The response to my essay in the Sunday New York Times has been astonishing. The biggest learning is that we all crave a more nuanced approach to how women (and men) integrate their work and family obligations.
We were all strangers that spring of 1996. Our only connection was that we had all recently given birth at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., and, as recommended by our doctors, had signed up for the New Mother training class. Once a week, we sat in a circle sharing our concerns as a nurse educator led the discussion. It was like those consciousness-raising sessions from the 1960s. But, unlike our mothers who had gathered to secure their place in the world, we gathered to figure out how to be mothers in spite of it.
Read the full essay here.
Posted in 2014
Tagged Failure, Family, Feminism, Love, Making Change, Marriage, Men, Mid-Life, Mothering, Palo Alto, Parenting, Personal Development
This column originally appeared on Palo Alto Patch.
At a recent dinner party, a friend shared his frustration and confusion about a young woman who works for him. He told us, “she’s a hard worker” and “she’s headed for success.” But earlier in the week, as he was giving her constructive feedback about her performance on a project, she suddenly burst into tears. He was totally flummoxed.
“I didn’t know what to do,” my friend complained. As we discussed his options, he finally ended the conversation by saying, “Women are so damn emotional.”
Well friend, yes we are.
This essay originally appeared in Palo Alto Patch.
I don’t know where I lost it. Perhaps on the train between Verona and Florence. Or at the restaurant overlooking the hills of Tuscany. It might have been at the nightmare-inducing Torture Museum in San Gigmignano. But it didn’t matter where it was, because now that my cell phone was gone, the rest of my trip to Italy would be about this unplanned and unwanted digital diet.
This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Diablo Magazine.
Kriste Michelini and Children (Photo courtesy of Diablo Magazine)
It’s 7:30 on a Thursday evening, and 10 moms are gathered at Kriste Michelini’s interior design studio in Danville, drinking wine and eating off a veggie platter artfully arranged by Michelini. This isn’t a book group or PTA fundraiser. These mothers are busy trying to help Bridget Scott finalize the details of her business plan. She’s preparing to open her own chiropractic office, a lifelong dream, but is still determining the best way to incorporate the hours while placing family first. Scott wants to work while her children are in school and is confident she can find clients who will fit her schedule. But issues around finalizing a name and staff management are what she needs advice on. The other women, all business owners themselves, readily offer it.
Scott started Business Owner Moms (BOMS) in 2008 because she wanted to gather like-minded working mothers to offer each other support and guidance as they struggled to balance their professional ambitions with their personal lives. BOMS includes women such as Alamo’s Kristin Kiltz, a mother of three who quit her high-powered job at a public relations firm to set up her own PR consulting business; and Danville’s Julie Ligon, also a mother of three, who left her exciting marketing position at Gap to open one of the first franchise studios of the Dailey Method. The BOMS could have given up work completely to stay home with their children, but haven’t. Continue reading
Posted in April 2012
Tagged Failure, Family, Feminism, Making Change, Marriage, Men, Mid-Life, Mothering, Parenting, Politics, Relationships
This essay originally appeared on Blogher. I repost it every year on Valentines Day to honor the slowest of growths, love.
They’ve finally taken down the Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa decorations. They’ve worked their way through the January sales. What’s left to drive us to the cash registers between now and the President’s weekend rush? Valentines Day, of course! The shop windows are already filled with faux red roses, oversized pink hearts, and floating white cupids that look remarkably like my little nephew. This all wouldn’t be a problem but for the guilt and anxiety it creates in most of the marriages I know – the pressure to be romantic and swoon with unadulterated passion can be just too much to bear, particularly for those of us into our third decade of wedded bliss. Continue reading
The essay originally appeared in Palo Alto Patch.
When I was five, we traveled back to my mother’s home country of Norway to visit family. While there, we joined the nation in celebrating its National Day, an annual tradition marked by parades and speeches. I remember ticker tape falling like snow as I watched from the window of my grandfather’s office building. But it was the sea of red, white, and blue flags dancing in the breeze on that cool May day, hundreds of them held high by parade participants and viewers alike, that I remember most of all. Continue reading
On Failure: “The model for personal development is antithetical to profesional success,” says Designer Milton Glaser.
This essay first appeared in Black Hut’s Expressing Bridges, a retrospective on the Golden Gate Bridge.
A Bolt of Reality
Late one night, deep into the summer of 1978, my boyfriend decided to climb to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. He didn’t bother with safety ropes or security nets. He didn’t worry about the ever-present police. The challenge to reach the top, like some siren’s call, drove him to risk his life.
“The wind sounds different up there,” he told me a few days later as we celebrated my sixteenth birthday. “It doesn’t howl or shout. It whispers. And the fog? It’s as thick as the wings of an angel. I swear I could have stepped into the air and it would have held me.”
I don’t know how he did it but my birthday gift was a bolt pried loose from his heavenly perch. As I opened the gift box, he said it was proof. I thought then he meant proof of his love. I remember giggling at the drama of it all. I realized much later, long after we had broken up and were well into our separate lives, he meant proof of his decision to climb back down. Heavy to hold, the bolt has travelled with me all these years. Rust-red paint, the golden that gives the bridge its name, still clings to the metal.
Years after that summer, my boyfriend decided on another adventure. His lips circled a double barrel shotgun and this time his decision was final. A different kind of red clung to that metal.
I wonder now about his climb to the top. Was he challenging God? Pushing his luck? Rising above the chaos below and finally deciding, not tonight? I’ll never know. The bolt he gave me sits on my bookshelf, a reminder of that summer of sixteen and of a man who reveled in dramatic gestures, the kind that make a school girl giggle and woman cry for her lost youth.