March 2020 Newsletter


Good Day,

Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond

by Lydia Denworth

In 2017, William Chopik of Michigan State University surveyed more than 270,000 adults and found that valuing family was important but valuing friendships became increasingly important with age. Those who did so had higher levels of health, happiness, and subjective well-being across the life span.

The hope is that the new, deeper understanding of friendship as a biological and evolutionary phenomenon will help put the importance of social connection front and center in public health circles. If friendship were purely cultural, a construct of human society, promoting it and avoiding its opposite loneliness- would be a cultural matter. But if baboons, macaques, dolphins, and even prairie voles and zebra fish have- and need- friends, then the answers lie elsewhere. If something has the power to change the way our immune systems work, to increase or decrease the surges of neurotransmitters in our brains, to extend or cut short our lives, then it must be dealt with as such.
“The effect of isolation is extraordinarily powerful,” Donald Berwick, former administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the Wall Street Journal. “If we want to achieve health for our population, especially vulnerable people, we have to address loneliness.”
Hard as it is for individuals to change our habits, we are not absolved of responsibility. We must make friendship a priority and factor it in to the way we plan our time- and our children’s time. Yes, you can choose your friends, but you must also more generally choose friendship- embrace it, invest in it, work at it. Put time and attention into building quality relationships. Be mindful of your social convoy. You cannot afford not to.
In 2008 longtime study director George Vaillant was asked, “What have you learned?” His response was emphatic: “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” Robert Waldinger, in a November 2015 Tedx that has since accumulated nearly 30 million views said, “The clearest message we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and
healthier. Period.”

Waldinger backed up his statement with 3 main lessons. First, that social connections are really good for us and that loneliness kills. Second, quality matters as much or more than quantity. The third lesson is that good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains. Those who were securely attached to another person in their eighties stayed cognitively sharper for longer. “Those relationships don’t have to be smooth all the time,” Waldinger stressed. “They could bicker day in and day out, but as long as they felt they could count on each other when the going got tough, those arguments didn’t take a toll on their memories.

If you have any updates you would like to share for future newsletters, please email me or Leslie Dube ( And don’t forget to share some of your favorite bumper sticker ideas here and we’ll feature in the upcoming Grove updates.



Click here to read about our new series: Virtual Table Topics

It includes a list of past and upcoming topics with information on how to call-in to the meetings.

Join Zoom Happy Hour – Every Day, 6:00 PM EDT
(including Saturday and Sunday)

These Zoom Happy Hour calls were created as a way to connect with your Grove sisters during this time of physical distancing. These meetings will happen at 6:00 PM EDT (10 PM UTC) each day. The call is limited to only 100 participants, so join when you can, organically the participants on each call will help hearten each other with what is needed in the moment to stay healthy, happy, productive, and inspired.

How to Join the Meeting


Meeting ID: 815 878 998
Password: 987566
Time: 6:00 PM EDT

To join by phone: +1 (415) 762-9988
or +1 (646) 568-7788
Meeting ID: 815 878 998
Participant ID: 987566


What the Grovers, Taras, and Nyomis Have been Up to Lately…

-Betty Hudson was interviewed for SmartBrief in the article Diving below the diversity surface for business transformation. Click here to read her interview.

-Betrayed: A Survivor’s Guide to Lying, Cheating, & Double Dealing now available on e-book and audiobook!
Co-authors Susan Stautberg and Elaine Eisenman, PhD, have been on a nationwide media tour that has included speaking at institutions, organizations, clubs, as well as numerous radio and print interviews. The book is available on amazon, kindle, audible, and more. Check out for more information.

Melanie R. Sabelhaus to Receive American Red Cross Harriman Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service. Click here to read more.

Toddi Gutner was featured on the home page of Colorado College for teaching a course and being a parent of a student. Click here to read about the course she teaches and see a video of Toddi describing design thinking.

Gail Warrior’s company, CASPR,  is effective against SARS and CoVID-19 with data that shows effectiveness. Click here to learn more about CASPR.

-Davia Temin has written numerous articles for Forbes this month. Click here to read them.

-Consider nominating one of your Grove Sisters! Forbes 50 Over 50: Highlighting Women Shattering Age And Gender Norms. Read more here.


Fall 2020 Mini Retreat: San Antonio, TX (September 24 & 25)
The room block is open!

We will be staying at the Hilton Palacio del Rio! Click here to book your room!

We already have a terrific committee working on panels and securing speakers. Thank you to our committee led by Rebecca Boenigk and Pamela O’Rourke, also including Rachel Boenigk, Elaine Eisenman, Alice Starr, and Kathleen Mason.

We have already had a number of meetings and have determined several panels, including a thoughtful panel on diversity featuring some of our younger members who have faced various types of discrimination.

Winter 2021 Annual Retreat: Argentina
February 25-28

We heard your feedback and agree that Argentina in January will be too hot as it’s their summer and many of the people we would like to meet will be on vacation! We also understand that we are competing with board meetings and school vacations during the first two weeks of February. Therefore, we secured the last weekend in February, where it’s cooler, cheaper, and will have great speakers back in town. We already have a terrific committee, but are always looking for volunteers and ideas for the event, so if you would like to join the committee, please contact Leslie Dube!

We will be staying at the beautiful Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires. The room block will open in the next several weeks. Stay tuned for an email with instructions on how to book.

Fall Mini Retreat 2021- Chicago, September 23 & 24 (Tentative dates)

Winter 2022 Retreat- New Orleans, January 27-30 (Tentative dates)


Know a Potential New Member?

If you would like to nominate someone to be a member, we are now currently accepting nomination packets. This is your last chance to get nominations in before Puerto Rico!

Please do not forward to us applications for anyone who:
1. You don’t personally know
2. You wouldn’t be willing to share a room with on a retreat
3. You do not have at least one seconder for
4. You believe is “on the way” but is not quite there yet … save the application for a future time when the candidate would have probably achieved her first success story and her application will have the ‘wow’ effect on first impression.

Nomination Form
Nomination Guidelines

Please send the completed nomination pack to Leslie


Pandemic Poetic by Penny Peters
Facing Life When Corona No Longer Just Means…A Beer

Only two short months ago, we celebrated twenty
Back when we all gave bear hugs…and had toilet paper plenty
A time when we all shared our rooms, and never used a wipe
And overcrowded airplanes were a constant travel gripe

Two hundred of us mingled, and we didn’t’ care a whit
Sitting just a foot apart didn’t phase us…not a bit
We danced all night packed like sardines, we didn’t have a care
And when we all gave hugs goodbye, we were SO unaware

And then, this virus hit us, with a speed beyond a jet
Everything we knew or did was suddenly upset
Our office buildings empty, our restaurants shut down
No meeting for a glass of wine, no running into town

No school to send our kids to (they’re now driving us insane)
We’ve been forced to learn to cook again, and food’s hard to obtain
“Seniors” are in lockdown, we’ve now got to claim our age
(When your governor tells you that you’re old, you fly into a rage)

We’re no longer wearing makeup, our hair is going grey
Our schedules are upside down…we can’t tell night from day
Some families are torn apart, all stuck in different states
Our savings vanished overnight (to hell with interest rates)

We’re terrified of dollar bills, is there COVID on our cash?
Some Grovers now hoard chocolate, others have a pinot stash
We’re arguing with spouses (if not now, we will tomorrow)
And every blog or new post just intensifies our sorrow

We’re rudderless, we’re panicking, we’re overwhelmed by stress
And if it’s weren’t for the Grove, we’d be in deep distress
But when we’re nearing bottom, our Grove sisters all come through
And it’s nothing short of brilliant, what we’ve just managed to do

In less than two day’s time, we all connected on What’sApp
(And even low tech Grovers now are finding it a snap)
We’ve got our own Facebook café, have cocktail hour on Zoom
We’re engaged in table topics (though we’re not sharing a room)

We’ve offered homes to sisters who are fleeing from the “hot spots”
(An instantaneous version of our caring “I Got, You Got’s”)
We’ve had phone chats with our sisters, stuck in quarantine alone
And helped our digitally challenged learn connections by iphone

We’ve shared resources for hospitals, and insights on self-care
And we’ve got a virtual dance party (at least for those who dare)
We’ve turned worldwide disaster, into a challenge we will beat
And made the very worst of times, a “Virtual Retreat”

How fortunate we all are, to have such sister power
Embracing every one of us, at our century’s worst hour
We’ve got a scary road ahead…so much is yet unknown
But not a single one of us, will face it all alone.

Twenty years of Groves have built a safety net for all
And no matter how adrift you feel, we will not let you fall
We’ll create our own new normal, and grow closer while we do
And by leaning on each other, we’ll all find our way through!

With special thanks to Susan, and Edie, and all those who have made the Grove what it is today.

Let’s raise a glass to our next real, live, in-person retreat!
Note: If you want to connect with you Grove family and haven’t found a way to yet, please reach out.


In Memoriam

We have some sad news to share of the passing of a former member of the Grove. Thank you to Deborah Wince Smith for sharing with us the official obituary for the Honorable Carole L. Brookins, who was one of the early members of the Belizean Grove before she left to head off for global assignments. Deborah reminded me that Carole was the original wearer of the infamous pink tutu. Carole brought it to our costume party in Costa Rica. Although it was retired in recent years, it has a long life of fun and laughter while raising money on its yearly sale to help women and girls through Adventures for the Mind Foundation.

Click here to read her obituary.


Films of the Month – Curated by Naomi McDougall Jones
Live, virtual viewing experiences happening this weekend!

Tape, directed by Deborah Kampmeier, was meant to be having it’s nationwide theatrical release this weekend, but…so they’re doing a virtual red carpet premiere that anyone anywhere in the world can join on Thursday, March 26th, followed by virtual screenings all weekend.
Based on true events and set in New York City, TAPE is the story of an aspiring actress who crosses paths with the darker side of the entertainment industry.
Trailer here.

Bite Me, written, produced by, and starring BG member, Naomi McDougall Jones, is having a free live virtual experience hosted by the indie cinema mamafilm in Wichita – available anywhere in the world – in the afternoon on Sunday, March 29.

BITE ME is a romantic comedy about a real-life vampire and the IRS agent who audits her.
Trailer here.

Naomi prepared an extensive playlist of Favorite Films for Quarantine that was too long to include in the newsletter. Check our the entire list here.


In a Book Club?

For those of you who have book clubs, co-authors Elaine Eisenman PhD and Susan Stautberg would love to sponsor a zoom book club session on the lessons of inspirational people who shared their stories in their book Betrayed: A Survivor’s Guide to Lying, Cheating, and Double Dealing.

In our session we will discuss the moment of betrayal, how best to manage in that moment and after, whether to choose forgiveness or revenge, the joy of karma, and how to find your inner strength and bounce forward into a brighter future.

For more information, please contact Elaine ( or Susan (


Haven’t updated your profile on the website yet? Not sure what to do?

Watch this short video for step-by-step instructions. (NOTE:  To make the video larger – click the small “4 arrows” icon at the bottom right of the video – to the right of the HD.)


Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”