Anne Marie: The woman behind the mother

Here is one woman who never ceases to amaze me. She runs a successful demanding business, is an inspiring mother who always spends quality time with her kids and her house and  life appear to be abnormally organized considering what she has on her plate. I am in constant awe of how she pulls it all  together – and have often wanted to hate her for it – but there’s just too much to love about her. Enjoy her interview.

 

Who is Anne Marie?

Like all working moms, you’d get quite different answers depending on if you asked my clients, my adult friends or my kids!  It’s this ability to live out different facets of my personality within one single day which energizes me, however.  I laugh on days when I run from a presentation in some Fortune 500 headquarters to my kids’ school to run the scout meeting.  It requires a 180° shift in personality, but I love that I get to be intellectual, strategic, creative and playful all the span of a day, because I’d like to think I’m all of those things.

I also think we’re all so influenced by our upbringing (which is intimidating now that we’re parents!).  Even though I live in a big city, run my own company and have traveled the world, at my core I still feel like a girl from Iowa with pretty simple values who lives in awe of the world.

How Would You Describe Your Kids?

My girls are 8 and 6 (how did that happen?), and one of my greatest joys is discovering more about who they are as their unique spirits blossom.  When my eldest, Isabel, was born, I found Kahlil Gibran’s piece On Children, which I taped to my refrigerator and still inspires me.  The notion that children “come through you but not from you; though they are with you they belong not to you” so inspires me.

The universe has blessed me with these two unique little spirits and my job is to help them discover their unique place in this world.  My job is to nurture their spirits, but not inflict my wishes/dreams on them.  I try to spend more time listening than talking when I’m with them, and I hope that I will have the resolve to honor their unique spirits and the decisions they make as they get older.

They are still young, so we’re still in the discovery phase, but I can say that Isabel (8) embodies the most amazing creative and musical energy w/in her.   Her body and spirit are in a constant state of expression, either through dance, song, playing her instruments, writing or putting on an impromptu play.  It will be fascinating to see how this manifests itself as she ages.  Her current dream is to become a professional violinist, opera singer, dancer and explorer (why not all four?!?).

Siena (6) is petite and powerful.  She’s very private, but has an amazing sense of self with no need to please or appeal to others.  She speaks when she has something important to say.  When she puts her mind to something, she doesn’t give up until she’s done it.  She is utterly competent and independent at 6.  She has a small circle of friends, whom she is fiercely loyal to.  She is fascinated by all things science and math, and our kitchen has at least one experiment going on at any given time.  Her current dream is to be a doctor “that sews people’s legs back on when they fall off” and a “volcano scientist”.

What are 3 sources of inspiration for you?

  1. As I’ve aged, I’ve learned to trust the voice of my own spirit.  There can be so much “noise” in our lives, running from one activity to the next.   My #1 source of inspiration is making sure I have time to listen to myself.  When in the car, I rarely turn on the radio anymore, because I’ve learned the conversation going on inside my head and heart is typically more interesting and inspiring if I just take the time to tune in.
  2. Women around the world.  Travel has always been a priority for me, and my business even centers around it.  My favorite travel is to developing countries and spending time with local women.  Women are centers of strength in their families and communities wherever you go.  Often faced with tremendous social and financial challenges, they prevail.   To see what so many “sisters” around the world are creating when given so little is awe-inspiring.
  3. Friends.  Most of my friends have young children and are passionate about their work, so getting time to just “hang out” with them can be such a luxury.  But one shared conversation over a bottle of wine can leave me high for a month.

What have you learnt about yourself since becoming a mother?

Just as scientists say we only use a small % of our brains, I’m convinced that we only use a small % of our hearts until we have children.  As all mothers know, it’s a depth of love like no other.    I’ve tried to explain this to my husband, but I don’t think he understands.   All I know is that I never considered myself an especially compassionate, patient, nurturing person pre-mom, but I actually have great depths of the stuff.

I also discovered early on that there is more than one way to mother.  You do what works for you and your family and screw the parenting books and convention.  When none of the traditional colic remedies worked with Isabel, we learned that tightly swaddling her, then duck-taping her swaddle (so she couldn’t kick out of it with her crazy flailing arms and legs!) calmed her down.  I received much criticism from taking my babies to places like Guatemala and Nicaragua, but did it anyway, because it’s the way my husband and I want to raise our children.  Now they are emerging as smart, thoughtful citizens of the world.  I’m glad we chucked convention and followed our guts.

When your children grow up, what do you hope they admire about you?

  1. I had some heart troubles in my early 20s, which fortunately don’t affect me now.  However, staring mortality in the face at such a young age made me voracious about LIVING.  With eyes wide open, I throw myself (and our family) into as much living as we can do in one day, which leaves us all exhausted but full of experiences and passion.  I hope they appreciate my crazy energy and love of life.
  2. My creativity.  I think creativity is the force of life.  I think all humans are wired to create; there is huge joy and freedom in the act of creation, weather it be a crayon drawing, an imaginary game we make up in the backyard or creating a unique life path.  I have always made creativity a huge priority for my children and me, and tried to foster that by turning off the TV, sending them to a Montessori school and spending lots of time creating together.  I hope that I’ve inspired them to “create” their own unique lives.
  3. My sense of adventure and belief that the world is a small place.    You’re born in one place in one culture, but don’t truly know yourself until you travel, live different perspectives and are able to “choose” who you are and how you want to live.  I learn more about others and myself every time I go out into the world.  You can create connections and have a life-changing epiphany with a tuk-tuk driver.  I hope my girls continue to travel much and be open.

What advice would you give someone considering starting their own business?

  1. Having your own business is the greatest opportunity to live the life for which you were intended;  to find/fulfill your life’s work.  Reflect on what feeds your soul (not just your wallet), create company values that reflect your own values (as my friend Julie has done with HipMum!) and create your own unique way of doing things.  Don’t conform to how others run similar businesses; make your business the ultimate reflection of you and your passions.   I’ve been passionate about culture since I was a kid, and my business, Global Mosaic, allows me to study/spread cultural inspiration every day.  It feeds my wallet, but also my soul.
  2. Be confident as hell.  There is nothing more humbling than beginning your own business.   Even for us who have done similar work very competently for other entities, striking out on our own strikes fear of failure into us.  I think this is more true for women, because we have a great humility inside of us.  You must have fierce faith in yourself to quiet that doubting voice within.

If you had a whole day to yourself – no kids – no work – no financial constraints – how would you choose to spend your time.

My girls and I have this fantasy inspired by the Magic Treehouse book series – that all we’d have to say is: “I wish to go to Egypt” and our entire house would immediately be transported to Egypt for the day.  Because of my love of travel and how it renews/inspires me, I would take my magical house to Africa for the day.  I haven’t been there for 10 years and am dying to go back.  Because I travel so much w/o my girls, I’d want to take them with me – at their age they are the best travel partners: passionately curious, flexible, full of excitement and so funny.  We’d explore the vast landscape/wildlife, visit the oldest human footprints ever discovered at Laetoli and then have dinner under the stars contemplating where we came from and where we’re going.

How do you juggle the “family, work, self” challenge?

The laws of the universe that dictated there be 24 hours in a day were created long before there were working mothers!  It’s impossible to do it all in 24 hours – something’s gotta give.  Knowing that, I make sure I’m very thoughtful about what “gives” in any day.  I go through my days very conscious that I’m “choosing” to spend time in some areas and sacrifice others; that way I never feel like a victim and feel very much in control of the choices and sacrifices I’m making.  Most days, I choose to get up at 4 or 5AM to begin my workday so that I can check out of work at 2:30PM and be with my kids.  I’m sacrificing sleep for time with my kids, but that’s my choice.  I’m not working out on weekend mornings currently, because I’m choosing to have lazy mornings reading in bed with my girls.  My abs are suffering, but my soul is happy.  Make conscious choices.  Accept the sacrifices w/o guilt.

When I had Isabel, a brilliant girlfriend told me to think of life in “phases”.  The reality of your life at any given time does not need to represent the rest of your life!    Just treasure that phase, because it will end (probably sooner than you want it to).  When you have a newborn, treasure it.  Right now, I’m treasuring my young girls and creative career.  Surely there will a future phase where I get to sleep and develop abs again (won’t there be?).

HipMum is about being real and acknowledging that we’re not perfect (and being at peace with that).  What’s your weak point?

Maturity has taught me to accept my and other’s imperfections with greater tolerance and acceptance.  In fact, I feel like most of us don’t really have weaknesses per se (unless we’re compulsive liars or thieves or something!); instead, we just have qualities that sometimes manifest themselves in good and bad ways.  I’m crazy independent, which has lots of positive manifestations, but I can be an island and am often loathe to reach out to others for advice/help.  I need to constantly remind myself that it’s ok (even awesome) to seek advice from my community of friends/family.   There’s a shared energy from collaboration that can multiply any of my thoughts/ideas exponentially.

What is something you know for sure?

If you follow your inner voice, you can’t end up in the wrong place, even though the journey may be rough and the destination uncertain.

3 Comments

  1. Hayley Bracewell said...

    I love the way you approach your life – especially the comments about there being more that one way to mother! Thank you for such an inspiring interview – you really gave me some great things to think about and carry with me.

    Apr 28, 2011 at 11:37 pm
  2. Susan Lucci said...

    BRAVA! I am privileged to be in community with you wonderful women!

    May 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm
  3. Michelle said...

    You took the words right out of my mouth!! Being a mom, friend, wife and career woman is a complex task. The first step is embracing who you are and figuring out how to proceed thru the maze.

    May 14, 2011 at 10:03 am

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