In the 10 years that I have been with WBN I have been an artisan, a birthday party entertainer, a multi-level marketer, a quilter, a database manager, a graphic artist, a technical support staff-person, a computer files organizer, an electronic e-newsletter designer, a social media manager, an event planner, a website project manager, and a 6-foot tall monkey mascot.
Women can do that.
Of course, men can do it, too.
But this piece focuses on women as a reflection of my 10 years of having the great honor to collaborate with an outstanding group of women. These women work together in a variety of platforms to inspire, educate and motivate each other to be the very best they can be in their personal and professional lives.
2004 – A few of us got together over coffee to discuss our individual ideas for starting a business. All of us were incredibly busy with our kids, our families, our extended families and our many community obligations (no slackers here). Each of us had our own idea for our next reinvention. We found that by sharing our plans, our challenges and our successes with each other, we were better equipped to continue to move forward toward our goals. We shared those important business tips – things like how to get a tax id number, what a business plan was, who could help us with a website, how to research our individual businesses to find best business strategies, how to leverage our current connections to reach potential clients and so on. Well, we were a group of women, so, of course we shared other important life tips – how to balance work and life; how to fit writing that business plan in between laundry loads, how to get our kids involved in our business (when appropriate), which dinner recipes were the quickest or how to creatively use the leftovers so that we would have more time to work on our business. (Best solution ever: head over to Dream Dinners Plainville where Beth Fies and her staff helped many of us create a month’s worth of delicious meals to package and store in our freezer).
Indeed, many of the conversations at that time were similar to the conversations we still have today and involve work-life balance. Long-time WBN member, Tamara Myles even wrote about this in her blog article titled “The Elusive Search for Work-Life Balance”. Tamara quotes author, Christine Organ: “Maybe balance, like success, isn’t something we can obtain or achieve, but something that we feel within ourselves, in our soul, in the essence of our being. Maybe balance is about spending as much time as possible in those places and activities that bring out our best and truest self.”
Women come to WBN from a number of different backgrounds. Many have left corporate America either to have more control over their own time or to follow an interest or a passion that excites them. Some have come to WBN having spent a number of years raising their children and looking for a viable option to return to work on their own terms. There have been women who come to WBN simply to explore the options that are open to them in creating the next leg of their life’s journey. It is my opinion that every woman who comes to WBN does so to find their own way to balance following their passion while developing a viable income source.
One of my (many) heroines in this story is Betty Kushner of Panache Creations. Betty is of petite stature and of a mature age. When you meet her, be prepared – because her energy, her spirit, her creativity and, most of all, her fantastic sense of humor will blow you away. Betty creates beautiful jewelry, combining unusual colors and shapes to make each piece unique. Recently, Betty felt that she needed yet another outlet for her considerable energy and desire to interact with people. Having learned how to play the piano just last year, she has bravely ventured forth and now volunteers to play for local care facilities and is a regular entertainer at the Franklin Library. Betty’s quest to be a lifelong learner and a lifelong giver is a quality I admire greatly.
Now, June Bessette of The Travel Experience has been a travel agent for almost forever. She has traveled all over the world – seen it all, knows it all. A long time ago, June decided to feed her passion for travel and for scuba diving by becoming a travel agent. Not just a travel agent, the best kind of travel agent – the kind who will not only guide you to the best deals, the best sights, the best foods – but will be there to take your phone call to help you find lost luggage or deal with any airline or hotel or cruise line issues while you travel. (Believe me, as my daughter found out this summer, EasyJet does NOT do any of that!) June’s energy is contagious as it is invigorating.
We have had members who were members of WBN for a period of time to get themselves kickstarted in their next pathway and who have moved on and into really cool things. One of our founding members, Liza Keogh followed her passion for yoga, teaching and reflection to build a successful yoga studio, which she then sold to start her next journey to Central Mexico where she has been living with her husband, son and cats while she continues to teach yoga and more. Liza’s gentle and giving spirit still guides the WBN principles.
As the founder and director of WBN, I find it immensely satisfying to me to meet women who are so diverse in their interests, yet who share this same light. Every one of the women who has become involved in WBN has done so with the spirit of giving to others around them. The massage therapists, healers, mediums, reiki practitioners, yoga instructors, nutritionists, personal trainers bring us messages of health and peace. The jewelry, makeup, clothing, photographers, designers, artists and health care products ladies encourage us to take the time to be good to ourselves and to surround ourselves with things we love. The bookkeepers, accountants, life insurance folks, attorneys, and organizers remind us that they are there to take care of those issues in our life that they love to handle and maybe we don’t. Most of the Women’s Business Members are solo practitioners. One of the benefits of WBN is that we are well aware that we have a ‘tribe’ around us to help promote our services and events to others. WBN members are always happy to hop on their social networks, as well as meet in person, to share successes and to give advice for challenges.
One of my biggest rewards has been that being a part of this group allows me to be a resource for so many. There isn’t a day that goes by that I can’t pass along info for one of our members to someone looking for local products or services. I find it highly satisfying to be able to be helpful in that way.
I recently heard a report on WBUR’s The Remembrance Project about Gerry Dumas, a New Hampshire dairy farmer and philosopher. There is a quote that I take out of this beautiful piece and would like to adopt as on of my favorites: “I am what survives me.”
I would like to think that this is what will survive me – this spirit of women coming together with the intent of inspiring, motivating and educating each other to be their best in their professional and personal journeys.