I feel like I would be friends with Reese Whitherspoon or Tina Fey if I had the opportunity. Like I could invite them over for a glass of wine and we could chat about anything. I feel that way about other celebs too. Maybe I'm delusional (no laughing) or maybe I just feel like they're real people, moms, moms who work and deal with the same stuff as I do.
Have you ever walked down the street, maybe in New York City, or Los Angeles or London and seen someone famous and you stop and think.... I know that person.... where do I know that person from... because you're not expecting to see a celeb walking down the street and because you see them on TV you recognize them but out of context your brain is confused.
You want to just wave or say hi and then you realize, oh crap, that's so-and-so, I can't say hi, they're famous! We all get that I think but if you strip away that fame then they really are just regular people (with a ton of money). My husband grew up in New England and every time I see an actor from Boston like Ben Affleck, Mark Wahlburg, Matt Damon on TV or in the movies, I seriously think he would totally be friends with those guys. Coming over for a couple of beers, talking sports and stuff.
It must be very isolating though to be a celebrity because you're always guarded and might be wary of people being so friendly when you're just trying to go pick up your dry-cleaning or something like that.
When I go running I think about a lot of things. All sorts of un-related things pop into my head. Mostly I think about Bosisi and how I can get more people to get to know the brand so it can grow and employ tons of underserved women. I started listening to business podcasts about maybe 4-5 months ago and I am hooked! So I listen to podcasts about how people started and grew their small businesses and take mental notes so I can try to incorporate what they did into my own business plans.
South African experiences also pop into my head. The amazing people I met while living in Joburg for 2 years, the bright sun and warm weather that I just loved, and one person in particular that changed my life - Cynthia.
Cynthia is a woman that cleaned our home. We were told that as expats we should hire local people because it is good for the economy. Cynthia was sort of 'gifted' to our family by another expat family that was moving back home in June of that year. They loved Cynthia and wanted to make sure she had work once they departed.
I've never had anyone 'work' for me or in our house before. It was sort of uncomfortable to oversee someone and tell them how you wanted your house cleaned, your laundry washed, etc. Our friendship started off a bit slow, both of us a bit nervous or apprehensive like we were on a first date.
Maybe there is a certain way that the employer-employee relationship is supposed to work, but since I wasn't familiar with that we charted our own course. And I'm so glad we did.
As some of you who read my blog while we were living in South Africa already know, our family loves Cynthia and I know she loves us too. There were many days when Cynthia would be ironing our clothes, brought in from hanging out to dry in the warm South African sun and I would stand there leaning against the sink, probably holding my rooibos tea and we would chat about our kids and stuff happening in both of our lives. Cynthia has 5 of her own kids, high school age twins, 2 in their 20s and 1 in his 30s, plus 1 granddaughter. They live in a small house with a zinc roof and all sleep in the same room, except the one in his 30s, he sleeps in a tiny shack in her backyard.
Cynthia and I would talk and laugh, sometimes cry and discuss the issues and challenges of raising kids. She once told me that I was her friend and it struck me. Now most expats would tell you that you should not, under any circumstances become friends with anyone who worked in your house. And I can see why. It changes the dynamic and can make things tricky should the friendship sour. I knew the risks but couldn't help it.
While I was running the other day I thought about Cynthia and how she must have felt strange to have a white lady as her friend. Someone who lived in a prosperous world, different from her world, but still we were friends. I would joke with her and say that we are the same. We are both moms trying to keep our kids safe and cared for. She would laugh and just shake her head. I truly believe that we are the same in so many aspects, except opportunity and privilege. Apartheid drove South Africa into the world's most unequal country.
I guess what I'm trying to say in this blog is that people around the world are people at the end of the day. No one is any better or worse as humans and we need to treat people with the appropriate sentiment and support they deserve. I may never be friends with Reese, but I'm friends with Cynthia and I am happy about that.
Starting Bosisi Designs was less a want than a must. I believe in giving opportunities to all people but since there aren't many for black women in South Africa I'm trying to help my friends, like Cynthia and others who just need a chance.
Be kind, support people that don't have what you may have and don't think that any one is below you and your friendship.
In humble gratitude,