Embrace the abundance that is you.

This audio post Bearing Your Abudance will show you how. To listen, click on the link, and you should automatically be able to hear it. If not, right click the link, then save to your desktop to listen on your own audio software.

Gazing at the picture of my thirty-year-old self with a baby in my arms, I had no idea what life had in store for me then. Soon after the picture was taken, I was confronted with the dilemma so many working women face today: dueling priorities of both work and home life. Having arranged a part-time position in the marketing department of a major investment firm, I managed to work a forty-hour job in thirty. There was no balance: just 5 a.m. wake-up times, baby fevers and early pick-ups at child care in the middle of the day.

It was a nightmare.

In the sage words of Vickie L. Milazzo in her 2011 release Wicked Success is Inside Every Woman, “[i]f you haven’t been reduced to your breaking point one or more times in your life, you’re either very young or probably not a woman.”

Forget what self-help gurus tell you. Work-life balance does not exist.

In my view, work-life balance is a media sound bite that tries to remedy the conflicts working parents face every day. It is a myth primarily because the image evokes the sense that work and life are on opposite spectrums of our existence. In fact, they are not.

Anyone with a smartphone will tell you work bleeds into life after hours. If you are an entrepreneur or freelancer, such as myself (I soon discovered Corporate America would not support mothers they way I needed it to), you find yourself working at odd hours. Partly, it’s because we are passionate about what we do. Partly, it’s because our global world demands it.

What is possible is aligning your life with your truest purpose. Everything else cascades from that centerpoint. If you know what you are passionate about, your focus will be laser-like and the extraneous distractions that tug at your attention will fall away.

I recently chat with CBS This Morning correspondent Lee Woodruff, who is doing the opening keynote address at the upcoming Women’s Leadership Conference in Las Vegas August 14-15, 2012. When she offered up her view of work-life balance, I sat up and listened because her priorities have really been put to the test in her life. For those of you who are familiar with her husband’s story, Bob Woodruff replaced Peter Jennings in the ABC news anchor chair. For 27 days. That is, until a bomb in Iraq struck him while reporting there in 2006. His amazing recovery has been recorded in various places. Here’s one.

For someone who has been to hell and back, Lee is a remarkably resilient personality whose sense of humor is certainly her recipe for success (just ask her about the power of flannel nightgowns). Spending a few minutes on the phone with her was enough to boost my spirits skyward. Her writing will do the same for you. She’s just penned her first novel entitled Those We Love Most, which will be released in September 2012.

According to Lee, “there isn’t a balance. It’s a myth that we’re chasing. And we’ve done women a big disservice to say they can have it all.” She referenced a recent Atlantic Monthly article by former director of policy planning at the State Department Annie-Marie Slaughter that claims the current workplace and society at large are not equipped to deal with family life as a holistic part of an employee’s existence. The personal and the professional are held separately and not valued equally. Slaughter suggests that someone who trains for a marathon and puts in the early and late hours to reach his goal is considered disciplined, committed and admirable. Someone who puts in the same hours caring for a family is not regarded the same way.

Glibly put, family life, should it interfere with work at all, is regarded as an unspeakable part of yourself, like gastrointestinal issues. In current times, it is unprofessional to mention you might have a life beyond your cubicle.

Society dictates that you are ‘less than’ when you show you have family commitments outside of work. You are somehow subpar to those who really ‘dig in’ and don’t let pesky distractions such as a sick child or school matters interfere with more noble pursuits such as the bottom line. In fact, I have been told to say I have an off-site meeting to clients when really I’m attending my child’s concert. I was instructed that it is unprofessional to speak of such matters because it would indicate my attention is not 100 percent on the client himself. No one places 100 percent of their attention anywhere. That, too, is a myth.

We need to redefine what professionalism means. We are not robots. We are social beings in a broader network with other social beings. When will family life be as hip as Facebook?

Lee admits that she cannot have it all and that, whilst on the speaking circuit, her children aren’t going to get that home-cooked meal. She says you can still be a great mother and miss a few sports games. The trick is self-forgiveness.

“We’re calibrated as working women to have an entire sense of guilt because we can’t chase it all. Once we become kinder to ourselves, the whole thing is a lot easier to manage,” she admits.

In those moments when she has her kids on the phone complaining that she’s not there for a special event, she gives herself a pep talk afterwards. She knows she is there for the big things in their lives. With twelve-year-old twins and two older children, Lee has come to realize they will survive without helicopter parenting. In fact, they will do better as a result.

“Stay the course,” Lee advises. “We are the best judge of what is going on with our children.” Mindful parenting does not mean you are a hovercraft.

It’s time to toss the balance beam out the window and get real. Alignment with self, family and work is where it’s at.

In Deep Water

July 14, 2012

The other day I read a great saying: “If you get into deep water, dive.”

That says it all.

Courtesy of Orlando Family Magazine

Sometimes we get into situations in which we feel we are over our heads. Last year I was commissioned to write a full-length statistics-laden report for a client. For those of you who know me, I’m a wordsmith, not a bean counter. So when it came to analyzing, dissecting and evaluating all that data, I felt like a fish out of water. Or a person in the deep. Waaaaaay too deep!

So I dove into it with everything I had, asking for help when I needed it and coming out alive at the end. It was, needless to say, one of the most intellectually stretching experiences of my life.

And I got to do it all over again this year. But because I had already been equipped with a level of experience, the deep dive felt a little less taxing. My lungs didn’t feel like they would burst as I scrubbed the ocean floor, mining for meaning in a sea of percentages. We altered the graphics to make it more appealing to readers and I built an overarching narrative to make it more readable (once a writer, always a writer. I couldn’t help myself!).

If you are confronted with a new situation that feels less than comfortable, put on your wet suit and plunge into it with eyes wide open. What do you see? What fears arise? Allow them to be there because they want to be heard. Love them to ease their pain, then let those fears go like water between your fingers.

If you are in deep water, you won’t sink unless you let panic take over. Trust that you have everything you need to make it through. The Universe offers us so many opportunities to grow. So dive right in and give it a try. You might just surprise yourself at what you are truly capable of!

Under pressure! That’s what many of us feel right before taking a vacation. Locking down the house, arranging for pet care, stopping all mail delivery, etc. It’s almost as if you need a vacation from your vacation planning before it’s even gotten started.

I don’t know about you, but renting a car at the airport after an international flight has to be a seamless experience, otherwise I am even more stressed. So when we got to Dulles International Airport two weeks ago, we were astounded at how fast the check-in service at Dollar Rent-a-Car went. Until we discovered they didn’t have any more economy cars available for another fifteen minutes. No big deal, I thought. I live in a time abundant state. We’ll have some snacks and wait. When the newly washed car was driven up, we were thrilled.

But what I didn’t know was the rental car agency had rushed through the detailing process such that the air tire pressure was uneven. A light indicator for the air tire pressure illuminated in my car about a week later. We even went to a tire center to have it checked. All but one had fifty pounds in it, but they couldn’t add the tire because the supervisor hadn’t turned the machine on yet (it was almost 10 am – you have to love slow country living!). We found an air machine at the local convenience store. Following the tire guy’s instructions, I added enough in the one tire to match the air pressure in the others.

That is, until my dad suggested I look at how much air pressure is SUPPOSED to be in the tires. It turns out the “lowest tire pressure” was actual the accurate one. So I went back to the rental agency and asked them to please check it. I wasn’t about to spend anymore money on it. Indeed, the tires had been overinflated by the agency itself. I suggested he let the detailers know to which he snippily replied, “I would if they spoke English!”

Hmmm…I was starting to feel less enamoured of Dollar by the minute.

So my slow travel tip to you is to ask that they check the air pressure for you before you leave, or travel with a gauge yourself. You can find the proper air pressure on the inside of the driver’s door. Apparently at Dollar, the buck stops with you.

 

Time is our friend, not our foe. So it goes in The Power of Slow. One great way to introduce your child (ages 4 and up) to the concept of time as friend is to get a fun alarm clock. Now I was approached by the folks at Nickelodeon, who gave me a SpongeBob Square Pants alarm clock to try out on my nine-year-old son. We tried all the alarm clock sounds, which were jolting until we found the volume dial to turn it down five notches. The clock itself looks like a giant wedge of cheese. The eyes only appear when the alarm goes off. We tried Seagull, which I envisioned to be a placid caw-cawing. If you’ve ever watched an episode of SpongeBob, you will know nothing is placid about the show. So of course the Seagull sounds was acerbic squawking instead.

The clock itself is digital, so telling time is less difficult for younger kids who know their numbers.

Luckily, my son understands the clock is going to his cousin instead as a full-blown fan of the Bobster. It’s a great way for kids to wake up in the morning, but parents beware. You may enjoy it as much as the show itself.

I’ll leave that one up to you!

Description of relations between Axial tilt (o...

Image via Wikipedia

Daylight Saving Time is a time of loss for some. Those who complain they ‘lose’ an hour in March should beware. We may have lost yet another 1.26 microseconds for good, too.

The massive earthquake in Japan was so fierce that it literally shifted the earth’s axis. As any lay physicist (or is is geologist?) knows, our days are measured by the earth’s rotation.

According to the Italian Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology, the 9.0 earthquake moved the Earth by ten centimeters. It is the largest shift reported in over fifty years. Last year, after the Chilean earthquake (8.8) we lost 1.26 microseconds. So the question during the lengthening of days for the Northern Hemisphere is, are our days really getting shorter?

If yes, how will you spend what time you have left?

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Where in time do we live?

November 8, 2010

A map of the time zones of the United States; ...
Image via Wikipedia

For those of you in North America, time may have been on your mind a bit more this weekend as you gained a clock hour. For a week the European continent (and much of the rest of the world) was one hour closer to the US time zones than usual since we changed our clocks at the end of October. The Star-Telegram and I had a chat about time zones a while back, which is published here.

USA Today recently came out with a snapshot graph of how the population is spread out amongst the United States’ six time zones. It’s no surprise that the East Coast wins out with 47.5% of the US population nestled between the Atlantic and somewhere before the Mississippi. In the Central time zone 28.9% hang out amongst the cornfields (and Chicago) while only 6.6% reside in Mountain time. A paltry 16.4% live in Pacific Time while Alaska has 0.2% of the population. Although much smaller geographically, Hawaii enjoys 0.4%.

Wherever you are in the world, remember that time is merely a construct. What’s most important is what you do with the time that you have!

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