How To Find Bravery in a Culture of Perfectionism

A book review for Reshma Saujani’s Brave Not Perfect

What have you perfected? Whether it’s cartwheels, your backhand or public speaking, there’s a good chance you put in serious time to get great. Pre-kids, decent sleep, plus will and attention, can lead to mastery. But after kids, when our rest and thoughts are constantly interrupted, new pursuits can feel impossible. We’re not alone in feeling this way. Perfectionism is a slippery, unattainable bar, we’re taught to seek. Motherhood puts more at risk and we loose that desire to stumble. Possibly even fail. We double-down on trying to get everything ‘right’ at home and work.

Reshma Saujani, Author and CEO of Girls Who Code, gave an amazing talk at the Massachusetts Women’s Conference which lead me to devour her book, Brave Not Perfect. She eloquently states the problem, “We go from trying to be perfect students and daughters, to perfect professionals, perfect girlfriends, perfect wives and perfect mommies. …Hitting all the marks we’re supposed to and Continue reading “How To Find Bravery in a Culture of Perfectionism”

Is There A Better Way to Fight the Mental Load and Get Things Done?

A Review of David Allen’s Productivity Bible, ‘Getting Things Done’

We were 40 minutes into leaving the house, still a choreography of chaos, when my son said, “Mommy, they’re too tight.” I vaguely remembered a we-need-new-boots-discussion with both kids. That was 3 weeks ago. My tired brain, trying to lighten the load, threw that thought overboard.

The mental load is my constant companion. So, tasks spill onto the floor in unfortunate ways at inopportune times. Like when trying to get two kids in 6 layers of clothes out to sled before dark. Even before the boot incident, I knew I needed a systems upgrade. My new job, holiday madness and scheduling weeks of ceiling leak repairs, pushed things to a new low. I decided to consult David Allen’s tomb, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.

In Most Families Mom Carries the ‘Mental Load’

We’re stressed from the invisible-never-ending planning for our families. However, before you get too excited about this book review, let me be clear, there’s no simple Continue reading “Is There A Better Way to Fight the Mental Load and Get Things Done?”

How To Create Healthy Relationships in a Culture of Toxicity

What makes a relationship toxic? “They lack the following: empathy, compassion, respect, mutuality and reciprocity. And they may also include the following, invalidation, disrespect, gaslighting or insulting. It’s both what’s missing and what’s present,” said Dr. Ramani Durvasula, Author, Clinical Psychologist, Professor and Relationship Expert.

Our lives open to new levels of fulfillment with the relationships we have. And we all want satisfying careers, romantic partnerships and friendships, but it requires careful navigation. Maintaining self-love, confidence and respect, while balancing the needs of others gets tricky. How do we hold firmly onto our values, yet stay vulnerable enough to grow?

We discussed all of this and her newest book, “Don’t You Know Who I Am?”: How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility. Ramani, an expert on narcissistic abuse and champion for positive relationships, shares wisdom about how to protect our Continue reading “How To Create Healthy Relationships in a Culture of Toxicity”

Care for Yourself Like Your Survival Depends on It

How to put yourself back together after life-altering setbacks

“When I was 31 my husband passed away very suddenly from a very rare disease most doctors have never seen in their lifetime. This was 8 weeks after I had given birth to my second child. I had a 3-year old and an 8-week old baby when he died. It really shook my world,” said Keisha Blair, Author of Holistic Wealth, Economist and Supermom.

After facing the unimaginable, she took a year off from work to heal and ultimately, reinvent herself. She started by writing the pain and insights she glimpsed from grief. Keisha’s formula for radical recovery, distilled in her new book Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons to Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness, incorporates emotional, physical and financial self-care to live Continue reading “Care for Yourself Like Your Survival Depends on It”

Do You Need to Restore Your Relationship With Creativity?

3 Quick Takeaways from Reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

“Creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that—merely by being here—you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.” 

Elizabeth Gilbert, from
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Does self-doubt sabotage your creative projects? Would a mindset shift, from lamenting slow progress to celebrating all progress, boost your mood? Yes, you can restore your relationship with creativity. I view all of the advice I read about productivity and creativity through the “Mom-lens.” Whether you’re starting a business, changing careers or changing the world, creativity is an essential ingredient. If you worry that between drop-offs, pick-ups and carrying the mental load, creativity ‘just isn’t for you’ this book will help! Coincidentally, shortly after reading Big Magic, I saw Elizabeth Gilbert give an amazing keynote at the Massachusetts Women’s Conference. 

In the book she blends provocative thinking about the origins of creativity, and how to Continue reading “Do You Need to Restore Your Relationship With Creativity?”

Killing it at Work but Completely Stressed in Life? You Need These Books!

Have you ever questioned yourself, or your sanity, navigating professional life post-kids?

You are in excellent company! Authors Sheryl Sandberg, Anne Marie Slaughter, Tiffany Dufu, Brigid Schulte, Shonda Rimes and Jessica Turner have all written about the challenges of ambition, identity and how professional life differs for Moms.

I’m surrounded by talented women. All of whom stitch together a patchwork-quilt of childcare coverage, while managing unrealistic expectations from employers, family members and sometimes, themselves!

We invest in and rely on our careers, but achieving stability and growth, still Continue reading “Killing it at Work but Completely Stressed in Life? You Need These Books!”

What Will You Say Yes To?

Book Review For The Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in The Sun & be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

I loved this book. It’s a survival guide for ambitious women. It’s also a masterclass on how to overcome limiting beliefs. Shonda makes sharp observations about everything from working motherhood and nurturing creativity, to career growth and feminism’s next act, intersectionality. She applies the Shonda-Rhimes-story-telling-magic to her own life. Even though she highlights (and challenges) many of the social norms that limit women’s progress, it’s a fast, engaging read.

Learning to Say Yes

“’You Never Say Yes to Anything.” The truth of her sister’s casual comment unsettled her. In response, Shonda decided to say ‘yes’ to what scared her… for an entire year! The book takes us, from her struggle to honor this commitment, to the resulting personal Continue reading “What Will You Say Yes To?”

Is There Room For Self-Care in The Sandwich?

“My migraines were getting worse and I went to see a doctor. He asked about my life…I told him I worked full-time, had 3 kids and helped care for my dad who had dementia and was living with me while my mother recovered from surgery. The doctor said disapprovingly, ‘that’s too much.’” Jody Gastfriend, my friend and former colleague admitted, “The doctor was right.” I nodded and sighed. We met for breakfast to discuss self-care and lessons learned from her years in social work, building Care.com’s Senior Care services, and tending to her aging parents. In her new book, My Parent’s Keeper The Guilt, Grief, Guesswork and Unexpected Gifts of Caregiving, Jody shares how she ultimately had to prioritize self-care and pay attention to what her body was telling her.

Watch For Signs

We lamented how Mom-martyrdom is universally accepted and reinforces patterns of self-neglect. Making changes feels even worse than the to-do list treadmill. Envisioning a better way requires energy and creativity…inaccessible to most when overloaded. Jody shared what was happening in her life before the migraines worsened. “There were other signs from the universe… before I realized how worn out I was.” Jody eventually hired a home health aide to help with her father’s care and temporarily reduced her work hours.

Caring for adults is unpredictable. Whereas healthy children follow similar developmental paths, seniors defy patterns as they age. At 90, some remain very active while others at age 70 can’t live alone. An estimated 75% of family caregivers are female. Absorb that for a moment. The likelihood that your parents will need your help as they age is high! Few think of themselves as ‘family caregivers’ and just doing what ‘is Continue reading “Is There Room For Self-Care in The Sandwich?”

How to be a Happier Parent? Embrace Self-Care!

Gratitude for our families doesn’t mean we’re always happy. Moms routinely give up self-care (yes including sleep) for the perceived greater good. We break so many promises to ourselves, that the excuses sound hollow, even inside our minds.  The consuming baby years, soon give way to demanding school-and-sport logistics. Finding free time feels like trying to breathe underwater. We grow distant from the passions that shaped our personalities. Over time, we forget how to have fun without our kids.

Most of us dwell in the land of never-done, a purgatory filled with managing email, picking up toys and cleaning the counters for the fifth time. It’s not surprising when, in most families, Moms are still responsible for all-things-children-and-household. Although it’s tempting to try to outsmart the to-do list, there’s a better way! I had the pleasure of speaking with KJ Dell’Antonia, Author and former Editor of the New York Times’ parenting blog, The Motherlode.

After writing about parenting, while raising four children of her own, she’s distilled practical wisdom about ‘How to Be a Happier Parent’ in her new book. Spoiler alert, carving out your happy is Continue reading “How to be a Happier Parent? Embrace Self-Care!”

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