It is our hope that the pages of ELYSIAN offer women of all ages a place to connect and find reprieve during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Our issue’s focus, Arts and Culture, allows you to be encouraged by inspiring interviews, captivated by beautiful images and bold stories and motivated by time-sensitive philanthropy.
Our daily routines have changed, perhaps forever. Being confined to home, experiencing measures to reduce the spread of the virus and suffering great loss have consumed our collective thoughts and conversations. In this season of reflection, I began evaluating the many ways in which women have adapted and overcome. This led me on a personal journey, a generational self-analysis. Most women my age had parents with defined roles; women stayed at home and raised children while their husbands went to work. In the ’60s, revolutionary women—like my mother—began to push for equality, but the infrastructure to support their dreams had not been built. I am the daughter of a woman who could not reach her dream. She was too tightly bound by the traditions of the 1950s.
Many of my professional colleagues and close friends were raised much like me. We were told by both our parents—who followed the traditions of the time—that we could do anything we set our minds to doing, be anything we dreamed. In hindsight, it is strange to think we took the challenge with absolutely no example or road map to follow. Our mothers were navigating their unique paths through those changing times, but balancing the demands of high-intensity work and family was not on their radar.
Ideas like wellness and self-actualization were seen as trivial or even self-absorbed. It was not until I was in my 40s that I began thinking about the divide and discrepancies between what my contemporaries and I were told by our parents and the reality we actually faced. These discrepancies created a generation of women that embraced the concept “chin up,” because if you whined too loudly you were left behind. We were headstrong, overachieving, disciplined and demanding—more of ourselves than others. The rules were simple: never complain and work twice as hard as the competition.
It was sheer luck that I discovered the world of marketing and publishing, the work I have come to love. And though I eventually left the formal practice of law, I am grateful for both what I learned from those intense years and for finally realizing where my true passion lies. As we realign our daily order, women are at the forefront of the new normal. No two experiences are the same, and yet women are facing this adversity with character and strength. I think about the homebound, young professional mother with a sick child or those with parents in nursing homes they cannot hug, touch or even visit. While some face isolation and loneliness, others are inundated by family members—homeschooled children, college students with online courses returning home, homebound parents, unemployed spouses . . . all piled into spaces that were never intended for so many.
For many women the work environment is equally unsettling, even if they are forced to work remotely. The upheaval is disconcerting and their productivity is marginalized. The end result is simple. We must adjust, adapt, nurture and persevere. At ELYSIAN, we will also change. Our print and online presence will adapt, as will our video series, to meet the demands of a changing world. These are times that mandate innovation and creativity, and we are up for the challenge.
I am proud of all women, particularly those in their 40s and younger, for discovering their voices and sources of strength and courage. Ironically, because these are unprecedented times, once again there is no road map. While the unknown is troubling, this time we are forging new beginnings and accomplishing the untenable. And we are doing it together. Finally, it is our hope that as our partners and families recognize the breadth of responsibilities women are shouldering, those women will be empowered to redefine their purpose and find deeper meaning as they reevaluate their path forward.
ELYSIAN was created to inspire and connect women. If you find yourself discouraged and disconnected in the face of the coronavirus, we invite you to engage with us. The epitaph of the pandemic should not be “surviving” or “weathering,” but rather “conquering” and “redefining.”
Stay safe, be strong and thank you for taking the journey with us.