For 20 years, I’ve owned the marybethwest.com URL.
During my 15 years (2003-2018) as a public relations agency owner, this dot-com served as the online home to my firm in Tennessee… with several iterations.
Since selling my agency in 2018, I decided to take a break from the upkeep of a personal website – relying instead on my LinkedIn page to maintain networking connections, post professional updates, lend voice to advocacy topics of importance to me, etc.
As 2023 unfolded, I decided to revamp my connections online; hence marybethwest.com… 4.0.
It’s been an interesting year… with every bit of nuance implied, as “interesting” is so often a loaded word.
On the plus side, I certainly count many blessings of family, community, love, friendships, and the rewards of decades of challenging work in my everyday life.
My days are often filled with pursuits toward using my skills to help others find pathways toward happiness and success, whether in business, community service, or other areas. Such an existence is a privileged joy to me.
But speaking of “Joy” — with an ironic twist — there also has been deep sadness this year as well, with bad things happening in three.
The deaths of three of my closest touchstones, mentors and friends – all of whom I lost within a 45-day timeframe this past winter, between February and March – still loom large for me: Joy Bishop, Francis Ingham, and Dave Bicofsky.
Much of my year since the winter has been centered on processing grief and loss – although I realize I’m nothing special in that regard… No one who is blessed to live long enough gets out of this life without confronting these gut-punch experiences. (My friend Joy, for example — with me in the photo, below — lost her husband and both of her sons during her lifetime. She demonstrated such grace and courage in life, in the face of those devastating experiences.)
These people were heroes in my life and always will be.
As a spiritual person, I feel their continued presence. I hear the voices of their wisdom. Whenever I feel caught in a quandary, I know exactly what they would advise.
I can still hear their laughter – they each had such a great, distinctive one – as they might commiserate from their heavenly perch with the routine absurdities I encounter in everyday life, just as they did.
But most of all, I deeply perceive their encouragement… to pursue my own purpose (they all understood I never lacked in that!), and to do so with love for the journey, knowing that all roads someday will lead back to them.
Which brings me to this website.
There are many things I have yet to contribute and achieve in my life’s work, and I look forward to those challenges, which I anticipate sharing and discussing on this site.
From a purely aesthetic standpoint, I’ve embraced as a key theme the concept of communication as light, hope, and a path forward.
I also live in an area of East Tennessee nestled right against a western gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — so depicting my love for my local environment was important here, too.
The green of the mountains and of my home state has always felt like oxygen to me… probably because it literally is! (By the way, come visit us sometime!)
That’s the reason why you’ll find a healthy dose of Smoky Mountain imagery on this new iteration of marybethwest.com.
What I consider as “air that I breathe” is much more than regulation O2.
It’s the people in my life.
And it’s also the people of enormous legacy, no longer physically in my life.
It’s my precious daughters, who inspire such pride in me.
It’s the beauty of this world, everywhere I go, and in this place I call home.
It’s in the hope of future possibilities, and in my knowledge that everything I’ve ever experienced – Every. Single. Thing. – was for a reason.
Like many, I’m a person who has been through emotionally fraught battles, failures, disappointments, and losses, not only this year personally, but also this past decade professionally. Despite that fact, I marvel at the friendships and sources of insight and inspiration I’ve gained… thanks be to God.
I am grateful.
Turning this page to a new chapter, I hope you’ll join me …