I always wanted it all, but I never knew what I really wanted. Having it all might have meant living the dream life of a “woman", having a family and a successful career simultaneously.
I envisioned myself settling down, earning myself a successful husband that loved me unconditionally and encouraged my personal growth.
I planned to have a family no later than the age of 30. I preferred having two children, one boy and one girl. I wanted to achieve great success in my career and my plan was to reach that peak no later than the age of 35.
Well, I turned 34 this summer and to my naïve surprise, life did not go as I had planned. I have been blessed, lucky, worthy or something along those lines to have found someone that wants to experience life with me. We settled down a few years ago and I've been nesting ever since.
My “real" professional journey just started. Although I had imagined myself reaching the peak of my success around this age, I feel like I just found my professional character and the strength to serve my calling, without the fear of failure. I guess I mean that, I am more clear about what it is that I have to give, and I have become confident that it is of service to people. I am an author and business coach and I assist in the growth of individuals, teams and organizations. But the main absence in my journey has been that there is no sign of the boy and girl I had so precisely planned to have by now.
I wanted it all, but what should I have compromised? I chose my twenties to build a firm foundation for my professional career by advancing my education and build on my work experience. I dedicated myself to relationships that didn't turn out the way I expected, and my search for my “partner in life" took turns and more time than I had anticipated.
-Shocker, I know!
In the midst of everything I also had the burning desire to travel the world and experience life, while I was “young". That passion fueled me to move across the world where I eventually settled down in the city of angels. Where in the world could I have squeezed in childbearing in my “roaring twenties"?
My most fertile years had been between 19-26, and I had gone against nature by postponing having children to advance my education, career and relationships. I was told by my elders that life gets better with age, and that I have all the time in the world to achieve what I “want", but did I really have the luxury of “time?"
My age was not the only thing that was counting against me in my quest of starting a family. I was diagnosed with endometriosis about a year ago. I had suffered from this painful condition since high school, and I've had multiple surgeries to remove it but it kept coming back. The irony of this condition is that it is the cause of infertility and the cure lies within a full term pregnancy. That means that it has prevented me from getting pregnant, and the way for me to cure it is to get pregnant. Isn't that an ironic paradox? My condition has worsened with age as I had skipped my most fertile years, and I was now paying the price for trying to have “it all."
Given today's social and professional climate more and more women are delaying pregnancy. Since our most fertile years are scientifically proven to be in our 20's, then how can we match that in the society we live in today? A society that demands individualistic social and economic growth to sustain a desired and fulfilling life.
Introducing: the science of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). IVF is a type of assisted reproductive technology that, in summary, extracts eggs from a female and manually combines them with sperm samples in a laboratory. If the egg becomes fertilized, the embryos are transferred into the uterus. From there, patients wait to see if a pregnancy takes place.
Freezing eggs allows women to fulfill their dreams on their own timeline without depending on their biological clock.
IVF is in no sense traditional but it is absolutely liberating to be able to take charge of our fertility as we are tackling the challenges of society today.
Women and men should not pay the price of not being able to start a family due to the social and economic factors that we are all affected by today. What is one to do when they have not found their partner in life, or do not have the financial ability to afford a child?
What is one to do if conditions like endometriosis, fibroids or sperm deficiency detains you from naturally becoming pregnant?
Due to my condition the option of IVF has been liberating and an obvious choice to start our family. Our choice has not been easy financially, emotionally or physically. IVF has cost us about thirty thousand dollars and I am not yet pregnant. My body is literally bruised by all of the shots I have been inducing myself with. My hormones run haywire and I have to mindfully coach myself out of bitter thoughts like “why do I have to go through this" and “ how could I have prevented this from happening" and last but not least “if it was meant to be it would've happened naturally". I am putting myself through all of this because of my souls urge to feed its maternal identity.
The two reinforce each other, family and career. Family grounds me, and gives me the inspiration I need to succeed and thrive professionally.
I am ecstatic and confident to start my family at this age, with the experience and knowledge that I have today. My idea of having “it all" has become about creating a balanced life. I am mindful of my choices and try to do the best I can. I make choices with the intention of finding balance and I welcome the experience of life without anticipating the outcome or attaching it to any results. No matter what comes my way, I will be at ease.
One of the large forces in the last century of global growth, have been the rise of women. 70% of women in America work and have children, which means that women can do it all.
So if women can have it all, what do you really want? And what is the price you need to pay to have it all?
How many times have you looked at something and thought: I wish this did more? And how many times have you thought long and hard about what else you could make it do, if you had the resources, time, and a factory-load of people working for you?
We've all certainly been there. Whether we were 5 and inventing a flying Barbie, or futuristic football, or 35 and looking at the kitchen imagining a self-taught robot that would help with the nightly dinners. We've all come up with what we thought were million dollar ideas - but almost none of us follow through because we're already too busy, and somebody else has probably invented it already.
For one woman, this very sequence of events took place when she was just a teenager. Unimpressed with her dog's collar, she created a new one with florescent sides (making them more visible to cars at night) that would fit more comfortably on a dog or cat's neck. But because of her relative youth, the collar was never produced, and a year later was released and patented by another company.
The girl, Joy Mangano, vowed this would never happen again.
Fast forward to 1990. Single mother-of-three, Mangano has a bigger, bolder idea. This time, the Miracle Mop is born, launching her career as an entrepreneur and setting her up for a life in the spotlight with her product launch on QVC. Between then and now, Mangano has accrued 100 patents (for products like the Huggable Hanger and My Little Steamer) and her company, Ingenious Designs is worth over $50million.
This story was told in Hollywood by David O.Russell in 2015 with his Golden Globe winning movie, Joy. Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of Mangano served to highlight the difficulty of entrepreneurship and instruct on the minefield of patent disputes.
Mangano's latest product is one she says she's been working on for her entire life: a journal, a manual and a self-help for entrepreneurs wrapped up in her book, Inventing Joy: Dare to Build a Brave and Creative Life.
SWAAY spoke with Mangano about the necessity for this kind of book in this age of entrepreneurship, and how it will resonate with aspiring female inventors and change-makers.
Drawing on her success and the pains it took to get there, Mangano has penned a book that will no doubt be a bible for those looking to take their flying Barbies or futuristic footballs to market. "I️ believe it will be a resource for people they can keep coming back to," she remarks. "This book truly is a lesson for anybody - in their careers, no matter what age."
Her family have been crucial to the whole process of building her brand and expanding Ingenious Designs, for the last 17 years, and have informed many of the chapters in the book. "I️ am fortunate enough to work with my children, family and friends and they were completely integral (to the books production)," says Mangano. Her daughter Christie serves as SVP Brand Development, Merchandising & Marketing Strategy having worked with her mom for thirteen years. “She's my left brain," laughs Mangano. Both her son Bobby and other daughter Jackie have worked elsewhere before also coming under their mother's umbrella. Bobby currently serves as Executive Vice President of the company and Jackie is involved with the fashion side of the business, which is certainly no mean feat, as she is also involved in styling for the upcoming reboot of The Murder on the Orient Express.
"When you can do things in life - work and follow your passion with people you love - it makes it all that much more meaningful and pure happiness."
The launch of her book signals new territory for the serial inventor, who has her first opportunity to tour the country and speak to those whose homes she has appeared in for the past 15 years on QVC and HSN.
"This is really one of my dreams," she comments. "I️'ve always wanted to go around the country and meet all of my customers and this is one way to do that. It couldn't be better."
"95% of my customers are women so I️ can't help but be an advocate always."
While on tour, Mangano is destined to meet a host of people that will tell her of their inventions or start-up ideas, but none more so than the millennials, who are completely reinventing the notion of entrepreneurship. Mangano hopes that through the book aspiring female entrepreneurs will be able to take solace in the fact they don't have to do it all. "I️ truly believe - this is a generation I️ watch, a lot of them work for me and with me - today, more than ever, they think they have to do it all."
"Dressed beautifully and in a meeting, they'll say 'I've been up since 5. Dressed the kids. Fed the kids.' And then (after work) they'll come home, have quality time, bath time. And I️ say - you can miss a game." If there's one thing she would invent for millennial women, it's this very advice, she says.
Rather than a product, or an item, it's this advice that, contrary to the millennial mindset, you don't have to be five places at one time or working 20-hour days to get where you want to be. Instead, Mangano has sections of the book that will inform on how better to manage your time and your ideas - to employ her methods - so you can become successful with (a little) less stress.
When asked how social media and the digital age has influenced her real-world inventions (like mops, hangers, steamers and pillows), Mangano chuckles. Technology, rather than impairing the invention of real world application actually opens up a 'wider range' tells the inventor. “It opens up a direct - to - consumer feedback and enhances your platform."
"With Instagram and Facebook my customers communicate with me. That's critical for looking at what you do and for the future of what you do."
Out of the dozens of things she's invented, Mangano won't say what her favorite is. "What am I️ most proud of? That's hard to say - that's like asking what child do you love the most and I️ don't think I️ could be prouder of any of them."