At my feet sat a treasure trove of memories: a box of photos that had somehow been stored with archived documents for decades.
As I flipped through them, I saw a black-and-white portrait. “Rio de Janeiro, 1965.” Looking all grown up, but still a big kid. (Yet a big kid who had already weathered far too many adult situations.)
I stared at my high school yearbook picture and allowed myself to fade back to that time, to experience how it felt to be Sharon O’Day at 17. And to see how many of those emotions had survived the next 46 years.
I would graduate the next year, full of adventurous energy, but no real focus. I knew I could do anything I wanted, and could survive most anything because in my young mind I already had.
My father’s adventures had dragged the whole family onto a financial roller coaster that had whipped us from Jaguar-wealthy to ‘hand-me-downs’-broke. And on to “we’ll be fine"… more than once. I had seen my mother dressed up for a night on the town in a cocktail party dress with her favorite aquamarine and diamond earrings my father had bought her. I had watched my parents fly off to Paris. And I had seen my mother sit in her favorite chair, day after day, wondering how to keep the lights on. And wearing a look of worry that marred her beauty too many of her years.
So where am I today?
The four and a half decades in between have been filled with ups and downs. (Are you surprised?) I adopted my father’s spirit of adventure and of being able to turn around whatever the consequences of my decisions. All my adult life, I’ve had people marvel at how much I had already packed into whatever my age was then. “You ought to write a book,” they all said.
From mundane jobs to hanging out of helicopters as an aerial photographer. From buying a restaurant on an island off the coast of the Yucatan to bird hunting with a French count in the southwest of France. I lived ‘The Bucket List” before I had ever heard the phrase...
And today, only just slightly less of an adrenaline junkie, I have finally found my true passion.
It is you. And your relationship with money. It is taking everything I learned from the peaks and valleys, the pinnacles and the disasters, my M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Finance, and sharing it all with you.
And it is remembering the look of worry on my mother’s face…seeing it on the face of so many other women…and wanting to replace it with a look of serenity.
This is actually a love note. It is a thank you for allowing me into your life and for listening to my silly stories. It is for taking action when something I suggest makes sense to you. It is for trusting that things can change…because they truly can. As they have for me.
And as I reach my hand out to you today, and offer you encouragement if times are tougher than you remember them being in a long time, I ask you to do the same.
Look around you. See who needs a kind word, a hand on the shoulder, an “I know how you feel, because I’ve been there too, but it will get better.”
Because it will.