Combining career and family is a tricky business. Often we need to change our direction for the different stages of family life. There are no perfect solutions, but thinking out of the box helps.
When we moved 6000 miles away from our families 22 years ago, I certainly never imagined I would be working in the business my grandfather established way back when. Way back when ... there was no internet, no low cost international telephone service, no e-mail, and no digital photography.
My children are grown up now, and I could theoretically leave the house and find outside employment, but I have chosen not to take that path. This time the decision is a calculated one.
Throughout my family's childhood and teen years, I solved the ``where to be first issue'' by working from home. My hard-earned M.Sc. degree in Human Resource Administration was shelved -- although I would like to think I applied some of the key principles to running our in-house human resources. As a fluent English speaker in a foreign country, armed with the latest computer equipment in my own home when computers were fairly new even in offices, I opened an English-language word processing business out of a corner of my living room.
My clients came from the nearby academic centers and new hi-tech industry park. As word processing became more sophisticated, I moved on to desktop publishing and was soon creating books, brochures, and journals. I attended seminars, read the literature and soon expanded my services to offer copywriting and marketing communication. Over the years my portfolio grew and I felt a special frisson whenever I saw a company with my marketing material succeed. All the while, the children were growing up, and although often pressured from the deadlines and demands of not one boss, but many -- as is the plight of the independent business person -- I was able to be there for them and participate in school and club events.
Over the years, I co-authored a book, established, published and wrote an online magazine with two women partners, and with them also built an online business. Simultaneously, and all too quickly, my children graduated high school, served in the army, traveled abroad, returned, left home, returned, had a baby, worked abroad, returned, got a girlfriend (who knows? he doesn't tell me anything...), and we built a house. Now I have a fabulous corner office looking out on the garden and my husband has his own sanctuary upstairs.
And then my father surprised me during a routine touch-base telephone call, which he later backed up with an e-mail note. ``I've been thinking...
Maybe you see a way to use the internet for our business? Is there a way you could direct something like that?''
Well, blow me away. I just happened to be at a crossroads. My husband was preparing to set out on a two-week long male-bonding trek in the Himalayas, I was recuperating from a torn miniscus operation, my son was nearing the end of his army duty, the downturn in high tech and in tourism had negatively effected my bottom line, I cherished drop in visits to my little granddaughter, and I needed an opportunity I could sink my teeth into.
When Joel headed east to trek, I headed west to create a new interface to a 90-year-old family business, Maurice Goldman Fine Jewelry