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Women's Initiative Blog

Part Two: Speakers Share Stories of Advice & Inspiration
By Diane Middlebrooks

While we are not able to see and talk with each other in person, our connection continues. As you have heard me mention many times, we are a community of women. That community is made up of women in their 20’s through their 90’s. What brings us together at our programs is our enthusiasm for learning something, sharing conversations and laughter, and meeting other women.

Thank you for your emails and your positive comments about our last email which featured some of our speakers who shared how they keep positive during this time. Following are additional observations from those who you have enjoyed in person, and will again at some point in the future. I think you will find inspiration in what they wrote. I know I did!
Maggie Little has delighted Women’s Initiative members with her piano performances prior to our yearly signature event. Maggie is sixteen years old and will be a junior in high school.

“Quarantine has been a very interesting experience, and staying in my house for such long periods of time has given me a lot of opportunity to begin new things that I never thought I would learn! Picking up new hobbies such as cooking, skateboarding, taking daily walks, spending a lot of time with my family, and spending a lot more time practicing piano, ukulele, and singing has been a huge factor to feeling happier during this rough time.

A good example, such as walking more, has helped me to be more active and being in nature is very calming and relaxing. Another thing is that I recently bought a record player, and I have been listening to some of my parents’ music, such as Queen, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, etc. Listening to music, for me, helps me to really relax and to get my mind off of the unfortunate times we are in. I look forward to playing piano at future Women’s Initiative events, and I wish good health to all of you!”
Sabrina Conti Erangey performed a stellar one-woman show for the Women’s Initiative in 2017. She portrayed her grandmothers, showing what strong women they were, and how they influenced her. Sabrina received her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Theatre from Illinois State University in 2011. She worked as a professional actor regionally after college. In 2014 she was working at a casting office and met a working "Realtor-Actor,” and something just clicked for her. Both Sabrina's grandmothers were realtors in the 80s and 90s, and it seemed like the perfect "day job." Real Estate quickly became Sabrina's passion. She was honored to be recognized as one of REALTOR® Magazine's 30 under 30 in 2018. Sabrina & her husband Anthony own and run Your Home Group at Baird & Warner.
“You know me, always calling on the strength of the women who have led the way for me over the years. Dealing with this pandemic has been no different! Over the last several weeks, there have been so many emotional curve balls thrown at everyone. Every day presents a new challenge and a new path to take, but I know everything is going to be okay. I have my “leading ladies” who give me strength.
One of my grandmothers is in the midst of a very large move. She isn’t letting “this” stop her or change her end goal. She is moving forward on her journey so she and my grandfather could live their best lives possible, even in quarantine.
My other grandmother sadly passed away very recently. In true Gram fashion, she pulled a lot of strings and called in a lot of favors. My brother Joe captured our perfect final moment together. We are both laughing for the last time together here on earth. For as fast as everything happened over three days and in the way it all happened — Gram’s tenacious faith put her at complete ease. It was remarkably peaceful and inspirational to hear and see her ready to meet her maker. Never have I ever seen or heard someone so sure she was heading straight home to heaven!
More than anyone right now, I am calmed and strengthened by my Mom. She has always been my biggest inspiration (recognized as one of the Women’s Initiative Inspirational Women honored in 2015). My Mom has a very physically limited life due to illness, and unfortunately, this pandemic just took away any physical freedom she had. My Mom is mentally fierce. Knowing that she will come out of this through her tenacious faith inspires me to keep going and to live my life to its fullest potential, even now when there is so much unknown. Nothing is impossible. These ladies are proof!  

Leslie Goddard, Ph.D., is an award-winning actress and scholar who has been portraying famous women and presenting history lectures for more than ten years. In her words, “It's my life's work to bring memorable women from the past alive and to tell historical stories so that lessons from the past are more meaningful and powerful.”

Advice from Amelia Earhart on Courage

By Leslie Goddard
On my desk sits a notecard with a quote from a poem by Amelia Earhart: “Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.” I read it every time I find myself afraid to do something. Lately, I’ve been reading it often.

There’s a lot of uncertainty these days. In the world of COVID-19, we face unusual fears daily, whether a big fear like losing a job or an everyday fear like venturing out to the grocery store.

Fear can be a great crippler, but we can also draw inspiration from women of the past who find ways to overcome their fears. Amelia Earhart has always been my favorite role model when it comes to courage.

Long before she achieved celebrity as the first woman to cross the ocean by airplane, Amelia Earhart showed signs of the spirit of adventure that would define her. As a child, she climbed trees and built her own roller-coaster. In later years, she took a class in car mechanics and worked for a time as a truck driver.

Not long after earning her pilot’s license in 1921, she set about breaking records, starting with the women’s altitude record (she soared to a then-staggering 14,000 feet). Then in 1928, she became the first woman to travel across the Atlantic Ocean in an airplane. Four years later, in 1932, she topped that. She flew by herself non-stop across the Atlantic, enduring exhaustion, a broken exhaust pipe and a leaking fuel gauge. Fourteen hours and 56 minutes after leaving Newfoundland, she landed safely in a farmer’s field in Ireland, scaring most of the cows.

That flight catapulted her into international celebrity. She returned home to a ticker tape parade in New York. Congress awarded her the Distinguished Flying Cross. When asked what she hoped her flight would achieve, Earhart responded that she wanted to inspire other women to face life courageously. “Dare to live,” she told her female students at Purdue University, where she encouraged students to take chances and pursue their dreams. She was determined to show that women are no less courageous than men when it comes to facing obstacles.

When asked how she got over her fears, she replied that she never ignored or downplayed dangers. She simply refused to be paralyzed by them. “Decide whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved,” she wrote. “If it is, stop worrying.” This is not to say she was foolhardy. Earhart made an important distinction between courage and recklessness. The first she embraced; the latter she studiously avoided.

She wrote, “Preparation, I have often said, is rightly two-thirds of any venture.” Her record-breaking flights required months of planning. She studied weather patterns, fitted out her airplanes with special equipment and carefully mapped her flight paths.

Amelia Earhart wasn’t perfect, and her disappearance in 1939 is a timely reminder of the limits of even careful preparation. So, don’t proceed without care. Put in some effort before you dash headlong into facing your own obstacles in life. But if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with fear these days, just remember Amelia. Map your path, put on your goggles and soar!

If you want to share how you are doing or what you would like to hear about, email me at

Diane Middlebrooks
Women's Initiative Coordinator


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