To The Woman Pouring Water In a Homeless Man’s Mouth

Chagall

To the woman pouring water into the homeless man’s mouth:

Hi, I work two blocks from you on Taylor Street and Golden Gate Avenue. Every morning I bike down Golden Gate to my office job in a co-working space. I ride the elevator seven floors to the “penthouse.” I brew tea, make some oatmeal and bring it all to my desk where I camp out for 8+ hours.

I enter the digital world. I respond to email after email; I blast things out on Mailchimp; I interact with early-stage startup founders and corporate employees that pay my company enough to cut me a paycheck. Usually, I eat my homemade lunch at my desk. (read more…)

Ask. You Won’t Sound Stupid.

tiger

When I was twenty-two, I left New York for San Francisco, determined to move past a failed relationship and a failed presidential campaign. I had done all I could for both–all I was able to do at that time–and was ready for my adult life to truly start.

That adult life began with a healthy amount of mooching off family members. I stayed at my brother’s Berkeley dorm, a co-op, while he was out of town for spring break, sleeping in his bed and reading his roommate’s Harry Potter books. I felt like an interloper even though I had permission to be there, so I tried to stay under the radar, eating meals at the taqueria up the street and sneaking to the communal kitchen only for cereal. The cereal and milk were dispensed from large canisters that seemed impossible to empty. Nevertheless, I found a nasty note on the windshield of my car, which I’d parked in one of the many vacant spots in the co-op lot. The author of the note assumed I was a homeless person, and told me that I’d been seen stealing food from the kitchen and that I was trespassing. It was the result of a miscommunication that was quickly cleared up upon my brother’s return, but I felt attacked and too timid to plead my case, so I decided to move on. (read more…)

“I Wanted to See My Name on a Label” What Happens When a Passion Sours?

SheilaMoon1

“Follow your passion” is advice commonly dispensed, a trope of commencement speeches and career coaches. But what does it actually look like when someone follows a childhood dream through to a business? I sat down with Sheila Moon, the women behind her eponymous company, which specializes in women’s bike gear, to ask her about her experience doing exactly that.

Sheila always had a clear vision: she wanted to see her name on clothing labels. She worked hard over almost fifteen years to make it happen, launching the Sheila Moon brand in 2003. Yet, recently, what was a driving passion and a successful business became overwhelming and stressful, and her passion for design seeped away. Sheila described, “This was a dream I’d had and now it’s like a really nasty divorce where everything I loved, I now hate.” (read more…)

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

rene-magritte-clouds-eyes-911765-2813x1873

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…)

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.

(read more…)