We learned an important lesson in our decade-long friendships. We learned that we had been fooled. We had convinced ourselves that if we could manage our schedules, break through the glass ceiling, spend quality time with our families, bring home the bacon (and fry it up in a pan) while bouncing children on our hips and creating warm and loving relationships with our husbands, in-laws, and colleagues, somehow, some way, we would be rewarded with the problem-free lives that had, up until then, eluded us. We were wrong….
We learned that the problem-free life we sought was more than an illusion. It had become a myth to which too many women had fallen victim. A woman’s life is much more than success, having it all, or the elusive balance we all seek. It is more than seeking perfection or conquering the world (although you might). It is more than gritting your teeth and making it through. It is about surviving and thriving.
For us, surviving and thriving meant reinventing, rebuilding, and realizing that success was never final and failure was never fatal. It meant putting our best foot forward (Nike for some, Nine West for others) no matter what, and walking. Walking forward looking like a pillar of success on the outside while that tiny voice inside reminded us that our teenagers were out of control, our job could end tomorrow, and our spouses, colleagues, and bosses had been untruthful, selfish, unfaithful, or just plain stupid.
Surviving and thriving meant taking what life offered up and looking for the opportunities, the joy, and the compassion in less-than-pleasant or less-than-perfect circumstances.
–Deborah Collins Stephens, Jackie Speier, Michealene Cristini Risley, and Jan Yanehiro, This Is Not the Life I Ordered, p. 18-19