Guest Post

Embracing The “Now What?”

by Jennifer Rahn DeMuth

It feels like yesterday. Everyone remembers September 15, 2008, right? A significant meltdown, intense pain, overwhelming fear, panic and a little disbelief. With this precise experience, I could still easily say it was the best day of my life.

On Black Monday—the first of 2008—the world witnessed an unprecedented meltdown among major financial Wall Street players. I, on the other hand, was none the wiser. While CNN and MSNBC were delivering a snowball of harsh reality, my OBGYN was delivering…my daughter…my first dose of that unprepared-parenting-reality feeling. (In retrospect, probably not a bad day to get a big, fat shot in my spine for some major relief.)

I learned of the day's events that evening from my best friend who greeted me with "just be glad you're here today." At that time I felt shielded from the world, caught up in my own combination of exhaustion, excitement, fear, total awe and, of course, love. And an underlying feeling of "now what?" that, fortunately, had nothing to do with the rest of the world.

I later realized what profound and poetic timing it was. How lucky I was. People would comment what awful timing this must be for me, as a business owner, when both my husband and I are self-employed. And even as a Type A realist, I just didn't quite get it. Yes, I was bitter at times that I didn't get a real maternity leave, that someone else wasn't paying for the cherished time off I needed. And like everyone, I had some powerful moments of anxiety. But that's where it ended.

This new little person in my life—and, well, the collapse of the financial world—put my philosophies to the test at a time when it couldn't have been more important. It was all about—and has always been about—choices. For me, finding (or remembering) my nerve boils down like this:

1. Worry about the things you have control over. Like your physical and mental well-being. It's the only way to have the strength to handle the things you don't have control over.
2. Don't get sucked in. Devouring the news like it's still 9/11 (or 9/15!) just isn't good for your soul. (Besides, who has that kind of time?) It's important to be informed, but we don't need to watch 23 channels delivering bad news in a more creatively upsetting way.
3. Know and protect your most important relationships. Whether it's clients, family or friends, focusing on and aligning ourselves with good people only begets good, worthwhile experiences.
4. Create a positive environment. I am not talking about denial. I am talking about being kind.
5. Know your worth. Our value as people and our talents aren't directly proportionate to the nosedives our portfolios may take. It's easy to forget. Dropping your rates or giving away the farm is not the answer. Being creative and flexible and, ultimately, having conviction, is.

So what now? Participate. Embrace all of it—the pain, uncertainty, the absurd humor. Otherwise, you may miss the moments that make everything worth it. And if you do, perhaps give #1-5 a shot.

Jennifer Rahn DeMuth is the owner of Denver-based Rezonant LLC, a marketing communications agency that helps clients discover exactly what makes them special to their audiences—and figure out "now what?"—through thoughtful brand development, strategy and creative.

  1. So perfectly put. Nothing like childbirth to put things in perspective. Thanks for this dose if inspiration. And I love the premise of this site! Bravo.

    Comment by Amy Levi — 11/24/2009 @ 10:42 PM

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