March, 2010

To Wallow or Reinvent?– And,
Vermont Woman Wins Big at Press Association Awards!

Sudden change or change by choice occurs over and over in one’s life. Either way, life-altering change challenges us to reinvent ourselves. And it’s rarely easy. Change by divorce, accident, illness, death, or job loss always results in emotional chaos.


For me, a profound setback in my young life was my 42-year-old mother’s illness and death from breast cancer. Gone were plans such as going to Woodstock, or intentions of marching with my friends to end the war in Vietnam and for racial equality and women’s rights, and gone was a planned trip to Greece and then a graduate degree. I was needed at home for the next six years. As my friends set out to fulfill all their dreams, I was obligated taking care of my mother and manage our household and younger siblings.


Devastated, I had two choices: wallow in the abyss or reinvent. With age and maturity, I learned that sooner or later everyone has a similar story and they, too, ultimately come to the same choice. The critical trick is recognizing that the shock of major change can be temporary; bad stuff happens and it’s one’s measure of character as to how you choose to deal with it (so said my grandmother). The process to achieving a fresh and successful new direction requires self-exploration (i.e., this event does not own me), and an openness for possibility.


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Publisher Sue Gillis

Andrea Rogers – Taking a Well-Deserved Bow


“You can see that getting out of here is going to be wild!” chuckles Andrea Rogers ruefully, gesturing around her small office before starting to dig through one of many brimming boxes on the floor – still there from their last move, nearly 10 years ago. Nonetheless, Rogers quickly emerges from the clutter, triumphant, handing over the item she was searching for – a copy of the first annual report of the Flynn Theatre, from 1982. The contents of that report detailed the status of a fledgling performing arts space. It would hardly be recognizable in today’s annual report, which would outline the enviable health of a renowned multi-use cultural center with an annual operating budget of approximately $6 million, an organization that has indelibly transformed the landscape of downtown Burlington.


This transformation has been accomplished under the leadership of only one executive director: Rogers. So while it may prove to be “wild” for Rogers to extricate herself from the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts upon her retirement at age 70 in June, it is wildly difficult for almost everybody else to imagine the organization without her in the lead. The name Andrea Rogers is simply synonymous with the institution. But she believes it’s the right time to exit. “We’ve got a great staff and that’s partly why I wanted to leave now,” she says of her decision to finally retire. Rogers chatted with us in her Burlington office on a bright and sunny winter day, with City Hall Park visible from her window.


However, the conversation really started last fall. In the Flynn lobby following a frenetic comedy show by Paula Poundstone in October, a buoyant Rogers circulated among the crowd. It was just days after her public announcement that she would be retiring in June – shocking news to some, but a decision that had been nearly a year in the making and was known to the Flynn’s board and senior staff. So it may have been the relief of being unburdened of her secret that showed in Rogers’ beaming face. Prompted by Vermont Woman’s Sue Gillis, she laughingly recalled funny moments of her tenure as well as some of the extraordinary performers she has witnessed on the Flynn stage over the years, legends such as Ella Fitzgerald, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Miles Davis. From her recitation, it was clear that Burlington had become a regular stop on the tour routes of established international stars and avant-garde artists alike.


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Andrea Rogers

Women and Stroke: What We Need to Know


Strokes are often thought of in relation to the elder population, and about 75 percent do occur after age 65. But strokes can happen at any age. And women have a higher rate of stroke occurrence. For these reasons, it is vital to know and recognize the signs of stroke in order to speed treatment. We should also know what our rehabilitation options are, and how to reduce our risk of stroke. A stroke occurs when the flow of oxygen to the brain is cut off. Think of it as a “brain attack.” There are two types.


The more common one, ischemic stroke, happens when a blood clot obstructs a blood vessel – the same mechanism as in a heart attack. Clots form either because of fatty deposits in the vessel (atherosclerosis) or atrial fibrillation – an irregular heartbeat that causes the blood to be pumped improperly, allowing it to pool in the atria where clots can develop and travel to the brain. In the second and less common form of stroke, hemorrhagic, a blood vessel bursts and the resulting blood collection effectively cuts off oxygen to an area in the brain. Blood vessels can burst for a variety of reasons: high blood pressure, which causes vessels to balloon; an aneurysm in a cerebral artery; a congenital defect that weakens the vessel wall; trauma, such as blunt injury; or even violent coughing or vomiting. Whichever side of the brain has been occluded, the effects will show up on the opposite side of the body.


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Picture of EKG

A REEL Great Annual Film Fest in Brattleboro


Brattleboro began hosting the Women’s Film Festival in 1992. Now in its 19th year, the festival has evolved into a ten-day event celebrating film and art from women around the world. This year’s screenings include 25 compelling feature films and documentaries from nine countries, depicting women’s struggles and journeys through both dramas and comedies. Between films, festival-goers can view an exhibit of art and crafts by women at the Hooker-Dunham Theater & Gallery, entitled “Visions,” and bid in its month-long auction.


The festival concludes with the Boston-based choral group Cappella Clausura performing sacred music by women composers. The screenings, exhibit, and concert all benefit the Women’s Crisis Center of Windham County (WCC). The Women’s Film Festival was originally conceived as a benefit for WCC, according to Arlene Distler, who has selected films for and helped promote the festival since 1998. Distler says the idea “formed from the need to create a positive legacy” after a local woman was stabbed to death in public by her boyfriend.


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Picture of a woman