Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.
I usually write an intro about our Spotlight Monday feature, however, this Coffee Mama covered it all! Meet Cecilia Carter 2nd from right below (along with Carmen Gayton, Mom and I last summer).
Our dear friend Dana has been after me to write an article for her blog. And she is such a wonderful person that I can’t tell her no, so I had to think about what to say. Well it is January, the time of year to reflect, reorder and refresh my life. So why not put pen to paper. This New Year is especially poignant as I think about how much I changed in 2011. After 20 years, 2 kids, 1 divorce, a new love and countless friendships on the East coast, I packed up my girls, told them they were going on an adventure with me and started anew in Seattle. Last January, after accepting a senior position with Starbucks, I boarded a plane for Emerald City. And just like Dorothy, my life blossomed in Technicolor against the backdrop of gray Seattle skies, into what has become the best year of my life. And it all began with a chance encounter.
How did this young imaginative girl from Cleveland end up as a confident, worldly, woman in Seattle? , Now I could tell you the exact moment my transformation began was a chance phone call from the recruiter. Or, I could tell you it was chance encounters with the many mentors and friends who have supported me along the way. Or maybe it was just destiny. I remember my Aunt Tootie living in Seattle in the 1960s. She sent me postcards of Mt. Rainier that I shared with my 3rd grade friends, boasting that I had been there when in fact, I had never traveled further west than Chicago! Ah, be careful what you ask for!
But as I gave my journey to Seattle more thought, I remembered my family’s chance encounter with members of the Baha’i faith that led us to visit the Evanston, IL temple in 1968. That’s when I first saw Northwestern University and promptly proclaimed that I was going there. It was the beginning of my formal education, which laid the foundation for more chance encounters. My Dad reminded me of that when I received my BA and graduate degrees from Northwestern 15 years later.
Maybe it was the chance encounter with Carolyn Jones, advertising executive and founder of pioneer black ad agency, Mingo Jones that led the way to Seattle. I read an article about her in Essence and entered the fields of advertising and marketing because of that article. When I finally met her, I told her that Essence interview encouraged me and made me believe black women could do anything. Afterwards, I left Chicago for the concrete jungle of New York to make my mark. Mind you, I had no idea what that mark would be, or that this girl from Cleveland would ever find home again, but I knew I had a “fairy godmother” somewhere on my path to Emerald City. I lived life to the fullest, skipping down my yellow brick road, never sure of where it was leading, but enjoying the experience along the way.
Another chance encounter brought me together with my former husband and gave me the best gifts of all, my daughters Chandler and Camdyn. Everyday I watch them grow and evolve into young women and am amazed at their grace and beauty. I love watching them handle their own chance encounters on their adventure with me. And yes, I am even proud that their Dad and I remain friends and share pride in our girls.
Of course my journey wasn’t all sunshine. I did have chance encounters that weren’t so positive. Funny thing is, I choose not to remember them in as much detail. I link together all the wonderful encounters over the years and realize I have a happy life! And of course technology helps me keep it all together with the new Facebook Timeline! But it was an encounter in 2006, which set the stage for all the incredible things to come. Struggling to redefine myself after divorcing, I met a new friend, Candace Matthews. She invited me to join a small church in Weston, CT, led by a most dynamic black pastor. That’s right, a black pastor in a small town Connecticut church! Every Sunday, I was mesmerized by Pastor Bernard’s messages. And that led me to my chance encounter with God. Oh it was not a chance encounter for him. He had always been with me on my yellow brick road. But somehow, I finally opened my eyes to his presence. I finally admitted that the chance encounters I have had along my journey were his gifts to me. Gifts that I use every day to spread joy and positive energy to people in my life. I gained such clarity on my purpose that nothing could weigh me down.
By the time I turned 50 in 2008, I was at peace and happy. Many of us will simply call this “experience”. But I know there is a deeper spiritual hand that guides me and continues to bring me chance encounters. I met my life partner Marvin on Martha’s Vineyard in 2009, a chance encounter at a small dinner party with mutual friends. The connections we share could be a future blog, but that meeting continues to be a defining moment of my life.
And just when I thought I couldn’t possibly make more new friends, I move to Seattle and have personally appointed guardian angels in Wanda Herndon, Carmen Gayton and Dana. Whose generosity, love and sisterhood have carried me through a tough family transition and move. They also lifted me up when I had a close encounter of a different kind with the sidewalk on my yellow brick road! Yes, I fell flat on my face while jogging this fall, requiring 20 stitches and a lot of humility to get back on my game.
But here I am in 2012, easing on down my yellow brick road in Emerald City, anxiously waiting for more chance encounters and travels. Knowing that the power to find my way home is within me and I only have to click my heels three times, and believe.
Now why am I sharing this story with you? Because we are all struggling at some point, to make sense of all that we do and who we have become. And because this time of our lives requires revelation and reinvention as we prepare for the second act. And what better time than now, to look at our chance encounters and what makes us unique.
Happy New Year to my menopause Barbie friends! This is the best time of our lives. Carpe diem! Take the time to reflect on your chance encounters, realize that they are all a part of a greater plan and that you possess the power to reach your own Land of Oz, and ease on down the road!