A few weeks ago, I started and ended my day with two different networking events. In the morning, I participated in a close meeting of professional women where ideas, dreams, goals, and aspirations were shared. The ages of the women ranged from 20–70.
For me the most notable comment was made by a 70 year old accomplished woman. She got me thinking the most. She said, I quit at 43. I gave it all up. I realized I had never seen the daylight in my apartment as she was always working. She then added: I noticed that every time I was at the table with other men, they had it all but not the women sitting next to me. The men had a wife, kids, a great house. But the women were single. Her words resonated with me.
Eight hours later I found myself at a Leadership Florida meet and greet, where one of the men from class 1, 39 classes ago, was there. Him and I engaged in a conversation and he said, my wife died 4 years ago and it was not until she died that I realized how amazing women are. I kindly yet quickly interrupted him and asked, it took you that long to realize that? I am guilty of being a slow learner he responded back. He proceeded to say, I think all single women raising kids and having a career are superheroes. You guys do not hear thank you enough. You women are not appreciated enough. It took me a long time to learn that, but now I know. So I say thank you with a flower. How is that? I asked. Every time I have a get together at my house or go to an event with a small group I have one flower for every woman that attends. A small token and gesture of how much I now appreciate them.
Today I was one of the panelists at the Women for Leadership Conference at Florida State University where I shared some of my personal experiences and ideas on the topic of Work Life Balance: Creating Personal Resilience. I had a few things I knew I wanted to say to the crowd of younger women in the audience. But there was one specific thing I wanted to tattoo in their brain; women can’t have it all. There is no way we will be able to give 100% to our children, 100% to our careers, 100% to our family, friends, and partners and we will definitely not be able to take care of ourselves 100% of the time. Being a working woman and for me being a professional single working mother is not about having balance, but rather a juggling act where depending on the week I may be dropping one, or more balls. One week my career ball falls, another week my personal ball and the following my mom ball comes crashing down. The vast majority of women will never be able to have it all because men are not going to stand, support, and help a woman the way a woman stands next to and supports a man. This is not to say some men won’t do it, but statistics, anecdotes, blogs, and every day stories from men and women tell otherwise. The odds are against us and we need to be mindful, aware, and realistic about that when we decide what we truly want in our life.
Here are the top 5 tips I shared with the crowd:
- Move. Exercise is the cure of all evils. Whether it is emotional or physical ailments, exercise will make you healthier not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. My secret is I do squats or lunges while I brush my teeth and push ups while the water in the shower heats up. Walk, run, swim, dance, yoga it out, anything to get going.
- Get off social media and start learning how to communicate and have conversations with people face to face. Have the balls to get off the screen and look at people in the eyes.
- Never stay in bed no matter how bad you feel, how badly you were hurt, or how sad you are. Always get up, no matter what happened, put one foot in front of the other and just keep going.
- Reach out to other women for help. Most of us are willing and able to give you advice, guide you, and introduce you to a handful of people along the way. Take advantage of that.
- Realize that life is like the weather. Sometimes you will have great beautiful sunny days, other times there will be some clouds up above, some days will be gloomy and others will be torrential rains but it always comes full circle and back around. Not every day is going to be great, not every day is going to be bad. Learn how to deal with the seasons and develop coping skills for them. Learn to live in today and always look for the light.
As a mother of 2 daughters, one entering the workforce in just a couple of months, I encourage them to figure out what they want out of their life. Not every woman wants to be an executive, not every woman wants to be a mother, not every woman wants to lead an organization, but every woman wants to have a life they can be proud and happy to have. More importantly every woman wants to be fulfilled with the path they select.
Take out a notebook, journal, or even the notes app on your cell phone and write down what is important to you in your life and your career. This is a great place to start.
March 3rd, 2020.