A Blogazine, based out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, that features fun and interesting articles. Topics include: parenting, society, real estate, career, style, spirituality and more. Written contributions are always welcome!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

‘Giving Your All’ versus ‘Having It All’

Rahti Gorfein

At the risk of sounding provincial, I get the impression that many of us here in the Slope and surrounding neighborhoods, reading this here blog at this very moment, aspire to fulfill our artistic and vocational visions as well as our domestic responsibilities. For most women in the fairly recent past and even today, this is rare. I remember a dear elderly actress friend, who enjoyed a few peaks on Broadway and television over the course of her career, declare when looking back at opportunities she had let pass by that she ‘could have worked more, but there are just so many bodies you can leave on the side of the road’. I’d once heard it said of her that ‘she was so talented, but somehow, just fell through the cracks.’ Both pronouncements have haunted me for years.

I now realize that Anna did pretty damn well for her time. She would tell me stories of grueling auditions, of being fired, hired and passed over, sometimes due to sexual harassment on the job. She endured all this while pounding the pavement with spike heels on her feet, not in her bag, and raising a son at a time when being a single mom was an oddity. Anna is, and always will be, one of my heroes.

The fact is, we have tools and resources now that just weren’t there before, not even in the ‘you can have it all’ 70’s. We have the option of embracing the largeness of our lives, rather than experiencing our lives as hopelessly fragmented. But it isn’t easy. We still need courage, and much maligned qualities such as aggression and yes, a degree of ruthlessness to restructure our individual and unique family systems from within. It certainly doesn’t help that many of us see our partners and children as the victims or adversaries of our careers! In my group coaching, I have women brainstorm a lot on how their families can become patrons of their art, and I see this starting to happen every day in very hand-on ways: Stroller-dads are everywhere. A variety of loving family structures now exist, formed by bonds of love thicker than blood. The people who extend their loving support, whom our kids call ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle’, increasingly refer to those other than our relatives.

By giving breath to all of our talent and potential, we’re making it easier for our daughters to realize theirs, and raising sons who are willing to champion the women in their lives, as well as themselves. If you’re reading this, you are most likely in the globally rarified position of having innumerable choices, options, and means to what ever ends you can commit. But that doesn’t mean much, if deep down you don’t believe that you’re entitled to avail yourself these resources. Going for our dreams does not have to mean that we will accrue some ghastly karmic debt, as my dear friend Anna feared, in the form of our loved one’s bodies being left at the side of the road. But first, we each must have the courage to answer this question honestly: Do you truly believe that your success is good for everyone?

Rahti Gorfien, of Creative Calling Coaching, is a Life Coach and Park Slope mom, specializing in creative mothers with universal and yet unique challenges to succeed both personally as mothers and professionally as artists. She is also a regular contributor to Hip Slope Mama. Join her Yahoo Group for additional tips and essays.