Member Blog Feature: We love sharing our members' voices. Lisa shares her transformation from corporate america to artist to The Hivery to becoming an expert voice on feminism.
There was once a time I walked into my workplace each day in Corporate America with a tight feeling in my chest and a directed sense of what needed to get done. I would run a quick scan to recall who I was meeting with and what I needed to deliver. And then before crossing the threshold, I would pull on a heavy space-suit zipping up all of my feelings on the inside and making sure they wouldn’t slip out under any circumstances. Running a marketing department almost all of my meetings were with men. The men were often all smiles and veiled smirks, I was deathly serious. It was my only choice.
I feared seeming in anyway frivolous in the workplace so my conversation topics were directly work-related. I resisted making friends and met my colleagues with a tight smile and a quick ‘hi’. In my personal office I kept a clean desk with no personal affects; everything personal about me tucked away, deep inside. This went on for years. It was only my staff who considered me ‘maternal’. And though paid handsomely, I was sad when I got home, away from the endorphin kick of surpassing a new ‘metric’.
But one day I dared to harbor a dream. In this dream, I imagined a totally different way of being. Instead of an office building I enter an old victorian home each day, with different rooms offering different experiences. There is a Library, where women read magazines, books, research reports, whatever they want. There is a room for collaborating and sharing ideas. There is a kitchen where we share food and laugh. The living room is where we might practice our presentations with each other and get feedback. We even have workshops available to us! But most importantly, far more important than anything else is how happy and light I feel without that heavy, constricting space-suit. I imagine how ‘alive’ work is going to be surrounded by all these people with whom I can be totally myself. No tucking anything away deep inside. There is no tightness in my chest, my heart feels free. In fact, with each day my heart grows bigger and freer. But alas it's a dream and as time passes my dream dies. Instead, eventually I opt out of corporate life. Then I become a mom, I go through a couple bouts of cancer and the dream is nothing but a distant memory.
Until suddenly – poof!
Fast forward twenty years and I start hearing about this place filled with women of all ages and circumstances, each doing her own thing, surrounded by the support and celebration of each other! I hear it’s a place where women work, they meet and make new colleagues, they explore new ideas, start new businesses and more. It sounds too good to be true. I don’t dare believe it. I hear the mother of this tribe is, get this, named Grace as if delivered by the heavens. I have to know if this place exists.
I am no longer in my “prime working” years so maybe this place is not right for me. Maybe I won’t be totally welcome. I am a little embarrassed. Is it obvious I’ve been a bit lonely? Can everyone tell that even though I love painting I am kinda bored sitting at home each day with ‘my own bad self’ and NPR? Can they tell the life-force seems to be slowly seeping out of me day by day? Still, I feel a flicker inside and I can’t turn away.
Yes, the match is lit from the moment I walk in the door and meet this very special woman who exudes benevolence. An inspired woman, an artist herself, who enthusiastically believes that “when a group of women gather together, magical things happen.” Plus, I can almost feel that she expects something great from me! She has no doubt in my capacity to continue to contribute to the world! Even better, her nature operates on the principle of kindness and has made kindness a fundamental operating principle of this new workspace of all women. Grace believes, down to the bone, in ALL women. My life changes in countless ways over the ensuing months. I am impressed with each person I meet, one as smart and generous as the next. And, one of the most significant aha moments is the realization that this is the way men have worked all along so of course they feel able to conquer the world!!! It feels so good! They work amongst each other, helping each other, bonding through laughter and (maybe some un-savory things too) as they lead each other to success. There’s no denying it, there is true power in this collection of women, ideas, workshops, and specially tailored events. It occurs to me within this special space we possess the ability to almost entirely support ourselves as a thriving society through our vast web of expertise. Accountants, creatives, attorneys, writers, cooks and entrepreneurs in almost every field imaginable. So because of Grace, and all the very, very special women in this community called The Hivery, everything is different for me. I no longer dream about a space that feels safe, inviting, invigorating and that reminds me the world is my oyster. Instead, I live it!
Come visit me at www.thehivery.com and experience it for yourself.
Lisa Joss is an artist, writer and feminist. Realizing she's been a feminist since the age of eight, she began actively working for women's equality in 2012. Since this time she has developed strategy and communications for a number of social action/justice causes including Miss Representation, The Representation Project, Women's Global Leadership Project, her own Please Don't Tell Me to Smile and #GiveToxics the boot.
Previously, she spent 17 years building and running marketing departments for Fortune 500 companies and Silicon Valley start-ups.