Ed: Sydney Chaney Thomas is a Moraga-based writer and businesswoman with three books to her name, all currently available on Amazon. She is also co-founder of a sustainable sailing apparel company called Ocean SF, and operates a nonprofit that works to reduce plastic waste called the The Trident Project.
Sydney teaches entrepreneurial marketing at UC Berkeley in their International Diploma Program and, in addition to this column, she writes a popular lifestyle blog, which can be found at sydneychaneythomas.com.
Transition, Work & Motherhood
March 23, 2019
My mother was sophisticated and worldly. She was wicked smart with emerald green eyes and hair the color of charcoal. For all of those fine attributes she did little with them.
After my father died, she had a good deal of money, and as a result she didn’t have to work and chose not to. I remember thinking even as a little girl that this wasn’t such a good thing.
As I’ve grown wiser, I now know there is a high price to pay for not using your gifts and talents. Working hard provides a framework to live our lives; instilling structure, confidence and self worth.
When my husband died in 2016 I wrote about the irony of history repeating as my mother’s actions after the death of my own father provided a cautionary tale. This experience provided a road map for how to proceed in those first dark days. Many of the decisions I made were with the specific intention of doing the opposite of what she did.
At the time there was no shortage of advice on what I should do to reorganize our lives. Most of this advice included major changes pertaining to how we lived, where we lived, and what I did for work. None of these suggestions were an improvement.
I decided to listen to my own counsel and stay the course. I simply proceeded with my life as before. I held onto my real estate, got my kids into college and worked diligently on my business and goals. There were many moments along the way when it would have been easier to fold than continue. Yet, I persevered. And, with the help of my friends and loving community I’ve held the course.
Although, I’ve had to work very hard, my mother on the other hand, was left to a life of relative ease with which she did absolutely nothing. She was of course a product of her times where women of her means were not encouraged to start companies, or write books, although she could have done both, and more.
I often wonder what she would have become had the circumstances been different? I will never know what she might have offered to the world professionally, but I do know she would have been great at anything she chose to do.
It is not so much what you do, but what you become while doing it. The challenges of starting a company like Ocean SF has changed me profoundly, and taught me everything about courage, tenaciousness, and faith. It has been the kind of transformation that forced me to grow both personally and professionally in ways I could not have dreamed possible at the onset.
As I model for my children the qualities of hard work and determination, I am also modeling the importance of developing talents, following dreams, and charting a course for your life and then staying the course no matter what happens.