Creator of Kuel Life
– as told to The Silver Women
Women who inspired you as a young girl?
Lucille Ball, Debbie Reynolds, Shirley Jones… a great many of the wonderful women I saw light up the big and small screen. From a very young age, I wanted to be an actor – to sing and dance on stage and screen. I admired and copied the likes of those beautiful ingenues who played the leading lady. Ironically, I was never cast as such; always getting the comedic or character-actor role. In hindsight, those were WAY more FUN to perform.
Women, who inspire you now?
This may sound like a cliche but the women that inspire me now are all the brave entrepreneurial women I have met and continue to meet on my Kuel Life journey. These are women that for a myriad and sundry reasons; whether frustrated with limitations in their structured work environments; or coming back from a fulfilling motherhood gig; or mustering the courage to pursue a passion versus playing it safe. The reasons are as diverse and unique as the women themselves and I get to uncover them, meet them, hear their stories, and collaborate with them. Each one inspires me to keep moving forward.
“I have buckets and buckets of
self-esteem because I KNEW
I was unconditionally loved by my mother.”
The most valuable lesson taught by your Mother?
I have buckets and buckets of self-esteem because I KNEW I was unconditionally loved by my mother. I also learned from her to refuse the victim role in life. I am not a victim. I am where I am, whenever I find myself there, directed by the actions or inactions that I’ve taken. I don’t allow myself to play the victim card. I own my fortune in the world, both good and bad. If I don’t like where I am; well I re-direct, chart a new course. Not gonna lie, it gets tougher as you get older… we’re further away from the point of embarkation. But, I strongly believe it is never too late to course correct. I may not end up in the originally intended harbor, but another ‘safe’ harbor will do nicely.
Have you made career changes over the years?
O.K. this one makes me giggle… the one constant thing about me has been change. I’ve been so many positions… interestingly enough consistently feeling as if I hadn’t quite succeeded at any one endeavor. I came from a very academically minded upbringing. My Father was a Ph.D. in Law and had a Masters in Education. My Aunts and Uncles – doctors, lawyers. The one thing I knew I would do in life, at a very young age, was ‘get an education’. So, I did. My clear path – or view ended there.
I did the management consulting gig for a while; was told by my boss I needed an MBA and without looking inward, as to what I wanted, went ahead and got one. After graduating from University of Chicago, Booth School of Business I went on and did the finance ‘thing’, the corporate marketing ‘thing’; all the while looking ahead and thinking “I don’t want that next job”.I felt woefully underutilized. The distance between decision making and the outcome was too long and the path too circuitous for me. I left.
My husband and I started a niche marketing PR firm in San Francisco, Market Accelerate, and it was a blast. All of a sudden my opinions and advice were heard and actions were taken. That felt way more aligned with who I am and it was a great ride. The last time I worked for someone else was 1998…. that sounds nuts to me now. But there you have it.
I always wondered when and where I would find my passion. I had no idea that all the while, each and every one of those experiences, had uniquely qualified me to give birth to, and raise, Kuel Life.
Do you think older women are valued or celebrated enough?
Absolutely NOT! It’s crazy because we now live sooooo much longer than originally intended. We don’t die as often in childbirth (at least in this country). We have better healthcare options. Our cohort of women is the healthiest ever. So, we’re going to be around. And, we have figured out that we can live large. Honestly, we have oodles of wisdom – at the ready – just ask. And, we’re now comfortable enough in our own skins to be forthcoming, raw, and a little naked about it all. What a fabulous resource of ‘life’ – just walking around the planet…. some of us even in heels.
Through my decades!
20’s: THE CHECKLIST DECADE
What a blur. This decade was busy checking off boxes. Do you know what I mean?
Graduate from college √
Get first job √
Meet boy √
Get Graduate Degree √
Get married √
Move across country √
Start ‘career’ √
It seems surreal to me now, but that’s my viewfinder of this time. I wasn’t very introspective. I wasn’t particularly directed. But, boy, oh boy, was I busy. I got a lot of stuff done.
30’s: THE RISK-TAKING DECADE
I started this decade by jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, twice. That stunt pretty much set the tone for my 30s. I left the safe haven of Corporate America and a steady paycheck to start my own Marketing/PR agency. I was running loose in San Francisco during the dot-com bubble years, and it was intoxicating. At the apex of it all, my husband and I shut down our agency, stored all our belongings, and took-off to see the world. Mind you this was PRE smart ANYTHING. We carried FILM…. in a lead encased bag, for protection. I spent an entire year without anything that required electricity. No phone. No computer. No social media. No blow dryer! That year was life-altering. The lessons I learned from the world, the people in it, my reaction to it all, and my husband were and continue to affect me each and every day. I rounded out the end of this decade with my greatest, scariest, and biggest risky achievement – I had a son.
40’s: THE CRASH
What’s that adage? What goes UP must come DOWN? Well, I tell ya. I came down with a thud. This was a tough decade for me. A miscarriage. A divorce. A toddler. A crappy economy. My answer? I started training in martial arts. Kicking and punching stuff seemed to keep me sane, and I figured it was a ‘healthier’ choice than anti-depressants. Although I don’t know a lot of people, who have had cracked ribs and broken bones from Wellbutrin. I kept at it, day in and day out, and before I knew it (o.k., it took about ten years), I now can say I am a Third Degree BlackBelt in TaeKwonDo.
50’s: MY PASSION PLAY
I’m 50% into this decade, so it’s a bit premature to label it, but label I did anyway – that’s the marketer in me. Thus far, this has been my favorite period of time. I know who I am and what I want. I have the time, support, and smarts to go after it. I feel centered. I finally became an ENTREPRENEUR. After a lifetime of providing support and guidance to others, I took the plunge with Kuel Life. I live and breathe this endeavor and wouldn’t want it another way. I harken back to my teen years, where everything was either the BEST or WORST thing that could happen. Entrepreneurship is very similar. The difference is me. I am way more steadfast and able to let those moments of exuberance and devastation wash over me and make room for the next. One of my favorite highlights of my 50s thus far has been re-discovering performing. I was a stage kid growing up. I had almost forgotten the joy and excitement I derive from performing. Luckily, over the last few years, I have been able to sing and dance, once again, in front of an audience. I’m in a different, healthy, relationship, with a man. Unmarried but we live together, and it works. My son is almost 17 and is a kind; thoughtful, high-emotional IQ’d individual. I have clarity about what my Second Act is all about.
What are you most grateful for?
I’d have to say health…. not only mine but the health of my loved ones. Nothing STOPS life faster or harder or more seriously than when one’s body or mind is broken or bent. Nothing. Gratitude’s my ‘thing’ so to speak. I have a living document on my desktop where I keep a running list. It’s one of my favorite pastimes to indulge in.
Has there been a significant circumstance good or bad that changed your outlook on life?
Whilst traveling in Brazil the bus I was on was held at gunpoint by two men. Everything stopped and went into slow motion. This ‘near death’ experience completely altered the way I approach or react to ‘catastrophe’. The clarity that was gifted me – the ability to assess the situation, formulate a plan in the advent of actual gunshots, and then my ability to comfort my fellow passengers on the bus after the imminent danger had passed has forever given me a sense of security. I don’t panic in the moment; I can handle anything. We may or may not mention the GI issues that ensued days later…. guess that cortisol and adrenaline was not overlooked by the rest of my body.
Managing my priorities. I read somewhere once that until the 1940s there was no plural form of that word, that one could have ONE priority. Jeez, can we go back there, please? I know I am not alone, it’s a constant conversation in my peer group. Personal choices, career, family, friends, pets…. the list is long. And, if you happen to be a YES/AND person, the list is endless.
Your thoughts on aging.
Ooh, there’s lots of stuff. But, the one that stands out the most is my self-confidence. I don’t ask for permission, nor do I need it, and sometimes I may not even ask for forgiveness. It’s fantastic to feel good and right inside and not need outside accolades or assurances. Please note: encouragement, praise, and love from people I respect and admire are always welcomed. But it’s the ribbon on the already perfectly wrapped gift – me.
The downside: Honestly, the thing that frustrates me the most is that I cannot physically behave or achieve the same level of athleticism. I’ve spent most of my life physically active. Bodybuilder, aerobics instructor, jump roper, runner, martial artist, power lifter…. I didn’t appreciate just how ‘easy’ it was before arthritis and joint pain. I am not complaining per se; but, in my mind, I am still the same woman who could kick someone in the head and run 8 miles. My body has betrayed me in a way. There is ALWAYS something that hurts, always. I think that eventually, this will be the new norm and the further away I get, age-wise, from that athlete; the more comfortable I will become with the new me. Don’t test me on the jump rope thing – short of one other woman I know, I can out jump rope the best of them.
Your advice to young women of today?
Make room at the table. There is always room for one more sister. Help one another. The table is large enough to pull up another chair. Live in abundance! Scarcity is for the cowards and weak. I believe in WIN/WINs and I don’t necessarily have to win first.
-Jacqueline Perez xoxo
FEW OF MY FAVORITES
Song: Time After Time, Cyndi Lauper. But, I have to say, as someone who fancies herself a singer – I like tons of stuff that’s in my key!
Book/Novel: In my youth – anything from Milan Kundera Now – anything by Bene Brown or Malcolm Gladwell For whatever reason, I enjoy non-fiction way more than fiction these days.
Film: “Long Kiss Goodnight”, “Singing In The Rain”, “Funny Girl”, “White Christmas”… did I mention at one point I thought I would be an actor/singer?
Flower: Orchids; seriously I have an addiction. I must have 10 of them by now.
Scent: I love perfume and burn out on scents, so I have quite the collection but I always come back to Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey.
City/place: The Bay Area, California it’s the one place I have always felt at peace and at home. And, ANYWHERE I haven’t been yet. The wanderlust is real.
Food/Meal/Cuisine:Asian/Sushi. I love how simple and clean it is.
Artist: Van Gogh
Style Icon: Isabella Rossellini
Skincare products: Sunscreen always. Then, I ebb and flow on skin care routines….. sometimes I am really good sometimes I am not. When I am on the bandwagon, I have to say both skincare lines that I have curated for the Kuel Shop are incredible.
Makeup: Carmex…. that’s not really a makeup but I can’t live without it.♥
Images courtesy Jacqueline Perez unless credited otherwise.