WOW Conference – Winning Opportunities for Women

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I’m not much of a conference person. I used to attend loads of them when I worked in the financial services industry. I always found them epically long.  The last conference I attended, before WOW, was a three-day writer’s conference in Boston.  At that time, I was in the trenches of writing Musing Mediterranean. That conference offered so much value in its workshops and sessions, yet I walked away from it thinking never again! Like I said, I’m not a conference person.

Until a couple of weeks ago when I attended the 21st Annual WOW Conference put on by the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce. I didn’t know what to expect, but my friend and fashion stylist Lysa Pelletier-Gibbs was presenting. She asked me if I wanted to go. I love supporting my friends whenever possible, so I went.   Lysa is also one of the funniest people I know, so I knew it would be entertaining.

The 8am-3pm agenda was full of valuable information ideal for women in business, aspiring entrepreneurs or attendees simply interested in hearing the WOW Conference Featured Speakers.



WOW Conference Speakers

  • Gina Barreca – author, humorist and Professor of Feminist Theory. Gina was funny and thought-provoking.
  • Susan Leger Ferraro – Founder/CEO of Imajine That and G3. Susan’s honesty and ability to overcome difficult challenges was compelling.
  • Becca Pizzi – 2016 Winner of the World Marathon Challenge. She completed 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days…incredible!!!
  • Cheryl Fiandaca – WBZ-TV Chief Investigative Reporter. I was so inspired by Cheryl that I approached her to thank her for her encouraging words. She was lovely and her message reminded me to never give up.

Each speaker who took the stage was impressive and held my interest with every word. Honestly, that’s not easy to do. In between speakers, Lysa had the floor and offered fantastic style tips. Her signature red lips and hilarious brand of humor were the perfect way to add a bit of flavor to the day’s events.

I walked away from the WOW Conference with a renewed sense of purpose. I expressed to Lysa how glad I was that I’d attended and would most certainly go again. Kudos to the organizers for putting together a unique line-up of women who undoubtedly made a lasting impression on every person in the room.


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Lysa brought these women up on stage to talk about their fashion dos. Fun!


As far as being a conference person – maybe I’m one after all. It just depends on the conference.

As we head into the weekend – have a great one. Please share my blog with your friends and if you don’t already subscribe, please do!


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Next Steps in My Writing Career

Beth and her schnauzer step into a sunset of new opportunity
Image from Merrimack Valley Magazine. Art by Ken Bonin.


One Crazy Week!

Between the time change (Oscar’s now up at 5am vs. 6am), no school for the kids on election Tuesday, the election aftermath on Wednesday and a few other personal shakeups of minor significance, I have completely lost track of the week.  So much so, I actually forgot to post yesterday because I thought it was Wednesday not Thursday.

Well, better late than never and today, Friday; Veteran’s Day (thank you for your service!) and no school again, TGIF never rang so true. 3 olives and a twist, here I come.

Mike's Magnificent Martini


The 2016 Election

While the presidential election certainly took center stage this week; it actually affected me less deeply than some other matters. Not to diminish the relevance of what went down, in fact it left me feeling rather unsettled, but I had steeled myself for either outcome. From the beginning, I was dispassionate and disheartened by both candidates – arguing or even discussing my vote was never an option. As much as I tried to stay off of social media on Wednesday, purely in an attempt at self-preservation, one slight glance revealed the train wreck that it was. And as train wrecks go, I found it hard to look away. I have no other words for it other than, wow – just wow!

Beyond Politics: Taking on Personal Change

All that said, in addition to the political shift, this week brought about a change in my writing career for which I also have mixed feelings. This week marked the end of my contributions to Merrimack Valley Magazine. The November/December issue dropped and in it was my farewell, Matters of Life & Beth column titled, “Time Flies.”

After eight years with the publication, I made the difficult choice to move on and seize new opportunities in my life and writing career. In addition to continuing work on this blog, I hope to take the next step with my book which is soon to be back in my hands after a second round of professional editing. I also hope to pursue new writing opportunities as I look to grow and reach more readers.

Not long ago, I blogged about being at a Crossroads. I didn’t say it then, but I was in the midst of deciding whether or not to take this next step. I was very torn and feeling out of my comfort zone, but something kept telling me that it was time. Well, after much consideration and guidance, I chose to walk away from a good thing in pursuit of what I hope to be something great, for me anyway. As someone who is not a risk taker, this was an extremely difficult decision.  One that I’m still not sure about today, but as I work on opportunities for the blog, I’m feeling excited about the possibilities for my writing career.

A Year of Change

It’s been a year of change and hard to believe we are closing in on 2017. While change is most definitely hard and sometimes scary, it can also be good and necessary.  I pray for myself and for this country that the changes we’ve experienced in 2016 will lead to great things in 2017 and beyond.

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Early Retirement – Can We Do That?

Early retirement -kick up your heels

A friend of ours recently retired. No, he’s not in his sixties and yes, retirement is a word that’s been popping up a lot more than I ever thought it would before turning 50.  Our friend’s exit from the working world was an early retirement and well deserved. The mere thought of it had me realizing that standard early retirement age, 62, is not as far off as it feels. Here’s more on Retirement Age.

Truth told, I laughed when I heard our friend was “retiring.” “You can’t retire,” I said. “You’ll be bored out of your mind.” I went on to pepper him with questions about what he’d do with his time and let him know that I had a full-time chef and chauffeur position open for the taking.

Jokes aside, I was surprised when my young retiree friend said he just wanted to sit back and enjoy his life for a while. Of course that made sense, but we’re still young with so much left to contribute. But his rat race to success had reached its end and he was now ready to reap the benefits of his years of hard work.

I get that and while it certainly did seem enviable, I first thought; Wow! You can really do that? And then I thought; If you could, would you really want to?

Tony and I are at an interesting point where he has put blood, sweat and tears into his tax consulting business and I have put the same (I would say more) into raising the girls while writing on the side.

Now that the girls are teens, I have been more focused on my writing career and Tony has been much more focused on golf, thanks to his solid team at the office.  While he seems to be winding down, I feel like I’m ramping up. I have grand ideas for 3 Olives & a Twist and I am hopeful that my book will soon catch the interest of a publisher. As my mind spins out of control with possibilities for my personal career goals, I periodically catch myself thinking, how much is too much?  Yes, I want to continue writing, but many of my ideas are elaborate and would require the tenacity of a hungry twenty-something to create the level of success I envision. Do I have it in me? I think about the video I included in my Crossroads post suggesting that 50 is the new 20 when it comes to career aspirations.

Here’s where my mind begins drifting. In just five years, both of my girls will be in college. Excuse me a moment while a dry my tears. Thank God Tony’s expertise in financial planning has put us in a place where, hopefully, we won’t be destitute after one tuition payment. And girls, dear girls, academic scholarships are never a bad thing – get your nose in those books!

While I don’t have the kind of “job” that Tony does; the idea of early retirement is just as appealing. I am not going to lie; now, in our mid – OK let’s say mid to late forties, we are tired. We’ve crammed in a lot up to this point and the idea of travel, freedom, relaxation, reading, dining out and simply living life at a slower pace sounds pretty fabulous.  At the same time, I cannot fathom having a full day entirely to myself. What the heck would I do?

For me, early retirement is a dream, a nice one to have, but a dream nonetheless. I just keep wondering, if we were so blessed, would early retirement be enough to sustain our zest for success?  Are Tony and I really ready to kick up our heels and settle in for the next phase of life? Or would we be bored?

Are you retired? What’s it like? Are you happy in retirement?

If given the chance, would you retire early?

Here are some sites with points to consider about early retirement, retirement portfolios, investment portfolios, retirement income, cost of living, debt reduction, retirement budget and early retirement strategies. All good things to know if early retirement in on your radar.

Forbes – 7 Simple Strategies to Retire Early

Market Watch – How to Retire Early: A 5-Step Plan

Bank Rate – 6 Signs That You Are Ready to Retire Early

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Making Decisions Isn’t Always Easy – Crossroads

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I’m usually a decisive person. I know what I like and what I want, so there is often very little time spent making decisions. Earlier this year someone told me that this would be a year of change. Change can be stressful, but I am at a time in my life when I feel very open to it.

Lately, however I feel stuck at a crossroads. I’m ready for certain, inevitable changes in my life, but when it comes to making decisions about what my “professional” future should be, I don’t have a clear vision. Up until now, freelance writing has been great, but I am ready for more.

I feel like I am on the right path with my book and blog, but I don’t know where the path is going and that is driving me nuts. I have a million ideas swirling around in my head, but nothing has struck me as the best next step. I feel like a kid in high school who doesn’t know what they want to be when they grow up. “It’s OK,” a parent might say. “You don’t have to decide right now.”

But, I’m forty seven years old (there, I said it), I do have to decide and I think I should do so quickly, because I’m running out of time.

Fifty Is The New Twenty?

But am I? Fifty can easily be the new twenty. I know several women who have reinvented their careers after fifty and here’s an inspiration clip I recently posted on Facebook.

Gary Vaynerchuk is an entrepreneur and public speaker. Good message-old tee and scruffy face aside.

The Dilemma

Here’s my dilemma – While I want the professional success I’ve always known I’m capable of achieving, I also want to accompany Tony as he makes his slow progression toward retirement. He said something recently that really hit me…“Just as I am starting to slow down, she is ramping up – I’ll be happy to pass the baton.”

And I’d be happy to receive it, but I also know myself. If I take that baton, I am going to run with it at full speed. I will immerse myself in whatever I do, just like I did as a mom and more recently as an obsessive dog owner.

There is a really big part of me that’s been looking forward to the time when Tony and I can focus on being a couple again with fewer distractions. Dinners in the city, day-trips, travel and joint activities are all things we’ve talked about doing more of when we aren’t so focused on work, carting kids around and rushing home to let the dog out. A truly successful career does not happen without a lot of work and I question whether now is the time to start over.

What Now?

I’ll probably be at this crossroads for a while longer. I guess I am like a kid in high school who doesn’t have to decide right now. But I want to start making decisions soon and when I do, I’ll go all in to whatever choice I make. There really is no wrong way, but embracing the chosen path, without looking back, will be the key to my success; be it personal or professional.

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Advice for College Students

graduation cap and diploma

June is always a busy month for me. We take on three family birthdays, Father’s Day and, of course, the typical end of school chaos.

This year we had the added pleasure of attending several high school graduation parties. Interestingly, these celebrations struck an emotional chord with me, more so than anything else. Watching these young graduates reach this pivotal milestone conjured up old feelings of when I went off to college. New feelings also emerged as I realized how soon I would be seeing my own children take this step toward adulthood and independence. I reflected on my college years and thought about what my advice for college students of today might be.

I was vicariously excited for the new phase of life these young, enthusiastic people are entering. I considered my own college experience and couldn’t help think about how I could’ve done it differently. I entered UMASS Amherst from graduating class of 60 girls at the Academy of Notre Dame in Tyngsboro, MA. I was scared and totally unprepared for the culture shock I would face. I would say my first real taste of freedom was intoxicating and toxic at the same time. My freshman year was rough, but I eventually got my act together and made it through the final three years. The one thing I didn’t do, was take my undergraduate education as seriously as I should have. I often wonder where I would be now, career-wise, had I been a better student and more tuned-in to the classes and opportunities I had available to me.

From the time I was little, I knew I was a creative person, yet I majored in business management and marketing. I considered a minor in art, but blew it off. Why? I’m honestly not sure, but I regret that I didn’t explore that further. Business didn’t excite me then or when I took a job in the financial services industry as a post-graduate.

Advice for College Students Today

If I could’ve told my young self a few things before heading off to college, here’s what I would’ve said:

  1. Relax and take it slow. Know your limits and remember why you are at college. Study first, party second.
  2. Your destiny may not yet be clear, but pay close attention to the classes and experiences that you are most enjoying. Your future success and contentment may very well be tied to your passions. It doesn’t always work out that way, but exploring the possibility will at least ensure you don’t utter the phrase, “coulda, woulda, shoulda.”
  3. Think ahead – really think ahead. Take time to consider what you want to do in life and whether you can see yourself happy on your chosen career path long-term. Change what you need to change, but commit when you’ve got it figured out. Seek the help of professors, parents and mentors. Don’t coast through college without a plan.

As my girls get close to graduation, I’ll be doling out more and more advice based on my own experiences and I’m sure they’ll beg me to stop. I know that those four years can be easily wasted or optimized and I want the young people of today to make the most of them. Their future selves (and parents) will be glad they did.

What would your advice for college students be?

Students graduating tossing their caps
College bound.
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