Thursday, June 7, 2012


Leadership, corporate athletes and YOU!!  Went to an insightful breakfast forum this morning with my daughter ready to enter the workplace with her first job out of college, and we were guests of Grant Thornton at the annual panel on women in the workplace. 

What does this have to do with fitness and beauty?  Everything.  

The topics discussed were both personal and analytical, and the 100 women in attendance walked away when it was over filled with vim and vigor, poised to start the business day with high energies.  

Over time we have "come a long way baby," from either silent observers, or objects of desire and ridicule, as shown by Degas exposing the plight of young female dancers in Paris, 1879-80, 1922, to striving forceful women appreciating our independence and 21st century life in the free world.  

For some in depth cultural history on the below work, please see, the story is compelling and evokes societal weakness amidst naive youth and artistic freedom:

Mixed-media sculpture by Edgar Degas,
Little Fourteen Year Old Dancer
Here, this little dancer is perfect, young Marie van Goethem stands tall, and despite her negative environment which is all she knows, witness an ingenue as she rises up to her own personal level of confidence at age fourteen. Her power is herself. 

But, perhaps  she is exposed to too much too soon, because as her life unfolds, we learn she does not rise to greater heights, instead she loses personal focus altogether, drops out of dance school, frequents taverns and does not recover her life's dream of dancing on the stage before "proper" society. Her stage now rests in international museums. One could argue it was this proper society that lead to her ultimate destruction. For more on Degas' succes de scandale and Marie's sad, sordid life, here's a reality check article for you,  

Back at today's forum, the topic of confidence played a large role, and to be added to the mix, humility and sincerity could have been said as well, but given the intent focus of the group on the panelists and content, the underpinnings of the entire forum stated just those words without needing to be said at all. 

It is a powerful event when women gather en masse, because as a group we have honesty and want to figure out what is the best approach to the workplace and life balance. In today's society some panelists agreed that you can have it all at the same time, just at different pacing and varied strength in your life.  When the job is intense, keep the family life at an even keel, although given the vagaries of life and its unpredictable challenges, I question if this approach is realistic on a daily basis although it can work quite successfully most of the time.  As women we have to decide what is our personal threshold of stress management, never an easy decision and sometimes not even our own, as much as we would like to admit.  

Over ten years ago, in a similar conversation with my mother on this topic, I responded to her comment, 'you can't have it all!' by countering that 'yes, you can have it all, just not at the same time.'  I still stand by those words, now more than ever due to continued persistence with my projects that started short term and up until now were put on hold because of life altering  events. 

Never give up, hold onto those dreams, and as I have so aptly discovered, the wait can very well be just what was necessary to bring those projects to an even better fruition.  Do what you need to do, and hold onto and mold and ferment those projects in the background, while tending to responsibilities at hand. Then, as the sky clears, your second opportunity to complete projects will be  there. 

Stay who you are, and hold on to your dreams. Poor Marie lost her dreams, she became consumed by her environment and bad personal choices.  Do not let this happen!  Be strong and a contrarian, this will help in tough times. Besides, it is fun to be a contrarian, just find that level of finesse, you have to work at it!!

The beauty of life does allow for cultivating flexibility with confidence. Having an independent mind can be exercised and grown; maintain a strong belief in yourself and the goodness of life, no matter the obstacle. I wonder how Marie would be in today's world?

Stand tall, be mentally tough, and do it all with a smile for the world to see. 

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