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I answer to many names: Ellen (as wife to my husband and in-law to my daughter-in-law); Mom (to my daughter, son and son-in-law); and Grammy -- to my two granddaughters and my grandson. It is the third name, now, as a former career person and current active community volunteer, that feeds my soul.

To say that is a surprise, shocks even me! I went back to work when my first child was six weeks old (she has never let me forget that and is herself a stay-at-home Mom!), and my identity as a person was always closely tied to my career. I might even say that it was synonymous with it. Indeed, when my son and his wife informed me that I was going to be a grandmother, I received the news with less than wholehearted enthusiasm.

Why was that, I wonder? Looking back, I think I assumed that "Grandmother" would become my sole label. And as a dear friend of mine says, she feels that older women in our society are basically invisible. No one values their opinions; no one looks up when they enter a room; their numbers are discounted by TV networks.

But my friend's experience is not mine. I am a proud doting grandmother, to be sure. But I am also a member of my state's Attorney Grievance Peer Review Panel, in which capacity I determine the future of wayward attorneys. I am a valued member of several non-profit boards; a member of an elite Art Seminar group; a friend to women of many ages.

My value as a member of society is not determined by others. Rather, I determine it by my actions. And others' perceptions of me are not what determines the strength of my ego. Only lately, though, movie and museum tickets sellers have not challenged me when I ask for senior rates. That does give me pause. Maybe, like Picasso's "Girl Before a Mirror", I need to reassess what I see in the glass.

Dear Reader,
Please share your thoughts and experiences with me on these topics. Or any others, for that matter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Ellen Baron Blaustein

Ellen Baron is a wife, mother and grandmother who has had three distinctive careers:
1) as an editor at an educational laboratory;
2) as a businesswoman who ran a private-label group at Black & Decker, and then served as Director of Marketing for a consumer electronics start-up company; and
3) as an academic administrator who was director of a post-baccalaureate business program.

Her 'Just Jobs' (as opposed to "Careers") included piano teacher and French tutor (her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis having been in French).

Now retired from both careers and jobs, Ellen serves on the Maryland State Attorney Grievance Commission, as well as the Boards of several non-profits. She has lived in England, Switzerland and Germany, as well as St. Louis, Boston, a suburb of Washington, D.C., and, now, Baltimore, MD.

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