I don’t know about you, but I’m emotionally spent, often confused, definitely frustrated and even frightened of this global pandemic. Not one of us can escape it on a daily basis unless we’re willing to go to that quiet place. Each day I try to find that place, to reconnect to my core, to build up my resilience, shore up my foundation whether in the quiet of meditation, talking with a trusted friend or reflecting on simple words of advice and wisdom from others. So I thought I’d share some of the sage advice, notably the inspiration we felt after speaking to women across the USA in our MDU Diaries: COVID-19 series, recorded back in March and April. Listening and then writing this article gave me such comfort and hope. I hope it brightens yours in some way.
Episode #7: Community:Before, During & After COVID with Community Builder Martha McBride of The Neighborhood Project
We originally recorded this show on March 9th in Gotham studios in NYC, a few days before social distancing took hold. With the onslaught of COVID, government mandates reflecting the shift of how we could interact with each other, we felt it was essential to record part two of this episode, during COVID, on March 25th. Our world had changed overnight and Natalie and her brother, my son, had come home for what we thought would be a month (little did we know). These were early days and together we applauded technology, particularly Zoom and how it could potentially break down barriers and bring us together in new ways we’d simply never experienced before. Each of us admitted our natural feelings of grief and encouraged each other to allow ourselves to feel whatever it is we were feeling. This was of course before Zoom fatigue kicked in and overtook our appointment calendars! Most of all, we acknowledged the importance of getting to know our neighbor, reaching out in ways we wouldn't have before, as well as the simple old-fashioned practice of picking up the phone and checking in on each other.
Episode #8; Empty Nesters & Their “Children”
This was the first official weekly episode we recorded in which we decided to speak to mothers and daughters across the country and world to gain their perspective of this new paradigm. To officially kick off the series we spoke with a mother and daughter duo from Connecticut on the realities of returning home as a young adult—for both generations! We covered mental health challenges, struggling to find personal space at home with family and the loss of work and day-to-day connections with friends. Pamela, a psychotherapist by trade, shared words of wisdom: “we can only control what we can control,” which really helped to remind me that by focusing on this simple statement I could keep myself distant from anxiety and bring an element of calm into my daily life. My favorite mantra however, was the daily one Pam and Charlotte shared, inspired by a fellow therapist… “WIN,” which stands for“what's important now.” Brilliant, ladies!
“WIN,” which stands for“what's important now.” - Pam & Charlotte Massey, Ep. #8
Episode #9: Returning Home from Abroad
In this second installment, we spoke to two young women who’d been forced to return home to their families while working and studying abroad. We discussed their perceptions of the countries they’d left. Victoria, who had been working in Singapore, expressed her hope that our population in the USA would begin to think more from a place of community, rather than as individuals. She believed that a united mindset could hold the country together as she experienced in Singapore. All the ladies felt gratitude for their time with their families out of the cities and in the opportunity that comes with this time: how each of us can take impactful little actions, whether it’s connecting with a friend, cooking a lovely meal, or practicing a new skill... even watching Netflix together are all little actions that many of us can incorporate and feel good about in the darkness.Finally, Hazel (my best friend since childhood) reflected on the beauty of nature and the gift of less cars on the road and less airplane noise overhead,all of which enables us to be more aware of ourselves and our surroundings.Personally, I couldn’t agree more. When I look for silver linings, this is one which cannot be denied… Mother Nature has benefited and many of us have found the beauty in being even more connected to her.
Episode #10: Rising to the Occasion
Continuing the dialogue, we talked to mothers and daughters who are taking on the challenges in business and school in stride and transforming them into opportunities. These are women who walk the walk and talk the talk with grace and empathy as they rise to the occasion for the greater good of families, communities, countries and beyond. Laurel, co-owner of a technology manufacturing company, detailed the protocol her company was taking to protect employees and the importance of clear communication through this time. Rennie, a college student and Laurel’s daughter, went from being hands-on in an art studio to supporting the 3D-printing mask project and discovering a need to design masks for female faces, while re-purposing household items to do so. Deb, who’s holding it together for the family as mothers do best shared the message of ‘we are stronger together, as family, community, and a nation,”which I feel is one that we have to keep reiterating despite politics and hold onto more than ever. I love Deb’s daughter Alex’s grit and determination after just launching a new business. Instead of sulking under the covers, she was hustling, thinking outside of the box and finding new creative ways to carry on. Her advice: “focus on the opportunities in the silver linings this time is presenting and try not to get lost in the thick of it all of them, but realize the value,” is one that I pull out when I go to that dark place.
“Focus on the opportunities in the silver linings this time is presenting and try not to get lost in the thick of it all of them, but realize the value.” - Alex Aitchison, Ep. #10
Episode 12: The Time for Feminine Leadership is Now with Shelley Zalis
Continuing on the theme of female powerhouses, we spoke with internationally renowned equality advocate and “chief troublemaker,” Shelley Zallis. Still in the depths of COVID, the world was witnessing and acknowledging the value of feminine leadership in times of global crisis. This episode brought a good reminder to embrace our feminine qualities instead of leaning into masculine ones. Natalie and I once again were injected with a message of hope as we discussed how Shelley pivoted her in-person panels and events to online, turning a moment into a movement giving working women more access to thought leaders and important conversations and perspectives. As every great leader does, she reminded us of the power of collaboration or “the magic of the mix,” as she coined it, of women supporting women. Shelley stated and I can attest that she also lives by the philosophy, ”A women alone has power, collectively we have impact.”
Episode #13: The Gen-Z Perspective
Finally, we spoke to a woman with (what I consider to be) one of the toughest jobs in the world, let alone in COVID. Christina, a single working mother and her high school age teenage daughters talked candidly as they shared how they learned the need for healthy boundaries with technology,each other and how they were coping with the new normal. With all the changes at school and the unknown future, they acknowledged, it was good to hear themselves admit the value of talking about their feelings, needs, fears and hopes for the future, however uncomfortable and explosive. Which it clearly had been! Most of all, both daughters admitted they come to learn the value of spending extended quality time together.
So what are all these ladies saying and modeling? What I see and what gives me hope is that time and time again women have been among the strongest, most resilient, boldest, compassionate, empathetic and decisive leaders on all fronts—trusting in their feminine power and intuition and taking on the role of “mother” in their stride. Their emotional intelligence shines through in building community, not tearing it down, in listening not judging, including not excluding, in providing comfort and strength, not fear and hate. They model that it’s ok to grieve, it’s ok to get pissed off, but ultimately we’re all in this together and we’ll do what all women do... get on with it.
We’d love to hear and share some of your aha moments. If you'd like to listen to any of the episodes, you find them in the links below.
Links to the Episodes:
With no idea what was ahead of us, we set intentions for 2020... and while during the times of COVID-19 January feels like 3 years ago, the underlying message of intention setting feels just as relevant as ever. Why? Natalie explores the reasons she believes in setting intentions what she is continuing to hold herself accountable to this year.