Woman of Substance


Gathering the entire Newsom clan for a family adventure across the Aegean Sea seemed like a Herculean feat, but channeling the wisdom of Athena, my mother and family matriarch, Lisa Newsom, made myth a reality. While hilltop towns and turquoise waters are enticing, it was a loftier goal fueling Lisa’s efforts. She was determined to expose our family to the birthplace of democracy, and in many ways, culture and religion, all percolating in the caldera surrounding the Aegean: Greece and Turkey.

As if by an act of Zeus himself, we gathered 17 of us from ages 10 to 86, for 10 days of exploring, learning, and family bonding. We traveled on the Seabourn Encore, a small and luxurious ship with excellent crew and well-designed cabins. The meticulously planned excursions by my brilliant sister-in-law and chaplain, Shannon Newsom, brought history to life. With knowledgeable local guides and seasoned sea captains, we traversed the azure waters from Athens to Istanbul, resurfacing like Poseidon, invigorated by our newfound worldliness and family togetherness.

Our starting point, Athens, was the place to be in 450 B.C., the zenith of its Golden Age. Advancements in art, architecture, politics, and science marked an unparalleled flourishing of culture. Under Pericles, the city-state moved from rule by king to rule by the people, making it the world’s first democracy. The roots of Western philosophy were born here with Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle contributing influential schools of thought. While any tour of Athens must include the Acropolis and the venerable Parthenon, it was the Erechtheion, supported by the Maidens of Karyai, that held my sway. This sacred spot marks the place where Athena triumphed over Poseidon in naming rights of the city of Athens, stabbing a rock with a spear where an olive tree sprouted and still grows today.

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This story appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of MILIEU.