Interview by: Allison Chawla
Founder and Co-President of Cale Communications and
Co-Publisher of Living Rhinebeck Magazine
Marybeth reminds me of Sally Field’s character in ‘Steel Magnolias.’ She is sweet, upbeat, friendly, playful, charming and emulates kindness everywhere she goes. I love it when we cross paths because I know that she has nothing but positive intentions and hopes for everyone she meets, even if they are entirely different from her. She is by far one of the freshest breaths of air in the Rhinebeck area, and I would argue in the Hudson Valley. But, never mistake kindness for weakness, as this working mother has built a successful career of her own, and manages to care of her family and herself in the meantime.
Are you from Rhinebeck originally? If not, what brought you to Rhinebeck.
I was born in Jamaica, Queens, but I was three weeks old when my family moved to Dutchess County. The eldest of four children, I was in 5th grade when my dad accepted a position as the minister at Church of the Messiah, and we moved to Rhinebeck. I graduated from Rhinebeck High School in 1992 (class president, actually!), went to St. Mary’s College of Maryland, remained in Maryland for a couple of years after graduation, and then moved to North Carolina for a short period.
When Tom and I got married in 1998, we decided we wanted to build our life together right here in the beautiful Hudson Valley. With each passing year, I have fallen more deeply in love with my sweet, historic hometown and feel ever grateful for the wonderful quality of life we all enjoy. Rhinebeck and the entire region have evolved in wonderful ways since I was a kid – maintaining all the joys of small-town life in the context of ever-growing popularity and expanding opportunities! We live and work right in the village; it’s a beautiful, wonderful life.
How many children do you have?
Two boys, ages 13 and 15
Were you always interested in media or did you have another profession before?
I started my career as an admissions counselor for St. Mary’s College of Maryland (my alma mater), where I traveled throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and Northeast to recruit prospective students, make presentations to parents and college-bound youth at college nights, and represent St. Mary’s at college fairs. I also interviewed candidates for admission, evaluated applications, and made selection decisions. I loved all of it and realized that I thrive when I’m forging connections with people and communicating with others.
Shortly after Tom and I were married, I became Director of Development and Public Relations for Abilities First (a large nonprofit that provides services to people with developmental disabilities; it was then called REHAB Programs). I worked full-time in managing communications and fundraising initiatives there until 2005. During that time, both of our boys were born, and I wanted to take all that I loved about my work and develop my own communications firm so that I’d have the freedom to ‘own my time’ as a young mom while continuing to develop professionally. Thus, Cale Communications was born. I began building out the practice with clients who needed writing and publicity services. Tom, who’d been a partner in the business from the start, kept a regular full-time job until 2016, when he joined our Cale Communications full-time, bringing his graphic and website design skills to the mix – that allowed us to grow substantially. Our skill sets are very complimentary for clients, so we found a lovely stride together quite quickly. It was in 2017 that we expanded our scope to include publishing Living Rhinebeck magazine, but we maintain our work in all other areas of our communications business as well.
What inspired you to create this magazine and resource?
Someone approached us with the concept, and we thought it would be a super-cool, fun way to use storytelling as a way to connect community members to one another. It’s been an incredibly gratifying project – we’re constantly reminded of the goodness of humanity as we learn about all of the caring people who are part of our region. Our advertisers, of course, make it all possible. Just like the rest of our business, it is only successful because people have entrusted us; it’s a privilege to put something together that’s beneficial for our advertisers and for our readers.
How were you able to find the balance between being a mother and creating such a successful resource?
I started Cale Communications many years before we began publishing the magazine when the boys were babies. I’ve always been a working mom, so I never knew anything different – but the business was started because I wanted to own my time. When they were little, I wanted to be able to take long walks with the kids or hit the town pool if the weather was beautiful without worrying about waiting for the 5 o’clock hour. As they grew, I wanted to say ‘yes’ anytime I was asked to be class mom or volunteer for community efforts, and I did – I just got my work done in the wee hours of the morning or late at night if I needed to. Now that they’re teenagers, I like to be there when they get home from school each day; I want to be the first one to hear about what’s happening in their lives – and I can do that because I get the work done while they’re in school, cross-country practice, karate, or with their friends. Having our own business has allowed both of us to be present to the kids – we’ve been so fortunate for that. The time we get with them creates energy that feeds the business, and likewise, the fulfillment we get from client relationships and projects spills over into home life. So I guess it’s not really so much about finding a balance as it is using time wisely and recognizing the synergy that develops when you’re able to make time for both motherhood and career.
As a mother, and someone who participates in providing information to others; what are your thoughts on social media?
It’s a love/hate relationship! I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m addicted to my phone, and I’m trying hard to rein it in; I realize that we lead by example and it’s important to show our children that the most meaningful connections in life happen face-to-face. We were lucky because smartphones are a relatively new development, so we didn’t have to face this part of parenthood until our kids were already in middle school. Many parents are dealing with it much earlier. It’s really about keeping the dialogue open about the pros and cons of social media. I know they want to be on it and I understand and respect that decision. So, we try to establish guidelines for them, keep them mindful of safety/privacy issues, and help them understand how to use it as a force for good, but send a message that we trust them to make the right choices. When one of us is getting sucked into cyberspace while in the room with the family, the term that is uttered is: “people first!” – that’s our little phrase we use in our house to remind us not to get lost in another world when we have fantastic humans around us.
Do you have rules and restrictions in your own family for these types of online resources?
They aren’t allowed to have cellphones in their rooms when everyone goes to bed for the night. I’ve also made my car a “tech-free zone,” because I love the conversations we have when taking a ride and don’t want those to be jeopardized by a notification popping up. Other than that, they know it’s just like anything else in life: use any communication to support people and to share kindness.
How do you find time for yourself?
I find time for myself pretty much every day, because I know that self-care is critically important; I can’t give to others if I’m not feeling healthy and peaceful myself. Several mornings each week, I’ll meditate. I also try to walk to work as much as possible, which gives me some time to ease into the day (and ease out of the day when I walk home). I love riding down to the Hudson River to have lunch or watch a sunset; it’s a great place to relax and reflect. I love to exercise, whether playing tennis, doing Pilates or yoga, or hitting the gym, and I enjoy volunteering in the community. Part of self-care, too, is focused on spending quality time with the people I love; they nourish my soul. I get the gift of working with my husband every day, but we also have regular date nights and frequently get out for long walks or to see live music. And, of course, I LOVE time with our kids – we try to get out as a family often, and we do eat as a family most nights of the week. I cherish each moment with them, especially now as they’re quickly becoming young adults; I recognize that the time is fleeting and my heart is full when I get to spend some time with them.
If you could give advice to another entrepreneur mother’s out there, what would it be?
Be gentle on yourself. Some days you’ll feel like you’re on top of your game, totally productive and creative, and other days you just need to take some time out. Develop a vision statement for your life – something that captures what you want personally AND professionally – and then make your decisions in the context of that statement. If you’re having fun, taking micro-steps toward your vision, and being true to yourself, the rest will come. And if/when your vision doesn’t seem to be working for you anymore, don’t be afraid to shift gears!
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