A Much Needed Break

Worthless.

That’s what we’ve been this week.  Absolutely worthless. And I’m okay with that.

A Much Needed Break via grateful simplicity

 

Because we all need time to unplug, stay up a little later than usual, have permission to sleep in, maybe even drink some cold beer without counting the calories or prepare meals without thinking of nutritional content. Know that you don’t know what’s going on in the national news and your emails aren’t being checked much less warranting a response. It’s good for the soul.

 

A Much Needed Break via grateful simplicity

 

Books: After several recommendations, I started Love Does by Bob Goff- easy read full of wisdom. Thank you Kristin!

A Much Needed Break via grateful simplicity

Spring break is better when spent with friends….

 

A Much Needed Break via grateful simplicity

 

A Much Needed Break via grateful simplicity

We keep it classy

A Much Needed Break via grateful simplicity

 

Today? Today was another story. The exact opposite of relaxing, yet just as much fulfilling. I spent the day getting things done. Important things like painting my toe nails Cajun Shrimp, having routine blood work, enjoying an early birthday lunch with my Mom, Aunt, and Meme. Going to the grocery store, shopping for a dress, buying a lamp (on sale!) for Raynes’ room, and taking Kenley to get a super cute, short haircut.  And the best part? I was alone. All day. Man, I’ve been wanting (and needing) a day like this for a long time.

Because tomorrow it’s back to a little more of this.

A Much Needed Break via grateful simplicity

I’m thinking 38 may not be so bad after all.

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You have nothing to be afraid of…

Sending prayers out this morning for this sweet girl, Lilli, who is at Boston Children’s Hospital, as I type, having open heart surgery to repair a valve and VSD.  Ironically, this is similar (though more complex) to the surgery Kenley had in 2004.

What are the chances? One of my close friends? We graduated same year, have the same wedding anniversary, our daughters were born 4 weeks apart, and they both have heart defects, and the same one?  It’s like an twisted type of irony or something….

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Or maybe that makes us sole sisters, and our girls heart sisters.

You have nothing to be afraid of via grateful simplicity

 

When K buckled herself into the car this morning, she asked me how Lilli spells her name. Then she asked me when her surgery was to which I responded, “this morning.”

I somewhat held my breath waiting to see what Kenley’s reaction would be, knowing that her little friend was doing as we spoke.

Her reply?

“I told Lilli she had nothing to be afraid of.”  Of all the things she could have said, that was last on my list.  As parents, we have everything to be afraid of.
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My brave, brave girl. I may have cried a little inside when she said that after having been through so much as a baby.

She’s right though, if we keep our faith we have nothing to be afraid of.  I think those little stitches in her heart made her extra intuitive.

From coats to boat

This is Florida for ya. Saturday morning is jackets and heat, Sunday is boating and beach. I gave up a long  time ago trying to figure our our weather.

From coats to boats via grateful simplicity

Cupid brought each of the kiddos fishing shirts and sun hats– preventative maintenance.

 

 

Being eleven is exhausting sometimes.

From coats to boat via grateful simplicity

 

I hear it’s going to be in the mid-80’s this week but I am going to try and show some restraint by not running to the local nursery to buy plants.  We’ve sprung forward and are ready for those white jeans, but I have a feeling Jack Frost’s grasp isn’t going to let us go that easy. Until then, I’m going to dig out those white jeans just to spite him!

Balance

Balancing work and motherhood has proved to be quite the challenge. Having tried every different scenario- working full time in an office, working full time with two days being remote, working part time, being a stay at home mom, and now back to the office-which-happens-to-be-my-children’s-school full time, I can honestly say striking (what feels like) a great balance requires flexibility and perspective.

 

Balance via grateful simplicity

 

Being able to attend my little guy’s art show, and then heading back to work without the guilt is a gift that I know better than to take for granted.

 

Balance via grateful simplicity

 

Which is why I like this article my Mom forwarded this week {which was featured on Fortune.com}

 

PowerToFly President Katharine Zaleski admits: “I didn’t realize how horrible I’d been – until I had a child of my own.”

I still am embarrassed by this memory. Five years ago I walked into an office on the twenty-fifth floor of the Manhattan headquarters of Time Inc. (which ownsFortune.) I was there to meet with Time.com’s then managing editor and pitch a partnership idea, but once I took a seat and surveyed the endless photos of her small children spread across the airy space, I decided this editor was too much of a mother to follow up on the idea.

I still went through with my proposal, but I walked out sure I would never talk to her again. She wasn’t the first and only mother whose work ethic I silently slandered. As a manager at The Huffington Post and then The Washington Post in my mid-twenties, I committed a long list of infractions against mothers or said nothing while I saw others do the same.

  • I secretly rolled my eyes at a mother who couldn’t make it to last minute drinks with me and my team. I questioned her “commitment” even though she arrived two hours earlier to work than me and my hungover colleagues the next day.
  • I didn’t disagree when another female editor said we should hurry up and fire another woman before she “got pregnant.”
  • I sat in a job interview where a male boss grilled a mother of three and asked her, “How in the world are you going to be able to commit to this job and all your kids at the same time?” I didn’t give her any visual encouragement when the mother – who was a top cable news producer at the time – looked at him and said, “Believe it or not, I like being away from my kids during the workday… just like you.”
  • I scheduled last minute meetings at 4:30pm all of the time. It didn’t dawn on me that parents might need to pick up their kids at daycare. I was obsessed with the idea of showing my commitment to the job by staying in the office “late” even though I wouldn’t start working until 10:30 am while parents would come in at 8:30 am.

For mothers in the workplace, it’s death by a thousand cuts – and sometimes it’s other women holding the knives. I didn’t realize this – or how horrible I’d been – until five years later, when I gave birth to a daughter of my own.

Within her first week, I became consumed by the idea that my career was over. It was almost as if my former self was telling me I was worthless because I wouldn’t be able to continue sitting in an office for ten hours a day. And I certainly wouldn’t be able to get drinks at the last minute.

I was now a woman with two choices: go back to work like before and never see my baby; or pull back on my hours and give up the career I’d built over the last ten years. When I looked at my little girl, I knew I didn’t want her to feel trapped like me.

I read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, thinking it would motivate me. It only depressed me more. To me, the message was clear: put up with the choices made by a male-dominated work culture if you want to succeed. I reread Anne Marie Slaughter’s piece on “Why Women Can’t Have It All.” It just painted another reality that I had contributed to until it became my own problem.

While I was on maternity leave from NowThis News (a startup funded by members of The Huffington Post team), still wrestling with these thoughts, I was approached by my now co-founder, Milena Berry. She told me she had an idea to launch a company that would match women in technical positions they could do from home. I decided to quit my job and leave journalism, realizing this startup had enormous potential for the one billion women entering the workforce over the next ten years.

If the developer placements worked, then other fields might follow. By enabling women to work from home, women could be valued for their productivity and not time spent sitting in an office or at a bar bonding afterwards. Mothers could have a third option that would allow them to either remain in the workforce or be a part of it even from areas with few job options.

All the tools exist for remote work – Slack, Jira, Skype, Trello, Google Docs. Research shows remote workers can be more productive. Furthermore, millennials – with or without kids – want that flexibility, a Harvard study found.

With the help of an awesome team that’s 50% moms from around the world, Milena and I are building PowerToFly around our lives as mothers. We’ve processed over $1 million in paychecks for women who work from home across five continents and that number is growing fast. The stories we hear are thrilling.

Before we found Nedda, our CTO, she was commuting to London from her home in Bulgaria every week. Nedda’s daughter would hide in her suitcase on Sunday nights in an attempt to be with her mother during the week. Now she gets picked up from kindergarten by her mom everyday. Nedda traded a very expensive ten-hour weekly commute (not including time on the London tube) for a thirty-minute walk with her child each afternoon.

I wish I had known five years ago, as a young, childless manager, that mothers are the people you need on your team. There’s a saying that “if you want something done then ask a busy person to do it.” That’s exactly why I like working with mothers now.

Moms tell me when a project can be done and they give me very advanced notice when they have to take time off work. If they work from home, it doesn’t matter if a kid gets sick. Yes, they might not be able to Skype with me as often through that day, but they can still be productive because they can work from home while keeping an eye on their child. (And, like me, many have childcare. There’s no way you can work from home without support, usually from another woman.) Moms work hard to meet deadlines because they have a powerful motivation – they want to be sure they can make dinner, pick a child up from school, and yes, get to the gym for themselves.

 

But, I know there are still a lot of people like my 28-year-old self – they undervalue mothers’ contributions because they count hours logged in the office and not actual work. Most mothers lose if that’s the barometer for productivity.

It’s time to break that cycle, and it starts with the people doing the hiring. The way I acted in my twenties had a lot to do with denial. If I didn’t embrace or recognize the mothers on my team, then I didn’t have to think about what my future would be like. I see the same behavior in young women I talk to who are in charge of hiring, especially in the tech space. They are hardliners – and passionate lecturers – about women being in the office so they can be part of the company’s “culture.”

They don’t realize how that “culture” pushes women out because it’s too often set up around how men bond. Many of these young women are just toeing the company line. I don’t begrudge them. I feel sorry for them.

They’re hurting their future selves. Just like I did.

These women can help pave the path for their future selves if they start acting like allies rather than deniers. Instead of just smiling and saying you’re sorry that a mom can’t join for office drinks, ask her if she’d rather do lunch. If there’s a comment you over hear that disparages a mother because she wasn’t at her desk at 7pm, then speak up and point out that she was there at 8:30am, or completely available on Skype or Slack at 7 pm.

There are so many ways we can support each other as women, but it starts with the just recognizing that we’re all in different positions at different times in our lives.

One thing is clear. Motherhood is the future for most women. Over 80% of us will become mothers by the age of 44, according to the US Census Bureau. So embrace your future and support it at work!

Now I know who I am. I’m mother who can manage a large team from my home office or on a business trip, raise money, and build a culture for women to succeed. I’ve never been more productive, satisfied and excited about my future and my daughter’s. I wish I had recognized this years ago.

For that, I’m sorry to all the mothers I used to work with. Which brings me back to that managing editor I dissed atTime. Her name is Cathy Sharick and she has three kids. The deal never went through for a variety of reasons that included editorial fit, but we started talking six months ago. Cathy recently joined PowerToFly as our Executive Editor. She has taught me a lot about how to be more productive than I was before motherhood. I’m now looking for more Cathys to join PowerToFly because I know they can manage households, multiple schedules and very high business goals.

Katharine Zaleski is the Cofounder and President ofPowerToFly, the first global platform matching women in highly skilled positions across tech and digital that they can do from home, or in an office, if they choose.

Art Show via grateful simplicity

Art Show via grateful simplicity

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