I am not going to sugar coat, last week's column was really difficult and emotional to write. It talked candidly about the negativity and hurt I was struggling with as the co-chair of the parents association of my children’s school and how that was affecting my vision of success in this role… but thankfully, this week’s is both a joy and a privilege to write. To me, the contrast in one week is nothing short of inspirational.
This past Monday night we had our first ever Blooming Betty “Salon”. I know, salon is kind of an “old-ish” un-cool word but it really is the best word to truly capture the spirit of the evening. My business partner Sue Van Der Hout, a champion of all things women, invited a large cross-section of interesting women to a night at her home to simply meet, talk and network. Me, the cynic, very skeptical. Who will come? What is it? A Party? A course? What's the purpose? The agenda? The brand ramifications? It is Monday night, who goes out? I mean really, who even thinks like that? Well, I do unfortunately. But in typical Sue fashion, she pulled it off magically and I was happily proven very wrong.
And so it was that night that the Blooming Betty Salon was born. And let me just kvell for a bit, she is beautiful. Small and cozy and gives you an instant smile and warm place in your heart. Women of all ages and stages sharing, laughing, crying and of course drinking wine. Sue started off the evening in her usual dazzling way and engaged every woman in the room. She made them feel welcomed, comfortable and confident. We then self-organized into 5 groups each with a fabulous topic, from career to relationships. And there it happened, women of all ages giving perspective, experience, sharing, listening and most importantly learning from each other. Wow. It wasn't rah, rah like, it wasn't the tear jerker kind, nor the I am woman, hear me roar kind … just real women and real conversation.
Highlights for me were the 24 year old still in University talking to a 60 year old with grown children and who had been in the workforce for years, about what their most important relationship was right now and the ins out of online dating! Women in their 20’s talking candidly about their own Quarter Life Crisis and surprisingly quite interested in how I didn’t get married till I was 33 . Women of different ages sharing the challenges of “growing up” with what life throws at you. How they picture success and what it really is. 5 different decades of women, from social change advocates to investment advisors, teachers, ex-teachers – ex everything – all willing to chance it with new people. How amazing is that?
For me, Monday night was personal. But unlike, last week, it was a personal success, showing me that my view on the opportunity for women to learn from each other can not only work but actually be quite fun! It might also keep women out of the dreaded "crises", quarter life, mid-life and all the ones that follow after that … instead, maybe we can sometimes just sit together, have a glass of wine and help and watch each other bloom. Even without an agenda .
If you live in the Toronto area and would like to attend the next Blooming Betty Salon, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t, lets take the salon online …. start commenting and I promise the same fabulous conversations will begin.