When I was a new parent at the age of 30, I found the 24-7 unspoken needs of my newborn overwhelming. Stifling. Perplexing.
Like so many parents, I wanted sleep and I wanted just a little bit of time to myself. Don't get me wrong – my whole life, I couldn't wait to be a parent, but when that gift arrived, I wasn't prepared for the way my life would change.
I wanted to control the situation. I wanted it my way.
The minute I gave up that wish for control is the minute I began to love being a parent.
I now have four children between the ages of six and ten and every day feel lucky to have the gift of them in my life. They are unique and original individuals with their own needs and ways of learning. They always have been. I know this now innately and know that when my first newborn wailed for two hours straight in the middle of those first few nights, I should have wailed with him, surrendering to the moment and loving him for the lesson.
That's the essence of what I teach in my new curriculum, Parenting Without a Map
™. It may seem odd for a public relations and marketing expert to launch a parenting class midstream, but that's exactly what I did last spring after an eye-opening client trip to Bali.
In March, I served as blogger and photographer for Deborah Williamson's
yoga retreat in Ubud, Bali. She started as a public relations client and asked me to accompany her around the world to promote her inspiring work in real-time.
While I was there to observe and report, she also invited me to take part in her program. And while doing so, I realized that my long-held teaching skills (I've taught at Wayne State, University of Detroit and Oakland University, among others) were untapped and my passion for parenting my be a prime venue.
I love to teach. I find it supplements my client work and so some semesters I throw a college English class into my schedule just to keep me on my toes. That sense of discovery, the learning that occurs when teaching others, the attention to the How and the Why instead of the Do – it's what I love about teaching.
And, in the role of the serial entrepreneur that I am, I spun out a new product with an outline and a wish and a page added to my personal website. Presto-changeo- it was a reality.
That's the beauty of entrepreneurship. You don't analyze and assess the wisdom or likelihood of success. You just DO.
I taught my first Parenting Without a Map™ class in Staten Island, N.Y., at a yoga studio. The curriculum combines ancient knowledge with modern perspectives, writing exercises and meditation and conversation, to empower parents to surrender to the art of parenting.
More than anything, I give parents a forum for their concerns and insecurities and I help them build a community of like-minded peers who want desperately to succeed in being the best parent for their children.
It's not hard to start a new business when you believe in it. When passion drives the train, you go fast. This is something I can do, it's something people need and it comes from a place of giving rather than getting. That's all you need to launch.
You can build your own web page. You can create a gorgeous flier. You can print business cards for cheap online. And then you find the people you need to spread the word.
After I launched Parenting Without a Map™ and before I even taught the first program, parents from my son's soccer team (which I coach) approached me at practice to ask my advice on parenting matters. I didn't tell them what to do; I listened and reflected. I told them they know the answer. And they did. They just needed a sounding board.
In this era of too-much-access, of Facebook and Twitter and dinner-table-texting, we are connected to so many but lonelier than ever. We don't know quite whom to trust because so many people are chiming in – but most of them don't really care.
And in the secret darkness of our minds, where we dwell with our misgivings and insecurities, we need a voice to guide us back to the light.
I embrace social media to the nines. It's all a great tool to round out every business (and personal) effort on the table.
If anything, social media has shone the light on the absence of true friendship today and revealed how important it is to have handshakes and face-to-face connections. We cannot rely solely on distant forms of communications. We must retreat to the old-fashioned relationship-building approach to make our lives better.
Anyone who gets that should have no trouble launching a brilliant business.