Podcasts of The Women's Eye Radio Show are NOW available on iTunes. Check them out and if you like, leave us a review. Click Here
 

TWE Interview: Breast Cancer Survivor Dara Kurtz Shares Her Crazy Perfect Life

Dara Kurtz – Breast Cancer Survivor and Author of Crazy Perfect Life

Dara Kurtz – Breast Cancer Survivor and Author of Crazy Perfect Life and Crush Cancer: Personal Enlightenment from a Cancer Survior

Dara Kurtz – Breast Cancer Survivor and Author of Crazy Perfect Life and Crush Cancer: Personal Enlightenment from a Cancer Survior

Dara Kurtz, author blog Crazy Perfect Life

By Patricia Caso/December 5, 2017
Photos Courtesy of Dara Kurtz
TWITTER: @crazyperflife

At 42, Dara Kurtz’s perfect family life and career as a successful financial advisor were upended with the diagnosis of breast cancer. Admittedly she cried, was shocked, scared and a mess.

“When I was finished going through treatment and it was time to go back to work; I knew that I wanted to find my voice.”  Dara Kurtz

Dara chronicled her journey by pulling together her honest insights into handling cancer’s downs and ups in a blog, “Crazy Perfect Life,” and her best selling book, Crush Cancer: Personal Enlightenment from a Cancer Survivor.  What struck me about Dara’s story is how she came to her wonderful uplifting choice to “live life in color rather than black and white.”

I caught up with Dara by phone to find out more about this now unabashedly grateful author whose mission is to be others’ companion through the toughest time in their lives…   [Read more…]

Share The Eye:
  • email
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • Print

STORY OF THE WEEK: “Vegas Strong” Photo Helps Las Vegas First Responders Heal

Las Vegas first responders – Vegas Strong – Dan Sundahl

Las Vegas first responders – Vegas Strong – Dan Sundahl

Vegas Strong – Las Vegas First Responders Mental Health Fund

Photo: "Vegas Strong" photo of Las Vegas First Responders | Photo by Daniel Sundahl

“Vegas Strong” photo by full-time paramedic and photographer, Daniel Sundahl who specializes in Emergency Response artwork. Proceeds from sales of this “Vegas Strong” photo will benefit the Las Vegas First Responder Mental Health Fund

By Stacey Gualandi/October 29, 2017

On the night of the horrifying mass shooting in Las Vegas, first responders from Metro Police, Nevada Highway Patrol, Clark County Fire, Community Ambulance, AMR, Las Vegas Fire & Rescue and Medic West rushed to the Strip to save as many lives as they could. Two weeks later, over two dozen of them reunited to share their personal experiences, offer each other support, and to pose for a group photo.

“It’s an integral part of our history as Nevadans, as Americans. It’s our 9/11.”
—Heather Raasveld, advanced EMT and Las Vegas first responder

They are all trained officers, paramedics, firefighters and EMTs, but none of them could have fully prepared for the tragedy on October 1st. It not only shattered any sense of normalcy, but also bonded this group for life.

Photo: Las Vegas Medic first responders | Photo: Daniel Sundahl of DanSun Photo Art specializing in Emergency Responder artwork

Las Vegas Medic first responders | Photo: Daniel Sundahl of DanSun Photo Art specializing in Emergency Responder artwork

Heather Raasveld, an advanced EMT with Medic West Ambulance and a mother of two young children, was one of the first responders that fateful night. Heather and I have been friends for over a decade. We both live in Las Vegas and I immediately thought of her when news of the active shooter broke. The only way I knew how she was doing was through her Facebook posts. This has been a very difficult time for Heather and her family so I wanted to share her story and her efforts to help all of the First Responders heal.

Heather and Canadian-based photographer and firefighter Daniel Sundahl organized this photo shoot to make sure those who came to help others are not forgotten.

Photo: Stacey Gualandi with Heather Raasveld, Las Vegas First Responder as an advanced EMT with Medic West Ambulance

Las Vegas first responder and advanced EMT, Heather Raasveld (l) with Stacey Gualandi (r)

“It’s an integral part of our history as Nevadans, as Americans. It’s our 9/11,” says Raasveld.

As a full-time paramedic, Sundahl says his artwork (a cross between photography and painting) is a form of therapy, and he’s glad to be in a position to promote their profession.

These are the actual heroes of Las Vegas,” says Sundahl. “These people made the difference and saved so many lives.”

Off-duty officer Charleston Hartfield, who came to the aid of several victims while attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival, lost his life that night. Sundahl is also paying tribute to him; if you look closely, he “ghosted” Hartfield into the photo on the far left so he could stand with his fellow Metro officers.

 

Photo of Las Vegas first responders from Metro Police and Nevada Highway Patrol with fallen off-duty officer, Charleston Hatfield "ghosted" in (far left) | Photo: Daniel Sundahl of DanSun Photo Art, specializing in Emergency Response artwork and photography

Las Vegas first responders from Metro Police and Nevada Highway Patrol. Fallen officer, Charleston Hartfield “ghosted” in far left. Photo: Daniel Sundahl

Medic West EMT Kit York, who transported security guard Jesus Campus after he was shot in the leg, says what happened will always be there so this reunion “means more than you can ever imagine.” To show her ongoing support, she proudly revealed a fresh Route 91 tattoo on her leg.

Photo of Las Vegas first responder, Kitt York's Route 91 tattoo | Photo: Stacey GualandiRaasveld says bringing this “family” together again so soon after the shooting is instrumental in their healing process.

“We do the best we can to bolster each other up, but we’re not the professionals. We’re there to keep people’s hearts beating, lungs breathing, but we don’t know how to help each other mentally when something like this happens.”
—Heather Raasveld

That’s where The Code Green Campaign comes in. It helps first responders get mental health access and the tools, Raasveld says, “to make ourselves whole again.”

Sundahl says he is donating all the proceeds from sales of his “Vegas Strong” photo to the Las Vegas First Responder Mental Health Fund set up by Code Green.

The sooner she can return to normalcy, Raasveld says, the sooner she can be a functional, productive mother and get back out into the community to help others the way she was trained to. In the meantime, she is grateful to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with her extended family. “I have to say I couldn’t be more proud of my city and my people and those who came here and who stepped up and helped others that day. I think if it wasn’t for that there would have been many more lives lost.”

Learn more about how to order your copy of “Vegas Strong”, or to Donate directly to the Fund.

Photographer Daniel Sundahl taking the Vegas Strong photo of the Las Vegas first responders | Photo: Stacey Gualandi

Photographer Daniel Sundahl taking the “Vegas Strong” photo of the Las Vegas first responders | Photo: Stacey Gualandi

 

###

 

Share The Eye:
  • email
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • Print

PHOTO OF WEEK: Our TWE Book Launch is Tonight-Oct. 7-at Book Passage

Join us for our 20 Women Changemakers
Book Launch Tonight!

WE ARE EXCITED. Tonight–Oct. 7, 2017- is the night we officially launch our 20 WOMEN CHANGEMAKERS (www.changemakersbook.com) at Book Passage, a wonderful bookstore in Corte Madera, CA. Please come and join us if you are in the San Francisco area.

Invite to Book Passage Book Party

Our panel is terrific…our radio host Stacey Gualandi will be there along with 20 WOMEN CHANGEMAKER Doniece Sandoval, the founder of LAVA MAE. Laurie McAndish King, a TWE contributor and award-winning author, will be the moderator.

Treats with an international flavor in honor of our women from around the world will be featured. Join us!

Share The Eye:
  • email
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • Print

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Reporter Stacey Gualandi and Brave Las Vegas Massacre Survivor Thomas Gunderson

TWE Contributor Stacey Gualandi Reports on
Las Vegas Massacre for Inside Edition

Stacey Gualandi, Thomas Gunderson, Las Vegas Massacre survivor/ Photo provided by Stacey from Inside Edition report

Stacey reports for Inside Edition in an interview with the very brave #ThomasGunderson. He was attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Sunday night when he was shot in the leg. His instinct was to run towards the gunfire to try to stop the shooter. He describes the ordeal in terrifying detail and praises the many people of every shape, size and color came together to help one another.

He says he’s alive because of the selfless act of two off duty female police officers. He hopes to thank them in person some day. #prayforvegas#insideedition — at UMC Trauma Center.

Share The Eye:
  • email
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • Print

Bestselling Author Lisa See Explores the Bond Between Mothers and Daughters

Lisa See, author/Photo: P. Burke

Lisa See at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore, Scottsdale, Arizona/Photo: P. Burke

By Patricia Caso/June 6, 2017
Photos provided by Lisa See (@Lisa_See)

TWE’s Stacey Gualandi’s wonderful interview with the New York Times bestselling author, Lisa See, posted in 2011. Since then Lisa has written several more compelling historical fiction books, the latest being The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.

“I feel with every book, I put in everything I ever knew into it. Yet I am still growing and changing from that first book to now. Life changes…even in these last three years, I have learned new things.” Lisa See

This time Lisa, who continues to explore women’s relationships and the concept of mother-love, writes about China’s transnational adoption with a backdrop of the little known Akha people and the tea pickers of an ancient tea, Pu’er. I wanted to find out what more she has uncovered personally and professionally on her themes of women’s friendships and her interest in the dual cultures of China and America… [Read more…]

Share The Eye:
  • email
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • Print

TWE Interview: Award-Winning Sculptor Kristen Visbal On Her “Fearless Girl”

Kristen Visbal with her sculpture Fearless Girl/Photo: provided by Federica Valabrega

Kristen Visbal with “Fearless Girl”/New York City

By Patricia Caso/May 14, 2017
Photos: Kristen Visbal
Black/White Photos: Federica Valabrega

“Be Bold For Change” was the theme for International Women’s Day on March 8, 2017. I wonder how many of us would see that boldness in any given little girl. Kristen Visbal, a noted sculptor, found that boldness and a way to inspire conversation on women’s roles, attitudes and future when she was commissioned by State Street Global Advisors to create a sculpture, “Fearless Girl.”

“I think the work is an important statement not just for the empowerment of women, both inside and outside of the financial world, but it also serves as an example for all young women.”   Kristen Visbal

“Fearless Girl” stands facing Wall Street’s famed “Charging Bull.” Kristen’s work ignited a firestorm of opinion. I wanted to know more about how she came up with her unique sculpture and her own background. I grabbed some precious time from Kristen in between doing what she does best, creating remarkable bronze sculptures using something called the lost wax process. .. [Read more…]

Share The Eye:
  • email
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • Print

Design: Summer of Love – The de Young’s Exhibit of Unity, Activism and Change

Summer of Love

Summer of Love exhibit/PHoto: deYoung Museum

Photo: de Young Museum

By Wendy Verlaine/May 5, 2017
Photos by Wendy Verlaine

We can never go back, but San Francisco’s de Young Museum’s current “Summer of Love” exhibit (April 8 – August 20, 2017) allows us to do just that. For a couple of hours fashion, art, photography and music from the 1960’s thrusts us into a noisy and voluminous trip back to the counterculture revolution.

Summer of Love poster from deYoung Museum exhibit/We tend to import our prejudices into any art event, but this show is an exception. There is no mistaking the purpose and message of this circus of cultural and artistic eccentricity. At times it seems to pit the serious Vietnam anti-war movement against the flower child’s personal, internal rebellion. In many ways the two fueled one another’s revolution, and drew them together in a common cause.

The initiation into this arena of protest and social change was psychedelic experimentation, a new music sound and a fierce energy for a new world message. This defined San Francisco, and the Haight-Ashbury and North Beach districts were the hub of change. It proved to be far-reaching.

Rebellion became a visual language. The de Young’s display of counterculture fashion refreshes our memory of how a ferocious demonstration of color, design and craft was a major participant in the political narrative.

Bohemian chic, invented and crafted by Haight–Ashbury’s Linda Gravenites, became the fashion mode of the day. Jeanne Rose’s elaborate designs popularized the peasant dress, maxi skirts and vintage clothing. Janis Joplin’s 1968 quote to Vogue magazine sums up the serious workmanship on many of the pieces worn by the musicians:  “Gravenites turns them out slowly and turns them out well and only turns them out for those she likes.”

DetailJacky Sarti customized landlubber jeans...denim with cotton patches, ribbons. Made for Peter Kaukomen of Black Kangaroo

Jacky Sarti customized landlubber jeans of denim with appliquéd cotton patches, ribbons, cotton molas. Made for Peter Kaukonen of Black Kangaroo.

The detailed craftsmanship and lively mix of colors, patterns, textiles and heavy embroidery influenced Yves Saint Laurent, who elevated it to chic wear in the 1970’s.

Summer of Love exhibit deYoung Museum-Girgita Bjerke: Crochet wool wedding dress 1972

Girgita Bjerke: Crochet wool wedding dress/1972

Elaborately embroidered and appliquéd textiles and political buttons were found on everything from jeans to shoes to accessories. The primary cannon of fashion was to be individual, free, natural and optimistic.

Men's shirt: 1970 cottton denim with p;lastic and metal buttons, patches appliqué and embroidered at deYoung Museum Summer of Love exhibit/Photo provided by Wendy Verlaine

Men’s shirt: 1970 cotton denim with plastic and metal buttons; patches of appliqué and embroidery

Sgoes from Summer of Love exhibit, deYoung Museum, San Fran/Photo provided by Wendy Verlaine

Mickey McGowan appliquéd Chinese silk shoes with complex weaves, silk velvet and rubber soles.

Ideas borrowed from Art Nouveau, Eastern religion, and Native American traditions became icons of the era. These associations with history and philosophy suppressed conventional design and led to a world-wide fashion revolution.

Today the relevance of fashion from this period continues to be the language of mainstream designers under the trope of “bohemian chic.” The full version of rebellion went beyond fashion, and extended to art, music, poetry and prose. The draft loomed before all young men, and fueled an urgent need for change.

Summer of Love Jerry Garcia hat at deYoung Summer of Love exhibit/Photo provided by Wendy Verlaine

Jerry Garcia’s “Captain Trips” hat. Hand-painted silk with ribbon and flag. Original Dunlap & Co. (est. 1883)

“The Trips Festival” of 1966 was the spring board of the revolution. This pivotal gathering unified political activists from Berkeley and the bohemians of Haight-Ashbury.

Leather coat at Summer of Love exhibit, deYoung Museum-SF/Photo Provided by Wendy Verlaine

Leather coat part of deYoung Summer of Love exhibit

“A gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In”, organized by activist Stewart Brand, promoter Bill Graham and author Ken Kesey and his cohorts – the merry pranksters – and composer and artist Ramon Sender, took place at the Longshoremen’s Hall on January 21 to 23, 1966.

Dazzling, theatrical effects with liquid light (a chemical mix allowing photographic printing on any surface using standard darkroom procedures) and slide shows, film projections, electronic sounds, rock groups, experimental theater and dance was the beginning of a firm platform for change. More than 3,000 people attended. It was a grand collaboration that forced everyone to question, reflect and be moved.

Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsberg, Lenore Kandel, Timothy Leary, Gary Snyder, and Alan Watts were a few of the luminaries who formed the philosophy of protest, peace and tolerance, ultimately shaping the tide of history. For many the message was the mantra — “Tune in, turn on, drop out” along with Ginsberg’s “We are all one, we are all one.”

Photographs throughout the show of Ginsberg, Kandel, Leary, Snyder, Watts and the city’s rock bands and concerts pull together a consecutive history of this era of change.

“The Summer of Love” exhibit does its best to resurrect this spectacle for us. There are two light shows to wander through, one of which encourages us to linger in a flashing room of colored lights with bean bag seating.

Moving from the light show one finds oneself in floor to ceiling replicas of 1960’s posters, with a large collection of original first editions under glass. These mass-produced posters were displayed everywhere in Haight-Ashbury and North Beach. Most famous were Print Mint and Friedman Enterprises, underground comic and poster publishers and retailers, where they were papered from floor to ceiling.

Summer of Love posters at deYoung Museum, San Francisco/Photo provided by Wendy Verlaine

Close to 25,000 posters sold every month . Many were commissioned by Bill Graham and Chet Helms, major music promoters.

Messages of social and political demands targeted military personnel, and concerts benefited environment issues and civil and women’s rights. The bright neon colors and patterns of rock posters were often meant as a visual representation of an LSD trip. They drew inspiration from the Art Nouveau period, but because they borrowed from Surrealism to Pop and Op art, this movement is defined as postmodern.

Bonnie Maclean Poster: Yardbirds, The Doors, James Cotton Blues Band, Richie Havens 1967

Bonnie Maclean poster: Yardbirds, The Doors, James Cotton Blues Band, Richie Havens/1967

An added stimulation in this expansive exhibit is sound. One can hear a mix of “echoes” from Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Grateful Dead, Santana and Sons of Champlin among others.

The Summer of Love was far more than a riotous, playful upheaval. The de Young Museum’s exhibit reminds us that the government policies we value today resulted from the interventions of fifty years ago. We still have the power to resist and promote social justice and inclusiveness, and to exercise our first amendment rights.

This message resonates profoundly today, as seen in the massive women’s march and our current activist activities, such as “Resist”, “Indivisible” and “Sister District.” It is a hard-won wisdom that can easily be swept away.

“The Summer of Love” runs from April 8 – August 20, 2017 at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

###

Wendy Verlaine photo

Wendy Verlaine is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer, jewelry designer and owner of Wendy Verlaine Design. Formally a San Francisco gallerist, she continues to stay closely connected to the art world.

 

 

 

 

Share The Eye:
  • email
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • Print

PERSON OF THE DAY: Andra Good Honors Best Friend’s Legacy with Leigh’s Blankies

Andra Good Honors Her Best Friend’s Legacy with Leigh’s Blankies

Leigh Ann Tonkinson/Andra Good and her daughter/2008/Photo Courtesy of Andra Good

Leigh Ann Tonkinson, Andra Good and her baby/2008

By Haley Christopher/March 27, 2017
Photos Courtesy Andra Good

Andra Good lived a pretty ordinary, happy life in Gilbert, Arizona until it was flipped upside down in 2010. Andra’s best friend Leigh Ann Tonkinson, who was her lifelong friend since high school, had been tragically killed in a car accident at age 35. Leigh and Andra’s families were both devastated and Andra knew she had to focus her grief into something positive.

To deal with her sadness, Andra decided to take up sewing and taught herself how to sew through Youtube videos. Sewing would change her life forever in ways she could not imagine!

“I just started sewing a ton of blankets and gave them to people. It felt good to create something and to put my eyes on giving to others and giving back,” Andra says.

About nine months after Leigh passed away, Andra was at a Christmas service at church when she saw a slideshow of a mission trip to Malawi in southeast Africa.  She got to thinking about how many blankies she was making and how they bring kids so much comfort. Plus, Leigh loved the blankets for kids. She had been a nurse supervisor at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and worked there for 10 years.

As Andra watched the slides of these children in Africa. she just kept thinking I wonder if they would benefit from having a blanket of their own? Andra knew making blankies for a good cause could only be called one thing, Leigh’s Blankies, in the name of her inspiring friend. When I heard about the good work Andra was doing, I wanted to find out more about how she turned this fascinating passion of blankies for kids into a successful international non profit.

Blankets for Children in Africa

In February 2011,  Andra and a group of her volunteers sewed their first batch of blankies equaling up to about 16 blankets, which was nothing compared to what was to come in the future. Andra sent these blankies to the same group in Malawi she had previously seen in the slide show in the church. These were the people who had inspired Leigh’s Blankies so Andra only saw it fitting that they were sent the first delivery.

Andra Good, Leigh's Blankies, with children in Africa/Andra's photoAndra received an excellent report back and was told that the children really loved having something to call their own. That prompted Andra and her team to start making blankies for kids in foster care as well because oftentimes they are removed from a home and don’t bring anything along with them. They also started making blankies for children overseas in orphanages and villages.

In addition to sending blankies across the ocean, Andra set up programs that were more local as well. She partnered with Christian Family Care, an adoption agency in Arizona. Andra now gives sets of blankies to this program, one tiny blankie for the birth mom and a normal blankie for the baby. This program is very important to Andra because she has personally adopted her two children.

“I adopted my two daughters at birth. I know the grief that their birth moms experienced. They left the hospital without a memento, and they were placing their child where they may not see or love on them again,” Andra says. “The adoption program has been really special and helps with the grief process for the birth mom and the adopted family.”

Coping Mechanisms

Andra uses blankies as a coping mechanism in various different ways for different people. In addition to the making and distributing of blankets, Andra decided to take Leigh’s Blankies a step further and has created a sewing program at an orphanage at Huruma Children’s Home  in Kenya where the children can make their own school uniforms. This home is also using the program to make money for the orphanage through different projects.

“We didn’t really have any set backs and it seems like God just keeps on opening doors.” Andra says.

Andra Good's Leigh's Blankies group/Photo on Andra's website

Andra’s team at Huruma’s Children’s Home, Kenya

Another project Andra and her team are working on is the Transition Housing Care Project. It allows children who age out of the Huruma orphanage to have support through a life skills class, a housing kit and the basic necessities they need to set up a small home.

This project has been running for three years now and it has been really successful for the young adults. Through this program Andra and her team has found the majority of students that participate in the program go on to attend an African university.

The biggest goal for Andra this year is to turn Leigh’s Blankies into Leigh’s Mission.  She feels that changing the name to Mission would encompass all of the projects they are working on. Andra also would like to build a home, Mama Leigh Ann’s House in Kenya, that would house the children aging out of the orphanage.

Starting Projects You’re Passionate About

Andra Good's Leigh's Blankies group gives blankie to person in Africa/Photo on Andra's website“If they were in a home together they could lean on each other, have accountability and it wouldn’t be such a hard transition going from living with 200 brothers and sisters at the orphanage to going out and living on their own,” Andra says.

Andra could never imagined Leigh’s Blankies would take off and be as large and growing as it is today. It began as a small hobby rooted from grief and has sprouted into something truly great and meaningful.

“Starting out in a project like this can be easy as long as you find something you’re passionate about,” says Andra. Her passion is truly inspiring and shows through all of her work and dedication to her program.

“Oftentimes we have our own ideas and our own plans and they can get in the way. Sometimes we do things to better our own purpose and not to better the purpose of the organization that has already been doing the work,” Andra says as a word of caution.

Her advice is to walk along with someone who has done something similar and make sure you ask them what would be helpful. Her blankies have been transported around the world. In addition to creating them for people in multiple villages in different countries in Africa, they can be found in India, Poland, Honduras and elsewhere. Since 2011 she has made over 6,000 blankies.

I am inspired by Andra’s story and how she was able to make the most out of a devastating accident. In talking with Andra I could hear the kindness in her voice and the giving in her heart. I hope this story will open the eyes of others and spread kindness and hope.

Leigh’s Blankies

Andra Good and Leigh's Blankies/Photo Courtesy Andra Good

If you are interested in Andra’s organization, you can find more info at leighsblankies.com.

Twitter: @leighsblankies
FB: @leighsblankies
YouTube videos

***

Written and Reported for TWE by Haley Christopher

Haley Christopher/intern for The Women's Eye

Haley is a graduate from ASU’s Walter Cronkite School with a Bachelor in Journalism and Mass Communication degree. She is at the start of her journalism/public relations career and loves writing about people who are inspiring and making an impact in our world. Haley believes in giving back because she feels that we rise up by lifting others.

Share The Eye:
  • email
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • Print