Carol Shwanda chronicles her blended family's lives and experiences offering hope, guidance, wisdom, inspiration and humor to anyone who is in or about to enter into a blended family.
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Mama Gets Her Groove Back
Last Friday I had the good fortune to attend a private reception at the home of Fred Keeley, former California State Assemblyman and passionate ocean advocate. During his tenure in the assembly, Fred, as I have come to know him, authored the Marine Life Management Act, which the Associated Press calls the “most significant advancement in ocean policy in fifty years.” He also authored the two largest park and environmental protection bonds in the nation’s history, a total of $4.7 billion. His legislative leadership during the California Energy Crisis is credited with stabilizing electricity prices and electricity supply.
Fred currently sits on the board of trustees for the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and is the chair of the capital campaign for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center that is being built in Santa Cruz and will open this summer. Since I am a supporter of the foundation and partner with them by donating 10% of the sale of my SeaweedArt cards to them, I was invited to the donor appreciation reception at Fred’s house.
Needless to say, I was thrilled. (I should also mention that my cards were used for the invitations.) Anyone who was anyone in ocean conservation was there, including a former state senator and federal appointees in both the Bush and Clinton administration. I mingled as I got to know the executive director of the California Coastal Commission and the former Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, as we chatted about our mutual love and appreciation for the ocean. I gave everyone I spoke to a set of my cards, including Fred, our host, who put them in his pocket. (More on that later.)
Once everyone had a chance to meet and greet, Fred called every one’s attention to the front the room to welcome everyone for coming, to congratulate them all for their hard work and to introduce the guests of honor– National Geographic nature photographer, Frans Lanting, and the world famous oceanographer, Dr. Sylvia Earle, whom the New York Times has dubbed, “her deepness” and the Library of Congress refers to as a “living legend.” I was most definitely in the company of staggeringly talented and highly influential members of the ocean advocacy and education community and the magnitude of this networking opportunity was not lost on me. (Remember, I gave everyone a set of cards.) And then Fred did something I could only dream about. Before he introduced the other speakers, he introduced me. He acknowledged my partnership with the sanctuary, held up my cards and asked me to describe my biodegradable packaging. I couldn’t believe it! Afterward people wanted to meet me and some actually hugged me. I was on cloud nine. Paul said he was beaming with pride, which is the whole point of this story.
For years, Paul and I (mostly Paul) have been running a business that was initially his vision and idea. I kind of went along to sort of help out and help out I did. I redesigned and wrote the copy for his website, created a social media and marketing campaign, got him some amazing publicity in trade journals (he is now the darling of every one of them) and wrote my master’s thesis on the Internet marketing plan for the business. I further showed my support by attending the most boring trade shows on earth. I started to get antsy.
I. just. couldn’t. do. it. any. more.
One day I told him I was done. It wasn’t just because I wasn’t stimulated by the subject matter, (Modulating condensing boilers, air-to-water heat pumps. Please.) it was more because I wasn’t doing my own thing. As much as I love and wanted to help my husband, I was tired of being the side kick. The truth is, I wanted to be the star. I needed to have my own sense of accomplishment and pride in a business I created. I am a serial entrepreneur (SeaweedArt is my third business), who thrives on challenges and the thrill of achievement and success. So long as I was hitched to someone else’s wagon, I could never be truly happy.
Paul is a gem. He is very supportive and understands my need to be on my own and the evening at Fred’s house really drove the point home. Paul knows that I have not abandoned him. Just yesterday he asked me if I could show him how to post a video on YouTube. I said, “Sure, honey. No problem.” I don’t mind helping him so long as it is not the only thing I do. I should also mention that Paul helps me with the accounting for my business and does all of my invoicing because I hate doing it and I suck at it. We’re still a team. And a great one at that.