Category Archives: career

My Reality*

*Note:  This post is published today at Mile High Mamas for their feature story on motherhood and the choices we make.  Thanks to Mile High Mamas for allowing me to share this and reproduce here, and thanks to my friend Eileen who helped me edit this.  Who knew getting it down from 2000 words to 600 something could be so hard?

“Women’s libbers say we can have it all. I do not believe that we can have it all at the same time. Life is give and take. For me, I cannot immerse myself in my career without falling short in other areas. This is not a pessimistic approach or a judgment against those who chose their careers over staying at home. This is my reality and I would not change it for the world.”  Amber Johnson, Mile High Mamas

She’s not wrong, but my reality is a bit different and I wouldn’t change it for the world, either. Being a parent is a tough balancing act that takes a lot of work, and this women’s libber believes you can have it all, if that’s what you want.

I am an “older” mommy.  I had a professional career when I chose to get married, and even later still, when I chose to have children.  Actually, I have two careers; I am an attorney and a JAG for the Reserves. Working now for 17 years in both careers, I have seniority, have moved up the ranks and earned promotions, and I am successful as both a professional and a mother. I am doing what I love and have amazing kids to boot!  I have great employers that are flexible, and understand that my family comes first.  I can achieve balance.  That’s why I didn’t take a break.  I did not want to lose the employers I had, and frankly, it’s not easy to jump back into a career like mine.

Another great thing I have is the perfect husband – well, perfect for us, that is.  There is no division of labor.  We both do it all! Our mutual respect makes our reality work.  Our house may not be clean when you surprise us, but we are raising two great kids.  They are smart, funny, and support their parents’ choices to work (my husband also had a20150320_112821 career when we married and then had children).  They see the independence in me, the can-do attitude, and they emulate that.  Which is why I often wonder why I am asked to justify why I chose a career after I chose to have kids. My husband is never asked that.  For me, I don’t choose either/or.  I choose to have it all as long as I am able.

I acknowledge that I can do this because of him. He does way more than his fair share of household chores and shuttling the children around.  I am lucky to have an employer who allows flexibility for all its employees in the year 2015- what a concept! We are also lucky that we picked a school that has an excellent schedule for our dual working household.  My children have never gone without.  I had a longer maternity leave and was able to nurse both kids upwards of a year, and they get to go on some pretty amazing trips at an early age because of my work.  I haven’t missed a single field trip, play or gymnastics meet.  With 17 years seniority, I have plenty of leave and I take time off when I need.  When my parents needed me in 2012, I was able to fly out each time and help them as well!

I hold no judgment against your choice to have a single income family, and we ask for the same in return.  I want my kids to succeed in all they do, but I also want that next promotion, and I am not ashamed to admit it.  So that’s why I choose it all, not because I want to escape my family (because I don’t), but because I am driven and I love serving my country too! I hope my girls one day say what a great role model they had in me.  But mostly, I hope my girls will grow up in an America where no one will ask them, “why do you choose to work,” or “why do you stay at home.” That would be a great reality, indeed.

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Things I am still learning – You@TheCenter (R) $100 offer

logo-drop-shadowI posted twice before along my 100-day journey on the YOU@The Center course which has taught me so much.  I thought this time, as I write this, at day 83, it would be nice to share the things I have learned and some, I am still learning to perfect.  The inspiration for this post is the 100-day course, because frankly, this course has opened my eyes.  Every day, no matter what I am doing, I notice all I do, and how I spend my time. For example, at work earlier this week, I caught myself multi-tasking and not doing any one of the tasks right.  I stopped and immediately focused on one thing.  It makes a difference!

The course has benefitted me, and now you can benefit too!   I want to share this opportunity with you, so you can make space in your life for the things that matter the most to YOU!  Below is a coupon for $100 off Rachel Davis’ next session (expires Jan 6, 2015), so don’t delay. Make your New Year’s resolution to do something positive and meaningful for you.   If you have questions about the 100-Day Course, you can go to the Course Description page or to the Frequently Asked Questions page to find out more. If you still have questions, you can contact Rachel at: GetCentered@YouAtTheCenter.com.  By the way, Rachel is an amazing listener. If you are unsure if this course is right for you, she can talk with you about why that may or may not be the case.

 I knew some of this already, but the course is an inspiration for the top 10 things I want to share with you:

1.  Control is but an illusion – I can’t control it all, nor can I expect to.  If I think I can control things, I am just disappointed when things do not go my way.  So, in the words of the movie my kiddos love, “let it go!”

2.  Health is more important than anything else.  If you don’t have good health, you can’t have anything else.  Staying healthy is even harder than before, and it requires more effort.  See #1 above.  I plan things, but will likely have to cancel because I will get sick and I have no control over the illness, or worse, cannot predict how long it will last.

3.  Some things are just way more than important than other things.  For example, work is what I do, and does not define who I am.  With this knowledge, I am able to separate myself from work.   I do not get emotional or take things personally when a substantive issue comes up at work.  When I separate myself from work, I am a happier, more productive, and better mom, wife, and a better employee!  Yes, because when I am a better at all the above, I excel at all I do, including work.  Imagine that!

4.  Taking a lesson from No. 3 above, this is what is important to me:  kids, spouse, parents, and family, and the health of my loved ones.  These are matters worth taking personally.  All else pales in comparison to these relationships.   If you invest in these relationships, you will rarely have regret, and will be better at all you undertake.  In the 100-day course I took, chapter 12 focuses on relationships.  Not just the relationship with you, but with others.  It’s eye-opening.

5.  Be positive in all you do.  Finding the positive in all is contagious, and ultimately leads to happiness.  I have found, over the years, that positive people are the best leaders too! Those who are pessimistic, negative, who speak negative things, and those who speak ill of others, or gossip are toxic. But these people are also unhappy to the core.  The secret to success, whether personal, business, or career, is being positive, even in the roughest moments.  This life lesson was re-affirmed through the course, and I was happy to learn new skills and techniques to distance myself from the negative and the worthless.

6. Be proactive!  Stop always being in reactive mode.  I find that I used to be reactive and was always responding to worthless things.  Completely useless emails/facebook posts/comments by others.  Sometimes, it is better to disengage from things that don’t add value to your life (all aspects of your life), and you will be happier if you stop reacting.   Another aspect to this is, don’t respond to unnecessary drama created by others.  Be proactive- no one can change the people or their actions around you, but you can control and change how you respond to it.  I liked that aspect of this course when it came to relationships too. Chapter 12 was about relationships, and was super helpful.

7.  Use your vacation days, and turn off technology.  This one is tough for me because I am still learning how to perfect this.  It is hard for me to turn it off.  The truth is, as kids get older, they watch our every move.  If you are multitasking, and not paying attention to them because your head is buried in a phone, they will mimic your behaviors.  More than that, you are not present in anything.  When you can’t focus on one thing at a time, you are doing all of it wrong.  Walking and texting, for example?  You are not doing either of them properly.  It leads to mistakes.  Multitasking also leads to mistakes.  If you turn it all off, and focus on one thing, you will do that one thing right, and quickly and efficiently, freeing up your time and your mind to focus on other things that follow.  I love that the 100-day course has taught me to catch myself when I am mutlitasking.  I catch myself, and I stop. I focus, I bring that before me in focus, and I am more efficient, and more accurate.

8.  Do what you love and engage your passion.  I love the 100-day course because I still love the question posed, “what you would be doing if time and money were not an issue?” Write down the answer.  Now, ask yourself, “what is stopping you?”

9.  Material possessions are not more important than the relationships you build, and the people in your life.  You have material possessions and wealth today, but tomorrow, you could lose it all.  All that matters is the people you surround yourself with.  When you are not attached to material things, you are happier because you truly focus on that which is important.  This, in turn may help you improve health, your mental and emotional state, and your relationships with others and yourself.

10.  Love with all your heart, like you have never experienced a broken heart, dance like you have never fallen, and give like you have all the riches in the world and expect nothing in return.  Only then, can you experience true happiness.

What a great way to start the New Year off right – the 100 Day Course and $100 off!

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Disclaimer:  I was compensated with a free course with Rachel Davis in exchange for four sponsored posts.  The opinions and life lessons expressed here in are my own.  

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You at the Center (R) of your Life 100 day Course – Introductory Post

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http://www.youatthecenter.com/

Life is busy – often, crazy busy.  Do you find yourself saying that?  Do you find yourself going from one TO DO item on your checklist to the next, including “Number 20.  (____) SPEND TIME WITH KIDS AND HUBBY?” If you feel you are busy, unbalanced, and have no time for anything, this course may just be for you.  The details of the 100-day course are here, and you can see for yourself.

This past August, Labor Day, I got sick from all the stress, lack of sleep, and going from one check list to another to just getting so sick that I could not travel to see my family.   And exactly a month later, I got sick again.  In fact, for August, we had to cancel one of our summer trips to see family, and this was my wake up call.  It was time for me to put ME at the center of my life and that which matters to me – that which nurtures me.  When your health fails, everything else inevitably follows, and this was a wake-up call which I inevitably needed.

Yes, I am that person who watches a show I like and is on my DVR whilst working on something whether it’s a blog post, work stuff, or checking email, etc.  I mean, has it gotten to the point where watching a show on my DVR is part of my TO DO checklist?  Yes, why yes, it has reached that point.  It’s sad, really.  I miss the days when my parents and I went on vacation and truly had a vacation, dad disconnected from work, mom disconnected from the kitchen, and everyone disconnected from any glimmer of social media, devices, etc.,  That was almost 2 decades ago.  Now, I cannot even take a day of leave without checking my E-mail, and checking in on things, and I have two outside the home jobs.  I have no idea why we do the things we do to ourselves.  I haven’t been able to do the things I enjoy – try out new recipes, have fun with the kids, and write thoughtful, meaningful posts here at Get Clued In!  All the things I enjoy take a back seat to the all-powerful checklist and numerous TO DO lists, some of which I even lose throughout the day, and have to re-create.  Yikers!

Enter this amazing course, which, in its introduction has set the stage to be a great eye-opening lesson for me.  So far, I have had the intro, and read Lessons 1, 2 and 3, and have done the worksheets.  Because I got sick for a few days after starting this course, I missed 2 days.  But, it seems like a process to me and truly is a 100-day process, in a way, writing daily about how I feel, what were the highlights and what happened.  My initial thoughts are – “this course speaks to me.” For example, did you know a Question is more important than an Answer.  We kinda know the answer, but “how” do we get to the answer – that is key.  We all have goals, but how do we obtain our goals?  The “how” is more important than the answer.

How can it be October already?  Can you believe that looking back on this year, I do not remember April through August because I was traveling so much and busy with so many things that I took no enjoyment in any of it.  So far, this course has spoken to me and that I am not alone in this busy world.  It is time to put YOU, or in this case, ME at the Center of my life.  I am looking forward to what the next 90 days holds for me.

I am not expecting the holy grail from this course, or it to give me the answers to all my questions (and believe me, I have plenty), but if I can learn a few things to help me  regain some control of my life, I will truly feel that it has been of benefit to me.   Heck, I do not even know if I have time to devote daily, much less weekly for something of this nature- yes, this course is on my TO DO List for the week… otherwise, I may forget amid all the crazy busyness.  🙁

* Disclaimer: I am participating in this program and was compensated the price of the course for four review posts of the course.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

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I hope they say

IMG_9552* This post was written for Mother’s Day but alas, here we are a week later….

When I am gone and have left, I hope they say, “she was a good mom.” That is the only thing I hope they say.  Yes, I am ambitious, I am driven, I am successful in my career, and my profession, and I do so much.  Yes, I have made rank, earned a few accolades, received some awards, and traveled to far away lands.  I am told I am smart, motivated, driven, blah, blah, blah.  I am not sure if this is true.  But, I do not know if any of that matters.  So many women have made so many more sacrifices, so many women have done far more to make a difference in this world, to change the world.  I am not defined by my work and what I do, rather, I am defined by the choices I make, and the lives I have helped create, and the world I leave them behind in.  The world in which they can make a difference, the world I hope they can change, and ultimately, the world they can leave behind better than they found it.  This is what I hope they say.

I am defined by so much more.  I hope they say, “she was a good mom- she left behind these people who ultimately made a difference, who made the world a better place.”  Out of all the things they can say about me and who I am, I hope that is what they say.  Being a mom day in, day out, 24/7; nothing compares to this most important job in the world.  And, moms, don’t fret, you don’t have to be stay or work at home to know what a difference you are making daily.  Frankly, those who juggle the most often make the biggest impact.

Happy Mother’s Day 2014!  “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” –Mahatma Gandhi

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Whale Done!*

*Disclaimer: the tile of this post is copyrighted by the author Ken Blanchard. This post is a book review and the author of this post does not claim copyright or creative rights in the phrase “Whale Done!” 

copyright Ken Blanchard
copyright Ken Blanchard

My husband checked out a book at the library and I did not think much about it until he told me some of the concepts in it.  So, as an example, I would say “ugh, what are we going to do, our daughter is being very difficult.”  His reply, “well, we need accentuate the positive and redirect her energy. That is what I read in this book….”  Needless to say, after several more conversations about different scenarios like this, I felt I needed to read Whale Done!  This book is not just about positive relationships at work and home but daily life.  It can help improve just about all relationships.

This book by Ken Blanchard is a quick read and explores “the power of positive relationships.”  What does this mean?  What exactly is a positive relationship and how do you go about implementing it?  The key concepts of this book are to focus on the positive in all you do and in everyone you encounter.  This really struck a chord with me because that is my resolution for this year- being more positive, and trying to stay on a more positive track- at home, in my career (all the jobs I have), and with life in general.  This book is written based on the concept of management in line with the style of training the whales at Sea World.  It addresses the basic concepts those trainers employ, and applying them to human interaction. The biggest difference between whales and people: We have the advantage because we can talk to one another.  The basic concepts are the same: “Build trust, accentuate the positive, and when mistakes occur, redirect the energy.”  (Blanchard, p.19)

One of the concepts in the book is accentuating the positive and redirecting when someone is on the wrong track.  For example, every day at home if I yelled at my husband about the dishes, or making the kids’ lunches, or dinner, or picking up his clothes off his home, will he want to be home with me?  There is a good chance that he will want to come home late, stay at work late longer, or just not want to be at home at all.  Who could blame him?  I would not want constantly want to be berated after a long day at work either.  Anyway, it is about expressing positive things about each other, in front of the kids, and to one another.  Instead of saying “this is the wrong bread- you always buy the wrong bread,”  you might try, “wow, hon, thanks for getting the groceries again- you are so kind to do so but remember, this bread is too thick for me so I generally buy X brand.  I am not clear on which brand it is and I know I never told you so I will get it tomorrow and show you the labeling for next time.”  There are essentially four kinds of responses to almost all actions:  “No response, negative response, redirection, and positive response.” (Blanchard, p.30).  Sometimes, sharing in the responsibility on why someone did something “wrong” or incorrectly helps the situation.  Also, don’t accuse, put down, or blame the person.  This would also not be a good time to bring up past issues.  Focus on the thing that was done incorrectly and move on.  The no response one is interesting- it is just ignoring the action you wish to not be repeated and a response is not really warranted.  So, when the 6 year-old throws a fit, promptly moving her to her room without a word and ignoring her whining would be one example.

Some of the examples in the book are with teenage kids, but you can apply almost all the lessons to any age.  For younger kids, you want to catch them doing something right and recognize right away.  So, when they are being quiet and reading, doing puzzles, join in and hug them and say “wow, you guys are really doing great… can mommy play too?” My 4 year-old for example does not need much to know I am accentuating the positive.  When she puts her toys away, I give her a huge hug, high five and say “OH MY look at this great job – you put your toys away!  Wow!  High five and good job!” This and a hug will make them realize that they get attention for doing the right thing.  Now, conversely when she does not put her toys away, then what?  Well, perhaps the approach would be to redirect her to the time when she did it right, instead of yelling at her which is negative.  Constantly picking on the negative and only criticizing her when she is doing something wrong accentuates that behavior and after awhile, you are just a mouth piece and no one listens anymore.  Trust is lost and the relationship suffers.

Obviously with my daughter, I do need to talk with her and address the behaviors that I want corrected, so the better approach may be to say, “hey, let’s put these toys away together so we can find them when we want them again… yeah I will help you and show you where they go, so next time, you can do it all by yourself and earn a high five and a hug.”   This response also takes responsibility for showing her in case she did not know where to put the toys back.  All of these same principles apply at work too.

Here is an example.  My boss in one of my jobs this past weekend gave me my mid-term feedback, and it was super positive, and uplifting.  He followed the book without even knowing it by providing words of encouragement, words accentuating specific examples of all the things I am doing right in the job.  With that, he also gave me some things I needed to improve on but did it in a manner to say, “maybe we can both learn together because this is a new system.”  I got it.  The next day at the job, I learned that new system inside and out.   He had motivated me and energized me so much this past weekend, it spilled over into my life, and other job too.  And, he does it every weekend I work with him- he accentuates and points out positives right when he sees them instead of waiting for a feedback.  Until I read this book I did not even realize it.  I just know that despite it being work, and being away from family, this job energizes me.  As a result, I feel needed, and indispensable to the organization.  And it’s not just me, he does it for every person in our organization.  I am not even sure he has read this book but, wow!  What an attentive boss who catches his people doing things right and saying something about it.  Now, keep in mind that one method to accentuate the positive will not always work with everyone.  Each person speaks a different language, so Whale Done! talks about finding out what motivates each individual.  What motivates employee X to do better will not be the same factor that motivates employee Y.  One employee will react better to words of affirmation, while another may need monetary recognition, while another may need you to “show them” through your actions.  Also, remember to give people specific examples of what they are doing right so it does not appear you are just being manipulative.  So, say to your teenage daughter, “when you cleaned up your room and the loft without being asked to the other day… wow, thanks so much – you saved me time and really helped me out a lot- I REALLY appreciate that – why don’t I go ahead and take your chores for Friday so you can go out with your friends that evening.”

This book goes on to to state that the traditional work environment is one in which a boss generally says nothing when things are going right [ignores you] and only talks with you when something is wrong- i.e. criticizing you, or stating the negative.  How nice would it be to get feedback early and often – at the moment you are doing something RIGHT.   How nice would it be to hear from your boss on more than the occasions in which you are doing something he or she perceives to be “wrong.”  Anyway, this book calls that system the “GOTcha” system.  In this system, all people want to do is do their jobs and not be bothered because they are afraid every time their boss speaks to them they are doing something wrong.  Wow!  Tragic.  I am so lucky to not work (in any of my jobs) in an environment like that.  That would not be fun at all.

Is all this a bit touchy feely for you?  Well, yeah, this book was a bit of that too.  But, great especially as far as my personal life is concerned because it is so important to build a healthy relationship with your spouse, a partnership rooted in love and respect, rather than one rooted in fear, anger, and discord.  The chain reaction is that when kids see a healthy, positive relationship between the parents, they themselves feel more loved, respected, and model the same respect for others and each other.  Whether you want to apply this all aspects of your life or not, I think there is a lot of value in recognizing the positives all around you and in the people in your life.  Simple concepts of accentuating the positives, recognizing that progress is a moving target, and just recalling the principles from this book when you are about to fly off the deep end with your kids and spouse can really help your relationships.  That is what the power of positive relationships is all about.

Whale Done! is a quick, good read.  Along with The Fred Factor, Lincoln on Leadership, and other self-improvement motivational books, I definitely recommend this one for all facets of your life to create positive relationships.

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