Even The Smallest Wins Are Worth It – Patty, 54

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I met Patty at an event at the capitol in Raleigh. I am excited to include some women from my current home state of North Carolina in this ‘Share Your Story; the Women the WSJ Missed’ series.

Patty started an organization called Greenish Neighbor because she enjoys sharing her expertise on the human impact on our environment. She has found that there isn’t always a simple solution to complicated issues. and loves showing kids and families that they have options, that nobody is perfect and that sometimes the “green-ish” solution works best. To further that message, she offers Greenish Parties to provide a service that actually shows children and families what those simple choices can look like in action.

I proudly bring you Patty Cervenka as our woman of Week 15.

KUELLIFE: What are you pursuing now, at this stage of your life, that surprises  you or might appear to others as if it comes out of left field? 

PATTY: For so many years I dedicated my time to a wide variety of volunteer roles at a number of different organizations. When defining for myself what my purpose will be for the next part of my career, I found that I had developed a passion for showing people, particularly kids, that environmentally friendly lifestyle choices can be easier than they thought. Making this my priority has me needing to say “No” to other opportunities that people bring my way. I’m still getting used to saying “no”.

KUELLIFE: What’s a typical day like for you?

PATTY:  I try not to ever have a typical day as some days I need to manage social media accounts, edit my website, or do research. But the best days are when I’m out talking to people about the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) or reducing landfill waste. Every day is different and I love that variety and flexibility.

KUELLIFE: With what do you struggle?

PATTY: Finding my personal value as I transition from volunteerism to trying to create a sustainable business.

KUELLIFE: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?

PATTY: If I am able to make an impact on one child, that child will have an impact on others. So even the smallest wins are worth it and they motivate me.

KUELLIFE: What advice would you give fellow women about aging?

PATTY: Hang out with kids. Their enthusiasm is contagious!

KUELLIFE: What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?

PATTY: Being vulnerable means opening myself up to criticism. Using technology and social media to spread the word about my vision and business can be very rewarding but it can also lead to some tough feedback.

KUELLIFE: What are three events that helped to shape your life?

PATTY: Sadly, the most impactful events that shaped my life were losing my best friend and my little brother, both to cancer. This makes me appreciate every day as the gift that it is. Then, becoming a parent gave me perspective on what is truly important in life and made me consider the type of world I want to leave for them and their children. Lastly, the event that started me down the path of environmental awareness and action was the day I purchased my compost bin from the Town of Cary.

KUELLIFE: Who influenced you the most in life and why?

PATTY:  My Dad. He was hard working, intelligent, inventive and kind. But most of all, he put his unconditional love for his family above all else. 

KUELLIFE: What is the best advice you’ve been given from another woman?

PATTY: This is advice I try to live by . . . 

“Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”   ― Ruth Bader Ginsburg

KUELLIFE: What woman inspires you and why?

PATTY: My friend Emily Barrett (Sustainability Manager for the Town of Cary) has been a great inspiration to me. Her extensive knowledge of environmental sustainability paired with her ability to appreciate all sides of complicated issues is admirable. I feel very lucky to know her.

KUELLIFE: Are you grown-up?

PATTY: Yes, because it takes being grown-up to have an appreciation for what I have now; A healthy family, a safe home and a passion project.

KUELLIFE: What do you do for self-care?

PATTY: My mental health breaks happen in my regular Zumba classes. I couldn’t survive without the chance to dance like no one is watching every week.

KUELLIFE: And last but definitely NOT least: What are the top three things on your bucket list?

PATTY: Visiting Ireland, Venice, and Star Wars Land at Disney.

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