I’ve decided it’s time for my own little version of “leaning in”. I don’t mean the corporate power, pack-&-play in the corner office kind of way. But in my way. And my way is to give my wholehearted support to the amazing women I know who are following their passions and carving out the life they want. Because that, to me, is what our lives are about. My friend Marcy Butler says, Why do I have to lean? Can’t I just stand up? I love that. To me it means no one can tell me the “direction” I need to “lean” but I DO need to get off my hindquarters, take my life in my own hands and live it. And I am lucky enough to know, and be inspired by, LOTS of women who are doing exactly this. (And some of them even hire me!)
My friend Amanda Hirsch, a Brooklyn-based writer and artist, has an occasional feature on her blog called “Meet My Friends”. With her gracious permission, I am stealing the idea. Or, as I prefer to word it, spreading the love. In a tip of my hat to her brilliant idea, I asked her to be my first feature. I know Amanda through improv – we both were involved with Washington Improv Theater at about the same period of time- and we found many other areas of common ground for friendship to blossom. Amanda, along with husband Jordan, daughter Ali and dog extraordinaire Cosmo, are now the main attraction on many of our trips to New York.
Katie: Hi Amanda! Thank you for letting me interview you! Can you give me a teensy-weensy bio?
Amanda: Sure! I’m —
Katie: Wait, in the third person, please. It’s more official.
Amanda: Oh, ok. Um. Amanda Hirsch is a writer, performer and champion of good things who lives in Brooklyn. An avid blogger, she is also the author of Feeling My Way: Finding Motherhood Without Losing Myself. Follow her on Twitter at @amanda_hirsch and learn more at amandahirsch.com.
Amanda: Well, I guess I’d start this particular story with the time I dropped out of college. I went back, but only after doing a LOT of thinking about what I hoped to get out of it. From that point forward, I got an education on my terms — I’d ask professors if I could write a play instead of a standard essay, for example. This was big for me, because I was a lifelong straight-A student who always followed the rules, and all of a sudden, something in me couldn’t just follow the rules anymore. I was starting to carve my own path… and that carried through almost 10 years later when I started my own company. But, to fill in some gaps: Coming out of college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. After some fits and starts, I found my way — thanks in large part to serendipity – to PBS. I was there for over 6 years. By the end, I was editorial director of PBS.org. It was a great job in many ways, and I learned so much there, and met people who are still very important to me. But I eventually got burned out, and I decided to step back and freelance for a while; it’s so hard to see around the corner to the next thing when you’re inside a big organization like that. And then I realized that I loved freelancing. And that was eight years ago.
Amanda: It’s 100% Amanda. I designed the company’s purpose, I choose the clients, I do the work… it’s all me. That doesn’t mean it reflects every part of me. It’s easier to let my full sense of humor come out to play with some clients than with others, for example. My favorite clients are the ones where I really don’t feel like I need to censor myself at all. And I find I do my best work for those clients, too.
Amanda: It’s trite, but: Listen to your gut, and take care of yourself first. If you don’t meet your own needs, you can’t meet anybody else’s. Also, give yourself permission to change. What you needed last year or even last week may not be what you need today, and that’s ok.
Amanda: Clearly, I’d be fresh bread dipped in olive oil with a steaming mug of ginger tea. I’m sort of offended that you even had to ask.