President’s Letter for December 2022
With winds cresting 150 MPH, SW Florida has survived the Perfect Storm. We may still be walking about with glazed eyes and exhausted bodies, but we are making the best of a bad situation.
This month, I asked our officers if they wished to convey something encouraging, uplifting, or humorous about their battle with Ian. Here are a few of their feelings:
“Dear GCWA members, I want to encourage everyone to stay positive and safe. Also, as we are about to begin a new year, let’s focus on our families and see if we can begin anew to also get back to writing. Some may find that this is a good time to reflect and write about family, feelings, and life experiences.” Susan Grunin, Board Member
“I joined GCWA three years ago to get help for a writing project I had taken on because I was a “closet” writer with NO experience or credentials to my name and I knew I needed guidance. Well, the project fizzled out, but I’m still here three years later because my experience with GCWA has ignited a desire that lay dormant in me for most of my 72 years! Gulf Coast Writers Association has welcomed me with open arms and has been a continuous source of inspiration and motivation, from their amazing monthly programs, with top notch speakers, down to the camaraderie and encouragement I’ve found in critique groups and interaction with the board of officers. Whether you’re an acclaimed published author, with impressive credentials, or a nobody like me, GCWA is a GREAT place to be if writing is in your blood! This group has a passion that’s contagious. You will not be disappointed–come see for yourself.” Christie Zarria, Special Projects
“In my professional capacity as a psychotherapist, I have often encouraged trauma victims to write about their experiences as a way of dealing with stress and PTSD. I did this myself, albeit many years after my return from the Viet Nam war. Many people in SW Florida have experienced trauma and loss, either directly or indirectly, from hurricane Ian. Writing about it could help them cope.” David Aiken, Membership
“As a writer, I sincerely believe we create stories in order to make sense of life’s events. The kinds of stories we tell can change the past and the future. In Fort Myers, the story of 2022 is one of resilience, of renewal, of perseverance, and of neighbors helping neighbors. In this Christmas season, it’s a story that brings joy.” Claudia Geagan, Special Projects
“A sudden burst of homelessness was not in my master plan for life. But Ian said phooey to my plan. I sit in my borrowed bed in a dark borrowed house on October 1st. My car sat in the garage during hurricane while waters rose to the rafters. I was invited to go with neighbors to buy a replacement car from Enterprise Car Sales. I have never bought a car looking like a vagabond, but I now own a car I don’t like, and I am happy. I am still living communally with two other neighbor families in a temporary situation, which we must vacate by mid-December. I’m hoping one of our houses will be livable by then so we can all camp out there until our own homes are habitable. This is a new situation for me — not knowing where I will live next month was not on my radar. There is such a feeling of finality in being suddenly cast adrift from a life we have all cherished. I want to believe that we’ll build back and become the caring community we took for granted until September 28th. I have stopped whining. My bumper sticker on the car I don’t like says, ‘Not to spoil the ending, but everything will be okay!’” Mary Charles, VP and Programs
“The devastation of Hurricane Ian has affected us in many ways. Months later, our hearts still break into a billion tiny pieces as we drive through the once beautiful cities of our area. December is typically a month of holiday spirit and cheer. Yes, we are hurting deeply—some even angry; however, just like with everything else, we have the option to make a choice. We can either allow the havoc and destruction of hurricane Ian to depress and demotivate us or we can pull up our bootstraps, ask our higher power to give us strength and peace in the midst of the storm, and decide to uplift our mindset. We must not allow our surroundings and emotions to dictate our moods and actions or to shut us down. Let’s use the month of December to reset and purposely decide to grasp onto what little holiday spirit we can muster up. Sometimes, we just have to ‘fake it until we make it!’” Dr. Kesha Dreher, Webmaster
Now, back to business:
Our GCWA 2023 Writing Contest is in full swing. Because of the storm, we have extended the contest deadline to February 28, 2023. This information will also be on our website.
On behalf of all of us, we wish all of you a blessed and happy Holiday season…be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Soyal. Draw close to your loved ones and provide aid to those who desperately need it. “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.”
We look forward to seeing many of you in January. Full details of future GCWA expeditions will be provided at that time. Get ready because we have some power-packed programs lined up that will clear the cobwebs from your eyes.
May God bless and keep all of you safe and sound. Have a blessed holiday.
Irene Smith, President
Gulf Coast Writers Association