1974 July Ryan,Mom,Dad

just do the next thing. whatever it is, whatever the context, just do the next thing. as i remember the life i observed from the kid seat, i see my mom’s life as a woman who just did the next thing.

attending college in a time when women going into business was…not welcomed. she did it anyway. when it was time for a family, she left college; it was the next thing to do.

they moved several times with dad’s job. there’s a story of mom hanging the last curtains in a house, finishing the last touch as dad entered the house and had to tell her they were moving again. and they did.

they built a house. they bought a business and ran it together. when her youngest (hello!) was slated to start kindergarten, she re-enrolled in college to finish her degree. and when the elementary school refused kindergarten entry due to a birthday landing a few days past the deadline, she made arrangements to bring the child to class. the situation changed, she rolled with it. she did the next thing.

in simply living her life, in approaching it they way that she did, she showed a very right-brained, emotionally charged daughter that sometimes it is a waste of emotion to get angry. in just doing the next thing, you work through whatever is in front of you. if the context changes, you re-assess, and you figure out what the next thing is to do.

being a woman in business, she faced discrimination. yet only one time did i hear about it, and not from her. dad had picked her up from a job interview. when he asked her how it went, her only comment was, “they want a man.” when i asked how it went, she just said, “we’ll see.” it was dad that told me later.

some would say i should have been warned what i would face. though i didn’t enter business, my academic acumen and drive to achieve has sometimes resulted in being held back, being questioned, and even experiencing the “she must be a b**** to have achieved those things” even though specific acts of b**** couldn’t be identified. but here’s the thing, had i known everything she faced, i would have approached everything in for me in anger.

she’s a woman fiercely committed to her family. you see it in how she spends time, how she spends money, and what she talks about. but she is quiet about it. she quietly goes about her life, doing the things she loves. no fanfare, no attention-seeking. she does the next thing. we would all be wise to take notes.

One thought on “quiet determination…

  1. Ok, Oh, my goodness! This is our neighbor Colleen through and through! We love this article. I, too, went into business as a woman before it was usual. When I left my first job as a well-paid physical therapist, they hired a man right behind me for $300 per month more. Did we know to call it discrimination?? Not yet. Now when the wife has the high-paid job, the family goes with that scenario. Our lives would have been different, maybe not better, but different. We have always admired Colleen, just doing the next thing. We were so amazed that she went back to college. We knew she played the piano beautifully, but not that she had an excellent mind for math and business. I like your term, “just doing the next thing”, a lot better than “just do it”. As a great procrastinator, I need that little nudge!

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