Magical Moments with You!

Magical Moments with You!

Ah, 2016, you’ll be remembered for your high-lights and low-lights and yet this has been a year of many magical moments. I want to remember this year for more than the contentious Presidential election, the wars around the globe and the crushing refugee crisis in Europe. They’ve all played a significant role in what’s shaped our year and I also want to remember the many magical moments I’ve spent at Deborah’s Palm, with you. It would take a book, perhaps a novel someday, to recall all the magical moments and I want you to know, they’ve meant so much to me. Please know this past year holds a dear and special place in my heart. Thank you for your advice, kindness, generosity and support!

A Few Magical Moments of 2016

Morning and afternoon laughs and chats; talking about life, kids, transitions, family, and always of hope. These conversations left me feeling empowered, strengthened, and encouraged. Thank you!

Listening to Brown Bag Lunch Speakers, especially, Elizabeth Foggie, as she spoke to us about rituals in our lives and the value they have. Her energy and enthusiasm led me to join her Creative Rituals: Transitions and New Beginnings workshop. Transformational experience. Thank you!



Partnering with the Gunn High School BEAM Program and working with six talented, brilliant and passionate young women who seek to make this world an even better place to live. Their enthusiasm and friendship challenged me to look deeper into how we, as women, can assist them on their journey. Thank you!




Meeting fellow Palo Alto Weekly Grant Recipient, Rose Gibson, Founder of HAGAR and currently the CEO of ILEAD (Initiative for Leadership, Engagement and Development). When I’m with Rose I feel like I’ve known her all my life; trust me, she is a woman you want to know. Her strength, compassion, brilliance and fierceness feed the warrior in me. Thank you!


Sweet Baby Joni who came into our community just a few short months ago. One of our dedicated and beautiful volunteers & instructors, Leslie Brody, told me this past year she was expecting and there was an excitement throughout our village. When Baby Joni arrived it was like meeting a friend you’ve been waiting for such a long time. Each week I’d find myself anticipating her arrival. Watching her growth each week gave me such a kick. This little human being; thriving in the love and comfort of her mother and family. Just makes me cry tears of joy, God bless you, Sweet Joni. Thank you!

We move into 2017 anticipating all good things. Deborah’s Palm will carry on with new programming, hours and the return of our wonderful Founder and returning Executive Director, Katie Ritchey. DP will continue to be your place to find friendship, peace, a laugh and a cup of Joe. Thank you all!

Until we meet again, remember Think Bravely!

My Love,
Katie Cooney, Executive Director



Thank You To Our Rockin’ 2016 DP Staff, Faculty, BOD & Volunteers!

THANK YOU! To our Volunteers, especially to Lee Martin-Jones who taught me the ropes of answering the phone and knowing where to find the resources; thank you to Robin Metz who scheduled the Front Desk volunteers and who teased me into baking & maybe into learning to knit; Lisa Westhorpe, who rallied and scheduled event volunteers; thank you to the beautiful women who volunteer at the Front Desk and shield me from the office supply sales folk & other traveling sales people that walked through our doors; Susan Silver, Bridget Thackson, Lilian Broekhoven, Robin Metz, Regina Kanevsky, Delynn Schor, Roni Strauss, Mary Vandermarck, Melanie Inglis, Leslie Brody & Sweet Baby Joni, Joan Rudloff, Kat Vigil, Terri Weber, Cathleen Calice, Mary McCarthy, Wendy Breu, Carina Burns, Nina Demenchukova, LJ Anderson, Keiko Ikeda, Linda McBirney, Pauline Tierney, Thea Sewell, Mandi Toutsch, Ariza Valadaop, Karen Gutfreund, Nassim Nouri, Elizabeth Foggy, Carol Nast, Martha Ryan and so many more.


THANK YOU! To our Teachers & Faculty; Lisa Stotlar, Anne Martin, Susan Silver, Philippa Perkin, Barbara Tyler, Donna Scheifler, Monica Ottosson, Kirsten Romer, Marcia Davis-Cannon, Phyllis Butler, Margy Lim, Motoko Yagi, Sara Hart, Terri Sarappo, Deena Bruno, Nancy Wesson, Thao Do and many more who taught workshops, seminars and classes throughout the year.

THANK YOU! To our Counselors and Mentors, Kristy Phillips, Annette Glass, Nina Homnack, Ella Aftalion, Maggie Mamin, and Ulrika Brenner. You helped so many women navigate through their pain and sorrow to discover new dreams and goals.

THANK YOU! To our Group Managers; Miriam Maldavsky, who led the Newcomer’s Coffees to help those women new to the area feel connected and less alone; Debby Damm, who led the Knitting Group & Bertita Graebner who penned the Knitter’s Newsletter; Gail Grant & Mary Dimit, who facilitated the Life Lessons Meetup & began a second session because learning how to Forgive is a powerful gift to ourselves and others; Carol Hessler who led the Walking Club come rain or shine, no fear!; Jane Benson, who unraveled the meaning and beauty of poems and words in the Poetry Lover’s Group; Maggie Mamin, who like a Hollywood agent found and booked speaking talent for our twice monthly Brown Bag Meetup Speaker Series & Saturday Speaker Series – a real pro!; Vasu Duggirala, who kept our Library current and tidy and tenderly nurtured our garden; Susan Adele, who led our book club on cozy Friday nights; Dorothy Forlenza, who led the Quilting for Cancer program and continues today to bring women together for “Quilting for a Cause” and our Game Nights; Hongmei Lu, who led the Dancing for Joy group; Leslie Brody, who led our Open Craft Studio; Sue Eddins, who led our Open Art Studio; Susan Adele & Elaine Fung, who led the Dance Parties and more.


THANK YOU! To our Board of Directors; Nina Homnack, Kelly Lind, Philippa Perkin, Susan Groves & Katie Ritchey who tirelessly guide and direct DP in securing our financial sustainability and overseeing our programming.

THANK YOU! To our Advisory Board; Elaine Fung, who researched, wrote and managed our grants and development opportunities and Joy Hemp, who kept us “balancing” our budget with a keen eye on the books and kind word for all and Michelle Mogadam whose marketing advice helped so much.

THANK YOU! To the Staff who worked so dedicatedly to support DP and me over the last year and a half. Kathryn Whittle, our marketing wizard with the English accent we all envy; Krista Meade, who led on Saturdays with grace and good sense; Anna Luke, our fabulous college intern and all things event management; Emily Dwyer, who lent me so much wisdom and insight into the non-profit sector and Lori Stoia, who designed our newsletters and flyers with flair and grace; Nica Williams, Notre Dame student intern, who assisted on the Divorce Seminar; Diana Vereschzagin, who got our website calendar into the modern world & managed many grand events and thank you to Grace who always knew what we needed to run the operations of DP and made it happen without fuss.


THANK YOU! To floral artist, Susan Groves, for the lovely floral arrangements week after week!

And last, but surely not least. THANK YOU! To our Founder, Katie Ritchey, who nurtured, guided, advised and loved me through my entire time at DP. Katie is a diamond in the rough, a woman who knows the power of community, friendship and commitment to those she loves and the ones she yet to love. I thank you from the corners of my soul for the grace and wisdom you’ve given me.

Think Bravely!
Katie Cooney

How a 23-Year-Old Tennessee Representative almost killed the 19th Amendment in 1920!

With the eve of the General Election upon us, I give great thanks for the privilege to brooklynvote. You see in the late 1800’s, my great grandmother Charity Foster was a seamstress and single mother raising two small daughters, Dorothy & Ruth, in Brooklyn, New York. After her husband abandoned them, Charity worked long, hard hours with thread and needle in hand to carve out a living for her family. She provided her daughters with an education and hoped they’d have a brighter future than her own. Charity died young of cirrhosis of the liver, but lived long enough to witness both young daughters married. In this I believe she felt great joy and greater relief.

Charity was from a long line of women who sought the right to vote. Being a single parent she felt especially vulnerable in society. No man to protect her, she had to go it alone. With the right to vote she could better navigate her family’s future and protect what little she had. She was not alone. For over one hundred year’s women; married, single or widowed marched, protested and demanded the right to vote. Let’s hear it for persistence!

In 1920, the 19th Amendment passed, but it almost didn’t! The crazy part is, it came down to one 23-year-old Representative Harry T. Burn, who opposed the Amendment, but voted for it….because….his mom told him too. Want to know the back story? Read on.

On May 21, 1919, U.S. Representative James R. Mann (1856-1922), a Republican fromsuffragates Illinois and chairman of the Suffrage Committee, proposed the House resolution to approve the Susan Anthony Amendment granting women the right to vote. The measure passed the House 304-89—a full 42 votes above the required two-thirds majority.

Two weeks later, on June 4, 1919, the Senate passed the 19th Amendment by two votes over its two-thirds required majority, 56-25. The amendment was then sent to the states for ratification. Within six days of the ratification cycle, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin each ratified the amendment. Kansas, New York and Ohio followed on June 16, 1919. By March of the following year, a total of 35 states had approved the amendment, one state shy of the two-thirds required for ratification. Southern states were adamantly opposed to the amendment, however, and seven of them—AlabamaGeorgiaLouisianaMarylandMississippiSouth Carolina and Virginia—had already rejected it before Tennessee’s vote on August 18, 1920. It was up to Tennessee to tip the scale for woman suffrage.

The outlook appeared bleak, given the outcomes in other Southern states and given the position of Tennessee’s state legislators in their 48-48 tie. The state’s decision came down to 23-year-old Representative Harry T. Burn (1895-1977), a Republican from McMinn County, harry-burnto cast the deciding vote. Although Burn opposed the amendment, his mother convinced him to approve it. (Mrs. Burn reportedly wrote to her son: “Don’t forget to be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt put the ‘rat’ in ratification.”) With Burn’s vote, the 19th Amendment was ratified. Certification by U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby (1869-1950) followed on August 26, 1920.


On November 2 of that same year, more than 8 million women across the U.S. voted in elections for the first time. It took over 60 years for the remaining 12 states to ratify the 19th Amendment. Mississippi was the last to do so, on March 22, 1984. (

So here I am in 2016, remembering Charity and the women who came votebefore her and thinking about the women who have come since. I’ll think of her when I cast my vote on Tuesday, remembering what a grand right this is. How she would have love to have done the same. I hope as I look up, she’ll look down and for a moment in some cosmic ripple in time we can give one another a high-five!  I cherish knowing that I will cast my ballot, my voice will be heard and I will pass this right on to those women who come after me. I hope you do the same.

Think Bravely!
Katie Cooney


He Always Grows Out His Beard in the Winter

The title of this message comes right off of my Spanish 2016 Page-A-Day Calendar. Over the past two-hundred some odd days, I’ve been learning Spanish a word a day. Just learn a word a day and at the end of the year, voila, fluent! I could then say casually rattle off, “Siempre se deja crecer la barba durante el invierno.”


Turns out I’m not fluent, but it’s also not the end of the year. I’m not bitter about my lack of fluency; in fact, it’s a good reminder for me to take life one-day-at-a-time and remember to be great at anything I need desire & persistence.

Each month we have an incredible array of classes from world-class instructors. I hope you’ll take a look at our offering and say, hey, I’d like to try that or I’ve been thinking about doing that for years. Today’s the day. Take a look and ask yourself, what is calling me? What do I have the desire to pursue? With a little persistence and desire– what could I accomplish, understand, or learn?

My next Spanish word is hervir: to boil. Para hacer un caramel basico, simplemente hierve agua y azuca, which translates – To make basic caramel, simply boil water and sugar. I can’t imagine it’s that simple…but signing up for a class at DP is!

Think Bravely!


2 Years From Now – See Your Future In Memories

How many of you have thought lately, “I can’t believe its July, the years already half way over!” Taking that into account I’m putting projects into high gear, trying not to worry about the future and lament about the past. Sound familiar?

My plans and projects are moving nicely forward, but it’s the Facebook pop ups that gives me pause. Specifically, there’s this pop up to the right. It tells me that if I click on the link they’ll take me back to the events and photos I posted three years ago. Of course it’s all the good stuff; the happy memories, friends sharing good times, exotic vacations, cute grandkids, you know the good stuff we share. What I don’t share are all the struggles, the frustrations, the bumps, the tears, the wrinkles and bruises the year also brought.

What if you woke up tomorrow and you were aimlessly poking around on Facebook and up popped a different kind of alert, what if this one said, 2 Years From Now – See Your Future In Memories. What do you think would be featured? Who would be in the photos? Where have you traveled? What issues or projects have you completed that you are struggling with today? Who in the heck are you after two more years of life with all the joys, bumps and bruises? Don’t you wonder? I do.

I’ll leave you with a quote I love very much, as it sums up how I plan to enjoy the rest of my time in a bold, brave and authentic way.

“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”                                                                                    Author Unknown


Think Bravely,
Katie Cooney

Top 10 Ways to Reset My Soul

We’re almost half way through 2016. Yep, that doesn’t seem possibleReset Button Woman to me either. I have to scroll back on my Facebook page the last 6 months just to remember what I’ve done this year!

Moving ahead, I want to reset my soul. I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I think this is a mid-year’s resolution of sorts.

I will…

  1. Stop saying sorry when it’s not my fault. How many times have I apologized today for something that really didn’t need an apology? Many of us, me included, use this word too many times in a day to start a conversation or fill a silent moment.
  1. Unplug from media. Be mindful of what I’m feeding my brain. Our minds can only handle so much information, be kind to your mind. Take a news vacation.
  1. Put my needs before others. Why do I feel so grouchy and depleted? Am I consistently last on the list only to realize I’ve got no more time in the day for me? Mix it up! Take your to-do list and flip it on its head. When you take care of yourself, you’ll be better able to take care of others. They’ll notice, trust me.
  1. Take a break from work and breathe. Relax knowing it will all get done and if it doesn’t is that so bad?
  1. Stop worrying. Life has a way of working out when I stop being afraid.
  1. Walk, run, hike, swim, skip, dance, just move my body. It feels good.
  1. Surround myself with people who make me feel good. If others are raining on my parade, it’s time to move on.
  1. Love others freely and generously. I won’t wait for someone else to say I love you; I’ll beat them to it!
  1. Do something I love. Play music, sew, draw, paint, or plant a garden.
  1. Start again. This is the first day of the rest of my life.

I will Reset My Soul.

Mindfullness: A Call to Action

There’s a lot of talk about mindfulness these days. Suggesting to each of us to slow down and recognize moments in our days to be grateful for. I know when I slow down and count all my blessings I feel calmer, centered and more connected. My focus shifts from a human doing, to a human being.

 Part of mindfulness for me is letting go of fear and anxiety. We all have those characters living in our heads. They’re loud and obnoxious; sound familiar? They ramble on about how I’m not quite good enough in some way or another – the soup de jour of not being good enough. As a team they can get very creative and I feel bullied from the inside out! I’m not quite sure when they got the keys to the corner apartment in my head, but it didn’t take them long to unpack, get comfortable and lounge around on the well-worn sofas of my soul. But that’s not where this story ends.

Over the years, it was fear & anxiety, the dynamic duo, that woke me at 2am obsessing over a comment a co-worker said or snarky critical taunts of my inner critic shaming me because of some “mistake” I’d made during the day, which I was able to blow-off 8 hours earlier, but now couldn’t shake like a bad habit. I’m sure I’m the only one whose every experienced this, no?

It’s funny, when I’m doing the most mundane things, like taking a shower or squeezing avocadoes for ripeness at Safeway I’ll have these “aha” moments, where suddenly everything becomes crystal clear. I had to reign in my fear and anxiety once and for all, but how? Well, by adopting a new mantra – Think Bravely.  

Thinking Bravely is catchy enough phrase to rattle off, but embracing the meaning – to think bravely – is a call to action.  A call to action so many others have taken throughout history before us, you can call it what you like, but the meaning is the same – be truly alive, live your values, fight for love, justice and virtue. And remember be kind to yourself, forgive yourself and release yourself from fear and anxiety. You are better than what your inner critic whispers in your ear, you are better than the shrill of fear and anxiety at 2am, you are better simply because you are you and you are alright, right now.

Think Bravely!

Katie Cooney

Bingo: The Intersection between Charity & Humility

Bingo cardsThey say “your first win is the sweetest”, but I’d beg to differ. In the 1970’s, the grocery Safeway had a great gimmick to get customers to shop in their stores. I think they were marketing to kids but that’s a different story.  Customers received small tickets that held Bingo numbers after purchases and were provided Bingo cards.  The cash prizes ranged from $20 – $1000.  I was so in.

At twelve years old my desk was a perfect grid of Safeway Bingo cards. Those cards were my shot to fame and fortune. It’s not easy to make a fortune at twelve – pre-internet – without a little luck. So I gladly accompanied my mom to the grocery store in anticipation of that moment when the cashier would hand mom her receipt and a few bingo tickets. Each ticket had 4 small round circles you’d punch out and place in the Bingo grid. Needless to say I was always eager to go grocery shopping.

Late one hot humid Kansas afternoon, the cashier seemed rather stingy and only gave mom two Bingo tickets – 8 Bingo numbers in all. How was I ever going to win at this rate? Disappointed, but persistent I nicely asked the cashier for a few more Bingo tickets. His hands were like bear paws. From behind the counter, I watched him scoop up a handful of tickets and then slam dunk them down into our brown paper grocery sack right next to the ground round. I squealed like a little piggy, “thank you!” He gave me a wink and a smile. I was in puppy love.

With Bingo tickets clutched in my small sweaty hands, I ran to my room taking two stairs at a time. I was feeling lucky. I plunked down on my yellow shag carpet and started punching out the numbers and then meticulously placed the numbers into the Bingo grids. Then it happened. It happened! FOUR CORNER BINGO!!! Four corners on the $100 grid! Now to the lay person that might not mean much, but for the Bingo aficionado’s out there, we know that means double the money baby! $100 becomes $200 with four corners!

I had arrived.

I whooped and hollered through the house and through the entire neighborhood; it was a glorious moment, the sweetest moment, a moment of moments! A moment I say because in a short swift moment my fortune was reduced to half. I could then count myself as part of the elite club of jackpot winners who suddenly find themselves barraged by long lost relatives who want a portion of the booty.

MUnhappy girly parents thought it only fair – in some parallel universe to me – that each of my brother’s be award $25 dollars. It was a virtue to be charitable and humble when you “win” or come “into money” they said. That didn’t really set well, but better than an uncle I’d never heard of…who the heck was “Uncle Sam” anyway? And why did he 30%? Welcome to the world of federal and state income tax kid.

What’s the moral of the story? If you win don’t tell anyone! Hah! But seriously, sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t, but if you do it’s better to help others and be generous with your winnings. Charity and humility build communities, build lives and bring hope to those who have so little.

It’s always fun to ask people, would you rather be smart or lucky? I’d always choose lucky. How about you?

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, may you count Happy St Patricks Dayyour richness in love, family and friendship and may that pot of gold continue to grow. And lastly, may the Luck of the Irish always be with you.

Think Bravely!

Katie Cooney


Single Women & Finances; from Fear to Power

When my mom went from the category of “married mom” to “single mom” the world took on a whole different look. With one sixteen year old daughter to raise she found herself single and financially separated from her husband, but lacking confidence and a resume that reflect the skills she acquired during the 23 years of marriage to my father. Jobless, single and an ex who refused to pay alimony; she decided to do what so many before her did when in times of trouble – she decided to go west.

A week later we were scraping the ice off the windshield and heading down Kansas Interstate 435 toward Flagstaff. I’d never been to California, only heard about the kids getting out of school when the surf was up and that someday the entire state would break-off and sink in the ocean. I didn’t care if I couldn’t surf or maybe I’d drown in the Pacific Ocean, but for me it was California or bust!

Fast forward three months later, mom got a job as an receptionist at a law firm in Palo Alto Square, I was in high school and working after school and on the weekends at Los Altos Pharmacy. We rented a two bedroom condo, shared one room and rented out the other. It wasn’t easy making ends meet, but we were happy and making it on our own. My dad never did pay alimony, but despite the odds, we found a way.

WANDAEvery single mother has a unique story of their own struggle from a bad marriage or relationship. Every single mother worries how they will provide a home, food and education for their child. Every single mother needs financial training, professional & personal development and support from other single mothers. Thirty years ago, single mothers, like my mom, were on their own to survive, today we have WANDA.

WANDA, a non-profit Women’s Achievement Network and Development Alliance, is here to educate and empower single, low-income mothers by providing financial training, professional and personal development, and a matched savings program that permits participants to save up to $6000. WANDA is a lifeline so many women could use to create better lives for themselves and their children.

WANDA 2WANDA is reviewing applications on a rolling basis now through February 29, 2016. The WANDA program begins in April 2016.

If you know someone who could benefit from the program, please encourage them to contact WANDA Program Manager Jennifer Advani at (855) 926-3278 x103 or or visit the WANDA website at

Click HERE for the downloadable flier/application PDF document:

Wishing you every happiness in February!

Think Bravely!
Katie Cooney

Turn off the Holiday Hysteria

Expect ole Saint Nick and crew to pull up in about two weeks now. Nick’s a great guy once you get to know him and the reindeer seem to warm up to me a bit more each year. Last time he was here we had a good long chat as the fire was dying down. Between bites of my homemade Mexican wedding cakes he told me he was a little bent out of shape these days that Christmas seemed more about getting than giving and that gratitude didn’t even seem to come into the picture at all.

keep calm and happy new year

I thought about what he said and remembered people really don’t remember the decorations, the food, the table setting, but they do remember how they felt when they were in your presence. Feeling hurried, rushed, frantic to make everything look picture perfect for your next Facebook post? Been there, done that. Probably still do that a bit even today honestly. However, last year I turned the holiday dial back, way back. Yes, yes, I did go a bit kooky on the presents for the grandkidlets. Who doesn’t love to see five little human beings going nutty cakes over presents? The holiday meal was making your own deli-style sandwich with cold cuts, a salad and homemade soup rounded up the menu. Dessert was store bought cookies. We ate off of paper plates! Don’t tell my mom, she’s been trying to give me one of her many sets of china for years and I already have two sets I don’t use!

Everyone survived the sandwiches, store bought cookies and paper plates, no one contracted salmonella or contagious disease of disappointment. No one stormed out of the house in protest, no revolt took place over the cold cuts, and no one broke down in tears wishing it went back to the madness of decorations, a feast and the china plates. In fact, it felt like everyone had….a better time. A better time, how could that be? Pretty simple actually, I wasn’t a stressed out, worn out mess by the time the day actually came to celebrate, so everyone was more relaxed and had more fun, even yours truly.

Writing about how you feel at the holidays, I remember one Christmas in particular when the feeling was definitely what I remembered more than the gift. Earlier that year my mom had made me a doll that was the same size as me, she had red hair made of yarn and beautiful brown eyesI named her Rosy. She wore the dress that I had my first communion and confirmation in at Saint Nicolas Church in Kansas. She was my best friend.

Seeing how much I loved Rosy my mom decided to make Rosy a companion, a brother doll. So she measured, sewed, stuffed and dressed this life-size boy doll to be ready for Christmas morning.

Christmas morning arrived and presents were unwrapped. Then the doorbell rang and my mother said, “Katie, I think that’s for you.” Surprised someone would be at the door on Christmas, through the snow and cold; I curiously ran to the door and opened it. Lodged between the door and the storm door there was the life-size companion boy doll dressed in baby blue pajamas. My mother expected me to be delighted and embrace the doll, but instead I slammed the door and became hysterical! I started to scream and cried HELP!!!HELP!!!  You see, I didn’t realize it was a doll. I actually thought it was a kid who got stuck in the door and was frozen stiff, not like Frozen the movie, but FROZEN!

Needless to say that doll never got a name and didn’t get played with too much. Rosy and I developed an even stronger bond post-Christmas. We sort of shunned him which I still feel bad about today.  My poor mom still regrets that moment and I don’t answer the door on Christmas!

Enjoy the holidays and remember, everyone will remember the day mostly because of the way you made them feel, not the cranberry sauce that took seventeen different ingredients imported from every corner of the earth, the 200 year old German china or the decorations on the table. Remember the best things in life are not only free, but not things.

Think Bravely!
Katie Cooney

PS: Word to the wise wrap all holiday gifts do not leave them in-between the door and screen door/storm door for child to discover. The surprise maybe their reaction!