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5 Steps to Help Women Find Their Path of Vitality

Author Virginia Woolf said, "For most of history, Anonymous was a woman."

Not anymore.  

In honor of International Women’s Day, the global medical technology company BD (Becton Dickinson), invited my older sister Karen, my younger sister Jill, and me to speak about being an entrepreneur to a workplace full of diverse, curious and compassionate people. One of my professional and personal mentors, Gary Cohen, led the charge (in between changing people’s lives and making a difference in this world) and he moderated our panel with his usual warmth and humor.  


As working mothers, we spoke about seeing work and life as something to blend, rather than fighting the natural tension in the struggle for “balance."  As business owners, we spoke about filling the gap we saw in our respective fields -- taking risks and overcoming the challenges that inevitably get in the way when creating something new. 

Making a pivot in your life, particularly in your career, is no easy feat. But I talk to too many people who don’t seem satisfied in their jobs, don’t spend enough time with their kids, or don’t focus on caring for themselves. Somehow, this is especially true for women. We get busy and in the blur of it all, it’s easy to lose sight of what makes us really happy.  

The path to your authentic self is not linear. But if you slow down, your inner voices will insist you listen until you ultimately make the changes that lead you to your true vitality.

This process is clearer for me when I break it down into 5 steps to help follow your authentic path, either professionally or personally. 

First, you have to do the work. Listen quietly. Don’t ignore the nudge inside. What pulls at you in the spaces of things? What did you want to do when you grew up? Who did you want to be? Are you doing any of it?  Once you uncover that true passion — personal or professional - write it down. Commit to trying it now. 

Second, know your responsibilities. Just because you finally uncovered what you really want to do doesn’t mean you just up and do it. I want to climb mountains so that I can handstand on a summit every weekend, but I have three kids and a quickly growing franchise business…that passion serves no one but me. Understand how your own personal desires or new professional goals fit into your current life, and then align them with those responsibilities.  

Third, find your allies. The naysayers will be the first to show up. They will tell you you’re crazy or they will doubt any attempt to quit your job or write your book or run that marathon. Ignore them. Keep moving until you find the friends and family that support your goals, and who are willing to talk through those opportunities with you. You want to spend your time with people who build you up, not tear you down. 

Fourth, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. It’s easier to wait until you get it exactly right, than it is to take a risk. I find that my women friends all too often strive for perfection or wait until the “perfect moment” to write that book or start their business idea or resurface a favorite hobby. We are waiting for the perfect time and the perfect place and the perfect manifestation of what it is we want to do. But good enough works too. And it’s a start. We forget that if it’s messy, you can go back and try again and again and again….until it works. 

Fifth and finally, develop the resiliency tool kit you will need in order to help you keep going when you begin to doubt the path you finally found. Now that you’re on your way to fulfilling your personal passion or your professional goal, you will inevitably come up against all kinds of stopping blocks. Self doubt. Doubt from your spouse. Doubt from your friends or colleagues at work. Not enough time. Not enough money. Not enough energy.

Building resilience take introspection. Whenever I doubt my often crazy (fun) path, I envision myself as a older woman in the final days of my life. Did I live the life I wanted to live? Did I live with passion and purpose? Did I prioritize the things that filled me up - like my kids, my passions, my true self? What was the story I wanted to tell with my life? Did I tell it?  

Each time you ask yourself these questions, it will help to realign you right back into your most vital space and your authentic self naturally emerges - at home, at work, and in all aspects of your life. 

I speak to so many new mothers who have a baby and then want to make a change. There is a common thread between these and our current songs for seeds franchise owners.  They want flexibility of their time, they want to work hard but with meaning, they want to blend that work with their children and they want to make an impact in their communities. I am grateful every day that I get to do this kind of work and meet so many women on this same path.  I find that once they begin to work for themselves and take that risk, they uncover a new way of being, and they are filled up with the satisfaction of being in charge of their own time and spending more time with their kids. 

My sisters and I started three very different businesses. Yet what we have in common was our desire to go to bed at night satisfied with who we are as people and to be in control of our own time. We all agree that living with purpose and pursuing your passion is paramount to everything. We all three somehow know that when we are happy, our kids are happy. We all three have strong business partners to help us stay on the path when we begin to doubt. And we all three know that we have each other when we need it.  

When thinking about making a change - personal or professional - the most difficult decision is to ACT. But if you’re on the path to happiness, you’ll know it. And when you find it, I promise the world conspires to meet you. 


Love is Blind

As I cradled 18-month-old Qiushi in my arms, he squeezed my left pinky finger and seemed to say without words, please don’t let me go. He had just completed surgery in one eye and was preparing for yet another. His arms were locked into casts, to protect himself from touching the good work of the doctors and ensure his healing. His mind was no doubt wanting to be the active boy that lived inside.

Qiushi looked straight up at my own eyes with a kind of love that made me think for a moment he could see. But I knew he couldn’t...Qiushi is blind. His disability caused his parents to abandon him on a street in Beijing, only to find his way here, to Bethel Foster Home, a place built on a kind of love and generosity that knows no boundaries.

Walking into Bethel on the outskirts of Beijing, you find the words "Love is Blind" (perhaps the truest phrase ever told). The women that oversee the health and safety of the children here are nothing short of angels. Anna from Spain and Wendy from China work with their team to ensure the children at Bethel learn, grow, eat, and stay warm as the cold November days began to pervade the space. No one took their coat off during our visit. It was too cold. But the hallways feel happy and the classrooms are filled with books, toys and tools…loving donations sent from people all over the planet. Cut out tracing paper of children’s hands dot the main hallway, highlighting the children who have been adopted by families in China, the USA, Australia, the U.K. and more. Anna works tirelessly to see that one day every child in her care can live in a safe environment with a loving family. She has devoted her life to this purpose.

The day before our visit, my co-founders on Team See Possibilities completed a nonstop, three-day endurance challenge on The Great Wall of China. My teammates Charles Scott, Brad Graff and I guided our friend Dan Berlin, who is blind, on a multi-sport journey (trekking, cycling and kayaking) over remote and unrestored remains of this iconic piece of history weaving like a snake through China’s towering mountains. The steps and rocky terrain weren’t easy, but the views were breathtaking. I felt simultaneously insignificant and connected with everything in the universe. We slept in tents in abandoned watchtowers, stopping only to share meals with local villagers.

The purpose? To help Dan make history and inspire others to see past their own disability, uncovering instead what is possible. Since we formed our nonprofit a few years ago, we have run rim to rim to rim across the Grand Canyon and back in one day, ran the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 13 hours and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in the dark in 2.5 days. This Great Wall challenge took us one step closer to achieving our goal - helping Dan make history on 7 continents in 7 years, inspiring children along the way to believe that they can do a lot more than people might think.

Dan’s message to see his blindness as an inconvenience rather than a disability resonated here at Bethel Foster Home. If he could do this incredible challenge, perhaps that anything they set their hearts on could be possible too. This philosophy is the way that Anna, Wendy and the team care for the children at Bethel, valuing a more inclusive society.

Their work takes resources and support. If you’d like to make a donation to Team See Possibilities to support our efforts and our mission to support children who are blind around the world and challenge perceived limits, you can make a donation directly on our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/teamseepossibilities/ or visit our website at www.teamseepossibilities.com

For more information about Bethel or to financially support a child in need, you can visit: https://www.bethelchina.org/sponsor-a-child-2/

It’s an interesting exercise to try one of your daily activities with a blindfold on or your eyes closed. You’ll find that there is so much you can “see," even without your sight. Indeed love is blind.


Blending Business and Family with Alison & Allison

We had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with our old friend Debbie Archangeles and chat a little about a lot: work life blend, re-evaluating and reinvesting to help business growth, personal causes and of course franchise business.

Hear the whole interview HERE


Keep Moving Forward - Re-inventing Your Brand

At Beyond Mom we often discuss how to start a business from ground up! But what about building a business and growing it over 8-10 years and beyond? We turn to the founders of apple seeds indoor play spaces and songs for seeds music classes, Alison Qualter Berna and Allison Schlanger. They met 9 years ago and bonded over having twins and quickly realized they shared a desire for a new Beyond Mom life. The ladies share their favorite company mantra (keep moving forward!), a typical day on the job, their inspiration behind their successful company and the fact that they are looking for other Beyond Moms to partner with to bring their children’s music program to their own communities. If you are interested in a meaningful career, with flexible hours, and the ability to bring your kids to work with you – read on!

And read on HERE at BeyondMom.com


Two couples strike a chord with family music-class franchise

photo credit Buck Ennis
An excerpt from the Crane's Business Article...
Alison Qualter Berna and Allison Schlanger became fast friends at a baby music class in 2005. Besides sharing a name, both were working moms with twins trying to solve the work-life balance conundrum.
A dozen years later their company is making millions of dollars helping parents keep their preschool kids active and stimulated. Now they are their own bosses, allowing them the freedom to make time for family.
The women's working relationship began with dinner and wine with their husbands, the conversation moving to how to strike out on their own. Soon the couples put a plan into action: They pooled more than $1 million from savings, family and friends to develop an indoor play space called Apple Seeds. From the get-go they wanted to create a brand that could become a franchise operation......
Read the full Crain's Business article HERE