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When writing my 2023 goals late last December, I declared to myself at the beginning of the new year…a war….on my basement.
After several house moves, a love of antiques, a collection of furniture, smalls, and “stuff” has filled many shelves in my basement abode, to the point where it was time to start unloading some of said ‘stuff.’ Not full-on KonMari / Swedish Death Cleaning or anything. But, an opportunity to take my time and pare down some of the ridiculousness of volume piling up.
Along the way, in my exploration and education of how to remove said “stuff” from my life, I ironically started collecting, of all things…jewelry. (Insert ironic eye roll here. 🙄)
First, I’ve never been much of a jewelry girl. A simple pear of pearl earrings, a pearl necklace, a watch, and maybe a flower brooch of the past, I was never into wearing a lot of it. However, when I began learning how to sell off some of my collection (AKA ‘stuff’ per above), particularly on whatnot, I stumbled upon antique costume jewelry and some of the famous makers through my education and struck up an interest in understanding and studying them.
One of them was Miriam Haskell. When I began reading about her, I was shocked to learn that from a Russian Jewish family, she, like me, was born in Indiana — Tell City, IN to be exact. She was born in 1899 and moved from Indiana to the big apple and started designing jewelry from the 1920s-1960s. Her jewelry was shown at the McAlpin Hotel.
When I first was introduced to Miriam by some jewelry sellers on Whatnot, my first thought on Miriam’s designs was that they were way too bougie for me. And, pretty fussy. I was more of the MCM painted enamel flower pin/brooches type (don’t worry, I still have a big collection of these too), but recently, my opinion on Miriam’s pieces changed with the piece above.
It’s a brooch that has the phrase, ‘Providentiae Memor’ on it. Hey, I took 3 years of Latin in high school, so dead language or not, I was curious how the term translated. A more direct translation is “remember providence,” but it beyond that could mean one of two things (according to the internet, so take that with a grain of salt):
- Remember God and his protecting watch over us, or
- Remember to prepare for any possible future outcomes.
It apparently also was the motto of the Kingdom of Saxony, which was part of Germany.
Let’s take that second definition on for a minute. How might we prepare for any possible future outcomes? And really, is there any better time in history than right now for this not-so-gentle reminder — big brooch or not?
Prepare for Future Outcomes
When I saw Miriam’s brooch and translated the phrase, I thought to myself for a moment a very Kierkegaard thing — life is lived forward, but understood backward. It clicked. Which is this:
Remember all your bad bosses?
Remember all the terrible jobs from your past?* (*Including, but not limited to, greasy floors and backed-up basement sewers.)
Remember toiling away long nights studying and working?
They were actually serving you in a great way.
They were your Providentiae Memor!
The bad jobs, bosses, and work were preparing me for future work and outcomes.
Miriam through her brooch reminded me to thank the universe for all the terrible management and toil I had in the past because it was all work to get me to today.
We all must prepare for future outcomes today as well. Think about the accumulation of experiences over your life and how they have prepared you for this very moment of your career, and your life.
Trust me, it never felt like a gift at the time, but it really was a gift. Those bad experiences have prepared you for today.
Keep learning. Just as I am learning about midcentury modern jewelry and online auctions by declaring a low-key purge of my basement at the beginning of the year, staying flexible through constant learning is a way to prepare for the future.
How might we do this?
- Read books. Listen to podcasts. Take online courses.
- Take leadership coursework. (Hint: if you’re into pharmacy law, right now and through June we have a call for applications to the Diplomat, American Society for Pharmacy Law year-long leadership program for mid-career professionals.) Most professional societies and organizations offer some sort of leadership coursework and programs.
- Take a live class. Better yet, take a class in something you’ve always been interested in but never had the time to do (this is your Unicorn Space. And BTW — if you’re reading this and know of a great class on Midcentury Modern Jewelry makers, please share it with me, as this is my personal Unicorn Space right now!)
- Do things that make you uncomfortable. Take on that extra thing at work or at home. Declare war on your basement too! It might just lead you to your own Providentiae Memor.
The best way to prepare is to keep moving forward and educate yourself. Because we do know not what tomorrow brings.
Last but not least, you might be wondering if I actually purchased the brooch above.
But, it doesn’t matter.
What matters is the not-so-gentle reminder on the face of the brooch. That, and I now have a new respect for Ms. Haskell — a fellow native Hoosier, who reminds us all — long after her death — to always be prepared.
Erin L. Albert is a writer, (very amateur) whatnot seller, and VP of pharmacy relations at Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company, PBC. Opinions are hers and hers alone. If you’re interested in learning more about whatnot as a buyer, feel free to use this affiliate code to get a credit in. If to sell, this code to skip ahead in the application process.