I’m a Pilates teacher. I’ve also been a social worker, a published author, and a Ph.D. candidate, but my priority now is motherhood.
My mother grew up in the 1950’s and had mostly traditional ideas about a woman’s place being with her children. I was born just as Gloria Steinem alerted women to the fact that they could work outside the home and that they deserved equal pay. So, my childhood was equal parts traditional and radical. My mother had a local TV cooking show, was the president of the school board, and went to law school the year I left for college. She taught me that if I could dream it, I could do it.
After college, I moved to France and worked as an au pair to see what that would be like. Then I moved to New York. I had no job; I knew no one. I just arrived and started making a life for myself. I got my master’s in social work and did agency work for a few years. I started on the Ph.D. track, but I had a baby halfway through, and I honestly just wanted to be with her.
While I was at home with my girls, I wrote three bestselling cookbooks. The stress of that—doing the media and promoting them—inspired me to immerse myself in wellness, anatomy, and movement, so I trained to teach Pilates. I love this job, and I plan to stay in it for a while. I can’t remember the last time I said that.
Looking back, I can see that I’ve been both lucky enough and driven enough to do whatever moves me at a given time. Curiosity propels me to try new things, but I’ve found that I get bored fairly quickly. I considered this a character flaw for years. Now I recognize that variety is just important to me. I like setting new goals for myself.
It’s funny how New Yorkers respond to the kind of career track I’ve had—and the feelings that their response elicits from me. I have struggled with telling people about my unconventional work life, because at times I’ve felt judged as disappointing or mediocre. I worry I won’t be considered smart, or an equal, because I chose something outside the corporate sector. Hedge fund manager, college professor, coder, executive—all of these titles imply so much about a person in today’s society. But Pilates teacher?
I guess it implies that I like to exercise, and I like to help people. After all these years, I’m okay with that.
Interviewed on March 9, 2018