Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

by Patricia Yarberry Allen

Dinner for three turned into dinner for five, as so often happens with women as we think of another way to network and mentor.  We over 40 understand the magic of unexpected encounters.

Jacki Lyden, of National Public Radio fame, invited me to join a dinner last night with a mutual friend (and the owner of the most extensive rolodex in America), Mary Moss Greenebaum.  We were interested in discussing a project that is underway but underfunded: “The Secret Lives of Girls.” The Kitchen Sisters, those enigmatic women of the West Coast who are NPR regulars, are running out of money to create a series of their special interviews to be built around stories that begin with the lives of girls who have gone on to become women of interest.

I decided to invite a new friend, “T”, who is 24 and was from Darjeeling originally.  She has now graduated from a prestigious college; she’s beautiful, speaks nine languages,has wonderful manners and is in transition.  Jacki invited another young friend, “N”, who is 30, also from India and a graduate of Oxford.  She is very interested in public policy and currently working for a think tank affiliated with the UN.  It occurred to me that these two might be Girls with Secret Lives who certainly would go on to fulfill the promise of their journeys.

We spanned almost all the adult decades last night.  We, the women of wisdom born of experience, spoke about the mean streets of the 20’s and 30’s and urged our younger guests to remain hopeful that the 40’s would bring resolution to many things that are at sixes and sevens at their current age and stage.  I think they were a bit surprised that we had no interest in being their age.

Then we recognized how we were all in the mentoring business.  Mary, the founder of the Kentucky Author Forum, has mentored me from the time I was 20 (Mary’s “Your shoes should never talk, Pat” goes with me whenever I feel the need to go to the second floor of Bergi’s).  Jacki was kind enough to list me as a mentor in her time of transition in her 40’s.  N. realized that Jacki was her current mentor.  And we pointed out to N. that she could now join the joyful women’s’ circle of giving back by becoming a mentor to T.  Of course, I hope that T will allow me to mentor her from the sidelines as well.

This was not networking in that “let’s find out how to do business together”.  This was a night of sharing experiences and new friends and places with each other, to broaden vistas, to explore possibilities and to commit to shared multi-generational relationships.

I bonded with N. immediately over the fear of flying during that last 2 hours heading to the West Coast with its predictable turbulence.  And we were all amazed at Jacki’s daring spirit as she told of Aerofllot flights in the 90’s with unidentifiable glop being poured on a plate from a large pot as the signature meal of that airline, dogs running around in the airplane cabins, and God knows who piloting the plane.

N. shared with us that Washington was her next goal.  Policy, at the domestic level, seemed less fraught with intrigue and constant intrusions of borders.  “Well”, I thought.  “Domestic policy in Washington these days seems about as safe as an Iraqi street at night.”

Since T. has already had adventures that have required both a quiet mind and an optimistic spirit, I am certain that her time spent with these exhilarating women will give her more templates for consideration as she begins her adult journey here in the most exciting city in the world.

And this was just a dinner, casual and last minute.  What could we do if we held a summit?

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  • Alice Cathrall February 17, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Your Valentine story was sublime.Thank you.
    Read Chris Dickey’s new book,Securing the City,its terrific