Monday, July 28, 2014

Amen, Michelle (or how to make a speech with a baby)

Michelle Obama, obviously not at a loss for childcare and resources right now, was not always in the White House.

At a conference on families she describes her days as a working mother trying to juggle a job and childcare with two little kids. Been there, done that!!!

When I was working full-time and had two little boys to care for, I was blessed with a babysitter whom I met at a church function. She was newly retired at the time and looking for something part-time since her kids were grown. My work hours required me to be in the newsroom at 5 a.m. so everyday at 4 a.m. Bobbie would come to my house, to care for the boys so I could get to work. She got them up at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. and took them to their daycare center. She was also on-call when I had to work late or got called-in on a story, ( remember the day Big Blue fell at Miller Park? It was "all- hands- on- deck" until 10p.m. ) since the day care closed at 6 p.m.

She saved my career and my sanity.

But before Bobbie, and when I had just one baby J-B, I would bring him to work in his car seat and plop him down next to my desk. The daycare center opened at 6:30 a.m. and I had to be on the air at 7 a.m.
Luckily, the center was just across the street from the station, so at exactly 6:25 a.m. I would swoop my baby up and drive him across the street. Give him a hug and a kiss and blast back across the street to get on the set.

Then there was the afternoon when I had to make a speech to a women's group. I picked up my son and took him along. He was not happy that he had to sit in his car seat at a table with a bunch of people that he did not know, so he started to cry.  Now, when an audience member's baby starts to cry in the middle of the event, the best thing to do is take the baby out of the room.  But when the SPEAKER'S baby starts to cry in the middle of the speech, what do you do?

I apologized for the interruption, picked him up from his seat and held him in my arms for the rest of the speech. Luckily, I was talking about my career and how I had gotten to this point so he became an illustration of the challenges that working mothers face.

The speech went over pretty well, and J-B was a hit!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Seeing 65

It is with mixed emotions and only a few regrets, that I passed my 65th birthday, this year.

My health is still good, and I say a big "thank you" every day for that.  But, when my nurse practitioner's office called to say I should come in for my "Medicare visit", I actually winced.

For some time I looked forward to this birthday because I would finally be eligible for Medicare.  Then I learned that after paying into the system all these years, I STILL have to pay by having a reduction in my Social Security monthly check. (signing up for Social Security was a mind-bender, too but that's another story).

Then there are those ads.  I paid little attention to them in years past... you know, the life insurance, hearing aids, three- pronged walkers, walk- in bathtubs, life- line pendants that you push when you fall... all that stuff.  It is all making a lot more sense to me now! And I kind of resent it!

I recently met a group of actors at the Ten Chimneys dinner.  They have all been in their profession for 20+ years, and still a couple of them were shocked looking at me when they found out my age.
C'mon! Meryl Streep is only 2 months younger!!

65 is a good age (as I always say, it's better to get older than the alternative).  I know, I know I'm not the only one who is passing this milestone.  All my high school classmates, my college buddies, etc. are in the same boat. And, since my father got his Master's degree at 70 years old, I have 5 more years to go back to school and make something of myself.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Woman of Influence

Last month, the Business Journal of Milwaukee honored me as one of 28 "Women of Influence".

I was listed in the "Inspiration" category and ever since I got the notice that I had won, I thought about being inspirational. What exactly does that mean?

My father was inspirational. He retired 4 times from 4 careers, then at 70 years old, went back to college and got his Master's degree. Then he went back to work at UW-Platteville as a counselor for undergrads.  Over the years, his careers often put him in positions where he was finding jobs for other people. When I was on the street as a reporter, I would often meet people who told me that he had gotten them their job, or made sure they got into college and that he had changed their life.

Now THAT'S inspirational!

Maybe my working at the same television station for 30 years and staying in Milwaukee... not leaving for another market, is inspirational. Maybe retiring early and jumping into a new profession is inspirational. Maybe pulling myself up when that new opportunity did not work out and finding my way back to my first love, television... is inspirational. Maybe raising two sons while working full-time and caring for my father who finally lost his struggle with dementia, is inspirational.

But, lots of people (mostly women, admit it!) have similar challenges and just keep-on, keeping-on.

I think the inspirational part is, that so much of what I have done and am still doing, is in public. Right out there for anyone with a television set or laptop, can see.  Viewers still say 'hi' in the grocery store and tell me that they miss me on the news.  I tell them to watch Milwaukee Public Television on Wednesday nights at 6:30pm because I am still on the tube on "Black Nouveau" (shameless self- promotion, here). The stories that we are doing are the ones that commercial TV doesn't pay attention to... or we offer a deeper look into the current issues in Milwaukee.

So, we try to be inspirational on the show... and I try to be inspirational to my sons... and maybe all that has made me "Influential".  One thing is for sure, I will keep learning new things and trying new career paths. After all, I still have years to go to beat my father's record!