We’re One.

One year ago today, I was reviewing final changes to a brand new website, making last minute edits to my first three blog posts and wondering what the next twelve months might bring.  With the push of a button, 360Women was born – along with a promise of new ideas, true stories, strong opinions and a little advice.  Looking back over our first year together, I hope you’d agree we’ve delivered.

Discover. Connect. Thrive. It’s the whole premise upon which 360Women was founded.  But today, I am most proud of the way we all connect.

Hundreds of you receive these posts via email and thousands more check in every week on Facebook or other social media. Your willingness to share your thoughts, contribute your own advice and vent your frustrations about work, family, health and life in general is what 360Women is all about.  Some of you also leave lovely, supportive comments about the posts you’ve enjoyed most and I can’t tell you how much these mean to me.

A few of you even stop me at the market or a business function to tell me about a favorite story or post, and that sort of personal recognition still surprises and delights me.

Because the truth is I have learned far more from you this past year than I have shared.  Each of you has broadened and enriched my life through your personal interaction with 360Women.

My amazing business partner, Bethany Patten, wrote two wonderful and deeply personal posts about being a stepmother; how much she had to learn when she first took on the responsibility, and how much these relationships have enriched her life. The subject definitely struck a chord with hundreds of other women who commented (both publicly and privately) with empathy and appreciation.

Over the holidays my dear friend, Christine Dohrman, also wrote an incredible post about women and philanthropy.  Her in-depth explanation of the pivotal role women have always played in charitable causes, the ways in which we support certain charities and the depth to which we give of ourselves was received with open arms (and remains one of our most popular posts ever).

Those are just two of many special posts from a variety of authors – including Julie Demsey, Janis MacKenzie, Laura Mondredini and Joanne Nino – that have made 360Women more interesting, and I owe them all a deep debt of gratitude.

There were definitely some surprises along the way.  For instance, I never expected my blog posts to be as personal as they’ve become. When I penned the first few posts a year ago, I imagined writing about great restaurants and new healthcare procedures – not about the real issues I face in my own life.

Real estate agents from across the United States have commented on the four “adventures” shared by Patten & Monfredini.  I think the tale of the runaway dog during an open house brought the most comments and most sharing of similar stories.  Being a real estate agent always seems like an easier career choice to those in other professions, but it would only take one listing for most people to understand the complexities of managing expectations.

Of course, not all of the surprises were positive. You may remember earlier posts about Donald Trump being less than flattering (to say the least).  And while I had anticipated negative or argumentative responses to my position, I did not foresee the degree of division and anger it would create among our followers.

In fact, comments generated by both Trump posts were downright disturbing, including hateful statements about this and other presidential candidates at the time.  Soon, followers on Facebook began fighting with each other with such disrespect and outright filth it left me no choice but to take down the original blogs and rededicate myself to focusing on more uplifting content.

Sharing my thoughts about relationships with my mother, father, grandmother and other family encouraged many of you to reach out to me personally or write comments on 360Women about your own memories. The posts on Mother-In-Law’s Day and Second Mothers were two of my favorites as a writer, and my wish is that you might capture the same feelings of love and gratitude in your heart whenever you think of those who helped make you who you are.

Which brings me right back to the beginning.

These last twelve months have been filled with plenty of tragedies and victories, both mourning and celebration, and 360Women has attempted address as much of it as possible without becoming just another petite news blog.  My intention was to present it all from a progressive female perspective, and your reactions have been just what I had hoped.  I opened my heart so others could walk right in and, much to my delight, you all did.

Because we’re one.  We’re all part of the same universal family.  We all have something to share and teach one another.  Because we all face the same basic challenges, struggle with the same basic decisions and, deep down, all want the same basic things.

I look forward to Year Two and all the ways we may continue to Connect.  There is still much to Discover.  And I am committed to ensuring we all Thrive.

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Lee Ann Monfredini

Lee Ann Monfredini

Lee Ann Monfredini is the founder of 360Women and a life-long advocate of women’s issues, political activism, social volunteerism, organizational accountability and personal responsibility. A graduate of the University of San Francisco with a degree in Non-Profit Management, she’s not only served on the boards and executive teams of some of the most respected health organizations in the Bay Area, but built a successful second career as one of the most respected realtors in the market. She can be reached at leeann@360women.net.

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