In August 2012, Wise Women . . .Now will be two years old. Originally, I thought I’d only keep this site running for two years. My assumption was that by this time I’d be tired of writing, tired of urging writers to write, tired of hunting for pictures, and very disappointed if my audience wasn’t at least half as big as Google’s. While my wish for a big audience wasn’t grounded in reality, my assumptions about not wanting to continue were equally as misguided.
I still get excited when a new essay appears in my inbox. I love that first read and immediately begin thinking about the best picture for the piece. I’ve gotten over my biggest fear: Not having writers. While more writers are always welcome, Wise Women . . . Now has a responsive group of good writers who’ve kept this website moving forward. They are friends and guides. They’ve put up with me when I’ve been slow to get back to them, and they never seem to mind when I ask them silly questions. Best of all, they generously share what they’re learning about living. They tell the good and bad about their lives, politics, dreams, wishes and fears. I’ve learned something from each woman. What has been most surprising is the participation and advice from women who are much younger than my original target audience. They’ve encouraged me not to focus on exactly what “older” means, and to appreciate wisdom where we find it – not where we expect to find it.
So, as I see our second anniversary on the horizon I’m doing my annual tune up. This includes updating the photo gallery, starting a subscription process, and giving thought to the ways I can make this site better. I welcome your suggestions. There are a million ways to spend our speeding days, and over the last two years e-readers and smart phones have joined the competition for our time. But no matter what device you choose there is nothing better than reading the words of writers who care enough to sit with a pad and pen or in front of a computer screen and share what living means to them. Here are the women who make Wise Women . . . Now worth your time and attention, and Lee May, the husband/friend who is always my best guide and critic.
Doris Coster – East Haddam, Connecticut
Grace Hawthorne – Atlanta, Georgia
Lee May – East Haddam, Connecticut
Joan Millman – Newton Centre, Massachusetts
Kathleen Sullivan – Higganum, CT
Ellen J. Wallach – Seattle, Washington
Barbara Younger – Danvers, Massachusetts
Lyn May was a housewife, mother of two daughters and a part-time college student until her mid-thirties when, in 1975, she was hired by WBZ-TV in Boston. For the next decade she worked as a television reporter, interviewer and news anchor. Life changes and new opportunities lured her first to Washington, D.C. and then to Atlanta where she was deputy director, then director of communications for the City of Atlanta. She was a communications director, crisis communications specialist and speechwriter for the 1996 Olympic Committee, vice president for a fundraising organization and executive director for an Atlanta-based non-profit. Since semi-retiring in 2001, she’s worked as a political consultant, communications specialist and crisis management consultant. She is married to the delightful Lee May, who is a semi-retired journalist, author and passionate gardener. The idea for this website grew out of a conversation with a friend about a website that could feed the need for grownup women to express themselves, but without Sara Edwards and Sue Levit, two former television colleagues, who came along and said, “Let’s do it,” it would still be just an idea.
Sylvia Bennett has enjoyed a successful 22-year career in public broadcasting at PBS stations from San Francisco to Washington, DC to Buffalo. She is currently Senior Vice President of Development at WNED in Buffalo, NY. Although she enjoys raising dollars and selecting television programs as a career, her personal interests extend to art, literature, archaeology, movie going, photography, fine dining and world travel. Although not quite bold enough to consider herself a “wise woman” just yet (if ever), she certainly has a variety of amusing experiences derived from a rich life of travel and adventures with a variety of great friends and family!
Nancy Cohn: I have always loved making up stories. Most I kept to myself, others I told to friends and family, but I’d never thought about writing any of them down until one day, about fifteen years ago, someone asked me why. I’ve been writing ever since, both memoir and fiction. I have written one novel that I hope to publish, and have two others in the works–one for adults and the other for children.
I retired in 2010, after 30 years as a grants officer with the New York State Council on the Arts. I live with my husband Fred, a former chef turned jazz and blues drummer, and our two cats in an antique home in Deep River, Connecticut. Hobbies include gardening, skiing, hiking, photography and reading anything in print.
Gail Eaton is an accomplished writer, specializing in case statements, grant proposals, magazines, and newsletters, as well as personal essays, poetry and fiction. She has broad experience in non-profit management, having worked for leading institutions such as The Children’s Museum of Boston, New England Conservatory of Music, Miami Performing Arts Center, The Pittsburg Cultural Trust, Zoo Atlanta, Egleston Children’s Hospital and others. She earned a B.A. in English Literature at The College of Saint Rose. She now lives and works in Beverly, Massachusetts, where she serves a co-chair of the Beverly Cultural Council.
Jillian Gibson lives in the Washington DC area, and hopes to live by the sea one day. She is a veteran of several career incarnations, among them politics, advertising and public broadcasting, and is now designing and hand-crafting silk purses through her company, The Gibson Girl (http://www.thegibsongirl.com). She is constantly striving for wisdom.
Grace Hawthorne has been a writer since her first fashion column appeared in her high school newspaper. In her 40-plus-year career she has written everything from advertising copy for septic tanks, to lyrics for Sesame Street, a libretto for an opera and two yet-to-be published novels. She was born in New Jersey, grew up in Louisiana, went to high school in Texas, lived in Germany, worked in New York and is now living with her husband Jim in Atlanta. In addition to her freelance writing, she has also been a professional storyteller performing for adult audiences at festivals and corporate venues. Currently she is turning her attention to photography as another way to see the world from a different angle.
Marianne Halpin: ” Marianne Monica Pomstein Maruyama Halpin is one way I describe who I am. My first and middle names help to locate me as the daughter of my Italian Catholic mom. Pomstein further describes me as the daughter of my Jewish dad. Many of the stories I write draw from the experiences of growing up in rural Connecticut in the 40’s and 50’s in what was then considered a very loving Mixed Heritage family. My life is a brocade of places I’ve lived and the people I love. My greatest honor is to be the mother and grandmother of Ko, Gen, Katy, Kendra, Jack, Reed, and Tessa. Right now, I’m writing and goat farming in Hadlyme, Connecticut.”
Joan Millman is the author of “The Effigy,” winner of the University of Missouri Press’s Breakthrough Award. She is also the co-author of four parent education books and many short stories that have appeared in national literary journals. She’s written for the Boston Globe and other national publications, and has taught at Emerson College, Salem State and Framingham State Colleges. A Boston native, she is the mother of four and the grandmother of eight and the great-grandmother of one.
Ellen J. Wallach is an organizational development consultant (read corporate shrink), speaker, author and filmmaker. For the past 30+ years she has helped a broad range of for profit and not for profit clients find ways to keep employees happy and productive. She is interested in how people make life and career choices, in motivation, effectiveness and success. Ellen writes about life and perspective, the small lessons of life that require so many times around until we finally get them. Someone said, “We are not victims of the world we see, but how we see the world.” With age sometimes comes wisdom and a shift in vision. Ellen lives in Seattle and has grandchildren in Boston and Luxembourg . She likes to travel!
Antje Wortman has lived in Europe; Saskatoon, Canada; Vancouver; Seattle, Atlanta – and has now moved to a little place called Blaine on the Washington/British Columbia border. She has been married, twice divorced, widowed – been in love, hurt, sad beyond compare, blissfully happy – and says when “I look at my now 62-year-old face in the morning I see someone I like – someone courageous who is not afraid to move or change.” Antje is a career woman, friend, sister, mother and a grandmother and is grateful to be a woman who has choices. Who has the insight to look within and tweak what isn’t working. People seem to open up to me and tell her their stories. There’s a trust – and it makes me proud. “Perhaps I’m getting wise.” The Next Step will be my favorite Wise Woman category. Dealing with past and present prepares us – for that next step.
Barbara Younger, Attorney, Mediator, Matriarch, is a facilitator in family conflict resolution. (This works only in families that are not her own.) She consults with a local non-profit mediation program in Beverly Massachusetts and is one of the founders of a law clinic at HAWC (Healing Abuse, Working for Change) in Salem Massachusetts. Her background begins in her local school system where she was a special needs teacher and later a mediator for the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals. In addition to the school arena, her mediation career took her to conflicts in community courts, environmental issues and EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Her major contribution has been in the area of family dispute resolution, both as an attorney and as a mediator. She continues to work in Massachusetts as a family and divorce mediator. Her husband, her children and her grandchildren play an important part in her life. She is an avid yoga practitioner and teacher.