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What 9/11 Means to Me

September 11, 2021

Inspiration on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

Daniel R. Brandhorst

Sitting next to the crystal blue pool with an equally similar colored sky above me, I gaze down into the water as if it is one of the 9/11 reflection pools. Missing from the edge of my pool is the name of my friend Daniel R. Brandhorst, a seven-year colleague from Le Moyne College who changed his flight that morning to catch an earlier flight back to the west coast from Boston with his family in tow. Somehow the image of the second plane piercing a twin tower also pierced my heart and I knew something was terribly wrong and would impact my life forever.

Freedom Tower

Not only did I lose a friend, I lost the bravery to fly even though I grew up in an air force base town and my stepfather flew a small Tiger Drummond plane. We flew that plane often to local places like Saranac Lake instead of driving. I loved being in the air. I had no fear then. But over the course of having a next door neighbors’ son die piloting a small plane near Lake Placid, a friend who was supposed to be on the Pan Am plane that went down in Lockerbie, Scotland, and then Dan dying in the 9/11 attack, a fear of flying grew inside my heart, spirit and brain. It wasn’t so much I feared flying, but feared someone I loved dying on a plane.

Two years after 9/11 my husband said, “The boys and I are going on a trip and we want you to come with us; you have to stop being scared to fly.” I tried to explain I couldn’t do it but eventually decided do go. Our first flight from Syracuse to Baltimore was uneventful. The second flight from DC to Cancun, Mexico, ended shortly with our pilot having an emergency medical issue that caused flight attendants to run up the aisles as I noticed feet moving under the cockpit. My youngest son was asleep on my lap but my legs were bouncing up and down so much with anxiety, I woke him up. I looked at my other son and said, “start praying Thomas, there’s something wrong.” My husband looked at me a bit crazy, but soon realized as they made the announcement we had to turn around came over the loud speakers.

Landing back in Baltimore, there were tons of emergency vehicles waiting for us, again totally panicked, I assumed we would crash and explode with a full tank of gas in the plane not knowing who was landing the plane. As we landed safely, I ran off the plane into the bathroom and sobbed for 30 minutes in a bathroom stall emptying out my fear. I knew I had to get back on a plane to finish our trip and I didn’t know how I was going to do it. My husband decided to order me a 3-shot vodka tonic to get me back on board. After safely landing in Cancun, we unpacked and I headed to the fitness room and ran 2 hours straight on a treadmill to dump out the rest of the fear inside me.

I know my friend Dan traveled first class and know without a doubt he would have tried to stop an emergency with his partner and 2-year-old son on board. So sitting on the plane to Cancun wondering what was happening and how Dan must have felt witnessing the high jacking of the plane, put me in his shoes. I always wondered what it felt like for him, and there I was feeling the experience although our trip ended differently. Our pilot had a heart attack flying and thus the need to turn back to Baltimore. I felt sorry for the pilot whose career probably ended that day and sorry my friend Dan had to die in an epic plane crash.

Eventually I was able to fly again but never without thinking about Dan or our trip to Cancun. God taught me that our fates are already written in the heavens. My son who is in the medical profession said to me once, “Mom, we all have a death story. We just don’t think about it or know what it is.” I jokingly said back to him, “I hope my death story is getting hit by a coconut on my head while I’m sitting under a tree on Sanibel Island.” Time will tell.

So today as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I think of my friend flying high in the blue sky above with his angel wings, brave, fearless, knowing his death story is written into history forever. He was such a wonderful person who didn’t deserve that kind of death, but he’ll always be memorialized on this day, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

Passageways

September 9, 2021

Thursday Thoughts, Passages, Beginnings for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Companies

Brick steps, oak trees, front porches, flowering plants, and driveways set the scene of early morning passages from summer to fall, beaches to classrooms, and loud houses to peaceful havens. Images are taken and instantly displayed to proudly share the start of another journey. Today’s social media images beam of smiling children dressed in their best, wide-eyed and joyful, passing from freedom’s end to scheduled beginnings – anew, fresh, ready and excited to see what is behind a new classroom door.

In 1976, Gail Sheehy, an American author, journalist and lecturer, wrote one of the ten most influential books of our times called Passages. Although I was at the beginning of my teen years, the soft covered book was in our house bought during a Cape Cod vacation. Some of my earliest “wisdom” years came from reading books from self-help authors such as Sheey’s Passages, Norman Vincent Peale’s Positive Thinking Every Day, and Wayne Dyer’s The Sky’s the Limit while sitting on my dock on the lake. I assume I liked reading these self-help books as I transitioned from elementary school to junior high school when so many changes occur.

As I witnessed these beautiful smiling images of school kids today, I took a photo standing exactly where my now, 29 and 26 year old sons, used to stand annually for their first day of school photos. Instead of celebrating the passage of my sons into a new year, I’d celebrate my passage from an alopecia diagnosis to living, dreaming and working fully again. The truth is time doesn’t stop, our kids grow up, we morph into mature women, we face illness followed by recovery, and pass through another year of time into a new place whether we like it or not.

One definition of passage is “the act of going from one place to another or changing from one condition to another.” Women entrepreneurs pass through doors to establish their companies, entering unfamiliar venue rooms to learn and network with other women and even travel through changing marketing platforms to stay relevant. Entrepreneurship is always about a passage but we don’t stop to think about it that way unless it’s a new year or a day like today when we all start again in a hushed office or house.

Today’s blog post is a gentle reminder that transitions, passages, alterations of oneself, home, business and life is okay. Life is for the living correct? If so, then we know life is ever-changing and ever-flowing moving us from one porch, driveway, and beach or office space to another one. The textures of our lives change too as we adjust to adding staff or family, losing people we love, maturing in our personal life or business entity or even gaining wisdom from every day readings. Rejoice that your journey is a positive one gently moving you forward in life.

At the end of the school day, no matter if you have children greeting you at the same place they left this morning or if you are working longer hours because there isn’t a reason to cook a large dinner anymore, realize today’s passage is a simple transition from one day to the next giving you freedom of choice to embrace and accept it the way you choose.

Wednesday Wisdom: You Matter Most

September 8, 2021

Inspiration, Wednesday Wisdom for women entrepreneurs, female business owners

“It’s not where you are, but who you are with that matters,” a favorite lyric to a Dave Matthews Band song struck a recent heart cord. We have all heard the expression, “Home is where the heart is.” The quote has been true of my personal life living through multiple parental divorces, accepting step sisters and half siblings along the way, and trying to remain grounded in what mattered most to me which was being with my family. As a teenager, even my friends had to pull me away from family to get me to go out sometimes. Call me a homebody in one regard, and not in another.

Then the line of the song rings again in my ear lifting my spirits realizing I’ve done more things fearlessly than most people have thought of doing like running in the 2017 Boston Marathon, traveling over the pond to run with 3 International women I didn’t know in England’s all-woman’s marathon, public speaking to audiences of hundreds time and again, starting and running two companies, raising two perfectly adjusted sons, taking 150 women to the Women’s March on DC, standing up for pay inequality, and living life the best I can as a bald woman at the age of 56 which includes daily biking 10 miles a day.

Through all the adventures, I’ve always felt that who I’ve been with matters most, and sometimes in the isolation of dealing with becoming and being bald, I spend the most time with myself so that time must matter. I push away self-pity and trepidation only to find myself in another gloriously morning biking next to a lake with the sun reflecting both water and my shiny head as I lift myself up and think about the people who have stuck with me right up to this moment in time. Some members have left over 16 years of running a membership based company, while others have stayed. 3 siblings have broken ties due to their own misunderstandings of situations, but 4 have remained. People come and go and what remains is how we feel about ourselves.

Whether it is our physical beauty, special people who held prominence in our lives, economic woes, or entrepreneurial struggles, in the end every woman entrepreneur and every woman must think they, themselves, matters most. How else can we carry on every day if what we need is other people’s approval, acceptance, or involvement in our personal circles? The most important person “who matters” is us and how we feel about who we are.  

Lights, Camera, Action…Women Entrepreneurs

September 7, 2021

PR, Business and Marketing Advice for Women Entrepreneurs and Female Business Owners

Photo by People.com

The lights, camera, and action of the television or movie screen captures your eye. The famous interviewer poses inquisitive statements to their guests sitting in designer seats or now a days zooming in from their own abodes. For a few minutes, you see yourself as their guest instead of the person they are interviewing and then ponder how one gets invited to the seat or table.

For the every day woman entrepreneur, without a big-name brand or national media presence, it might seem impossible to be invited to the “red table” with Jada Pinkett-Smith, and her female family members or be interviewed like Gwenyth Paltrow, a former actress now selling Goop her own brand product, but that’s not true. Local and regional media are looking to fill their airwaves seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, and you might be who they are looking for.

When pitching yourself or your business for a media interview, it isn’t about you really, it is about what the media’s audience can benefit from due to your interview. Easily knowing why what you sell is important to others is essential in gaining any type of media for yourself or business. It’s the perks, benefits, useful information, successes or even failures that entice local media to pick up your story.

Not only do local media need to interview interesting people, they need to fill their shows with interesting, new or relevant stories to stay alive. When a national story breaks, local media look for local people with ties to national stories, or similar experiences to question and feature. As the 9/11 anniversary approaches, local media will look for ties to 9/11 stories to promote. Do you have a connection like I do of someone who lost someone on one of the planes? Reaching out to the media to tell them, might land you on their show and allow you to resonate with their listeners.  

Photo by Businessinsider

I am happy to be sharing my experiences on the subject of gaining media attention for women entrepreneurs next Tuesday, September 14th for two hours. We’d love for you to join us if you have an interest in being the one seen or heard in the media. All you need to do is sign up at http://www.womenties.com/events.cfm#Event747.

It is a Zoom event so you will be on “camera,”  but in this case you’ll be learning, asking questions, and even sharing news about yourself and your company while figuring out how to be like Gwenyth the next time a national story in your industry is front and center looking for someone to share their expertise.

Wednesday Wisdom: A Communications Tune-Up

September 1, 2021

Wednesday Wisdom, Business Advice for Women Entrepreneurs and Female Business Owners

Booking a late summer adventurous anniversary trip for my husband who has always dreamed of seeing the breathtaking views of our nation’s iconic parks with half domes and towering redwood trees has been quite an adventure in itself, as any woman knows planning a trip to a new destination. Particular about every aspect of lodging, activities, driving conditions, and experiences, I’ve consumed more internet time than when Al Gore first invented it.

Along our meandering reservation path from San Francisco, Napa Valley, The Redwoods, and Gold Beach, I’ve met some astounding customer service representatives on the phone. I’m not sure whether to blame their effervescent personalities on Covid-19 taking away reservations in 2020 or their need to ensure business in 2021 but these calls have put smiles on my face.

Sure, I’m not talking to a Verizon representative but let me tell you, these people have been extraordinary communicators.  I almost wanted to stay on the phone with them longer and can’t wait to step into their establishments to see if everyone there is as pleasant as the people I’ve spoken with. I try to be a great customer service provider, especially when I’m the only one running my business, but I might have to kick it up a notch based on these calls.

As we become less likely to actually talk to potential customers or current clients on the phone or events due to the continuing pandemic, are there ways we can reflect a sunny environment when emailing, texting, or sharing social media posts that provide a warm, inviting spirit to our brand? When written communication is mainly the way people talk, solve issues, or answer questions now, how reflective is your style aligned with your mission and business? It might seem inappropriate to illuminate our excitement to clients with 20 exclamation points in written form to get a happy attitude across.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom, first of all, should make you smile, because I’m smiling as I write this and hope my positive energy is coming through to you. Second, the inspiration is to motivate you to relook at your communication style in written, verbal and social media form to make sure it aligns with your ideals and company brand. Tweak it a bit, if you aren’t “happy” with it. We all need a communications tune-up from time to time.

I promise to take notes of other amazing business practices I witness when I travel the end of September, but until then, let me know if there is anything I can do to improve the way I make you feel when you read my words or speak to me on the phone. It matters to me!!!!!!!!!

Female Family Genes Carry Into Today

August 27, 2021

Inspiration and history for women entrepreneurs, female business owners, career women

Walking down the old cobblestone Jane Street in New York City’s west village, the air and street below my feet felt eerily familiar. Approaching 82 Jane Street where my youngest son moved a year ago, I pass a bronze plaque indicating his small brick apartment building is where American historical figure Alexander Hamilton died after being brought back from New Jersey after being fatally wounded in a duel with Aaron Burr.

By now, we are aware of Alexander Hamilton’s history due to the widely successful Broadway play written and produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda. At the end of his masterful piece and after Alexander dies, his widow Eliza who works passionately after his death to leave her own legacy in starting a private orphanage where she raises thousands of children, she sings a song with the lyrics, You have no control over who lives or dies who tells your story,” resonates in my mind especially as I walk Jane Street’s old, uneven road.

The name Carolyn E. Chamberlain travels with me as I stroll through the charming West Village with its 19-century townhouses looking similar as they did when it was the center of some of history’s most influential social and countercultural movements, including the breakthrough of experimental theater and beat literature, the fight for housing preservation and the national gay liberation movement.

George A. Chamberlain and his seven sons (my grandfather is the one with the mustache in the center – the oldest)

Carolyn, was my great, great aunt, and the only sister of America’s 1946 National Working Father of the Year, George Adelbert Chamberlain, my great grandfather. Hardly mentioned at our family reunions until this year when we received detailed newspaper clippings framed about Great Grandfather Chamberlain’s historic award, I had no clue she existed. I thought the Chamberlain’s were only a family of men, mainly because my grandfather was the oldest of seven sons, five who served bravely in the navy during World War II.

After my 88-year-old Aunt Dona told me about Carolyn today, I started research on her like I did for a suffragist project I worked on in 2020, discovering Carolyn was never married and either started/worked/managed a boarding house for theatrical women in New York City. Born in 1877, Carolyn would have been in her mid-twenties in the boom of the women-only buildings in the early 20th century New York.

Although I couldn’t find any newspaper articles with her name in it, I discovered the amazing business, career, and lifestyle about the early 1990’s single working females in New York City, which was one of the first places to address the challenge of providing appropriate housing for young, working women. An online link at  https://womenatthecenter.nyhistory.org/all-the-single-ladies-women-only-buildings-in-early-20th-century-new-york/ will take you to a fascinating article on the subject and give you a glimpse into the life of enterprising females at the turn of the century, and how one still exists today.

Adam Higginbotham, 82 Jane Street, New York City

My question for you today is could your career-focused, female, family genes be like mine, walking down Jane Street in the West Village, in the early 1900s, possibly residing on cobblestone streets and in boarding houses with other women to start their career? It’s a fascinating way to dream and discover how you arrived where you are now, and why once in a while old historic places may give you goosebumps.


P.S. Women keep your maiden name within your name so history can find you.

Women’s Equality Day Inspiration & Action

August 26, 2021

Inspiration, Thursday Thoughts on Women’s Equality Day for Women, Women Entrepreneurs and Females in Business

An online petition came through my mail yesterday asking for signatures to make August 26th a national holiday circulated by The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation in Syracuse. The email noted there are yet to be any national American holidays in honor of women, or any woman in our history. Stop and think about that for a moment and how it makes you feel remembering women make up 52% of the US population.

So what can women do today, August 26, 2021, to ensure others remember, and hopefully work on our behalf to make sure women are equal in all areas of life, business, and sports today and in the future besides signing an online petition? They can learn about the importance of trying to get the Equal Rights Amendment finally passed in congress.

If you aren’t aware of the ERA or why it should be passed, read about the ERA taken from http://www.AlicePaul.org website about the progress and importance of getting it passed and then share it with others you know:

•There are two movements to pass the ERA. The traditional route would require the ERA to be voted on again, requiring the amendment’s passage by two-thirds of each house of Congress and then ratification by 38 states. An alternative strategy would maintain the legal viability of the existing 35 state ratifications and attempt to gain three more state ratifications to complete the process and make the ERA the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.

•The 19th Amendment, granting women suffrage is the only mention of the word “woman” in the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, the only right guaranteed to women by federal law is the right to vote.

•According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), among full-time, year-round workers, women earn 77% of what men earn. This disparity increases even more for African American and Hispanic women. Additionally, women are half as likely to receive a pension, and those that do receive almost half as much. Social Security still defines women as dependents and therefore women who have been in the workforce for decades still receive lower payments.

•The most important effect of the ERA would be the clarification of the status of sex discrimination for the courts, the decisions of which still demonstrate confusion regarding such claims. For the first time, “sex” would be a suspect classification, like race, and would require the same level of “strict scrutiny” and have to meet the same high level of justification – a “necessary” relation to a “compelling” state interest – as the classification of race.

•The ERA would not make all single-sex institutions unconstitutional – only those whose aim is to perpetuate the historic dominance of one sex over the other. Single-sex institutions that work to overcome past discrimination are currently constitutional and are likely to remain so.

•The 14th Amendment, providing an equal protection clause to all U.S. citizens, was not originally intended to apply to women, as it predates the 19th Amendment. As proof of this, Susan B. Anthony voted in the 1872 presidential election, was arrested two weeks later, and was convicted the following year for illegal voting. At her trial, she attempted to use the 14th Amendment to defend her actions, but the judge ruled that the amendment did not apply to her because she was a woman.

•The Equal Rights Amendment would prevent a rollback of the legal advances women have gained. It is important to remember that as governments change from conservative to liberal, citizens, neither male nor female, should not be subject to lose their right to vote, their right to free speech, or any other of their constitutional rights due to a change of political opinion.

•The ERA does not add new laws to the U.S. Constitution; it only guarantees the rights currently within it. Issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, unisex bathrooms, and the female draft exist separately from the ERA and would not become law upon the ERA’s passage.

•The ERA is an amendment for both men and women – it is not just a woman’s issue. Issues of custody, employment, and fair wages are important to both sexes and an Equal Rights Amendment would guarantee equal legal rights without regard to sex.

•The ERA would affirm the purpose that began with the writing of the U.S. Constitution, the basic human right of constitutional protection.

For more information on the Equal Rights Amendment, visit www.equalrightsamendment.org.

Suffragist Alice Paul

I hope today’s blog post reminds you that women’s work is not done in securing total equality in America today. Women must continue to talk about and support the efforts of our foremothers and sisters today to get the ERA passed so women are equal to men under law. As actress Emma Watson said, “It is time we see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of ideals.”

P.S. Go back up to the top of this post and click on the petition and sign it please! Thank you.

Wednesday Wisdom: Cracking the Glass Ceiling

August 25, 2021

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration, Feminist Thoughts for Women Entrepreneurs and Female Business Owners

Yesterday, rolling over in the dark summer night, I noticed the clock read 12:01 a.m. and in that moment I heard glass break. Double checking my bed stand to make sure the glass of water was still standing ready for consumption on a hot, humid August night, I realized the glass that broke was Kathy Hochul with her hand on a bible being sworn in as the 57th Governor for New York State and the first female to hold the title.

Yes, I wrote about this historic event occurring a few weeks ago because I know her and have seen her diligently work on behalf of women and the state, but there is nothing like reality striking at midnight to bring it home. Honestly, I most likely would wake up for any of my members or women entrepreneurs I’ve known, breaking their own glass ceiling if I knew exactly the moment it was happening. It is a reason I promote their good news, events, joint business relationships with other women they’ve met through Women TIES, and applauded them as loudly as I can from afar.

Yesterday one of those women fit me into her surgical day due to a sudden eye problem, saying “yes” to my need to get in to see her. When I arrived at her beautiful business, the Cortland Eye Center, where she has a large female-only staff, I realized she, like me, believes deeply in committing to women first and foremost in her business sense. As I flashed back to Kathy Hochul wearing white to represent the women’s suffrage movement at her swearing in ceremony, I realized she too, like me, believes deeply in thanking the women who have gone before us in history making some of today’s female freedoms possible.

So again, today’s Wednesday Wisdom is meant to evoke a deep sense of gratitude for women who rise above the impossible to make things possible – whether it’s rising above historically or locally in 2021 within their own lives and companies, to support other women. I hope you think about how much time and energy you dedicate in your personal or business life to the needs of other women and if it isn’t quite enough, you amp up your support and join us in helping more women break their own glass ceilings.

We aren’t equal yet in many areas of life, so let’s help other women rise with us. 

Wednesday Wisdom: Choose Happy

August 18, 2021

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration, Motivation for Women, Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners

Tracy Higginbotham at the St. Joesph’s Health Amphitheater

When you hear someone say “It’s raining cats and dogs,” a creative minded person invokes literal visuals of different sized and colored four-legged animals dropping from hovering grey clouds. According to Norse Mythology, cats were believed to represent the wind and dogs represented rain, and later in the American belief system it meant tin roofs got wet so cats and dogs slid off them in torrential downpours, thus the meaning behind the verse.

Waking up on a moisture filled morning when the weather forecast is a flood watch and you have plans to see your favorite band the first time in two years at an outside amphitheater, feelings could be as damp as the atmosphere. But if you have time to consider the good in your life instead of the bad, you soon realize there are more important cares in the world besides rain on your parade (aka band venue).

A soft lilac binder with big shiny words “Choose Happy” sits not too far from my window showing outside climate activity. I look at the words, look back to the window, think about what I’ll wear on my feet and body to stay dry, and choose happy. I am fortunate because I am not in a hospital with cancer, I only look like I have it due to losing all my hair to alopecia. I don’t have hair to worry about getting wet and frizzy because I don’t have any. Rain will drop off my perfectly shaped head in healthy beads.

I am not deaf or hard of hearing so I’ll be able to catch the soft bass vibes of Stefan Lessard and melodic voice of Dave Matthews. I am not blind so I can see the tons of other fans bopping and swaying to all our favorites tunes. I can walk and stand and sway myself although my hair won’t sway with me. It has been 3 years of becoming a bald woman, but I “choose happy” because I am fortunate to be healthy otherwise.

So today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to remind you when it is “raining cats and dogs,” putting a damper on your life, plans, events, and mood, there is so many more positive things to be thankful of in your life. There will never be any perfect days if that’s all you expect. Life is imperfect, weather is unpredictable, but your mood, and way of looking at a situation, can be as perfect as you want it to be if you ‘choose happy’. So put on those waterproof boots, bring a bright umbrella and dance in the rain if you must, but enjoy and love your life.

Monday Motivation: Endings are New Beginnings in Life and Business

August 16, 2021

Inspiration, Monday Motivation for Women and Women Entrepreneurs

When the oppressive humid air slowly stumbles out of town and cool, crisp air arrives in mid-August in Upstate New York, it can also usher in other changes of the heart, mind, and spirit.  We all know more than just the atmosphere can lay heavy on our shoulders suppressing any carefree feelings. Once in awhile as women or women entrepreneurs we must clear the air surrounding us, making it lighter.

Sometimes change happens in a blink of an eye or unexpected moment, and other times it simmers away like water on the back burner waiting to be lifted off the hot surface. Our inability to move is attached to emotions, time invested, and years of relationship or business building. Inside the ache to just be free of what weighs us down is always ready to act as soon as we see a better road ahead in our decisions.

Saying goodbye to parts of our business, lagging clients, irrelevant vendors, and old entrepreneurial relationships are part of the gig running a company. We never want to think of these endings because we try so hard to begin, survive, thrive, and preserve but we must remember every beginning is a new beginnings end as a popular song states.

Today’s Monday Motivation is to remind you that when these situations occur to you out of the blue or when the teapot is whistling steadily over time, you move on by acknowledging life is about stages or chapters in a book and what is meant to change will change. Sometimes the easiest way to proceed is to pull the band aid off quickly and know there are better people, situations, contracts, and events ahead.

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