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Having It All

Beverly Sills, Chairman of the Board, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., and opera singer

Women are told today that they can have it all.  I would like to tell you that if the word “all” means career, marriage, and children, then you can have it, but someone is going to pay for it.  This “all” can bring you every kind of fulfillment, excitement, fun, rewards, but you really have to make a total commitment to making it work.  You will need lots of give, lots of compromise, lots of humor.  You will have to be competitive, but only enough to be exciting and not, for  God’s sake, enough to be bored.  You will need to be proud of your femininity, but you will have to substitute the words “our thing” for “my think.”  And you will cry a lot, that is the career part.

And then you will have to take a close look at the child.  In my house her name was Muffy.  She didn’t want me to be glamorous, she didn’t want me to be humorous, she didn’t want me to be supportive, she just wanted me around.  She wanted me to lover, to be there when she needed me, and she needed somebody to depend on.  Her mind was made up, so I couldn’t confuse her with the facts of my life.  She had to pay the price for my wanting it all.  To delay in having a baby until you are “ready” can be dangerous to your health and the baby.  Not to have a baby at all could be a great loss to you, and to have a baby without a real commitment on your part could be a great tragedy.

  So you can have it all, but there are two keys to this kingdom.  The first is that you have to believe in yourself and you have to know that you can make it work.  And the second is love.  You’re going to have to ooze it from every pore.  You’re going to have to love your work passionately-love it enough to feel it’s worth the nightmare of days that are twenty-nine hours long.  You’re going to have to love your husband so that when he complains about your twenty-nine-hour day you will have the patience to soothe him, the desire to comfort him, and the ability to turn your twenty-nine-hour day into a thirty-hour day – the last hour for him alone.  And you are going to have to love your child and not just hear its needs, but feel its needs, touch and hold and never let that child feel that anything is more important to you in the whole world.  So what if the day is now thirty-one hours long.  You can sleep in your old age if you live long enough to enjoy it.  But I have to tell you that you owe it to yourself to try for it.  You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t give it a try.

  A lot of us were meant to be spectators in life and that is okay, too, because an audience is just as important as a performing artist.  But some of you who have the guts and desire to get into the middle of the arena and fight the bull in every sense of the word, I will tell you that I recommend it highly and I wish you the best of luck.

  -excerpt from Smith College Commencement Address

Provided by :  Helene Lerner, TV host, Author, and Seminar Leader and reprinted with permission.

Go to for more information. 

If you would like to purchase her book or read more about it click here Our Power As Women : The Wisdom and Strategies of Highly Successful Women is a collection of 75 never before published essays from GREAT women.  Filled with motivating stories.




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