A Message From The President

November 2023

With all that we are witnessing in the world and in the community, from personal to professional obligations, it can be challenging to think of adding other responsibilities or things to think/care/worry about.

But I want to ask you each to consider selecting an “intention word’’ for the week, month and/or quarter – as I recommended at our annual retreat. An intention word can help because it allows you to focus on staying grounded or encouraged or [insert the word you need].

Your word may be “joy” or “love’’ or “peace’’ or perhaps “rest” ~ and as you move about your day, you can filter what comes in through that lens: “Will doing (fill in the blank) bring me joy?” “How can I ensure that doing (blank) is aligned with rest?”

I strongly encourage you all to pick a word for this month that aligns with filling your cup ~ whether that’s helping others or going for a walk. As we enter what can feel like a sprint toward the end of the year ~ hopefully it will bring what you need during a time that may seem heavy.

The month of November usually and easily calls to mind “gratitude” and “thankfulness.” (Along with turkey, ham, stuffing, pie… which don’t make for great intention words but to each her own.) Gratitude, thankfulness, appreciation are great words to go with if you are at a loss for one to incorporate.

If you choose gratitude, you can take it a tiny step further and commit to writing 1-3 things you’re grateful for daily. It’s not magic, but it does wonders to keep the light on when the world seems dark.

If you would like some accountability in this area, feel free to share with me (or one another) what your intention word is for the month

And now I’m leaving the personal portion of my message and heading into some heavy business…. (trigger warning).

You’re a member of Athena Society because you are committed to advancing the status of women through equality, acceptance, education and opportunity.

And this work can be difficult.

An overwhelming factor that is impacting women today is the heightened fear of sending their children … well, almost anywhere in the U.S. Explaining active shooter drills to a 5-year old (or any age child) or being exposed to another news cycle focused on mass shootings has become commonplace for many parents, guardians and extended families. Not to mention war.

Did you know that gun-related homicides are on the rise in Tampa Bay?

We all know about the mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine that killed or wounded more than 30 people last week, and closer to home this past weekend we learned of gun violence in Ybor City.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor tweeted on Oct. 29:

“Yet again, a senseless loss of life by those choosing to settle a dispute with firearms. Lives lost and others forever changed. To what end? The Tampa Police Department had 50 officers deployed in the area at the time, so this is not a law enforcement issue. Bad decisions made in a split second and the proliferation of readily available guns are responsible for these almost daily incidents.’’

“We can affect one half of this equation.”

That’s the half addressed in Athena’s position statement on Gun Safety.

And every time we simply talk about how sad it is without action, we fail ourselves, future generations and overall progress.

I’ve seen commentary about how today is safer for kids than when people did drills for nuclear war. But let’s not play the “who has/had it worse” comparison game when we stand here today with an opportunity to enact change.

In the future, it will become more glaringly evident how circular these issues are ~ as the mental health of young people (and parents) is impacted, the healthcare and education systems are challenged to come up with solutions, the workplace is disrupted with parents/guardians needing to tend to unexpected incidents or even one at work, and the cycle continues.

Let your anger and/or fear fuel your action. On the most basic level, we can all stay alert and connected. Truly be present, observe your surroundings, see something/say something.

Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety are calling for lawmakers to reinstate assault weapons ban now. You can take action here.

Get familiar with our position on Gun Safety and share your ideas for how Athena can best support this position now and in coming years.

With gratitude and respect,
Nancy Vaughn