Mary Gregory is an American author, poet, and mental health advocate. She is a senior leader in IT for a Fortune 500 company in the entertainment industry. The youngest of three children, Gregory grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, but now calls California home.
When she is not working or writing, she enjoys spending time with friends and sharing cheap wine and good food.
In the Anthology titled The Great LeadHERship Awakening, you are quoted as saying, “be like water, find your creative ocean, and then swim.” What is your creative ocean, and more so, what are three key concepts that others can use when discovering their own creative oceans?
Water always finds a way. It’s a force that finds the cracks, the holes, the weakest path of resistance, and it goes forward. When you’re looking to find a way into your creativity, I think you need to find the weakest path; one that may have even the smallest opening, but it’s there. It can be as little as journaling every morning, or buying paint and painting some rocks, or listening to a podcast about a subject you’re interested in. Eventually, your creativity builds momentum. Its force doesn’t just find an opening, it creates an opening, at some point, there’s no way to keep it out. Eventually, you end up in the ocean – your creative ocean. It’s where all your streams of ideas go; where the creeks become the beginnings of book outlines, blog posts, and masterpieces. When you have created a creative ocean, then all you need to do is swim in it. Do the things that are the embodiment of all the little things you have done and create.
Talk to us about your experiences in finding your “tribe in life, in work and in family?” What are the important aspects on your journey and what have your experiences taught you along the way?
Early on in my life I was displaced. I was born in Nashville, Tennessee but ended up in Long Beach, California by the time I was 7 years old. My mother had taken my brother, sister, and I away from our family home and our family when I was six years old, after she and my father divorced. It would be 13 years before I would see my father and family again, and in that time, we’d spent all those years below the poverty line.
I’d grown up always feeling like I didn’t belong. When I was in middle school and high school, I was on the basketball and track team, and this is where I found my first tribe. Sports were always a way for me to connect with others.
When I realized I needed to express my creative side with writing in my mid 30’s, I’d felt somewhat like that displaced young child again. I didn’t know anyone who was a writer, and I didn’t know whether I belonged as a writer. I found myself open to finding a tribe, not knowing how I would, but being open to the possibility.
It wasn’t too long after, that I found a writing community of new writers looking to write their first book. We were all feeling overwhelmed by the process, and we all had some level of imposter syndrome. In that space, I found my writing tribe and together, we were able to inspire each other to keep going and to move past our fears.
I believe that we find our tribes for the aspects of our life where we share a common goal, so that you don’t feel like you’re going through it alone. Whatever your passion or interest, keep yourself open to finding a group of people who are like you and who can help you feel better about exploring parts of yourself that are still unfolding.
What is the experience like to be part of LeadHERship Global and power behind being part of a bigger creative culture of thought leaders, especially as it pertains to The Great LeadHERship Awakening, where 24 Women in Business are being featured and highlighted?
What I find the most rewarding is the community. I’m the only woman in my leadership team reporting directly to our CIO. That can be a lonely place for a lone female leader, so it’s important that I’m connected to women throughout the company who are in leadership roles and to mentor women and men looking to move their careers forward. The women I’ve met through the LeadHERship Global network have extended my circle of powerful women and now I’m amongst so many business leaders across many different industries around the globe. We can collaborate, share resources and services, and find ways to support each other in our careers.
After visiting your website https://maryegregory.com I noticed that you are also a poet. Where do you find your inspiration for your poetic pen to come alive?
Most of the time I find inspiration to write poetry when I’ve had time to sit and muse. I rent a small writing studio near my home, which allows me to completely envelope myself into my writing with no interruptions. I let myself take the time to settle into the studio and let whatever thoughts come up and I let them simmer. I usually choose my “one thing” to do while I’m there, either to finish a chapter, do research, or read a book. Many times, I find that I want to write poetry. I pull out a large white sticky note and place it on the wall. I take out a black marker and then just write. My poems are usually the length of that large white sticky note. I find that the quiet allows me to get into the flow and to hear what I want to say.
What is it like being a senior leader in the entertainment industry and is writing a way for you to disconnect from the glitz and glam of being a leader?
I really enjoy the problems I get to solve being in senior leadership in IT in the entertainment industry. A major part of the company culture is about the fans and the employees. We want to offer best in class services at the venues so that the fan and artist experience is the best it can be, and when it comes to our employees, we want to offer the best-in-class productivity tools. The team I manage makes sure that we implement those tools and successfully deliver them to the company. We are never stagnant, and we are always looking at how we can implement global solutions. My writing has a place at work because communication is so critical to getting your priority the attention it needs, especially when there are so many initiatives calling for people’s attention. But the writing I like to do, the poetic and lyrical, the insightful and vulnerable, that’s certainly miles away from my day job emails to HR asking if we still have commuter car benefits. When the weekend comes, that’s when most of my writing gets done because I’m able to arrive at my writing studio in the mornings and completely disconnect from the logical world.
If you could meet or have dinner with any three authors either present or past, who would they be and why would like to meet them?
My first dinner date would be Napoleon Hill. As I was finding my way to my creative ocean, I read Think and Grow Rich. It hit me profoundly, especially his advice about having a mastermind community. This mindset of not even having to have your mastermind members be present or even alive, set me to thinking of how truly powerful the mind is. He showed you the benefits of focusing and meditating on finding the solution, and you’d be surprised how quickly it can come to you. I use this technic all the time, some call it quantum thinking.
Mary Karr has been extremely influential in my writing career. The editor for my first book put me on a memoir diet, as she said it would make my book a lot stronger if I knew how others had written their memoirs. She was right. Mary has written several memoirs, and all of them are fantastic, gritty, and down to earth. Her book, The Art of Memoir, gave me the guidance I needed to tighten up my memoir. She also gave me the courage to reach out to everyone in my book who was still alive and get their blessing. This meant they got to read my manuscript and give me feedback, even change their names if they wanted, which most did. But the feedback and the blessings made me even more satisfied with the work that I’d created.
One cannot truly write with realism, with poetry, with grace and honesty without having read works by Maya Angelou. I’d love to sit with her, have a strong bourbon, and thank her for giving me the license to share the difficult and vulnerable experiences of my life. Her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, opened a vulnerable side to my writing that I had been too afraid to expose until reading her book. I’m forever grateful to her for that and I often think of her when I’m writing my poetry. My Poem, which you can find on my website, was written after musing her and written with her voice reading it aloud. I’d love to hear her laugh and tell me how silly it is to hold back in your writing, and to tell her that I found the secret she was sharing in her books and now I’ll never write without sharing the beauty of my vulnerabilities.
‘The Great LeadHERship Awakening’
For Press Inquiries with Mary Gregory Contact Michael Beas at Atlas Elite Publishing Partners at firstname.lastname@example.org