A Message From The President

December 2020

This is the season to be grateful, and we have much to be grateful about.  I have just returned from a week in the North Carolina mountains with my brother and sister-in-law, and I’m most grateful to them for including me in their family Thanksgiving.  Both of their sons, my nephews, joined us for a few days, although not at the same time, and I was grateful to be able to spend time with them as neither lives in Tampa.  I was especially grateful to my nephew, Brian, and his girlfriend, Mary-Rush, for suggesting the trip and offering to fix the Thanksgiving dinner, as the invitation is what sparked the trip – plus the turduken dinner alone would have been worth the drive!  Having lost my other brother to cancer earlier this year, and with 3 of my 4 nephews living out of state, I am always grateful for family time.  I describe all this personal gratitude because I know many of you had similar feelings; yet, I also know that not everyone had opportunities to spend time with family or friends.  As the holiday season rolls in, it always also carries with it a lot of grief, longing and sadness, thinking of family members and friends who are gone or maybe just absent because of COVID or distance or some combination thereof.  The yin and yang of the season, as it were.

Within Athena, we are dealing with this same duality – sadness and longing at not meeting in person, along with gratitude for zoom that allows us a method for seeing each other – and, yes, we should be grateful for zoom even if it’s getting old!  Just remember those faceless conference calls when no one knew who was talking and be grateful for zoom!  We will miss the warmth and camaraderie of the in-person holiday party – but the Hospitality Committee has really gone overboard to provide a virtual one that promises to be quite special.  I for one am battling every day NOT to open my “surprise” box!  The upcoming Athena Bonus Happy Hour, which will explore how different people celebrate their holidays, should be great fun and informative, even though presented virtually.

With 2020 drawing to a close, those mixed reactions return.  On the one hand, I am exceedingly grateful that it’s almost over; yet, without 2020, we wouldn’t be looking forward to 2021 quite so much – hopefully, a successful vaccination program that will allow us to return to some sense of what used to be “normal;” hopefully, a new and better direction for our country and its government; hopefully, a return to monthly, in person meetings with our Athena sisters, although probably not until mid-year at best.  If 2020 seems like a long journey down a big, dark hole, at least 2021 is showing us multiple lights at the end of the tunnel.  Again, the yin and the yang, the good and the bad.

Not just good but great for me this Athena year, I am so grateful for a phenomenal board and terrific committee chairs who have stepped up in so many ways during temporarily dark times.  They have adapted to the current reality with such great ideas.  As I read multiple articles about the extraordinary economic toll the pandemic has taken on women, the rising suicide rates among women worldwide, and the detrimental effects on women, especially women of color, from recent governmental policies, I can’t help but see backward steps.  Yet, as I look around at my Athena sisters, I remain confident that these challenges will be met boldly and to great effect.  I am grateful to you all for the willingness to engage and the drive to improve the lives of women!

Wishing you happy holidays!