Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Cairo Part Two

I ended my "Green News" article on Cairo, Part One, sharing about how something healed in me while I was in Egypt. I still struggle to find the words to convey this. To be honest, part of it is that before experiencing a country like Egypt, whenever I would see someone from that part of the world here in the USA, my first reaction has always been suspicion: Are they a terrorist?

After several days being immersed in this other culture so far away, I started feeling at ease and seeing these beautiful people for who they are. I especially cherished their smiles. You may remember the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song "Wooden Ships," which has these lyrics:

"If you smile at me, I will understand
'Cause that is something  
Everybody everywhere does in the same language..."

Every time I took a photo or gazed at an Egyptian face that was smiling, it lit up my heart! And I realized Egyptians are just the same as people all over this world, raising their children and trying to live a good life. Now I celebrate the beautiful smiles from every person, everywhere!

Another part of the healing was that, after two days in Cairo, I suddenly realized that my chronic neck pain was gone! Pyramid power? I can't say how relieved I felt without that constant nagging pain! It lasted for a few weeks upon returning, but, unfortunately, gradually crept back.

The spiritual healing continued with our sailboat trip (a dahabiya) after our conference, the 29th International BPW Congress. (If you did not read about it in my previous article, let me know and I can send it to you.) We took a short flight from Cairo south to Luxor to meet Johanna Marius, a BPW member from Germany, who is also the owner of Luxor Sail the Nile. Her partner, Mohmed Morsy, is the wonderful captain. I will never forget his beautiful smile, nor that of Rabia (a sailor) and Mr. T (our waiter). By the way, the food was excellent, with fresh vegetables at every gourmet meal!

Something interesting I learned right away is that Upper Egypt is south and Lower Egypt is north. That is because the Nile is up river to the south. The prevailing winds on the Nile River blow to the south, so we were sailing against the current! When the winds died down, a tugboat was used to pull us along.

We had a fabulous Egyptologist on board, Mohamed A. Fahmy, who I think is going to be famous some day. He has it all: great knowledge, handsome, friendly, and an excellent teacher and guide! He is working on his PhD in archeology, and taught us about the many temples we toured. Perhaps another reason I was feeling so spiritual was that the ancient Egyptians were very spiritual and connected to nature, making gods and goddesses out of all of their animals!
I felt a profound sense of peace and serenity the moment I stepped on that boat. I had been wondering if I'd get seasick, as the Nile is very big, but the river was calm and steady flowing. My colleagues thanked me profusely for doing research before the trip and choosing this type of boat over a cruise ship. Besides having far fewer passengers than a cruise ship (10 vs. 200), our small dahabiya could pull over and moor at places where a big cruise ship couldn’t. One of the highlights for me was pulling over in a rural area where we hiked through farmland and saw laughing boys riding by on their donkeys. We then walked down a road through a small town. We came upon a farmer with fresh dates. Even though my friend tried to pay him, he insisted on giving the dates to us! We passed a couple of schools, where I made a video of the students yelling, "USA, USA, we love you!" In general, it seems Egyptians love the USA, but give thumbs down at the mention of our president! I have posted the rest of the photos/videos on my Facebook  page at
Just like in Cairo and most other Egyptian cities, there was much trash outside the rural homes. My colleagues and I had a great conversation one day while relaxing and floating up the river. The Egyptians don't have time to think about trash or environmental issues; they are focused on putting the next meal on the table. I realize that is the same problem here. I'm thinking that if we did not have laws against littering, we'd have trash all over the place, too. Johanna, the owner of the sailboat, has a couple of BPW projects (sorry I don’t have links for them). One of them is in a small town where they did pass a law about littering, and it made a huge difference. Everything seems to come down to money, doesn’t it?!
Johanna also has a BPW project called Women Empowerment. She is involving women in her new business of sailing the Nile. Her sister-in-law, Yamna, does the washing and the ironing for the ship. Captain Mohmed used to have a laundry business do the work, but now Yamna is doing it; she's getting the same pay as the laundry business did. Another two ladies from the family are taking over the baking—bread, cakes, cupcakes, etc. “We pay them and actually spend more money than if we bought the things in a store, but home-baked bread tastes better. The ladies have a chance to make money.”
I must say, I long to feel such serenity again. I have found I need to not listen to the news so much. I have mellowed out a bit with my environmental activism. As if in a dream, I keep hearing the Muslim prayer times. It seems every time I ask God what I should be doing, I get the same answer: Enjoy life, help others, and learn.
Here is a video of Luxor Sail the Nile:


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It’s been two weeks since returning home from Egypt. It was so incredible; it all seems like a dream now!  From the moment we arrived at the Cairo airport and then drove into the city, I was overwhelmed with how different everything is from here in the USA!

Looking out the window of our bus at the city’s skyline, we noticed that well over half of the buildings remain unfinished, with the steel rods protruding up towards the sky from their tops. We learned that this is the way citizens avoid paying high property taxes.  And many of the windows were empty appearing vacant. TV is apparently very important here, though, as there were many satellite dishes!

The next morning, my colleague and I decided to walk the six blocks from our hotel to the Mena House Hotel and Conference Center, where we would spend the next five days for our International Business and Professional Women (BPW) Congress. Big mistake—there was only one traffic light, you could barely make out any traffic lane markings, and the traffic was unlike any I’ve ever seen, with horns blaring away! We could not get across the street! Finally, a kind Egyptian man walked out with his arms up and stopped traffic for us. That was the last time we attempted that walk!

The conference was incredibly exciting, with 680 women from 73 countries. I was impressed with the colorful dresses of women from the nearby African countries, as well as the Thai women’s fancy costumes! I made connections with Agatha from Sierra Leone; Keiko from Japan; Judith and Carol from Australia; Vivian, Vickie, and Hellen from New Zealand; Margarita from Brazil; and some new colleagues from NYC and El Paso, Texas—just to name a few.

There was a lot of talk about our BPW sisters and our brothers in the Caribbean who suffered (and still suffering) from recent hurricanes and many that could not attend the congress. 

Our theme for the 29th congress was “Making a Difference through Leadership and Action,” and I definitely got to see many leaders in action. This was only the second time in the last 87 years that a congress has taken place in Africa. My friends kept asking why we would have the conference in Cairo, where there seems to be so much inequality. Well, there’s part of the answer: Work needs to be done! But also H.E. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, had previously declared 2017 to be the Year of Women.

I must thank our NFBPWC President, Elizabeth Benham, for making me a voting delegate. That meant I was required to attend the general assemblies every day, where I learned so much. I learned about resolutions, amendments, and voting procedures—which you can imagine can be rather difficult, with hundreds of voters. I got to practice many skills: principles before personalities, detachment with love, and non-judgment. Every time I felt judgment towards someone with a strong personality, instead of judging their behavior as good or bad, I thought of it as strengths and weaknesses. This also extended to self-judgment and being even gentler with myself. Another practice that helps me a lot is, “We believe what they say because it is true for them.”

Being a delegate, I missed out on some great workshops, but I learned some new things from the one I chaired on the environment. Judith from Australia talked about all of the intricacies that happen when an agency moves in to help with disaster relief. This was something I never gave much thought to…these agencies take over everything needed to rebuild and restore, from carpentry to electrical work—and the local workers are then left jobless! 

I learned of a project in Vietnam that is building water stations that filter and treat local water so that tourists or anyone can refill their water bottles. Speaking of water, I have never drunk so much bottled water in my life, but we had to! Developing countries don’t have the infrastructure and facilities that we have to provide clean water. There were so many things like this and so much litter that I need to re-think everything!   

Neelima Basnet (our newly voted in Young BPW of Nepal) spoke of all the BPW projects she helped to facilitate after the recent earthquake in Nepal. Archana Bhatnagar of BPW India shared about her company, Haylide Chemicals, which offers products that do not pollute and are not bad for humans, animals, or the environment. If you’d like to see some of the other projects that are going on, please visit

We also voted in a new Executive Board at the conference. I am sorry to see BPW International President Dr. Yasmin Darwich stepping down, as she did such a great job. I think it is very fitting that Dr. Amany Asfour of Egypt will be leading the way as our new BPW International President.

There really are no words to explain it, but something healed in me while I was in Egypt. Our five days spent on a Dahabiya sailboat traveling up the Nile was an especially spiritual experience for me. There were days when we were at least a half-mile from any town, yet we could still always hear prayer times at dawn, sunrise, noon, afternoon, sunset, and night, since the sound from the mosques is amplified by large speakers. I began a practice of stopping to feel the stillness and say a prayer for world peace at every prayer time.

Cairo, Part Two will be continued next month.


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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hello lovely ladies that read our Business and Professional Women of Boulder BLOG page. 

We are having a great election season and educating ourselves about a lot of important work for women/girls, well in fact EVERYONE!!!

Check out the Boulder City Council race and make sure to vote. There are lots of positions open this term. We NEED woman friendly councilmen/women to represent us. Cities for CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women/Girls) is at stake here. Check your local cities in Boulder county and the state of Colorado! Get in there and let them know we count. It is so urgent, especially in these tense times. Thanks!!

Also, BPW Colorado had an event that was held at ALAMO DRAFT HOUSE Theatre in Denver on Colfax that was awesome August 27, 2017. Equal Means Equal was an intense movie that spells out how women got where they are NOW and from hence we came. It is powerful! Do watch it. I think its .99 on amazon, but we here at BPW Colorado have a copy of the disk for free if its not used for wrong purposes. Just watch for free and enjoy type gatherings. We have it! Or rent it but DO NOT MISS IT! Amazing things we didn't even know after all our years of work for women/girls and all humans in our race!

Have a great end of SUMMER all. We have a lunch gathering in Boulder on Sept 10 called What's Food Got to Do With it?! By Julie Thenell. She's amazing as well. It is at the Egg and I on Baseline. Sign up on our website Click on events and its only $5 if you are a member and $10 if not a member. Then cost of lunch. GREAT presentation. She is a nutritionist with major knowledge of food. You will love her. We do!

Thanks so much for reading our fun blog!!!!

Sharon Simmons
BPW Boulder President
BPW CO Advocacy VP - We do alot of work in advocacy, won't you join us!!??

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Citizen's Climate Lobby Focuses On One Thing!

July 2017 Green News from Laurie Dameron monthly music newsletter and Green News

Citizen's Climate Lobby Focuses On One Thing! 

I have heard about Citizens’ Climate Lobby for some years, but always thought it was an organization that works on legislation for many kinds of environmental issues. I learned otherwise when I finally attended a CCL meeting, where Susan Secord (Boulder, Colorado Chapter) explained what CCL is about. "Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change."

Since it began in 2007, it has zeroed in on getting its carbon fee and dividend legislative proposal passed. It works by training ordinary citizen volunteers to build relationships with elected government officials, the media, and their local community. Right away, I thought what a great thing to be so focused! 

The evening I attended the meeting, CCL volunteers were preparing to travel to Washington, D.C., at their own expense, to lobby Congressional representatives—35 members from Colorado, 1,300 members from the entire U.S.!  I always thought lobbyists stood outside the Capitol building and grabbed politicians when they walked by. Yes, I have a lot to learn! CCL volunteers actually make appointments ahead of time and then meet with Senators and House Representatives. This June, CCL volunteer lobbyists visited over 500 members of Congress! 

Although there have been a number of carbon tax proposals made in the last few years, CCL wants to institute a carbon fee. A fee differs from a tax—a tax has the purpose of raising revenue, whereas a fee is to recover the costs of providing a service. CCL’s preferred climate solution is "a national, revenue-neutral carbon fee-and-dividend system (CF&D) [that] would place a predictable, steadily rising price on carbon, with all fees collected minus administrative costs returned to households as a monthly energy dividend."

CCL fully understands that the majority of science has substantiated climate change, which is gravely endangering health and poses catastrophic impacts to human civilization. We MUST get the CO2 in our atmosphere down from over 400 parts per million to 350 parts per million! 

If passed, CCL’s CF&D proposal would greatly benefit the economy, our health, the health of our environment, and national security. 

How exactly would the CF&D system work? Basically, there would be a fee on fossil fuels and other greenhouse gases at the source (mine, well, port of entry), starting out at a low of $15 per ton collected by the U.S. Treasury. The fee would go up at least $10 per ton each following year. Then each household in the U.S.A. would receive an equal monthly dividend to offset the costs of transitioning to a greenhouse-gas-free economy. The dividend would increase yearly, stimulating the economy as well as increasing the demand for cleaner energies, which would become more affordable. And we’d be well on our way to a fully clean energy economy! 

At first, I thought the equal dividend sounded unfair. What if my neighbors use much more energy than my household? Well, they might, but they will pay for it in the long run. If electricity and gas prices rise, there will be much more incentive to conserve. 

As I searched the Internet for pros and cons of this system, something that caught my attention was that often low-income households live in homes that are less energy-efficient; therefore, an equal dividend might not seem fair. Of course, there's always controversy when it comes to anything, let alone legislation. A carbon tax model as part of Australia’s Clean Energy Act of 2011 was repealed in 2014. There has been a carbon tax in British Columbia since 2008, where there is still controversy as to whether or not it has decreased gas consumption. But keep in mind that the models for a tax and a fee are different. You'll have to do some homework yourself, but I am confident that Citizens’ Climate Lobby, working side by side with bipartisan political support, will iron out the details to make this an effective plan for fighting climate change. 

Speaking of bipartisan support, the Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives was formed in February 2016, and now there are 44 (22 Republicans, 22 Democrats) in the caucus! See who they are here:

You can help by writing your House Representatives and urge them to join the caucus. You can find your legislators here: Or just write your short personal story to your House Representatives and Senators to let them know why they should act on climate change!

Please take two minutes of your time to watch this video: And here is a link to a study done by an independent economic organization that shows the projected environmental, economic and health impacts of the CF&D system:

Simply joining one of CCL’s 418 chapters and 72,000 members worldwide will help (nothing is required of you to join)! Just click on the red JOIN CCL button at the top of its website:

This is HUGE! I urge all of you who read this to do some more research and join this far-reaching, influential organization at a critical time in our history. After you join, you will get the CCL newsletter full of informative articles. Surely there will be an upcoming CCL event soon where you too, can attend, ask questions, and learn—just as I did! 


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Sunday, August 6, 2017

4 Steps to Develop Empathy (...And get what you want, anytime.)

To get what we want, we must also understand what others want. Win-win is rooted in the idea that when everyone is uplifted the results are greater. This is more than results for returns, it's also for building and deepening relationships. It's also for recognizing the strengths in a group (or team) and when to lead and when to follow.

1. Manage your own emotions (Emotional Intelligence / EQ)
2. Practice non-judgement.
3. Be curious.
4. Listen actively.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Voice of Bold Business Radio Interview on Cities for CEDAW! You GOTTA READ THIS!!

Cities for CEDAW Interview with UNA BC and BPW Colorado

Check out this wonderful interview Jessica Dewell did with United Nations Association of Boulder County and Business and Professional Women of Colorado recently! If you don't know about Cities for CEDAW please listen and go to to see what we have done in one year here in this state!

We are excited! Join us and we'll show you a great time!
Sharon Simmons
President of BPW Boulder
VP of BPW Colorado Advocacy
Cities for CEDAW Task Force

Monday, July 10, 2017

BPW Boulder is recognized as a CWEF Named Scholarship Sponsor

Karen McGee, President CWEF
& Sharon Simmons, President BPW Boulder
Colorado Women’s Education Foundation (CWEF) started because past BPW presidents and board members decided there was more to be done, more to elevate women by supporting their efforts to increase their education regardless of their age. Education is at the center of the BPW mission: to build full participation, equity and economic self-sufficiency for all women. Part of BPW’s dues is allocated to CWEF, but your chapter can do more. Another way to help is to hold a fundraising event specifically to support CWEF’s scholarships for women.

We have a choice of what actions we take, including which organizations we support with time and energy, as well as with our pocketbooks.

Boulder Commits To Donation from Celebration of Women.

The Celebration of Women team for Boulder’s chapter made a bold promise this year: donate 34% of all proceeds of the 2017 event to CWEF.

Reshaping how we think about supporting the efforts of others in our daily lives may seem insignificant, yet it’s not. Take BPW Boulder. They wanted to make a big difference and to support women in achieving their educational goals in becoming more economically self-sufficient for themselves and their families.

Boulder didn’t know if they’d make $1of profit or $1,000 of profit. But they intentionally choose to make a commitment to donate funds to CWEF. This powerful choice displays their action on the BPW mission. It shows their chapter members that being part of something larger matters. Together, they worked to raise women up.

Boulder’s 2017 Celebration of Women event raised $600 for CWEF.

You may not know this, but a contribution (one time or through continuous giving) of $1,000 enables a person or entity to be recognized on CWEF’s website and in annual reports as a Lifetime Scholarship Sponsor. BPW Boulder recognized the impact of this contribution as a marketing tool for their chapter. The board decided to donate an additional $400 to CWEF this year to reach the goal of supporting a named scholarship of $1,000. With additional donations, BPW Boulder will reach the next level and become a named scholarship sponsor of $3,000.  

CWEF is pleased to share BPW Boulder’s commitment to help the women applying for 2017 scholarships. Check out the listing of BPW Boulder’s named scholarship at You might also want to browse the entire website to learn about the many ways to contribute and read the inspiring success stories there.  

Karen McGee, President CWEF
& Sharon Simmons, President BPW Boulder
BPW Colorado President and CWEF Board of Trustees’ Treasurer, Deb Fischer, has this to share about CWEF and what chapters can do to help other women. "CWEF was founded by passionate BPW members, as a sister nonprofit organization, in an effort to provide the gift of education to empower women to support themselves and their families. Forty years later, CWEF is even more important in assisting women to achieve their career goals and in many cases, financial independence. I challenge each chapter to step up and organize a scholarship fundraiser on behalf of CWEF. The trustees and recipients will be available and excited to assist!"

Let’s get every Colorado chapter listed on CWEF’s website.  Support the BPW mission. Support your local women. Take intentional action.

Together we can help CWEF reach the challenging goal to increase its endowment to $2 million by 2022 so the scholarship program will be self-sustaining.

How to contact CWEF: or

Submitted by Jessica Dewell and Karen McGee