Whenever my husband hears earth shattering screams emitting from our TV, he rolls his eyes and asks if I’m watching the show “Call the Midwife” on PBS. The answer, 100% of the time is an emphatic yes. I love that show. It gives a realistic account (as far as someone in 2018 in the US would know) of midwifery in London’s poverty-stricken East End in the early 1960s. The various storylines depict the midwives helping their patients navigate antenatal care and childbirth in the most challenging of circumstances. It’s a tale of the power of sisterhood, motherhood and womanhood. I love it, despite the screams that send my dogs running for cover.
It makes sense, then, for my second post after the one titled “I am Born” to shine a light on my ‘midwives’ who coached, cheered, cajoled, comforted and counseled me through the process of turning to a new career. They had my back while I grieved the loss of my father, left the comfort of my former work behind and worked on bringing The Storied House to life. In some ways, the last year has been the most challenging of my life but the reward of those challenges has been a completely new direction and deepened friendships with some amazing women.
Elizabeth, a fellow design entrepreneur, opened her door to her business and showed me the ins and outs of what an interior designer looks for in textiles. No question of mine was unanswered, no worry was un-soothed; even her husband stepped in and had memo cards for my samples printed gratis. Encouraging and honest feedback spiced with wicked humor has kept me going and on my toes.
Sue and Shaz, my NY-based partners in crime. Sue’s honest feedback on my designs, cheerleading- “that purple is THE BOMB”- and untiring love, counsel and confidence has sustained a multi-decade friendship. Shaz flew in, sat down beside me with her laptop and helped me choose a design class when I was too grief stricken to think straight. She has been the ultimate cheerleader, not just for me as an entrepreneur but also as a mother. Her constant morale-boosting texts and pleasantly diverting e-mails about the British Royal family’s fashion has helped keep me focused and cheered (if not slightly horrified at some of the oxymoronic ‘British fashion’).
My ‘Irish soul sister’ Diane, has offered me succinct observations that have gotten me out of my potentially inertia-creating worry well. Diane and I were in a book club (insert air quotes, because, come on, our club met at bars and wine clubs) in Dublin 15 years ago and time and distance haven’t minimized our connection.
After describing in detail my concerns and fears and giving her a data-driven analysis why this business may NOT work, her response “I don’t see a problem here,” was a nice jolt of pleasant reality. “I just want to state this right here and now,” she told me early in the process, “you are a creator and you need to do this.” When Diane speaks, I listen. She joined me on this path of introspection and we faithfully would check in with each other with a 90-minute call every Friday to discuss life, plans, business, Ireland and travel adventures.
Then there is Vanessa, who has dedicated her life to helping women like me find purposeful work. I had followed her work for a while and then took a mindfulness class she offered, which I loved. Her guided meditations have helped me in all facets of my life, but most importantly, her public speaking meditation showed up in my inbox on the morning of my father’s funeral and enabled me give a powerful tribute to the first man in my life.
And then, with more perfect timing, Vanessa offered another opportunity to focus with a class called 'Create Work You Love.' I spent seven months with her and 40 other amazing women learning tools to understand our driving principles in the work we want to create. Feeling supported in this major shift while processing grief sustained and made me accountable to launching this business.
Through Vanessa, I met another cheerleader and friend Ana. While we haven’t met face to face-we have brainstormed, processed, planned and supported each other from two time zones away while we shift our work. Have you ever had complete faith from someone you’ve never met face to face? I wish it for you because it is pretty amazing.
Then I think of Trish, Laura, Eileen, Suzanne, Michelle, Erin, Elyra, Julie, Maribeth, Amanda, Meredith, Shannon, Jill, Betsy and ReRe who have been friends for years and swept in to comfort me during my loss and the first initial weeks of processing the pain of losing my father. Michelle and Trish took charge, Laura showed up from NJ-no easy feat on a few hours’ notice- while Eileen and Maribeth cheered and humored me. Shannon was and is my ever-present sounding board while Suzanne brought me macaroons late one Sunday night telling me “your dad told me to bring these,” Meredith encouraged my creativity while Julie and Amanda literally walked beside me and listened. Betsy and Re Re offered wisdom and cared for my children when all I wanted to do was curl up in the fetal position. Erin and Elyra, among many things, gave me a tree. Yes, people, a tree. They left it on my front porch to remind me they were thinking of me.
So, even before I launch and after suffering a great loss, I’m winning.
I am truly humbled by all the goodness these friendships have brought me and the ‘midwifery’ these women have provided in helping me bring the Storied House to life. Their support has quieted my internal shrieks of fear and while they aren’t dressed in crisp uniforms and showing up on antiquated bikes like the characters in “Call the Midwife” they, in so many different and amazing ways….