Climber, Army Midwife, Entrepreneur, Dolomites, Italy
My attempt at getting to know Jo began with my boot making acquaintance with her nose. There was blood (on her part) and tears (on mine) and numerous attempts to calm the situation (on her part). Jo, you see, has incredible stamina and grace under pressure. I met her in the Italian Dolomites, and there on the open face of the mountain, our harnesses hooked into the cables we started chatting. After Jo uttered "it's OK, it's not broken", we became fast friends and she proceeded to tell me about her life and journey that got her to a full week trek through Italian mountains. She is a midwife and a damn good one. Just ask the British army that sent her into the conflict zone just outside Sarajevo during the 1990s war. Jo was tasked with travelling to remote villages in Bosnia with an armed bodyguard in tow, and advised the peace keeping missions on what was required in terms of medical help and supplies for pregnant women and their families. Jo is a proud Brit who resides in Brussels and is currently starting/leading a new business venture, consulting other mothers and mothers-to-be in the topic she knows a great deal about. The latest WOW Woman is Jo Everatt. Forever in my mind: "No big deal, could have been couple of inches lower and a heck more expensive to fix, little bloody nose never killed anyone" - Jo Everatt.
2. Where is your hometown?
I haven't got one ( that's sad!) we have been expats for the past 9 years having left our home in 2008. Our children have lived outside of the UK more than they have lived within the native country. We live in Brussels Belgium, but I wouldn't call it home.
3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?
I am a midwife and lactation consultant, working amongst the expat community here in Brussels.
4. What was the journey like to get where you are (career wise)? When was the mental shift to start the journey?
I am lucky enough to state that I am even more in love with my profession as a midwife now, compared to when I first trained in 1987. If I may admit that the only reason that I undertook midwifery training was because I had more chance to be an officer in the British Army if I was one. That said - it has been my passion now for 30 years. How lucky am I?!
5. What did you study in school?
Boring subjects. I wanted to be a nurse from a small child, studying was only my way of getting there and so I did.
6. How is your life different from what you pictured at 20?
I only wanted to be a nurse and an officer in the Army at 20 years old, I didn't even think past 30 years let alone 53 years old as I am now.
7. Biggest accomplishment since making the (physical/mental) move?
Within my 7 years of Army service, I was the first midwife to care for the refugees affected by the Bosnian war in 1992/3. My role was to optimise health and safety of the pregnant women and babies and liaise with aid agencies. It was such a difficult job, emotionally speaking. Seeing so much need and desperation amongst the refugees, and having so much myself. It was indeed a humbling experience.
My biggest accomplishment has to be the success of my first business Antenatal and baby - Brussels. Caring, preparing and supporting the expat soon - to - be family throughout their pregnancy journey and the afterwards, and running a supportive community. It has been such hard work, and now 7 years on, it is still crazy busy, but in a very good way - and I can see the result of this hard work. I love working with my colleagues and volunteer friends as our aims are the same.
8. What was biggest disappointment and plan to overcome it?
I do want to go home (UK) at some point, so that I can support my children more at university, although I do know that means washing and cooking for them. It will still be good to be near them. For now - we have no plans to return.
9. Advice for other women?
Be ambitious, be creative, have dreams and follow them. Hard work is good, and failures can teach you so much.
10. Knowing what we know now in current political climate, can women be "all that we can be" in today's world? What is the way forward, as you see it for "feminist values"?
I do see that women can be much more present in business should they want to be. However, seeing the pressure on mums with very young families to re-enter the work place, when they don't want to, is a shame. To be a stay- at -home mum, should you be able to afford it, creating and nurturing our men and women of tomorrow to be the best they can be, should be a choice. Sadly this I believe is undermined by our economic society today, so realistically it's not a choice for many.
11. Where in the world do you feel “tallest” (i.e. where is your happy place)?
Somewhere with no wifi. On top of a Dolomite gazing in awe at the views, or on a yacht in Greece.
12. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why?
I run x3 per week and attend fitness/weight training classes x3 per week too. I am trying to defy gravity and the effects of the menopause.
13. What do you want to be when you grow up? Future goals/challenges?
I want to carry on being a midwife and lactation consultant - but perhaps have to work less hard. I have recently launched www.breastfeedingandbaby.com and once this has gained momentum, this will be my transportable employment, I can then slow the pace a little. Hopefully continuing to help new mums to be happy during the postnatal period and reach out to more with my new online support project.
14. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?
I hope my children will always be safe - but living in another country makes this hard to do - its hard enough to do in the same country! I am hoping that we have taught them well so that they know what to do in dangerous circumstances, and at least avoid them if they can.
15. Anything you'd do differently (if you had another go at life)?
I am glad to say that no, I wouldn't change anything. Life has been and is good.
16. What inspires you?
My patients inspire me. They have needs, I meet them and help to enable them to be happy. An amazing job indeed.
17. What are you hopeful about?
World peace for sure. That people are nice to each other.... simple things - but quite impossible, and this is a shame.
18. What are some ingredients to a good life?
Honesty and happiness.
19. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?)
I have to admit that I haven't the time to read, and I wish I did! I try and read the Sunday papers every week.
20. Who is a “WOW Woman” in your life who inspires you (and why)?
Of course world leaders seeking peace or peacemakers ( they are amazing women and men), but me personally? I want to praise the volunteer admin team of 9 women who give up their time every day to run the support groups that are linked to my business. They work tirelessly to help others and have done so for years. Unsung heroines who have helped so many new families here in Brussels. Such acts of their kindness has reached so many - and this I feel personally.
21. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)?