This is for all women:
The brief was simple enough; write a few words about being an entrepreneur, a developer and a mom. No problem, a piece of cake, three hats! But August heralds in Women’s Month and I paused for a moment. What about all the other hats we women wear? The partner, the sister, the owner, the investor, the technician, the artist, the nurturer, the board, the disciplinarian, the dancer, the consistency evangelist, the disruptor? Every single one of these hats contributes to the multi-faceted fashion show of the original me. A diamond has more than three faces, so too does a woman in all her pristine disposition.
There are so many hats we women wear and life throws us plenty of curve-balls, each of which demands our attention. Juggling, balancing, distributing. Recently, my company did a team building exercise where we stood around the boardroom and threw brightly coloured plastic balls at one another. The facilitator’s instruction was to connect with the receiver and then throw the balls for them to catch. The tempo accelerated, there were balls flying everywhere. When the session ended, I was mortified to find myself standing in a puddle of plastic balls. My team thought it was hilarious, but I am still humbled by the experience.
I have a sticker on my fridge at home, along with the curling kiddie photos, that says:
You may be too much for some people, those aren’t your people .
The older I get the less it matters what other people think of me. I certainly ignore anyone who judges how I look. Do that twirl. Say it with just a look. Lose the mood ring, you have a face. I forgot, with your COVID-19 mask on you have half a face, but don’t forget that you still have your eyes, the mirrors of your soul, let them speak your truth and don’t be shy about it.
These are unprecedented times, full of the unknown, high end stress and fraught with rumours. Be selective about what you read and whose opinion you repeat. Discard the flaky conspiracy theories and focus on the increasing odds of us beating this virus. There is so much tilting in favour of a positive outcome to all of this; new treatments, a better understanding of the virus, more data that makes sense. But most of all take the time to look after yourself so in turn you are able to look after others. Sometimes this is easier said than done when you are a mom! I have watched women on aeroplanes when the air hostess presents the safety routine. I see their conflicted expressions when they are advised to fit their own masks on before assisting children and fellow passengers. As mothers we are protective and fiercer than lionesses about our children, irrespective of their age. We may be elegant and graceful, but do not get between a mother and her children.
My boys are all grown up. The youngest is a skipper and works on chartered yachts in the Caribbean. He has been there since the COVID-19 crisis erupted, wreaking havoc on the charter business, as it has on all tourism and hospitality industries globally. Then enter Hurricane Gonzales. I confess, I subscribe to a storm tracker app so that I can receive notifications of lightning strikes! It’s what mothers do. Cameron called to tell me that they had been instructed by their managers to take the boats and head north in an effort to outrun the storm. This went against the grain of the hurricane planning protocols, common sense and self-preservation considerations. It’s lucky that management is 3 days and 2 hours flight or 10,864km away, you should have heard this mother lion roar. Hurricane Gonzales was downgraded to a tropical storm and the crisis averted.
If I can impart any wisdom from this moment is to treat all people as people. Your actions and decisions affect everyone, and everyone is someone’s son, daughter, mother, father. This is a fundamental necessity if we are to survive as humanity.
This brings me to developers. I have a single litmus test for developers: Do you, not would you or could you, but do you live in the house you developed? To the developers that answer yes, I take my hat off to you for these are forever homes. The rest are just houses. Here’s a truth I believe in; you can’t do it all. You can try, but it will inevitably level you or at least wear you down. So I say pause. Take a moment to decide what action you need to take to make a change, and go for it. Remember that change doesn’t require heroics – ‘it happens when ordinary people practise honest courage’. These aren’t my wise words; but quoted from Brene Brown. If you haven’t read her work, then proceed directly to Amazon and get one of her books right now. I believe we all need to appreciate that change, wonderful and painful change, is much harder and takes much longer than we think. But
through change comes great reward. And through times of change, in our efforts to succeed, I believe we all need to have people who are genuinely supporting us. To all those special people who have my back, who assist me in my various ventures and adventures, both the successful and the catastrophic, thank you.
As women we should never abide bullies, not on the playground, not in our relationships, not in our professions. Stare them down, don’t blink. Learn and practice self-defence tactics, learn how to hurt the soft bits. Be attuned to your intuition, the gut is a powerful force for women, if only we listened more carefully.
As mothers, partners, lovers we give a lot, it’s what women do. We lead, we lean in, we enable, we teach, we reach, we demonstrate through example. Do we give up? Rarely, hardly ever. Yes, we give in, but that’s different. Here’s the challenge to all the women during this month of August 2020: take some time to give back to you. Whether this is your sacred time to dance or to run through the forest, to paint or doodle or arrange a bunch of flowers. Pick the perfect daisy and place it in a jar of water on your windowsill. Grab joyful opportunities, give thanks. Compliment the toll booth attendant on her beautiful shoes,
watch the whales, grow vegetables, open your heart, call your parents, make each day count. Be alive.
In my dreams I can always fly, she said with a wink.
Author: Janet Channing, MD MetGovis