Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Five (Or So...) Things To Say About Martha...

And please excuse the poor quality pics...





I have a soft spot for Martha Stewart - I do, I really do... You've gotta give it to her, after all... She's single handedly paved the way for us girls to tap back into our inner homemaker - which is no mean feat when you think about it... Who would have thought, back in the 80s (when I was finishing school) that there could ever be room for a career built around the principles of homemaking - cooking, cleaning, decorating, flower arranging and gardening. For those of you of my vintage (!) - you'll remember well the rhetoric around what it meant to be a woman... The fashion said it all - big shoulders, sharp suits, structured briefcase in hand... In short, it meant, taking on the attributes of a man... To survive as a woman at that particular point in our history, it meant relinquishing all things that had defined womanhood to that date - the frivolous pursuits of homemaking being top of the list... I remember well, embracing the emancipation - I mean, cleaning the house! Really? Why oh why, I wondered, should women have to clean the house... And why, indeed, as I looked on at the women in my family, who seemed to slave away endlessly scrubbing for little appreciation in return... However, as I grew older, something different kicked in, a shift began to take shape... I got married. I bought a house... And all of a sudden, and seemingly out of the blue, I wanted to home make... I wanted to bake a cake, make a dinner, I wanted a clean house, to pot some plants, I wanted to have children younger than what was expected... I wanted all of things that I'd been told, were not okay, if you were a woman back in the 80s.  I remember well, the inner wrangle that ensued... The trying to reconcile what I wanted to do, with what my generation was meant to do... And right about that time,  enter Martha Stewart... Now, I have to state, that I've never really ascribed to Martha's way of doing things - I'm not a perfectionist... Nor am I a lover of cleaning... I don't like things exactly so.... And, I don't have endless funds to spend on redecorating the house and, or re landscaping the garden... But, that's not really the point of it all... For me, it was Martha, yes, Martha, that made it okay to settle in to home... To nurture it... To love it and to embrace some of the lessons that my foremothers had taught me... When Martha took the stage, the fashion changed and with that change, girls of my vintage were given a choice, and with that choice the permission to tend their homes if they so chose. I relished the change, actually, it was like a relief... In fact, I embraced the change so wholeheartedly that ultimately I shaped a career around all things home... And, of course, I'm not alone... There are women out there everywhere who are shaping their working lives around the pursuit of home making and creativity at large... There are crafters, designers, decorators - there cupcake bakers, and gardeners... And for that, I tip my hat and say Thank you Martha...

As you all know, I managed to secure some tickets to a Martha show taping here in NYC, and so yesterday, I totted off wearing springtime fashion (and the fluro peep toe pumps, you should have seen the looks I got on the subway!) with some friends, to witness the lady herself, in action... We spent a few hours around the studio and had soooo much fun... I loved being a part of it all and getting to see Martha at work. I'm always intrigued by the machinations of how things and people operate and in the short space of time that I spent watching Martha in action, there were a few things about her that I noted which you might find of interest... And they are...

1. She's Very Focused (and an Island)...
Of course, you'd expect that from such a successful business woman, wouldn't you? One knows, that to be a success at anything, you have to give it all of your attention... As soon as Martha hit the set, she was focussed and unerring.... Her concentration was obvious, she was in the moment and she didn't break focus even though she was surrounded by a crew of about 30 on set, and a live audience... In fact, she was a little like an island - slightly removed, separate, and on her own...
2. She's Clearly A Perfectionist...
It's no secret that Martha likes things to be exactly as she likes and so it was to be expected that the set was immaculate, not a thing was out of place... The bowls were placed on the shelves at exactly the right distance from each other, everything was in order... Martha likes order and raises the bar high... When a couple of things didn't go according to plan on the set, she said so (even though the show was taping live!)... But, when you're running a business at this level, let's face it, there's no room for slacking off and everyone is accountable...
3. She Doesn't Like To Be Wrong...
Like an old school ma'am, nobody tells Martha how things get done, otherwise, expect a scolding! And that's exactly what her director got, (through pursed lips and willful gaze!) when she asked Martha to redo a promo! The desire to be right shows the kind of drive that you'll often find in people who reshape the landscape... And Martha, is no exception...
4. She's A Little Naughty...
I love that underneath all of the seriousness, Martha really did come across as a playful kind of gal... I think she may know exactly how she's viewed by others, and she's not adverse to making fun of herself... Her dry sense of humour was refreshing - and at times, she was even a little bit naughty!
5. She's Human...
Underneath the machine, there's a woman... And every now and then, if you looked real close, you could catch a glimpse of her frailty... And what a relief, I say... To know, that that even though one strives for perfection, underneath it all, humanity will always prevail...

Us girls have been through some changes in our history, that's for sure. And I have an enormous respect for my peers, those who donned the big shoulder pads and went into battle for equal rights... For choice.... After all, without them pushing the bar, where would we be? But, I also love that in this day in age, women are embracing and redefining what makes them feminine. I love that, if you work hard, if you make sensible decisions, and if you are focussed and on top of things, anything (even cleaning the house!) can have an impact and ultimately be made into a career... I love that women like Martha Stewart, warts and all, have left an indelible mark in what's still a mans world... It's an exciting time... And for that dear Martha, I'll always be a fan...

5 comments:

Caz said...

Great Post Shannon, thanks for sharing :-)

Tania Maree said...

I totally agree with everything you just said and enjoyed the behind the scenes sneak peek......
I have been called Martha Stewart before but I think the person who called me that meant it as an insult.
Best compliment ever!!! ;o)
Thanks again and have a Happy Easter......
Tania xx

karen said...

What a wonderful piece.
You are inspirational to be around.

Trudy said...

I love this post.....it is true what we were fed in the 80s, I love how as we get older we can see that for what it is and do what comes naturally anyway, nothing wrong with either choice or both, it is all about balance. This was a lovely read!

Simple Daisy said...

So well written and so very true!! I think Martha is such an example of perserverance and truly being yourself!! She sure has made it ...regardless of what people may think of her! Martha Stewart is who you think of when you think of anything crafty!!!