Wednesday, 8 September 2010

"Babes" United

Desirous of creating a larger network and gaining followers and clients, I offered a dear friend in Brisbane who established a women in business forum some time ago - "Babes in Business" - a "Blog from Abroad" - a Hello from London, if you will - for her members and subscribers. At the same time I hope to challenge my own creative energy and achieve a greater understanding of how to be and feel more "babelike".

A Brisbane girl originally, I moved to London in 1997. I joined Babes in 2009 while back in Australia for a time during the final stages of, and the months following, my mother's battle with leukaemia. I returned to London in January this year. As is so often the case, after the event, I began to look back fondly on the love and support offered while "home", such that in a flurry of "settling back in" optimism and energy I flirted (dizzily, as it happened) with the idea of establishing the London chapter of Babes in Business. You all know the saying about giving something to a busy woman...

Somehow, though, the flurry turned from fever paced and ferocious to occasional and seasonal as the months passed. Indeed, after all of the change and upheaval involved in moving to Australia and back within 9 months, contemplating and trying out a life in Ghana on the return leg, as well and changing career and starting my own business, some days it was all I could do to log into the email, buy groceries and make the bed. It became apparent that establishing anything other than my own gym routine and the every other day bath ritual for the kids (Winters in cold climates can have compensating benefits), was going to require more motivation and drive than I could muster. So while the idea of a London arm to Babes is a nice one, for now I am focussed on keeping in touch with the mothership via a "Blog from Abroad".

The truth is that while in Brisbane I did not sufficiently avail myself of the networking, socialising and learning opportunities that Babes affords. At the time I was writing my second book and marketing my coaching services while enjoying dust storms, life among close family and friends and adjusting to life without my dear mother. Now, the dust having settled and "business as usual" more or less resumed, I hope to offer to Babes members some insight into life in London for women in business, juggling career, family and home. So I wanted to share here at Spring to Mind some of my musings for the Babes back home.


But first, I need to clear the air. And so I want to put it out there that for some time I have struggled with the very notion of myself as  a "Babe".

On my gloomier, or perhaps I should say, more honest days, I contemplate a sister organisation - "Non-Babes in Business", or "Wannabe Babes Struggling to Stay in Business" or perhaps even just "Anti-Babes Who Think They Have a Business". The truth is that despite an awful lot of passion and thought, energy and ideas, effort and enthusiasm, creating a successful business is not as easy as the moniker "Babes in Business" might have you believe.

Am I preaching to the converted, or a lone voice crying in the Wilderness? Probably the latter. You see, I often sense that I am cast adrift in a veritable wilderness of babes.

Everywhere I look, in fact, there is evidence that this is so.

First, I am the mother of three sons aged 4, 6 and 8. Ergo - Babes at home.

Second, I am an avid gym-goer. Babes all of over the place at every gym I try. There are young ones who should quit the gym, they are so gorgeous as to almost drive the likes of me away to some more fitting place - military boot camp, say. There are the older ones still sporting their long blonde hair who know the instructors by name (SJP wannabes), yet never crack a smile or a sweat. And there are the very, very fit and svelte old ones who are elegant and relaxed and very Catherine Deneuve-ish.

Third, I do the school run. Babes aplenty there. Now, don't take this the wrong way, but there is a certain type of mother here in Kensington, London that is not quite as common in suburban Brisbane, at least not where my boys went to school last year. If there was ever a situation that would leave one feeling distinctly un-babe-like it would have to be the school run in Kensington. Here, we are blessed to live in densely populated inner city terrain that ensures that many on the school run, high and mighty in their shiny eco-friendly 4x4s (German usually), are obliged to park their cars and and escort their gorgeous moppets into school, there being no drive-by drop off facility. The walk of shame, I call it, as I stroll in with my mismatched gymkit under shapeless trousers, floral bag over my shoulder and empty stroller to chain up to the fence (the kids no longer ride in it but it is a necessity for the groceries, school bags, blazers and other accoutrement that make their way home with us at 3.30pm). But the other mothers, hailing from France, Spain and Italy, petite to the point of gamine, elfin and pre-adolescent while boasting fine bones, skin and clothes, are chic, cool and ever so babe-like - if a continental woman can even be termed a "babe"!

One is naturally drawn to the other Aussies - never scared to wear their trainers to drop-off - the Americans who do jeans so well and the English (a small minority in this part of London), who can be understated in their nun-like uniforms of charcoal business suit or who tend to go all country stylish in mac and wellies. Then again, faced with the bare skin of said Brits (no one know how to get their kit off at the first sign of summer better), one tends to feel terribly Sun-Safe and geriatric cowering in the shade under one's hat (having spent too long in the Brisbane sun as a girl) throughout the heady days of June.

I won't even start on the fact that Elle McPherson drops her son at the school around the corner from mine.

Suffice to say - as I near a significant birthday milestone, heave my sorry aching body (too much exertion at Total Body Conditioning with Chrispin) around town and share pavements with women who make Giselle and Audrey Tatou look ordinary, I am sure of one thing - I am anything but a Babe.

I am well-versed in self-help lingo and notions (being a coach) and so I know that there must be a ploy I can use to rethink this whole babe concept. Perhaps something about skin deep, eyes of beholders and thinking it making it so...

Nevertheless, if no one minds, I suspect there is room in Babes in Business for the likes of me; provided I don's spoil anyone else's fun, right?

Which only leaves the Business...

And that is another story.

Until then I leave you with the question: What is a Babe, anyway?

For more musings in a similar vein see: Are you a domestic goddess?

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