I’ve been meaning to start a personal blog ages ago. Trust me when I say AGES. Friends who have known my core since my school youth (Bruna Marchiori, Juliana Simao) know how writing has always been a big part of me, and an inclination that came to me somewhat naturally.
While I had the pleasure of writing about work topics for the Gust blog (@gustly), I had not been able to take it to the personal realm. So why did it take me so long? Well, I have a very wide set of socially-acceptable and valid excuses… the move abroad, the challenges of a second language (when convenient:-), juggling kids and career…but as the wonderful Jessica Lawrence said, the problem may not be time, it may be simply the mind. And while I still insist that, for a woman like me (who needs to sleep like a cat to function the next day and not physically attack others) time is a key variable, the mind has been the truly limiting factor. I’ll explain how.
Being a mom to two little kids is one of the most enriching experiences in the world, but one that can also be extremely narrowing. Young kids suck every drop of energy of your body and mind, every second of your day, and the focus you need to put into them (coupled with the focus you need to put into work) basically put me into survival mode for a few years. I read much less than what I used to; I interact with art much less than before; I barely get to my piano even though it’s in my bedroom, and I have very limited time with people who are major sources of inspiration in my life. Inspiration (or lack of) has been the problem – which can be considered a problem of the mind.
As many working moms report, as our kids grow up, many of us are able to experience some sort of renaissance… if and only if you hang in there and continue exposing yourself to interesting things that tickle your mind and take you beyond “baby land”. My kids are now 4 and 5 years old, and I’m just starting to experience that.
A few weeks ago I had the honor to attend The Feast on Good – an unbelievable gathering of people in NYC organized by Jerri Chou and my very darling Justin Stanwix. Having been invited as a guest, I had to go. And what I experienced there was an intense injection of overflowing inspiration for the mind and for the heart. True awakening. The Duchess of Yorkville blog had been set up a few weeks before and I had been struggling to decide what to write about. I did not want it to be yet-another-blog about motherhood. When the first day of The Feast ended, I knew what my first post was going to be about (it still took me almost 4 weeks to get to it, proving my point about time being a real issue).
The Feast on Good was officially the kick-off of my personal renaissance. It nourished my mind and my soul (not to mention my eyes, given its beautiful production). My day started with a great deal of insight from Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar, talking about the growth and evolution of community-based services. Between the testimonials of Cullen Jones (2x Olympic Gold Medalist), Roz Savage (ocean rower), Anne Mahlum (Founder and CEO of Back on My Feet) and Charles Duhigg (author of The Power of Habit), I got some much needed, unparalleled examples of will power and initiative. The effect of their stories on me was so far fledged that I had a hard time choosing how I’d first deploy those lessons in my life. They filled my heart with hope, equipped me to be a better parent, and left me with the unshakable certainty that I was capable and poised to do whatever I wanted with my life (and certainly get out of the survival mode which had characterized it in recent years).
There was one additional dimension to The Feast on Good that made it unique and inspiring. The content and ideas presented, coupled with the set-up and conference format, truly motivated people to connect with one another at a very personal and deep level. We live in a world where it’s so hard to make deep, genuine connections. We are all busy, constantly running, and most gatherings foster connectivity at the networking level only. My personal theory is that a lot of the depression we see around us stems from our unattended need to deeply and genuinely connect with others, regardless of utilitarian benefits we may draw from those relationships.
Interestingly but not surprisingly, the Feast on Good had a similar effect on other people I spoke with. While I seem to have been the only one among my new friends who derived so much value from it in great part due to the challenges of parenthood, others derived the same great value and impact. Each of us was at a different crossroad in life, in The Feast was, for all of us, a powerful injection of positive inspiration and enablement.
So Jerri and Justin: please accept this humble note of appreciation for your invitation. I look forward to many yearly personal renewals at The Feast!
And while I want to give credit where credit is due, why not give myself a tap on the back for turning that corner?
Welcome back, Ilana!