Author

Sarah Thomson

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THE CIRCLE OF LIFE

Grant Whatmough: May 24, 1921 – Sept. 14, 1999

It has been seven years since my father died and as I look at his picture beside my desk I think of all he gave me — the innocence of childhood, the safety of it, and the desire to live life as fully as possible.

When I was a girl I would run through the fields with my arms outstretched like wings. The tall grass scratched at my bare legs, almost reaching my arms, but it offered a soft cushion with every fall and a great place to hide from my twin brother. I used to dream of flying. Of swooping over the fields like the barn swallows. I used to climb trees and watch the tall grass roll like waves in the wind.

One of my favourite songs isHome by Nathan Wiley. The first line goes “When I was a boy I had everything, I had silver and gold.” The song evokes images of his past, falling asleep in the back seat of the car, dreaming of ships he will sail. It reminds me of what home felt like to me as a child — a safe place to think, dream, learn, and set out from. That childhood innocence I once had is something I can only go back to in my dreams, a place where responsibility and worry don’t enter.

Tonight, as I type away at my desk I remember the evenings I had as a child. There were times when my parents had company and I would sneak out of my bed to listen to them talk. They spoke about philosophy, art, politics, love, and life. I remember wishing I would grow up faster so that I could understand more about what they discussed. Life seemed to be just out of reach.

Many of my childhood memories are beautiful and sometimes I wonder if my senses were more finely tuned then. I remember being in bed with my window open and trying to pick out a single voice in a chorus of 1000 frogs (spring peepers) that filled the night air. Their voices seemed to create a magical symphony.

I remember running along paths in the dark with nothing but a sparkler to light our way and reaching the crest of a hill to turn and see the sparks from a huge bonfire we had spent months preparing rise until they merged with the stars in the sky above.

I remember evenings when my parents sat out on the lawn to watch the sun set and I, in turn, watched them from my bedroom window. They held hands and sat out there well after the light faded and darkness filled the night with stars.

I still recall my first skate on a cold winter’s night, the smoothness of the ice and the stillness of the night broken only by a dog’s bark from miles away. The star-filled sky stretched over the fields, enveloping them in its silence. I glided over the ice, floating, flying above and amid the night, part of it and grounded completely in it. The beauty in that moment struck me like never before, but as soon as I took notice it was gone.

My twin brother and I swam in a neighbour’s pond. We explored the nearby swamp and choked on cigarettes made from dried leaves and weeds. We rode horses from the neighbouring church camp, sneaked into their gospel hall and sang The Lion Sleeps Tonight over their public address system. We flour-bombed their prayer wagon. We grew. I remember the fear and exhilaration that came from swaying in the upper branches of a tall tree on the crest of a hill, as an August thunderstorm rolled, clashing and bursting over the fields, toward us.

The innocence of my childhood left long ago. I know about loss and the feeling of emptiness in the pit of your stomach that has a way of growing into you, and becoming part of you. I know that happiness can come and go. This knowledge is something I’d never experienced as a child; its price was my innocence. I remember how much I craved being older, I wanted to be free to do anything and to learn as much as I could. And you know, I still crave learning despite the cost.

My childhood home was my Eden. I will never go back because I would never voluntarily give up the knowledge I have gained. But, if I live long enough, my knowledge and my memories might slowly begin to melt away and someday I may indeed regain the innocence I’ve lost. Life is, if you live long enough, one big circle.

THE SADNESS OF SEPTEMBER

This morning the lake is calm and still; there isn’t a boat in sight. The sun seems to be melting away the mist. It rises up in wisps where the bays and inlets are still in shadows. A loon in the distance has a lonely call that seems to echo over the lake.

The summer is over, gone before I had a chance to truly settle into it. September has arrived in the quiet way it usually does, its long shadows creeping over the afternoons and cool nights filling the morning air with dampness.

I had a dream last night that I was visiting September as if it were a neighbour that I’d lost touch with. We went through some old memories, the ending of summer vacation and beginning of school. Days when I’d sit in the classroom beside an open window and listen to the geese flying high above, honking as they left for the south.

I remembered the day in September that my father died. It was a warm sunny day. I woke up just before the sun rose. My father’s hospital room looked out over Lake Ontario. I watched the wisps of clouds high in the sky change from grey to pink followed by the flash of light as the first ray of sun broke the horizon. I remember when he lost consciousness a few hours later, and feeling that he was suddenly gone from the room. I remember the nurse calling “code blue” and the doctors running into his room. I remember leaving the hospital with all the weight of worry gone, feeling light but horribly empty as well. I remember the sunshine, warm on my face, and the butterflies that seemed to fill my mother’s garden that day. I remember my tears stinging like never before.

I remembered another day in September when the twin towers fell. Again it was a warm sunny day. A day that seemed to exude life although it would soon reek with death. I remember driving over to drop the newspaper pages to our copy editor and hearing the news on the radio. We turned on his television and watched the horror on CNN. I remember the awful scenes and the terrible feeling that nothing would ever be the same again.

In my dream I grew angry at September for taking life away, but then it encouraged me to remember the day in September that I was married. The day started out cool and overcast. The lake was cold and the power was out all over Muskoka. Greg and I jumped in the frigid lake to wash and bath before getting dressed for our wedding. It was cool, but by noon the sun was shining. The clouds had blown away and the power was finally working. I remember sitting on the dock with Greg and watching a butterfly flutter about looking for the last flowers of summer. I remember the boat ride to our ceremony, and trying to contain my joy at seeing everyone I loved gathered there to celebrate with us. That day in September was one of the best days of my life.

I woke up from my dream to the sound of my six-month-old son crying from his crib. I picked him up and the two of us looked out over the still lake, watching the mist rise in the bay on the far shore. The clouds turned pink and sunlight touched the tips of the trees across from us, tingeing their dark green branches with a touch of gold.

September marks the end of summer. It is a month that reminds me of endings, but it also reminds me that with every end there is a beginning.

CHANGE

We did it. Finally, we are the magazine I envisioned six years ago. This change from newspaper to magazine format will help us define ourselves more clearly as the publication that businesswomen rely on for information, thought-provoking content, recommendations, and a sense of unity with other women. It all goes back to the days when sending letters and the quality of the paper you chose reflected the importance of the recipient.

From mothers to lawyers, presidents and CEOs of companies, our readers are some of the most intelligent women I’ve ever met. At times I wonder if we are good enough. Do we challenge readers enough? We discuss news and ideas that get me thinking, but then I’ve always doubted my own intellectual level and my abilities. My father used to say that is what made me smarter than most, and I’ve noticed that most smart women question themselves; actually they question everything, especially in this day and age. That is why I think there is a need for a magazine that can provide smart women with the intellectual stimulation they want.

When I look back at the many lessons learned through my career as a publisher, perhaps the most important came from the presidents and CEOs I’ve had the great fortune to meet. They taught me to give ideas and time freely to those wanting to learn, to pay it forward, so to speak. And when I think of all those who have given me both their time and ideas without asking anything in return, I know I still have a huge debt to repay.

Change is the only absolute in life. I can count on it, I can fear it, or I can navigate through it using the guide of morality my parents passed down to me. But there is good and bad that can come with any change, and I wonder sometimes if my ability to deal with it has more to do with my physiology than my attitude. Do I have a “happy” gene that doesn’t allow me to get depressed? I don’t think I’ve ever truly felt depression the way some of my friends have experienced it. I tend to find good in almost every change, which can be terribly annoying to some, especially when the stakes are high.

My husband trusts that I will make this magazine work, but he’s worried about the change. It is a big investment — the cost of production has more than doubled with this new format, and he worries that the income we generate from subscription and advertising sales won’t come in quickly enough. I worry too. But I won’t let the worry stand in the way of my belief that people appreciate quality and that women will support us with subscriptions (see subscription form on this page ;-). I know that advertisers value the intelligent community of women we have earned.

Our latest Courage to Lead event focused on marketing to women and was an incredible success. We had a panel of experts that included Tony Chapman, CEO of Capital C; Alison Leung, marketing manager for Dove, Unilever Canada; and Cheryl Smith, national VP, consumer and trade marketing, Parmalat Canada. The sense of unity among the women in the room, the shared desire for an intimate discussion, reflected what Women’s Post magazine is all about. The evening had an energy that comes when intelligent ideas are united with minds that want to learn and grow. I mingled with our guests and each group I spoke with had intelligent women connecting, sharing ideas, or offering recommendations. Alison Leung came to me at the end of the night and said that she finally understood what Women’s Post is all about. I don’t think she knew how much her words meant to me, and how such words can work to inspire. It’s amazing how few words it takes — words said at the right time, in the right place — to inspire someone. That is my goal for Women’s Post: To inspire women to be all they can be through words, ideas, and connection.

Sarah Thomson can be reach at publisher@womenspost.ca.

THE CLOCK TICKS

Have you ever stopped and listened to the sound of a fire crackling? The fire in the hearth is almost out, but the embers still glow. My clock chimes the hour, its sound is deep; it generates feelings of reverence and wisdom whenever I hear it. The steady ticking changes the feel of the room, slowing down time, breaking it into seconds you can almost touch. My husband gave me the clock as a birthday present a few years ago.

Last night I lay with my head on Greg’s chest, listening to his heart beat. Its rhythm steady and soothing. I thought of it pumping life into every vein and muscle in his body. The sound of a heart beating is so vital and intimate, yet its stopping is a silence like no other.

Certain sounds seem to have an endless quality. Like waves breaking on a beach, or the roar of a waterfall. Even the din of traffic from a far-off highway has that ceaseless quality. As if they will continue long after I am gone.

Like words, certain sounds bring about certain moods in me. The sound of a trickling stream causes a feeling of peace deep down. But sometimes it’s the lack of sound that creates this. I remember walking along a city street last winter in the middle of a snow storm. The snow spread itself like a blanket over the noise of the city. As the snow fell, the blanket became thicker and heavier. The crunch of snow under my step was the only sound I could hear in the stillness of the falling snow.

Then there are sounds that, for me, signify the beginning of something. The sound of birds rising at dawn and heralding the new day. A car engine turning over, or a steam whistle in the distance. There are other sounds that signify the ending of something. Like “Taps” played on a single trumpet at a soldier’s funeral; or the squealing of brakes followed by the tearing of metal.

For me, sounds not only measure time but space. They seem to go along with the places I have lived. Each home has a host of distinct sounds that make it unique. The apple farm where I grew up had some sounds I will always remember. A dog barking across the fields from miles away on a cold, star-filled night. Or the sound of frogs in the marsh filling the summer night with their calls. Like a thousand voices all trying to be heard. It was the first crowd I experienced. And it was there, on the farm, that I first heard the quiet rustle of poplar leaves sounding like tiny bits of tin foil tapping gently together. And cicadas buzzing on a hot August day.

There are certain sounds that I associate with living in Toronto. A lawn mower cutting grass and kids playing in sprinklers. Then there are sounds that I associate with our cottage. They seem so far away. The loon calling for his mate to join him every evening. The lap of water against the dock and the boats jostling in the boathouse. The sound of our paddles dipping into a still lake. The call of an owl echoing through the woods. All these sounds I associate with a certain time and place.
Today I hear the sound of the city bus as it speeds past our house. It’s becoming a familiar sound. It reminds me that the world out there is turning. That life is going by. The sound gives me an anxious feeling, suggesting there is so little time and so much to do. And as I listen, I’m drawn back to the sound of my clock ticking. Each second is gone, each minute goes by. When I’m old and grey and about to take my last breath, I hope I can hear at least one sound ― the sound of another heart beating.

THIS AIN’T THE GREAT DEPRESSION

The fire crackles and spits, warming up the cottage. As our boys build Lego castles on the floor, I surf the Web to find out what latest economic developments are shaking up the world. The turmoil in the markets seems so far from my everyday life, but its impact hits directly home as we watch our assets bounce up and down like a yo-yo. Watching as fortunes disappear tends to worry even the most cautious of people.

I can’t believe how many possible solutions are being thrown at the markets. The British government announces it will buy up shares in the country’s banks, asking for firm commitments that support lending to small businesses and home buyers. Other European countries announce they will work together to guarantee bank debt, and the U.S. announces its plan to buy up bad debt. The economists seem to be trying everything they can to stop this market meltdown, but the problem is more than an economic one. At this point, trust in the entire economic system needs to be restored. And trust isn’t something that can be achieved overnight.

When I was 11 years old, my family lost our farm to a bank foreclosure because housing prices fell and interest rates skyrocketed. I’ve always had a strong sense of how powerful the banks can be, and I’ve always had a slight fear of them. Now, as I watch the U.S. feds bail out the banks (the same institutions that encouraged people to mortgage themselves to the hilt), my hope is that the governments get more involved, take ownership, force the banks to extend credit to small businesses, and become more accountable for their actions. That is the only solution that will restore trust in the banking system.

As I read about women who have excelled at what they do (page 18), I’m reassured. The business world is filled with smart, tenacious women. It’s a far different place from the world of the Great Depression, the worst and longest economic collapse in the history of the industrial world. From the stock market crash in 1929 until the worst point in 1933, more than one-quarter of Americans were unemployed. But today, with women in the workforce, with increased innovation and globalization, there are more opportunities to fall back on than ever before. There is also much more government intervention than there was in 1929. The issue is the same for a lot of people. Do I move forward, building my company in my usual optimistic manner? Or do I slow down, and proceed with caution? I wish I had the choice, but alas, every fibre in me is programmed to “fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run.” (Kipling)

I welcomed our new VP of Advertising, Colleen McNarry-Wilson last week, and I have a feeling she’ll do a much better job than I did in her role. She is already inspiring our team to be the best they can be. It is hard giving over the reins, and it will take me some time to get accustomed to not picking up the phone and asking clients to advertise with us. I have formed some great relationships over the years, but now I will have time to develop those relationships, to listen to what our customers need, and to build Women’s Post into a media company that fulfills all those needs.

Sarah Thomson can be reached at publisher@womenspost.ca.

EARTH, BLOOD, AND THE SPACE IN BETWEEN

Mother Earth is the name I’ve given her. She hangs on the wall of an artist’s studio, painted in clay reds and earth browns. I can’t get her out of my head. So regal and silent — She is a mother holding life at her breast, strong and alone. It captures what being a woman is about. Something in the painting talks to me.

The painting, done by Philippe Garel, hangs in the studio of Paul Duval, an art critic, artist and author of more than 20 books on various artists. I met him in his Toronto studio today and was both inspired and awed by a man who combines his passion for art with a gift for great conversation.

Paul welcomed me at his door, a little surprised at the car seat I held with my sleeping 10-month-old son. He exclaimed “Oh, you’ve brought me a Christmas present.”

We spoke of artists, of their contributions to civilization. We spoke of the Sistine Chapel — of the hand of God meeting the hand of Man and the tension in the small space between them. We spoke of buildings and the need for a museum created just for the city of Toronto. We spoke of the Royal Ontario Museum, and its disgraceful attempt to grab cash by charging admission to children. I doubt very much that the people who have donated to the museum want them to limit entry to children who can afford it.

Duval’s studio is one big open room with huge north-facing windows and a small kitchen tucked in under a loft filled with books. Art hangs from the walls, and ceramics and wood carvings are tucked into every nook.

His ceramic collection alone took my breath away — until I noticed the painting of the woman, hanging on the south wall of his studio, so warm it seemed to heat the room. And now as I sit and try to recall her, my mind becomes murky. I feel a need to see it again. My husband asks if I can see it from the street outside Mr. Duval’s studio, I respond that I could if I had a ladder. My husband thinks that might be a little too much like stalking.

Why is this painting haunting me? I remember my father defining what he thought made something art. For him a work of art had to instantiate a universal idea or thought — this was the only basis for true art. Anything else wasn’t art. My father particularly disliked works created with a political message, as well as works of self expression. He believed they distracted people from understanding the power, and importance, of art. The more I learn about art the more right his views seem.

When I think of the works of art that I have had the good fortune to see, it is difficult to find words to describe them. It is as if the art itself has a presence in the room it is in, it whispers in your ear, or moves ever so slightly so that you turn and look at it fully.

This painting seems to speak to me in a language I know deep inside. The woman is me, but not just me. She is a mother, protective and thoughtful. I want to make the painting fit into my life. I want to connect it to the things that give my life meaning. But an inner voice (which sounds a bit like my father) whispers…“Art can teach you how to navigate through your life. Art isn’t about how it fits into your life, or how it matches your décor. It is more than that. Instead think of it as something that inspires you to learn and understand the universal truths that matter to humanity — those universals are depicted in true art.”

DESTRUCTION OR DESIGN OF THE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM

It’s late. Large snowflakes softly fall. I can see them as they pass under the streetlights. A thick layer of snow has formed on the street below my window. The house seems so quiet now with the boys asleep.

This will be my last journal entry for 2006 and when I think of the year that has passed it seems to have stormed in and left without even stopping for a drink. Our younger was born in February and the newspaper moved from printing once a month to twice a month in April. The number of staff in our office has doubled, we’ve got even more great writers and our readership has skyrocketed. So the year has been one of birth, growth, and propulsion.

Not much has changed on the international front. War still goes on in Iraq and Canada is still trying to bring peace to Afghanistan, but the longer it lasts the less likely it seems. Nobody truly believes that civility is possible in such a tribal culture, but the ethical sense of duty to help and protect the people in their war-torn country still goes on.

I met with a great Canadian architect today. We spoke about cities, about the importance of designing buildings that enhance the streets they are on. His philosophy reminds me so much of my fathers. My father was also a great architect who believed that good architecture must fit within a social structure. It should always take into account the rest of the community and work to complement the landscape around it. Architecture is about creating a civilization.

I drove past the Royal Ontario Museum. Construction continues. At this point the heavy-hanging metal beams looming over the sidewalk remind me of the scenes of destruction left by the twin towers — it seems barren and empty, the cold steel and glass a reflection of the new immediacy that seems to be taking over life in today’s “got to have it now” world. The old solid stone building behind this mess seems to be cringing at the horrible partner that is now being fused to it. The design is an exhibitionist statement made to attract attention. It was created to fix the immediate problem of lack of attendance. It is like an immature child screaming “look at me, look at me.” While at first it will turn heads, it will require an endless succession of bells and whistles to get people back time and again.

It didn’t need to be this way. Unfortunately the design is not a solution to the problem of attendance, but merely a quick fix attempt — like a bandage one hopes will be ripped off quickly but may stick on, growing more and more ugly as the years pass. The architecture feeds the vulgar elements within society and will ultimately hinder the natural development of the area that surrounds it.

Tonight I watch the news as Canadian forces meet up with yet another suicide bomber in Afghanistan. His body lies in pieces on the road. Tanks and armoured vehicles are everywhere. The buildings in the background are bland square boxes. I click from channel to channel.

How much does Canada shape my value system? I have a garden to sit in. There are clean parks and safe streets that my children can play in. I’m not living hand to mouth, with little time to think. I have the time to contemplate, to create, to build. I have reason to value the civil society I live in. But the people in Afghanistan don’t have these luxuries. Life isn’t about working together to make a better community but about personal survival.

I think of my boys quietly sleeping, I watch the snow steadily falling. I am safe, there is peace all around me. The television brings images of people struggling in Afghanistan; people with different beliefs so strong they are willing to die for them. I see the shards of glass from a suicide bomber’s car glitter on a road halfway around the world and I remember my grandfather’s words: “There but for the grace of God
go I.”

THE VALUE OF VISION

My two-year-old son woke me early this morning. He placed his hand on my cheek and, when I opened my eyes, his nose was almost touching mine. When our eyes met he whispered “hi mummy,” softly with a tenderness that melted away any thoughts of sending him back to his bed. He is learning the value of tenderness, learning that the way he speaks and what he says has a direct effect on how others treat him. He is learning the art of manipulation.

I’ve just finished taking the MBA Essentials for Managers course at Rotman Business School. The course fired up my desire to learn and grow, particularly the class on negotiation taught by Glen Whyte. What I came away with was the idea that good negotiation isn’t about winning or losing, but about creating a contract that allows both sides to benefit from the relationship like a good marriage.

Jim Fisher also gave a great lecture on leadership, using a speech from Shakespeare’s Henry the Fifth. The speech demonstrates how Henry is able to convince his men to fight although all the odds are against them, how he motivates and manipulates them using everything from honour to promises of infamy. A good leader must be good at managing, motivating and leading. They must carry out a plan, but be able to maneuver in a consistently changing environment. What is important is not sticking to the plan but sticking to the vision. A leader must live up to their value system in order to inspire those who follow them. It was interesting to learn that ethical values can have much more influence over people than money.

And today I think about the vision for the Women’s Post. Our vision is to inspire as many women as we can to be all they can be. Our strategy reflects this vision and so too do the people I work with. Now as a leader I must stick to my values. I must motivate the people I work with and adapt plans easily to the changes we encounter, and at all times I must stick to our vision.
Vision without a task is only a dream. A task without a vision is but drudgery. But vision with a task is a dream fulfilled.

Recommended Reading:

Willie Stone Sixtyfive Roses, a Sister’s Memoir by Heather Summerhayes Cariou had me in tears by the second page. The story is about how and why her parents founded the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. But it is also about the bond between two sisters, and how illness changes the way a family lives and magnifies each moment.

Welcome

We welcome Sandra Martin, Heather Mallick and Elizabeth Nickson to our roster of columnists. They are three very intelligent women who say what they think with eloquence and style. I’m looking forward to some very interesting discussion and debate in the coming months.

THOUGHTS AND IDEAS

Monday

My office is filled with sunlight. I came in early today to get a head start on answering email and returning messages. Nobody is in yet and it seems so [quite] QUIET. I love the fast pace of the office when things get hectic on deadline day, but I also love moments like this. I wander around and notice that someone has hung a new map on the wall for the salespeople to use. I see that my great assistant has organized all the back issues of the paper onto shelves and labeled them. Someone else has a picture of their wife on his screensaver. I notice that every desk has something personal on it that distinguishes them. Someone has taken the little toy animals that sit on my book shelf and put them in a compromising position. There are some things people do simply to cause a smile ― I’m glad I work with people who do those sorts of things.

Tuesday

Went to my first MBA Essentials for Managers course tonight at Rotman Business School. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy school. Tonight the focus was on design thinking. Heather Fraser took the class through a crash course on the value of design as a means to “unlocking breakthrough strategies and ideas…” We covered some of the design tools that can be used to set up, grow and analyse a company. Fraser demonstrated how to create a strategic business design in order to understand the key elements that drive a company to success. As we spoke I doodled out a strategic business design for this newspaper and the act of simply writing down all the important elements that go into the end product made me focus on how important our distribution is to our brand identification as well as our advertising revenue stream. I must broaden our reach and get the street boxes out as soon as possible.

We’ve had success with every major city but Toronto. We have waited more than 2 years to get licences for newspaper boxes from the city of Toronto but have had nothing but roadblocks put up. At this point I’m wondering if we should take legal action. I can’t understand why the Toronto Sun can have a box on all four corners of an intersection but the Women’s Post is not allowed to have even one box.

Wednesday

I’m feeling guilty today. Guilty for driving to work when I could have easily walked; guilty for turning on the lights, for buying my latte, for consuming like most other North Americans. Global warming is real and yet I continue to go about my life, giving little thought to finding the answer to the energy crisis. If not me then who?

Thursday

We had our first advisory board meeting for the Women’s Post today and I was awed by the number of great ideas that were discussed. Having the time to think, talk and strategize with a number of very intelligent people felt like a great luxury. Each one of them gave their best ideas and their time and for that I will always be thankful. Time is something one can never get back, but I must say that those first few hours spent strategizing on the direction of this newspaper were some of the most productive hours I have had in a long time.

I had another MBA Essentials for Managers course at Rotman Business School tonight and this time the focus was on negotiation. The instructor was thorough and interesting. He had us break into pairs and role play while negotiating an employment contract. It is something I do frequently and the structure emphasized creating a winning situation for both parties so that the actual outcome would create the best situation possible. I didn’t realize that the things I do by gut instinct can be abstracted into a theory.

Friday

One of my favourite journalists, Heather Mallick, has joined the Women’s Post. I find both her intellect and comical outlook inspiring. Last summer, she wrote a short sentence in an email that filled me with awe. While commenting on the heat she wrote, “the spiders are dripping from my windows.” Lines like that are few and far between and when you come across them they stick with you.

MIDSUMMER THOUGHTS

Sunday

The boys are having their afternoon nap and the lake is calm and quiet. A canoe wanders along the distant shoreline and a slight breeze ripples the water below. I’m back again in the boathouse; looking out over the water always makes me a little more reflective. I picture all the life living beneath the surface of the water and above it, from the dragonflies to the spiders that are building webs in the window. My life seems so small in this circumstantial world and yet I strive to make the world better, word after word, idea after idea, page after page…

Monday

The newspaper is growing day by day. We’re getting more support from advertisers and I think that even the larger companies are starting to understand the value of reaching our professional female readers. I’d like to add an electronics page. I’m getting too busy to search and compare products the way I once did, so perhaps it is time to hire a writer to compare and evaluate all the different gadgets that a busy professional woman like me needs to make her life easier.

Tuesday

I’m working on a bunch of new ventures that tie into the newspaper. Two of these are a women’s economy summit for CEOs to meet, discuss, and learn about the women’s market, and an awards event for business women. We are planning both events for the spring of 2007 and I spend a lot of my days meeting CEOs and discussing what their needs are. I’m enjoying every minute. Most of them are quite intelligent and they have a desire to learn that is just as strong as mine.

Wednesday

The world is changing so quickly. I went into a high-end retail store today and wandered from aisle to aisle, aghast at the prices. I thought about buying a skirt. It was beautiful but the price tag read $1200. I knew I could find something similar at a small boutique around the corner for $100 and I’d feel better about giving the difference to a charity. The store was filled with things so expensive only an idiot would buy them. Am I being too harsh on the people who shop there? Is there a reason they need to spend so much on themselves? At least the store wasn’t full; there actually seemed to be more salespeople than shoppers. The people buying things seemed to look at themselves in the mirrors a little too much.

Thursday

Got a call from a large client telling me that his company will be adding us to their media buy next year and I felt like dancing around the office… so I did.

Received a few complaints about the lead news articles on the cover of the last issue. The writers were pretty hard on Bush, and I didn’t necessarily agree with them, but I have to stand by the fact that we do not censor our writers. Interestingly though, the three complaints we received were from men. I wonder if women are, in general, more left-leaning than men.

Friday

Came to the cottage late last night and the boys are still sleeping. A storm woke me early this morning. I listened to the sound of the rain falling on the boathouse roof. There is something about the cottage that is hard to describe…being here feels like coming home.

Saturday

We went to see some very old boats today. They were built in 1921 and are quite beautiful. You can almost feel the craftsmanship put into them — from the shape of the hull to the elegance of every little detail. I kept thinking of how much my father would have loved those boats, not only because he was a naval architect, but also because the boats had aged so well. That they still have value in this world of newer, better, louder, and faster gives me hope.