I couldn’t care less…

Week 1 of my “international commuter marriage” is over, and I’m pleased to report that everyone is alive and well: my husband apparently snuck through Chek Lap Kok airport just before midnight on Saturday, just before protesters disrupted travel again on Sunday.

(Stop that—I hear you snickering. I know, that really is the name of the airport, and ever since I flew through there in 1986, I’ve never been able to listen to the flight attendant safety announcement to “make sure your safety belt is fastened low and tight across your lap” with a straight face.)

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback (that’s a euphemism) about this new living arrangement, almost as much as about the way we bought our house in Ann Arbor.

how (not?) to buy a house

If you don’t know that story, my husband—who moved to Michigan a full semester ahead of the rest of us—was in charge of buying it, and other than the real estate photos online, I’d never seen it until the day we moved in.

“What?!? You’d let him make a huge decision like that?”

Well, I may be detail-oriented, but he’s by far the more particular one (that’s an understatement), so I knew he’d do great—and he did. My only requirement was that it have a kick-@$$ kitchen, and it does, and as of last month, it also has some shiny new countertops!

Would this way of transacting real estate work for you? Maybe not, but it sure took the pressure off me and gave me the space and time to manage two young children and sell a house in SoCal.

Back to the present, though: while some people are simply genuinely surprised about our decision to live in different hemispheres for the foreseeable future, I do feel we are being judged by others.

And while I don’t feel obliged to justify our choices—they were made with care and intention, with attention to what’s right for us rather than what’s dictated by the societal norm—this has brought up something that I’ve been pondering for a few years now.

I couldn’t care less….

When I ask women over 40 what the best part of being in this season of life is, one of the most frequent replies is, “I just couldn’t care less about what others think any more—I do and say whatever I want!”

I wonder whether that’s true … and whether there isn’t a better way to “language” that. (Ack—have you noticed that nerbs, verbs that used to be nouns, are becoming more and more common these days?)

To me, that articulation feels dismissive, and it perpetuates the very situation against which we’re rebelling, one in which our needs have been dismissed—by others and by ourselves—for too long.

Do we really not care what others think, or is a better way to express the same thought that at our age, we recognize that what benefits us may not line up with what others believe? In this way, we’re acknowledging their right to believe something, honoring it by taking it into consideration, then choosing a different path.

it takes a village

But I digress. One of the factors that is making this new bi-continental lifestyle possible is the incredible community I’ve gathered around me in Ann Arbor: my village, predominantly made up of incredible women, is truly powerful.

I’m deeply grateful to each and every one who has said, “You just let me know if you need anything—ANYthing!” (And I’m equally deeply tickled by how many offers of assistance end with, “And my husband is really handy, so anything you need around the house, you let us know.”)

Know (and warn your husbands) that I will be taking you up on these offers….

save the date!

And of course, because there are no mistakes or coincidences in the Universe, just as my husband was packing up to move, I got some interesting confirmation of the importance of having the support of other women: as I mentioned last week, I am really honored to be a finalist in the Michigan Women Forward Woman Up & Pitch competition in November.

I’ll be pitching a new health coaching program designed specifically for women 40+ who work in the nonprofit/mission-driven sector—more details in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, save the date!

As an audience member, your vote counts in the Audience Choice Award: you can read a bit about the finalists, come hear our pitches, and support a woman entrepreneur—help us to grow our villages and our businesses!

And just so you know, I do care—deeply—that you cast your vote for the woman whose story moves you most!

You (and your village) are cordially invited to attend the Southeast Michigan event, which will take place on Tuesday, November 19th at Wayne State University’s Industry Innovation Center, 461 Burroughs Street in Detroit. (Note the change in location.)

In the meantime, leave me a comment about a better way you’ve found to (kindly, respectfully) not take advice.

Comments

  1. Kate Krauss

    Thank you so much for this blog, Liza, and for your honesty in sharing. It’s been resonating with me all week, and I thought I’d let you know. I’m 43 and childless/free (different terms depending on the day), and I’m frequently amazed at the judgement I feel from other people for not living my life their way, or the way that society thinks I should. I remember being in my 20s when a coworker in her 50s announced that she was leaving our company because she and her boyfriend were moving to the south of France to give it a go at being artists. I practically melted with excitement for her, and at the idea that people actually did such things outside movies, which is why I was so amazed when our coworkers responded with things like “but how will you make money?” and “Aren’t you nervous that you’ll fail??” I couldn’t believe people would put so much of their own fear and need for stability on this brave woman (like she hadn’t thought of these things, by the way!), but it wasn’t until making it nearly out of child-bearing age without kids that I’ve felt that sort of thing directed my way. I’m still working on my response, so I loved the idea of “I couldn’t care less what you think.” I want to make it my own!

    And as for you and your husband, GO YOU (both)! Congratulations on finding a setup that works for you and not giving a *$%@ what other people have to say about it.

    1. Elizabeth Baker

      Glad it resonated—and sorry you’re feeling so much judgment. I’m curious whether you ever kept up with that colleague and what happened for her? I imagine there were days where she had her version of the childless/free pendulum…. And ironically, right now as a more-or-less single parent, I’m working really hard on not being that wet blanket, the naysayer, the one who comes up with all the reasons something won’t work instead of seeing the possibility and the sparkle in my kids’ plans! Trying to make, “~But what if I fall? ~But oh, my darling, what if you fly?” my mantra….

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