Let’s be realistic, there is something to be said for youth. Being one of the children born during the last wave of baby boomers, my youth is now a memory to me that conjures up self-reflections of aspiration, hope and change. Not that I have given up the fight, I just do not have as much energy as I once did which is certainly evident by my detailed planning of next year’s flower beds instead of being on the street protesting the current status of national affairs.
However, I silently give this young generation kudos every evening as I watch the nightly news. Their passion for change is no different than our own generation. Whether through personal resurrections, Zen-like quiet strength, gut-wrenching tenacity or committed idealism, they will make an indelible mark on their generation. They are thought-provoking individuals that have inspired me and the world we live in.
My parents’ generation lived through the Great Depression and World War II. They experienced mass unemployment and widespread financial hardship. They experienced the permanent effects of war and global instability. I grew up watching the surge of the civil rights movement, Vietnam War protests and student killings at Kent State. There was the draft and daily death. There was feminism and bra burning. It was a time of provocative change and newly found freedoms. The nightly news reflected a rising tide of counterculture that rallied daily against the so-called establishment. This was our world. I learned I could be whatever I wanted to be; no limits by virtue of race or gender. Is it so different today?
As history has shown, each generation evolves further than the last one. I am fortunate that one such young woman works for my law firm. It appears that this young generation is still dealing with the same issues that we and our parent’s generations faced. It is only re-packaged.
As president of the Maine Professional Business Women, I am fortunate to be surrounded by many young women who are passionate, motivated and committed. Many are young mothers, who express their views on the world in terms of changing our world, ultimately, benefiting themselves and their children. They juggle career and motherhood with grace, more keenly aware than I ever was of their own needs and the importance of self. They are truly inspiring and it provides me with a great deal of satisfaction to know that they continue to hold up the mantle.
I am also daily witness to such strength of character as I have one such young woman employed by my law firm. In her late 20, Shannon Esty is an attorney, young mother, devoted partner, daughter, sister and friend. Shannon is committed to her clients’ welfare, this company and her family. She believes that life is much too hard for too many people in our country right now and she plans to do something about it. She has expressed, quite passionately, that it was not for her job and responsibilities, she would be down protesting daily in Franklin Park, baby slung on her back, holding a sign and making a political statement that our country needs to change for the better now. This enthusiasm always makes me smile as I am reminded of a 30-year younger me. Shannon is not a radical activist and is one of the most intelligent, kindest, and client-committed employees I have ever had. As if this was not enough to qualify as a good human being, Shannon put herself through undergraduate and law school, was pregnant during her last semester, gave birth within a month of graduating from law school and then studied for the bar exam in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Maine Medical Center while her newborn remained there for seven weeks after birth. Like her father, Don Esty, before her, Shannon is politically motivated and is committed to making the world a better place even with everything else she has on her plate.
We often speak of the marked difference in generations and from a technologically standpoint, we are very different than prior generations. But as women who juggle career, family and politics, I see little difference. There is no doubt in my mind that Shannon Esty will someday be an effective leader, utilizing her collectively skills of home-grown tenacity, education and life experience for the benefit of the community.
I am grateful to have the opportunity in my life to be exposed to this generation of young women as their find their places in our world. Such satisfying and inspiring thoughts will certainly bring a smile on my face as I plant my flowers.
Mary-Anne E. Martell, Esq., is Senior Legal Counsel and Founder of Seacoast Law & Title, a two-attorney law firm in Westbrook specializing in estate planning, real estate, business and family law. Mary-Anne welcomes comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207) 591-7880.