I was ten when I plowed head-first into a brick wall...intentionally.
Disconnected from parents during the day on the streets of Queens, my girlfriends and I found our first lessons in risk taking. At ten I made a calculated decision to turn my roller skates into a brick wall to avoid speeding cars on the quickly approaching double yellow-lined road. I can still feel the impact on my forehead.
Driven by my family’s Italian immigrant back story, I prioritized high school but often woke at 2am to write poems and songs for friends in rock bands. A solid math student, I was able to maneuver from community college to NYU and worked as a receptionist on Wall street to pay rent. In their trading room was all the news of the world, the strife and happiness it caused humanity, and the quest to understand the change it would cause before it happened. It was the perfect blend of math and creativity. I finally declared a major and began a successful 17-year career within the stock markets of NY, Tokyo and London.
Being one of only a handful of women among two hundred men created opportunity; we stood out and we needed each other.
There was some resistance including a fabulously failed woman’s dinner, but slowly a community formed and to this day we continue to quote lines from trips we did together.
A series of panic attacks gave me the sensation of skating towards that double yellow line again and it was time to change course by resigning from my job.
Without a plan, I surfed, rafted, filled many journals and chilled with friends before that person who just "got me" stopped me in Barbados. I remained to make a career out of investing my own money, build a home and have a curious daughter.
With some air in my schedule I was able to see it...as women we were amassing the things we desired, careers, businesses, kids, pets, partners...but days often came and went without doing the things which made us, well, us, and the management of money was often ignored or subcontracted leaving us ignorant and vulnerable.
Time and money are pillars of our well-being and we needed to do a better job at leading both of them.
So, I began to create, not quietly at 2am but at 8am. I began because whether I liked it or not, I understood finance better than most and because I felt my childhood love of writing and art could take the stuffing out of finance. I wrote for women whose questions about money could not be answered during a flight layover and for the bright bliss in the faces my growing daughter brings home.
I created in tribute to a kind mother whose tolerance prevented her from blooming her best self and due to a father, whose perseverance passed onto me. I created in thanks to a Grandmother whose ocean crossing gave her family new opportunities and in spite of a guidance counselor who never mentioned "writer" as a career choice. I created in partnership with the team in the credits who put a bit of their soul into each piece of art, editing, app production and marketing.
AFIREfi has emerged as a tool and a community.
Part Life Design Tool and part Financial Planner, this is a safe space to dream, plan and make damn sure we stay true to ourselves.
It has been a transformative two-year journey from conception to launch; when yellow lines appear now, I glance around and see friendships, built brick by brick over time who help me find my brakes. I will always wear my skates; the world needs me to, just as we need you to be at your best and share your gifts with the world.
#Strongis making decisions to lead our way instead of surviving our mistakes.
#Strongis deciding to change when we need to change.
- Patricia Whittaker
Patricia graduated from NYU’s Stern School of Business with a degree in Finance/International Business. Holding her Series 7 and Series 63, she worked on the international equity market trading floors of Cazenove, UBS, Donaldson Lufkin Jenrette, Credit Suisse and Lazard Freres in direct contact with the firms’ Trading and Corporate finance departments. Her clients included large retirement institutions and hedge funds. Since leaving the markets she has maintained her own portfolio of securities and property.