Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Every Day Black Woman

Every day, I wake up with the strikes against me, trying to push through them, to the other side of life.

I wake up with the full knowledge that today, someone will tell me I'm being irrational or emotional, even if they do not use those direct words.  Someone will drape their shoulders in their privilege to reprimand me or cloak themselves in the dripping sorrow of fragility because they didn't like something I wrote. Someone will tell me I am too old, too educated, too outspoken, too diversified, too something other than just right.

Pushing through it anyway is the what I have to do, with a smile, and a pen.

I had to push through when told to create a portfolio, even though I had one, essentially, it being busy work, because they thought I was overqualified, over-age, and just plain over.  I keep getting up.

My pen on paper keeps writing muses, thoughts, poetry, literary criticisms. Only to be told that I don't perform, even if they don't say it directly, no one of my sort "reads" poetry. They want the wow factor, the two snaps and a circle, the music and the spitting.

I walk among the world as a loner, at times, trying to find a place of solace and acceptance. My books are ever present with me, as are my writing tools, my camera, and my observation. Every day, I write, everyday, I keep stepping.

The other day, in one of my consulting gigs, I kept holding my tongue from saying just pay me already, just respect the value of what I bring, stop asking for more and more, without the compensation that would have been a part of it had I been hired on staff. But we bite our tongue because we can't be seen as desperate or angry or just having bills to pay.

Calendar pages keep turning, age keeps creeping, distance keeps growing, and we keep trying. Connecting with people who say they know people only to know they are using your connections to advance their own cause. Or the ones that want your input, volunteer time only, not worth enough to even pay for a cup of coffee.

But we must keep smiling because we can not be seen as human.

Every single day.

As a black woman.

In America.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

I Want a Divorce!

There, I said it, I want a divorce!

I'm done, simply done.

It is just beyond mending, fixing, repairing.

We have to start over.

The other day, a couple things happened that made me take a good hard look around my surroundings.

It is no secret to my readers that I live in a wooded area in an old (by today's standards) townhouse that has had structural challenges. This 1900 square foot dwelling with the awesome view, 2.5 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms, and a loft-like main living area, has issues.

The main one being the old pipes.

The bathroom sinks leak. And the maintenance crew is not always the most thorough, they may look at one thing but not take a wholistic look at the whole problem, kind of how issues of race, gender, equity, and inclusion are looked at in our country.

I pay too much to not have my needs met, so I keep calling, kind of like a spouse trying to save a marriage.

The other day, I woke up to "rain." It was not, it was water cascading like a tropical fall, creating interesting artwork on my downstairs hall ceiling, and leaving my bathroom floor like the swimming pool my daughters' didn't get to visit all summer.

Well, I decided that was it.

A few emails, calls, and demands later, they have come out to "snake" the drains, the maintenance supervisor looked at the incomplete work of his crew and has scheduled a drywaller and new floor and the girls are getting a new shower/tub surround. All well and good, right after I did a great paint job in my hallway and kitchen, I was not relishing the thought of walking away from my hard work, and really of packing up this place.

Which brings me to the divorce.

We have stuff, lots of it.

Been with this man twenty-years. We've raised three men to adult hood and have the last two, our girls, still navigating through life...and treasures. Lots and lots of treasures that are currently on "vacation" in my basement.

Let me explain.

We merged two households, but back then, we had 3500 square feet with a basement the size of the main living area, I had space for stuff.

My old house was able to supply my then researcher/professor husband with a space for all his stuff, including a desk and a sofa. He had a full walk-in-closet for his dissertation research and all his music. I also had a basement music room for him, complete with a loveseat, end tables, music, and bookshelves.

The boys and then, the baby girls, all had space (and, decidedly less stuff).

The girls brought more stuff than I ever had with just the boys and I.

The ribbons, hair bows, little dresses, dolls, stuffed animals, and creative play.

We still had room, you know, those enormous shelves from the home goods store were lining my garage to hold doll houses and little bikes, big toys. I had an entire fraternity wall for my husband and space for the boys. My double and a-half garage was well utilized and we could still park two cars - back then, my Cavalier and his Mercedez, then the Big Green Bus we called the Chevy Venture.

Fast forward some moves, life changes, sons in the world, and a smaller dwelling in a community where my 3500 sq. ft. house wiht the jacuzzi in the lower level master suite with the walk-in-closet that we could have put a crib in, well, a place like that would have been $750,000 or more.

So, we are in a townhouse that mimics the open floorplan of our house. We have great lighting and while my basement is much smaller, I managed to line a wall with those home store shelves to keep my girls' stuff.

Memories and treasures, I guess that is that it is.

My  youngest son is a senior in college now and his bedroom closet has clothes and his action figures, a wall of boxes waiting to go to storage, high school memories I'm not ready to throw out.

The husband has t-shirts from every last race, university, fraternity event, family reunion, whatever. I mean, the man could open a store. He has them in his closet and in the garage and in baskets in the laundry room.

That is until the other day, after the waterfall and one basket caught all the water.

I rewashed all the shirts and folded them up. Then I took a look around.

Lining the wall with storage bins of yarn and Legos, pens, pencils, and an entire floor-to-ceiling stack of bins housing dolls and stuffed annimals, I just looked.

Then I did the unthinkable, I opened the garage door.

Now, we have only parked in our long one-car garage once, that first week, years ago, when we moved in.

The garage now has an entertainment center, two dining tables, a desk, four bikes, shoe storage, a bed frame, and lots and lots of music, shoes, t-shirts, and books of my husband's.  It is like that storage facility that we have rented that has furniture we were going to give the boys.

So, I did what any self-respecting work-at-home mother would do, I went shopping.

IKEA is not here yet, it is supposed to come in a couple months and while I do not plan to camp out, I am thinking I may be able to do some bookshelf redos.

No, I'm not innocent in the accumulation of things.

I have books,lots of them, a bookstore worth.

I have scrapbooking things that I keep telling myself I will have time to create. Pens, markers, paint, journals, lots of them, and every picture all five of my kids ever painted.

So I trotted off to the local Target, skipping the  home store because I couldn't fit another shelf in the basement.

Well, to my amazement and probably my husband's chagrin, Target is now becoming a homestore.

Think IKEA meets a wanna-be Crate & Barrell meets The Container Store.

It has a whole new layout with design ideas featured and of course, stuff for stuff.

I walked the aisles, barely coffee in my system, and started dreaming of my townhouse redo, that is, after they finish install the drywall and painting, after, after, after.

Well, I was in the storage aisle and deciding what would work in the kitchen for the girls' snack drawers. We have the downfall of not a huge pantry, I am completely missing my old kitchen with enough storage for a mini-market.

It was then, filling my cart with storage bins for my husband's t-shirts, hey, have to start somewhere, that I thought, this is ridiculous.

I was buying stuff for stuff.

When I left the store, my cart full of clear bins so I can see the contents, my day planned out to fold and store his shirts, in categories, a moment of accomplishment awaiting my day, that it dawned on me.

I want a divorce.

It has to end.

We can not go on like this.

The stuff and I have to part.

Even if that is starting with one set of university shirts at a time.
We live in the woods filled with green and life. - Tayé Foster Bradshaw

Perhaps, like the anticipated new bathroom floors and new walls, a divorce from some of the stuff that fills our space will give us a chance to see new.

And then live.



Like we hope would happen after a year of advocating for black lives to matter.

Just to exist and not let the stuff around us control us.

Who wants to get a divorce with me?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Finding My Way

I consider myself an independent scholar, a lover of learning, one on a quest to know and share.

It is in that space that I recently did a walk down memory lane and a brief view through the looking glass at what a future possibility could exist for someone like me.

Let me explain.

There was something on one of my social media sites that made me think about the time that has gone by. Perhaps it was the news that one of the "known" tweeters during the Black Lives Matter movement has been invited to teach at Yale, or maybe it was the continued circus that is the Republican presidential candidate cast of characters. Whatever it was, it made me think of time that has gone by and time yet to come.

College inevitably came to my mind.

Through my life spaces and choices, my collegiate choices were not traditional.

First, I had a child shortly before I graduated from high school and subsequently suffered through that child's murder. I've written about him before. One of the promises I made was that his short life was not going to be in vain.

The thing that I did next is perhaps something else I would go back and change.

When the trial was over, I returned to my home state. I wish I hadn't. Life was laid out before me like a landscape, waiting for me to take a new trail. Raise to be obedient and filled with a bit of fear, I stuck with the familiar. It is something I have tried hard to not instill in my living five
One thing I do not regret is getting my "Technician's Degree" as they called it. It is in Secretarial Technology and that vocational institution is still producing job-ready graduates. It is what set a foundation for me to be able to work full-time while attending college full-time. It is what propelled me to being an independent person.

Perhaps then returning to my home state was not a bad idea.
The Governor's Garden. July 5, 2015. Copyright, Tayé Foster Bradshaw

Regardless, there are moments that I regret not having the traditional college experience.

One, I started my baccalaureate a full two years after I graduated from high school. Two, I started in the evening college with real adults, me just a twenty-year-old kid with a full-time job and an apartment. I walked from work to class, every Monday-Thursday, to take a full schedule of twelve academic hours. I supplemented for the missed class by taking six hours every summer.

It meant that I did not have the opportunity to live in the dorm or develop those young relationships that turn into lifelong friendships. I did not know the culture of my HBCU during the day and only knew a handful of people. It is something I wish I could change, perhaps I missed a chance to be connected with professors.

The other thing I wish I would have changed was my major.

I was a marketing major and while that afforded me the chance to be creative, it was not my gift.

Everyone in the business department was IBM focused, it was the late 80s, after all, and we were the last of the Baby Boomers or Jones Generation. It was a chance for women to enter the professional world on equal footing and not just as Secretaries or Administrative Assistants.

If I had it to do over again, I would have gone away to school, to another state, perhaps in the south, and I would have been an English, History, or Sociology Major. I would have focused on my creative writing and may have focused more on that passion.

There is the spiritual part of me that thinks we end up where we are supposed to be and that what happens to us through choice or chance, ultimately puts us on a life path that is part of our destiny.

My career choices and degrees, now three, has enabled me to travel, to work in a variety of industries, to be fulfilled through volunteer encounters, and ultimately, to develop a platform in social justice and advocacy.

I gained skills that current employers are either outsourcing or wishing the Millennial Generation has the professionalism to possess. Skills like organization and professionalism, being able to craft a well worded letter or email, something as simple as knowing how Windows operates and being able to quickly learn a new software. Even the fact that I type 80wpm, the old fashioned way with memorized keys, is a skill that I would not trade.

In further examination of reaching back and looking forward, I am giving myself permission to appreciate my experiences and also pushing myself to remain sharp in new platforms like using Android, Smart Phones, Tablets, and even Windows 10. I've worked in both MAC and PC environments and can function in both. This is something that makes me feel pretty good about the future ability to present my manuscripts or write my blogs on Blogger or WordPress. I can prepare draft presentations that I can send to my graphic artist for her whizbang. My ability to think strategically and bring a big picture is something else I am happy to have in my arsenal.

Looking forward, though, I realized that in some industries, my depth and width of experience is seen as archaic and in others, it is seen as invaluable. The trick for me is to focus on those places where wisdom, professionalism, and earned experience will be seen as an asset.

It was at one point during this week of reflection that I became a bit envious of that Yale teaching gig offered to a young man, for tweeting!

I thought, wow, so is that all it takes.

Now, to his credit, he is a great communicator and used the tools of the times to tell an effective story. He has branded himself with his tell-tale blue vest and used a multi-platform tool to be relevant, now, and top of mind to the producers or directors of programs.

He was living out what I used to teach my students at the three universities where I stood in the front of the room as their marketing, advertising, consumer behavior, or management professor.

Be memorable, deliver something that is unique, or make them think that your packaging is exactly what they needed.

He did that.

So, I sat myself down, took myself off my advocacy and social justice commentary and took a hard look at my own brand.

I am a "blue" according to one of those personality evaluations I took at one of my consulting gigs. I'm very intuitive and have an inclusion mindset. I seek common ground and have a big picture focus. I used to call it my helicopter. This also means that I hate to be bored, I am truly an ambivert and I like to hit the ground running, systems annoy me, bureaucracy really annoys me, and intolerance annoys me beyond anything else.

My preference has been to work alone, something I've had to do over the past decade upon leaving my corporate gig and focusing on bringing my last child to health. I'm very proud of my children and the investment in their possibility. The skills to teach, mentor, advocate, research, and usher a son to college, now a senior, and to shepherd the last two through the maze of school tests, teacher biases, and a culture that is not used to diversity, I'm pretty happy with where they are in middle school.

I used my ability to multi-task and focus on a couple things at a time to volunteer with arts programs, mentor young literary scholars, and learn to prepare young people for the growing STEM environments.

It was a good moment for me to write down everything I have done and do a brand cheer for myself. I remember engaging in ideation sessions with one of my former corporate positions that essentially allowed all the brand managers to celebrate our strengths and realize our weaknesses were our opportunities.

What I walked away with this week in my reflection was that I am a lifelong learner, one on a quest to not only know but to teach. I decided that I would probably not be in a traditional classroom and while I was accepted to the PhD Project, most likely will not spend the next five years of my life pursuing a doctorate to only wonder if I will be on a tenure track when I hit my middle.

Writing has always been my focus and my passion. Telling and crafting stories has been part of the string that has woven itself through the tapestry of my career. Back in my vocational training, I took a couple extra classes so that I could get a "degree." That meant that I was learning more and writing more. I also did writing in college that was praised.

Fear was the other thing I had to face during this past week.

One thought I had was what if they say I am too old.

Then, I would wonder, how can those republicans be running for office when almost all of them are a decade or two older than me. If they are not too old to stand on a stage and for some, make complete fools of themselves, then I am certainly not too old to make contributions.

The other fear I had was would I really be fairly and fully compensated for this hard earned and developed expertise. I just have to let that sit in the wind and see. I know that I am in a place that not many others are, I can keep being independent until the right fit comes.

Finally, I realized that in my writing career, one of the fears was in the transparency I have developed over the years that I have been musing.  It was in taking back the power of my story and knowing that it has motivated and encouraged someone. I also realized that the one big story, that book that i have been putting off, is calling me to bring her story to life. My second son, my fellow muse, has been after me to write it.

In taking a couple weeks to reflect, review some previous work, receive some unexpected praise, and just renew my heart, I walk away with the promise that as long as I am breathing, I am possible. Like Emily Dickinson's first line in her poem, I dwell in Possibility - , and that is not a bad place to be.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Stop Telling Me Not To Be Mad!

I have my MBA in marketing from a highly ranked full-time program in the midwest.

I have taught at a few universities and was accepted into an invitation-only conference designed to recruit business background professional to enter the PhD program.

I've ideated brands, products, and directed or produced shows, posters, billboards, and print ads. My career has not allowed me to do television or radio yet, but I did conceptualize and produce a PSA on drinking water.

I've written articles, essays, papers, poetry, situational analyses, marketing plans, press releases, and brand identity statements.

I've delivered speeches before high ranking officials in several states and have mentored children to increase their love of literature.

I was looking over the body of my work, over the more than twenty-five years of experience and realized, I was mad and didn't want anyone to tell me to not be angry anymore.


Fifteen years ago, I made a fateful or fatal decision.

Instead of pursuing a few opportunities that were knocking down my door and calling the office of my graduate placement office, I opted for the safer option because my then fiancé was finishing up his doctorate and hadn't been placed at a university yet, he opted to take on a research fellowship instead.

I also got married and after having lived alone with my boys for years, merged households, literally purchased my first home, and settled in with the safe midwest company that believed in family connection, that literally made it's money off celebrating life's milestones. We were told they never laid anyone off and since they went to such great lengths to recruit me, it was a sure move.

I was wrong on several fronts.

Not on getting remarried and perhaps not even on buying the house, intentionally on the less expensive side of that bi-state region, or even in choosing the company at the time, but on decisions I made while at the company, again, taking the safe route.

For the first eighteen months (including time off to have my daughter, unexpectedly a parent of a baby again), I was an internal marketing consultant working on important, high visibility projects. I was in a coveted program that was a trajectory to upper management.

Then the economy dipped and opportunities for that permanent product line were dwindling.

My options were limited in the city where I was located.

My credentials were wanted with two subsidiaries that I'd worked on projects with in a previous assignment with the company. Both of them were in different states, literally a few states away in either direction than where we were living.

My now husband was still a research fellow and making about two-thirds of what I was making, the benefits were with my company, we had the house, we now had four kids, school had started, so I declined the invitations.

It was a wrong move.

This was just after 9-11 and the country was in a panic. People were cocooning and hyper-patriotism had gripped the midwest.

And I had a tiny devil bully woman for a manager.

It was a death nail in my career

My options of transferring ended with declining both job opportunities. The in-house transfers were over, several of my cohorts in this highly coveted management program had already been laid off, one had just been six months into his rotations and had just built a house.

We all felt like we were screwed.

MBA student loans were looming ahead and opportunities were scarce.

Then the shoe dropped.

I had just finshed a huge ideation and exploration project for a new product line. I had just flown back from California, worked with creative, developed the vision board, wrote the situational analysis and competitive analysis, and was doing the quantitative analysis when the little devil threw the arrows at me.

My life was wrapped up in my family and in trying to make this first assignment successful. I had two years, including an internship, of successful, highly rated reviews and a great reputation. Surely, I thought, I could weather this mean-spirited little woman who literally hated MBAs.

No one told me.

I take that back, one of my cohorts in the management program with me told me about this mean little woman who was trying to sabbatoge his rotation. He was in the class right behind me and during one of our coaching lunches was asking my advise on how to deal with her, come out alive, and what next rotation to take.

It wasn't until I was in that department that I realized I had just stepped into the hell he came out of.

There was no survival.

I was laid off along with several other women.

I look back and like we all sometimes do, examine what could I have done.

There was literally no where to go within the company.

I thought I would be able to land on my feet, I had a decent severage package and we had savings, we had lived below our means for over a year and he was now at a university in town. I was pregnant, again, unexpectedly, with my second daughter, and thought I could just wait it out unitl the birth, work on some freelance projects, and get back to my corporate life.

I had never, at that time, aspired to be stay-at-home-mom, I had always worked from the time I was a nineteen-year-old college student. In fact, I worked full-time and went to college full-time in the evening for years.  It was absolutely unheard of for me to not have my own salary, car, benefits, savings, and securty. Long before my previous life left me divorced and with three sons, I had alway maintained my independence and ability to have progressive career opportunities.

Two months after I left that corporate job, my office was already packed up from all personal items, my files had already been organized and my computer had already been cleaned out of anything that was mine, my husband lost his position. Now,looking back, I'm thankful for that urging in my spirit that lead me to do that two months  to being laid off. It was also when I had unexpectedly found out I was pregnant again. I walked out alone, without the corporate shame of carrying boxes.

I came home and told him, at the time, we thought we would be ok.

Then, two months later, he came home and told me he lost his position.

Just like that, we went from high six figures to zero income.

The bottom dropped out and I didn't get mad.

We each had a shared faith, savings, a COBRA plan, and actually, friends who stepped in to fill in the gap. We were each confident, with our shiny graduate degrees, that we would be fine, we would emerge from this unscathed.

We were wrong.

He took a couple lower paying opportunities. They happened to be in research, that looking back again, helped him prepare for the door that opened up for him two years later.

I couldn't get hired, especially as my pregnancy became more and more evident and more and more recruiters kept telling me that marketing departments in my city were laying off en masse after 9-11. A college friend at the big telecom company in town told me she had had six new managers in one year and being laid off from her position. Lucky for her, she was in accounting and landed safely at a company several states away.

We were rooted and grounded where we were.  We thought we could weather the storm.

I started my company, took some small marketing, advertising, or communications gigs with local businesses, all too small to pay what I was making before. I thought it was fine, we were doing ok and my pregnancy was advancing. I supplemented that with obtaining my insurance license and trying my hand at health marketing while I was waiting for the baby to get a little older and figure out what company was ramping up their marketing department again.

He was laid off from a second university and was flying around the country interviewing for upper management positions.  I thought, we will be moving anyway, I could have taken the position that I wanted in another state.

I didn't, and I wasn't mad, then.

As one can imagine, a new marriage, despite our five year relationship before marriage, a growing family, and financial uncertainty, all put a strain on our marriage.  I was wondering if it was all a huge mistake, how did I, one who had never been out-of-work, end up in a space of dependency.

The years went by with him obtaining a great position with a university that would allow him to hone his administrative skills and remain with his first love.

It did not fare so well for me and my career.

Like a lot of couples in an economic downturn, decisions had to be made. For us, it was moving across state that meant a death nail, of sorts, for my opportunities.

We had two sons that were now young adults and launching out into the world, so armed with the last three, a house packed up, and the rest in storage, we set out for new adventures in a new city.

It was good for him and the kids, not so good for me.

My field was virtually non-existent at the level I needed and yes, my pride, prevented me from dialing back to an entry-entry level position in retail, customer service, or sales. It was not my forté and after I calculated the expense of now two that would need daycare, it was not financially feasible.

I made some decisions that made a direct impact on the ten years that followed.

First, I embraced being flexible as I built my boutique business.

Second, I started writing even more.

Third, I helped usher my daughter from near death, though multiple surgeries, a rare illness diagnosis, and now, finally, remission and an ability to live with several life-long illnesses.

Fouth, I became less introverted and found my voice, used my penchant for research and study to back-up my growing social activism.

Fifth, I began using my flexibility to have opportunities in educaiton, in non-profit marketing, in community engagement, and even in ministry.

The years have been a challenge, to be sure.

I no longer have my enormous house with the third-of-an acre lawn to be mowed.  We have moved to a rented downhouse that is half-the-size.  My adult children are thriving and my remaining two, both those girls, are honors students in middle school.

There is much to be thankful for, like watching my youngest son receive multiple scholarships to pursue his dream. He is a senior opera major and will graduate without debt.

My other son returned from the Navy and is now a happily married man with an at-home-wife caring for my now one-month-old grandson.

My forever muse and artist son has remained independent with his music and artistry, choosing to take a slow build and not sign away his recordings. He has chosen his own path, recovered from a couple near-death experiences, and has come out on the other side of wisdom.

I have traveled to many places, met wonderful people, wrote two children's books that are awaiting illustration, saw my name in a byline both online and in print. I've worked on some great marketing campaigns, advocated for those less fortunate than me, elevated voice for black lives, managed an ad hoc school, been a sought-after interviewee with agencies from Canada to Paris.  I've fundraised, crowdsourced, and got the ball rolling for several community projects. I've planned major events, wrote poetry, took pictures, and watched the sunset.

All-in-all, I'm ok with the last decade-and-a-half.

So, why am I mad, one may ask.

I'm mad at the powers-that-be that ruined the economy that forced many of my Jones Generation and even Boomers to make hard choices that some still haven't recovered from. I'm angry at the homes lost, the choice of staying or leaving being the only choice, and I'm made that I'm in the midst of an assault on black bodies and women that was completely unheard of durng my upbringing in the 70s and early 80s.

The racial upheaval that was unleashed after electing the first black president, the tension before that of watching black people hang onto floating cars, their blackness being a death nail for them after the levees broke, living through fear and ignorance, more and more bodies turning up, both male and female, with no end in sight.

I'm angry at the still stagnant "recovery" that left many of us seasoned professionals standing outside with our policed résumés only to be told to go an jump through more hoops. We've weathered recruiters seeking us out, opportunities presented in other cities, and a region that is so stuck on stupid that it can't move forward.

Mad doesn't even describe what I feel for the "new" way of job hunting that includes sites that want you to become "premium" members in order to gain access to those 5782 jobs for MBAs in marketing. The cost for the premium access is precisely the amount I'm waiting on one of my clients to remit for a marketing communications project I contracted to complete. My question to myself, then, was do I remain a small boutique that contracts out graphic design work, or do I just say, good decade run, go back to corporate, pay the outrageous fee, and hope for the best?

I'm angry that as a black woman professional that I still have to wade through questions of my hair, my voice, my appearance. I am far away from that once straight past my shoulders hair that was part of my uniform at my midwest corporate position. Sometimes, I think it was doing what this generation calls "the big chop" and then, as it grew, styling it in two strand twists, is part of why I was laid off. Maybe it wasn't professional enough, it certainly was not the norm in the early part of this century.

Questions greet me more than answers.

I've had sessions with other professional black women who are in this sti-new-to-me city who are trying to navigate the murky waters of nepotism and diminished opportunities.

There are those who are like me, self-employed, freelance, or consulting, deciding how long they can wait until their children graduate, or pondering a move across state.

We have talked through the landscape of what the "movement" means to our careers and if we, all of us with natural hair, all over forty, stand a chance at making our former corporate salaries.

Some of us are "fine" with a position at a university or non-profit that is solid or as my husband says, "beneficial."

I realize my tiny bit of privilege with the decision to stay flexible and a husband who has been able to weather the financial choices. He is now a provost and nearing retirement, declined a wanted presidency, and looking forward to being able to breathe through the girls high school years.

There is a part of me that is a bit angry at the thought of being older and in one field, being told I'm too old to bring my insight, experience, education, and near-new-masters from my MOOC, to bear on anything happening in marketing or advertising.

I just smiled and reminded my millennial friends that they will one day look up and twenty or thirty years will fly by and the generation behind them will be telling them they are too old.

In other spaces, I've been sought out for my knowledge and expertise. Even had offers that were significantly less than what I made before, and wondered to myself if it was a compromise to my soul to be seen as worth less.

So, I was mad that I even had to think these things.

Mad that I have consulted with small businesses that are thriving and I'm struggling to get a client to pay the invoice. Mad that I'm in a city that seems more bent on resurrecting the divisions of the generation before me instead of embracing the diversity that fills spaces all over the metro.

I'm mad that my flexibility afforded me the space to be present and hold a young mother whose son had just been murdered.

I'm mad that I have a gallery of photos from a movement that started after the state-sanctioned murder of a teenager. Mad that this stuff my parents told me was happening in my life time and that my now teenage daughter told me she marched because she didn't want to deal wiht this when she is my age.

I didn't want anyone to tell me or the daughters around me to stop being mad that our bodies are being legislated against, our culture is appropriated on others and deemed beautiful on them, unprofessional on us, mad that I could now buy a house with that continuously forebeared student loan, mad that one recruiter didn't understand that marketing strategy and integrated brand communications is not sales or entry-level call center work.

In acknowledging that I'm mad and demanding that others not tell me to stop being mad, I'm also giving rise to voice for several of my cohorts that are feeling the same thing.

We want to contribute.

If one old lady, also a grandmother, can throw her hat in the ring for President, than surely there is still some meaningful, financially rewarding, contribution we can make.

Like my daughter said, she didn't want to have limitations placed upon her because she was a girl that didn't look her age.

I don't either.

And I don't want to be mad.

But for this moment, it is right, it is truth.

So, stop telling me to not be mad.