Thank you, Beth!

Dear Reader:

I call Beth my “Texas beauty queen girlfriend,” because, well she’s very pretty and she still speaks “Texan” even though she hasn’t lived there for more than 20 years. Y’all understand?! But she is so much more than attractive and down-to-earth. She’s the kind of friend who always listens, never judges (unless we’re talking about the quality of a photo!)  and helps when she can.

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Before I got to know Beth, she was simply the “Mom with the camera.” Other parents spoke highly of the wonderful photos, videos and slide shows she generously prepared to commemorate school events and trips. I didn’t really get to know Beth until we moved across the street from her and started a car-pool to get our kids to school. Her son and my daughter are the same age and her oldest is two years their senior. We bonded as moms and neighbors and today, now that our “children” are away at school, we share a bond as artists. It seems Beth is multi-talented; she is not only a brilliant photographer, but she is also a gifted painter. I invite you to view her art at  bordelonartworks.com.

When I called to tell Beth about my idea for a blog, she responded exactly how I wished she would: with enthusiasm, encouragement and an offer to help. I’m a writer, not a photographer, but I knew I wanted photos on my blog. Beth and I are no longer neighbors, but she loaded up her camera and speciality lighting and made the 80 minute drive to my pink shed. Most of the photos (all the good ones!) on my site have been taken by Beth.  After the photo shoot, we had a good old-fashioned slumber party.  In an attempt to be as good a friend to Beth as she is to me, I agreed to watch the Bachelor, as that is one of her favorite shows.  My husband disappeared to his study and I had the opportunity to find out what all the hype is about.  Um, well… I just couldn’t really enjoy the visual of one guy kissing a different girl in each scene. But, I could understand how one could become addicted to show. I asked that Beth tell me who Nick chose, as I would be curious but not watching. (Funny thing: my technology consultant, Kristin, was approached to be on The Bachelor years ago, but declined…wisely, I think!)

Years ago Beth and I helped each other through the day-to-day challenges that come with raising children and today we support eachother in our artistic endeavors. I feel so grateful to call her my friend.

May y’all be blessed with good friends,

Michele

No Regrets

Natalie LaFollette Creative Portrait_00

Dear Reader:

The woman at the Clinique counter turned out to be right. The day I visited her, I was 7 months pregnant…feeling a bit fat and looking for a “feel good” purchase. Lipstick is always fun! She rather ceremoniously uncapped a long, thin silver tube and twisted the base so that I might see the color. “Perfect,” she effused. I was not initially impressed, but, at her urging, I applied it and checked myself out in the mirror. Fabulous! Almost Lipstick in Black Honey has been a staple in my cosmetic bag ever since.

“So, are you going back to work after the baby?” she asked. I replied affirmatively to which she responded, “Ah, too bad.”

When I left her counter, I’m sure my lovely, shimmery lips were parted in an “um, what?!” expression.  That was some opinionated salesperson. I was working in high-tech marketing and had received a promotion and stock options the year before. Not to mention the fact that I was, and remain,  a staunch feminist. Of course,  I was going back.

I did return from maternity leave, but lasted only six months… and that was a stretch! Everything had changed. The 30-50 minute drive to and from work was never enjoyable, but now it was a lost hour that could have been shared with my daughter.  The early morning calls with the European sales force that I had once so enthusiastically anticipated created a logistical nightmare. The high level meetings that I had felt proud to attend seemed unimportant; I was no longer impressed with myself or anyone else in attendance. I  did not feel the zeal for advancement or the thrill of competition that was fostered in the company.  I found myself wondering who would be there to see my daughter’s first steps: me or the day care workers.

Home life was difficult, too. It was a mad dash every evening to retrieve my daughter within the approved pick-up time.  My husband’s work in high-tech finance was demanding and he usually arrived a couple of hours later than us between 7 and 8 p.m. When he got home, he needed the same things that our baby and I needed: rest, relaxation, dinner, understanding, attention. We were all simultaneously extremely needy! And, very tired. We had only each other. There was no household help or familial assistance. It was just the three of us.

My husband supported my decision to quit working.  We took a leap of faith together knowing that the budget was going to be extremely tight. And, it worked out just fine! Our daughter is a 20-year-old college student today and the three of us are very close.

In the two decades since I made my decision, technology has changed things so much. I see so many women who successfully combine work and family life. Neither my husband nor I had any flexibility in our jobs. It seems ironic that we were both working in the high-tech industry that has revolutionized life for so many, and yet our employers offered no allowances to accommodate family life.

Today, I have an empty nest and time to pursue my interests,  but I don’t think I could fully enjoy myself if I didn’t feel that I’d completely embraced my role as a mother. I feel grateful that I had a choice; I know many women don’t. I have never regretted my decision to be a stay at home mom.

Sincerely,

Michele

P.S. I wouldn’t recommend seeking life advice at the Clinique counter, but that saleswoman was wise!  I recently read that the lipstick she sold me more than 20 years ago has become a cult-classic.  Clinique now ships one Black Honey lipstick every two  minutes.

http://www.glamour.com/story/most-popular-lipstick-colors-review