, we are actually training our brains to believe that we’ve already accomplished our desires. When we do the hard work to envision what our job or home life looks like with clarity and precision, we are actually setting up an environment by which our brains look for ways to fulfill the images we have created.

The internal persistence we feel or that anxious feeling that we get when we have not yet synched up our desires with our objectives is our brains way of nudging us toward success. The trick is to harness that uncomfortable feeling by creating and executing small and manageable steps to achieve our goals.

When President, Junior League of Birmingham, Julie Gheen started her tenure, she asked the board to take “The Covey Challenge” and delve into famed author Stephen R. Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. President Gheen also asked the collective League membership to read along and consider implementing Covey’s seven habits as well.

Covey’s first two habits can be described as the ability to be proactive and the ability to begin any activity or process with the end in mind. In today’s fast paced and goal-oriented word, most of us are familiar with what it is to be proactive. We take action and we expect results.

But according to Covey, being proactive isn’t just the act of doing; more over it is the notion that we always have the ability to choose. At any given time, we have the power to flip the switch and challenge our assumptions about ourselves and the world around us. In the end, we get to decide what we think about the things we cannot change. We also get to choose how we will respond to the world around us. Will that loss of a job or relationship be an event that turns us bitter or cynical? Or will it be an opportunity for us to learn, grow and strengthen our optimistic resolve? The beauty is, we get to choose!

And then there’s the process of goal setting; charting our own course if you will.

But in a world where we are bombarded with a variety of choices, setting goals isn’t as easy as one might imagine. In the modern age, we have seemingly unlimited choice. And while variety might be the spice of life, our brains are only capable of processing so much information. You may be wondering why it’s so difficult for you to decide what it is that you actually want.

The fact is, the more choices we have, the more likely it is that we will make no choice at all. Or worse, we’ll make a hurried and negative choice just to get the process over with. In the end, the more choices we have the less satisfied we are.

So where do we begin? How do we ask and answer the question, “what are my goals?” Although the science continues to evolve on the matter, there seems to be some emergent themes, which includes the ability to simultaneously create simplicity and find meaning in the choices we make. In other words, keep it simple and make sure it matters. While what matters to one person, is irrelevant to another, that’s not the point. Dreams are as unique as the dreamers.

There is power in knowing what we want. Human beings naturally strive to find purpose. Without purpose, our society would not move forward. Without the angst of creation or the struggle to grow, we might all be alive but we certainly wouldn’t be living.

If you haven’t done so, take the time to think about what it is that you really want. Cast off any preconceived notions about what you think you cannot do and get crystal clear on what it is that you really want out of life! Write it down. Tape it on the fridge or bathroom mirror and visualize the end game. It’s not exactly half the battle, but it will certainly help get you there. And if it doesn’t work out right away, please remember that you have the ability to decide how you will let your perceived failures define your life.

Take the Covey Challenge. Read along. Do the work. Be on the look out for assigned chapter reading(s) and timelines via the League’s email blasts and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jlbham or follow us on Instagram at JLBMICH.

Read On:sevenhabits

For September please read The Seven Habits of High Effective People – Paradigms & Principles pages 15-62. Pick up a copy at your local bookstore or on Amazon. Or run down to your local library and check out a copy today!   And please feel free to leave a comment or question below.