Meet juicy wise woman, Karen Melcher. Karen is our fourth and final unsung hero of Women’s History Month. Karen has a big heart, a profound sense of decency and a strong desire to do right, evidenced by her volunteer work at a local food bank, among other things. Karen, a retired physical therapist, loves to stay fit by being outdoors. She can be frequently found walking her rescue dog, Ziggy Marley Melcher, along the C&O Canal or in one of the many wooded parks in the D.C. metro area. She is an avid tennis player and when it’s time to be indoors, she keeps her mental game up by playing duplicate bridge.
A mother of two grown daughters, Karen is grandma to two beautiful grandchildren. She is very proud of her daughters’ accomplishments. One, a frontline worker as a nurse, and the other an art teacher.
Those who know Karen admire her for her political acumen and volunteer work which began in high school and has never waned. She worked for the John Anderson campaign for the presidency and continues to volunteer at the polls. In the 2020 election, she served as a poll worker in spite of Covid-19. Karen passionately believes that voting is both a privilege and a responsibility. She works tirelessly for voters rights. She likes to point out that she has something in common with Kamala Harris … they both graduated from Howard University.
As a young woman, Karen lived overseas for two years and became active in International Women’s Club activities and charities. Her enthusiasm has never waned. We honor Karen for her can-do spirit, her dedication to helping others, and for the juicy wisdom she has generously (and humbly) shared with us in several gatherings.
Meet Judy Kelley, our latest unsung hero! As evidenced in this photo, Judy loves children, especially her two grandchildren … that’s her granddaughter pictured with her on a visit to the Philadelphia Flower Show. Judy is a volunteer “early morning tour guide” at the Flower Show each year as a member of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Guides create their own scripts and conduct personal tours for groups who want to see the displays before the show officially opens each day.
A longtime gardening enthusiast, Judy became certified as a Master Gardener in 2012 after completing the rigorous 60-hour course. To maintain her certification, she puts in many hours of volunteer work each year. She has served on the Publicity and Program Steering Teams and currently serves on the Advisory Council.
Judy works tirelessly to beautify our planet, including several seasons of volunteering with the New Jersey Tree Commission to plant trees in Camden neighborhoods. She also helped secure grants from her former workplace, American Water, to create an education garden for the local community. She is a member of the Hardy Plant Society Mid-Atlantic Region, currently acting as co-chair of the annual “March into Spring” (an all-day gardening symposium) Silent Auction, to raise funds for educational programming and events for the public. Judy loves to help things grow!
Did we mention her love of children? During the Covid pandemic she generously gave countless hours to her grandchildren on Zoom, reading, playing Barbies and Paw Patrol, attending virtual tea parties, and simply expressing her love and support. As an ex-elementary school teacher she has a host of educational tricks up her sleeve. Her grown son and daughter-in-law are forever grateful! We, at Juicy Wise Women, are grateful, too. It’s been a joy getting to know Judy. We are proud to pronounce her one of our unsung heroes!
Meet Nicole Felton, our second unsung hero of the month! Nicole has been an ardent participant in Juicy Wise Women gatherings from the beginning. We have come to know and love Nicole for her compassion and authenticity. “She is thoughtful and supportive and a fantastic listener.” And, when Nicole shares her wisdom, we listen. Her spirit shines when she shares ... helping to light the path for all.
Nicole volunteers for Germantown Help, a local non-profit organization whose mission is to help neighbors in need, which might mean delivering groceries or medications, or transporting folks to appointments. Whatever her task, Nicole takes it on with a smile and inspires others to do the same. Nicole is an exceptional wife, mom and grandma …” kind and generous and loving.” As a reading enthusiast, Nicole passes along the joy and wonder of books and stories to her beloved family. She has also demonstrated in our gatherings that she is a wonderful writer!
One of Nicole’s passions is organic gardening … and not just tomatoes and cucumbers! We recently learned that she is planting a unique vegetable in her garden this year. Nicole informed us that hopniss (a.k.a. apios americana and American groundnut) has a long history of use among Native American tribes.
As a woman who is “always looking for things to do to improve our world,” Nicole keeps herself politically informed. She has been seen at a demonstration or two, taking a stand for issues that align with her belief and conviction that all people are one people. We can all take inspiration from Nicole and work to be great role models who stand up for what we believe in.
Congratulations, Nicole, on being one of our unsung heroes!
Meet Susan Avjian, the first of our unsung heroes for Women’s History Month. Susan is a long time member of Juicy Wise Women and has inspired us with her many interesting life experiences. Susan is a wife and mother of three grown children. Her two-year old granddaughter is her pride and joy. Susan presently supports her father as his caregiver, ”office manager” and chauffeur. She has aided and traveled with him in pre-Covid appearances for Holocaust related speeches and meetings and in Covid times the multiple zoom meetings for the varied Holocaust supporting organizations he is still involved in, in his 9th decade of life. She gives of herself generously, inside and outside of her family.
Susan has spent many years volunteering with therapeutic riding programs and doing physical therapy with their clients. Prior to Covid, Susan transported belongings for the homeless. In response to the Covid epidemic, Susan has made over 200 masks (and counting) that she donated to non-profits and other organizations in need. She has participated in a variety of advocacy programs, including NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness), Moms Demand Action, and Vote Forward. She weekly meets with (pre-Covid) and speaks with (during Covid) a local Holocaust Survivor through a JSSA (Jewish Social Service Agency) Holocaust program.
We celebrate Susan Avjian for her kindness, compassion and generosity of spirit!
On February 4th, Maya Ramamurthy expertly guided us on a fascinating journey through the mythology and philosophy of the Induc Gods and Goddesses. While there are thousands, ultimately, she focused on the "big three" goddesses, Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati. Each Goddess expresses specific characteristics and can be called upon to offer help. Maya suggested we examine our own traits and consider choosing an Ishta Devita (chosen deity) to assist our evolution in this lifetime. The Goddesses can be fierce, according to Maya, so we must be careful what we ask for. We couldn't be happier that we, Juicy Wise Women, asked for Maya to present her knowledge of the Induc Goddesses. Thanks to her, we are closer to enlightenment. ~ Shanti (Peace)
In our last gathering we came together to acknowledge the confidence that is the hallmark of women like Vice President, Kamala Harris, and First Lady, Jill Biden. Inspired as we are by them, we thought it would be useful to explore the theme of self-confidence and how it does or does not change as we age.
Of course, we had to acknowledge the role that body image plays in how confident we feel. As we age, must we accept, as truth, that beauty fades? We invite you to ponder that question as you watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoClPQbneLc (We are not promoting the products and we have no ties to the company that produces them, we just found the video to be compelling.)
What were your reactions to the video? What impact, if any, did it have on your self confidence? We would love to hear from you about this or any other topic that's important to you as you age. You can comment on this post or go to our contact page.
Be bold! Be brave! Be Confident! ~ Dee
Big, juicy thanks to Shannon Mayhew for leading us on a fascinating journey into the body-mind, where thoughts and feelings converge for better or for worse. We extend our gratitude for showing us the way to create and sustain positive intentions for filling our day-to-day lives with “better.” Shannon’s presentation of the Intention Awareness Method was filled with scientific evidence that our neurological systems can be consciously programmed through intention, combined with emotion, to help us navigate stressful times and actively create joyful outcomes. In the time of Covid-19 and beyond, this approach gives us not only hope but tools for making the most of every moment. We are so grateful for this juicy wisdom! Thank you again, Shannon.
The lid pops open. I realize it's time to sort. Dark thoughts from light. Thoughts that tend to bleed. Thoughts that need a softener. Thoughts I have no idea what to do with. My laundry list of thoughts ... the invaders of my peace of mind. Some thoughts require soaking to remove the stains of the past ... past revelries, past humiliations, past indulgences, past impulses, past clumsiness, past celebrations, past regrets, past losses, past gains ... past, past, past. To make matters worse, here come the feelings. I begin to wonder, how did I allow this pile to accumulate? What's wrong with me? And then, I remember ... it's laundry. Everyone has laundry. If you live a life you have laundry. Sometimes, laundry accumulates because we are distracted. Sometimes, because we feel lazy. Most times, laundry accumulates because we are alive. And then, something magical happens ... I become grateful for the overstuffed hamper that is my mind. I realize that I am living a full life. I get dirty. My thoughts and feelings become muddled ... in need of sorting. Slowly, deliberately, gratefully, I sort. I cleanse. I live. I repeat. ~ Dee
We are in the middle of a pandemic. Our most learned and earnest medical experts are pleading with us to stay home and stay safe, to avoid even small family gatherings. But ... it's Thanksgiving. Of all the holidays we celebrate as Americans, Thanksgiving might be our most cherished. For most of us, this is the time of coming back to hearth and home, feasting with friends and family. This is a time steeped in tradition and these traditions are the ones that remind us that we have so much to be grateful for. And, like most of you, I treasure the chaos, the dirty pots and pans, the leftover stuffing, and even the political debates. (There was that year the dogs ate half the turkey and the time the kitchen sink clogged up.) But, this year will be different ... quieter. It will take more creative planning and scheduling to get everyone on Zoom, at least for a while, while we do our best to gather around our virtual table and drink in everyone's smiles, for we have the great good fortune of living in a time when this is possible.
Yesterday, I watched a documentary on the 1918 Flu (a.k.a. the Spanish Flu.) I was stunned by how little human behavior has changed in the 100+ years since that worldwide pandemic. From denial of its existence to outright rebellion against staying home and wearing masks, had it not been for the old newsreel footage, I would have thought the subject of the documentary was Covid-19 (also named for a far-off country in a weakly veiled attempt to place blame outside ourselves.) The upshot was this ... both pandemics have claimed more lives than either of the two world wars.
Two days ago, I heard that the number of lives lost per day to Covid-19 could be imagined as two jumbo jets a day falling from the sky for the past eight months. That's a vivid metaphor! We know that Boeing 737-Max jets were grounded for eight months after only two fatal crashes. Yet, we can't, as a nation, agree on mitigation efforts to beat the pandemic. And with Thanksgiving just days away ...
Well, what are we to do? We can't be blamed for the longing we feel for our loved ones on this special day. Our heartache is understandable. But, what if, instead of whining, "But it's Thanksgiving!" we choose to celebrate that we aren't victims of war or that the last plane we took didn't fall from the sky? What if we take a collective breath of real thanks-giving. How would our hearts feel different if we took a few moments to ourselves at the beginning of the day to imagine that we, as humans, are fortunate to live in a sea of Divine Love? That every breath we take is composed of love and nourishes every cell with love? The 13th century mystic, Rumi, wrote, "Love is from the Infinite and will remain until eternity." What if we behaved that way? Could we allow one year to pass without the tradition of gathering at the same table with our loved ones? Could we even express enough gratitude for our great good fortune to be able to "stay home and stay safe" while virtually dining together?
I am grateful for the opportunity to count the days, the precious days, before I can safely gather around a festive table with family and friends. I am thankful for the time available to perfect new recipes to wow next year's Thanksgiving guests (or the year after.) I allow myself to swim in the sea of Love that is my birthright and I wish with all my heart that everyone reading this does the same.
Make it a happy Thanksgiving, everyone! ~ Love and light, Dee
A note of thanks to Gretchen Addi for an engaging Zoom presentation on "Designing for Joy and Inspiration in Pandemic Times." She taught that we are all designers. When we employ simple principles of design within the constraints of health precautions imposed by the pandemic, we can creatively enrich our lives in ways that may be so satisfying as to outlast Covid-19 and become beloved rituals. Here's Gretchen with her husband dressed as 007 for an at-home date night. They choose a new theme each week and document their dates with photos, edited to include intriguing backgrounds. They share their pics with family and friends to inspire creativity and joy. What can you design to bring joy to this otherwise challenging time? How will you share it to inspire others? Comment by clicking on the word "comment" to the left of this post.