Interview with Linda Smith

Linda Smith is a colleague, and a friend. I’m not sure when I met Linda, but it was many, many years ago. I really got to know Linda when we were both working on the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC). At first, we simply enjoyed each other’s company at the lunch or break times, or defended each other on various issues. Later, on the nights before the meetings, Linda slept at my house, just outside of Washington D.C., where the meetings were often held. We had some great conversations then. Eventually, Linda was elected Recording Secretary the same year that I was elected Corresponding Secretary for the USBC. I especially remember one day when some project was stuck. No one seemed to be moving it forward, and the leadership team didn’t seem worried about the lack of progress. Linda, not being a woman with much tolerance for inertia said, “I think the two secretaries need to take this on. Marie and I can do this.” She hadn’t asked me, but she didn’t have to. She knew me well enough to know I would cheerfully agree. 

Linda and I don’t always see exactly eye to eye, and we have some distinct differences. She’s fairly concrete; I’m fairly abstract. She’s fairly brave and courageous; I’m more timid. She is a barrel of fun; I’m more serious. But we have similar philosophies and values. She has always accepted me exactly as I am, and while that may not be easy, she makes it look easy. 

Usually, you can ask Linda anything and she’ll give you plenty of facts or opinions, and she is quick to differentiate one from the other. She is also a great story-teller. I distinctly remember one day when I asked her about something, and she laughed and replied, “Oh Marie! That’s a 3-beer story!” 

I know you’ll enjoy this show where Linda will show her wit, and her wisdom.    
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The Laurie Berkner Band

Listen to the podcast “Sing Baby a Song”
Purchase “The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band” on Amazon

I don’t have small children, so I had never heard of  Laurie Berkner or her band. But the mothers on my staff definitely knew about Laurie Berkner, her band, and her music. Phrases floating around my office were, “Laurie Berkner is HUGE in our house” and “My kids love all of Laurie Berkner’s stuff” and “Laurie Berkner is very popular with our kids, but even I love Laurie Berkner! That last one definitely got my attention. I wondered: How could an adult love kid music? I agreed to invite Laurie onto my radio show, even though she wasn’t exactly about “breastfeeding,” it was apparent to me that she was about children, and that was good enough for me.

Really, though, I didn’t have the faintest idea how I was going to construct the interview. I always have a clear goal in mind for the show, and sometimes, pages and pages and pages of pre-prepared content. I didn’t have the remotest idea where I was going with the upcoming show with Laurie Berkner. So, I decided to take a look at Laurie’s web site. 

I learned much about Laurie’s music, and something else. But I could not define, in my own mind, what that “something else” was. There was something inviting about Laurie Berkner’s web site that made me want to stay; made me want to linger and learn more; made me want to connect with her. I couldn’t identify what it was, but that sense of wanting to connect was very present. I found myself wondering, How did this woman get from stashing her music in a bedroom closet to becoming a famous recording artist?  

Eventually, I had the opportunity to chat with Laurie on the phone. Within minutes, I understood why Laurie Berkner became so successful. It’s because she has an unusual ability to instantly connect with a person. And as we chatted on the phone, she talked about how she wants to connect with children through her music. Her passion to make a connection with children, or people in general, is amazing.

Don’t miss this show. Yes, you’ll hear her sing on the show, but what you hear in your ear will last only a few minutes, what you hear in your heart will remain long thereafter. Laurie is like a magnet. You’ll feel yourself drawn to her, and to her music.  
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Jim Akre

I distinctly remember the first time I met Jim Akre in person. I had just finished doing an assessment for a hospital in Tennessee that was attempting to earn the Baby-Friendly Hospital recognition. I literally stepped off the plane, hopped into my husband’s waiting car, and sped off to meet Jim at a restaurant where I had never eaten before.  I was weak and weary from the trip; very weak and weary, actually. I knew that Jim would be in the greater Washington DC area for only a very short time, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet him. I just didn’t think I looked very presentable, and my brain was fried. But I showed up anyway.

It was a memorable dinner. Prior to meeting him, Jim and I had had multiple, lengthy email exchanges, and even a transatlantic phone call or two. I had anticipated that when I met him I would find him to be intelligent, articulate, and opinionated. Indeed, he was, and is! What I had not anticipated was that he was-and is-warm and witty. It’s difficult to have any interaction with Jim without plenty of smiles and laughter.

We’ve had lunch or dinner together many times since. Most times, we’ve shared a meal when he has been in the greater Washington DC area where I live, or when we’ve both been at the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) conference.  Once, we had lunch just outside of Rochester, NY. It’s a small world, you know? We discovered that his sister and my sister live about 5 miles away from one another. With his lovely wife, Pia, my husband and I had lunch at a charming restaurant right on Canandaigua Lake. It’s always a pleasure to spend time with Jim.

I know you’ll enjoy listening to the podcast with Jim.
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Judy Masucci

I was very impressed by and all of the wonderful products there. If you’re looking for bras or coats or swimsuits or anything else while you’re pregnant or lactating, I’ll bet you’ll find it on this site.

What’s almost as amazing as the web site is the woman behind it: Judy Masucci. Complete with a PhD degree in her back pocket, Judy Masucci seems to have had it all, given it all up, and gotten “it” all back again during her second career. Clearly, the second “it” is more meaningful to her. When I talked with Judy before the show, I was astonished at how she gave up what seemed like every woman’s dream: A big job with big money. But, as all of us know, having a child changes your life and beckons you to re-examine your priorities. Clearly, Judy did that, and she is happy.

I am amazed that Judy seems to have thought of everything for her online store! Take a look at that site! It’s amazing! On the show, you’ll see that Judy and I spend the entire third segment talking about products that I’ve never heard of. Let me put that into perspective. I’ve been in the breastfeeding business for over three decades. If stuff that I’ve never heard of is listed on her web site, it’s a sure indication that Judy has made an effort to think of and list everything that any pregnant or breastfeeding woman could possibly need or want.

Judy is not just another retailer. She’s not just another career woman. She’s a woman with vision, drive, and a passion for helping other women. Be sure to hear all that she has to say about her journey. I had much to learn from Judy, and I think you will learn from her, too!

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