Getting Connected is a year long Series, aimed at opening up the conversation and getting to know one another. So often it is hard to know the person behind the blog, in the Getting Connected Series I want to break down the blog barrier and show off our messy closets. A Series where I let you get a peek at the REAL me, the imperfect, messy, and utterly human me. Some will be heartfelt, and some will be humorous, but ALL will be real.
Last month the Series premiered with Part 1, and I shared off some of the struggles in my youth as well as my admiration for my Mother. The response was completely overwhelming, and I thank you for that. You touched my heart, and I can honestly say I have the best readers in the whole wide world. (woot woot)
This month I thought I would answer a question that I frequently get asked, ‘How do you do all that you do?’.
I have people ask, or comment on this at least once a day…if not more. And there actually is an explanation for it.
Getting Connected – Part 2
My life – Pre-kids.
From as far back as I can remember, my Mom taught me one thing. To always be able to take care of myself. From then on, I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t work.
If you haven’t already guessed from the photos above, I started off as a child actress. I was about 10 years old and had taken an acting class, and I was on my way. I was such a ham growing up – putting on shows for my family, making up songs, dressing up when possible – there are some serious blackmail video tapes out there. I was even the lead in my 5th grade musical. My Mom would drive me down into the city at least once a week for an audition or call back. And I must have practiced the line ‘With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good’ at least a million times. I only ever did 1 commercial, and it was for CBS and the World Cup. I searched everywhere to share it with you, but the video was destroyed in a flood in my parents house. Boo. I also came this close to getting the lead in Clarissa Explains it All…does anyone else remember that show? Shortly after that I got braces and my acting career came to an end.
This may not have been a real ‘job’ for me, but I loved it. It was more a job for my Mother who had to drive me everywhere. But it was my first big paycheck.
I then went into the fabulous career of babysitting, and pretty much dominated the scene all throughout middle and high school. And I also worked in every coffee house in our city, including opening up the very first Starbucks in our hometown when coffee moved to the East Coast. I remember a time when people didn’t know what a cappuccino or latte was. I also remember a time when we stayed late one night just to see how many espresso shots we could do in a row. My max was 5, and driving home was scary after that. Good times. Lol.
Fast forward to my early twenties when I got a job at an Investment Banking company as the administrative assistant to the head of Travel. I honestly consider this to be one of the major turning points in my life. Before my life was a little wild, but this job gave me purpose. I had responsibilities, I paid my bills, I had an apartment, and I was living the life of young adult in NYC. And I excelled at it. Before long I was helping with Corporate Events, running the ticketing Events Operations, managing their US Open box, and was in meetings with the CEO’s assistant. In fact, I almost took her job when she left. I have always been a hard worker, putting my nose to the grindstone every day and doing the job to the best of my abilities. And I believe this to be the main reason as to why I excelled as much as I did, even as a college drop out. I am smart, and I hustle – every day. No matter what job I am doing, I am going to rock it. I proved myself day in, and day out as a 16 year old at Starbucks, as a 21 year old at the Investment Bank, and then at my next job. More on that to come….
But as with most Investment Banking Firms at the turn of the century, there was a merger and everything changed over night. I always find it amazing the wisdom that time can give us. At the time I was so upset over the merger, and the job shift. But it was through those trials that God was leading me through my next stage in life. After a few random jobs, I ended up on…
I became the Manager of VIP Ticket Operations for a few Broadway shows that were owned by the same company. My old boss from the Banking Firm heard of a job opportunity and gave them my name. I am not gonna lie, it was pretty cool. I got to attend all of the Broadway shows for free, I met celebs night after night, and I have some pretty embarrassing stories to go with it. Like the night I trash talked one celeb and her performance on stage, and she was standing right behind me. And the awful moment I turned around to see her staring at me. Let’s just say, she had WAY more grace than I did. So awful.
My boss was what I like to call a ‘Serial Entreprenuer’. A multi-millionaire that liked to open up his own companies, and then either get other people to run them for him, or sell them. He was a genius, and I learned so much from him. I soon became his right hand man (or woman) – and started to run all of the different companies he opened up after I started working with him. This includes the VIP Broadway Tickets, traveling around the nation running a Celebrity Chef Tour that hosted fancy dinners benefiting the James Beard Foundation (foodies unite!), helping him start his own winery, and build an island in the Bahamas. I ran it all, and could do a major T&E sheet to boot.
Thanks to this man, I learned that organization is key. The only way I could do all of that and more, was to be on top of things. I worked my butt off, and I had massive check lists. But I got the job done.
Then I had a baby.
Everything changed. My husband and I decided beforehand that I would be a stay at home Mom, and in case you don’t already know. It was a hard transition for me. To go from a busy work life, to suddenly doting on a newborn was incredibly difficult. I felt a little bit lost. I knew it was what I wanted, but I didn’t know how to go about doing it. To top it off, 2 weeks after my daughter was born I got the sudden news that our family was moving to Germany. New mom, new country, don’t know the language, no friends. It was the most trying experience our marriage ever went through. I needed a hobby, fast. Which is when I learned how to sew. Most of you know this story, but I learned in Germany. My Mom flew out and taught me how to sew a straight line, and from then on I was on a mission. I googled every German pattern for translation, and worked my way through one Burda pattern after another. Every single naptime you would find me on the machine, making something for our baby girl.
Sometime during this period, my sister mentioned the word ‘Blog’ to me. I had no idea what she was talking about. I didn’t start one at that time like she suggested, because old habits die hard and listening to my younger sister was never one of my strong suits.
Shortly after we returned from Germany, I stumbled across Made by Rae’s blog and the word ‘blog’ suddenly made sense to me! I could have a blog, where I shared my sewing creations?!! Light bulb. Some of my first posts are so embarrassing, you can still find them if you search back far enough! Like this one – when I dabbled in MS Paint and created some cartoons. Lol!!!
I consider the first 2 – 3 years of blogging the equivalent to an internship. You make no money, you work hard, and you learn a lot.
But at some point all of that previous working knowledge just naturally made its way into my blog-life. I already knew how to pitch a company, how to maintain organization for optimal productivity via operations, how to throw a fabulous event, and how to work with big names. I had it all in my bag of tricks, and once I married it with my artistic side – it was a match made in heaven. I had an outlet for my creativity, a platform to stand upon, and the know-how to run it.
So – how do I do what I do?
Many, many, many years of training. I get help when needed, delegate when possible, know when to say no, and take the time off that is needed to recoop and simply be with my family. But most of all – the key is ORGANIZATION. Without it, my world falls apart. I have lists upon lists of deadlines, things that need to get done and by when, and if something doesn’t get done by that time – or someone doesn’t follow through with meeting their deadline for me – it puts everything in a crunch. I am not a last minute person, like many creative types are. I am a scheduled in advance kinda gal, and every morning I wake up and make a new to-do list for what needs to get done that day. And on it are my work items and my personal items. I realize that this may make some people cringe, but it is the only way I know how to juggle so many balls. It is written down, on good old fashion paper, sitting next to my computer. I also have a daily ‘work schedule’, and I have paid help with my kids some days of the week. I work. Hard. And I love what I do.
Being a work-at-home Mom is my favorite job in the whole wide world, and puts everything else on this list to shame.
I may laugh and have some moments worth remembering from all of the lights and bright excitement of jobs from my youth. But NOTHING beats having my kids run up to me and want to work the presser foot as I am sewing a project, give me a hug or sit on my lap while I am typing a blog post, or even hit me on the head with a random flying toy. Nothing beats stopping everything I am doing to play Guess Who, to bake cookies, or tickle fight. For this stage will pass all too soon, and if you blink you will miss it. So while I know I need the outlet for myself – and love working, I also don’t ever want to get too busy for them.
Being a work-at-home Mom is the best of both worlds for me, and I in turn get to teach my daughters the same lesson my Mom taught me, with a twist. Although I don’t think it is necessary to ‘always be able to take care of yourself’. I do think it is necessary to know how to work hard, to be able to pay your bills, to follow your dreams, and to make and reach big goals. And I think I am doing a pretty good job at teaching them that.
So tell me – what was your life pre-kids? Pre-blogging?
Thanks so much for stopping by, and until next time…