True to Myself

My mission when I started writing these articles two years ago was simple. As I have told you, my fitness and body confidence did not come easily and I wanted to help other women who felt disenfranchised from the fitness movement or business to feel inspired. I did not want to sell a fitness program or package because there are a million ways to lose weight and get in shape. That is not where the problem lies. I believe it is only when women feel they are worth it that they value themselves enough that they will stick with a program.

My heart breaks every time I encounter a woman in a social setting who tugs at her just slightly too-tight clothes. That blouse that pulls under the arms or the buttons that gaps just a bit; or holding her jacket, purse or arms just so, to cover up a bit of a tummy. I have said it before and I will say it again: being fit is not about size but feeling comfortable in your own skin.
Even the most confident looking among us can feel insecure about how we look.

I have written about one of my personal heroes, Maria Shriver, before and the wonderful Women’s Conferences she has done as First Lady in Long Beach every year. The theme is always the same; be an architect of change. She has spoken so openly of her insecurities, under the weight of expectations and trying to find out who the real Maria is. She has moved me in so many ways, as I have hoped to do in a small way for you.

But the events of 2009 with Sully’s landing in the Hudson River, and the year-long media attention that followed, has left me profoundly changed. There have been so many changes in my life, that the time has come for me to end my monthly writing as a fitness columnist for Alive Magazine. I won’t be leaving altogether, but will now only be contributing feature articles from time to time, on an occasional basis.

I have to thank Eric Johnson for giving me the opportunity to find my voice. Although I was passionate about women’s wellness, I did not think of myself as a writer. I am a much better oral communicator. I like eye contact—gesturing of hands and immediate feedback. For me, getting the thoughts in my head, of which there are many, to proper sentences on a page is a monumental leap. I told Eric this section would not be your usual “exercise” section, but my voice talking to women. And he readily agreed. And so it was a great pleasure when out on a hike I would pass a woman and he would turn back and say “I enjoyed you last article, I can really relate”.

No matter how pulled together one may look on the outside, I know we all have those inner doubts; those secret thoughts we share with few, if anyone. My goal is that if I share, I reveal myself, and you can feel more comfortable and realize we are all far more alike than different.

So before I close, let me share one more story with you.

This last year has afforded our family many amazing opportunities. Ironically, two happened to be doing pieces for national magazines. First I did a piece for Shape Magazine and secondly, Woman’s Day asked me to write an essay for their November issue. So remember I am not a writer, but being an “Architect of Change” in my own life I thought I had to step up. The piece was about gratitude, of which I felt much, and about the thousands of letters that had come to our house. The piece came together fairly easily. But before I sent it off to the editor of Woman’s Day, I sent it to our public relations firm that now handles all of Sully’s “stuff.” I told them I had no pride of authorship and to edit away. “Add or subtract as you see fit,” I told them.

When the essay came back I sent it straight way to Woman’s Day. A few days later the editor, named Ellen, e-mailed me and said they had a few paragraphs that did not sound like me and they wanted to revise or edit and wanted my input. When I read the passages they were talking about it was the specific changes I let someone else make for me. I was in a pickle. Do I admit my lack of confidence or do I try to make the edits? I decided to send her my original essay and tell her I had run it through the PR Company and see if they liked that better. What I got back was a profound lesson for me at the age of 51. She said, “You have a wonderful ‘voice.’ You don’t need anyone else—you can do this on your own.”

So here I am, still learning that lesson and sharing it with you, with the hope that you can see part of yourself in there. You have what it takes; you just have to be confident that it is in there.

I am excited to say I have been invited to speak at the East Bay Women’s Conference Monday March 1. You can find out more information by going to the Walnut Creek Chamber website: or by calling 925-934-2007. I hope to see you there.

It has been my great privilege to share with you and I wish you all success. I hope to see you on a trail sometime!

Danville Adopts New Currency

We challenge you to circulate our coveted new coins. If you own a Veterans Memorial Building Challenge Coin, thank YOU for thanking our soldiers who have served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. We just distributed an additional 15 coins at our Welcome Home Ceremony on December 27!

It has always been youth who have defended freedom for all of us. The average age was 26 in WWII but the average age to enter our current military is 19. We send off immature sons and daughters who return shortly as young adults, confidently leading us into the future. But there is a difference between those wars. Technological advances in medicine bring back many soldiers who would not have survived in earlier conflicts. Those who return, injured or not, have endured the stress of contact, missed years of their children’s lives and have returned to a poor economic climate, and more.

They return with needs to find new careers, bring skills up to date at school, or rehabilitate major injuries. The current Veterans Hall offers NO SERVICES. But our new Hall will include resource offices, small rooms available for counseling and health services, library resources, and job fairs. Your donations are a very tangible way to thank our veterans.

Our beautiful Challenge Coins feature our restored historical hall on the face and a majestic eagle soaring over Mt. Diablo on the reverse, encircled with a shiny gold braid. This collectible coin was designed by a wonderfully talented local artist, Linda Sada. (You can read the unofficial military history of Challenge Coins on Wikipedia.)

Just look at the new resources that our donors will provide to our veterans:

  • Multiple Venues: Our new auditorium will be enlarged and be divisible into three separate rooms for simultaneous activities.
  • Veteran’s Wing: The historic entry will provide entry into the separate Veterans Wing.
  • Military Library: Our new Hall will have an operating library of military history.
  • Storage: Our new basement will be expanded significantly to allow for storage of military artifacts, files for our veteran organizations, and equipment.
  • Displays: Our new Veterans Wing will have permanent cases available to display rotating veteran exhibits.
  • Accessible Facilities: Our new community space will feature modern, accessible restrooms in three locations for, say, a wedding, a Veterans meeting, and senior films all at the same time.
  • Offices: One small office will be replaced with separate offices available for scheduling, small consultations, operations, etc.
  • Green: Inefficient HVAC will be replaced with state of-the-art HVAC, including solar panels.
  • Multiple Kitchens: A tunnel kitchen will be replaced with a new catering kitchen downstairs and a small Veterans kitchen upstairs.
  • Quiet Conversations: An unattractive porch on Prospect will be succeeded by a glass-walled lobby where users can enjoy quiet conversations, reading, or networking.
  • Blank walls will now showcase a donor plaque to thank all of you who have shown such gratitude to our soldiers—past and future.

    In this New Year, let’s rejoice and be grateful for our freedoms in America. Here is a new opportunity to thank our soldiers on the front line—own a Challenge Coin.

    We hope you will be one of those who receive a Challenge Coin in exchange for your first $500 donation towards the Veterans Memorial Building. Then “show it off!” Put that coin in your right hand and “challenge” others to be part of this 100 year old tradition the next time you shake hands!