... the tales of two sisters

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.

Janet Munger Davis shining in the Menopausebarbee Monday Spotlight

I love a woman with big Kahungas. That’s my speak for having the courage to be brave and willing to take on a challenge. There’s just something about someone who says, “I can do this.”

The Menopausebarbee Spotlight today is shining on a woman who had been in Cologne only 19 months (having arrived from upstate New York where she’d been living for 25 years) when she accepted the post of President of the American International Women’s Club of Cologne. She probably hadn’t even completely unpacked or found out where she’d find the best Broetchen in town, but she was up to the task….

President. Responsibilities. Meetings. Deadlines. Organizing. Brainstorming. Smiling. Overseeing. Conferences. This is an inspiring woman who loves to be inspired. I would imagine that some mornings she may wake up feeling like butter because with all of her duties, she’s perhaps spread a little thin—well, let’s make that a sweet butter or maybe even a paté as she has convinced me that she loves being involved in our dynamic group of women and takes great pride in it. We love her for that.

When the conversations began to wind down at Bastian’s last week (there were 16 ladies there–yay!) I finally got to have a chat with Janet alone and we discussed everything from the exorbitant college fees she and her husband are paying for their intelligent, talented offspring, to my divorce that seems to have developed it’s own heartbeat as well as the fact that the 2 women who inspire us the most are our mothers.

She also shared that she is a former kindergarten teacher and was also PTA president when her kids were in school. So I would imagine she has this President thing under her belt. Some habits die hard. I can say for sure that I am just thrilled that we had the time to get to know each other. We talked about baseball and hitting all the bases in life; she’ll be sharing her thoughts with you members of the AIWCC on that topic in our next bulletin coming out…you won’t want to miss that one. (If she doesn’t mind, I’ll post her thoughts in the menopausebarbees blog–uplifting thoughts are needed all over the world!)

She is focused, welcoming, a great listener and blessed with an engaging sense of humor, she had me me cracking up most of the morning!

And just so you ladies on this side of the pond know, in her spare (!) time she is extending her reach towards teaching, coaching and editing English here in our beautiful city, so ladies spread the word.

Here is Janet’s take on her life and times now.

As I told Tracie when she said she wanted to “spotlight” me in her Menopausebarbees blog, “Well, I’ve got the menopause thing goin’ for sure but I am way more Skipper than Barbie.” My mom’s name is even Midge. This is like a Mattel commercial!

Who was I a long time ago?

Cool beginning. Born in Rome, Italy. Sounds fabulous until I tell you that I left there before I was even two and have zero recollection of anything from that time. My two older sisters (who I adore more than I can say) and I were all born in Italy. My parents lived there for eight years before moving to the Washington, D.C. area. My father worked for the “government” so you can probably figure out what he did for a living. Sounds kind of sickeningly sweet, but I really did have an idyllic childhood. Two parents, stay at home mom who was always there for us, hard working father. My father, who we called Daddy until the day he passed away almost eight years ago, was quite an enigma. Highly intelligent with a wicked sense of humor and sharp wit, he was very much a perfectionist and always demanded the best from those around him. We have heard he was not an easy man to work for but those who did held him in high esteem. Of course, working for the CIA (and I’m not talking Culinary Institute of America), perfection was a must. To us, his three daughters, he was a fabulous father. All we had to do was say Daddyyyy? And he would melt. My mom, 86 years young, is smart, interesting, very broadminded, outright funny and probably the warmest human being I have ever met. There are no words gracious enough to describe her. I talk about my parents because I honestly feel that one of the greatest gifts I have ever received was being born into the Munger family. My parents truly exemplify what it means to be a parent. Generosity. Loving, giving, encouraging and always there rejoicing in our successes and triumphs as well as supporting us through life’s struggles. They have given and given of themselves, not because of parental obligation, but for the sheer joy of it. They have always expected only one thing in return….that we do the same for our children. Pay it forward. If we are doing this even half as well for our own kids, then we’re succeeding.

Who was I in my previous life? BC…Before Cologne.

Started out as wife to Mark started out as wife to Mark, my soulmate and the man who has kept me laughing for about 31 years now. I was a certified elementary school teacher who never got to teach (no jobs in 1980). I did, however, do the nursery school thing for many years because the money was too good to pass up…that’s a good one, huh? Mark and I lived a grad school life for a number of years. He got his PhD. in Chemistry and I concurrently received my PhT. (Putting Him Through). With a real job secured in upstate New York, the logical step followed. We jumped into the baby pool. Now I was Mom, and a full time mom at that, to Lindsay and Andrew, the two cutest babies ever born. No, they really were cute…and they still are.  But that teaching thing was still in me and I fulfilled the need by helping out in the schools throughout my children’s elementary careers. At one time, I was the PTA President and my son was the Student Council President. As we love to say, “We ran that place.”

When I finally reentered the work force, it was from home (doing medical transcription), enabling me to still be there for my kids 24/7. Oh, and they loved that! I admit I was a bit of a helicopter parent, a hoverer, and a worrier. My kids are now saying “A bit???” And yeah, I still worry. I’m really good at it. A friend back home called me the uber-mom. However, the result was two kids who are both very family oriented and yet remarkably independent. They are actually the ones who convinced me it was okay for us to move to Cologne, leaving them, my babies, behind. They said they would be fine. And they are. They are great people. Smart, fun, funny, loving human beings. Right now, they are junior adults. Looking for “real” jobs, they are both trying to bridge that gap between college and life. We are working on breaking that “attached at the wallet” thing…and slowly getting there. This economy is not helping!

Finally, when the baby birds left the nest, I got a real job! A big girl job in an office with other real adults! And then fate took a hand and moved me to Cologne.

Who am I now?

Professionally? Honestly, I really don’t know. The teacher who never taught, yet, I have been teaching my children for years. Does that count? Socially? Simply put, I love people and I love life. Athletically? I bowled (yes, bowled) for 18 years and yes, I even have my own pretty blue ball with my name on it…and shoes…and a hot pink bag. Stop smirking, please. Although, I even admit, bowling doesn’t really count as a sport…no sweating involved. Although, once I did start out a game with seven straight strikes. Trust me, I was sweating and even shaking. I ended up bowling a 247 that game. But…still not a sport. I bowled because it often led to lunch with my bowling buddies. They became some of my best friends. I also played on a softball team (non-competitive) for a few years with a bunch of hockey players. Now, these women were athletes…and a lot of fun. In reality, I wasn’t very good. Actually, I sucked. I think the only reason they let me keep playing was the chocolate chip cookies I baked every week. Sometimes, I am a runner….and I do bike. Artistically? I play the piano and I like to sing. I sound fabulous in the shower (just ask my husband). On Karaoke night at Jameson’s? Probably not so great. But music is a big part of my life. And I like to write. Personally? I am honest and outgoing. I am generally happy and feel that a sense of humor can pretty much get you through just about everything. I am willing to try anything after I convince myself that I can do it. I am the classic underestimating overachiever. I begin with – I can’t do that. I move on to – Hmmm, maybe I could do that. I always eventually arrive at – Sure, why not, I can definitely do that. That train of thought has put me in the Presidency of a PTA, Directorship of a Sunday School and now, ta-da, the Presidency of the AIWCC. Somehow I always manage to pull it off.

So now what…where am I going?

Great question. Mark and I still look at each other and ask if this Cologne life is real. Travel has always been high on our priority list but a move to Germany was never on our radar screen. We are thoroughly enjoying every bit of this. People ask when and if we are going back to the States and I honestly say that I have no idea. Very strange to be in this stage of life and not really settled. But, the whole not knowing what lies around the corner thing makes it all very exciting. I love being a citizen of the world. I am amazed every day by the inspiring people I meet and deeply satisfied with the realization that my horizons are constantly and rapidly expanding. One thing is for certain. We have a lot more traveling to do before we consider permanent residence across the pond again. It is, however, what lies on the other side that will eventually take us back home. Family. Our wonderful siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews. My amazing Mom who continues to be my greatest inspiration to try new things, see the world and soak up every minute of this precious life. And, of course, Lindsay and Andrew. There are days I miss them so much it hurts. And I want to be there to watch them as they embark on phase two of their own incredible lives, hopefully each with a partner they treasure the way I treasure their father. I want to be there to pay it forward.

Thanks for letting me write this, Tracie. Never knew I had so much to say! I set up a blog of my own when I first got here and haven’t done anything with it. I am now inspired. This will be my first entry.