In the world of lean in, shatter ceilings, have it all, do it all, it can be terribly easy to become consumed. Zeroing in on your career and your career alone. We have to work harder and longer. We have to focus. Energy spent elsewhere is wasted.
We are defined by what we do. Especially in the creative realm. The lines between personal brand and personal life become so blurred that we lose who we really are somewhere in the smudge. I’ve been going through a bit of examination of self lately. Throughout this process, I’ve realized there are facets of who I was at the onset of my career that have dropped away.
Some I’ve outgrown and don’t belong in my life anymore, but some have been shoved out as I’ve pushed to grow my career. I’m no longer sure this was a prudent move. A few years ago, Rosemary Ugboajah of Neka Creative spoke on the AdFed Women’s Leadership Panel. She said something that struck me. She explained, at Neka, they don’t want their people to be so consumed with their work that they don’t have lives outside of it. Because those hobbies and experiences help them bring new perspectives to the table.
In an effort to revitalize some of these lost passions I started looking at Minnesota women outside the agency realm who pursued paths I never traveled. Authors, attorneys, actors, comedians. All women who remind me there’s no shortage of inspiration beyond the well-appointed walls of Minneapolis agencies.
Lauren Anderson, Actor, Improviser, Writer, and Sketch Comedian, Brave New Workshop
For years (and I do mean years, she’s been with Brave New Workshop for 14 seasons), Lauren Anderson has split my sides with her impeccable timing, spitfire wit and unabashed delivery. She’s smart and beyond funny, but more than that, she’s using her talent to move people. She told the Pioneer Press,“humor is how we relate to each other and how we survive.” I truly believe the climate we’re in needs this more than ever. I’ve been to BNW shows with people whose views are diametrically opposed to my own and we all leave connected through mutual laughter. We need more people like Lauren who are willing to make fools of themselves for the sake of a unifying laugh.
Esther Mulder, Public Defender, Hennepin County
The resilience, compassion and discernment required to be a public defender has long impressed me, so when I learned of Esther Mulder and her path to public service, it was no surprise she seemed to possess all these traits in spades. In her early life, she thrived in foster care, working hard to earn grades that later afforded her a full-ride to Gustavus Adolphus College. She spent time in the Teach For America program before graduating from Harvard School. A degree that undoubtedly opened hundreds of doors for her, but she chose the one that allowed her to help clients who wouldn’t otherwise have access to legal counsel. Her entire life has been an exercise in selflessly pouring her potential into supporting the underserved.
Andrea Jenkins, Minneapolis City Council Member
As the first openly transgender black woman elected to public office in the U.S., Andrea Jenkins’ historic win this past November made headlines from St. Paul to Washington. While impressive, that’s but a single line on the resume of a remarkable individual. She’s spent years in public service, playing a major role in initiatives that revitalized one Minneapolis neighborhood with a focus on arts and small business. This passion for the arts likely stems from her own notable contributions to this realm. An award-winning poet, writer and performer, her creative works have been published and performed across the U.S. She is the very pinnacle of a woman who embraces myriad passions, staying true to every facet of who she is.
Mikki Morrissette, Owner, Editor, Publisher, Minnesota Women’s Press
Author, journalist, one-time New York Times writer, single mom by choice, Mikki Morrissette has never been by the book (even if she did write a number of them). Her winding road took her from Minnesota to New York and back again. From journalist to author to workshop host to owner of Minnesota Women’s Press (as of December 2017). Her entire life is an inspiration for women who fear their own paths have diverged from the linear trajectory they thought they needed to take if they were ever going to find success. Especially Midwest women, who are often raised to believe linear is the only trajectory. With this background and her passion for telling deep and meaningful stories, I’m excited to see the direction she takes Women’s Press.
Ilhan Omar, Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
Profiled in Mikki’s first issue of Minnesota Women’s Press, Ihan Omar embodies the issue’s Claiming Power theme. She fought past men who told her she had no place in politics. She ignored those who told her she owed all her time to her family. She pushed past attacks on her character. She overcame a sense of “otherness.” She set her sights on the Minnesota House of Representatives and landed on the cover of Time. But, she’s not just an inspiration because of what she’s done. She’s an inspiration because of the way she thinks despite all she’s battled through. She became a legislator to build bridges, to create a better society, to be a part of the change she wanted to see in our communities.
Sarah Clyne, Executive Director, Domestic Abuse Project
I have long followed the work of the Domestic Abuse Project. The organization focuses not only on the impact domestic violence has on victims, but also the larger impact it has on society as a whole. They often examine the connections between domestic abuse and mass shootings as well as the way the legal system handles domestic violence cases. The organization underscores the fact that this is not a private issue. It is a community issue. Sarah Clyne has played a major role in this work since she joined the organization three years ago. Just this past year she led an initiative that expanded services to infants to three-year-olds who witness violence in the home. This preventative initiative will go a long way toward reducing the likelihood that these children become victims or perpetrators in the future.
Dessa, Rapper, Singer, Essayist
Since the release of A Badly Broken Code, Dessa has serenaded me through nearly every anxiety-ridden situation I’ve ever faced. Interviews, presentations, bad dates, fights with friends. Her knack for turning a phrase is unlike any I’ve heard from any other lyricist, local or otherwise. When she was selected to cover a song on the Hamilton Mixtape, my heart nearly exploded. Her journey into music started in the spoken word, taking a turn into hip-hop when one of the members of Doomtree took her in and taught her the art of rap. It didn’t come naturally, which is one of the things I admire most about her as an artist. She’s willing to move beyond the known to master new genres and mediums and she’s not afraid to stumble a little in the process.
There are countless other women in our community, public and private, who are an unfailing source of inspiration. A reminder that we are multifaceted individuals. That we need to explore and indulge our passions outside our industry to gain new perspectives and remain true to every aspect of ourselves.
/written by Eliza Green
/art by Lapiztola