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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

When I was a teenager I wanted to be cool. The trouble was, I wasn’t really sure what cool was. Only that I wasn’t it. Like any school, mine had a group of popular kids. The popular kids might have been the football players and cheerleaders. Aren’t they always the cool ones? Or is that just the movies? Anyway, I wasn’t convinced that I had anything in common these cool kids or that I even wanted to hang out with them. Which created something of a dilemma … how could I be cool if I didn’t want hang with the popular kids?

In college I worried less about being cool, a lot less. God, I still had hang-ups; I still do. But I began to realize who I was and began to enjoy it. Since I was an art major, a few people described me as their bohemian friend. I thought that was very cool, perhaps I’d arrived? However, my friends in the art department were not fooled. They knew I was a good girl who studied hard, belonged to a sorority and drank beer at fraternity parties on the weekend.

After college I taught art for awhile. My first job was at an alternative school for bright underachievers. I don’t know if these kinds of schools exist anymore. The school was built on the premise that some smart kids underachieve because traditional education didn’t excite or motivate them. Some of the kids I taught were bright underachievers; some were not so bright underachievers. Most, but not all, were unhappy teenagers who drank a lot or did a lot of drugs or both. After a couple of years I moved on to a more traditional boarding school. Most people in conservative prep schools assume the art teacher is hip or cool. In an instant I was transformed from uptight art teacher to bohemian artist and teacher.

After a while, I got tired of teaching, changed course, went back to school and got an MBA. Rather than join any one of the hundreds of high-tech companies on Route 128, I moved to Switzerland and joined the watch industry. I worked for SWATCH and then a start-up. I was feeling pretty hip. In reality I was far from hip; I was a suit, or at least I wore one, and worried about strategy and budgets. The creative types, the truly hip, were all with the agency.

Looking back, I think that it was about that time that I realized that I didn’t care if I was cool or not. I’d grown comfortable with who I was, including that dichotomy of good girl and artsy type.

That comfort gave me confidence and for the most part has served me well. Among other things, it helped me to build and run a first rate sales team. It’s a bit ironic because that team was part of an organization which had been branded second best. Many of my colleagues were frustrated by this label but I loved that job. With my help and leadership, my team broke all records, or at least a lot of records, for growth and profitability. High growth and profitability are decidedly NOT second rate in my book.

Now that same comfort and confidence is helping me navigate my current challenge, the sometimes frightening, always interesting adventure of self-employment. I still worry and get butterflies but not about being cool. Instead, I wonder if readers will like my work and worry if I can make a living at it. I don’t worry about my next mortgage payment but sometimes worry about the one after that.

I love what I do AND I don’t have to wear a suit or high heels to work. I spend the summer in shorts and t-shirts, bare feet and Converse sneakers. The sneakers are decidedly cool, definitely cooler than a pair of plain black pumps.

 

Do you like the “you” you have become? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going – just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings. 

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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The deer ate most of my tulips last spring. Even though I adore them, when it came time to plant new bulbs, I surrendered to common sense. I skipped the tulips and concentrated on the already beautiful beds of daffodils. Tulips only live for a year or two but daffodils last forever, multiply on their own and the deer, squirrels and chipmunks leave them alone.

A few weeks ago I looked out my kitchen window to admire a sea of cheery yellow and creamy white. It was a spectacular sight. But on this particular morning, one vibrant, red tulip had sprouted up amongst the daffodils. If only for a minute, it took my breath away.

It struck me like the proverbial ton of bricks, “That’s me. I’m that tulip!” For most of my life I have felt like I didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the world. Kind of like that one tulip surrounded by a sea of daffodils or the kid in the Sesame Street song One of These Things Is Not Like the Others .

I don’t know when it began, maybe junior high or high school. Long legs and long straight hair were in fashion and I had neither. I was bookish, not particularly confident and a bit shy. I lived in a conservative, Republican town and was interested in liberal politics and causes. But then again what teenager doesn’t suffer from some degree of awkwardness, rebellion and angst?

Looking back I realize I’ve had and continue to have a particular knack of making different choices, for taking the road less traveled. No, I didn’t choose to have wild and wooly, thick curly hair or short legs but I did choose to be a feminist at fifteen. I studied art in college which doesn’t seem so strange. Nor was my decision to teach. In those days, lots of women became teachers. For some it was a stop-gap before marriage but for me it turned out to be a stop-gap before business school. I’m pretty sure I was the only ex-art teacher in my MBA class.

After graduation most of my classmates joined one of the technology firms on Route 128. Not me, I moved to Switzerland and joined the Swiss watch industry. I still remember walking into the management Christmas party a few months after I started. There were about 200 people in the room, a sea of mostly middle aged men. Except for the CEO’s assistant who was there to ensure the party ran smoothly, I was the only woman in the room. And the only American.

After a couple of years I left the watch industry. I stayed in Geneva and went to work for a large computer company.  At my new firm, I wasn’t just the only woman manager in my group, I was the only non-engineer! Slowly, eventually, a few more women made their way into management. When I returned to the US, it was a bit different. The marketing and HR departments were packed with women,  in fact they were  the majority. However, executive management, sales and engineering were still, for the most part, a boys’ club.

A few years ago, I dropped out of the corporate rat race and began to write. Sitting at my keyboard, I’m not just the only woman in the room; I’m the only person. Which begs the question; am I still a tulip?

 

Are you a tulip, daffodil, dandelion or daisy; maybe you’re a tiger lily? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

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Tulips by Alison Vernon

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings. 

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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Find Your Passion. When I heard this phrase for the first time, I thought, gggeeesssh. Then I began to hear it incessantly. At conferences. On the morning news. In the newspaper and in magazines. It seemed ridiculous, clichéd. It was the kind of thing I’d expect to hear in a made-for-television movie, on Oprah or in California. So why did I keep hearing it here in chilly, no-nonsense New England?

Simple, I was in the midst of starting over, of reinventing myself. I’d done the teaching thing and loved it for awhile. Then I’d done the corporate thing. I’d loved it until finally after one too many reorganizations, I ran out of energy and enthusiasm for the corporate rat race.  Now, it was time for the entrepreneurial thing.

I confess my ideas were pretty vague. I only knew that I was really tired. Not sleepy tired but worn down, fed up, wrung out tired. I returned to my childhood vacation home and spent a lot of time with family and friends. I did a lot of running, hiking and kayaking. Before too long there were bills to pay and I needed to find something to do on rainy days.

My initial goal was to do interesting work but as little as possible. An unlikely aim, since I was a self-confessed, card-carrying workaholic. With that in mind, I did what any self-respecting, unemployed executive does and became a consultant. I was and still am pretty good at it, in fact better than pretty good.

However, I thought a lot about cooking. I love cooking and pretty much everything about it. Food, cookbooks, cooking tools and gadgets, restaurants, farmers’ markets, growing herbs, you name it I love it. I kept consulting but I started a little hobby business, teaching cooking classes and catering.  

I began to promote this new business. Among other things, I started a newsletter. The newsletters were warm and friendly.  They started with a story about cooking or entertaining and ended with a recipe. On the fourth one, my mother’s friend Jane told me, “Susan, you’re a really good cook but a WONDERFUL writer. Forget the catering, you should write.”

And so I did. I sent a few of my friendly little stories and recipes to the editor of my local paper. She said she loved them and gave me a weekly column, she even paid me. Before I knew it, my friendly little column was in three newspapers. Soon I was writing for a magazine, then two, then five and then eight or ten.

Now I do more writing than cooking or consulting and  I’m back to being a self-confessed, card-carrying workaholic. It still sounds clichéd, I still cringe a little, but now I understand all the fuss about finding your passion.

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings. 

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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Why another blog?

Why another blog? I have one, shouldn’t that be enough.

My first blog, Susan Nye – Around the Table, is sort of a seasonal food blog. Sort of because I take liberties. Yes, sometimes I write about food or ingredients or entertaining. But mostly I write about growing up in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and living in Switzerland. I write about myself, my family and friends. I have written about sweet corn, zucchini, risotto and pesto but I’ve also written about antiquing, bad hair and poison ivy.

In spite of the freewheeling approach I take to my food blog, there are some things I don’t cover. Did I mention the blog is also printed in my local newspaper? It was in several newspapers until most of them decided to go bust. So I self-censor and exclude many topics, even if they are discussed around my table. In addition to the blog, I write for about a dozen regional, local and city magazines. So far they’re not interested in my self-censored tales.

So what are they, these untold stories? Well, I’m interested in reinvention and change. I’m a corporate drop out and would like to write about this evolving adventure. I’ve been itching to work on an essay entitled It’s hard to be hip when you’re having a hot flash and other truths about middle age. Although my mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s is a reminder of her grace, charm and courage, it frightens me. I’d like to give voice to her courage and my fear. I have written about Mrs. Obama’s victory garden but really wanted to write about her right to bare arms. I think I’m the only person in America who doesn’t watch reality television and I might like to write about that. I even have some business topics I’d like to cover. The list goes on.

Here goes. If you enjoy it – subscribe, leave a comment, tell your friends. And if you don’t, well maybe you’ll stop by again later and see how things evolve. Or not.

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings. 

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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