A 6 Hour Road Trip to Relax

Why would anyone be so excited to spend their Friday evening (into the night) after a full day of work driving across the great state of PA? Did I mention that this includes a motion-sickness pup, a 5 month old that just learned to scream…for fun, and a kindle fire stocked up with Yo Gabba Gabbas and Blues Clues (or, as my hubby calls it Booze Cruise). I am excited because it’s a trip HOME, and there really is no place like it!

I am a classic type A personality, with a bit of an organizational problem (Hi, My name is Katie and I want to organize your cabinets,… and your bathroom… and my child’s diapers). This has been a great asset to my career and home (truly). But, it’s hard to sometimes just “turn it off.” Days off are spent cleaning. Days on are spent writing, networking and just working! So, when I get to my parent’s house this magical thing happens… my shoulders relax, I don’t think about work, and I don’t pick up after anyone. 

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My son relaxed and being taken care of… this is the feeling we get at my parent’s house

Living 6 hours away was great as a young married couple, we got some space, explored a new city every weekend and could make a quick decision to get in the car and head home when we needed an Ohio-fix. Now, as rookie parents, the distance seems a bit longer and the car just a little more packed (how can I 5 month old take up so much space?!).  So those sporadic trips home become fewer and farther apart, and that relaxing feeling that hits me when I walk through the door is needed more than ever. Which is why, I am actually looking forward to this long car ride, for a few days of tension free shoulders, no chores (well, I will pick up after my family and help mom with the dishes), and just some down time.

I always scoffed at my mom when she said that “being a parents changes you,” but as I sit here preparing for a long car ride to her house so that she can take over and I can relax, I realize that yes, being a parent changes everything, especially a HUGE new found appreciation for your own parents.

How to Fake “Awake”

Unfortunately, we have all had those days where we are just exhausted – perhaps from a sleepless night, restless child, or sometimes we all just feel plain worn out. On those mornings when I wake up (or perhaps have been awake for awhile) and must get ready to be in public and have face-to-face conversations with others, I make a decision to fake it and get through my day. Here is how I fake “awake” and tips to make it through the day unharmed, or without harming others:

  • Pay extra attention on how you dress… you want to be comfortable, but nothing makes a tired day worse than feeling frumpy and nothing helps you feel better than to look better. Pick comfortable but structured clothes. Flats or boots make good shoes and skip any accessories that you will be tempted to play with (hanging earrings, messy scarves) – keep it simple and polished. I also make an extra note to layer on these days for easy ways to get warm and cool off.

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  • Go easy on the eye make up. Nothing looks more tired than making tired or bloodshot eyes darker – use neutral tones and don’t skip on the mascara (helps keep eyes look outlined = awake). I always wear my thick glasses frames glasses, so it helps mask it a bit!
  • Don’t just watch what you wear – watch what you eat! Give into the caffeine  but match it with equal (and more!) cups of water, a filling but not heavy breakfast, and lunch packed with protein. Thanks to WebMD for some ideas on what to eat to boost your mood and energy. When I am super tired, I snack on apples and peanut butter throughout the day

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  • Also – be active… when you are worn out, it’s easy to sink into your chair and zone out. If you are able to, do some yoga stretches, go to the water cooler often, pace around or hold a meeting standing up.

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  • Lastly, by all means – avoid things that trigger your anxiety, anger or impatience. Lack of sleep or tiredness can cause irritability, and being angry on top of that can lead to disaster. Avoid making big decisions. For me, I know long-winded talking is my trigger when I am irritable. I just want to yell “get to the point!!” – so I avoid long winded conversations and talkers when I am ubertired, I also avoid anything that can cause debate and save it for a day that I am up for it!

Make it through the day – get home and eat a good meal – take care of the loved ones – forget the chores and get some sleep. Tomorrow is a new day!

A Fearless Birthday Wish

I love the quote “Be truthful, gentle and fearless” by Mahatma Gandhi. Through Gandhi’s straightforward request, I have found so many challenges – especially in the last year. But, by taking this simple approach head-on over the past few weeks with a goal to turn things around before my birthday, I have certainly turned Imagethings around. What I really wanted for my birthday, was a sense of calm.

I have been reluctant to share the details of my story into motherhood, as it has been truly amazing, but also equally terrifying. At 9 months pregnant, I left a job that I truly enjoyed, but it became clear that it was time for me to move on. Unemployed a week before my due date was beyond scary to me. I immediately began interviewing up until 3 days before my due date and again 3 weeks post-partum (terrible idea after a c-section). It was challenging and I went with the first option that I could find. This was not being truthful to myself of what I was able to handle nor what was a good fit for me. Thus began a few more months of happiness at home, but was met with challenges of newborn and infant parenting were met with equal parts unhappiness in the work place. Without any real break for maternity leave, I stretched myself way too thin – and was often too proud to ask for the help that I needed.

A few weeks ago I decided to be fearless – and go for exactly what I wanted and needed. I made connections, put myself out there, and took a truthful inventory of what I needed to be the best parent, mother, partner, and professional. What I found was that I needed  flexibility for my family, goal-oriented responsibility at work, and time to figure out what I needed to do next. I gently and truthfully shared the truth with my employer why it wouldn’t work out, and  accepted a new position that is less pay, but more challenging and flexible. Additionally, it’s a long-term temp position, so it buys me that time that I need to figure my next move.

I had an awesome birthday this past weekend – one of my best, yet – as I did have a sense of peace and calm. It was all the more satisfying that I was able to achieve this by being truthful, gentle, and fearless over the past few weeks. It did take some hard work and lots of compromise  and the fear of rejection when putting yourself out there so truthfully may be one of the toughest fears to overcome.

I want to continue my year by continuing to be honest with myself and those I love about what I need and am able to give. I need lots of professional challenge and responsibility to be happy, but also the flexibility to work around my family’s schedule to also be 100% available and happy to them during family time. Also, with gentleness and truthfulness comes sincere kindness, and doesn’t the world need just a bit more of that?

 

 

The Real Calculations of Goodwill

Who says that you don’t learn something new every.single.day? While working on the Imagecurriculum of a college accounting test, I learned how Goodwill is calculated, in the accounting sense. Basically, it means “an intangible asset of a business, and can include trademarks and patents, employees and their skill sets, the brand name and logo recognition, customer lists and relationships.” Then, there is a very specific formula for figuring it all out.

However, goodwill in a larger sense can mean so many different things! It can be a store, non-profit, attitude, or action… and probably many more. So, how does one calculate the impact of goodwill? How do we know if our personal investments of everyday and not-so-everyday goodwill is effective? Just like a company, our goodwill can also have a negative impact.

After much thought, my conclusion is that measuring our goodwill is certainly important. We must reflect from time to time if our actions are having intended (or unintended) impact, whether is positive or negative. Whether it’s a specific calculation to measure our own carbon footprint (thanks, Nature Conservancy!) or logging the numbers of hours we volunteer each year. It’s also important to do the “heavy lifting” too. While quantitative measures are important to measure impact, reflection, securing feedback and conversations about our impact are just as, if not more, important. Only then you can truly figure out if your intentions and goodwill actions are met with a positive impact, negative reaction, or perhaps… even possibly starting a greater goodwill than you never imagined!

 

Developing Flavor and Patience

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Spinach, Tomato, Tortellini Soup

You know the saying, “a watched pot never boils?” Well, lately I have been in more of the “screw the boiling, I am going to add the pasta while I am waiting for it to boil, and while I am waiting I am also going to do the dishes, laundry, answer emails and post 7 tweets” mentality. Okay, I might be slightly exaggerating, but the point is… my multitasking and impatience have reached new levels and I am here to share why it’s going to stop, now.

While the ability to handle several tasks at one time is the go-to skill for any mom and professional, many studies and some super smart people have proven that multitasking just doesn’t work. It leads to everything being done subpar levels. Paired with impatience, it leads to many tasks being done quickly, and rashly… and this can lead to a spiral of poor decisions.

Every once in awhile life has a funny way of bringing it back around. So today, while home sick and making some soup (yum, true picture—>) I start, to get impatient waiting for the base ingredients to simmer and develop flavor. As I was just about to say screw it, turn up the heat, move forward and clean the dishes at the same time, it hit me… I am home sick, nothing is pressing and this soup could be really good if I just gave it time to develop.

So, now that the soup was settled I was hit with an even larger realization… it’s not just the soup! For the past year, I have been rushing… and haven’t let anything in my life really “develop flavor.” Here I am at home sick, but feeling perhaps the best I have in months (mentally and physically) just because I slept in, relaxed and was engaged in some self-care (self-care = watching the Today show, eating a real breakfast, taking meds).

I know so many people. myself included, that jump into new jobs, bad purchases, and wear themselves so thin with a sense of urgency and perfection, that we never take the time to develop the things in life that need to “simmer” – like, reflection, learning what is the best fit, and taking time to do things well. which includes mental and physical self-care. When did this sense of urgency in work unfold in our personal lives? While I will always be the type of person that loves efficiency, I pledge for the best of myself, my family and those around me, to take time to simmer over decisions and savor the moment instead of jumping into my to-do list every free moment that I gain.

Oh, that soup looks delicious? It was, especially because I let it develop over the day! Here is the recipe, how real people cook:

Olive Oil

Mushrooms (a handful, sliced)

1 Can of Diced Tomatoes

1 Bag of Baby Spinach

16 oz of Veggie Stock

Turkey Sausage (cooked, chopped into bite sized pieces, optional)

Alfredo Sauce

3 Cheese Tortellini

Start by heating olive oil at the bottom of a pan, simmer mushrooms and spinach in olive oil with salt and pepper. Add can of diced tomatoes and let ingredients cook down, stir occasionally. Add Veggie Stock, stir and let simmer for 15 min. or so. Add Turkey Sausage and Alfredo Sauce and stir. If you want to get all of the alfredo sauce out of the jar, just add milk, swirl and pour into the pot. Put on low and let it sit for several hours. Add tortellini about 20 minutes prior to serving. Goes great with French bread. Enjoy – and don’t do anything else while you eat… even have your partner hold the child, if you need to.