Archive for the ‘A Working Girl’ Category

Women, Family and Fancy Plates

I lead a mentoring circle for professional women in my company. We meet monthly and share advice and experiences. I have come to realize that gems of wisdom can be found anywhere you look for them. You might think you are the “teacher” on some occasions, but it’s just a ruse. We are all perpetual students.

The women I work with are all beautiful and unique. They are so different from one another, and yet they mesh so well. It’s like music.

Last month we decided to shake things up a bit and let the mentees begin to run the meetings. A name was picked at random from a hat, and that person had to organize, schedule and chair our next event. The first person to be selected was a lovely, vivacious young woman in public relations. She asked each of us to bring some information on a person or event that truly inspired us. We each took our homework very seriously.

It was amazing to see that each of these women, all of whom have such different life stories and experiences, chose to share a story about a close family member. As a mother to be, I was so touched by the legacy that seems to bind these women to the wisdom of their ancestors. I keep thinking about my own future son, and wonder what we endow to him.?What stories will he have to share about us? How can we make an impression on him to become a sensitive, intuitive and empathetic man?

The story I chose to share was about my mother. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, the family rallied together to support her. It was a particularly difficult time, as one would imagine. My mother used to work for an oncologist, and she was so skilled at putting the patients and their loved ones at ease that the Doctor changed her job so that she could work directly with the families in the waiting room. My mother would sit out among distraught loved ones and help them through the long wait of outpatient surgery. She truly had a gift with people.

Now it was my mother who was to be in the OR with the Doctor. A few days before her procedure we sat down to a big feast. She wanted to celebrate our family, and the fact that we were all together. Then she said something casually that I will never forget…

“Why do we save the nice plates for special occasions?” she asked. “From now on, I want to eat off of the nice plates every day.”

This might seem like a forgettable comment to some, but I understood the significance of it. I come from a family of “savers”. We covet our special things and take them out for notable occasions. In her own way, my mother was asking us to celebrate every day. To wait no longer, because who really knows what tomorrow will bring?

My mother is doing well now. She has been cancer free for several years and is a real blessing in our family. When the Bear and I married, we registered for “special”plates like the ones my mother spoke about. We eat off them everyday and not a day passes that I don’t think about what she told me.

Savor each moment. Don’t save up for “special occasions” as today is truly a blessing….

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The 20’s Me…

 

20's me at UF

 

I used to think that an extraordinary life had to be unconventional. It was hard for me to see the beauty of families sharing dinner together at Bugaboo Creek, or toddlers building mud pies in the backyard. Children, to a serious single girl, seemed like needy energy vampires. I longed for trips to Nice, France and moody cafe’ talks in the Village.

My how things have changed! I wonder what my 20’s self would think of my 40’s self? Would she be impressed by my accomplishments, or think I am becoming provincial and “selling out?” Luckily I DID have my time in Nice and it was more than nice. And after many firecracker boyfriends, I longed for a partner who would adore me honestly. One that I could share a future with.

20's me in NYC

 

I think the 20’s me would like the 40’s me. I am sure she’s be surprised that I got married at Fenway Park and not on some beach in the Mediterranean. She might even be dazed that I switched careers and am not the famous costume designer she once aspired to be. And what would she think of the Bear? Well, I think she would love him, for one. And she’d be happy that I met a man who can call me on my sh*t and adore me, all at the same time. She never really knew a man who she could take on his word back then.

My 20’s me would cry when she heard about our losses and our struggle to add on to our family. She’d be impressed that I pursued adoption and parenting (and homeownership) before I married, and that I have always been my own woman. 

I think the 20’s me would be proud of the way I mentor and coach my team. She’d recognize that I see so much of her spirit and talent in these beautiful young designers. She’d be happy that I still try to reach out to people whenever I can.

So I guess when I sit across from her in my mind, I can see that we are still linked in some deeply moving  way. She embodies my potential and I embody her truth. I can see too, that the eyes of my children will harbor her spirit and her passion. I can only hope that they recognize what a gift it is to be alive, and that they try to live each day fully. And if that day takes them to the sandbox in the backyard, I hope that they treasure every moment! An extraordinary life is one that is well lived.

40's me with the Bear

40's me with the Bear

 

Mr. & Mrs. Boston Bear

The Tempered Radical

There’s a lot going on at work this week. Every day, I arrive to a “fashion emergency.” (Working in the fashion industry- I can make this joke). While I am fully committed to my job, I am often in awe of what people regard as a crisis. An earthquake-CRISIS!!!!!! A building that crashes to the ground- CRISIS!!!!!! Missing your sisters 40th Birthday- CRISIS!!!!!! But a calendar blow up or someone’s opinion that a design might need some immediate revision?? Well that’s just the JOB!

I am deeply devoted to my career. More importantly, I am devoted to the team that I lead and am constantly trying to consider ways to develop and inspire them. I think it is important for each person (particularly young designers) to find their voice as artists and members of their community. It’s only after we KNOW OURSELVES that we truly have something unique and personal to offer. This may pose a quandary for those of us that work within a corporate enviornment, or a structure where we are not the final decision makers. That’s why it becomes even more important to find our voices, and to hone in on those vital INFLUENCING SKILLS.

Perhaps it is my new pregnancy, my need to look a little more within and to protect the thing which is growing inside me, but I am boycotting fashion emergencies. Sure, I’ll think fast on my feet and give you a solution that will bring you to your knees, but I will NOT be a DRAMA QUEEN about it. I just don’t have the energy.

There are many at my job who flail their arms about and pontificate the injustice of the corporate world. Sure, nothing is perfect. But can we PLEASE advocate for change in a way that others will hear us and respond??? Why the drama?

And what’s all this about sitting in a high powered meeting and simply agreeing with the man ahead of you? Were we not charged with a level of expertise and thoughfulness in our craft that has brought us into the boardroom? Are they really paying us these salaries so we just AGREE with everything? 

I am trying to find a way to keep my voice as a creative, as a woman, and as a leader in a complex organization. I am trying to be an advocate for POSITIVE change, while still getting followership and support for fresh ideas.

I am reading this book called “The Tempered Radical” published by Harvard Univ. Press. It’s wonderful. A nice respite from “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy” which is also by my bedside.

So this is the other half of my life, that I don’t often write about. It’s exciting, and frustrating and wonderful.