• Mary Killelea

Sharing Decades of Insights

Updated: Jun 14

Today we are living in very isolating and challenging times due to Covid19. It has never been more important to cherish and ensure the relationships in your life are cared for from your business network to your girlfriends. If you are lucky like me, those two circles cross over.

I have always valued the friends in my life and consciously worked on building a strong network of women professionally and personally. The relationships needed to be al·tru·is·tic, fun-loving, non-judgemental, and supportive. Believing you get what you give, I have always tried to be trustworthy, inspiring, and uplifting to those I meet. I find most women are at their core lonely and concerned about not being enough, so as women, we need to resist temptations to judge and approach new and existing engagements with an open mind and heart.

I thought I would share decades of insights;

In my 20's, I was insecure and self-consumed, looking for the next good time and trying to find some sense of self-worth through the men I dated. During this time, I had the great fortune of meeting a core group of college girlfriends who have been life long friends. These girlfriends are the ones that know I'm not perfect, but except me anyway, ones that stand by me and pick me up after the bad breakups or failed relationships. These are women that keep your early indis·cre·tions private, ones that I might only see every 3-4 months, but when we get together, it seems like it was just yesterday, and they provide unconditional love.

In my 30's, life was full of optimism and hope of achieving the storybook life - the dream of having two kids, a dog, a loving husband, living in a beautiful house with a white picket fence, and street lined sidewalks. I got married at 30 had my first child at 34 and my second at 36. For me, I'm glad I waited to have kids I was too selfish before.

I remember the pressure I put on myself to be the perfect mom and always worrying about how I was going to juggle a career and raising them to be confident and independent. I hated dropping them off at daycare but knew deep down I loved to work. There just always was a constant internal struggle with guilt and my identity as a mom and my hopes of being a successful businesswoman and squeezing in time to be a good wife.

Once you have kids, your friend groups tend to shift, at least for me, they did. My new circle of female friends became the moms I met through my kid's playdates or sports. I loved and connected with these new women. We had some excellent times. However, I don't think we were as truthful or transparent about our struggles as we should of or could have been. I think we all wanted to pretend life was just as we dreamed it would be.

In my 40's life seemed to get more comfortable in ways and harder in others. I had had my own business awhile, which allowed me new flexibility and eased my guilt of not being there for my kids. This new way of working had its challenges. I worked around the clock doing 2 a.m. calls with contractors in India, early and mid-afternoon calls with clients, always hustling to grow my business and get new clients while volunteering as much as I could at the kids' school and being there for them when they got home and jumping back and forth in and out of mommy mode.

No-one ever told me how hard parenting or marriage would be. I am not sure I would have listened, but I wish someone would have told me it can be so challenging at times. While I focused on my kids and tried to deal with a marriage that wasn't ideal, I lost myself, lost my positive outlook, my love of fashion, and my desire for time with girlfriends. I drank and ate more than my share to just numb myself into believing life would get better in time. Fed up with not liking who I saw in the mirror, and after hitting my rock bottom, I pivoted, and took a job at a big tech firm, met a new group of women that welcomed and inspired me to look at life differently, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Now early into my 50's I think I'm the most confident I've ever been. I'm in a good place in my career. I feel my job is challenging, there is an opportunity for growth, and my work is valued. My relationship with my husband has improved. We are both committed to doing the work on ourselves and our marriage. Our girls have grown up to be kind-hearted human beings and are finding their sense of self. I think each will have their struggles to overcome, but I believe, hope and pray, they are filled with a foundation of ethical values and know that as long as I am alive, they have a friend, cheerleader, confidant, and advisor in me.

I am truly blessed to have girlfriends from every decade of my life that have weathered the test of time. I'm not going to lie friendships and building your network of women take effort - the old saying you get out of it what you put into it is so true. Small gestures go along way - a handwritten note, an email, a phone call, or a text with words of encouragement, and acknowledging your friend or co-worker's successes and supporting their passions can mean a lot. We as women need to encourage and lift each other. Be kind to one another.

In wrapping up, I'd like to share some insights from my life journey.

Advice to my 20-year-old self - Don't be in a rush to grow up! Go travel, experience the world, stop spending money on material things. Believe in your self-worth and take the time to define who you are and what your expectations are from life and don't settle for less! Don't look to a man to complete you, if anything, look for someone that believes in you, allows you to grow and supports and encourages you. Dream Big!! Set goals, and while they will change or be achieved, keep setting new goals, always strive to grow, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Treasure your friendships.

Advice to my 30-year-old self - Things don't have to be perfect. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Find joy in the little everyday moments. Try and smile and laugh daily. Tell yourself, your kids, and your partner, you love them, and they are special and unique in the world. In regards to work, be confident in your abilities, and if you don't feel confident in your job - make the time to build new skills. Think strategically about your career, where you want to be 5 or 10 years, and how you will get there. Check the guilt at the door - our world is FILLED with judgment - don't allow negative thoughts or outside pressure to change who you are or what is unique about you. Try and have real conversations, let yourself be vulnerable, and take on challenges that make you uncomfortable - those are the times in which you grow and feel alive. Stay connected to your old friends while building new ones.

Advice to my 40-year-old self. Make time for yourself, speak up, and be heard. Don't make other people's problems your own. Concentrate only on the things you can control. Love yourself. Exercise often, eat healthily, find activities that bring you joy, and do more of them. Take risks, be willing to fail fast, learn, and pivot, develop emotional intelligence and be a good listener. Love your kids wholeheartedly, be steady, and consistent when enforcing family rules—set boundaries. Be grateful for your health, don't take friends for granted, nurture relationships, connect, and build your network of women. Take time to smell the roses. Ensure you are going through life with a partner willing to work on themselves and the marriage or be prepared to walk away.

You have one life to live. Take responsibility and own everything you do, the choices and mistakes you've made - don't look back, only look forward and strive to make the most of every god given day you are gifted. Continue to set goals and go after them. Dream big, and be kind to yourself!

With love,

Mary Thompson-Killelea #2BBolder #WorkingMoms #WomenInBusiness #WomenInTech


Key Career Insights

  • Constantly be open to learning

  • Show up, be bolder and push yourself outside your comfort zone

  • Be a strategic thinker

  • Always be working on your personal brand

  • Be kind to others, smile and say hello

Podcast Host

Mary Killelea


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© 2020 2B Bolder, by Mary Killelea