Fresh Starts

Hit the reset button on finances, fitness and fun. And learn how to speak out.

Caitlin Thompson’s recent TEDxPortsmouth talk about being the child of an opioid addict is one of those speeches that causes viewers to immediately have chill bumps. It’s not just the searing and unfortunately timely topic, it’s her delivery, both natural and rivetingly dramatic. No wonder Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI) of Brunswick’s Women’s Business Center asked the Westbrook native to lead its Spokeswomen series, peer-facilitated classes designed to help women entrepreneurs learn how to be successful public speakers. A new session starts this month.

Thompson at her TEDxPortsmouth talk. Photo courtesy of TEDxPortsmouth

Thompson connected with the nonprofit community development organization while she was facilitating events at coworkHERS in Portland. Her easy style in introducing the events, coupled with her marketing and advertising background, caused them to ask her to lead its first Speaker Sisterhood series in 2019, a course created by Angela Lussier in Massachusetts. “CEI’s belief in me and the training that I got through Sisterhood just brought me down this really amazing road,” Thompson says. Working with a core group of about eight, the women took “deep dives” into their own value systems. “People are cracked right open to their rawest form, and I never expected that,” she says. “We have found this safe space where once you are asked the [right] questions, they are really very comfortable laying this out.”

The course was popular enough that CEI decided to run it again in 2020 and asked Thompson to come back. Some of her original students are signing up for a second session. “How they give me confidence, and I give them confidence, it is everything,” she says. “It is priceless.” And for newcomers, she is evolving the course in its second iteration. “All of the women in my course are entrepreneurs or they have small businesses,” she says. Building their confidence for public speaking in general was great, but “I felt like I was missing this element,” namely helping them set goals toward a specific business endeavor. Like those elevator speeches that land investors or drive marketing or win pitch competitions. So look for more of that this month. Biweekly sessions run Jan. 14 through May 26 on Tuesdays from 1:30–3:30 p.m. or 5:30–7:30 p.m. Questions? Contact Anna Ackerman at ($250; 2 Portland Fish Pier, Suite 201, Portland; sign up at


StrongHER One Day Camp
Jan. 5, 9 a.m.
Centerpoint Martial Arts, Falmouth
This boot camp is a Women’s Empowerment program, sponsored by Centerpoint Martial Arts, intended to build strength and resiliency with a blend of martial arts training, meditation and mindset coaching. Suitable for any fitness and experience level, ages 15 and up. Taught by Hester W. Mishkin, a professional personal and executive coach, martial artist and meditation teacher certified by Deepak Chopra. ($150;

Classes in business startups
Jan. 8–9
Looking to start your own business in the new year? Have questions about funding one? SCORE Portland, which helps anyone with a business idea get started, has classes to teach the basics, from funding to figuring out financial projections, branding and looking for funding from Maine Technology Institute. For more information, contact Kelsey Munksgaard at SCORE, or call 207–772–1147.

Hearts on Ice
Jan. 16, 5:30 p.m.
Aura, 121 Center St., Portland
Help the American Heart Association in Maine fund research and education while raising a glass and bidding on fun auction items at Hearts on Ice at Aura in Portland. This is an annual Go Red for Women® networking and fundraising event. ($35;

Sing for Suffrage: Concert
Jan. 17, 7:30 p.m. & Jan. 18, 4 p.m.
First Congregational Church UCC, 301 Cottage Road, South Portland
Women in Harmony have two concerts scheduled this month to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women gaining the vote. The program will feature songs from the Suffrage era, as well as the Civil Rights movement, including We Shall Overcome, and a new arrangement of Willie Nelson’s Vote ’Em Out. (Tickets are $15 for general admission, $13 for seniors/students in advance, and at the door, $20 general admission, $15 for seniors/students. Free under 18; available at or Starbird Music in Portland, Longfellow Books and Nonesuch Books in South Portland.)*

Music Video Portland
Jan. 23, 7 p.m.
Bayside Bowl, 58 Alder St., Portland
Now in its third year, MVP showcases the audiovisual creations of both Maine-based musicians and filmmakers. Expect plenty of live music from artists like Kenya Hall, Jeff Beam and Angelikah Fahray. Sponsored by Coffee By Design, Bayside Bowl (which is hosting the event) and Rad Plaid. ($10 advance, $15 door;

Imagine Portland
Jan. 29, 4:30–7:30 p.m.
Brick South, 8 Thompson’s Point, Portland
Portland Region Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual awards event and community celebration of local business growth in the area. ($40 and up;


*This article was amended on January 6, 2020 to make a correction by adding pricing for the Sing for Suffrage: Concert. Due to a reporter’s error we listed it as free but it is not.  

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