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Tribe Moms

Yesterday I had two inspirational experiences. I’ve been questioning my path and direction a lot lately. I guess I’m not happy or content with my career’s path at the moment.

I’m a journalist, a writer, and insecurity and emotional turmoil are de ri·gueur, however these feelings have been more annoying than usual.

I met the most lovely man, Zang Toi, a couture fashion designer whom I interviewed for his trunk show at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Let’s be clear here, I am not a fashionable person, nor a fashion journalist for that matter. But I LOVE clothes, always have, even when I was little. And more than that I really LOVE people ~ I also adore learning about them (sociologist minor here).

As I listened to him, as I watched him talk about his beautiful clothes, I was struck by his spirit. He was warm, engaging, friendly and not an air of hautiness?? He too loved what he was doing. He talked to everyone. He smiled at everyone.

This warm, happy man, the seventh child who grew up helping out in his father’s Malaysian grocery store, was humble. Toi was grateful to his family, his clients and his fortune.

When I asked him what inspired him, he
said simply; beauty.

So eloquently, in his heavily accented English, he said it is his place in life to make women feel beautiful. To make beautiful clothes for women so they feel good.

Simply, he said; “We aren’t curing cancer, we aren’t saving lives as designers, but I see it as my place to make women feel beautiful.”

Yet, he recently raised over $600,000 for breast cancer research with his clothing.

A man whose elegance, whose humble belief is that it is his “place” in this world just to make women feel beautiful, also finds a way to help eradicate a disease that makes women feel ugly.

What could be more beautiful than that?

As I walked away from my interview, I questioned my “place” in life. “What is it that makes me happy? What joy do I share with others that brings them happiness?”

My lunch with my new “Tribe” mom, Preethy Kalbara, closed the loop on that question.

Originally we met to discuss collaboration on a book she wants to write, but the conversation turned more to a “life coach” counseling session.

As we talked, we discussed the challenges of being EMUS – Educated Moms in Urban Society (EMUS) – MY made up acronym for moms who are educated, and are blessed to not HAVE to work, but want to do something more, to give back to our communities, but struggle with how to manage it AND be a good mom to our kids. Moms who struggle to find our place.

She made me laugh, she gave me killer quotes, inspirational ideas and she asked me a tough question: do I really want to write?

I actually thought about it before I answered her, which surprised me.

I do. I most definitely do.

BUT not how I’ve been doing it lately. I want to do something different, more. Simply, I want to LOVE writing and I want to make people happy when they read my writing. I want to show them something they haven’t seen or thought of before. I want to SHOW THEM beauty.

K – that wasn’t SO simple, but I think you get the picture: I want to make people happier, even if it is for just a moment in their day.

So I write this as much for you dear reader as for me, the anxious, insecure, disorganized writer. I write this hoping I am starting a new chapter.

I also hope I put a smile on your face and thank you for reading.

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Even in Hawaii the Flipped Bird has a presence, albeit a presence of one, but does it really matter? I say “No” because that is how word of mouth travels even if it has to cross the Pacific Ocean to do it (remember “Finding Nemo” – okay if you have a child under the age of 10).

Anyway, to my lost point is this: the girls at the Coach Store on Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki, HI – the equivalent of Madison Ave in NYC, all know who Flipped Bird is and honestly, I think it is only a matter of time before this uber cool tote/bag takes flight to destinations unknown. And you know what? This is what the American Dream is all about. The American Dream is eco-friendly because it involves a local entrepreneur who uses their influence and connections to perpetuate a good or service to others. The American Dream usually starts in a backyard similar to yours or a basement or garage. And yes, sometimes in the very end, the local company goes BIG TIME and markets around the globe, and you know what? We should Flippin’ Be Happy for that American Dreamer who did it!

And in this case this is one American Dreamer who not only is working the dream, but is also giving back to her community. Flipped Bird recently made a special (I say commemorative) bag for a local friend and sister-gal-pal in pink ribbons “my boobs tried to kill” breast cancer survivor chick who, as it happens, is doing the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. Team Hope Chest received  20% of the proceeds from these adorable, festive bags.

Now that’s something to “Feel Good” about!

So I say: “Marci – you go girl! And thank-you for giving me a simple piece of fashion to just Be Flippin’ Happy to carry around :)”



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I found my tribe

by BarbiJaneW

tribe |trīb|noun 1. a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader : indigenous Indian tribes | the Celtic tribes of Europe. Source: Apple dictionary.

I have found my people. More specifically, my “moms.” I am an older mom, I had my first and only child at the young age of 41. Which puts me in an odd place. Moms of first children my son’s age are about 10 years younger than I am. But moms that are my age have kids somewhere in their late teens or beyond.

But thanks to my dear friend, Lindsey Murphy (whom I think is the leader of said tribe), I have found moms that are my age AND have kids my son’s age. These moms have more than one child, and consequently are closer to my age which means they think more like me. That and they are what my husband calls “co-op” moms.

Co-op moms are by definition moms (or dads as the case may be) who spend a part of each month working in their child’s classroom. At our school, Discovery Tree, it is a requirement.

What I’ve learned or experienced rather, is that these co-op moms really do become the village that raises your kids. Because we moms spend time with the kids each month, we get to know them on a deeper level. We become invested in their well-being. And, not ironically, we moms (and dads) become closer to each other by default.

To come back to my declaration of finding my tribe, I mean that I am more “old school” in raising my son. I do not worry about him eating dirt, hugging his teachers, or playing naked in the backyard with his friends (who may or may not be naked). I have found that these co-op moms, even the younger mothers, think the same way. We are linked by a common culture of beliefs in child rearing.

We are also linked by our socio-economic standing. My tribe moms have, at a minimum, a four year degree, worked at their career before having children and chose motherhood as their next career. Don’t get me wrong, some mothers still work at their careers, but they are careers – not part time gigs of interest. These moms juggle work, preschool, and playtime without the help of a nanny.

These women are my tribe.

Not because I judge the mothers who do it differently, but because these mothers are like me. These mothers believe the best place for kids to play and learn social skills is in the backyard with their friends.

Tribe moms focus their time at home with kids running in and out the door, dripping popsicles in hand as opposed to running around from gym-time to music sing-alongs to play-dates at the mall. Rather, a tribe mom encourages the love of music by impromptu concerts with dancing, lip-syncing and costume changes. Tribe moms cheer for the kid quick or nimble enough to dodge the mud bomb or hose wielding naked screaming banshee in the outdoor gym, aka backyard.

This is how I grew up and I loved it. I want my son to be able to do the same. To experience life in the real sense, to feel the mud between his toes and the sticky, drippy, sweet taste of melting popsicles down his arms – even if he is being yelled at to take it outside – because that’s really life.


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