Plans for our annual "Women in Business" special, due to come out next week, sent me right down Memory Lane to re-visit my crackpot ideas about that very subject.

I'll bet that, as we peruse that page of women in all walks of business, you will find that most of them didn't start their careers in quite the same way men do.

To begin with, most of us had children and, faced with the challenges of juggling the needs of the children and those of, possibly, a household and economic demands, they either became very good jugglers, or ultimately chose one or the other.

Hence, the journey to the board room began, for many of us, in the nursery, where we learned to multi-task, keep calm under fire, and take care of business under any circumstance or noise level.

My own career has its roots on a small farm in the mountains of San Diego, where I wrote, first weekly, then monthly, then a constant stream of stories at the kitchen table. I cooked while listening to interview tapes, read to my children daily - from the newspaper, of course, and mentally composed stories while shoveling manure in the barnyard.

I believe that, if you asked any one of the women whose photos appear in next week's paper, you will find that I am not unusual. We start differently and we start later. Chances are, we're just hitting our stride - say around 50 - when our male counterparts are thinking about winding down.

Such is the case of Vonnie Sanchez, the publisher of the newspaper I left to come here. She started out as a part-time mailroom helper "just to get out of the house." As her children matured and moved off to have lives of their own, she became more and more engaged by the newspaper business - and before she knew it, she was one of the most influential and respected women in Alpine.

She fought a round with cancer, and won. Her husband retired. She got promoted.

Nancy Slaff published her first novel when she was in her seventies. She got her grounding as a single mother, who needed to work full time - and chose law enforcement at a time when women almost never did that. She later remarried, had more children and devoted herself to them with vigor. But nursing the dream of being a writer, she and did plenty of writing without remuneration or readers. But when it was time to write, she did so with great power, as a columnist and a novelist.

And so it goes. I know so many perfectly amazing women who have grown in the most phenomenal ways, while raising their children and turning the "egg money" into a nest egg and the knowledge of the nursery into a career.

Almost none of them live in Wallowa County. I still have ahead of me the pleasure of getting to know the women here. It's truly something to look forward to.

Billie Jo Jannen is the editor of the Chieftain and a new resident of Wallowa County.

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