“There’s an old saying that goes: give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime. I say: teach a woman how to fish — and she’ll provide for the whole village.” — Keren Lifrak
Twelve years ago, standing in my kitchen with a sleeping newborn strapped to my chest, my laptop open on the counter as I was trying to simultaneously finish a proposal (for my also-new event planning business), clean out my breast-feeding pump, and prepare lunch. Of course, at this moment the phone rang, which woke up the baby up. To this day I remember thinking it would take too much finagling to reach the phone on time, and r contemplating whether I could pick up the phone with my toe (as I had begun to do with doors when I ran out of hands).
My husband worked very long hours those days, and we had no family in town that we could turn to for support. The market had turned, our mortgage was upside down, and we were feeling the financial crunch. I have memories of looking for loose change under the cushions if we wanted to get ice cream and contemplating whether to get the 57¢ bottle of seltzer at Publix or the 89¢ one, before deciding I don’t need the seltzer all together.
These are not the kind of things one wants to go around openly talking about. We all do our best to look perfect all the time, like we have things under control. So I sucked it up like a big girl, put on some red lipstick and a cool dress, and went about my business as usual.
As time went by I would notice women (myself included) talking about being superwomen — almost like a pissing contest about how much we can juggle with as little sleep as possible. The whole superwoman thing was exhausting. It was like bearing a cross that was too heavy… a price to steep to pay for the sake of looking good.
I felt overwhelmed, alone, and frustrated, and I remember saying to myself, “there has to be a better way!”
Over the following years, I would obsess with creating innovative solutions for all working women’s problems. I know myself as a highly creative, resourceful person… what people might label these days as a Multi-Potentialite or Renaissance woman. I have since reinvented myself a few times and reestablished our family‘s finances and stability thanks to my real estate business, which has allowed for the time and resources to fuel other projects while also caring for my family.
At one point I even designed an app called “Liv” that I described to investors as: “If KITT (the artificially intelligent talking car from the 80s show Knight Rider) and Amazon had a baby — “Liv” would be their love-child! For the record, this was well before Alexa was a household name. While investors liked the idea, in theory, most thought it was too complex to implement and too grand (risky). Without a background in technology or the resources to pull it off alone — several thousands of dollars later I decided to go back to the drawing board.
That journey brought me back to what I know best: connecting with people through conversations and designing meaningful gatherings. I soon realized that perhaps I might not be able to change a woman’s logistical circumstances, but I certainly can create a conversation to help her feel a little less alone, a little more alike — and a lot more empowered on our shared journey as 21st-century women.