Welcome to Project Fabulous Femme! Once or twice a month, I'll introduce you to a Fabulous Femme who's inspired me. I invite them to share their perspectives on being a modern woman and other vital corps topics. Please be kind, curious, and open-minded.
You know how The Ubiquitous They says, “The teacher will show up when the student is ready.” I met Kelly through our group coaching circles at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. While I was the mentor coach of record, it was evident from the start that we all had so much to learn from Kelly. She graciously and authentically walks her talk as a mentor. She knows when to listen and when to share from her experience as a former Human Resources exec, as a female entrepreneur, as a chef and as a survivor of a rare, advanced form of terminal ovarian cancer at the age of 21. As I’ve followed what she’s been up to since then, including the wild growth of PALETA, a Farm-To-Table meal delivery service based in Venice, CA, she has never ceased to inspire me. (Btw, her love of good food, her post-Le Cordon Bleu weight gain from all the classical French cuisine, and her ability to rise to a creative challenge…et voilà…PALETA was born in her own kitchen, which she has since wonderfully outgrown. Her reach is now nationwide, y’all.) I’m so grateful for her perspective and truly hope Kelly inspires you, too.
How would you define being a modern woman in 2015? I would shout from the mountaintops that today’s modern woman is independent, capable of being self-sufficient and is self-actualized enough to make positive choices for herself and the people she surrounds herself with. She is decisive, can raise a family (or not), can run a household, run a company, or run a country. She is not limited by her sex or the social position she was born into. She also realizes the value of a solid education, in whatever form that takes. She doesn’t have to have a PhD, but if there is an inherent curiosity or passion about something, she pursues it.
What would you like to see modern women give more of a shit about? I’m VERY interested in having conversations with women about knowing themselves - about being themselves. Because there is no group of women who are all the same! We do not all think or behave the same way, thank GOD. My favorite women have their own opinions and are able to back them up. They like what they like and don’t like what they don’t like. We shouldn’t want to fit in. I want us to all care and talk more about celebrating our individuality and how we can support each other. There’s a sisterhood to be built. As a modern woman, I know I have so many more choices in life than the generations of women in my family that preceded me. What a blessing AND responsibility we carry. We owe it to the generations of girls and women that will follow us to continue to pave the way for more equality and more opportunity. By celebrating and supporting each other, we can’t lose.
Conversely, what would you like see modern women give less of a shit about? The modern woman is so much more than just her physical make-up. We are more than what we look like, how we sound, what we wear. With unrealistic expectations from Hollywood and the onslaught of social media, I’ve at times felt saddened and hopeless about the focus on standards of physical beauty, whatever they may be. What HAS encouraged me greatly is the growing movement to stamp out body-shaming. So many of my celebrity clients are using their voices to put a stop to physical critique, fat-shaming, and skinny-shaming. Demi Lovato won’t let herself be photo-shopped to make her look slimmer in photo shoots. Jaime King refuses to do press about her body weight. These positive and public reinforcements that we are all unique and beautiful are weaving their way through the fabric of society so we can be less body and image focused, and more health, strength and happiness focused. I am so sick of mind-numbing conversations about, “I gained 10lbs...”, “my arms are too big...”, “my legs are too skinny...”, “I ate too much...”! SO BORING!
How does creativity show up in your life? How do you nourish or stimulate your creativity when you’re not feeling it? It actually showed up kind of late. It came in the form of food. I had always loved to cook and am definitely a person who LIVES TO EAT, but when I went to culinary school it took that passion to a whole new level. I had already retired from a really rewarding and successful career in corporate America where I had led several Human Resources functions, but mostly in entrepreneurial ventures. I love to build things so helping launch new divisions or companies was always a thrill for me. It wasn’t until later that I understood this required a lot of creativity because the businesses literally needed to be CREATED. Since launching PALETA, I have creative outlets and demands every day. I design all the menus, develop recipes, develop meal and beverage programs, coach my team on food styling, I write ALL the copy for my website, write copy for press and other blogs, and create all marketing materials. It’s a muscle I never knew I had. There’s so much to do! I can’t wait to get started on a healthy lifestyle cookbook to reach even more people. And I’m SUPER lucky. At the end of the day I get to help people make their lives better through healthier choices. So rarely is my creativity tapped when I get so much positive reinforcement. I rarely have a draught of creativity, but when I do I never stress. I just walk away for a while. And because my creativity touches so many disciplines, I can just push PAUSE on one and move on to the next, which will in turn rejuvenate me for the next project. It’s all very cyclical.
What kind of relationship are you having with your smartphone or laptop (or other go-to device)? What’s that relationship look like? I have to be honest. We’re not speaking at the moment. Well, only for the basic necessities. The odd phone call, text and email check-in. My iPhone6 was my best friend until it wasn’t. I discovered, much to my man’s dismay, that a disproportionate amount of time on our beautiful trip to New Zealand was spent with my face 10 inches from my iPhone posting pix on Instagram and Facebook instead of being really present. My phone was my watch, my calendar, my storage of lists (so many lists), my music, my tv, my magazine, my games, my shopping, my money, my photos, my lifeline. Today, I use it much more sparingly. I’m thankfully forbidden from having it near me when we’re eating or watching tv. I actually....wait for it...LEAVE IT AT HOME sometimes when we go out. Guess what happened? I have more PEOPLE friends now. They’re way better!
Is stress necessary on the path to success? Why or why not? I do think it’s inevitable. But even if “necessary,” I really don’t mind. An element of pressure drives me. I’ve been primarily involved in high-stress, high-risk ventures most of my career and the rush of these entrepreneurial businesses has been really exciting and ultimately incredibly rewarding...even the failures. When I started my own business PALETA almost 10 years ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I bumped into every wall possible. I didn’t, and still don’t, mind the rollercoaster. The lows make the highs so much sweeter and so much more appreciated. I think on a personal level it’s not quite the same. Of course, the goals in each scenario for me are different. I am highly driven to succeed in my career. I want the reward of positively impacting people’s lives. I want people to enjoy what I produce. I want it to be of value to people. And I want to be the BEST. I want to WIN. For me that’s a healthy form of stress and gets me engaged. In my personal relationships, I DON’T want to WIN. I want to SHARE and SUPPORT. When the people I love or care about WIN or SUCCEED, it’s just as sweet as if it were me alone.
Who’s a fabulous femme inspiring you? What makes her so fab? Sheryl Sandberg is really a source of inspiration to me these days. While I don’t agree with everything she espouses, there is a lot that I really embrace and agree with based on my own personal experiences. She acknowledges the challenges of career versus motherhood and says Dads need to parent more. She really recognizes and lauds the activists/feminists before us and knows that we stand on their soldiers. She reminds us that men still rule the world and make more money. She makes women take a hard look at themselves to see what internal struggles or demons hold us back. Her work generates a lot of thought and conversation. After reading her book LEAN IN, I bought copies for almost a dozen young women I know just starting to make their way in their careers. I’d love to sit across the table from her for a very long meal.
If another woman would like to connect with you, what's the best way to do that? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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