30 Oct

From Cranky to Crazy Zen

Contributed by Dana Lin

Four years ago, I was on a mission. After my divorce, I was determined to make it on my own as a single mother. I was doing it for a while -- landing a stable job with full benefits, working things out with the Ex so that we were amicable co-parents, and I even started producing a web series because I had always wanted to be a screenwriter.

Over time, the long hours at work bled into bringing work home at night and weekends. I had little time for my children, and definitely no time for writing. It began to take its toll.

It got worse when a new boss took over at work. He yelled at the top of his lungs at everyone. Being his assistant, I got the brunt of it. Whenever the boss screamed, bullied, or harassed me or others, I would smile and ignore it. I tolerated it because if I missed one day of work, ends wouldn’t be met. By doing this over an eight month period, I developed stomach ulcers, migraines, and a jaw problem -- I was so stressed-out, I’d grind my teeth during sleep and damaged my back molars.

One day, my boss wanted me to lie for him. When I refused, he sent me home, without pay, and threatened to fire me if I couldn’t take orders. When I walked out of the office and got into my car, I cried...and had a nervous breakdown. I was forced on medical leave after that.

I now had no income, my health was spiraling downward, I hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in eight months, and my kids needed new shoes. I had to sell my mother’s jewelry to make rent the next month.

Desperate to go back to work, I tried everything -- doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, my dentist gave me a mouth guard to help me from grinding my teeth, and a friend even gave me a tarot reading.

Nothing really helped.

It was April of last year, that I found a meditation group in Santa Monica. When I arrived, I was greeted by a college kid who introduced himself as the meditation coach. Inside my head I thought -- how can this guy teach me anything? But I was there, and it was free -- which was in my budget -- so I stayed.

During the meditation session he said a bunch of stuff I can’t remember now, but a phrase stuck with me: “Remember to have compassion on yourself.” Upon hearing that, my shoulders relaxed, and I was able to breathe deeply and feel the anxiety begin to release.

That night, I slept a full ten hours of sleep! I woke somewhat refreshed and...hopeful. The headaches and stomach ulcers were still there, but there were signs of relief.

Clinging to this glimmer of hope, I contacted that meditation coach and asked if he could teach me how to meditate. And if there was any slim chance he would do this without compensation. There was no way I could pay. But if I didn’t get relief, I was doomed. Who would raise my kids then?

By some miracle, he accepted. He said that he had once received aid and felt this was his chance to ‘pay it forward’. For the next six weeks, he patiently taught me how to breathe again...as if my body had never been born with this ability to begin with.

It was during this period when I learned how to truly breathe, that I slowly released the stress, the pain, the pressure, and began to become aware of where I was at in life, what insecurities held me back, and figure out what I wanted to do.

I discovered that I didn’t have to work in a fearful, abusive environment. What I wanted to do with my life was to tell stories. From that point on, it’s been one crazy journey. With the continued support of my meditation coach and my daily meditation practice, and the full support of my family, I now have two screenplays in development, and a book coming out next year. Talk about miracles!

I hope my story has inspired you to take a breath and to take time for yourself -- who knows what can unfold when you allow it?

DanaDANA LIN is now living her dreams as a writer and speaker, and has just joined her meditation coach (who isn’t really a young college kid after all) at ZenLifeServices.com to create stress-reduction programs in the workforce. You can read more on her website CrazyZenMom.com

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03 Oct

FILOSOPHY: Working moms, sick babies & pre-mixed cookies.

There’s so much to write in this post, I don’t even know where to start. So I’ll start at the beginning:

I’M NOW A REGULAR PERSONALITY ON HALLMARK CHANNEL’S EMMY-NOMINATED “HOME AND FAMILY” MORNING SHOW!

To say that I’m elated is a massive understatement. The new season just launched this week and I’ve been waaaaiiiiiiittttting for it since last March! Like a toddler decked out in a Snow White dress on her birthday. I’ve been sooooooo excited. I wished for it all summer. It happened.

Snow White had a phonecall.

Snow White had a phonecall.

But with good and wonderful things always comes balance. I even scoff at the word: BALANCE. Many a mom I know will tell you there’s no such thing. There’s juggling. There’s dodging. There’s coordinating. There are lots of deep breaths. Sometimes, you can’t think… you just have to GO. This weekend – the weekend before my very first day at this current dream-come-true job of mine – I had to just GO. So I did. (Now that I think about it, these things seem to happen to me late September.)

In a nutshell: It was my LadyP’s birthday. The big family royal court party was planned for the weekend (more on that in another post). I had swords, crowns and big plans involving big yellow-and-blue dresses (yes, Snow White to be exact). Meanwhile, my 18-month old LilMiss got a freak fever of 104 Friday afternoon. I noticed she was acting weird as I pushed them around in the humongous cart at Costco. That night, I cancelled my plans to stay home and cold-compress, administer Tylenol and ultimately cry with her as she was more miserable than I’d ever seen her. I let the older sister (soon-to-be birthday girl) watch marathons of Tinkerbell to keep her occupied. Keep going, I thought. (It’s what moms do.) After whipping up a quick batch of sort-of-homemade hot-pink frosty cookies (despite my Home and Family assignment to make HOMEMADE cookies for National Cookie Day… if you watched this Tuesday’s show you know what I’m talking about) and one Saturday night trip to the ER to make sure my LilMiss didn’t have some spontaneous disease (now with a temperature of 105), one cancelled toddler birthday party (thanks to the 105 temp) and a plate of hot-pink frosty cookies that just looked like a hot mess to me, I realized: I was officially in the Working Mothers Club. I’d spent the last few years willing and working towards this to happen, and it did. Finally. And, like I’ve said, with all good and wonderful things comes challenge. It’s part of the game. It’s part of life. Just keep going, I thought. (This is what they invented coffee for, right?)

I finally gave myself some therapy at 3am Monday morning (Sunday night, the night before my first day on set) when both my girls woke up in the middle of the night and I caught myself slipping into what all working-moms experience: Near-Burnout. (On account of the totally-planned-then-cancelled party, the fever-and-accompanying-screaming, the cookie-planning and show-prep… and technically I hadn’t even begun working yet.)

Unedited & unfabulous: What I look like at 3am. (Yes, she had fruit because she asked and I didn't feel like dealing with it.)

Unedited & unfabulous: What I look like at 3am. (Yes, she had fruit because she asked and I didn’t feel like dealing with it.)

I had cancelled the princess party, my cookie-assignment was not my best work, my baby was screaming and burning hot. But you know what? Life goes on. (This too, shall pass.) Sure, I was tempted to continuously feel sad about having to cancel LadyP’s birthday, I was tempted to fret about the not-really-that-homemade-cookies (that were supposed to be homemade) and I was tempted to worry about the horrific undereye circles that’d be blatantly-offensive on national television the next day. GET OVER IT. I’m not the first working mom in the world…. and I’m not the last. This. Is. What. We. Do. I’ve never tolerated guilt, and I wasn’t going to start now. It’s the week of Momfair, after all… if nothing else, my experience was absolutely appropriate. Game on.

Luckily, I had the foresight to decorate our kitchen in pink streamers and princess napkins (a surprise for my birthday girl), I put Hubby on-task for monitoring LilMiss’ Tylenol and Motrin doses and I started to look at my florescent pre-mixed frosted sugar cookie bars with a sense of accomplishment rather than disgust. I wanted to return to the workforce… so I’M GONNA WORK IT. Fight. Or. Flight. It was my choice. I chose to think about one saying that seems to get me through mommy challenges like this: Women Rule. Moms rule. Reminding myself of this gives me strength when I need it.

Moms rule. The gorgeous blonde is Sofie Uliano of GorgeouslyGreen.com.

Moms rule. The gorgeous blonde is Sofie Uliano of GorgeouslyGreen.com.

And guess what: LilMiss is on the mend, Snow White had a lovely birthday-day and I got a free pink T-shirt for running through tires on television (if ya watched the show, you’re with me… and you also saw how mom and healthy beauty advocate Sofie Uliano of GorgeouslyGreen can rock a football).

Here’s to the working moms and pre-made cookies everywhere. This too, shall pass. I promise.

HOW DO YOU GET OVERCOME BEING OVERWHELMED?

- See more at: http://thefabmom.com/2013/09/30/filosophy-working-moms-sick-babies-pre-mixed-birthday-cookies/#sthash.hWCJSKrk.dpuf

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26 Sep

Entrepreneurship, Divorce and Parenthood. How I “Do It?”

My career involves mentoring, inspiring and empowering women. Sometimes I get asked where I find my own motivation, how do I stay positive and how do I manage  running a start-up company while being a divorced mom of three girls. Here is part of the answer to that question:

I have my own support system that includes coaches, family  and friends. I find that girl friends are SO important. Having founded a Social Selling company, II talk to other folks in the Direct Sales owners circle. We share ideas and discuss potential pitfalls. I even pick up the phone and call direct competitors. I feel that we are collectively better when the industry is strong.

I exercise often.  Cardio and walks help clear my head. If you friend me on Facebook, you will see the regular replay of my Spotify BootyShake playlist that keeps me moving!  I do weights to feel strong and I get regular massages to relieve stress. I spend each morning reading for a few minutes before I wake the girls, sometimes business books and sometimes pleasure (right now I am reading Night Circus -fun- and Multipliers - biz).

Sometimes I forget to feed the dogs and I try not to become too annoyed when the kids ask for more pets. I try to keep First Things First and I prioritize. My daughters help a lot. I cannot say enough about how wonderful these three little ladies are. They love me unconditionally and treat me well.

I have a growing team of women around the country, the Winnie & Kat Independent Stylists, who believe in my crazy dream. These women are out there promoting the company, creating their own businesses and sharing the opportunity. They each work the business in their own way and they help me to grow as a leader and as a person.

I need to make difficult decisions sometimes and sometimes I get lonely, but that’s ok. I find that being in my 40’s, I am able to ease up on myself and it helps that I am not a perfectionist. I look at life this way: We’re here, so let’s make the most of it. Follow your dreams and take risks. Ask for help when you need it. Take big leaps because, outside of your comfort zone, that’s where you’ll find the magic.*

*The magic part is borrowed from Independent Stylist, Meredith Carpenter. I love it!

Diane Prince Johnston Founder and CEO Winnie & Kat 310.924.0171 Successes through Dresses http://www.linkedin.com/in/dianeprincejohnston http://www.facebook.com/winnieandkatsocialselling

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15 Sep

From Stay-at-Home Moms to Back-to-Work Lawyers

NYTimes.com By MICHAEL WINERIP Published: February 18, 2013 Since 2007, the Pace University School of Law in White Plains has been running a program aimed at helping lawyers who had left the field — typically stay-at-home mothers — re-enter the legal profession. Called New Directions, the course consists of 11 weeks of classroom refresher training and then an 11-week internship working as a lawyer in any of a number of settings, including law firms, government and nonprofit agencies and corporate offices. Pace offers two sessions a year, typically of 12 to 18 lawyers each. About 95 percent are women, and the average age is about 50. To date, 150 people have completed the training, with about half going on to paying jobs as lawyers. The cost is $7,000; participants may qualify for retraining grants of up to $3,000 from the United States Department of Labor. Another school offering a similar program includes the American University Washington College of Law Lawyer Re-Entry Program. That course is six days, spread over three weeks, and costs about $1,500; there are no internships. Jeannette Rossoff, 56, now in-house counsel for New York eHealth Collaborative, a nonprofit organization. Enlarge This Image Pace University Cheryl Schacht, front row far left, and members of the Pace program for parents re-entering the work force. Ms. Schacht is now a litigation lawyer for an international bank. Readers’ Comments Following are interviews with three women who completed the Pace New Directions program. CHERYL SCHACHT, 54, Pound Ridge, N.Y. Current Position Litigation counsel for an international bank. Law school Cleveland Marshall, class of 1984. Positions before leaving law In-house counsel for a real estate developer, 1984 to 1988; prosecutor, United States attorney, Madison, Wis., 1988 to 1998. Reason for leaving Stay-at-home mom for two children, now 15 and 18. How long were you at home? Fifteen years. Husband’s job? Lawyer for a nonprofit organization. Did he consider being the stay-at-home parent? No, he’s a great dad, but I don’t think that’s something in his makeup. Why did you want to return to law? I’d been taking care of everyone else, now I wanted to take care of me. Had you applied for legal jobs? I sent off all these résumés. They disappeared into a black hole. I met with a recruiter in White Plains; she didn’t give me a very favorable response. She said there are so many people just out of law school with great credentials who can’t get jobs, maybe you should try a new career. How did you feel the Pace program could help you? I was very concerned about the whole technology issue. When I last worked at the U.S. attorney’s office in the 1990s, I dictated letters and briefs that support staff typed. E-mail was just beginning. What about that 15-year gap in your résumé? I thought to myself, “I’m not confident enough to put myself out there.” They said don’t ignore that period, don’t be ashamed, you need to say you were a full-time caregiver for two children. You were a class parent, a fund-raiser, on the hiring committees for the school district, you worked at church, you’re still a vibrant person. Did the internship help? The sponsor organization knew that our skills were probably rusty and the internships allowed us an opportunity to practice working again with more training and mentoring than would be available if you were starting a real job cold turkey. People there were very interested in making sure we had a good experience. I was able to get my foot in the door of an organization, and they were able to observe me. Your internships? I spent 11 weeks at a bank that ended last June. It went well, but they didn’t have anything. Then I did a second internship, an in-house position for a tech company, but they didn’t have anything either. In September, I was talking with the people at the bank, and they offered me the job I have now. Salary? Less than my husband’s but more than when I left the U.S. attorney. JEANNETTE ROSSOFF, 56, Manhattan Current position In-house counsel, New York eHealth Collaborative, a nonprofit organization. Law school Boston University class of 1983. Position before leaving law Corporate attorney, Shearman Sterling, 1983 to 1985. Reason for leaving Stay-at-home mom for four children, now ages 21 to 28. How long were you at home? 20 years. Husband’s occupation? Investment banker. Did he consider being the stay-at-home parent? No. He was very ambitious. Relevant work experience during the 20-year gap? A small, part-time law practice out of the home. I also did fund-raising for schools and a community park. And I was the president of our co-op board for five years. I oversaw the installation of a new gym — it needed two-thirds to pass. I was always dealing with irate shareholders. Internship? New York State attorney general, charity bureau enforcement. Did they offer a position? Several higher-ups said they wanted to, but there was a job freeze. Did you consider returning to corporate law? No, I would have been competing with young people right out of law school willing to stay up all night working, and I didn’t have that kind of energy. How did you find your current job? Networking. I must have talked to 50 people about jobs. I did a small pro bono case for one, which eventually led to the in-house counsel position. It also helped that I was able to talk with the people at Pace about what kind of salary and title to ask for — those are hard things to know. Salary? Less than when I left Shearman Sterling in 1985. Hours? 9 to 5 or 6. Do you think your age hurt you? I actually think it helped. As a general counsel, a lot of what I do is giving advice. I’m not just some young bright kid, I can make judgments based on a lifetime of experiences. CYNTHIA WELLS, 53, Rye, N.Y. Current Position Staff attorney, Sidley Austin, securities law. Law school Vanderbilt, class of 1984. Position before leaving law Associate attorney, securities law, Brown and Wood, 1984 to 1989. Reason for leaving Stay-at-home mom for six children, now ages 14 to 24. Husband’s occupation? He owns a couple of businesses. Did he consider being the stay-at-home parent? No. Relevant experience while at home? Community volunteer work, my church — and six kids kept me plenty busy. Your internship? Two days a week as an in-house counsel for the Juilliard School and three days a week at the law firm, Sidley Austin. How did you get your job? Sidley Austin is the same firm I’d worked for before my children — it was renamed. I’d known the woman doing the hiring, and she was willing to give me the chance for an internship, which led to the job. Was returning hard? When I came back, the Dodd-Frank Act was just being implemented and they needed lawyers with expertise in Dodd-Frank. So the law was new and I was new, and I learned the law as it evolved. Hours? 50 or more. Salary? Low six figures. The young women who were your colleagues at the firm when you left are partners now, your bosses. Do you feel left behind? I’m definitely an ambitious person, I want to go as far as I can. But I am just so happy to be back practicing law. I do not consider myself limited. I think my own abilities will determine how far I can go. Booming: Living Through the Middle Ages offers news and commentary about baby boomers, anchored by Michael Winerip. You can connect with Michael Winerip on Facebook here. You can follow Booming via RSS here or visit nytimes.com/booming and reach us by e-mail at booming@nytimes.com This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: February 20, 2013 A previous version of this article gave an incorrect example of other school programs aimed at helping lawyers re-enter the profession. The program at University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco was taken over about a year ago by Lawyers Life Coach, a for-profit job counseling service.

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04 Sep

8 Great Reasons to Keep Working After You Have Kids

Originally appeared on Forbes.com

Work and family life don’t need to conflict; they need to coexist. It is time to stop glamorizing the alternative and talk about the big bonuses of keeping up your career after you have a child.  Here are 8 great reasons to stay in the workforce after having a baby: 1. You will Enjoy a Happier Marriage Studies show that couples in which both spouses work have greater marital satisfaction. Your marriage will be more likely to thrive if you have something to focus on outside of the home and your spouse will feel less financial pressure if you bring home some of the bacon. 2. You Will Remain Financially Independent As Leslie Bennetts described in her book “The Feminine Mistake,” in more than half of traditional marriages, the male spouse will either die prematurely, lose his job or leave his wife. When this happens to a stay at home mom, there is no safety net and the entire family’s financial stability is jeopardized. Further, many women report losing financial power in their home when they leave the workforce. You never want to be pitching your spouse on a purchase. 3. You Will Raise Stronger Kids We are now aware of the deep dangers of overparenting, also known as helicopter parenting. When you stay at home, you are far more inclined to over-parent because parenting becomes your sole focus. As expert Michele Borba explains,“If we keep hovering we will rob our kids of self-reliance.” 4. You Will Secure Future Earnings A woman who leave the workforce for just three years after having kids give up 37% of her future earnings according to a study done by Sylvia Ann Hewlett. This puts your family’s financial health at risk. 5. You Will Gain Personal Fulfillment Getting personal satisfaction from something other than your children is critical to being a great parent and a happy one. As France’s most famous parenting authority Pamela Druckerman explains, “The reigning view in France is that if a child is a woman’s only goal, everyone suffers, including the child.” 6. You Will Bring Worldliness to Your Home When you stay home, your world shrinks because you are surrounded by women like you; moms of the same age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status typically cluster together. By keeping up your career, you will be a more active participant in the world and expand the perspectives you bring into your home. As former stay at home mom Lisa Heffernan explains “In the workplace my contacts and friends included both genders and people of every description, and I was better for it.” 7. You Will Serve As A Role Model There are two ways you have a greater good impact as a working mom. Firstly, the future generation of young women need working mom role models for support, inspiration and mentorship. And then of course, there is the role modeling that goes on in your own home. A Harvard educated mom who returned to life as an entrepreneur after seven years at home tells this story: When she explained to her kids that she would be starting a company, they asked how that could be since, “Daddies start businesses and mommies stay home.” She sprinted to the office and hasn’t looked back. 8. You Will be Happier A recent study showed that stay at home moms suffer from significantly greater levels of depression by age 40 than working moms. It is hard to raise a happy child if you are an unhappy mom. As the old adage goes, when mom isn’t happy, nobody is. Samantha Ettus is the leading lifestyle and parenting expert for working women. She is the founder of Working Moms Lifestyle, a bestselling author and speaker. Connect with her at @samanthaettus.

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