Inspiration Report

joannie-rochette-bronze.jpgFigure skater Joannie Rochette may have received a bronze medal last night, but what she won transcended well beyond the podium.

Yesterday, the Inspiration Report touched on Rochette’s personal triumph–her ability to keep skating despite her mother’s death, skating being a way to honor her mother’s memory, love, and spirit.  Rochette was able to call on an inner courage and strength to focus her mind on the rink and to channel her grief in a positive way by remaining dedicated to everything she and her mom worked for since Turin.

“That was the way that mom raised me, to be faithful to the person that she made of me, to make her proud.” (Austin News

We walked into our favorite restaurant in Queens the other night, The Flagship Diner, and there at a long table were a group of women in red hats, and also wearing various shades of purple clothing. They were The Red Hat Society of Forrest Hills.

Red Hat Gals waving.jpgI positioned myself for a ring side seat, quietly listening to some of their conversation–yes, they did talk about where they bought their hats!–and mostly staring happily at their colorful appearance. I loved all that red!  And purple. So bright, and cheery. And I loved seeing those women together. When women gather great things can happen. 

Red is the color of courage and good luck in some traditions. And I have heard people say that a woman who wears red is ready for anything!  These gals, who seemed to represent a wide range of middle ages and beyond, and who came from different backgrounds, just seemed to enjoy the connection of being together.

Red Hat Queen.jpgThey were nice enough to pose for some photos and, the “Queen Mother” of the Forrest Hills group, Mary Clifford, gave me some insights into to the gathering: They meet once a month, they are celebrating six years in existence, and they are a part of the huge, now famous, Red Heat Society. I thought I heard her say it was composed of “billions” of women from around the world. if not, it is a pretty large group and the website says it is “the world’s largest sisterhood of women approaching 50 and beyond.”

The Queen Mom of this Forrest Hills group told me she founded the group because she didn’t have a big family and it is a way to connect and enjoy a family-like bond. She proudly runs it and the monthly meetings, including raffles at the end of dinner!  The best part of it all was they seemed to really be having fun together. 

The Red Hat Society has ongoing conferences, monthly meetings in local chapters, and lots of red-hatted stuff to do.

The Red Hat Message: “Embrace and life life to the fullest. We’re all about embracing changing attitudes on life. This is the best time of our lives!”

And red peps things up and being colorful is also about being a tad silly and having fun. Here is how the society’s main website greets visitors:

“Welcome to the place where there is fun after fifty (and before) for women of all walks of life. We believe silliness is the comedy relief of life and, since we are all in it together, we might as well join red-gloved hands and go for the gusto together. Underneath the frivolity, we share a bond of affection, forged by common life experiences and a genuine enthusiasm for wherever life takes us next.”

Each local group has a Queen Mother, but they are headed by the Red Hat Society Founder, who is also known as the Exhalted Queen Mother. Read more about the Queen!

Here’s some information on joining.

Well, it wasn’t classically “romantic” but it certainly was unique. The first “Apple Wedding” took place in Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue Apple Store. I guess you can call it a MacMarriage.


“Today’s tale of geeky nuptials comes to you from that gleaming, subterranean realm known as Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue Apple Store,” reports AOL News. “Ya Ting Li and Joshua Li entered the bond of matrimony surrounded by iMacs and iPods, and the ceremony was officiated by Henry Hu, who was dressed in a black turtleneck and jeans. Perhaps the geekiest touch, though, was that the rings were presented, not on a pillow, but tied to a first gen iPod.”

joannie-rochette.jpgFigure skater Joannie Rochette’s story is a difficult one to write because it’s a very personal one: Just a few days before the individual female figure skating competition was to begin, Rochette’s mother, Therese, arrived in Vancouver but suffered a sudden, massive heart attack instead.  Rochette’s father, Normand, found his wife passed out in the apartment they were staying at; he brought her to a hospital, but she passed away at 55-years-old.

Despite the unexpected, tragic news and circumstances, Rochette remained strong and decided to stay in the competition.  Hours after her mother passed away, Rochette was practicing on the ice, wiping tears away intermittenly, as all her eyes were on her.

On Tuesday night, Rochette gathered her courage and strength once more to skate in the women’s figure skating short program.  She took a few deep breaths and then began her smooth performance to soulful French music.  The audience clapped along and cheered when she landed successfully after every jump.  It was hard not to be touched by her beautiful skating and by the audience’s overwhelming support.  At a time when she could have easily given up skating to grieve, she remained poised and confident instead.  Only at the end of her performance did she broke down in tears; every emotion she was holding back came out, but the crowd reception was amazing.  Her performance placed her in the top three behind Olympic favorites Yu-Na Kim (South Korean) and Mao Asada (Japan).