The Rest of the Story

I’ve told my story hundreds of times to thousands of people. So when I was asked to do so again for a woman who was about to interview me on video, my thought was “Sure, no big deal.” I told about where I had been, how I now live a “should-free” life, and how I’d overcome that need to present a perfect image. She listened politely and attentively. And then she said “I think you’re still doing it.”

Mic drop.

As Gloria Feldt, former President of Planned Parenthood and Founder of Take the Lead, said in my interview with her, “I think it’s often hard for us to tell our own stories. But I’ve learned that it is important because I think that it’s really helpful for people to know that it’s not what you start with, but what you do with what you have.”

I couldn’t agree more. And so, my friends, here my REAL story:

My Story – The Usual Version

I was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the heart of the Mid-West, the eldest of 3 girls. It was a very typical family of that era: a dad that worked at a good, secure job, and a mom who was a stay-at-home mom who sewed our clothes and always had fresh-baked goodies on hand. Think “Leave it to Beaver”, without the mom always wearing pearls!

I was always an over-achiever and active in everything. In 6th grade I became the 1st female Safety Captain, I was on the local swim team, took art and music lessons, worked at school and after school, was in the Honor Society, was a class officer, and graduated near the top in my class. And following in my grandparent’s footprints, went off to college to become a teacher.

At college I continued to excel academically, while maintaining my high activity level: holding down a job, setting up high school recruitment programs, being a tour guide, being a Big Sister to a little girl on the local Chippewa Indian reservation, being a member of the synchronized swimming team, and graduating Magna Cum Laude in 3 1/2 years.

Even though there were no teaching jobs when I graduated, I was determined and waited tables and did substitute teaching until a position finally opened up in Lapeer, Michigan where I taught 3rd and 4th grades for 3 years before taking a leave to go back and get my Masters Degree in Education from The University of Vermont. It was while in Vermont, the summer between academic years, that I got a summer job at the local IBM plant…and never went back to classroom teaching again.

My career with IBM last 19 years, with its initial start working in the Security department in roles ranging from guard to receptionist to secretary. My experience as an administrator in the plant led me to an administrative role in the Sales organization, where, after a 3 year stint, I transferred to Boston to take on a Sales and Marketing role, in which I remained the rest of my career. After meeting my future husband at IBM and, at age 33 getting married, we moved to New Jersey where I worked with global Pharmaceutical accounts as a Global Client Representative.

Returning to work after my 2nd maternity leave in the early 1990s, I was working for a very forward thinking manager who believed that a balanced employee was a productive employee. He asked me to start IBM NJ’s first work/life balance initiative, a term I had never heard of before. The cross-functional and level group I put together pulled together resources to help employees find balance in their lives – and I found my passion.

I left IBM to join a start-up organization as VP of Sales, and learned valuable skills in the workings of a small company. Utilizing that knowledge and the skills I learned at IBM, I ventured out on my own in 2002, forming Productivity Resource Group, a training company to help organizations with employee productivity and balance. This led to my going back to school and getting certified as an empowerment coach in 2004, working both with organizations and individuals.

At the suggestion of a friend, I went back to college and obtained a Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology from The University of Santa Monica in 2007. As part of a school project, I conceived of the idea of “a men’s club for women, without the cigars” and in the fall of 2007 I opened the doors to The Professional Women’s Center in Montclair, New Jersey. This first of its kind facility remained open for 2 years, bringing connection, education and relaxation opportunities to hundreds of women in the area.

After the closing of The PWC, I joined the staff of The Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL), where I did group coaching and marketing activities. This led to my position with C3Workplace, a small business services and co-working facility, where I helped with sales and marketing, rebranding the business and assisting in the opening of a second location.

During this time period my 1st book, Soul in Control: Reflections of a Reformed Superwoman, was published and with it came the realization that it was time for me to step back onto my own path. With the belief that women can change the world in an instant – when they realize it, and that the ideal of being a Superwoman was an outdated and unsustainable model, the concept of a Superbwoman was born. It’s all about the BE. The Superbwoman, Inc. provides resources and opportunities for women to realize their innate power and provides the support structure to do so. And pulling together all my past experiences, I now provide training, speaker services, coaching and a unique online support community for like-minded Superbwomen, called The Tribe of Superbwomen.

Whew. I’m tired just writing all this! But this, as they say, is only part of the story. Let me tell you the rest:

 

I was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the heart of the Mid-West, the eldest of 3 girls. It was a very typical family of that era: a dad that worked at a good, secure job, and a mom who was a stay-at-home mom who sewed our clothes and always had fresh-baked goodies on hand. Think “Leave it to Beaver”, without the mom in pearls!

My family’s watchword was “fine”. It was a catch-all which helped maintain the status quo and protected us from showing any feelings. 

I was always an over-achiever and active in everything. I was the 1st female Safety Captain, I was on the swim team, took art and music lessons, worked at school and after school, was in the Honor Society, was a class officer, and graduated near the top in my class. And following in my grandparent’s footprints, went off to college to become a teacher.

I also believed at some level that not only SHOULD I do everything, but I MUST do it all, do it by myself, and do it perfectly. In other words, it was the beginning of my descent into being a SUPERWOMAN. And where did this lead to at an early age? Depression. When in 8th grade I got a C in art class, I remember being on hall monitor duty and writing out my will. When I was yelled at by an employer at age 16, I would lay in my bed at night and think about ways to kill myself. I ate compulsively and tried to please everyone even more. 

At college I continued to excel academically, while maintaining my high activity level: holding down a job, setting up high school recruitment programs, being a tour guide, being a Big Sister to a little girl on the local Chippewa Indian reservation, being a member of the synchronized swimming team, and graduating Magna Cum Laude in 3 1/2 years.

It was in college that I discovered the power of alcohol. It not only made me the “fun party girl”, but it numbed me out when I would slip into a dark period of depression. I also continued my use of food to build a protective wall around me, putting on over 60 pounds over the course of my college career. 

Even though there were no teaching jobs when I graduated, I was determined and waited tables and did substitute teaching until a position finally opened up in Lapeer, Michigan where I taught 3rd and 4th grades for 3 years before taking a leave to go back and get my Masters Degree in Education from The University of Vermont. It was while in Vermont, the summer between academic years, that I got a summer job at the local IBM plant…and never went back to teaching again.

A big part of the reason I went back to school and left teaching is that I was developing an ulcer from the stress and was totally burnt out. This was devastating to me, as I felt that my calling was to be a teacher and was finding myself unable to follow my passion. It was one of many “geographic moves” I made to avoid the very uncomfortable feelings.

My career with IBM last 19 years, with its initial start working in the Security department in roles ranging from guard to receptionist to secretary. My experience as an administrator in the plant led me to an administrative role in the Sales organization, where, after a 3 year stint I transferred to Boston to take on a Sales and Marketing role, in which I remained the rest of my career. After meeting my future husband at IBM and getting married, we moved to New Jersey where I worked with global Pharmaceutical accounts as the Global Client Representative.

During the time I was in Vermont I was single, while all of my friends got married – something that added to my depression, in addition to living in a place with cows as neighbors. I was the queen of 3 month relationships, with my theme song being “looking for love in all the wrong places”.  I also was binge eating and drinking to again numb out and pretend I was “fine”. 

Returning to work after my 2nd maternity leave in the early 1990s, I was working for a very forward thinking manager who believed that a balanced employee was a productive employee. He asked me to start IBM NJ’s first work/life balance initiative, something I have never heard of before. The cross-functional and level group I put together pulled together resources to help employees find balance in their lives – and I found my passion.

As a working mother, I did everything every working mother does…and more. I was addicted to the “doing”. Besides, it kept me from feeling anything, not that I had any kind of connection with my feelings! Soon after the birth of my 3rd child my marriage started to fall apart. My life was a bit like those old Western movie sets: they look great on one side, but there was nothing on the other. I was doing all the “right” things yet the balls I so artfully juggled before were dropping all around me. Work was beyond stressful and home was no better. My one son was acting out, throwing up to 5 hour tantrums. I later discovered that he was a mirror to me, feeling all those feelings I couldn’t. I was unhappy, confused and struggling to keep it together. My drinking went from binge to every day. Finally, I got sober and started on my path to re-discovering who I really was.

I left IBM to join a start-up organization as VP of Sales, and learned valuable skills in the workings of a small company. Utilizing that knowledge and the skills I learned at IBM, I ventured out on my own in 2002, forming Productivity Resource Group, a training company to help employee productivity and balance. This led to my going back to school and getting certified as an empowerment coach in 2004, working both with organizations and individuals.

At the suggestion of a friend, I went back to school and obtained a Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology from The University of Santa Monica in 2007. As part of a school project, I conceived of the idea of “a men’s club for women, without the cigars” and in the fall of 2007 I opened the doors to The Professional Women’s Center in Montclair, New Jersey. This first of its kind facility remained open for 2 years, bringing connection, education and relaxation opportunities to hundreds of women in the area.

After the closing of The PWC, I joined the staff of The Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL), where I did group coaching and marketing activities. This led to my position with C3Workplace, a small business services and co-working facility, where I helped with sales and marketing, rebranding the business and assisting in the opening of a second location.

Although my marriage ended, I had found myself. The closing of my women’s center was devastating to me, but I was able to get through it with the help of family, friends and a wonderfully supportive partner who continues to be by my side. That and the inner strength and faith that I had found once again.

During this time period my 1st book, Soul in Control: Reflections of a Reformed Superwoman, was published and with it came the realization that it was time for me to step back onto my own path. With the belief that women can change the world in an instant – when they realize it, and that the ideal of being a Superwoman was an outdated and unsustainable ideal, the concept of a Superbwoman was born. It’s all about the BE. The Superbwoman, Inc. provides resources and opportunities for women to realize their innate power and the support structure to do so. We provide training, speaker services, coaching and a unique online support community for like-minded Superbwomen, called The Tribe of Superbwomen.

But here is the REAL rest of the story: Because of all of this, I am the person I am today. I am stronger, braver, more assured and more confident. This was the path I had to walk to get where I am today. I am grateful for it all.

We each have our own story, the good and the not so great. And we each have the opportunity to bring our stories into the light and not be burdened by them.

So that’s mine. What’s yours?



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