Inspiring Women February 2023

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WOMEN<br />

Evolving to<br />

Maturity<br />

Fabulous, Fun and<br />

Fierce<br />

<strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

Volume 7<br />

Issue 1

Contents<br />

<strong>February</strong> <strong>2023</strong>. Volume 7, Issue 1<br />

profiles<br />

features<br />

8<br />

48<br />

15<br />

53<br />

Skies, Skis and…<br />

Spies<br />

Carol Boren, a<br />

member of AWA Rome<br />

and FAUSA,<br />

experienced so much<br />

in her life abroad.<br />

Now, catch her (if you<br />

can) as she lives the<br />

next exciting chapter.<br />

18<br />

34<br />

Becoming a Marathon<br />

Runner in My 50s<br />

Cynthia Smith-Ayed,<br />

member of AIWC of<br />

Casablanca, has spent<br />

much of her life in the<br />

Middle East and North<br />

Africa. It wasn’t until<br />

2004 that she took up<br />

running and today she<br />

has run thousands of<br />

kilometers (and gone<br />

though many pairs of<br />

trainers) competing in<br />

many races.<br />

A Life<br />

Spent<br />

Not<br />

Fitting<br />

Into the<br />

Behaving-Like-a-Lady Stereotype!<br />

Melissa Mash has lived following her<br />

mother’s example of not worrying about<br />

being different.<br />

58<br />

This Is My<br />

“Golden Age"<br />

Claudia Tessie<br />

grew up in the<br />

Flower Child years.<br />

Today, as she<br />

approaches her<br />

80s, she embraces<br />

her maturity and<br />

doesn’t let it stop her from trying new things.<br />

68<br />

In My Own<br />

Words: When<br />

I'm Sixty-Four<br />

Robin Goldsby, a<br />

member of AIWC<br />

Cologne says:<br />

"I shouldn’t be<br />

surprised that sixtyfour<br />

sneaked up on me, but since I’ve spent<br />

most of the last three decades assuming I’m<br />

still thirty-two, the idea that I’m a year away<br />

from taking my musician union pension<br />

seems a little extreme."<br />

25<br />

24 Hours in ...<br />

Vienna<br />

Who best to tell<br />

us about the best<br />

places to visit in a new<br />

city than those who<br />

live there? AWA Vienna<br />

board members take<br />

us on a whistle stop<br />

tour of Vienna.<br />

A Club Inspires: AWC Antwerp<br />

Tharien Van Eck, of AWC Antwerp,<br />

introduces her club to us. AWC Antwerp is<br />

one of four clubs in FAWCO's Region 4.<br />

65<br />

<strong>Inspiring</strong> Reads:<br />

Pipe Dreams<br />

The Urgent Global<br />

Quest to Transform<br />

the Toilet<br />

Chelsea Wald, member of<br />

AWC The Hague, has<br />

repeatedly plunged into<br />

the topic of toilets since 2013, when editors<br />

first approached her to write about the latent<br />

potential in our stagnating infrastructure.<br />

Bloom and<br />

Blossom Where<br />

You’re Planted!<br />

Georgia Regnault came<br />

to The Netherlands for<br />

one year. Fifty+ years<br />

on, her life and career<br />

have been full of<br />

caring, compassion<br />

and FAWCO.<br />

“Emily in Paris”?<br />

Hold My<br />

Champagne<br />

Suzanne Justen, a<br />

member of AWG Paris,<br />

experienced<br />

devastating personal<br />

pain and challenges.<br />

Moving to Paris<br />

brought her the joie de<br />

vivre that many aspire<br />

to, but few achieve.<br />

39<br />

Through My<br />

Lens<br />

Our brand new<br />

feature is a<br />

compilation feature<br />

with a photo and<br />

short caption from<br />

multiple contributors.<br />

74<br />

Inspired Reader<br />

In October we<br />

launched our<br />

newest initiative, a<br />

quiz to find the<br />

Inspired Reader for<br />

each issue. See our<br />

latest winner!<br />


5<br />

6<br />

7<br />

in every issue<br />

A Note from the Editor<br />

Advertisers Index<br />

Introducing This Issue<br />

new feature<br />

<strong>Inspiring</strong> You<br />

More About This Issue<br />

That’s Inspired!<br />

<strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong> Magazine New Feature: Through My Lens<br />

We are looking for your photos of friends, family or yourself that you think embody<br />

the next issue's theme of "Goodbyes and New Beginnings".<br />

75<br />

76<br />

77<br />

Photos should be in color and a minimum of 300 dpi. Send your photo<br />

with your name, FAWCO Club and a maximum 50-word caption<br />

explaining why the photo fits the theme to:<br />

inspiringwomenfeatures@fawco.org.<br />

The deadline for submitting<br />

features and photos for our<br />

next issue is ...<br />

April 6, <strong>2023</strong><br />

“A mature person is one who<br />

does not think only in absolutes, who<br />

is able to be objective even when<br />

deeply stirred emotionally, who has<br />

learned that there is both good and<br />

bad in all people and in all things, and<br />

who walks humbly and deals charitably<br />

with the circumstances of life,<br />

knowing that in this world no one is<br />

all knowing and therefore all of us<br />

need both love and charity.”<br />

– Eleanor Roosevelt<br />

As we have been preparing this issue for<br />

publication, I have been thinking about maturity<br />

and ageing and how that changes over our lives.<br />

In other words, the Evolution to Maturity.<br />

As Eleanor Roosevelt says, mature people<br />

appreciate that life doesn’t happen in a straight<br />

line. Life, I've realized, is a funny mixture of<br />

experiences, one’s inherent nature and the<br />

passage of time, all mixed up in a big pot.<br />

My little grandson, Tristan, is now 16 months<br />

old. Today he doesn’t care one bit how old<br />

he is, nor if he is behaving maturely. He cares<br />

about having fun, about learning new skills,<br />

about eating and drinking well and about the<br />

important people in his life (especially his<br />

Mummy of course!), which is a pretty good<br />

place to be. He isn’t especially noticing, or<br />

even caring about, the passage of time.<br />

But it won’t be long<br />

before he gets to the<br />

stage where becoming<br />

one year older will be<br />

super exciting. Where<br />

starting school (and<br />

eventually work) and<br />

getting more independence<br />

as he ages will be<br />

important to him. He’ll<br />

be longing to speed up<br />

the passage of time.<br />

Then, like most of us,<br />

he’ll get to a stage where<br />

he doesn’t really like<br />

seeing the passage<br />

of time. Where<br />

celebrating another<br />

year is not necessarily<br />

something to be looked<br />

a note from<br />

the editor<br />

forward to. Where he/we would rather ignore<br />

the wrinkles and grey hairs that have developed.<br />

Like the rest of us, he’ll be trying hard to ignore<br />

the passage of time in these years.<br />

Finally, as we age it is my impression that many<br />

people get to the stage where they want the<br />

passage of time to slow down. They want more<br />

time to do the things they were always meaning<br />

to do. They have an appreciation, learned from<br />

their years on this earth, of how quickly things<br />

change and can be taken away. At this stage one<br />

is trying to slow the passage of time down as<br />

much as possible.<br />

The women featured in this issue are “more<br />

mature” and have been through these various<br />

different stages already. They have come to<br />

embrace their maturity and learned to deal with<br />

the ups and downs of lives well lived. There is<br />

much for us to learn in their stories.<br />

If you are looking for other ways of developing<br />

maturity then I think that this quote from Ann<br />

Landers sums it up very well: “Maturity is the<br />

art of living in peace with that which cannot<br />

be changed, the courage to change that which<br />

should be changed, no matter what it takes, and<br />

the wisdom to know the difference.”<br />

So how are you going to (or<br />

how do you already) embrace<br />

maturity? What is it you’d be<br />

better off letting go of? What is it<br />

that you need or want to change?<br />

How are you going to evolve from<br />

now?<br />

I hope the stories and features<br />

in this issue give you some<br />

interesting ideas.<br />

Best wishes!<br />

Liz<br />

<strong>Inspiring</strong>women.editor@fawco.org<br />

Liz and grandson Tristan.<br />


advertisers<br />

index<br />

introducing<br />

this issue<br />

The Short List p. 13<br />

The Short List has helped students with the<br />

college admissions and application process<br />

for over 20 years. They are knowledgeable<br />

and current on the changes in the college admission<br />

process. International students who<br />

wish to study in the US can benefit from their<br />

services.<br />

The Pajama Company p. 23<br />

The Pajama Company, founded by<br />

Ellie Badanes, member of FAUSA and<br />

AW Surrey, sells pajamas that are cozy,<br />

cheerful and available online!<br />

London & Capital p. 33<br />

Whether you are a US Citizen living abroad<br />

or a foreign entity with US reporting, their<br />

dedicated teams take care of your wealth,<br />

giving you time to concentrate on the things<br />

that matter to you. London & Capital has<br />

been supporting FAWCO since 2016.<br />

Janet Darrow Real Estate p. 47<br />

Around the corner or a world away, contact<br />

Janet Darrow, FAUSA member, to find the<br />

best properties. FAWCO referrals to Janet<br />

help the Target Program!<br />

The Existential Traveller p. 51<br />

Owned by FAUSA member Linda Johnson,<br />

offers bespoke cultural experiences. Contact<br />

her to arrange a dream vacation.<br />

Tharien's Art p. 57<br />

AWC Antwerp member and former Target<br />

Program Chair Tharien van Eck is a superb<br />

artist. She creates beautiful hand painted<br />

cards and prints. Proceeds from her cards<br />

continue to support education programs<br />

for Hope for Girls and <strong>Women</strong> Tanzania.<br />

London Realty Intl. p. 63<br />

London Realty Intl. is owned by AWC London<br />

member Lonnée Hamilton, who is a worldwide<br />

property consultant. Her firm works with the<br />

best agents across the globe to fulfill your<br />

property needs.<br />

TASIS p. 73<br />

The American School in England TASIS<br />

England is a leading international day and<br />

boarding school (ages 3-18) located 35<br />

minutes from central London on a beautiful<br />

campus in Thorpe, Surrey.<br />

Throughout the years FAWCO has relied on advertisers and sponsors to augment its<br />

income. This revenue has allowed FAWCO to improve services and gives it the flexibility to try<br />

the latest innovations to enhance the FAWCO experience. FAWCO’s advertising<br />

partners believe in our mission and support our goals; some directly support<br />

our activities and projects.<br />

We encourage club leadership throughout the FAWCO network to<br />

share our publications with their membership. Our advertising<br />

partners have valuable products and services and we want your<br />

members to take advantage of what they offer. Please support them!<br />

For more information on these advertisers or if you have any questions about<br />

FAWCO’s advertising program, please contact Elsie Bose: advertising@fawco.org.<br />

We were inspired to select this theme by the announcement in September<br />

that Serena Williams was going to retire. Throughout the days leading up<br />

to her last match, she spoke often that, in effect, her retirement from tennis<br />

was not the end, that she was evolving to a new place in her life.<br />

Not very long ago, when one retired the scene that was set before them was<br />

days at home, working in the garden, a little golf and a little travel, maybe<br />

grandkids. And yes, that is part of it. But the new stereotype that describes<br />

today’s mature population is that every day they break the old stereotypes.<br />

We continue to work or return to work. Many of us who have the luxury<br />

and means are pursuing additional formal education. “Age-evolved<br />

people” are more physically active than ever. Men and women are not<br />

simply active, they continue to compete and win, often at elite levels,<br />

beyond ages once considered too old.<br />

To me, the best feature of age-evolved people engaging in all these<br />

activities is that they come to it with the benefit of their past experiences,<br />

to be able to look through a big lens, with the colors and features of life<br />

lessons learned. The result can produce a better pathway to solve<br />

problems both big and small. Unfortunately, these results are often set<br />

aside as mere musings of an old person. The challenge is to continue to<br />

be relevant, to keep our seat at the table.<br />

I meet and work with a lot of people on the phone, via email, etc. When<br />

I meet people in person, they frequently ask, “where do you get your<br />

energy?” or “how did you come up with these ideas?” It wasn’t until recently<br />

that I realized they were expecting to face a younger person. I would<br />

hope that instead of being alarmed by the fact that the idea came from an<br />

age-evolved person, they open themselves up to the possibility that my<br />

experiences may have resulted in an idea that will prevent them from<br />

falling into the mistakes that a less age-evolved person might make.<br />

So to everyone out there, make your path to maturity, your “age evolution,”<br />

an age revolution! Move, physically, emotionally, intellectually every day.<br />

And those of you new to the revolution, listen and learn. We’re here to help!<br />

Elsie<br />

Founder<br />


profile<br />

Skies, Skis and…Spies<br />

Carol Boren, a member of AWA Rome and FAUSA, experienced so<br />

much in her life abroad. Now, catch her (if you can) as she lives the<br />

next exciting chapter.<br />

Carol Boren.<br />

I<br />

was born and raised in Houston, the<br />

daughter of an eccentric and typically<br />

absent-minded professor of philosophy,<br />

and a drop-dead gorgeous mother – who was<br />

also a professional comedian. Growing up in this<br />

unusual combination of academics and comedy,<br />

my younger sister and I developed a lifelong love<br />

of learning and a great sense of humor.<br />

After graduating from St. John’s School in<br />

Houston, I attended Sophie Newcomb College<br />

at Tulane University, graduating in 1963 with<br />

a degree in Modern European History. New<br />

Orleans was a culture shock for this naïve Texas<br />

girl – and I loved every minute of it! I discovered<br />

the culinary delights of their amazing cuisine –<br />

learning to eat crawfish out of a barrel, stand<br />

at an oyster bar and order six at a time, drink<br />

the famous Hurricane cocktails at Pat O’Brien’s,<br />

savor breakfast at Brennan’s, and all the other<br />

wonders available to me. These people took<br />

food seriously, and I learned that there was<br />

more to good eating than Texas barbecue. I also<br />

enjoyed sailing in Lake Pontchartrain, and<br />

waterskiing in the nearby bayous – never mind<br />

the snakes and alligators. I was a member<br />

of Pi Beta Phi sorority and president of the<br />

Barracuda Synchronized Swimming Club.<br />

“Making the Going Great”<br />

After graduation, I was hired as a stewardess<br />

for Pan American Airlines. They<br />

required a college degree and a<br />

foreign language, and I seemed<br />

to fit the bill. I was transferred<br />

to New York, which would be<br />

my home for the next two years.<br />

One of Carol's<br />

hikes with the<br />

Pikes Peak Over<br />

the Hill Gang.<br />


Carol celebrating her great life. (from left)<br />

Carol’s mother, Jovan Spears, aged 74<br />

Carol’s son, Massimiliano Silenzi, daughter,<br />

Kimberly Silenzi Fontanelli, and grandson,<br />

Andrea Fontanelli, in Amsterdam.<br />

Carol with her grandbaby! (below)<br />

I would love to tell you all about my wonderful<br />

adventures as a Pan Am stewardess, but suffice<br />

it to say that I flew the world and broadened<br />

my horizons.<br />

In January 1966, I resigned from my job at Pan<br />

Am and left to study German at the Goethe<br />

Institute in a small town near the Austrian<br />

border (very handy for skiing!). When the course<br />

finished, I moved to Munich and began studying<br />

at the University of Munich.<br />

And then my life changed completely<br />

I was hired by the CIA in Munich and began my<br />

25-year career working on a special Cold War<br />

project. In July 1968, I was transferred from<br />

Munich to Rome. During this period, I met my<br />

husband-to-be and started a family – a son,<br />

Massimiliano, born in 1977, and a daughter,<br />

Kimberly, in 1979. My project with the CIA lasted<br />

until the collapse of the Soviet Union.<br />

In 1998, I was hired by an American international<br />

law firm to set up and manage their Italian<br />

offices. I retired in June 2012 and moved to<br />

Colorado Springs to be close to my aging<br />

mother, and I reside there to this day. Still good<br />

friends, my husband and I are separated. My<br />

daughter and grandson live in Rome, and my<br />

son lives in Amsterdam.<br />

Appreciating “me time”<br />

My life before retirement was glamorous and<br />

exciting, but also involved long working hours<br />

and a lot of stress. Between work and family,<br />

I never had time for myself. My newly found<br />

freedom from work has given me the<br />

opportunity to do all the outside activities,<br />

professional and otherwise, that I never had<br />

time for. So, for me, I am in a new, exciting<br />

chapter of life – professionally, giving back to<br />

my new-found local community, and aging<br />

gracefully by diving into reading of all kinds<br />

and many sports.<br />

What are you involved in now?<br />

I joined FAUSA shortly after moving back to<br />

America, served for three years on their board,<br />

and I organized their 2014 Getaway in Colorado<br />

Springs. One of my most rewarding experiences<br />

has been serving as a mentor for the KPWE<br />

scholarship program at UCCS (kpwe.uccs.edu).<br />

I also volunteered for several years at Stable<br />

Strides (health and healing through horses<br />

www.stablestrides.org), and I belong to the local<br />

Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club, where I have had<br />

the opportunity to participate in many social<br />

and philanthropic activities, establish close<br />

friendships, and continuously serve on their<br />

board in various positions since joining.<br />

I belong to three book clubs, a giving circle, a<br />

Mahjong group, and the Colorado Springs World<br />

Affairs Council (csworldaffairs.org).<br />

As for the fun activities I never had time for,<br />

about a year after moving to Colorado I was<br />

introduced to the Pikes Peak Over the Hill Gang<br />

(www.ppothg.com), a fabulous group for<br />

people over 50 who enjoy outdoor sports. I<br />

joined for the skiing, since at the age of 71 it was<br />

not so easy to find people who still wanted to<br />

ski. This was a real turning point. Our chartered<br />

bus takes us skiing once a week all winter – to<br />

such fabulous places as Vail, Breckenridge and<br />

Keystone. We are a bunch of crazy old skiers<br />

having the time of our lives despite knee and/<br />

or hip replacements, tired muscles, and all the<br />

other complications of aging. I look forward to<br />

our annual ski week in Beaver Creek in January!<br />

This group is so much fun that I decided to join<br />

them in hiking, snowshoeing and pickleball. I<br />

even took up golf at the age of 75. I took lessons<br />

and love trying to improve my game. Weather<br />

permitting, we play golf every Monday at golf<br />

courses all around Colorado.<br />

What continues to surprise you?<br />

After living abroad for 46 years, it has definitely<br />

been a culture shock to live in America again. I<br />

am still challenged by the complete change in<br />

mealtimes (2 or 3 hours earlier than in Italy!),<br />

slow and disciplined driving, pumping my<br />

own gas, etc., but more than pleased by the<br />

availability of parking everywhere. I am still<br />

shocked by the amount of obesity and<br />

homelessness, and by our current politics, and<br />

I do a lot of reading to try and understand why<br />

my country changed so drastically in the years<br />

that I lived abroad. But I continue to be<br />

pleasantly surprised by the overall courtesy and<br />

kindness of complete strangers, the incredible<br />

natural beauty of the country, and the many<br />

cultural opportunities available.<br />


What continues to sustain you?<br />

As I grow older, I am sustained by the example<br />

set by my mother, who died at age 99. She<br />

always said that each decade is better than the<br />

last – so I am inspired to make that true for my<br />

life as well. So far, so good!<br />

Carol takes in the majestic views of Colorado<br />

Springs. (left)<br />

Carol on the golf course. (right)<br />

Watch Out! The Pikes Peak Over the Hill Gang<br />

(below)<br />





www.TheShortList.org • (413) 528-LIST (5478)<br />



feature<br />

In My Own Words -<br />

When I'm Sixty-Four<br />

Author Robin Meloy Goldsby is<br />

also a Steinway Artist and<br />

popular solo piano recording<br />

artist with over 200 million<br />

streams on the Pandora platform<br />

in the USA.<br />

Another song lyric comes true. I<br />

shouldn’t be surprised that sixty-four<br />

sneaked up on me, but since I’ve<br />

spent most of the last three decades<br />

assuming I’m still thirty-two, the idea<br />

that I’m a year away from taking my musician<br />

union pension seems a little extreme. In honor<br />

of this milestone, I’ve composed a list of sixtyfour<br />

discoveries I’ve made in the last year.<br />

Robin Meloy Goldsby<br />

Photo by Sascha Christopher.<br />

1. Inanimate objects (such as plastic wrap,<br />

coat hangers and electrical cables) are capable<br />

of attack.<br />

2. There are more idiots in the world than one<br />

would hope.<br />

3. There are more kind people in the world<br />

than one would expect.<br />

4. Your breasts get bigger as you age, but so<br />

does everything else.<br />

5. Underwear costs more<br />

than shoes.<br />

The cover of<br />

Robin's latest<br />

book.<br />

Illustrated by<br />

6. Lingerie salespeople will try<br />

to convince you to buy a<br />

smaller size bra for “comfort<br />

and support.” Don’t listen to<br />

them or you will end up with underwireinduced<br />

rib fractures, especially if you spend<br />

a lot of time sitting on a piano bench.<br />

7. Spanx (the 21st Century girdle) make you<br />

feel (and look) like a human sausage.<br />

8. A good marriage depends on trust but relies<br />

heavily on laughter.<br />

9. Nothing beats tomato soup and grilled<br />

cheese (even if it’s vegan).<br />

10. Jackie O had it right. Big black sunglasses<br />

are the ultimate fashion accessory.<br />

11. Reciting the details of a complicated<br />

Will Smith movie plot will put your partner into<br />

a stupor.<br />

Julia Goldsby.<br />


12. Restful<br />

sleep<br />

determines<br />

your ability<br />

to get through<br />

the day without<br />

slapping anyone<br />

(including Will<br />

Smith or yourself).<br />

13. It’s possible<br />

to fall going up<br />

the stairs.<br />

14.<br />

Nothing<br />

hurts quite as<br />

much as a<br />

broken toe.<br />

15. No one<br />

looks good when their<br />

feet hurt.<br />

16. Hunger and bloat are flip sides of the<br />

same coin.<br />

17. Your kids will either leave home at age<br />

eighteen or live in your basement until they’re<br />

forty. Either way, you’ll be worried.<br />

18. No one looks good in beaded fringe.<br />

Except maybe Tina Turner or the drag queen<br />

Kim Chi, but you’re not them.<br />

19. You probably don’t need two cars. You<br />

might not even need one.<br />

20. Autumn leaves might be pretty, but they<br />

can also make you sad.<br />

21. Autumn leaves, once they drift by your<br />

window and land on your front steps, are slippery<br />

(see #13).<br />

22. The ocean never loses its appeal, even if<br />

you suffer from fear of fish.<br />

23. Your own kids are now older than you<br />

are (in your head).<br />

24. Your doctors all look like they’re fifteen.<br />

25. Some of your kids’ friends are now<br />

doctors and lawyers, which is<br />

disconcerting because you remember their<br />

muddy hands and chocolate-smeared faces.<br />

26. You really miss those chocolate-smeared<br />

faces.<br />

27. Your children work in fields that didn’t<br />

exist when you were their age.<br />

28. One activity a day is plenty. Dinner at<br />

home does not count as an activity, unless you<br />

have guests.<br />

29. Embrace positive change, even if it means<br />

rethinking your pronouns.<br />

30. You can never have too many pairs of<br />

stretchy black pants.<br />

31. Fruit flies were sent to this earth by the<br />

devil herself.<br />

32. If you think you see a big mouse, it is<br />

likely a rat.<br />

33. <strong>Women</strong> leaders are better for the world.<br />

34. As much as you might hope it to be so,<br />

The Squid Games is not the heartwarming<br />

Netflix sequel to My Octopus Teacher.<br />

35. Privilege breeds arrogance. Arrogance<br />

leads to indifference; indifference destroys the<br />

planet.<br />

36. A compassionate person always wins,<br />

even when she loses.<br />

37. If you must get dressed up, wear pajamas<br />

with bling.<br />

38. No one looks good in plaid,<br />

except maybe<br />

a very buff<br />

logger, and you’re<br />

not good with a<br />

chainsaw. Yet.<br />

39. Pick one<br />

vetted charity<br />

organization and<br />

support it any way<br />

you can. If you don’t<br />

have cash, donate<br />

time, and create<br />

awareness.<br />

40. Be nice to<br />

restaurant service<br />

people. Tip well. You<br />

want these people<br />

on your side.<br />

41. Visit your friends whenever you can.<br />

They (or you) might not be around forever.<br />

42. Fruit flies will be around forever.<br />

43. Turn off the TV or the computer. Read a<br />

book, even a trashy one.<br />

44. Magnesium and Vitamin D supplements<br />

solve all kinds of problems.<br />

45. Go for a walk, even if it’s raining and you<br />

forgot your umbrella.<br />

46. Keep your eyes on your own paper.<br />

47. Maintain an anti-clutter policy on your<br />

kitchen counter.<br />

48. Have your piano tuned.<br />

49. Black patent oxfords look hip with just<br />

about any outfit.<br />

50. Tell people you love how much you love<br />

them. Often.<br />

51. Buy local.<br />

52. Go to a concert.<br />

53. Support your local non-chain restaurant.<br />

54. Always avoid the Balkan platter unless<br />

it’s the specialty of your local restaurant.<br />

55. If you’re freaked out by the climate<br />

crisis, stop buying factory-farmed animal<br />

products and anything packaged in<br />

plastic (see #1).<br />

56. Ask for help when you need it.<br />

57. Help others when you can.<br />

58. Dance, especially if someone<br />

is watching.<br />

59. Be aware that the “advanced<br />

beginner’s course” is likely more<br />

advanced than beginner.<br />

60. Learn to love root vegetables<br />

and naps.<br />

61. Carole F. Baskin is probably guilty<br />

of feeding her husband to the tigers.<br />

62. Laugh, cry, craugh.<br />

63. Every day is your best day.<br />

Ready, steady, go.<br />

64. Remember that intermission is over. It’s<br />

the second act of your life, sister. Onward.<br />

All illustrations are by Julia Goldsby.<br />

“When I’m Sixty-Four” was originally<br />

published on www.robingoldsby.com in<br />

November 2021. She celebrated her 65th<br />

birthday in 2022 and is still embracing<br />

positive change, wearing black patent<br />

oxfords, and searching for a bra that fits.<br />

Robin is the author of Piano Girl; Waltz of the<br />

Asparagus People: The Further Adventures of Piano<br />

Girl; Rhythm: A Novel and Manhattan Road<br />

Trip, a collection of short stories about (what<br />

else?) musicians. New from Backbeat Books –<br />

Piano Girl Playbook: Notes on a Musical Life.<br />

Robin has performed numerous benefit<br />

concerts for FAWCO clubs and enjoys<br />

contributing to the fundraising efforts of<br />

her FAWCO sisters.<br />


profile<br />

Becoming a Marathon<br />

Runner in My 50s<br />

Cynthia Smith-Ayed, member of the American International <strong>Women</strong>’s<br />

Club of Casablanca, has spent much of her life in the Middle East and<br />

North Africa. It wasn’t until 2004 she took up running. Today she has<br />

run thousands of kilometers (and gone though many pairs of<br />

running shoes).<br />

I<br />

grew up in Maryland, in various suburbs<br />

around Baltimore. I am the oldest of<br />

three, and our father died when I was<br />

nine. My mother remarried a year later, and her<br />

new husband became "Dad" for all of us. I was<br />

taught that we were lucky – white middle class<br />

in the US and that children/people in other<br />

countries were less fortunate.<br />

Learning about the Peace Corps<br />

When I was 10, a classmate said she was<br />

leaving for Ghana, as her father would be the<br />

Medical Officer for the first Peace Corps<br />

program. It made such an impression that I<br />

told myself I would do that when I was older.<br />

When I was 16, I took a course in the summer<br />

to be a nurse's aide to decide whether I should<br />

go into nursing. I liked it enough that after high<br />

school I went to nursing school.<br />

Tunisia<br />

After graduation, I joined the Peace Corps<br />

and was assigned to a project at a children's<br />

hospital in Tunis, Tunisia. I met my husband<br />

on my second day in the country, as he was<br />

one of the language teachers for our 10-week<br />

language training!<br />

Cynthia Smith Ayed<br />

After two years in Tunisia I went<br />

back to the US and worked at<br />

the DC office of the Peace Corps<br />

while my fiancé went to graduate<br />

Cynthia and<br />

family,<br />

Christmas 2019<br />


school. In 1979 we got married, and I returned<br />

to Tunisia to be the Medical Officer for the Peace<br />

Corps. I did this for 10 years during which time I<br />

also had a daughter and twin sons.<br />

International moves<br />

Then, in 1989, my husband’s career with<br />

Citibank meant we moved first to Dubai (two<br />

years), then Morocco (four and a half years), and<br />

London (three years). During this time I went<br />

Cynthia Smith-Ayed with her daughter<br />

and first granddaughter.<br />

back to school via distance learning, including<br />

some in-person classes in the summers from<br />

1988 to 1995. I completed my BA and then my<br />

MA in Health Administration. 1995 was a good<br />

year, as I also received a FAWCO Foundation<br />

Member's Education Award!<br />

In 1998, my husband took a position with a<br />

Moroccan bank and we returned to Morocco,<br />

but to Rabat this time. I went back to work at the<br />

medical office of the US Embassy for two years<br />

and became a member of the AIWA Rabat club.<br />

Dividing my time between two countries<br />

In 2011, after the Tunisian revolution, my<br />

husband returned to Tunisia and was the<br />

Finance Minister for a period of time. After that<br />

he stayed and started a tech company with two<br />

cousins. This was the start of my life living in<br />

two countries! Today I divide my<br />

time between Tunis, Tunisia and<br />

Casablanca, Morocco.<br />

Today, all my children are married<br />

(last one this year), my daughter has<br />

two girls (in Morocco) and my son<br />

has twin boys and a baby girl<br />

(in Tunisia), so I’m very busy as a<br />

traveling grandmother.<br />

Taking the road less traveled<br />

My most defining moment was taking<br />

"‘the road less traveled" and joining<br />

the Peace Corps in 1975 at the age<br />

of 22. I had lived my entire life in<br />

Maryland, gone to college in DC and<br />

didn’t even have a passport! To<br />

spend two years in a country with<br />

a different culture, language and<br />

religion required a great deal of<br />

adjustment and growth.<br />

Because of this experience and<br />

meeting my husband-to-be, I have<br />

spent all but two years since then<br />

as an expat. I have friends from many<br />

countries, my children are trilingual<br />

and have all married partners who are<br />

bi-cultural and bilingual like they are.<br />

I have learned to embrace the<br />

similarities in all the countries I have<br />

lived in and accept the differences.<br />

My FAWCO life<br />

I first heard about FAWCO in the 1990s, when I<br />

was living in Morocco, from AIWC Casablanca<br />

club board members who had attended the<br />

conferences. Then in 2003, when I was on the<br />

club board, I found out more about FAWCO, and<br />

in 2004 attended my first conference. I caught<br />

the “fever” and attended every year until 2018.<br />

I went on to co-chair the FAWCO Biennial<br />

Conference in Marrakech in 2011, then, in 2012,<br />

joined the FAWCO Foundation board as VP<br />

Communications for three years. I have been<br />

our club FAWCO Rep for more<br />

than ten years and Region 7<br />

Coordinator for several years.<br />

Becoming a marathon runner<br />

All my life I did various sports, and<br />

learned to play golf at 40, but at<br />

the age of 50 I met some other<br />

expat women in Morocco who<br />

were training for a race and joined<br />

their group. As a nurse, I am<br />

disciplined and appreciate a plan<br />

for training, so I followed it, and<br />

after five months was more or less<br />

ready for a marathon.<br />

My first race, in Marrakech,<br />

January 2004, was the hardest<br />

thing I’ve ever done, and I<br />

understood the concept of<br />

digging deep to finish. Crossing the<br />

finish line was such a joy that the<br />

next day I started researching for<br />

the next race. I had a sense that I<br />

could do something really difficult<br />

if I pursued it.<br />

As only one percent of the US<br />

population has ever done a<br />

marathon, and less than half<br />

of these people are women, I<br />

really felt a huge sense of<br />

accomplishment. From that<br />

point until September 2018, I<br />

ran either alone, with best friend<br />

Gwen and/or other ladies from<br />

the running group a further 20<br />

marathons (42 kms), 23 half<br />

marathons (21 km), two 100-km<br />

walks and numerous 5 and 10-km<br />

runs. I’ve not totally stopped, and<br />

recently I did the Shine Half<br />

Marathon Night Walk in London<br />

for cancer research; this was my<br />

third Shine race.<br />

Challenges along the way<br />

I have had several surgeries on<br />

my feet and now only run/walk<br />

a couple of times per week. I<br />

started Pilates six years ago<br />

and continue spin class, rowing<br />

machine and elliptical for cardio. I<br />

also started weight training in 2007<br />

and have continued. I want to live<br />

Several of the marathons that<br />

Cynthia participated in.<br />


a long life in my best shape and health.<br />

Having high levels of energy and a sense that<br />

I am younger than my years is a motivation.<br />

Breaking stereotypes<br />

I learned Tunisian Arabic as a Peace Corps<br />

volunteer and speak it in Morocco and<br />

Tunisia. As I have a decent accent, people think<br />

I’m Tunisian. When asked, I will tell them I’m<br />

American, and they are always very impressed<br />

that a foreigner would learn the language. As<br />

for running, when I tell people I started running<br />

races at age 50 they look surprised, but quite a<br />

few have agreed, why not, and good for me!<br />

Some of life's surprises<br />

There has been a lot of negativity over the<br />

last few years: politics in the US, the COVID-19<br />

pandemic, continued wars. I make it a point to<br />

have small conversations with those I meet at<br />

the market, pharmacy etc. Besides always being<br />

impressed that I speak Arabic, I have had many<br />

people tell me I seem like a nice person. To have<br />

this effect on people and to have them remark<br />

on it is truly a surprise every time.<br />

Embracing “maturity”<br />

I have generally started each decade of my<br />

life with a wish/goal list. I have stayed on track<br />

all these years and have found even greater<br />

Casa Running Group (below)<br />

satisfaction as I get older. <strong>Women</strong> with families<br />

tend to put the families ahead of themselves,<br />

so it's often not until they reach their 50s<br />

and children have left that there is time for<br />

themselves. This is when I started running<br />

and concentrating on sports and women's<br />

associations. I also believe older women care<br />

less about what others think compared to<br />

younger women and thus can find peace and<br />

happiness within themselves.<br />

Advice for my 25-year-old self<br />

Take advantage of being young and all the<br />

opportunities that there are. While life may<br />

seem long at 25, there is so much to do and<br />

learn and experience.<br />

Me today<br />

Today I have no patience for ignorant and<br />

misinformed people, nor with those who are<br />

very opinionated about everything.<br />

I am also full of gratitude. Every day, I give<br />

thanks for good health, family, friends, and<br />

the weather. At the same time, I try to do what is<br />

possible to improve things in the world as much<br />

as I can.<br />

AIWCC Walking Group (above)<br />

Day or Night. Be the Boss.<br />

Crisp cotton poplin pajamas from<br />

Daisy Alexander available online now.<br />

Shop The Pajama Company<br />

for the newest styles of the season!<br />

Ellie Badanes, AW Surrey and FAUSA Member.<br />

Founder, The Pajama Company<br />


feature<br />

24 Hours in ... Vienna!<br />

The <strong>2023</strong> FAWCO Biennial<br />

Conference in Bratislava is being<br />

hosted by AWA Vienna. Vienna<br />

is the city most attendees will<br />

transfer through on their way<br />

to Bratislava, so we asked AWA<br />

Vienna member Bev Bachmayer<br />

and her AWA friends to share a<br />

bit about their club and city.<br />

Bev has been an AWA Vienna<br />

member since 1995, AWA FAWCO<br />

Rep since 2016, and currently<br />

serves as AWA Secretary.<br />

“AWA came into being most informally,<br />

as a response to a need felt in the<br />

community. It has become apparent that,<br />

no matter how distinguished and fascinating<br />

our speakers, there was a strong impulse in<br />

the community for a more active and varied<br />

program.” — Hannah Adler, AWA Vienna<br />

Abit about AWA Vienna<br />

AWA is the International <strong>Women</strong>'s<br />

Club of Vienna, with over 300 Englishspeaking<br />

members from 40+ countries.<br />

City Hall with<br />

the Christmas<br />

market.<br />

AWA Vienna was founded in 1924 by American<br />

diplomatic and military wives. In 1931, AWA<br />

Vienna joined the Federation of American<br />

<strong>Women</strong>'s Clubs, which became known as<br />

FAWCO. The group briefly disbanded in 1939<br />

and remained inactive during WWII. After the<br />

war, during the Allied Occupation, American<br />

Embassy and military wives organized the<br />


Children's Friendship Fund and used the<br />

proceeds from a thrift shop to help deprived<br />

and starving Austrian children. AWA Vienna<br />

became active again in 1964, with about 60<br />

members. Today, AWA Vienna hosts more than<br />

300+ members and continues the tradition of<br />

women helping women.<br />

From our earliest beginnings about 100 years<br />

ago, AWAV has developed and grown, together<br />

with the City of Vienna, into a rich and diverse,<br />

cosmopolitan, international community.<br />

Common threads running through our history<br />

are: making friends, adapting to new places,<br />

learning about our adopted home and its<br />

culture, sharing experiences, working together,<br />

having fun, and supporting worthy causes.<br />

The AWAV Mission Statement is as follows:<br />

• z Promotes friendship, networking and an<br />

active lifestyle.<br />

• z Provides opportunities for exploring and<br />

enhancing appreciation of the life and culture<br />

of Austria, as well as cultural exchange within<br />

our own diverse community.<br />

• z Assists charitable organizations through<br />

financial and volunteer activities.<br />

• z Promotes understanding of Global Social<br />

Issues in cooperation with the United Nations<br />

and NGOs.<br />

The club hosts over 100 events every month<br />

and, now that the threat of the pandemic is<br />

over, the city and the club have come back<br />

to life.<br />

A<br />

little<br />

about Austria and<br />

Vienna:<br />

Vienna is the capital, largest city, and one of<br />

nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's most<br />

populous city and its primate city, with about<br />

two million inhabitants (2.9 million within the<br />

metropolitan area, nearly one third of the<br />

country's population), and its cultural,<br />

economic, and political center. It is the sixth<br />

largest city proper by population in the<br />

European Union and the largest of all cities on<br />

the Danube River. (source: Wikipedia)<br />

42.6 percent of Vienna's residents are of<br />

foreign origin, with the most immigrants<br />

coming from Serbia, Turkey, Germany, Poland,<br />

Romania, Croatia and Hungary. The migration<br />

of these residents can be attributed to EU/<br />

EFTA origins. (source: https://www.wien.gv.at/<br />

english/social/integration/facts-figures/<br />

population-migration.html)<br />

Vienna offers a blend of imperial traditions,<br />

music, and endearing charm. It is a city that<br />

inspires with the old and the new alike, and<br />

always has a cozy place available in a coffee<br />

house or wine tavern.<br />

Vienna experiences typical European weather<br />

with cold winters, mild spring and fall.<br />

Summers can be very hot or very overcast and<br />

rainy and humid. The best times to visit are in<br />

April/May and September/October because<br />

the weather can be very good and the tourist<br />

season is not in full swing.<br />

City Snaps<br />

View from the Belvedere<br />

Stephanskirche<br />

Prater walking group<br />

Rose Garden Fountain<br />


ADay in Vienna<br />

Käsespätzle<br />

(Cheesy Delight)<br />

Time for a break:<br />

Start the day well:<br />

Since there will probably be a breakfast<br />

buffet included with a hotel booking,<br />

most visitors will probably have wonderful<br />

coffee and breads provided by their hotel.<br />

But if in fact you want to go out of the<br />

hotel ...<br />

Best picks for breakfast –<br />

Café Museum<br />

www.cafemuseum.at/en/cafe-museum<br />

Haas and Haas Tea House, which is<br />

hidden behind the Stephansdom<br />

www.haas-haas.at/pages/teehaus<br />

After breakfast –<br />

Start your sightseeing by taking the<br />

Ring Tram, www.visitingvienna.com/<br />

transport/vienna-ring-tram. From<br />

Schwedenplatz, the route takes you<br />

around Vienna's ring, past the Hofburg,<br />

the newly renovated parliament<br />

building. Check out the city hall and<br />

the Urania building. Each of these can<br />

be viewed from the tram and you get a<br />

great overview of the different sights in<br />

the city.<br />

Viennese<br />

Apfelstrudel<br />

When it is time for lunch you<br />

need to decide what you prefer<br />

to eat, and whether you want a<br />

view and/or a traditional menu.<br />

For the best garden cafe go to –<br />

Café Diglas at Schottenstift<br />

www.cafeimschottenstift.at<br />

Sit outdoors year round –<br />

Café Museum, www.cafemuseum.at/en/cafemuseum,<br />

at Karlsplatz across from Resselpark.<br />

Café Landtman, www.landtmann.at/<br />

en/cafe-landtmann, is also a great stop<br />

for lunch and across from the University<br />

at Universitatsring.<br />

For the best view go to –<br />

Haus des Meers, www.visitingvienna.<br />

com/sights/hausdesmeeres, the<br />

rooftop restaurant. The view is<br />

fantastic, and the food is good.<br />

This is one of six flak towers built<br />

in Vienna, which housed the<br />

defense against Allied forces.<br />

Each tower had 3.5-meter-thick walls<br />

so they were not simple to demolish. The tower<br />

at Esterhazy park has been transformed into<br />

an aquarium.<br />

Additionally for lunch you could go to<br />

Momoya, www.momoya.at<br />

Kitcha and Sticks,<br />

www.kitcha.at, if you are in the<br />

mood for Asian food.<br />

Café Museum (top right)<br />

Haas and Haas Tea House<br />

Burgtheater and the Ring Road during sunrise<br />

Karlsplatz with St. Charles's Church (Karlskirche)<br />

Brettljause<br />

(Amazing Snack)<br />


Afternoon activities:<br />

Once you have had lunch, take a stroll through<br />

the city known for its greenery. A multitude of<br />

parks are available for sitting outside in the sun<br />

and people watching. You could take a walking<br />

tour of the city; free tours are offered 3 times<br />

per day, www.freewalkingtourvienna.at.<br />

On the 16th of January <strong>2023</strong>, the Austrian<br />

Parliament buildings reopened after a four-year<br />

renovation. Everything was totally removed from<br />

the inside. Then the building was completely<br />

renovated both inside and out. Be sure to book<br />

in advance your tour of the newly renovated<br />

building,<br />

www.parlament.gv.at/ENGL/GEBF/FUEHRUNGEN.<br />

Most people who have visited Vienna have<br />

walked past or visited St. Stephen’s<br />

Cathedral. Did you know that beneath the<br />

cathedral, you can find ossuaries filled with<br />

bones and skulls? You can visit the rooms of<br />

the catacombs through a tour booked onsite<br />

at St. Stephan's, www.stephanskirche.at/<br />

toursWhileCorona.php. Go and enjoy the bones.<br />

Be sure to visit the new<br />

Albertina Modern Museum,<br />

www.albertina.at/en/albertina-modern.<br />

Here you can enjoy the new artists that are<br />

influencing the world.<br />

If you would like to do some fancy retail therapy,<br />

go directly to the Mariahilferstrasse or the<br />

Kärntnerstrasse, both of which have a nice<br />

pedestrian zone where you can shop for<br />

everything with no traffic.<br />

Some typical shops are:<br />

the Österreichische Werkstatt for cloisonné<br />

jewelry in the Kärntnerstrasse and<br />

Loden Plankl on Michaelerplatz for the typical<br />

boiled wool outer garments and dirndls.<br />

For a more bohemian shopping adventure,<br />

wander in the adjacent “Neubau” district (7th<br />

Bezirk) featuring galleries, arts & crafts and thrift<br />

stores, as well as both trendy and traditional<br />

cafes in every block.<br />

Austrian Parliament (top)<br />

St. Stephen’s Cathedral<br />

Albertina Modern Museum<br />

Wiener Schnitzel<br />

Sachertorte<br />

After dinner…<br />

Take in an opera, the theater or a concert.<br />

Check out what is being offered ...<br />

www.wien.info/en/music-stage-shows.<br />

If classical music is not to your taste,<br />

explore the excellent jazz offerings at ...<br />

Porgy & Bess, www.porgy.at<br />

Jazzland, www.jazzland.at<br />

The small jazz jewel, Zwe, www.zwe.cc.<br />

For a hipster experience, take in the bars,<br />

cafés and musical venues built into the old<br />

viaduct under the number 6 subway. On<br />

a summer evening stroll along the canal<br />

from Augartenbrücke to Schwedenbrücke<br />

to enjoy the relaxed and festive spirit of<br />

Vienna’s ad hoc parties and pop-up cafés.<br />

After dark fun:<br />

The place to go for a typical Viennese<br />

dinner is either<br />

Plachutta, www.plachutta.at,<br />

or, if you want to visit a 600-year-old<br />

cellar restaurant, go to the<br />

Melker Stiftskeller,<br />

www.melkerstiftskeller.at.<br />

If you want something trendier<br />

try one of the Swing Kitchen<br />

restaurants, www.swingkitchen.<br />

com/en, which serve a vegan and<br />

vegetarian menu along with swing<br />

music. Or, enjoy a new Israeli/Middle<br />

Eastern restaurant in a funky, friendly<br />

atmosphere just steps from Stephansdom at<br />

Miznon, www.miznonrestaurant.com.<br />

Vienna is also known for its excellent and fun<br />

Croatian seafood restaurants, such as Lubin,<br />

www.lubin.at, at<br />

Hainburgerstrasse 48 in the 3rd district or<br />

Fischrestaurant Kaj,<br />

www.fischrestaurant-kaj.at,<br />

at Fugbachgasse 9.<br />

If you want typical Viennese wine culture,<br />

head to one of the Heuriger (Viennese<br />

wine taverns) where you can get<br />

simple food and<br />

new wine.<br />

Vienna Opera House<br />



THE <strong>2023</strong> FAWCO<br />


MARCH 23-26, <strong>2023</strong><br />


We<br />

understand<br />

your world<br />

Hosted by AWA Vienna in cooperation with the International <strong>Women</strong>’s Club of Bratislava.<br />

Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia (known as Pressburg during the Hapsburg empire), is a<br />

charming city on the Danube, the second longest river in Europe. With its picturesque,<br />

pedestrian-only old town, surrounding vineyards and nearby Carpathian mountains,<br />

Bratislava is a real treat for participants in the FAWCO <strong>2023</strong> Biennial Conference.<br />

FAWCO Conferences are a great opportunity to meet members of other FAWCO clubs.<br />

Trade experiences, learn about their countries and clubs and join a community of<br />

enthusiastic people from all over the world.<br />

International Americans: we believe<br />

in truly borderless wealth management.<br />

One team will manage your global<br />

strategy, wherever you go.<br />

London & Capital.<br />

The destination for international Americans.<br />

Arrange an introduction with Jenny today<br />

jenny.judd@londonandcapital.com<br />

It’s not too late to join us for this action-packed event! For more information about the<br />

conference and all the activities, including the annual Foundation Night extravaganza, hotel<br />

accommodation and more, go to the Conference webpage on the FAWCO website.<br />

Search London & Capital US Family Office to learn more.<br />

The value of investments and any income from them can fall as well as rise and neither<br />

is guaranteed. Investors may not get back the capital they invested. Past performance is<br />

not indicative of future performance. The material is provided for informational purposes<br />

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profile<br />

Bloom and Blossom<br />

Where You’re Planted!<br />

Georgia Regnault, a member of AWC The Hague, came to The Netherlands<br />

for “one year.” Fifty+ years on, her life and career have been full of caring,<br />

compassion and FAWCO.<br />

I<br />

lived for 21 years in the same house in<br />

a suburb of Providence, Rhode Island and<br />

went 12 years to Lincoln School, a Quaker<br />

girls school. I was the youngest of four<br />

siblings, two brothers and a sister. We<br />

made yearly a road trip as this family of six,<br />

including two cross-country summer trips in<br />

1953 and 1954. That instilled in me a love of<br />

travel. I studied at Mount Holyoke College –<br />

a women’s college in western Massachusetts.<br />

Almost all my life, I have played tennis and<br />

field hockey. I never attended a camp (although<br />

probably would have loved it, as I love being<br />

around people).<br />

I came to the Netherlands in 1965 for one year,<br />

but after meeting my (future) husband in June<br />

1966, it seemed I was destined to live abroad.<br />

Besides meeting Peter Regnault, the wedding of<br />

Princess Beatrix to Claus van Amsberg in March<br />

1966 was a highlight for a young lady from<br />

Rhode Island.<br />

Georgia Regnault on New Year's day 2020.<br />

Keys to the future begin with education<br />

One cannot live almost 80 years without having<br />

several defining moments, but I guess the<br />

overriding one has been my education,<br />

especially my elementary and high school. I<br />

learned at a relatively young age that I could do<br />

anything and had the right to do anything: never<br />

to be put down because I was female! This sort<br />

of education really allows a girl to realize her<br />

potential. My parents believed in<br />

the importance of education and<br />

that their two daughters were just<br />

as important to educate as their<br />

two sons. They sent my sister and<br />

Georgia with<br />

the badge of her<br />

knighthood in<br />

2016.<br />


me to Europe between our junior and senior<br />

years, because they felt that was part of our<br />

education.<br />

Other defining moments in my life<br />

Making the decision to marry a Dutchman<br />

(rather innocently I might add); then living the<br />

rest of my life outside of the USA and having a<br />

son, Philippe, in 1970, and two more children<br />

followed, Lara in 1973 and Alexander in 1978.<br />

I have been actively involved in AWCs since<br />

1967 (Hamburg, The Hague and Curaçao)<br />

and in FAWCO since 1982, ultimately<br />

becoming President of AWC The Hague (1982–<br />

1984 and 1994–1995) after having served in<br />

several financial positions, FAWCO President,<br />

FAWCO Treasurer (1985–1987 and 1995–1997)<br />

and The FAWCO Foundation Treasurer (2006–<br />

2008). Now in "retirement," I seem to be the<br />

archivist for three different organizations.<br />

Georgia and husband Peter<br />

in 2015. (left)<br />

George signing the deed of<br />

the AWC clubhouse. (below)<br />

Involvement with American<br />

<strong>Women</strong>’s Clubs<br />

I married an Americanophile,<br />

who originally wanted to<br />

emigrate to the USA. When we<br />

didn’t, but moved to Germany<br />

with Royal Dutch Shell instead,<br />

Peter was extremely<br />

supportive and encouraging<br />

with my activities with the<br />

AWC of Hamburg.<br />

Challenges along the way<br />

Public speaking and writing! I have held many<br />

offices in college, in the three AWCs and also as<br />

FAWCO President, but I still get nervous when<br />

I have to speak in public, especially if I don’t do<br />

it regularly. The second challenge was writing. I<br />

was a math major in college and not very good<br />

in linguistics.<br />

Forty years ago, I had to write the President’s<br />

page in the AWC The Hague magazine every<br />

month. I remember not wanting it to be only<br />

thank-yous to her, and her and her, but<br />

something with a bit more grit or story to tell.<br />

I painstakingly finished my first and said to my<br />

husband, "Oh, gosh – one down, nine more to<br />

go!" And when re-elected for a second term,<br />

not usually the case in The Hague back then,<br />

back to the writing table for 10 more articles!!<br />

Sometimes, I even wrote in the Dutch tradition<br />

of poetry; it seemed to come more easily from<br />

my pen!<br />

And now:<br />

I haven’t quite overcome my nervousness<br />

of public speaking, especially when out of<br />

practice, but I do write every two months for<br />

a local glossy magazine for the expats/<br />

internationals living in my neighborhood.<br />

Still look at the blank computer screen and<br />

have trouble with the first sentence, but I love<br />

interviewing people and the research that goes<br />

into my articles.<br />

Helping people, and the importance of friends<br />

Helping people feel at home, both as a<br />

professional relocation consultant and active<br />

fifty-year member of AWCs. Learned from<br />

my mom as a child about<br />

the importance of<br />

entertaining and helping<br />

friends; when I married<br />

my Dutchman, he felt<br />

quite the same about<br />

the importance of<br />

maintaining friendships<br />

and helping people. It<br />

helped that he was a<br />

genuine Americanophile<br />

and our house was<br />

always open.<br />

develop and learn, but I hope that, at the same<br />

time, it benefits others.<br />

Embrace or resist maturity?<br />

I think I embrace it, but also feel sad yet grateful<br />

every morning that I wake up. I became a widow<br />

in 2016 at the age of 73 after a long battle for<br />

my husband with a devastating Parkinsonism/<br />

MSA. One piece of advice I received after his<br />

passing was that “You will get used to the fact<br />

that you won’t get used to it.” These words still<br />

comfort me today, as his death was probably<br />

the last most defining moment of my life.<br />

My mother, sister and one brother all passed<br />

away at the age of 76, so I consider myself lucky<br />

that I am still on this earth, active and as happy<br />

as I can be without a partner to share the ups<br />

and downs. I ache when I see friends go through<br />

illness problems with themselves or their loved<br />

ones. I ache when I see the world around us<br />

seem to be collapsing. I ache when I meet<br />

young Ukranian women who have fled to the<br />

Netherlands and especially a large group in my<br />

neighborhood, whom I try to help. And I ache<br />

when there is no partner in my home to reflect<br />

about these things and comfort me.<br />

And a royal honor!<br />

I received the Dutch royal honor of Knight<br />

in the Order of Orange-Nassau on October<br />

9, 2016 at the end of the FAWCO Symposium<br />

“Stand Up Against Human Trafficking." The<br />

grade of Knight is awarded for outstanding<br />

personal achievements and special merits for<br />

society. Six weeks later my husband passed<br />

away; it was an autumn of intense happiness<br />

and grief.<br />

In terms of myself, I<br />

measure my success<br />

and achievements by my<br />

happiness in developing<br />

them. Sometimes it is an<br />

ego trip in the sense that<br />

my work still helps me to<br />

Georgia's entire family<br />

was on hand for<br />

daughter Lara’s wedding.<br />


feature<br />

Through My Lens<br />

Our brand new feature,Through My Lens, is<br />

a compilation feature with a photo and short<br />

caption from multiple contributors.<br />

This issue of <strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong> magazine<br />

celebrates and elevates Maturity. For this<br />

Through My Lens feature, we asked several FAWCO<br />

women to tell us about a woman in their lives who inspires/d them.<br />

Michele Hendrikse Du Bois, FAUSA<br />

Joan DuBois<br />

Born and raised in Kentucky, my mom has lived a life dedicated to caring for and<br />

raising not just her own family but the children of hundreds of other families. Her<br />

professional career started as a teacher but, when she and my dad moved our young<br />

family across the country, they could only afford for one of them to get the extra<br />

education required to teach in Washington State. As a result, my mom started her<br />

own small business running a family daycare. She spent the following 42 years<br />

helping to raise multitudes of children. In her spare time, she was found sewing and<br />

creating hand-made gifts for family, friends and the children in her care. Whether a<br />

stuffed animal, Christmas decorations, costumes or quilts, she was always busy<br />

creating gifts of love. While she was game for any proposed adventure, her business<br />

didn’t allow for a lot of vacation time. Once she finally retired, she had more time for<br />

her quilting and other fun activities. One memorable adventure we had together is<br />

when she and my dad joined us on the FAWCO Foundation Fun(d)-Raising cruise to<br />

Norway. The pandemic and health issues have since slowed her down, but she still<br />

loves spending time with our family and following the lives of her former daycare<br />

children.<br />

38<br />

Michele<br />

Hendrikse<br />

DuBois, Joan<br />

DuBois and<br />

Charise Eliason<br />

in front of one of<br />

Joan's Christmas<br />

quilts.<br />


Joan Taugher<br />

A woman who never had a “real” job, Joan Taugher worked very hard. Besides<br />

raising three children, she also cared for her brother, who had severe mental<br />

disabilities. Through her sheer determination and love, her brother outlived the<br />

doctors’ predictions that he would die in infancy by 67 years. She was always<br />

involved in working with the Association for Retarded Citizens (ARC) in a career<br />

spanning 40 years, including a stint as president of its California chapter. Her<br />

other volunteer activities included work as a docent at the Oakland Museum,<br />

with the Children’s Hospital Auxiliary and with Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church.<br />

At 94 (in January <strong>2023</strong>), Mom does not let any grass grow under her feet. She still<br />

travels once a year to visit me in Dubai and plans on participating as a guest at<br />

the FAWCO conference in Bratislava this year. A perennial guest at FAWCO<br />

conferences, it was my mom who encouraged me to join the FAWCO Board. Most<br />

recently, she has been my inspiration for creating an NGO in Lebanon with my<br />

husband to address education and livelihood issues amidst the growing crisis<br />

there. I am proud to be Joan’s daughter.<br />

Monica Jubayli, AWC Lebanon<br />

Photograph by Terry Spearman<br />

Dr. Donna Finch Adams<br />

Mary Adams, AWC The Hague<br />

The definition of inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated to<br />

do something, usually something creative. There is no one single source of<br />

inspiration. It can be found anywhere and in anything in life. Although we can<br />

position ourselves to be inspired, there is no way we can make inspiration<br />

randomly appear… or is there? Is there an inspiration continuum?<br />

Creating and teaching art have been my mother’s lifelong passion. Early in my<br />

life, she inspired me to be an appreciator of art. Over the years, I realized that<br />

the root source of my inspiration was neither her artwork nor her remarkable<br />

knowledge of color theory. It was watching (in real-time) how being true to<br />

yourself and your passions empowers you to reach beyond your own<br />

potential. At 87 years old, Dr. Donna Finch Adams still pursues her passion<br />

teaching not only art but helping students understand the art of the possible.<br />

She continues to inspire me to be brave enough to be different and to follow<br />

my passions. She inspires me to keep going when inspiration abandons me<br />

and better yet, to know with certainty that when I am inspired, I will act.<br />


Doris Scalzo Sheedy Dennis<br />

Aunt Doris was born in 1921, the second of four children. These children were smart.<br />

The boys were, without question, going to college and careers, while the girls were<br />

merely "encouraged" towards further education. Both Doris and my mom attended<br />

college, which turned out to be important.<br />

Doris was very spirited. She married John Sheedy and they had three very<br />

rambunctious boys. My Uncle John died suddenly and so Doris had to provide for her<br />

sons. She taught “business” in high school. Each boy was a handful, but she persevered<br />

and made a good home for them.<br />

My family moved to Denver and on to Hawaii. Doris couldn’t come to visit, but we<br />

wrote to each other often. When we moved to California she finally came to see us and<br />

the adventures began! She and my mom took a road trip to Tijuana, Mexico. We didn’t<br />

hear from them for three days. They came back safe and sound and giggled a lot.<br />

When we moved back east, every summer she would come to New Jersey and scoop<br />

me up to take me to the cottage on the Finger Lakes in NY. Our road trips were wild.<br />

We would stop often for ice cream or a dip in a nearby lake or river. We loved to shop,<br />

and out of mother’s sight, I pointed and she purchased. I watched her interact with<br />

strangers. Always friendly and always listening. She took no “guff," kind but firm. She<br />

knew when to go with the flow and when to take charge of a situation. And boy, could<br />

she make you laugh!<br />

Elsie Bose, FAUSA & AWG Paris<br />

Suzanne Wheeler, FAUSA<br />

Viola Wheeler<br />

My mother, Viola Wheeler, is over 101 years old. She has faced much<br />

adversity in her life, including being orphaned at a very early age. I am<br />

inspired daily by her spirit, exemplified by her becoming a pilot in the 1930s.<br />

Mama has a zest for life, a love for people, and a sense of humor that<br />

persists throughout all situations. Philanthropy has always been important<br />

to her and she passed that passion on to her six daughters. We are blessed<br />

by her presence.<br />


My-Linh Kunst, AWC Berlin<br />

Thu Pham Nguyen<br />

In her late 70s, my mom<br />

was the first one in our<br />

extended family to own<br />

an iPad. Also in her 70s,<br />

she took courses on<br />

HTML and Excel “just<br />

because I want to know<br />

what it is.” My mom is<br />

not only book-smart, she<br />

is extremely curious and<br />

resourceful – traits that I<br />

value and try to emulate.<br />

Now in her 90s, she<br />

continues to tango,<br />

manage her own<br />

investments, live on<br />

her own and travel all<br />

over the world to visit<br />

her younger relatives.<br />

While she does<br />

appreciate familiar<br />

surroundings and<br />

routines, my mom has<br />

a joie de vivre for all<br />

things and places new<br />

and exciting.<br />

Norah Yates Lissimore<br />

Norah Lissimore (1906-1994) was my maternal grandmother. Born in the West<br />

Midlands, England, she was the eldest of three and grew up living over the pub.<br />

Her diminutive height (she was only 5ft 1) hid a steely strength and determination<br />

to better herself. In the late 1920s, at a time when it still remained tough for women<br />

to obtain places at university, Norah won a place at the University of Birmingham to<br />

read History. She then went on to get her teaching certificate in 1931. At university<br />

she met my grandfather, Philip Lissimore, but told him she wouldn’t marry him until<br />

she had had a chance to teach for five years, to use the qualification she had worked<br />

so hard to get; in those days married women were not allowed to teach. Due to the<br />

depression, finding a teaching job was not easy and she applied for 80 positions<br />

before she was appointed in Sheffield. She was a kind and generous woman, who<br />

spent hours playing “make believe” games with, and reading to, her grandchildren.<br />

But you also knew you couldn’t cross her as she was a force to be reckoned with too!<br />

Definitely an inspirational person in my life.<br />

Liz MacNiven, AIWC Cologne<br />

Through her many<br />

personal challenges<br />

(including losing her<br />

“country” and everything<br />

she owned and worked<br />

for, starting over as a<br />

refugee in the US in her<br />

40s, going bankrupt in<br />

her 50s, and getting<br />

divorced in her 70s), my<br />

mom was and is the<br />

role model of strength<br />

and resilience.<br />

She taught me to ask<br />

the questions, to be<br />

independent and to<br />

never give up. Everything<br />

that I am today, I owe to<br />

my mom.<br />


Judy Furukawa, FAUSA<br />

Chiyo Fukuchi<br />

In 1920, at the age of 27, Chiyo Fukuchi agreed to an arranged marriage and was put on<br />

a ship to Seattle. A photo was sent to Giichiro Mizuki, so he would recognize his “picture<br />

bride” on arrival. My mother was born the next year.<br />

Grandma never spoke English very well, but was a teacher and taught “Japanese school.”<br />

My mother and her three brothers didn't attend, as returning to Japan was never my<br />

grandfather’s plan. They had a corner store and my grandmother was well known among<br />

her friends and church community as a fabulous cook.<br />

My mother and her family were forced to leave Seattle in 1942, pursuant to Executive<br />

Order 9066. My grandparents and two of my uncles “relocated” to the camp in<br />

Minedoka, Idaho. They eventually returned to Seattle, where they opened a garden<br />

store. My grandparents were not allowed to become US citizens until the Chinese<br />

Exclusion Act was repealed after World War II. It wasn’t easy to be Japanese in the US.<br />

Both my mother and grandmother only had brothers; this gave them a certain<br />

“toughness,” yet allowed them a gentler side as well. Throughout their lives, they dealt<br />

with life’s setbacks, and then always, always carried on.<br />

The top photo is of Judy's grandmother and the bottom photo shows three generations, Chiyo, Judy's mother and<br />

Judy herself.<br />


profile<br />

A Life Spent Not Fitting<br />

Into the Behaving-Likea-Lady<br />

Stereotype<br />

Melissa Meyer Mash, a member of the AW Surrey International <strong>Women</strong>’s<br />

Group, has lived following her mother’s example of not worrying about<br />

being different.<br />

Melissa Mash<br />

I<br />

grew up in Milltown, New Jersey. My<br />

mom and dad found our lakeside<br />

property while on a bike ride. They stopped<br />

and talked to the farmer who was selling his<br />

land. Dad built the place by himself and the end<br />

product was a pink house with three differently<br />

angled roofs. Certainly different from the others<br />

on the block! I never had to go further than the<br />

end of our sidewalk to find friends and fun.<br />

My mom liked to be different<br />

My mom was always a trend setter. When<br />

other kids had Christmas trees with lights and<br />

baubles, we had trees with doves and cardinals<br />

or candles and gold bows. One time we had a<br />

Hawaiian theme at school so I asked to borrow<br />

my mom’s seashell bracelet. She told me to wear<br />

it on my ankle instead of my wrist. It made a<br />

wonderful sound as the shells clinked together<br />

and I was egged on by my classmates to get up<br />

on the table of the library and do a dance, which<br />

I did. I ended up in the principal’s office. Mom<br />

was secretly amused and told me to never worry<br />

about being different<br />

How come I live in Surrey?<br />

It’s quite simple to explain how I ended up living<br />

in Godalming, Surrey: I met a handsome Brit<br />

and moving to England with him seemed to be<br />

quite an adventure, which, in fact, has proven to<br />

be true!<br />

Melissa doing a<br />

preflight check<br />

on her Cessna<br />

182.<br />

A different<br />

kind of flying!<br />


A defining moment<br />

in my life<br />

When I first arrived in<br />

the UK, I spent time<br />

battling with the<br />

differences between<br />

how things were done<br />

in England versus<br />

America. So many<br />

things seemed<br />

nonsensical to me and<br />

I told everyone so! At<br />

a company party, a<br />

kind lady told me that<br />

I wouldn’t change the<br />

way Brits do things so<br />

perhaps it would be<br />

easier if I made the<br />

adjustment. I did and life was much better. I<br />

learned that my way was not the only way!<br />

The realities of life as an expat<br />

An issue for all expats is that your heart is<br />

constantly torn in two different directions. I<br />

think most people living away from their<br />

homeland have challenges. Initially, it’s<br />

overcoming the difference in culture, food,<br />

language etc. But as you mature, you realize you<br />

are missing the everyday happenings of your<br />

nephews, your sister’s birthdays, family<br />

gatherings and the little things you used to take<br />

for granted. As you age, so do your parents and<br />

it is a real struggle to be so far away when they<br />

are ailing and need care. I was abroad both<br />

times when my parents passed away. It was sad<br />

but a reality of an overseas life.<br />

Measuring life’s successes<br />

As you age, you discover fairly quickly that the<br />

bank balance isn’t the measure of success.<br />

It’s nice not to have to worry about whether<br />

or not you can feed your family, but success is<br />

helping those who can’t. It’s about having your<br />

kids’ school friends still keeping in touch and<br />

remembering the time when you did something<br />

for them. Or a Girl Scout from your Troop 35<br />

years ago winning a gold medal in the Olympics<br />

and telling you that she’ll never forget you. Or<br />

someone thanking you for passing on all your<br />

twin clothes to them when you had completely<br />

forgotten about it. It’s posting 2000 collected<br />

bras that will help someone in Africa escape<br />

the sex trade. That is my definition of<br />

success and happiness.<br />

Breaking stereotypes<br />

One time in high school I was sliding down<br />

the stair banister and the principal caught<br />

me. He said “Miss Meyer, walk up those<br />

stairs and walk back down like a lady.”<br />

There were pretty definite ideas in the<br />

1970s of what a lady does and doesn’t do.<br />

In fact, I liked not fitting into the lady<br />

stereotype. Unlike my fellow classmates<br />

who wore swirling chiffon bridesmaid<br />

dresses to the senior prom, I wore a<br />

purple tropical print which was slit up to<br />

the waist with hot pants underneath. I<br />

liked being a pilot at 16, having my own<br />

motorcycle and being the first and only<br />

Melissa, her husband and their<br />

daughters (above)<br />

Showing off my new toy! (left)<br />

female Sales Rep for PVC in the USA (at the<br />

time). And now I am enjoying being involved<br />

in the City of London livery companies as the<br />

odd American.<br />

The women of FAWCO<br />

The quality of the women I meet through<br />

FAWCO and the various clubs around the world<br />

continually surprises me. They are filled with<br />

multi-talented ladies who are really making a<br />

difference in the world. They care deeply and<br />

give their time and talents free of charge to<br />

make this planet a better place.<br />

Embracing “maturity”<br />

I am loving this stage of my life! With my<br />

children all out forging their own paths in<br />

life, I don’t have to worry about school buses,<br />

schedules or school holidays. There is a lovely<br />

freedom about this age! I’m sure this has<br />

been mentioned before but the brain doesn’t<br />

register that you’re old. People see the<br />

gray hair (skipping the salon dying every<br />

six weeks is great!) and they see an old<br />

lady. But you don’t see yourself that way.<br />

I will confess that I phoned my husband<br />

in tears the first time someone gave up<br />

their seat on the Tube for me.<br />

You go to a 50th class reunion (which<br />

I recently did) and you’re amazed at<br />

how old your classmates are! You still<br />

think the same way but the body doesn’t<br />

keep up. Fortunately, I am still in fairly<br />

good health, and it's lovely to be able<br />

to travel and go out when I like. It’s also<br />

very freeing to say exactly what you think<br />

and not worry that they won’t “like” me<br />

if they disagree. Some of the funnier<br />

things I have noticed is that people are<br />

surprised when you say something<br />

amusing. They assume older people have<br />

no senses of humor!<br />

It’s also precious to have time with my<br />

husband now that he has retired. His job<br />

demanded a lot of travel so it’s lovely for<br />

both of us to be together. The biggest<br />

perk of this stage is not having to set an<br />

alarm clock!<br />

What would my 25- year -old self think<br />

of me today?<br />

I don’t think she’d be surprised at all. I<br />

always thought I would marry a foreigner<br />

(no idea why) and live abroad. Okay,<br />

having twins wouldn’t have been on my<br />

radar as there are none in the family, but that I<br />

view as the off chance of winning the lottery. I<br />

also, again with no reason, thought I would not<br />

live beyond 40 years. So in my mind, this past<br />

quarter century has been a real bonus!<br />

Losing patience with things as I age<br />

I have no patience for inconsideration, rudeness<br />

and bad manners. I’m not sure if that's a<br />

maturity thing or not, as I have always been<br />

put off by people throwing garbage out their<br />

car windows, little kids screaming in a posh<br />

restaurant when we all know they’d be happier<br />

in McDonalds or people not taking time to<br />

say thank you. I think the world needs more<br />

kindness and it doesn’t cost anyone anything<br />

to spread it around.<br />

The Existential<br />

Traveller<br />

Bridging Borders since 1984<br />

Explore your dreams…<br />

Enhance your mind…<br />

Enrich your soul…<br />

Why US?<br />

Local Expertise<br />

• We are personally connected to the places you’ll visit.<br />

• We are committed to preserving environmental integrity and<br />

to supporting local economies.<br />

• We are dedicated to your enjoyment and pleasure<br />

For More Information:<br />

Contact: Linda Johnson, FAUSA member<br />

linda@theexistentialtraveller.club<br />

Phone: +212693842357<br />

Special Tours available for FAWCO Clubs! Contact Us<br />


feature<br />

A Club Inspires:<br />

AWC Antwerp<br />

Tharien van Eck – Chair of<br />

the Target Program (Health,<br />

2019-2022), Chair of the<br />

Selection Committee for the<br />

Target Program (Environment,<br />

<strong>2023</strong>-2025), member of the<br />

Global Issues Health and<br />

Human Rights teams and<br />

AWC Antwerp's FAWCO Rep –<br />

introduces us to her city and<br />

AWC Antwerp, one of four<br />

clubs in FAWCO’s Region 4.<br />

Celebrating 85 years at the Antwerp City Hall<br />

Founded in 1928, at a time when there<br />

were few American organizations in<br />

the city, the American <strong>Women</strong>’s Club<br />

of Antwerp was typical of its sister<br />

organizations in other European capitals.<br />

Membership was open to United States citizens<br />

or non-American women married to Americans<br />

and it offered opportunities for women to share<br />

common interests, broaden outlooks, extend<br />

knowledge, and provide community service.<br />

The motto of the club is “May we never be hasty<br />

in judgement and always generous.” In 1931,<br />

the American <strong>Women</strong>’s Club of Antwerp was a<br />

founding member of the Federation of American<br />

<strong>Women</strong>’s Clubs in Europe (later called FAWCO)<br />

formed by seven clubs: London, Antwerp, Paris,<br />

Berlin, The Hague, Vienna, and Zurich.<br />

Membership in the American<br />

<strong>Women</strong>’s Club of Antwerp<br />

fluctuated with global trends.<br />

By 1935, the membership had<br />

dropped from around 40 women<br />

to just 23, most probably due to the departure<br />

of Americans from Europe during the Great<br />

Depression. Then, in 1939, World War II began,<br />

and the club fell idle. Most American families<br />

were evacuated from Antwerp in the fall of 1939,<br />

but about ten years later the population began<br />

to grow again.<br />

What does your current membership look like?<br />

We currently have almost 100 members from<br />

numerous countries, a truly global organization.<br />

Many of our members hold dual passports, due<br />

to marriage or long-term residence in the EU/<br />

Belgium. We have an active group of Belgian and<br />

Dutch members who keep us well connected<br />

with the local community. Many of these ladies<br />

are former expats themselves, having returned<br />

to Belgium or the Netherlands after postings<br />

abroad. Also, in contrast to the wife/mother<br />

expat of previous decades, many international<br />

women who relocated to Antwerp are now<br />

working full time. With social media, online<br />

communities, and the ease of finding<br />

The Brabo<br />

Fountain is<br />

located in the<br />

Grote Markt of<br />

52<br />

Antwerp.<br />


Club newsletter, ChitChat and excerpts from old issues<br />

a survey out to all members; an<br />

important piece of feedback is<br />

the need to have evening events<br />

(meetings, speakers, etc.) to make<br />

provision for working members.<br />

This is something that we will<br />

start planning in <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

information on the internet, newcomers<br />

no longer see the club as a “lifeline” in a<br />

foreign environment.<br />

How does the club run?<br />

The Club has a board that is elected yearly.<br />

There is a nominating committee that works<br />

their magic on members, asking individuals to<br />

serve on the board. A new development is that<br />

some positions are now shared, lessening the<br />

workload on already busy individuals. And a<br />

number of positions/activities are handled as<br />

a committee.<br />

Does your club have a signature event?<br />

The Club has several signature events – a<br />

Christmas market, Founders Day celebration<br />

and the Christmas lunch. The pandemic<br />

interrupted all these activities, but we are<br />

almost back in full force! A very exciting event<br />

will be the 95th birthday celebration of the Club,<br />

which will take place in 2024.<br />

What other kinds of events do you have in<br />

your club?<br />

There are monthly meetings and, where<br />

possible, this is alternated between a city and<br />

suburb location. There is a small fee payable<br />

for refreshments. Members often have the<br />

opportunity to stay for lunch. We recently sent<br />

Do you raise money for any<br />

particular cause?<br />

The most important fundraiser<br />

for the Club is for Caring Hearts,<br />

the group that supports people<br />

with breast cancer. The heartshaped<br />

pillow project was<br />

introduced to the Club in 2008,<br />

and in 2012 the project was<br />

named, "Caring Hearts.” The<br />

members make and deliver<br />

800 -1,000 pillows a year to<br />

seven hospitals throughout<br />

Antwerp. The pillow is<br />

designed to fit comfortably<br />

under the arm to relieve the<br />

pain from the incision area and<br />

site of surgery. The pillow<br />

is also a symbol to<br />

patients that they are not<br />

alone and that there are<br />

other people thinking<br />

about them during this<br />

difficult time. In addition<br />

to the pillows, volunteers<br />

from Caring Hearts make<br />

breast prostheses. These<br />

are soft, washable, and<br />

available in every bra<br />

size. The knitted or<br />

crocheted breast<br />

prosthesis offers a welcome<br />

alternative or variation to the<br />

silicone prosthesis.<br />

The Club has also raised funds<br />

to sponsor refurbishing hospital<br />

rooms into breast care lounges<br />

for cancer patients. These rooms<br />

serve as oases, quiet and<br />

comfortable places away from<br />

the hospital atmosphere where<br />

patients and their families can<br />

talk with doctors and nurses<br />

about their prognoses and<br />

therapies. Four hospitals in the<br />

greater Antwerp area have<br />

received donations for breast<br />

care lounges.<br />

(Caring hearts) The AWCA tent<br />

at Race for the Cure (above)<br />

Summer get-together (right)<br />

Antwerp Cathedral tour (left)<br />

Members of the Caring Hearts<br />

group (below)<br />


What was your own favorite activity/event<br />

last year and why?<br />

My favorite activity would be the pillow parties,<br />

the name that we call the meetings when we<br />

gather to make the heart pillows. We kept this<br />

group going throughout the pandemic, working<br />

in stages remotely from each other. The best<br />

event last year was the first time when we could<br />

get together in person, not only making pillows,<br />

but also enjoying the company of each other.<br />

But also the Christmas lunch! To see so many<br />

members, all dressed up, was wonderful.<br />

Christmas lunch (far left)<br />

Visiting KMSKA - Royal Museum of Fine Arts (left)<br />

Harbor House, designed by Zaha Hadid (above)<br />

Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) (right)<br />

Tell us a little about Antwerp and Brussels.<br />

Belgium is a small country almost in the middle<br />

of western Europe. It unexpectedly became the<br />

home of our family almost 19 years ago, and<br />

now it is truly home. Our children completed<br />

their school and university studies here, and<br />

both are working in Belgium.<br />

Antwerp is one of the hidden gems of Europe,<br />

a must-see when you travel through Europe.<br />

Are there any undiscovered gems in your city<br />

and or country?<br />

There are five magnificent churches in a small<br />

radius in the Antwerp city center, perhaps too<br />

many to visit in one day, but all very worthwhile<br />

to see. And the newly restored Royal Museum<br />

of Fine Arts Antwerp, or affectionately known<br />

as the KMSKA, is another must visit! If you’re<br />

interested in architecture, don’t forget a visit to<br />

the Harbor House or the MAS (Museum aan<br />

de Stroom).<br />

Are there any unusual/interesting<br />

traditions or traits of the locals?<br />

The dialects! Every town or city has its<br />

own dialect, difficult to understand for<br />

locals, and impossible for people with<br />

limited understanding of Dutch.<br />


profile<br />

This is My “Golden Age”<br />

Claudia Tessier, a member of AWC Berlin, grew up in the Flower Child<br />

years. Today, as she approaches her 80s, she embraces her maturity<br />

and doesn’t let it stop her from trying new things.<br />

I<br />

grew up in a small Massachusetts town<br />

characterized by traditional American<br />

culture. I thought my life was typical and<br />

normal, but I didn’t find it satisfactory.<br />

I wanted more. My mother encouraged<br />

me, nurturing a love for books, music, and<br />

animals, as well as a desire to travel.<br />

The Flower Child Years<br />

Moving to Boston for college and work exposed<br />

me to greater diversity, but moving to San<br />

Francisco in 1966 was the defining point in<br />

my adult life. It was at the height of the Flower<br />

Child years, with political movements, protests,<br />

and more. I worked, socialized, and made<br />

friends with people of all ages, ethnicities,<br />

religions; professionals, mainstream workers,<br />

unemployed; gays, straights, hippies, sexists,<br />

feminists; intellectuals, non-intellectuals,<br />

anti-intellectuals. I was stimulated by such<br />

authors as Betty Friedan, James Baldwin, and<br />

Gloria Steinem; by such activists as Angela<br />

Davis, Tom Hayden, and Malcolm X; by such<br />

performers as Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, and<br />

Aretha Franklin. I marched, protested, sang,<br />

danced, loved, laughed, cried, changed,<br />

and grew.<br />

Claudia Tessier<br />

An enduring impact<br />

I left San Francisco in 1975, but its impact<br />

persists. Decades later, when I traveled to<br />

Berlin, first for conferences, then for pleasure,<br />

I was reminded of San Francisco in the 60s<br />

and 70s. Berlin’s diversity especially appealed<br />

to me. Its population: diverse in age, ethnicity,<br />

experience. Its multiple concert venues, opera<br />

houses, museums. Its varied architecture,<br />

cuisines, activities, neighborhoods. Its ease of<br />

travel, locally and widely.<br />

Claudia and<br />

her husband<br />

enjoying Egypt.<br />


Life adventures<br />

Over the decades, I lived in numerous US<br />

cities while experiencing major life adventures:<br />

a difficult marriage; buying a California ranch<br />

to provide a home for rescued animals,<br />

including wild burros from Death Valley; being<br />

a university professor, and becoming a widely<br />

recognized association executive, educator,<br />

author, speaker, and leader in healthcare<br />

documentation standards.<br />

Finding new love<br />

In 2003, four years after my husband‘s suicide,<br />

I moved back to Boston after falling in love<br />

with a German who lived there. As Peter and<br />

I approached retirement at 70, we wanted a<br />

new, active life that was rich in culture. So, we<br />

chose to retire in Berlin, where we purchased a<br />

home overlooking the Spree, and we are now<br />

dual citizens of Germany and the US. Through<br />

Peter, I also gained a family: a son in the Boston<br />

area, a daughter in Los Angeles, and a daughter<br />

in Berlin, with whom we enjoy weekly family<br />

dinners and more, along with her boyfriend<br />

and a grandniece who also lives in Berlin. I<br />

love my life.<br />

unpopulated state surrounding Berlin, with<br />

about 2400 km of bike paths through woods and<br />

villages, along canals, and around lakes. We take<br />

a train from Berlin to a Brandenburg station<br />

and bike to another station, stopping for lunch<br />

and a beer along the way, and take a train back<br />

to Berlin, usually covering 30 to 50 km, three to<br />

four times a week during biking-weather months<br />

(March to November). The app Komoot helps<br />

us plot our route, taking into account distance,<br />

path quality, and wind direction.<br />

International biking trips<br />

Besides frequent rides throughout Brandenburg,<br />

we‘ve also biked from Berlin to Copenhagen,<br />

from Luxembourg to Koblenz, from Würzburg<br />

to Nürnberg, and from Alkmaar to The Hague,<br />

along the tulip fields in The Netherlands. Several<br />

times we‘ve biked from Brandenburg into<br />

Poland. We’ve also taken part in Berlin‘s<br />

Sternfahrt, an annual biking event through<br />

Berlin streets, including the motorway, that are<br />

closed to cars. In April <strong>2023</strong>, we‘ll bike around<br />

Lake Constance, exploring its border towns<br />

while exchanging apartments with a friend who<br />

lives there.<br />

Finding a new hobby<br />

When my partner (now husband) and<br />

I moved to Germany<br />

in 2013, at age 70, he<br />

suggested we take up<br />

biking, but I resisted.<br />

Not having biked for<br />

decades, I thought I<br />

was too old to start<br />

again. Knowing that I<br />

dislike being pressured,<br />

he simply invited me to<br />

go with him to a bike<br />

convention to check<br />

out bikes for himself.<br />

An eBike vendor<br />

there offered tryouts,<br />

biking down to and<br />

back from the<br />

underground garage.<br />

I took the bait and was<br />

so impressed by the<br />

ease and versatility<br />

that, dismounting, I<br />

said, “OK, if we get eBikes, I’m in.“<br />

Biking through Germany<br />

Since then, we‘ve biked about 25,000 km, about<br />

two-thirds of it through Brandenburg, the largely<br />

Claudia receiving an award. (top)<br />

Claudia cuddling a rescue burro. (below)<br />

Claudia the author, showing off her book. (top)<br />

Claudia on one of her biking trips. (below)<br />

Dealing with obstacles<br />

Overcoming my initial, strong resistance was the<br />

biggest challenge, but once<br />

that obstacle was removed,<br />

I embraced biking. The next<br />

challenge was getting our<br />

eBikes (each about 25 kg) up<br />

and down the stairs in train<br />

stations without elevators.<br />

Often, a younger person<br />

offers to help; if not, we<br />

manage one bike at a time.<br />

The joy of traveling by bike<br />

In addition to its obvious<br />

physical benefits (eBikes<br />

assist but do not replace<br />

pedaling and physical effort),<br />

biking enables us to see so<br />

much of Germany and<br />

beyond in ways that<br />

traditional touring doesn‘t.<br />

We don‘t bike to exercise; we<br />

bike to explore. It’s fun, and<br />

the exercise is a bonus. Also, we have enjoyed<br />

wonderful examples of spontaneous German<br />

hospitality. On one particularly hot summer<br />

day, we longed to find a Biergarten, but with no<br />

success. Then, as we biked through a village,<br />


we asked a man getting out of his car<br />

if there was a Biergarten nearby. He<br />

responded, “No, but wait here.“ He<br />

went into his house, and when he and<br />

his wife came out, they had lawn chairs<br />

and beers for all.<br />

Who would have thought…<br />

Finally, what continues to surprise and<br />

delight me is that I‘m doing this at a<br />

time in my life when I would not have<br />

predicted doing so. If anyone had told<br />

me in my 50s or 60s that I‘d be biking<br />

thousands of kilometers as I approach<br />

80, I‘d have said, “Yeah, sure.“ Indeed, I<br />

would have been guilty of both<br />

stereotyping and ageism. Instead, I<br />

enjoy biking and hope to continue to do<br />

so into my 90s.<br />

Embracing maturity<br />

This is my “Golden Age,“ full of fun,<br />

stimulation, and rewards, offering<br />

• z Opportunities to engage in<br />

satisfying and stimulating activities<br />

(music, books, travel, etc.) and to<br />

meet new challenges (piano<br />

playing, and eBikes).<br />

• z Freedom and flexibility for<br />

travel and activities: any day, any<br />

time of day, any place that meets<br />

our interests and budget.<br />

• z Opportunities to share my<br />

experience and abilities, in<br />

particular in AWC Berlin, where I<br />

currently serve as Parliamentarian,<br />

as chair of the Constitution<br />

Committee, and as a book club<br />

coordinator. I've also been<br />

secretary and chair of the<br />

Nominating Committee.<br />

• z Intellectual challenges as my<br />

husband and I explore and discuss<br />

widely ranging topics, read books<br />

together, and have frequent<br />

intellectual dinner parties.<br />

Marriage ceremony of Claudia to her second<br />

husband. (top)<br />

Claudia and her husband in Istanbul. (middle)<br />

Claudia and her husband taking a spin on the<br />

dance floor. (bottom)<br />

• z Opportunities to be a "digital citizen,"<br />

enjoying the technological advances of our<br />

times. So, no paper newspapers or paper<br />

books, and through a variety of apps, easy<br />

access to knowledge, entertainment, and<br />

connections to friends and relatives, near and<br />

far, including my best friend and others from<br />

the 1940s and onward.<br />

What would my 25-year-old self think?<br />

She would be impressed and proud, noting,<br />

“You followed your mother‘s advice in so many<br />

ways, even further than perhaps either of you<br />

anticipated.“ Examples:<br />

• z Don’t stay in a job when you‘ve mastered<br />

it: I changed jobs every two to three years<br />

until I became CEO of a national professional<br />

association, where, even after 18 years, I was<br />

still challenged and stimulated.<br />

• z Do whatever you want career-wise, but<br />

never depend on a man for money: I was<br />

self-sufficient throughout my single years, the<br />

sole provider during my first marriage and<br />

I share financial responsibility with my<br />

current husband.<br />

• z Don’t hesitate to learn, do new things,<br />

help others, enjoy life, stay active, accept<br />

challenges and act outside the norm:<br />

♦ ♦ Starting weekly piano lessons two<br />

years ago, 65 years since my last<br />

childhood lesson.<br />

♦ ♦ Taking up eBiking at age 70.<br />

♦ ♦ Remarrying at age 75.<br />

♦ ♦ Tutoring Syrian refugees in English,<br />

gaining friends as I did so.<br />

♦ ♦ Studying German at age 70—and<br />

still struggling with it.<br />

♦ ♦ Reading two to three eBooks<br />

weekly, sometimes more.<br />

♦ ♦ Becoming comfortable with<br />

German Thermes/saunas.<br />

♦ ♦ Attending multiple concerts and<br />

operas weekly, as well as the occasional<br />

ball. (I love dancing, from the twist to<br />

the waltz.)<br />

♦ ♦ Hosting salons, where we explore<br />

with friends such topics as "What<br />

Is a Good Life?, What Is Progress?,<br />

Thoughts About Death, The Digital<br />

Society, Elderhood."<br />

♦ ♦ Travel as much as possible: I‘ve traveled<br />

to 27 countries over my lifetime. In 2022,<br />

we visited six countries (The Netherlands,<br />

Morocco, Switzerland, Poland, Croatia,<br />

Slovakia) and multiple German towns and<br />

cities. We’re already planning more travels<br />

in <strong>2023</strong> and beyond.<br />

Things I’ve no patience for these days<br />

Considering my experience, I no longer have<br />

patience with sexism, racism, ageism, etc.<br />

Actually, lack of patience is not new, thanks to<br />

my experiences during the Flower Child years in<br />

San Francisco, but over the years, it has matured<br />

and expanded in expression. Example: While CEO<br />

of an organization populated mainly by women<br />

who worked for physicians (mostly male), I urged<br />

my female staff and members to resist calling<br />

themselves “girls“ and allowing others to do so.<br />

"You are women,“ I reminded them repeatedly.<br />

And, “If you are girls, then the men are boys.<br />

“ I am a woman; hear me roar!"<br />


feature<br />

<strong>Inspiring</strong> Reads:<br />

Pipe Dreams<br />

The Urgent Global Quest<br />

to Transform the Toilet<br />

Chelsea Wald has<br />

repeatedly plunged into<br />

the topic of toilets since<br />

2013, when editors first<br />

approached her to write<br />

about the latent potential<br />

in our stagnating<br />

infrastructure. Since then<br />

she has traveled to Italy,<br />

South Africa, Indonesia,<br />

and Haiti, as well as<br />

throughout the Netherlands<br />

and the United States, in<br />

search of the past and<br />

future of toilet systems. With<br />

a degree in astronomy from<br />

Columbia University and a<br />

master’s in journalism from<br />

Indiana University, Chelsea<br />

has more than fifteen years<br />

of experience in writing<br />

about science and the<br />

environment. She lives with<br />

her family in The Hague,<br />

Netherlands where she is a<br />

member of AWC The Hague.<br />

Most of us do not give much thought to<br />

the centerpiece of our bathrooms, but the<br />

toilet is an unexpected paradox. On the<br />

one hand, it is a modern miracle: a<br />

ubiquitous fixture in a vast sanitation system that<br />

has helped add decades to the human life span by<br />

reducing disease. On the other hand, the toilet is<br />

also a tragic failure: less than half of the world’s<br />

population can access a toilet that safely manages<br />

body waste. And it is inefficient, squandering clean<br />


water as well as the nutrients, energy, and<br />

information contained in the stuff we flush<br />

away. While we see radical technological change<br />

in almost every other aspect of our lives, we<br />

remain stuck in a sanitation status quo—in part<br />

because the topic of toilets is taboo.<br />

Fortunately, there’s hope—and Pipe Dreams<br />

daringly profiles the growing army of sewagesavvy<br />

scientists, engineers, philanthropists,<br />

entrepreneurs and activists worldwide who are<br />

overcoming their aversions and focusing their<br />

formidable skills on making toilets accessible<br />

and healthier for all. Author Chelsea Wald takes<br />

us on a wild world tour from a compost toilet<br />

project to a plant that salvages used toilet paper<br />

from sewage, and shows us a toilet seat that can<br />

watch poop for signs of illness. Among other<br />

accolades, Pipe Dreams was a finalist for the<br />

2022 NASW Science in Society Journalism Award<br />

and longlisted for the 2022 AAAS/Subaru SB&F<br />

Prize for Excellence in Science Books.<br />

What was your inspiration for the book?<br />

In 2013, I got two assignments. In my work as<br />

a freelancer, two things happen: either I pitch<br />

stories or editors pitch to me. But this was<br />

very much a coincidence. These stories just<br />

came my way.<br />

The first was a story about new toilet<br />

technologies for very low resource contexts,<br />

where people might have very poor toilets or<br />

no toilets at all. The second was about heat in<br />

our cities and where we could access more of<br />

it. It turned out that there's a lot of heat in our<br />

sewers, thanks to showers, washing machines,<br />

and dishwashers. And we could pull that up<br />

again with heat pumps and use it to heat and<br />

even cool our cities.<br />

This combination of stories in a short period of<br />

time opened the lid of my mind, as I say in my<br />

book. I wanted to know more, and I saw a fairly<br />

untapped niche for myself as a writer. Looking<br />

further, I found a flurry of innovation in toilets<br />

and the infrastructure that connects to them.<br />

There are a lot of innovators in different fields,<br />

from engineering to design to sociology, thinking<br />

in new ways about the toilet. Ultimately, I turned<br />

that into a book about the future of the toilet.<br />

How long did it take you to write the book?<br />

Here’s the timeline: I got the first toilet-related<br />

writing assignment in 2013 and kept following<br />

up with more stories. Five years later, in 2018,<br />

I got the book contract, just three months<br />

after my first child was born – and on my 40th<br />

birthday. I turned in my complete draft in April<br />

2020, just after the pandemic started. So I could<br />

answer this question in a lot of different ways<br />

– but, any way you look at it, these years have<br />

been very eventful!<br />

What kind of research do you do, and how<br />

long do you spend researching before<br />

beginning a book?<br />

As a journalist, I use several types of sources<br />

to gather information. I speak to experts, as<br />

well as read loads of papers and books on the<br />

science and history of the topic. I also prefer to<br />

go look around at projects in person. My trip<br />

to Haiti illustrates why this is important. I was<br />

going to look at a social enterprise called SOIL<br />

that provides a toilet service to people in very<br />

poor urban areas. The business picks up full<br />

containers and drops off empty ones – kind of<br />

like a curbside recycling program. It sounds<br />

pretty simple until you see what happens<br />

when it rains: many flooded roads become<br />

unnavigable, and workers have to wade in<br />

thigh-deep water as they make their rounds.<br />

Experiencing this with my own senses helped<br />

me appreciate and describe the magnitude<br />

of what this organization is<br />

attempting to achieve.<br />

What is the most important thing<br />

you want readers to take away<br />

from your book?<br />

We can ask so much more of our<br />

toilets in terms of health,<br />

environment, and equity. The toilet<br />

can be a powerful tool for making<br />

the world a better place because<br />

everybody poops.<br />

When did you start writing?<br />

I started journalism school in 2002<br />

but I’ve been writing as long as I<br />

can remember. I wrote poems in<br />

elementary school and plays in high<br />

school. Science journalism was my<br />

attempt at marrying my interests in<br />

writing and science.<br />

As a writer, what would you choose as your<br />

mascot/avatar/spirit animal?<br />

For the sake of this book, I would choose a<br />

wombat. They poop cubes.<br />

What’s your favorite under-appreciated<br />

novel?<br />

While Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables probably isn’t<br />

under-appreciated (hello, Broadway!), what most<br />

people probably don’t know is that it contains<br />

lengthy passages about the history and meaning<br />

of the sewer system. I found them particularly<br />

fascinating while writing Pipe Dreams. My<br />

favorite line: “The sewer is the conscience of<br />

the city.”<br />

What is your favorite childhood book?<br />

Keeping to the theme, I would recommend<br />

Frank Herbert’s Dune to older children. I read<br />

it in my early 20s but it’s a thrilling read for<br />

teenagers. The characters on the desert planet<br />

wear “stillsuits” that recapture all the body’s<br />

moisture, creating a kind of closed loop.<br />

Ideally, that’s what our sanitation systems<br />

could do someday.<br />

What are you reading now?<br />

This and that. On my bedside table is a pile<br />

of parenting books that I find somehow<br />

comforting, though I can’t read them all. I’m<br />

partway through the final book in Hilary Mantel’s<br />

Wolf Hall trilogy – but I think I’m procrastinating<br />

because I’ll be sad to finish it. What a giant<br />

she was!<br />

If you could tell your younger writing-self<br />

anything, what would it be?<br />

You are funny.<br />

What’s next for you? Are you working on<br />

anything new you’d like to share with our<br />

readers?<br />

I had a second child in July so I am taking some<br />

time away from work to spend with her and to let<br />

some new project ideas percolate.<br />

Writing a book can be a lonely<br />

business, so I’m hoping to<br />

find something more<br />

collaborative.<br />

Books presented in the<br />

<strong>Inspiring</strong> Reads feature are<br />

available for purchase via<br />

the FAWCO website in the<br />

Books by Members or Books<br />

by Clubs sections.<br />

Enjoy!<br />


profile<br />

“Emily in Paris”?<br />

Hold My Champagne<br />

Suzanne Justen, a member of AWG Paris, experienced devastating<br />

personal pain and challenges. Moving to Paris brought her the “joie<br />

de vivre ” that many aspire to, but few achieve.<br />

O<br />

ne of my oldest memories is singing<br />

in church, thinking, “I want to sing<br />

better than anyone else here.” That<br />

was a tall order for a three-year-old. But I worked<br />

hard at it. And I didn’t stay in the chorus for long.<br />

A near death experience and a deserved reward<br />

In 1993 I was in a bad accident. I was walking<br />

across the street when a car hit me and threw<br />

me 26 feet through the air. It was a hard landing.<br />

To help me get through all the things you have<br />

to deal with I decided to give myself a reward.<br />

When I was well enough I would live anywhere<br />

in the world I wanted to for a year. It took me<br />

about 20 minutes to decide between New York,<br />

London, Paris, Rome, or Fiji. It had to be Paris!<br />

Suzanne Justen<br />

The year was coming to an end and I had<br />

shipped back my clothes and things I had<br />

purchased in Paris. Then, three weeks before<br />

I was due to go back, I woke up one Saturday<br />

morning and said, “Nope, I‘m staying here<br />

forever,” and threw my return airplane ticket in<br />

the wastebasket. Three months later, I realized it<br />

was refundable.<br />

Personal pain and the promise of Paris<br />

I suppose that accident was the defining moment<br />

in my adult life. It left me with a brain injury, a<br />

divorce and a wonderful new life here in Paris.<br />

But it was more than that. Being married calls<br />

for constant compromises. Being single gave<br />

me the opportunity to just be me. Wonderful,<br />

imperfect, little me.<br />

Suzanne and<br />

her dancing<br />

partner at a<br />

ballroom<br />

dancing<br />

competition.<br />

Life is such a gift.<br />

You don’t want to fritter it away.<br />


Suzanne attending the March for our Lives<br />

protest in Paris. (left)<br />

Suzanne “eyeballing” her lunch. (above)<br />

Suzanne enjoying street-style breakfast with the Democrats Abroad “Walk and Talk.”<br />

In the early years of living in Paris, I was mugged<br />

and my purse was taken. I had taken the metro<br />

from Opera, and was walking home from my<br />

stop after midnight when I was pushed to the<br />

ground and my purse stolen. I was feeling<br />

sorry for myself, thinking that if I had been<br />

accompanied by my husband, I wouldn’t have<br />

been mugged. But then I suddenly thought, if I<br />

were still married, I wouldn’t be in Paris! And<br />

I just felt the happiness well up inside of me<br />

and overflow onto the pavement.That is my<br />

best gift; I can always see the advantages of<br />

my misfortunes. Although I must admit, I really<br />

know how to celebrate my good fortunes.<br />

Maturity (how I got involved with my life)<br />

My first year I did everything French. French<br />

champagne, French friends, French movies,<br />

French food , etc. etc. My second year I spent<br />

looking for a good Tex-Mex restaurant.<br />

I had an apartment in the fifth arrondissement<br />

and I learned everything I could about my<br />

neighborhood. I took a three-year course in<br />

Parisian history, art, architecture, and sociology.<br />

Mainly I was involved in learning all I could about<br />

Paris, then France, then Europe.<br />

Next, I went back to singing opera. I had given<br />

that up when I got married. I simply stopped<br />

singing and performing. When I was young it<br />

all came so naturally. I remembered it being so<br />

easy, but I hadn’t sung for thirty years and I had<br />

a head injury. Nothing that showed up at first<br />

sight but people close to me knew I struggled.<br />

I had to relearn how to read music, rebuild my<br />

vocal muscles, sing in different languages,<br />

remember dynamic symbols, put the emotion<br />

into the song and a million other things like<br />

rhythm, pitch, and breath control. I started<br />

rewiring my brain and by 2012, I felt recovered.<br />

In 2015, I started ballroom dancing. With<br />

lessons and practice, a busy social life, my<br />

voracious reading, and my very busy travel<br />

schedule, it was almost a relief when the<br />

COVID-19 lockdown brought everything to a<br />

sudden halt. Such peace and quiet… marred<br />

only by recurring nightmares of dying from<br />

COVID-19. There was also that slight hiccup<br />

when, after weeks of hearing about the poor<br />

elderly people, 60 and older, being more at<br />

risk, and worrying and feeling sorry for these<br />

people, I suddenly realized this included me! I<br />

became elderly in a split second.<br />

At this moment<br />

I have started back up with travel, dancing, and<br />

friends, but I haven’t tackled singing again. It’s a<br />

shame, because I was very close to giving a recital<br />

for my friends, most of whom have never heard<br />

me sing.<br />

Also I haven’t started back with my big parties.<br />

I gave a New Year’s Eve Ball and a Christmas Ball<br />

with little dance cards and midnight suppers. And<br />

I hosted the cast of “Singing In The Rain” since<br />

they had no time off to go home for Christmas. I<br />

did that twice and they were joyous occasions –<br />

all those young performers singing and dancing<br />

in my apartment, Christmas caroling and dancing<br />

in the courtyard for the neighbors. At least, I hope<br />

that was a joyous occasion for the neighbors… it<br />

was fairly late…<br />

Achieving happiness in this stage of my life<br />

Will I continue to try to entertain the rest of the<br />

world or should I move my life into different<br />

stages? The 20 years I’ve spent in Paris have<br />

been wonderful magical times. Could they have<br />

been any better? Could there have been more<br />

champagne and caviar? I don’t know, but I don’t<br />

want more than I have had. I am satisfied and<br />

happy. I love my apartment overlooking the<br />

Seine. Do you know how you play dolls and<br />

dress them up in different outfits? I lovingly<br />

dress my apartment up for the different seasons<br />

and holidays.<br />

I am surprised that I have found someone so<br />

wonderful to love because it is wonderful to<br />

be loved in return. And quite frankly, I am<br />

surprised that so many of my friends still put<br />

up with me.<br />

Do you embrace or resist maturity?<br />

Maybe the big, late events are over for me. I think<br />

more about the sands of time running out of my<br />

champagne glass. I’ve read that old age turns<br />

out to be the best age of all. Surprisingly enough,<br />

people have more fun because they have more<br />

time and hopefully enough money to do just what<br />

they enjoy doing. You have nothing to prove and<br />

no one to keep up with. There are the aches and<br />

pains, sometimes leading to tough decisions,<br />

and there are the losses. But as one tries to age<br />

gracefully, I think one starts to take better care of<br />

oneself and one’s friends. You learn how<br />


The sky’s the limit! Suzanne off on a new adventure. (above)<br />

Suzanne with her special backstage pass – backstage! (top right)<br />

Suzanne enjoying a late night village party somewhere in France!<br />

(bottom right)<br />

Suzanne on stage at the Paris production of “Singing in the Rain.”<br />

(far right)<br />


important friends are if you didn’t know that<br />

already. And there’s always that magic trick to<br />

fall back on; if you’re feeling bad, do something<br />

nice for someone. It always picks you right up.<br />

And if someone does something nice back to<br />

you, that also makes you happy. I try to make<br />

my relationships win-win.<br />

What advice would you give a 25-year-old?<br />

Plan ahead. Your plans will change dozens of<br />

times, but you will be better prepared for the<br />

changes if you’ve had practice planning your<br />

life. You will have figured out what is important<br />

to you.<br />

Considering your experiences, what‘s next?<br />

Life is such a gift. You don’t want to fritter it away.<br />

When I get to 80 my plan is to relax more with<br />

my partner, get us a couple of kittens, read more,<br />

dance more, and take an around the world cruise.<br />

Maybe have small dinner parties, game nights, or<br />

movie nights with friends, and continue the Walk<br />

and Talk group with Democrats Abroad. Stay<br />

active with the American <strong>Women</strong>’s Group of<br />

Paris. Support my local American Library in Paris,<br />

put together a theater group, host chamber<br />

music evenings, start a Readers Theater Group,<br />

maybe get a small place out in the country. Just<br />

slow down a little.<br />




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feature<br />

Inspired Reader<br />

inspiring you<br />

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international network of independent volunteer clubs and associations comprising 58 member<br />

clubs in 31 countries on six continents. FAWCO serves as a resource and a voice for its members;<br />

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consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council.<br />

our mission statement<br />

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We are delighted to announce that the Inspired<br />

Reader for our "Evolving to Maturity" issue is:<br />

Alkisti Kallinikou of American <strong>Women</strong>'s Club of<br />

Brussels in Belgium.<br />

A $50 donation has been made to the Target<br />

Project in her name.<br />

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more about<br />

this issue<br />

The <strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong> Team<br />

That's<br />

Inspired!<br />

Liz Elsie Karen Michele Haley Kristin<br />

For more information about this magazine, please contact a member of the <strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong> team:<br />

Editor in Chief, Liz MacNIven, inspiringwomen.editor@fawco.org<br />

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Acknowledgements:<br />

Thanks to our profilees (Carol, Claudia, Cynthia, Georgia, Melissa and Suzanne) and our feature<br />

contributors (Beverly, Chelsea, Elsie, Judy, Liz, Mary, Michele, Monica, My-Linh, Rina, Robin, Suzanne<br />

and Tharien) for their work on the articles and also for the use of their photos and those of their<br />

friends and families.<br />

The cover photo is Carol Boren (FAUSA).<br />

Special thanks to the proofreading team of Karen Boeker (AWC Denmark), Mary Stewart Burgher<br />

(AWC Denmark), Sallie Chaballier (AAWE Paris), Janet Davis (AIWC Cologne), Kit Desjacques (AAWE<br />

Paris), Mary Dobrian (AIWC Cologne), Tamar Hudson (AIWC Cologne), Carol-Lyn McKelvey (AIWC<br />

Cologne/FAUSA), and Jenny Taylor (AIWC Cologne and Düsseldorf). The rest of the proofing team<br />

were unavailable for this issue, so a special thanks goes to our stand-in proofers Elsie Bose (AWG<br />

Paris/FAUSA) and Paul MacNiven.<br />

Please note: images used in this publication are either sourced from our team, the authors<br />

themselves, or through canva.com or pixabay.com.<br />

Please post the link for this issue of <strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong>,<br />

"Evolving to Maturity. Fabulous, Fun and Fierce," in your<br />

club publications until "Goodbyes and New Beginnings"<br />

is published on May 11, <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

Photo of<br />

Claudia Tessier<br />

participating in<br />

the well-known<br />

bike rally,<br />

Sternfahrt.<br />


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