June 29, 2012
I am the daughter of an artist. My father, Alvin Paige, was beautiful (as many would comment) until the day he passed away. If Alvin was in the room, everyone knew it because he had a magnetic personality and a booming voice to match.
He was a one-word wonder known simply to most as “Alvin”.
Alvin was born in LaGrange, Georgia under the stifling grips of Jim Crow. As one of 14 children in the segregated south, he pushed beyond boundaries and exhibited a number of “firsts” at a young age. First African-American lifeguard was one of the accomplishments that made people take notice of my father.
People also noted that he was an exceptionally talented artist. One week before his school graduation, the circus came to his small town. On the very morning that he was to receive his diploma he took the chance literally to “run away with the circus” as he boarded the train heading north to work as a sketch artist.
He landed in Greenwich Village and lived the life of an artist. Later he joined the Air Force and traveled the world as a soldier finding and learning about art and culture along the way.
June 28, 2012
Some of the most fundamental ideas you and I were “taught” are C-R-A-Z-Y and cause us to make a real mess of things – in this case eroding our most important relationships.
I’ve put “taught” in quotes because it wasn’t like our teachers or parents formally taught us these ideas. It’s more like our minds were infiltrated with ideas so obvious, so popular, so prevalent in our culture that it would be almost impossible to think anything different.
Indeed, when I stated to my mother-in-law the core premise of the video below – that “expecting relationships to be 50-50 is totally insane” – my mother-in-law looked at me like I was the complete lunatic.
She looked at me that way because the idea of 50-50 is universally accepted. And, of course, there is much value in it. 50-50 is fairness. And fairness is something we were taught to revere from our first days.
June 27, 2012
My history of friendships with women has long included the number three.
First, there was my mother and sister and me. For a year and a half, before my mother left my sister and me to go to medical school abroad and we moved in with my father, it was just us girls.
My mother and sister had the sort of relationship that parenting books advise against. Mothers shouldn’t be best friends to their children. But my mother did that thing that some mothers do when they are damaged or when they are in a crazy time in their lives: she told my sister too much.
Often I heard them talking, their voices low, deep in a conversation that did not include me.
It’s not that I wanted my mother to engage with me the way she did with my sister. But I wanted a mother. Instead, it seemed we lived in an isosceles triangle, where my mother and sister were together, and I looked on, alone, from a long distance away.
June 26, 2012
It had never occurred to me that I was agitating for “having it all,” until I read Anne-Marie Slaughter’s piece in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” -- and, shortly thereafter, an Amazon review by A.B. Bourne of my book, DARE, DREAM, DO, that stated: “If you are looking for a new way to understand how to "have it all" - and why it is vital to try - please read this book.”
When I left Wall Street in 2005, brimming with confidence at having risen from a secretary with a music degree to a double-ranked Institutional Investor analyst, I began asking women about their dreams – what they were and what could I do to help them achieve their dreams.
The answers of these well-educated, eminently capable women startled me. Many confessed to not really having a dream, or that they lacked confidence to achieve those dreams.
Often there was an unspoken, “I’m not sure it is my privilege to dream.”
So I started my blog, Dare to Dream. I believe it is our privilege to dream, that dreaming is an imperative, but I needed to build a case.
June 26, 2012
Many people in my life were surprised to hear I was writing a book about my experiences. The person I was in 2004, when my husband, Pat Tillman, was killed, would be more surprised than anyone.
When Pat died, the media and the public at large became fascinated with his story. His image was everywhere. His biography was told and retold; clips from his college and NFL careers were broadcast again and again.
So much of his life was out in public, and the things that were mine -- the details of our life together, and how I was coping with the loss of him -- I wanted to keep close. I wanted to keep something for myself.
Slowly with time I was able to go out into the world and connect with people again. I started to talk about my experiences after Pat died, and I found that other people took comfort in hearing what I’d been through. And it was healing for me, too—both to share finally and to know my story was helping someone else.
When Pat died, we had been in each others lives for almost 11 years. We were high school sweethearts and best friends. He was the person I turned to first. Without him I felt completely lost.
June 25, 2012
When I was 38, I decided to skip my 20-year high school reunion. Back then, I was simply too afraid to show up empty-handed, with no husband on my arm, nor pictures of kiddies to flaunt.
I was approaching the big 4-0 and felt I had nothing to show for myself.
Man, was I being silly. First of all, I was acting like a hypocrite. There I was, encouraging clients in my counseling practice to “sally forth” and face life with confidence and curiosity as I sat in the metaphorical corner with my hands over my eyes.
What’s more, I found myself sharing my clients’ concerns in more than just the usual ‘empathetic therapist’ way. I’d often lay awake at night, my mind riddled with worries about what lay ahead in my personal and professional life.
June 22, 2012
I met Tom in 1982, both of us having ended long first marriages several years before. What I noticed first about him was how he loved his work.
A Georgia Tech grad, he had been in the computer industry from almost the very beginning and was considered a brilliant programmer at Honeywell, where he had spent most of the past 25 years.
As he talked about his work, his eyes lit up and he said “and they pay me, too!” Clearly his career was a top priority in his life. He felt completely competent in front of a computer and loved the really challenging projects to work on...the tougher the better!
He was less secure where women were concerned and on our first date he told me that ‘most women find me boring.’ I may have fallen in love with him at that moment. I loved his honesty and intensity, his lack of arrogance and his wacky sense of humor that so matched mine.
Three years later we were married and will soon be celebrating our 27th anniversary. The first 20 years of our relationship were mostly joyous, filled with deep and honest conversations on many topics, many laughs and so much love.
June 21, 2012
I've been thinking about all the patterns I've built up in my life, and I've begun to break them down and question them.
As I find myself living out a pattern, I think: Why am I doing this? Why should I be doing that? Does this pattern move me forward or hold me back?
Do I really want to do it or have I just gotten myself into a pattern of doing this or thinking that because it's what I thought people expected of me -- or it's what I expected of myself?
As I'm sure you know, identifying and then breaking patterns in our lives is hard. Really hard, actually. We fall into them because we don't take the time (we don't have the time) to pause and self-reflect.
To break them, we have to dig down deep, find our courage, step outside of ourselves, and then move what feels like a mountain.
June 20, 2012
It’s that time of the year again...swimsuit season. The sight (and mere thought) of buying one of the many bikinis and one-pieces lining store racks used to create great angst in me. That was when I was younger (and ironically slimmer and fitter than I am now after having three children).
I’d peruse the racks for the perfect suits, go into the dressing room with plenty of options— hangers all jumbled together—and spend at least an hour, or more, pinching extra fat, groaning over the merest hint of cellulite (and blaming those dressing-room lights), and wishing I had been born with a better body.
Those trips usually ended up with me purchasing nothing—but going home and avoiding all sweets and carbs in an effort to force my body into submission—and into a swimsuit.
Those were also the days when I was less likely to spontaneously jump into the pool for a refreshing splash, choosing instead to remain poolside (and safe from body judgment, as I thought) with a book and cool drink.
Well...no more. This is no way to live this one amazing life we have. And I never want my four-year-old daughter (who already mimics everything I do) to go through this kind of body bashing—ever.
June 19, 2012
I once fell in love with a taxidermied walrus. Absurd, I know. At first, I thought I needed it for my living room (I used to think that about a lot of things I loved), but the price tag said $4,500.00.
I was on sabbatical from my medical practice as a surgical pathologist. I was supposed to be figuring out my life’s mission, not spending money I wasn’t making on taxidermy.
Despite my confusion about my life, I remained curious enough about that imposing walrus head on the shop wall to keep visiting it. I’m glad I did, because the walrus had a message for me. It didn’t leap off the wall at me to get its message across, or speak past its tusks and say, “Hey, Sarah!” Its message came to me slowly.
The idea that wild animals can speak to us is ancient. According to many indigenous cultures around the world, in addition to giving us messages, wild animals are capable of conferring on us raw, unadulterated personal power.