My husband and I went together to drop my daughter off at preschool last Friday. We don’t typically go together, but it was the end of a long week and we thought it would be fun. As we were walking back to our car, one of the other moms stopped us as she was walking in.
“You two are so cute, coming together! I don’t know how you do it, you both work full-time, but you’re always smiling, you’re very involved with your sweet kids and I can only imagine that your house is amazing. And you, Paige, look great”. My husband I both started laughing in disbelief. I glanced down at my short, average body and glanced back at her tall slender frame and thought she must usually wear glasses.
“Just hide in my house for a day and you’ll see why I always say, ‘don’t look behind the curtain’. You’ll hear me yelling, you’ll see the messes and you’ll figure out that I am crazy, but thank you, you are very kind”, I said as we headed to the car.
That brief interaction sent me into a tail spin. I started mentally listing, by category, all of my faults and short comings:
Positive and Smiling?
- I typically only use the F word when I am upset. I use the F word daily, multiple times per day.
- My best friend thinks I should pay her as much as I pay my therapist.
- When it comes to parenting, I have been asked to write a book… on what not to do!
- If the kitchen cabinets aren’t re-done soon, the house may be condemned
- There is always mold in my shower!
- I am better at math than decorating, and I barely passed high school math.
This list continued as I walked back into the house. By the time I sat down to my computer to work. I was on the edge of a melt down. I felt like a fake. How could this high energy, fit, sweet mom be praising me?! I decided to write this blog post on how upset I was to be given praise that I didn’t deserve.
Then the most magical thing happened…
Before I could start this post, I checked my email. In my inbox was a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Julie Gardner. The post was entitled, ‘Today Call me Enough’, as she was guest posting on the blog, “Just Be Enough“. Hello?! Before you even visit the blog, which you should, the title should be smacking you in the face – it left a big nasty red mark on my cheek! Here’s the magical part… I read it and stopped making my ‘why that sweet mom is crazy and I don’t have it together’ list.
I have decided the appropriate response to the sweet mom at preschool is thank you.
Thank you for recognizing that I work full-time but make parenting my priority. Thank you for pointing out, when I couldn’t see it, that I do a pretty damn good job of juggling it all most of the time. Thanks for not expecting me to be perfect, even though I sometimes am crazy enough to expect that of myself. I have tons of help from my husband and others, but I do the best I can. It’s not perfect, but it’s enough.
It’s interesting, I have no trouble listing my failures and flaws on this blog. I use humor to mask the negative feelings, but at the end of the day, I am comfortable being truthful if it helps others feel ”normal”. It’s much harder for me to share my accomplishments and pride. I thought about creating a second list of all the great things I do, but find it too hard to “brag”.
Why is it so much easier to focus on the negative instead of celebrating the positive? I always push friends and family to celebrate their strengths, I tell them not to be so hard on themselves. I marvel at their greatness, but I am relentless in measuring myself. I think many of us fall into this camp. We push ourselves so hard to be perfect, to succeed and ultimately just drive ourselves crazy… or to drink… or to chocolate.
Since Friday, when I have felt ambition or perfectionism getting the best of me and when I set my intention at yoga on Saturday, it was simply, “Just Be Enough” and you know what, I already am. On the days when I’m ‘not enough’ or ‘slightly off balance’, it’s still enough, but with extra amusement.
Do you want to do something brave? Do you want to help me be brave? Comment on this post with one of your strengths or one proud moment. Did you make an amazing dinner? Did you rock the project at work? Did you finally catch up on your laundry (at least for one day)? Did you get some quality time with your kids?
Finally, give yourself a pat on the back for being amazing just the way you are.
I have been thinking a lot about the balance of my career and being a mother. In other words, I am still struggling to balance the two. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot permanently solve this issue of balance, but rather attack it every day and set new priorities everyday – generally based on who is screaming the loudest.
What has helped me with my daily prioritization is having one über focus. I have decided that I am a mom before anything else. So as I read the summary of my resume, I decided it might need some editing…
Yes, this is really my summary of qualifications… I am in HR and can’t believe I thought this was useful…
- Professional and effective communicator with the ability to establish a positive rapport with internal and external customers
- Responsible and competent in high pressure situations, motivated and willing to put in 110%
- Successful in leading and managing projects
- Contributes to process improvement and strives to enhance job effectiveness
- Demonstrates innovation and helps achieve company wide goals through meeting challenges and exceeding expectations
Now here is a more realistic copy, who wants to hire me now?
- Professional and effective communicator with the ability to establish a positive rapport with internal and external customers, unless I have been up all night with a sick child. If that is the case, I stick to one syllable words and that sounds more like gibberish than communication. Positive rapport? Unlikely.
- Responsible and competent in high pressure situations, motivated and willing to put in 110% on some days. If it is my classroom volunteer day, my child’s birthday, the first day of school, the last day of school or sunny outside, I am willing to put in 72%.
- Successful in leading and managing projects only because I have learned the art of delegating so that I can spend more time with my kids.
- Contributes to process improvement and strives to enhance job effectiveness these are only so that I don’t have to work as hard to get the same results so I can spend more time with my kids.
- Demonstrates innovation and helps achieve company wide goals through meeting challenges and exceeding expectations the challenges I like to focus on include how to work less and spend more time with my family and I hope to exceed my children’s expectations of being present for them.
What is the truth behind your resume?
Speaking of spending more time with my kids, I made the very tough decision not to pursue my coaching dream at this time. I don’t want to give a serious passion anything less than my best. As I take stock of my life right now, there is no room to give my best to anything else. Hell, I can’t even give mediocre to anything else right now.
I am having a serious struggle with work life balance right now (as evidenced by my lack of writing) and just can’t pull any more time out of my a.. (absolutely crazy schedule, ahem). So I am focusing on
restoring balance not going insane, and getting back to blogging (as I miss it and all of you) and will revisit coaching when my schedule permits. Thank to all those who have provided amazing support!
Now seriously, what’s going behind your resume? Tell the truth. The truth is always more delicious.
I shared with you yesterday that I am exploring a coaching program. I hadn’t planned to share more details of my proposed coaching business yet or who I hope to coach, but my friend Kelly at Dances with Chaos wrote a post about kindness and paying it forward, read it, that inspired me to reveal more of my dreams. Dreams are fragile, please be gentle with mine…
The day before I left for Santa Barbara and my transformational weekend I attended a funeral for my great-aunt. I barely knew her and simply went out of respect. My dad did not go, she was never his favorite person. Because of this, I didn’t have much exposure to her. As I sat listening to the eulogy, I was struck by a sadness for not getting to know the amazing woman being described. Some of my relatives are tough, they focus on the perceived negatives of others. As I sat, seeing an opportunity missed, I realized I love people. I love seeing the good in people. The world would be a better place if we found joy in the goodness of people rather than identifying other people’s challenges as proof of our own goodness.
My dream is to coach women on being good to themselves and others. I want to encourage them to go after their dreams without guilt. To support them when they struggle with balance. I want to help them live fullers lives by their own definitions. I want to inspire kindness and see it spread like a virus.
Do I hate men and not care about their balance? Of course not, but I want to focus on a group that isn’t very united. Think of the mommy wars as an example. Stay at home moms judging working moms for ‘abandoning their families’ to make money instead of raising their kids. Working moms judging stay at home moms for not doing “more” with their time. All these arguments are meritless and painful. We’re supposed to be a sisterhood, but how quickly we can tear each other down. So my focus will be women, but one of my new LifeLaunch friends is focused on coaching men, so balance has been achieved yet again.
I realize, as a coach, I will have to coach on the topic my client and I contract on. I won’t be able to push my own agenda, but I hope to create a safe place for people who share my philosophy. I hope to leverage my training to help women be kind to themselves. As part of my grand plan, I want to launch a women’s group that provides women a positive support network who share the common goal of uniting and supporting other women. So my pay it forward is coming…
In the meantime, I want to highlight an inspirational women, who already makes the world a better place. Patience Salgado aka Kindness Girl, practices random acts of kindness and was just featured in Oprah Magazine. Read her blog, follow her lead. As I am writing this post in advance, I will follow-up with my Pay It Forward action for today, but there will be one.
Thank you Kelly and Patience for sparking kindness on this beautiful Friday.
What random act of kindness have you committed or been the recipient of?
Imagine you were given the gift of four days to tune out all other distractions and focus on your passions, your hopes and dreams.
Suppose you were supported by a group of strangers who are now dear friends. These people helped identify roadblocks to your dreams AND ways to bust through them.
Picture sitting in a beach community being encouraged to chase your dreams and live your life on your terms and by your personal priority list.
Between the sounds of seagulls and waves crashing you hear people saying ‘go for it’, ‘you can do it’ and ‘you deserve it’.
No, I did not have a wonderful dream, sustain a head injury or consume too many cocktails at book club. (That was all the week before!
Last weekend, I lived this experience. I spent four days in Santa Barbara, attending the Life Launch program I told you about. This program gave to me what I hope to give to others; a sense that you’re not alone, that people are in your corner, that anything is possible. It focused on the good in each person and supported each person’s life journey. I was reminded this weekend that everyone is slightly off-balance; that we all have fears and obstacles, but with the right support, we can do great things. This weekend was a prelude to a coaching certification I hope to obtain, when the time in my life is right.
That time for that certification maybe now, if I can figure out how to juggle work, family and an intense 8 months program that requires 10-12 hours per week. Stop laughing! Or at least bring it down to a giggle. I know, ‘where I am going to find the time’? If I do this, will I miss more soccer practices, ballet or my own yoga classes? Will my husband forget that I even knew how to cook dinner? (Hmm… this might be a benefit). Will I completely disappear from this blog – I have already been delinquent as of late. Will people think I am selfish for adding something else that is about me? Will the mold in my showers run rampant? Will I start to wear dirty clothes and stop washing my hair? Okay, I already don’t wash my hair that often… Life would certainly get messier. But maybe a messier life is a fuller life. Maybe, messy is good. You can’t argue with the fact that an empty room may be clean, but is empty, whereas a messy room is full of living; mementos of life’s adventures. (Do you think my husband will buy any of this?)
These are all questions I have to answer, but my gut is telling me to give it a shot. I have a little more research to do and I’ll keep you posted. But I’ll make you a promise, I may have less time to blog, but I’ll try to post the messy pictures!
I just read a series of articles in the most recent Oprah magazine about intuition. As a mother, I have always believed in intuition, but I also feel I am more intuitive than some. I have been trying to listen to my intuition more lately.
My intuition is a big driver in exploring new careers. As I stop and listen to that little voice, she has become louder and more definitive in where she’s trying to lead me. My intuition has had to overcome the bully that is my intellect. My intuition has been quietly whispering to me that a more purposeful and passionate career is out there, but that bully, my intellect, kept stepping in and drowning out my intuition.
Intellect told me how fortunate I am, I have a great career, a loving family and wonderful friends, how dare I want more. Intellect told me that those crazy ideas coming from my intuition were risky and half-baked. But my intuition is like the little engine that could, it quietly persisted, and it built up steam. I would sit in a meeting or work on a project and my intuition would suggest how what I was doing could be leveraged in a new role. Intuition is sweet, she validates the choices I have made thus far and has shown me how they could be a path to my next stop. The more I listened, the easier it was to see new possibilities.
For my intuition to work well for me, I have had to give her respect. I have had to publicly stand by my intuition with conviction in order to get others to listen to my intuition. You might ask yourself, who else needs to listen to my intuition – uh, my husband! He’s in operations, he believes in data, research and is a dedicated follower of intellect. Imagine his reaction when I went to him several months ago and said, “something tells me that I am meant to do something different”. He and his intellect, joined forces with my intellect and really challenged my intuition. But overtime, I have shared the points my wise intuition have made and even my intellect-driven husband is now supporting me exploring other options. (He did make some “irrational” demands like, not giving up my current income and researching my ideas before jumping with both feet). But we’re all a work in process.
The more I listen to my intuition, the happier I find myself. My intuition is my best ally and she helps me with career ideas plus so much more. As a mom, I have always listened to parenting suggestions from my intuition, but now I listen to my intuition around choices with friends and family as well. So far intuition has not steered me wrong (as long as you don’t count 80′s wardrobe choices!).
As proof of this, here are some of my intuitive moments from today:
- My house is quiet, but my kids are home, I sense trouble
- I heard the toilet flush more than once, I sense trouble
- My daughter is holding my son’s Lego, I sense trouble
- My son has asked for glue, but told me not to worry, I sense trouble
- I sense a cocktail in my future
See! This intuition girl knows her stuff! You know what else, my intuition told me? That I have some amazing opportunities on the horizon. She also told me I am very fortunate to have a network of friends to support me in this journey! Why wouldn’t I listen to someone who tells me what I am hoping to hear?!
Are you an intellect or an intuition person? Maybe a combination of both?
I have been a little MIA here lately. I have written many posts… in my head. Trust me, I have some brilliant thoughts at 3:00 am that I never put to paper (or keyboard) the next morning. So what have I been doing instead of blogging? Why am I up thinking at 3:00 am?
I have been shopping. Well, window shopping actually.
I have put a lot of energy into window shopping for my purpose and passion.
I am a happy person. I love my life and feel blessed with the things in it. I have a wonderful husband, two adorable children, a stable and rewarding career… but…
…I feel like I am wearing a shirt I love that doesn’t fit quite right.
…I feel like I am meant to do something else, something more in line with my passions and strengths.
…I feel like my happy life could be happier.
I feel like I am searching for my “purpose”. Yes, I am a mother and wife, those things are paramount. But when I take away relationship titles, who am I?
Is this just a career search? I don’t think so, but I could be wrong. I have a career, but does it speak to who I am? I am not sure. Does it capitalize on my strengths? Not all of them. The time we spend working is significant, shouldn’t it or couldn’t it represent us?
In search of quieting the questions in my head, I have invested more time in my work while researching new careers. I have been trying to gauge how much I love my job and if it is the right one. I have been searching for the ideal job that fits multi-faceted me.
Then something great happened, a chance conversation. A wise friend, who I respect very much, recently shared with me that he is trying to figure out what is next for him after he wraps up his current corporate gig. He explained he might put more effort into a few small companies he runs, he might do philanthropic work, or he might do something totally different. It sounded like he might dabble in several things.
As I reflected on our conversation, it hit me that I was trying to get all of my passion and purpose in a few places. I realized that I have more than one purpose and I need to figure out how to prioritize them, not combine them. I am the queen of multi-tasking, but you can’t multi-task life. I think life is meant to be enjoyed and lived in separate streams. Career, motherhood, charity work, friendships, hobbies – they are each deserving of their own time. And I deserve to enjoy each of them without distraction (on the ideal days – don’t get literal with a woman with young children).
The other important thing I am figuring out is that I need to focus on the details and let go of the big picture. No, I didn’t write that backwards. I would like to better appreciate the happiness and passion I already have instead of trying to connect them to one purpose in life. I read a quote by MeiMei Fox that I love:
“The key to happiness is not enjoying every single moment of every day. That’s an unrealistic expectation that sets you up for disappointment. The key is to celebrate every tiny but glorious, extraordinary and surprising experience you have.” She goes on to provide the critical reminder that:
“When something miraculous takes place — and by miraculous, I mean any of the seemingly small yet phenomenal events that unfold all the time, from your child laughing in your arms, to your best friend calling in tears to tell you her mother has cancer — stop. Put down your smart phone. Watch. Listen. Taste. Touch. Show up.”
sometimes often forget to stop and show up. I over multi-task, I miss the passion, the purpose that already exists. So I am still window shopping from time to time, but I am trying to spend more time just experiencing.
The restless feeling hasn’t completely left me, but now I interpret it as excitement and anticipation for the many blessings that I will experience in the moments, days, months and years ahead. My personal challenge is taking them one moment at a time.
Do you feel like you know your purpose? Do you experience life? Do you show up?
Do you ever have those moments in life that you wish you could do over and be a better you? Here’s one of mine:
My cousin, Lisa, is like a sister to me. I love her so much my heart wants to explode. So naturally, when she was in labor I had to be there to support her. I was stuck at work all day and couldn’t leave for the hospital when I first got the call. When I got off work, before I started the 45 minute drive to her hospital, I stopped at the grocery store to get her flowers. I was excited, I was nervous and I was in a hurry!!
As I stood in line to checkout, the woman in front of me had 4 cans of green beans, but there was something wrong with her form of payment. They had to go get a manager, it took ‘forever’. I am ashamed to say I was rolling my eyes and tapping my foot with impatience.
As she finished her transaction and walked away, I realized the problem was with her food stamps card. I will never forget how horrible I felt. Had I not been so absorbed in my life, and realized what was going on, I would have gladly paid for her green beans to expedite things or… I could have just been more patient. That woman will never know that I wasn’t rolling my eyes at the form of payment and I can never make up my rudeness to her (something I will never forget).
But there is still a lesson to be learned and a way to create something positive out of my negative behavior. I use that day to re-pay it forward. You have likely heard of paying it forward, buying the next person’s coffee, paying the next driver’s toll fees. I love those gestures, but also practice small acts of patience and kindness with strangers. I need to make amends to a stranger for being rude, so I make sure to treat other strangers better.
- I wait patiently when someone is trying to park their car next to mine (it’s a big SUV and seems to intimidate people).
- I pull the lever so the next person has a paper towel in the airport restroom.
- I help people get their baggage up to the ticket counter.
- Helping people who are lost (directionally – if they are lost in their lives, I probably would only hurt the situation).
- Holding the elevator doors when you know the person is just around the corner even though you can’t see them and can get away with letting the doors close.
Since I can’t ever apologize to that woman in the grocery store, I try to pass on other goodness that I hope will come back to her.
I also know there will be other moments when I am distracted, stressed or simply not being the best Paige I can be, so I re-pay it forward for those moments too.
How do you show kindness to strangers?
This sums it up:
I am still treading wine, but drowning more than drinking. I just returned from two back to back business trips. I realize many people travel every week for work, across countries and continents – they’re amazing, I am not. I am tired and my body hurts from lugging my ginormous (technical term) laptop all over the place in heels. I was ready to spend some time at home and get back to normal, then my old pal Murphy (as in Murphy’s Law) showed up…
My little diva has been sick for the past couple of days with a 103.5 fever and sleep
disrupting killing cough. I have tried to catch up on work and home life while “functioning” on 2 hours of sleep over two days. (Why was this so much easier when the kids were babies??? Don’t say I am getting old - I am fragile and can’t take that right now!)
Here are the signs that things were slipping in my world:
- There was soy sauce and wine on the table, I meant to put soy sauce on my brown rice…
- I put a carton of milk in the dryer – of course I didn’t turn it on (because my husband walked up)
- I lost my son’s homework, my daughter’s valentine’s and my… (I can’t even remember the other thing!) all in one day! They were all found, including the thing I don’t remember losing, by somebody else.
There are plenty more examples, like my inability to string a sentence together to save my life, but I think you get the drift. I have hit the proverbial wall and it is not made of cheese, chocolate or wine corks.
I told my friend this morning, “I just need to get organized and catch up on everything and I will be fine”. This sent her into hysterical laughter. I am pretty sure my friends only keep me around for the entertainment value. She gently reminded me that being “caught up” might be too ambitious and I would miss all the fun in the meantime.
So guess what I did?
At 12:05 I was sitting in my home office, in my pajamas, unshowered and decided to meet a friend for lunch. This gal is rarely in town and was 10 minutes from my house. I looked at my work email, my to-do listsssss (did you catch the emphasis on the plural lists) and walked away. I set a new record for fastest shower and walked out the door at 12:10. mostly clean, no make-up and a big smile.
I have to tell you a spontaneous lunch out is incredibly therapeutic. The to-do listssss continue to grow, but I am no longer drowning, because really, what is more important - expense reports or lunch with a great friend?
I knew you’d agree.
How do you keep your head above water?