Earlier this week I co-hosted a gathering of women, to listen and learn from my friend Judith Hannan, an immensely talented author. Set at the beautiful home of my close friend Betsy Skae, this intimate gathering was a chance for us all to learn from Judi, who has authored two poignant works: Motherhood Exaggerated and The Write Prescription. Her essays have also appeared in Woman’s Day, Twins Magazine, and The Martha’s Vineyard Gazette. Through the conduit of her beautiful prose, Judi explores the ways in which writing can help us heal during times of illness. She writes from the heart, having used writing as a therapeutic release in her own experience with illness, and has made a successful career out of sharing its power with others.
Judi happens to be a longtime friend of mine, and – no exaggeration – ZADEH wouldn’t exist without her. I’ll come back to the book reading momentarily, but I’d like to first share the story of our friendship.
Judi and I met 23 years ago at the 92nd Street Y in New York, where our daughters Sophie and Franny went to nursery school.
One day in the elevator, Judi’s husband, John, noticed something that few people saw: the 3 rings I was wearing. He complimented my jewelry and asked where I had purchased them. When I explained that I had made them myself, he immediately asked if I was a designer and if I’d be willing to design something for Judi. I lied and said I could….boldly pretending to be a designer, and making him believe that I knew my sh*t. Little did I know that one commissioned piece would lead to another, and another, until he ultimately asked me to design few pairs of cuff links for himself. It was the genesis of my men’s jewelry collection.
Though we lost touch for some time, I am thrilled to have reconnected with Judi recently, and to be able to support her work. We have all dealt with illness – directly or indirection – and having tools to help you cope is vital.
Our gathering was intimate, comfortable and open. Though our experiences with illness were all different, I believe every woman in attendance took something away from this evening. At the end of the night Judi challenged us with a quick, 5 minute writing exercise – a self-portrait of ourselves based on our hands: what they do, what they touch, where they’ve been. Pencils scribbled away, some gushing words onto the page with gusto, others dribbling out slowly and with caution. I looked around the room and felt so…appreciative. Of these women, their willingness to share and learn, perhaps acknowledging a painful memory of grief or illness that had been long buried. I appreciated us all having the opportunity to be vulnerable. Whether young or old, introvert or extrovert, we all need a dose of acceptance and openness. Judi gave us this gift last night.
I am so proud of Judi’s work, and to call her my friend. I would not be here today without her and her husband’s support. Their commitment to and belief in my ability to design was the catalyst for everything ZADEH. They believed in me before I believed in myself. I will be forever indebted.
So thank you Judi, thank you Betsy, and thank you ZADEH women who made last night so amazing.
Learn more about Judi’s work here.