There are moments in life when you realize, “Wow, this is it, this is what I’ve always wanted! It’s really happening!” Those moments can become a swirling mixture of emotions: elation, fear, relief, sadness, a sense of time running out and at the same time a sense of time standing still.
Last night was one of those moments for me.
I received the official gavel and historic copy of Robert’s Rules of Order as the incoming President of the Junior League of Northern Virginia, a goal I set in recent years, but has its foundation in my mother’s two terms as President of the Miami Ballet Society in my girlhood. Watching my mother and her friends working hard to put together galas and fundraisers to bring wonderful ballets to our city, I knew that one day I wanted to do something similar. Decades later I’m in a different city and working with a different organization for a different cause, but I’m thrilled nonetheless to serve with an equally dedicated group of women. It is a dream come true.
This, however, was not my first, nor my only dream. I lived out my first dream in my first career, as a television journalist. Although when I first embarked on the career, I had planned on going all the way to the networks, I ended up changing career tracks — dazzled by an opportunity that came my way literally on the same day as a job offer from a Salinas TV station — and took a wild ride on the Silicon Valley wave instead.
So somehow it seemed quite fitting that the chosen Woman of Vision and guest speaker on the night that I reached my “mid-life dream” of becoming President of the Junior League would be Washington DC’s NBC News4’s Barbara Harrison. A 30+-years news veteran who has used her local fame to raise awareness about important women’s and children’s issues such as prenatal care and permanent homes for foster children. We’ve reached out to her a few times for a few different events, and though she has always graciously wanted to be there, her schedule has not allowed her to. And yet, miraculously, somehow this worked out. Even though it conflicted with the White House Correspondent’s Dinner — our invitation came in first! (Tell me something greater was not at work here!)
So there I was, on an evening where I was beginning to launch into one of my big (mid-life) goals, sitting next to a woman who was the very embodiement of one of my previous (young-life) goals. A goal achieved, yes, for indeed I did become a reporter and anchor, but a goal I ultimately traded in for different goals — the excitement of something completely different, seeing what this “Web stuff” was going to be all about, and later, choosing to be a stay-at-home mother.
In our brief time together before the official part of the evening began, we discussed what the League does and the role of community service. This drifted into an exchange where Barbara explained that she would’ve love to have been part of an organization like the Junior League, but her work schedule doesn’t allow it, and I explained that I understood completely what that was like having been there myself once, and that those of us in organizations like the League appreciate people in the media who help elevate the issues. Which led to my offhand remark about having left journalism for Silicon Valley and her saying something of the effect, “Oh my, I think more of us wished we had had the opportunity to do that!” And though she probably didn’t realize it, in one fell swoop, she made me remember once again, just how lucky I was. For as we discussed the consolidating world of journalism and the downward pressure on salaries and the impact of new technologies on journalism and how that is currently impacting so many people in the field, I realized that even if I had stayed in television journalism, the dream I had as a sixteen-year-old would’ve looked very different in today’s reality.
Yes, there were so many wonderful, swirling emotions last night. The honor I felt in being allowed to serve an organization I love so much in this capacity. The pride I felt as my husband took the honorary “First Husband’s Frying Pan” (since he’ll probably be cooking a lot of meals on his own) in a good-natured show of support. The flash of panic, “Am I really ready for this?” And then the calm peace that comes when a dream is realized, and you know that you should enjoy this moment and drink it all in, for soon it won’t be long until it is time to aspire to yet a bigger one.