Talking business in poetry

06/24/2016 08:11 am ET

When I was a little girl I did not keep a regular journal. Instead I wrote in a lyrical style to avoid anyone, myself included, from understanding it. It was my own way of hiding from the world and at times from myself too.  I hid to protect my truth from being misunderstood. 

There was my corporate job, my academic life, the achiever, the doctor and then there was poetry. Light and shadow in it all, but never integrated.

It all started with a writing prompt on the first night of a writing retreat in Montana: tell us something that nobody knows about you. My answer was: I run a manufacturing plant and I hate it.

Again and again, courted by the shining career and by the aspiration to serve a mission, I dove in one more time moving across America at the head of a manufacturing plant. The truth was, I did not want that mission and yet I leaned into it to prove my worth. It touched me, it bothered me, this eternal internal conflict: the mission or me? 

The achiever in me talking trying to convince myself I was the heroine to save the mission. Constantly telling myself to march, to stick to the mission to prove my own worth. Confused as I was, I decided I did not need to control it anymore and took a few days off from the shining job to go to a writing retreat in Montana. Was maybe this the mission?

The writing prompt I read out loud the first night became an unstoppable flow of poems on a flight back home. They felt almost extraneous to me, until I found the courage to read them all to myself. Only then I did realise, it was a map for the light and shadow to integrate, to enter into a larger story. The story of understanding and creating that makes all of us human. I read them over and over until one night,  I finally understood my poems were my way to unlearn the story I had constructed and just be. 

The poems from my childhood came back because my heart was broken, because I was burnout by too many years of neglecting my own poetry and dragging myself across the globe to fit into a shining career as female executive in corporate world. 

Pushed at the edge of my beliefs, the poems came to inform about a deeper life that had to be comprehended, had to be practiced despite fear, the humiliation, the anxiety, the anger, the brokenness. The true inner voice wanted to be liberated, to be heard. It was a new story, the story of embracing the paradox of who I am and of coming to find out that I am many. It encourages me to remain many, to remain diverse, to enter the story through inner hearing and to recover all the parts, the executive, the doctor, the poet. It sang out loud the moral obligation to live and stand not only in the light but in the shadow. What lies underneath the shadows needs to be sheltered and freed. It demands I create a relationship with all the parts I am made even if the risk is to be exiled by others.

Immersing into my desires asleep and waking up as the woman who believes in talking business in poetry.


The Whisper

The tiny little Whisper inside

I made a career out of not listening to it

Until it broke me free

Under the big sky of Montana,

Nowhere to hide from the truth

That nobody knew about me:

I run a manufacturing plant and I hate it


I am a doctor,

An executive

I lean into success

I lead from behind and beside

I am a business woman

At the top of her game


And my Whisper saw something else

She saw me dying

Dying to fit in the boy’s club

Dying to prove my worth

Dying to move the needle, move faster, move forward


I couldn’t hear the Whisper that was dying to be heard

Until a quiet moment in the middle of nowhere

Where the Whisper didn’t need to shout to be loud


You are not a business woman

You are not a woman in business.

You are a woman whose business

Needs to become 

Working in a new way


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