Category Archives: Woman of the Week

WoW – Dina Wilcox Lets Your Brain Explain Itself

Dina Wilcox, is publishing her first book: “Why Do I Feel This Way? What Your Feelings Are Trying To Tell You.” It’s what our brains would tell us about how our feelings work, if they could talk.  She’s a story teller with great stories to tell of how she learned the truth of what goes on with our feelings, emotions, memories, fear, love, joy—even dancing and embarrassment. It’s a nonscience book that has unscientific experiments and a lot to tell, and we don’t have to be scientists to understand any of it.  Ann Fry says:

I’ve read this book and in my opinion is is a trail-blazer — helping us understand “why” and to make sense of it.

Dina, creator of Raising Healthy Voices, explains her mission this way:

At Raising Healthy Voices, we’re out to get people all over the world talking about our brains and our responses to life, the things we have most in common with each other. Why? Because our brains build connections between us. There are the obvious ways–when we see and talk with each other–and there are the not-so-obvious: we dance, feel empathy, and we get embarrassed—yes, did you know that embarrassment, the very moment when your heart races and your face gets hot and red, when you might wish you would just disappear—you are transformed into a great teacher of empathy for the people around you. These connections happen automatically, without our having to decide to do anything. We send each other silent messages all the time. We connect automatically for the survival of the human race.

At Raising Healthy Voices and RHVGlobal, we’re taking connection to the level of consciousness. We’re inviting people all over the world to come together to talk about our feelings, fears, love, memories, thoughts, actions, even consciousness and reality. The more we talk, the more we tap into each other—and the more powerful we become, individually and collectively.

Let the dialogue expand!

WoW – Pascale Kavanagh: From Chemical Engineering to People Engineering

Pascale brings a varied background to her current practice. She’s gone from chemical engineer, biotech executive, health coach, yoga business owner and spiritual teacher to facilitator of personal transitions. As she says,

I am a passsionate storyteller, globe trotter and spiritual adventure guide. I’ve been known to break out in song (or dance) while purging you of the crappy stuff holding you back. I’lll grab your attention (and maybe your hand) as you go trotting into your blazingly bright future.

Pascale comes from a family of doctors, so a health-related calling was a natural choice. Since she hated guts and gore but loved science and discovery, she gravitated to the biotech industry, where she spent fifteen years. Early retirement allowed her to explore other ways to help people.

I began to look for what was that thing I wanted to do. And I really didn’t know. I had an idea of one could help people physically, spiritually emotionally, but what do you call that person who does that?

She began to study. She studied psychology, alternative medicine, energy healing, got certified as a holistic health counselor, and immersed herself in all different aspects of health and healing. This enabled her to put together a multi-faceted business, which included seeing clients privately, as a counselor and a therapist, and putting together wellness programs for big corporations and opening two health and yoga centers with access to a range of alternative healing practitioners.

When you go to her website, you will discover that Pascale has been a professional dancer, chef, personal fitness trainer, and has been immersed in yoga for over 20 years. Her accreditations include an advanced yoga certification (RYT-500), a Holistic Health Counselor certification from the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and a graduate certificate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NY. She has founded and run two yoga centers, a cutting-edge children’s school and Feed Your Soul – A Wellness Company, Inc.

Pascale’s energy is amazing, as is her passion to help people lead their best lives. You’ll be glad you’ve met her.

WoW Audrey Pellicano Understands Your Grief

When Audrey Pellicano lost her husband of seven years, there was really no place for a young widow to turn.

When I was widowed, there was very little for a 38 year old woman with 4 children. I did go to a hospice group for grief and of course all the widowed women there were at least twice my age. So it wasn’t relevant to where I was. So – and the tendency of most people is – which is why I do the work I do presently – is try to heal the wounds. All the clichés. And the tendency is to stuff grief. Which is what I did. I threw myself into my children – busy, busy – worked part time as a nurse and two years later it really came back to bite me. And I found myself very, very depressed and not knowing what was wrong with me.

When people began sending recently widowed women to Audrey, her understanding of grief deepened. Then, she began to have panic attacks.

I actually started a support group for people with panic and anxiety disorder. Because it was one of the worst experiences during – you know, having lost Joe. I really couldn’t get a hold on it. I started incorporating meditation, emphasized guided imagery, came to my own regimen of things I went and studied to get me through my grief.

And her life continued to change.

I got my graduate degree in Health Education and I really armed myself with tons of information on how to be healthy, how to get healthy and then began looking into the whole idea of grief, because grief just beats the immune system down. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years ago, and I needed to say, what’s the next step in my life. I lived up in the Catskill mountains by myself for a year. So I took my sabbatical to figure out what it was – what steps I needed to take – in order to be doing the work I wanted to do. And I kind of just jumped in with both feet.

I studied at the Grief Recovery Institute in California. I went through the program years after losing Joe and it was still so powerful in moving me just a little more forward, since grief lasts a long time. It just changes. So, that’s where I am today.

Audrey’s work keeps expanding. She’s now working with more people grieving the loss of pets. She also has created corporate programs to provide something beyond the traditional 3 – 5 days of bereavement leave. Companies are losing millions of dollars due to sick leave, lowered productivity and other grief-related issues that do not even begin to show up until long after a loss. Audrey can put programs in place to provide support when it is needed.

Audrey’s life is pretty remarkable right now. She’s doing the work she is called to and has strong personal and family relationships. Here’s someone who uses everything that comes to her, who knows how to learn and grow and who serves women in need – that’s why she’s my Woman of the Week. – Oh – and she’s a lot of fun, too!

When You Speak, Does Everyone Listen? WoW Robyn Hatcher Has the Secret

When I met Robyn, I was immediately taken with how confident and self-assured she is, so I was surprised to discover that her childhood nickname was “Shy.” You’d never know this. And, to me, that’s the mark of someone who really understands not only the difficulties all of us shy folk face, but really knows how to turn a wallflower into the belle of the ball. As Robyn says,

Because of my intimate knowledge with being shy and knowing what it’s like to feel unable to grab the spotlight, I have become extremely passionate about empowering others to uncover and unleash their inner “Star power.”

Robyn broke through years of silence in a big way when she auditioned for a play her freshman year in high school. She channeled years of pent up frustration into a two-minute monologue about a fictitious break up, unconsciously using a well-known acting technique. She got the role and it changed her life.

Robyn has been a professional actor for more than twenty years now, but she hasn’t limited herself to one profession. She has a thriving communications consulting practice, she’s teaching at Baruch and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She’s a trainer and curriculum developer, a speaker (there may still be time to join her at Women at Woodstock) and an author. You can read her chapter in the very powerful and moving Dancing at the Shame Prom, a book I just couldn’t put down.

Many actors report being shy people off stage and live reclusive private lives. Many of them are in pain and choose to remain that way. Robyn has used that pain to forge a very different life of service to people who just can’t seem to express themselves. She doesn’t expect her clients to follow her path; she does expect them to learn how to be comfortable in their own skins.

You don’t have to become an actor, or even a professional public speaker, but learning to be a more powerful communicator will make you a better boss, colleague, partner, parent, friend and individual.

It’s easy to get to know Robyn a bit better. Read her blog, Communication Inspirations, and check out her website, Speaketc. Oh – and check out the stands at the Cincinnati Reds games next year to catch Robyn cheering on her Yale student/pro ball playing son.

WoW – Reclaim Your Body: Follow Elaine Morales from Cellar to Stage

Like so many work-at-home Moms, Elaine took care of her business, her husband, her kids – but not herself. She loved everything about her life except how she felt and what she saw when she looked in the mirror. The effects of spending hours in sloppy sweats in her basement office led to “this kind of malaise … dealing with it with this long term emotional overeating and kind of closet eating sugar addiction that led me to not be happy with my body and to have tremendous moods and GI problems.”

She knew she had to change, “And so, I attacked it by buckling down with nutrition and an exercise program and deciding to make that part of my life and just getting it done.”

Now, don’t get the idea that Elaine was a natural athlete who had just temporarily stepped away from the gym. No – she had flunked gym in high school. But she was determined. And, in the process, she made an interesting discovery.

As she tells it,
“I got stronger in the gym and I started to really have the chance to get to know myself again. And to see myself in a new way and to gain an inner strength and really get to know myself. And, suddenly, it occurred to me, this is not just about my muffin top. This is about connecting to who I am, what are my values, how do I live out my values I all areas of my life and how do I challenge myself to go beyond my limits? And I – and also in taking care of myself – getting stronger and getting healthier with good nutrition – I felt like a gazillion bucks and all kinds of health problems I had cleared up. My mood improved – all kinds of wonderful, wonderful side effects, and I just thought, if I could bottle this up and sell it, I’d be a gazillionaire.”

Well, Elaine didn’t figure out how to bottle her results, but she has learned how to share them. She received my training as a Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s cutting-edge Health Coach Training Program and studied dietary theories, practical lifestyle management techniques, and innovative coaching methods with some of the world’s top health and wellness experts, including Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. David Katz, Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of Nutrition at Harvard University, and Geneen Roth, bestselling author and expert on emotional eating.

Oh – and along the way, Elaine became a competitive body builder. As she describes it, “I was really enjoying the changes in my body and I felt so empowered in the gym and by getting stronger. And one of my mentors said, did you ever think of competing? I loved the training. The hardest part for me was going from sweats in the basement, no makeup, married for almost 20 years, and putting myself out in public in essentially a crystal bikini, five inch stiletto heels, and drag queen makeup – getting up there on stage with barely any clothes on. That was just – that was TOTALLY out of my comfort zone.”

Elaine won’t ask you to get into full competition get-up; she will help you come to terms with your relationship with food. You can find out about her individual coaching and workshops here. You can also read more about Elaine on and

Why is Elaine the Woman of the Week? Because she understands that fitness and wellness begin in the mind. Because she was so excited about her self-discovery that she knew she was called to share it. And, finally, because she got the training and did the research to be of service to her clients. She knows that everything she suggests works and she can tell you exactly why!

WoW – Deborah Roth: Personifying Spirited Living

Talk about one-stop shopping! Deborah Roth, life coach, ritual consultant, and interfaith minister, is a warm, wonderful woman whose very presence makes you feel better and whose array of skills includes just about everything a woman could want to create a spirit-centered, fulfilling life.

You can start with her Spirited Woman Empowerment Program to come into your full power, move on to Conscious Dating for Singles if you want a life partner and stay connected to your strength by attending Deb’s New Moon SisterCircles. Oh – and, of course, Deborah can create ceremonies and rituals for all those marker events in your life, including officiating at your wedding.

One of the things that amazes me about Deb is how someone who grew up with three brothers and raised two sons is so in tune with everything feminine. She started out in the corporate world and moved on to supporting her husband in his business before discovering the concept of the Divine Feminine at the 4th Universalist Church. This led to a deep exploration of women’s circles, women’s rites, feminist psychology, Jungian psychology, astrology, tarot and ritual. All these influences are clearly present in Deb’s work.

Deb sees the strands that weave through her diverse interests and skills as:

  • developing a practice of radical self-care
  • embracing the power of women’s circles and cycles
  • learning how to create sacred space in life and work
  • making life transitions intentionally with simple, meaningful ceremonies

Her New Moon Sistercircles are a delightful way for women to come together and celebrate themselves. Each month, different goddesses from Deb’s collection are celebrated as the participants meditate, chant, sing and dance together. They are wonderful, life-affirming events.

Oh – and in her “spare” time?

I’m a pretty voracious reader, I sing in a terrific, small women’s chorus, am on the board of my community garden, and I’ve produced 3 successful benefit productions of The Vagina Monologues, raising more than $35,000 for, to end violence against women and girls around the world.

She also squeezes in serving as co-cordinator for the Association of Transformative Leaders – Northeast and as a member of the team for Conversation Among Masters. And she still finds a few minutes to walk across the street to visit her favorite tree in Riverside Park.

Deborah is the woman of the week because of her aura, her skill set, her warmth and her compassion.

Woman of the Week – Dr. Isora Bosch: Tenacity Pays Off

It’s not easy to come to the United States as an immigrant; harder as a political refugee; harder without money and harder still as a minority within a minority. It wasn’t an easy path for a 14 year old thrust into a strange environment, but tenacity paid off and Dr. Bosch is now an internationally-recognized authority on post-traumatic stress. Isora’s experience as a black Cuban woman has provided her with increased sensitivity to the cultural aspects of traumatic experiences. She feels that

the difficulties we face because of our race in some cases and our ethnicity in others may create a great deal of confusion in regard to our sense of identity. This often leads to feelings of isolation, sadness, low self-esteem, fears of closeness and sometimes the inability to develop a sense of sisterhood with other women of color.

She realized that mental health professionals often overlook race and ethnicity and therefore miss areas where clients need help. Isora later put this knowledge to good use as she became the only mental health professional to successfully help the survivors of the Happy land fire in the Bronx. She understood that this primarily Honduran population would only be open to help linked to their religious and cultural beliefs and involved both the Church and local Santeria practitioners to reach out to the families.

Isora’s family came to the United States as political refugees long before the Mariel immigration. Although her father had been a banker and her mother a teacher, they arrived with nothing and had to start from scratch. Isora recalls making an arrangement for herself with an Italian bakery to get their leftovers,taking the principal into giving her a bus pass, haunting church bins for clothing and sifting through piles of shoe samples to find something that matched.

Her family had always stressed the importance of education, so Isora, despite limited fluency in English, managed to stay on the honor roll in school and eventually to receive a masters degree in Industrial Psychology and a doctorate in Adult Learning and Leadership, and, later, an masters in Clinical Social Work.

Although Isora likes to consider herself as retired, new projects keep flowing to her. For the past decade, she has been actively involved in providing stress management services to individuals affected by the events of 9/11.

Isora has never shied away from a challenge. And she never misses the opportunity for an adventure or a moment of pleasure. She’s organized trips to Portugal and Holland to celebrate her birthday. She’s likely to pull out her guitar and entertain party-goers with Flamenco songs.

In celebrating Isora, I celebrate all the women who never give up; who keep trying; who take risks; who speak up. In this week, as we remember the events of 9/11, it seems to be appropriate to recognize all the people who are still are helping others deal with the aftermath. And as we look ahead, it makes me feel inspired to know that tenacity pays off.

Woman of the Week – Gloria’s Post-50 Tweak

When we met, Gloria was a 56 year old paraprofessional in the New York City public schools. She was the mother of three, active in church and community activities and was completing her Associates degree. I was her professor and interviewed her for a course I was taking. This is her story.

Gloria’s early childhood was divided between time with her mother in Harlem and an aunt in the South. She was independent and a bit rebellious and describes having run away from her mother’s home. She saw herself as not ready for marriage at 18:

I was never going to get married. Yup. I had this young man … we were supposed to get married, but I wasn’t ready. I ran away.

At 34, Gloria met her former fiance at a dance and agrees to marry him:

And I says to him, you know, I’m very sorry I ran away from you before. He says, “You’re not getting away from me this time.” And he was right.

And then I kind of felt like I’d been done an injustice, because we lived in Manhattan and I was going back to work and I’ commute … and he says to me we’re going to get a home … never dreaming he’s take me to hell and gone to Brooklyn! I was VERY unhappy ’cause I couldn’t go back to work.

Gloria enjoyed her children’s company, but wants to be back at work as well.

I’m very appreciative of the fact that I stayed home. Mothers don’t realize what they miss – the first walk, the first sound … I can’t say that my children were the happiest moment because with – I was so sick with Wendy and I didn’t even know it and with the boys (unexpected twins) I just couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t call that happiness, yet they’ve BROUGHT me happiness.
My … job was domestic engineer. What a drag! The cooking and the cleaning and the diapers and … oooh! I couldn’t WAIT to get back to work!

Despite her husband’s objections, she returned to work as a substitute paraprofessional:

I had to con him into letting me do that. As long as I was the old “mummy” around the house, it was fine. He complains to the children, “Mother’s always on the go.” but he never once stopped me … and I do want to have some time alone with him. Maybe we can do a little sparking … I wish it could have been different with him.

She felt that his use of “mummy” was deliberate – he liked to keep her all wrapped up. Gloria clearly was always a strong woman. her juggling multiple roles in the 50’s and 60’s was not the norm. Her return to school in her 50’s was a bold step.

But Gloria, as a result of a course that involved looking at career alternatives, took it a step further. She became involved in politics.

They decided I should run for the Area Policy Board. Joe (a professor) tried to warn me. Joe said “You’re going to have to wear many hats.” I said, “Joe, I will never wear but one hat.” It became a class lesson. He said, “If you want something for your people over here, you’re going to have to give something over there.” And I told him NO! I wasn’t going to be that kind of politician.

At the time of the interview, Paras were being phased out of the schools, but Gloria was clear she would continue to work.

Like I say, I’m 56, and I really don’t know which road I’m taking now … but I know I want to be with people … I know I see me helping – I want to reach people.

The last time I heard from Gloria, she had decided to use her people skills in the political arena. She moved on from Area Policy Board to a seat in the State Assembly by the time she was 60.

Why is Gloria my woman of the week? Because all these years later I remember her feistiness and her great compassion. Because she never let anything get in her way. Because she understood how many different ways she could use her strengths. And because she went for what she loved.

Could you be the next woman of the week? Do you know someone who should be featured? Leave a comment!

Analisa Balares – Woman of the Week

When you meet Analisa Balares, you are drawn to her gentle energy. She’s a small woman, soft-spoken, constantly in motion, and busy making huge things happen in the world. A few years from now, when she’s ensured that women have come into their full power and are running the world, I will not be at all surprised.
This is from the Womensphere website:

Analisa Leonor Balares is an emerging global leader dedicated to unleashing women’s potential, and advancing the evolution of women as leaders and innovators around the world. She is a community builder, social innovator, global entrepreneur, and mentor. For over two decades, she has been committed to women’s leadership development, sustainable development, entrepreneurship, innovation, and education, and has produced, directed, and co-produced over 100 summits, forums, and media on these themes.

In February 2008, Analisa created and launched Womensphere, a unique leadership community and global social enterprise that convenes, mobilizes, and creates platforms for action – uniting individuals, companies, networks, academic institutions, and NGOs, around the shared purpose of unleashing women’s potential and enabling the evolution of women as leaders, innovators and creators in our global society. The Womensphere global leadership community inspires, connects, and empowers women leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, policymakers, scientists, artists, financiers, and pioneering women across all fields. Since its founding, Womensphere has reached, convened and connected over 3,500 leaders through 22 conferences, forums, and media in the United States and Europe.

I have attended several Womensphere Summits and have met the most incredible, inspiring collection of women, ranging from Caitlin Kelly, the 30-something founder of Africa Volunteer Corps and Jessica Posner, Co-Founder at 25 of Shining Hope for Communities, a non-profit that combats extreme poverty and gender inequality in Kibera – Africa’s largest slum through Angela Jia Kim, founder of Savor the Success, through Linda Cureton,CIO for NASA, Jill Tarter of SETI, and too many others to possibly list.

As Womensphere grows to include opportunities for female CEOs to come together, international events, multiple media initiatives, so too will the visibility of amazing women and the opportunities for them to meet with and learn from each other.

Analisa is a great enabler, a big thinker, and a woman who knows all things are possible. How do you embody these traits in your life and work?

Woman of the Week: Phyllis Diller

It takes guts to get up on a stage. It takes persistence, intelligence, and a pretty thick skin to become a comedic icon. In her 1997 book, “Queens of Comedy,” Susan Horowitz called Phyllis Diller “a significant figure in American culture who rose to success through her wickedly self-mocking style.”

“The self-deprecation made her more endearing, more comfortable for people,” Horowitz said. “Everything she did was for the purpose of getting ahead.”

Diller’s move into comedy began out of necessity as much as anything else. Poor and unhappy, she would meet other poor and unhappy women at the Laundromat and regale them with accounts of her home life. Soon, she was being asked to give presentations at parties and P.T.A. meetings.

Her husband thought she should be paid to make people laugh. She initially lacked the confidence to do it. “The Magic of Believing” by Claude M. Bristol gave her the confidence to begin to write her own comedy routines, hired a drama coach to give her more stage presence, and take whatever paid or unpaid performing jobs she could get.

Her rise to fame and continued success were the product of a carefully-constructed persona; seemingly unattractive, mocking day-to-day life, Diller found a way to be non-threatening in an age when few women comics existed. Joan Rivers credits her as a mentor as she built her own career on some of the elements that made Diller such a success.

Why is Phyllis Diller the woman of the week? Strength; courage; grit; humor; hard work; brilliance.

Who will be the next woman of the week? It could be you. If you’re a successful woman who has changed direction and built a new career, I’d love to interview you! Let me know.