Back in 2011 when attending the first Lucky Fabb (Fashion and Beauty Blogger) Conference, Joan Rivers was a guest speaker. Prior to this event, all I knew of Ms. Rivers was what I saw on TV. I have to admit, I was more excited about hearing Tory Burch speak than I was Ms. Rivers because it was my belief that she would be rude, crass, obnoxious and basically full of herself.
She changed my mind that day.
When Ms. Rivers began to talk about her life, her career, and her family, what began to emerge was a very real, and down to earth person. I was taken aback. I wasn’t ready to see her as a human being. I wasn’t ready to see her as a mother, who clearly made her daughter, Melissa, a priority. I was prepared to hear endless rants, bullying comments and insults intermixed with a lot of cursing. Believe it or not, in the 35 minutes she spoke, she only cursed about 3-4 times. She didn’t pick on anyone, she didn’t make rude or disparaging remarks…essentially the “persona” was off for that time she spoke, and the woman, Joan Rivers, was very present.
What I saw before my eyes was a self-made woman who encouraged the women in the audience to keep pushing forward, to let go of pride, to find humor in everything, to value the bad times as much as they do the good times, to love and be there for your family, and to understand that life is cyclical and nothing is forever. She spoke of struggles, bother personally when her husband committed suicide, and professionally.
I became so enchanted with her as she spoke, that I got up the confidence at the very end to ask her how she balanced motherhood with her career. She admitted that it was hard, but said that no matter what, every day in her schedule book from 6-8pm was dinner with her (late) husband and daughter, Melissa. As a celebrity, Joan Rivers belonged to the world, but she wanted her daughter to know this time was only hers. While some may say, “That’s only 2 hours a day?!” I could relate. As someone who is self-employed and CEO of my own brand, it’s easy to be “present” but not always easy to be “there.” And while I was already having daily sit down dinners with my 4 boys prior to this, it reinforced it as a treasured time with my sons to listen to them and have them share their day.
Once Ms. Rivers’ time was up, her entourage wanted to quickly escort her out. However, she told them to wait and took the time to take pictures with many of us and talk, including myself. Now that Joan is gone, I am so grateful that it was when we snapped this picture that I honestly admitted to her with a smile, “You changed my mind about you today.” Clearly understanding what I meant, she smiled back, said, “Thank you,” and gave me a squeeze as we smiled for the camera.
On an episode of Joan and Melissa back in 2012, there was a point before surgery where she told Melissa that if she died she had no regrets about her life. Her life was amazing because she lived every second of it. There is no doubt that Joan Rivers lived her life to the fullest, a lesson we shouldn’t take lightly because you never know when your time is up.