“I Feel Confident as a Woman and as a Carpenter,” says Nina

Nina MacLaughlin Photo Credit: Jonah James Fontela

Nina MacLaughlin Photo Credit: Jonah James Fontela

Nina MacLaughlin’s story is unexpected and inspiring. When Nina quit her job as a journalist, she had no idea what she would do next. A job on Craigslist as a carpenter’s assistant with the tagline: ‘women strongly encouraged to apply’ peaked her interest. With no formal training, Nina did apply and got the job! Since then Nina has been perfecting the trade and working as a carpenter in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Now, coming full circle as a carpenter and as a writer, Nina has chronicled her experience in her new memoir, Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter. Nina is busy with the launch of her book, but took time to speak with me about her life-changing experience and why mascara is her new friend …

MKG: How long have you been working as a carpenter? Do you love it?

NINA: I’ve been working as a carpenter for the last six years. I’ve found that the satisfaction that results from building a deck, for example, or a set of bookshelves, is one of the deepest I’ve experienced. Carpentry is consistently challenging, and there is so much left to learn. Some days I love it. Some days are sweaty and dirty and boring. Like any job, there are stretches when it’s incredible, and stretches when it’s tedious. I’m grateful to have the combination of writing and carpentry in my life; for me, the two compliment each other very well.

MKG: What surprised you most about being a carpenter?

NINA: I didn’t anticipate how powerful the satisfaction of building would be. That continues to boggle my mind. I had a sense it would be rewarding, but had no idea how much so. Continue reading

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Five Days of Dressing for Success: Tamara’s dream to be free

Tamara T, speaking at The Dress for Success Transforming Lives Gala

Tamara Trotz, speaking at The Dress for Success Morris County Transforming Lives Gala

The minute I slipped that dress on, it brought the entire equation together. I thought: ‘maybe people can see my ambition now.’ I felt that people had no choice but to take me seriously. You see, I never felt that I was being taken seriously. And to know that the clothes were a gift to me, made me feel worthy in a new way. Dress for Success did that for me. ” ~ Tamara Trotz

Tamara Trotz is a remarkable young woman. She is a poet. At age 24, she is designing her life and her future with the grace and maturity of a woman much older than her years. Everything she is, everything she values and holds dear, Tamara received from her mother, whom Tamara lost last year to cancer. Her mother had just turned 50. When you meet Tamara you feel the love she has for her mother and you know that she is growing up with the same courage, strength, faith and hope that her mother had. This is Tamara’s remarkable story in her own words: how she grew up with 3 siblings and a single mother who was a victim of domestic violence, how she found her ambition at 15, graduated from high school and college, and learned to appreciate her outer self when she found Dress for Success Morris County. I only hope that I do Tamara justice …

I never really understood the difficulties my mom had endured until later in my life. Growing up was isolating and I was forced to grow up long before my years. I am the oldest of three girls (my brother is a few months older than I am) and I became the caretaker. I was six years old when I understood that my mother was being battered by my father. That was the point when I started to feel the need to protect my mother. She was an amazing, strong and capable woman and mother. She gave her children everything she had and took such good care of us; her life’s dream was to give to us. And I wanted nothing more than to protect her – always … Continue reading

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