Heels in the Hall

(A quick, writing-on-the-airport-floor reflection)

The keynote speaker, a storyteller, says she will tell us her leadership journey (the conference theme) by starting at the beginning. In a split second, something in my subconscious asks me what my beginning is, and without thinking, I am back entertaining myself in a somewhat sterile office, appropriate for a hospital, the people shuffling outside in the halls as background noise.

And I hear it. The unmistakable sound of heels on the hallway’s tile floor, and not just any heels, but my mother’s. I’m not sure how I can recognize her gait from the other female footsteps, but I can. I can tell it’s her, walking deliberately down the hall. Maybe she is coming from a meeting. After all, that is what I once told people my mother did for a living – attend meetings.

In reality, she was a hospital administrator, director of the physical therapy/rehab services, at a time when none of my friends’ mothers worked outside the home. I know now how hard it was for her. I know now the harassment she endured. I know now how others looked down on her for her choice.

Or, really, I don’t know. While I have experienced all of these scenarios in my own professional life, I’ve done so in a different place and time. The culture has shifted…slightly, but it’s shifted.

I will never fully know my mother’s experience, but I do know that when I heard those heels in the hall, I thought, “That’s my mother.”

And decades later, I find myself in a convention center, listening to a keynote speaker tell her leadership journey “from the beginning” and am caught off guard when the beginning of my leadership story comes to me as the sound of my mother’s heels in the hall.

I know now how many physical therapists she mentored. I know now how many patients she helped. I know now how many trails she helped blaze. And I know now, from that moment at the conference today, how my leadership journey started in my mother’s walk down that hall.

Happy International Woman’s Day, belated!

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4 thoughts on “Heels in the Hall

  1. Pam zahn says:

    I absolutely love your posts. I am now totally impressed with your Mom. I had no idea who she was…even though I had met her. Thanks for enlightening me!

    • Kirstin says:

      Thank you, Pam. I have hours to kill at the Atlanta airport and started writing about this revelation but wasn’t going to post it, as it’s not a fully formed piece. I’m glad you liked it. You are one of my biggest fans!

  2. Mom says:

    Shedding tears, as I thank you for recognizing my woman’s journey. I was trying to do my part in blazing a trail for my daughters and other women making difficult choices at the time. I thank you, Kara and now Avery for continuing the journey of equality for all. Love 💗 you with all my heart.
    PS: why are you on the airport FLOOR?

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