Tag Archives: work-life balance

4:50 am is a thing?

15 Mar

sleepylolcatI don’t know how these doctors and nurses and other people who wake up super early do it.  My alarm goes off at 6 am, and every morning I am full of hate.  Left to my own devices I’d probably wake up around 7:30 or 8, but 6 still feels brutal.  Twice this week I’ve suffered through that ungodly clang at 4:50 am.  Once for a poorly scheduled personal training appointment and once for a terribly scheduled deposition.

The getting up part really isn’t the worst of it.  I woke up fine, got ready and got where I needed to get in a timely fashion.  Then around 7:30 am it all came crashing down.  I spent the rest of the day moaning sleep, I need sleep!

I’m sure early risers go to bed earlier than I do.  Last night we had an event with our synagogue, and I didn’t get to bed until after 11pm.  That made the 4:50 wake up extra terrible.  Some people can function on 4 or 5 hours of sleep. I do much better on, say, 10 hours of sleep.  Not that I get it. But I’d love to.

Sleep has been a big focus of mine lately.  I had an old fashioned check up on Monday and chatted with the doctor about how I’ve been seemingly sick over and over and over since January.  Then I told her about how I’m out the door fairly early in the morning, then have work all day and then often have events in the evening and that doesn’t get me home until like 9 at night most nights.  Well duh, I’m exhausted and more susceptible to being sick and then getting sick.

I’ve officially been ordered by both my husband and my doctor to not stuff my calendar to the gills with this, that and the other thing.  This declaration comes at a good time.  I’ve got a trial I’ve been prepping for, and my work schedule doesn’t allow for me participating in many happy hours, get togethers and dinners anyway.  Til that jury verdict comes in, it’s all prep, practice, rest, repeat.

In other news, SMOKE TAQUERIA for dinner tonight, yesssss!

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Marissa Mayer and the Yahoo! Culture Change

27 Feb

I can’t stand Marissa Mayer’s smug little face, which fueled my immediate outrage at her unexpected kibosh on working remotely at Yahoo! (read more about my disdain for her in my earlier post about her squandered opportunity to set a good example for maternity leave policies for working women)

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After a few hours of, you know, working and minding my own business, my disgust at this news somewhat subsided.  I learned that there was a bit more to the situation than the earliest reactionary headlines suggested.  In particular, Yahoo!’s policy change is designed to target employees who have been working solely from home, as opposed to working most of the time in an office environment, but with the flexibility to work from home when needed for family or personal reasons.

As much as I love to hate on Marissa, I can get behind spending the bulk of work time in an office environment when your job duties involve creativity and collaboration.  So it appears that the policy change is not so much about eliminating flexibility options for working families, as to change the work culture of the company.  I only hope that Yahoo! doesn’t eliminate the potential for occasional telecommuting when the need arises.  Because that would be a true jerk move.

Andlthough I haven’t seen nearly as much confirmation on this, I did hear whispers that she has also eliminated flex schedules.  That, my friends, I see as an unnecessary thumb-of-the-nose to working parents.  If true, elimination of flex time is inexcusable.  That deserves true scorn.

Working parents and their supporters so frequently demand, and praise, “flexibility” in the workplace.  But “flexibility” is so ill defined as to practically be meaningless. Similarly with “support” for working families.  We want the work environment to change to “support” working families, but what does that mean?

To me, a “supportive” work environment for working families means:

-The flexibility to work remotely when the need arises.

-Paid parental leave for a reasonable duration at the birth/adoption of a child.

-A workplace culture that trusts you to be a professional and accomplish your work (whether it’s at 3pm or 2am), without hovering over you and tying you to outdated notions of face time.

-Most importantly, a culture of flexibility. That means coworkers and superiors accepting that maybe you’ll be out for an afternoon here or there or sometimes you have to unexpectedly deal with illness or whatever, but not penalizing you for that.

-In an ideal world, employers would offer stopgap “Get Well” childcare.  Heck, it doesn’t even have to be paid for by the employer. I’d be happy to pay for it out of pocket. Just if the employer could have a service in place to provide emergency childcare when your kid’s got the flu but you’ve got a deposition that took four reschedulings to find a date where eight attorneys could all show up.

-A change in perspective that these flexible measures are not just for parents/kids.  Everyone can benefit from this kind of supportive work environment.  Everyone needs a little flexibility, whether it’s to care for a child, a parent, your beloved Fido, or a mental health break for yourself.  Flexibility is not a women’s issue, it’s an everybody issue, and it can benefit everybody.

What do workplace “flexibility” and “support” mean for you?

No Name Players, SWAN Day and Taking Flight with @WePropelle

15 Jan

I’ve known about the awesome Propelle women’s networking happy hours for ages, but haven’t managed to make my way to one until last night. When I saw that the “guests of honor” for the happy hour were the No Name Players (Tressa Glover and Don DiGiulio), who are the driving force behind Pittsburgh’s SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) Day Celebration, I told myself it’s darn time I made it to that happy hour.
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Sandy and I had the awesome opportunity to be interviewed for this year’s SWAN Day, so I’m totally looking forward to see what art came from those interviews of us and other Pittsburgh women ages 9 through 65.  I wish I had some sort of artistic talent, but I really don’t.  I was thrilled that this project gave me the opportunity to be part of the artistic process, even without talent.

The No Name Players are part of a $2,000 challenge grant right now.  If they can raise $2,000, Martha Richards, the co-founder of SWAN Day has promised to match the funds.  You can contribute at the No Name Players Webpage!

The Propelle happy hour was great.  Even though it was a pretty large crowd, there was an opportunity for everyone to introduce themselves to the group.  And boy was this a patient group! Everyone was attentive and interested.  Introductions like that seem like such a minor thing, but there’s no way I would have made my way around the room to learn about everyone otherwise. 

I also loved how the introductions facilitated their own conversations.  You may not realize this, but I am painfully shy.  If I’m in a group of people I already know and am comfortable with, I’m loud and outgoing.  But a room full of people I don’t know is my personal hell.  Going into a networking event takes a lot of preparation and thought for me, because I am so nervous about it.  I think about thigs like “what kinds of questions should I ask people?”  “what should I do to get into a conversation, if it feels like people are already occupied and chatting?” “what do I need to do to make sure that I move around the room and meet people, instead of meeting one person, getting comfortable chatting with them, and then making them crazy because I follow them around all night?”    The introductions made it so easy for me to identify people I had things in common with, and strike up conversations on those topics. 

Propelle is primarily focused on women entrepreneurs, but they welcome you just as graciously if you aren’t in charge of your own business. I think it’s fair to say that Propelle wants to see women succeed in all walks of business, and be independent and strong.  They are really stepping up their game this year with a lot more interactive workshops and events.  I can’t wait to see what they have in store!

Greetings from Charlottesville!

4 Jan

I’m at the University of Virginia for the week, attending trial college so that I can kick my trial skills up a notch.  I’ve made a few trips away from Baby Beez before, but she is such a momma’s girl, and she’s so verbal, that I know this trip is going to be a hard one. She’s going to be asking for me a lot, and a toddler doesn’t really understand what it means for mommy to be gone “all week.”

The classes don’t start til tomorrow, so I’ve got tonight to relax. I rolled in around 5:30, and I’ve already chowed down on way too much thai food takeout, am watching a show on vh1 classic about 80s hair bands, and in a few minutes I’m going to go to the workout room and get a little exercise in.

It’s stunning how, now that Baby Beez is a toddler, the day-to-day time and effort of her care and attention has become a regular part of my life.  For example, it takes nearly 2 hours every morning for me to get the both of us ready and out the door.  Tomorrow it’s going to take a whopping 20 minutes for me to get ready.  It’s nice, but so strange.

Ok, that’s all I really have to say today. I need to go get on an elliptical while I’ve got the chance.

NaBloPoMo Day 7: Chillin out Maxin’ Relaxin all Cool

7 Dec

What is the best way to relax after a hard day?

lolcatbaddayI’m easy to please.  All I ask for relaxing is to just do something (or nothing) that is not work.  Usually this takes the form of ordering a pizza for dinner and hanging out on the couch with my family and the TV on.  Or maybe it means coffee and magazines.  But it usually is just some form of me sitting around.  On really bad days, I’m sitting around with a glass of wine.

In an ideal world, I’d say that after a hard day, I relax by going for a run or some other athletic activity, but in all honesty after most days I’m too beat to do much else than just sit there.  Since getting a Kindle, I have been reading every single night before bed.  This means both that I have read nearly 40 “fun” books this year alone, but also that I manage to slow my mind down enough that I can sleep through the night.

Hanging out with my family does make me feel a million percent better when I’ve had a bad day.  I spend my days doing work that is hard.  Law is complex and uncertain and confusing.  Sometimes (often) the practice of law feels like I’m picking my way through landmines.  And the stress is even more exacerbated because you are responsible for solving someone else’s problems.  So if you set off one of those landmines, you’ve blown it for both you and them.  (If it’s not already painfully obvious, this hasn’t been a great week.)

You know what’s not hard? Parenting.  People say parenting is hard, but it’s not.  It is very frustrating and very exhausting and full of unwinnable battles, but it is not hard.  And hanging out with my kid after a hard day makes me feel a little better, because it’s pretty darn hard to truly screw up this parenting thing.

Also, ice cream.

#BlogHer12 — A Retrospective

5 Aug

This was my first year at BlogHer. I suspected it would either be phenomenal or terrible. It was neither, it was somewhere in between, closer to the “satisfying” place on the spectrum. In the opening address, BlogHer’s founders promised that we would “find our flock” and be surrounded with people who finally “get it.” My experience was slightly different, but no less enlightening.

1. I learned a ton of awesome stuff, tech wise

I blog using WordPress, and I know the basics of it, but don’t have the time to really mess around and teach myself much. I attended small, focused sessions on the WordPress platform and on WordPress plugins. Although the sessions were too short to really get into the meat of the subject, they provided exactly what I needed to point me in the right direction to get this blog more in order, tech wise.

I also attended an awesome iPhoneography (iPhone photography) panel, where I learned all about quick and easy apps for photo editing. Since getting my iPhone, I’ve ditched my 5-year-old digital camera, and with all the amazing apps and technology available, I’m convinced that was a rational choice.

I’m just not able to set aside the time I need to get my head wrapped around these things, and this was a perfect opportunity to do so. Even though I didn’t learn all the details I need, I was provided with the foundation and direction to easily find those further things myself.

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2. The blogger economy is not my economy.

I really did not appreciate the scope (and depth) of sponsorship offerings until I attended BlogHer. I met an Australian blogger who was fully sponsored for an 11 day trip to NYC (FROM AUSTRALIA) for her and her husband. There were TONS of other bloggers who came from the US and Canada on someone else’s dime. I knew bloggers are offered free products in exchange for an online review, and are also frequently paid for reviews, but the extent of this practice was lost on me until I came here and started talking to people.

Private sponsored parties were also in abundance. I met people here, started following their twitter accounts, and immediately started reading about all these fun, fantastic parties by all kinds of different sponsoring parties…none of which I was invited to. I admit, I felt left out and a little sad. I’m not a sponsored blogger. I don’t even run ads. This is by choice, it would cause too many complications with my day job. But all the “cool kids” of BlogHer have tons and tons of followers, and are sponsored to the gills. It made me feel left behind. But I’m not like them, and I’m not going to be like them.

Not surprisingly, most of these massively sponsored bloggers do not have day jobs. Blogging is their “day job.” In blogging, time is the currency. The more time you can invest into your site, into scouring the internet and commenting on other sites, and driving more traffic to your site, and optimizing your SEO, the more traffic you will naturally receive. In the economy of time, I am impoverished. Even without revenue, I love to see my site traffic go up and up and up, it’s purely an ego boost. But I have to be at peace knowing that there will be limitations on my ability to build traffic, simply because there are limitations on the amount of time I can put into this little hobby.

Yes, up against these “big time” bloggers, I felt a little inadequate. Then I realized that my feelings were RIDICULOUS. Feeling inadequate undermines all the hard work and accomplishments I have devoted to my professional life, where I’m lucky to be involved in prominent cases, and make my mark on the legal landscape on a national scale. With all the elbow grease and dedication I’ve put in my career, it is absolutely ridiculous for me to feel sheepish in comparison to moms, who have all day long to tinker with their sites and get their traffic sky-high.

3. I know my flock.

BlogHer is not all mommy bloggers….but it is a lot of mommy bloggers. I’ve spent so much time scouring the internet for the working, blogging moms. And specifically, moms that work demanding, high-hours jobs. And I have had little luck finding these people, presumably because they are WORKING instead of blogging. OK, we lawyers and doctors and phamacists and engineers are not working ALL the time, but when you work a time-intensive job, there are limits on how many hobbies you really can pursue, and while many people in this position enjoy playing sports or similar endeavors, there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of them who are really into blogging.

So when the speakers announced in the BlogHer opening that I would “find” my flock this weekend, I wondered where that flock was hiding. And after mingling with and meeting bloggers over the last few days, I know exactly where my flock is– all around me at home in Pittsburgh. I am so blessed to have so many people who understand me, and where I come from, and the challenges I face. And these people are not online, they’re all around me, in real life. I’m lucky to have a great group of friends who understand the challenges of a demanding job. I’ve got my friend Christine, who is always up for a Clarks show and a beer, and my friend Sandy, with whom I can email with day-in day-out about the frustrations and triumphs of raising headstrong toddlers, and even my friend Krista, who I can call up and have a total meltdown over why does everything I write still have typos, even though I’ve proofread it 178 times?!?! I don’t need to FIND my flock, I HAVE my flock. They are all around me, and I am so lucky about that.

4. Folks need to learn some PERSPECTIVE

BlogHer isn’t just for Mommybloggers, It’s for all bloggers. But there sure are a LOT of Mommybloggers here. Mommyblogging, by the nature of the industry, is egocentric. You’re making money talking about yourself. Combine that with a massive expo with tons of freebies, and it’s like a wrathful god dumped all of the Costcos on the planet together on sample day in the Hilton NY. Mommybloggers make money (or at least get free stuff) from their writing. I get that. I get that writing is effort, and is work, and is valuable, and should be compensated. But I overheard entirely too many elevator conversations about the “absurdity” that such and such a vendor would think they’d deign to write about the product, just because they handed out a product for free, but not “working with” (i.e. paying) bloggers.

This came to a head when I was watching the #BlogHer12 hashtag feed on Twitter. During the session on how to price and value services, there were all kinds of enthusiastic tweets about how valuable writing is, and how a blogger shouldn’t sell herself short, and she should get a good contract with whatever company she’s working with, and make sure it compensates her fairly. Then came the tweet about how bloggers should get those contracts reviewed by a lawyer FOR FREE.

Wait.

What?

YOUR writing about the marvelous scrubbing powers of P&G’s latest creation is so valuable and meaningful that it’s beneath you to put hand to keyboard without a check on the way, but I spent over $150,000 on a legal education, have worked damn hard in a cutthroat industry, and have developed meaningful expertise and I should review your contract for FREE?

Sorry ladies, the world doesn’t work like that. The Mommyblog bubble lacks serious perspective about the give and take of the professional world. It’s to be expected, when the main tasks in your life are chasing after little ones, testing new crafts and recipes, and sorting out which humorous anecdotes about your humble existence wrangle the most page hits.

I recognize that this last bullet point probably just made everyone I met at BlogHer hate me now, but whatever. I do have some comfort in the fact that my pals in out in the real world do have some perspective, and don’t make my hair light aflame with anger quite so often. Phew.

So where does this leave me with BlogHer? I am glad I went. Would I go again? Maybe. This year, BlogHer made up half of my official “vacation,” and I wouldn’t spend my vacation again on the conference. Next year is in Chicago, and I could catch a night flight there, and only miss one day of work. The conference itself is surprisingly inexpensive, so I’m certainly not ruling it out. This year it made sense for me to spend my vacation at BlogHer– Baby Beez is too young to behave on an airplane, I wanted to check the conference out. All the pieces fit together. But next year I need a vacation that involves snuggling with a (hopefully better behaved traveler) Baby Beez. So next year is a “maybe” on my attendance, but I’m certainly counting this year as a good experience, and an eye-opening one.