Trial by Ice: Two Years Alone in a Cabin in Maine

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I am not sure I know why I went to live all alone in a small cabin in the Maine woods in 1972, when I was 22 or 23. Maybe it was some sort of a delayed rite of passage.

I recall that I felt like I did not have much practical knowledge after growing up in a household in Nyack, NY where my businessman father introduced me to sports like baseball, sailing and skiing. But since he was neither an athlete, and had never sailed or skied before trying to teach me, these father-son outings were more often embarrassing than empowering during my high school years. I had four years of headiness at college and a stint teaching at a private boarding school in the mountains of northern California, but still no hands on experience, before deciding to move back East with a yellow Labrador, Jesse, in tow. [Read more...]

We Blog Because We Love It
Small Answers Turns 1!

Steph and Leda 1991

Those of you who have followed us from the beginning know that we have been friends for a long time. And for most of that time, we’ve been involved in joint projects of varying polish and success.

The above photo, for example, is from a bake sale that we held to raise money for homeless pets, something we did several times at Leda’s behest (some things don’t change). Judging by the marquee of the movie theater in the background, which is playing “A Rage in Harlem,” this was 1991 and we were nine years old. [Read more...]

Rethinking Negativity: How I became a pessimist

Noire et Blanche, 1926

Last month, after a dry spell with no work, I landed a new project that I’m excited about. It’s exactly the kind of job that I was looking for, and I’ll be working with people that I like, trust, and respect a lot. I should be thrilled, right? So I was brought up short when I realized I was lingering over my lunch by going through all the problems, personal and professional, that I might face in my new position.

Here’s what ran through my head: I will be taking over a project that is off to a difficult start (never mind that that’s why I was hired, since I have the skills and experience to turn projects around.) How will I get the right staff? How will I get the stakeholders to be realistic about timelines? How will I light a fire under the people who aren’t directly part of the project but are essential to making it possible? I’ll be at my client’s site four days a week, so how am I going to eat healthily and keep up my exercise program? The challenges and negative thinking running through my head spun on and on.

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The Mentor Who Saved My Career as a Lawyer

Salvador Dali

I went to law school in the early 1970s, at a time when women were just beginning to attend law school in any number. There were 33 women in my entering class of 300, and that was considered a big group. There were very few female professors or female lawyers on which to model ourselves; the legal world was still adjusting to the idea that women lawyers could engage in a legal practice that was not family law or probate law or, indeed, that they could be good lawyers at all. My uncle, the first lawyer to set up a practice in Lancaster, PA back in the 1950s told me straight out when I was in law school that he didn’t think women could ever make good lawyers. That sentiment was present everywhere, either covertly or overtly, at the time I started practicing. However, I was luckier than many other women lawyers of that era in that I had a wonderful mentor early in my career who was both my advocate and a huge resource for me as I navigated a male-dominated world – someone who may have saved me from abandoning the law altogether.

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Where Do Your Career Expectations Come From? Tackling My Mommy/Daddy Issues

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As a kid, I was mistaken for mature when really I was just obedient. I dutifully followed in my older sister’s footsteps. I was good at school, went to the same college, and assumed I was heading for an office job and a climb up a company ladder. There was always a lot of “work talk” in my home– all centered around pretty traditional business, where success was some type of recognizable prestige, be it leading a company or winning a Fulbright. Reinforced by much of society at-large, I never questioned these assumptions growing up.

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