Judy Kugel: How She Does It

Judy Kugel, age 75, married 45 years.  Two sons, one the NYTimes Frugal Traveler, the other CFO of a prep school.  Grandmother of two boys, 7 and almost 10.  70-Something BloggerCompulsive exerciser, blogger (www.70-something.com), friend.

How did you think about your work-life in your 20’s in your 40s and 60s?
Like most of my generation of women, getting the MRS. Degree was key and I failed to do that in college.  I was determined not to be a teacher or a nurse, so I started out editing a newspaper for a retail chain.  In my 30’s I co-founded the Boston Project for Careers—promoting part-time work and job sharing—while raising two kids and going to graduate school part-time..  But my focus was my family. My career at the Harvard Kennedy School started in my 40’s and lasted until now.

How do you think the feminist movement impacted your choices?
Unfortunately, I was about five years pre-feminism, but I do remember my well-worn copy of The Feminine Mystique and I have read much of the writing of feminists.

You have a great sense of style. How did you develop that?
Do you mean writing style, personality, dress?  I wouldn’t describe myself as one with great style, but I like that you asked the question.

What does balance mean to you?
Forever it meant work and family (and of course friends) with little time for anything else.  As a newly-retired person, I am exploring what balance means for me know.

Talk a bit about your blog and what it means to you?
I have always been interested in transitions.  I kept a formal journal of my 59th year, and often wrote about other meaningful transitions.  I taught several workshops on transition.  So when the blogosphere came along and I wanted to document what I thought would be a decade of great change, namely, the 70’s, I thought why not?  Since January of ’08, I have posted twice-weekly, never missing a date.  But my other writing has taken a back-seat, i.e., I just don’t do it.  I do hope to write a book about lessons for our 70’s.

What did you dream of doing that you have yet to get around to?
The only, and I mean ONLY, regret that I have is that I never lived in a foreign country.  I have been one very lucky person.

Did you have a role model for how to build your life? Who and How?
I did not have a role model.  It is true that I used to say I wanted to be Barbara Walters because she could talk to anybody about anything.  But obviously, I didn’t follow her path.

You are an avid traveler, how did you fit this in to your life?
Travel has enriched my life in so many ways.  We traveled internationally with our kids, starting when they were eight and ten, and we never looked back.  Earlier I had done Europe on my own (way before most women did).  In the past year, we have been to India and to Russia, both big trips.

How has your advice on career and life for your students, especially women, changed over the years?
My advice hasn’t changed, but women’s opportunities have.  I was honored to work with very motivated and bright women, so it was always more about helping them identify their goals than advising them differently.  The issues of work vs. family haven’t changed.

Describe you worst House of Cards Day?
Honestly, if I had a worst House of Cards Day, I have managed to bury it so deeply in my memory that I can’t recapture it.

Photo: courtesy Judy Kugel

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