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Deborah Norville talks life and purpose at conference

Published 10/19/2011 12:00 AM

Many people go through life not knowing what their purpose is, but Deborah Norville recognized hers early on.

"It's connecting people," says the award-winning journalist and best-selling author. "Maybe it took me awhile to get it down to one word, but that's what it is. Connections."

Norville is hoping to help a whole new group of people forge connections next month when she takes her turn at the podium as the keynote speaker at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital's Well Healed Woman Conference. The daylong symposium, billed for women as one filled with "health, healing and humor," is set for Nov. 6 at the Mystic Marriott.

Norville's talk, titled "Counting Your Blessings: The Power of Gratitude," is an extension of her New York Times Best Seller "Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You." During a recent phone call on her way to her New York office, Norville talked about gratitude and respect, a childhood hobby that has morphed into her passion and why she loves her job.

She points to studies that show that the critical problem facing our society is the "overwhelming lack of respect" people have toward one another. Conversely, when a person shows gratitude and respect toward others, there is a measurable benefit.

"I'm a big believer that people don't change because it's the right thing to do, but they will do it if they see what's in it for them," Norville says. "When you extend yourself on someone else's behalf, there is a good feeling that's created.

"If you're a manager running a business and you treat your employees with respect, studies have shown that your workers will be 50 percent more creative," she adds. "America is going to hell in a handbasket economically, so we need all the creativity we can get."

Norville tapped into her own resourcefulness at the beginning of her journalism career while a student at the University of Georgia. As a reporter for WAGA-TV in Atlanta, she earned so little that she couldn't afford to buy new clothes, so she made them. As a child, she had learned embroidery, cross-stitching, needlepoint and crochet, in addition to knitting, from her mother and grandmother.

During a high school home economics class, she made all but three of the aprons the class was tasked with creating. Although the talent didn't help her win America's Junior Miss Scholarship Program (she represented Georgia in the 1976 finals), more than 30 years later, it did spark the interest of a North Carolina yarn company.

"When I first saw the email asking me to partner with them, the reporter in me immediately thought 'Spam Alert! Spam Alert!' But I've been to the factory in Turkey, which is so clean you can eat off the floor. We're three years in and we've recently launched a whole new group (of yarns)," she says.

One yarn, called "Paper Flowers," is a regular yarn fiber that is coupled with recycled material. Another called "Jewel Tones" has tiny pieces of sequins threaded into the yarn, which she is using to make a blanket for a friend's Christmas present.

"It's a joy for me that my name is on a product that allows people to make such strong connections. It's a way to make items that are a tangible indicator of the care and love you have for the recipient," she says.

Norville has been anchor of the syndicated newsmagazine "Inside Edition" since 1995. Before that, she was a correspondent for CBS News and an anchor for the "Street Stories," "48 Hours," and "CBS Evening News" programs. She was also host of "Deborah Norville Tonight" on MSNBC.

Norville still finds it ironic that she gets paid to do something that comes so naturally to her.

"I'm from the South and we love storytelling. My dad was the best storyteller there ever was. I get to be a professional storyteller and share stories that are so vibrant to us, those ones that do matter to people," she explains.

"It's a privilege that I'm allowed to do it. I've had an amazingly long-lived career. I'm still at the top of my game on a show that is highly regarded. I must be doing something right."

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If You Go

Deborah Norville, anchor of the syndicated newsmagazine “Inside Edition” since 1995, is the keynote speaker at next month's Well Healed Woman Conference.

Registration begins at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, in the main lobby at Mystic Marriott. A continental breakfast is served until 11 a.m. Doors to the main dining hall open at 10:30 a.m., and breakfast is followed by welcoming remarks by Kim Kalajainen, Lawrence & Memorial Hospital's chief information officer, and Brenda Kramer, president of the hospital's auxiliary.

Valerie Popkin, a cardiologist at L&M and a partner at Eastern Connecticut Cardiology Group, will discuss heart disease and its impact on women from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Lunch follows from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Past conferences have sold out and organizers are encouraging women to register early. Tickets, including lunch, are $75. Payment must be received or postmarked no later than Oct. 21.

Attendees can become conference supporters by purchasing $100 tickets, which includes a $25 gift to help underwrite future events.

Parties of five or more can reserve a table, with payment.

For more information, contact Lawrence & Memorial Hospital'sDevelopment Office at 860.442.0711 ext. 2068, by email at wellhealedwoman@lmhosp.org or visit the website at www.lmhospital.org.