Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Balancing Motherhood, Career, and Personal Ambition

How can I find harmony over the next ten years? These are the childbearing years, the breastfeeding years, the infant-in-diapers and toddler-learning-the-ABC's years. It's as if my life has suddenly been interrupted - joyfully interrupted - but interrupted nonetheless.

I wish there was a better way in our society to combine mothering and working. I would like to do more than just stay at home with the kids for the next few years. By saying "more", I am not implying that raising children is by any means simplistic, easy, boring, or uninspiring. On the contrary, it is arguably the most difficult, time-consuming, challenging, and rewarding career that there is.

I want to do "more" for my own development and growth as a person, my own sanity, my future prospects after the baby years.

But I want the "more" to include my children.

The great "how?" lingers over my head - how to get the best of both worlds. Work-at-home, work part-time, write, go to school - What's the best way to be a mother and a woman, a mother and a professional, a mother and...more?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Reporting from...

I recently accepted a position as a freelance journalist for a local community newspaper and today I completed my first assignment. I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed it. I knew, of course, that I would enjoy the writing part. But I also absolutely loved asking questions, digging deeper, taking pictures - learning.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Cool House

Remember the friend that you had growing up who had "the cool house"? You know - the one with the swimming pool, the big screen TV, the ping pong table, the dart board, the green lawn, the volleyball court, the stacks of board games, the karaoke machine, the den that was perfect for slumber parties, etc. It was the house where the pantry shelves were always stocked with snacks and the low-key, yet highly involved, parents didn't hesitate to order pizza or make pancakes for breakfast. It was the house where you and your buddies somehow always ended up.

That's the kind of house we want to have - "the cool house". Not, of course, for the sake of coolness alone. No, we want it so that our kids will have a safe place to hang out with their friends - so that we can be a part of their lives as they meander through the sometimes-treacherous highways of childhood and adolescence.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Clock is Ticking

You can't stop it.
You can't even slow it.
It marches on with stubborn persistence.
It races toward the finish line with narrow-minded determination.
It zooms by at shockingly high speeds, bypassing the young and old.

And I am panting, trying to catch up.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Ph.D. update

Here's the latest. I'm 90% sure that I've narrowed my program list down to (1) Communication and (2) Retailing & Consumer Science. I have several meetings scheduled at the university within the next two months to help solidify my decision. I will apply for admittance in the spring of 2008. The deadlines are in early to mid summer 2007.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Master-Planned Communities

I admit. I absolutely love master-planned communities. I am especially a huge fan of the new and exciting trend of mixed-use developments, wherein commercial and residentials sites are intermixed in a giant pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.

The idea of meeting a friend for coffee, taking the kids swimming, going for a 3-mile walk on a paved trail, picking up a few groceries for dinner, or participating in a book club or pilates class without even getting in my car is extremely appealing to me. I am especially attracted to this option now that I have children as cars provide a bit of an obstacle to getting anywhere - packing the diaper bag, buckling in baby to carseat, worrying that the baby will cry or throw up or stop breathing while out-of-view, etc. What a relief it would be to simply walk out the front door with baby in tow.

My dream neighborhood? A safe, clean, modern, trendy, affordable, pedestrian-friendly community with parks, swimming pools, cafes, grocery stores, restaurants, family activities, and more. Examples: Sienna Plantation, The Woodlands, Verrado, and Rancho Sahuarita.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

5 Things I Want to Learn

There are so many, but here are the first five that come to mind.

How to:
1. Design websites.
2. Create documentaries.
3. Survive in the wilderness, mountains, desert, etc.
4. Choose and invest in stocks & bonds.
5. Shoot a gun with greater accuracy and precision.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Best Day(s) of My Life

A few days ago, my sister asked me what has been the best day of my life. I couldn't choose between two days (although the second one couldn't have happened without the first...).

1) The day I married Tim (not the wedding part): What a wonderful, peaceful feeling it was when we drove off together as husband and wife. Now, five years later, I can't imagine my life without him. He has brought so many colors into my life and I am forever changed because of his presence.

2) The day I gave birth to Kayla (not the birthing part): There was great and horrible pain - and then there was extraordinary joy. We were two and then - in one breathless, beautiful moment - we became three. In that minute, and in the days that followed, there was an overwhelming sense of fulfillment and purpose. The lens through which we viewed our life suddenly seemed clearer and brighter - and our role in the world instantaneously became important and magnificent - to protect, to teach, and to nurture a tiny life.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Freedom in the Workplace

I recently read an interesting article on BusinessWeek Online about a new business trend in in 2007. The article highlighted Best Buy and outlined how they are "smashing the clock." Essentially, they are giving their employees flexibility when it comes to their daily schedules and routines. Employees have professional goals that need to be met and tasks that need to be completed - but they can do them on their own time. As long as their work is done, no one is watching the clock.

This philosophy creates company-loyalty and encourages a strong work ethic. Additionally, it's a very family-friendly way of doing things. I, for one, am a huge fan of this new movement.

In past jobs, I often lamented about the wasted hours of "desk time" - the lethargic, passive, yawning minutes ticked by without productivity. Not because I was lazy. But because I was bored. I could complete my job in half the time that was required. What a brilliant idea to reward employees for the result of their work, not simply for numbers on a punchcard! Let the revolution continue!

Monday, January 8, 2007

A Life Without Regret

"I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. To put to rout all that was not life, and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived." -Henry David Thoreau

The great poets have always spoken to my soul. Often, they reach back from the past to remind me to live life fully. "Carpe Diem. Seize the Day." They whisper.

Life is short - and it flashes by me with ever-increasing speed. Lord, help me to remember to cherish each moment.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Ph.D. motivation

Several people have asked me about what motivates me to get a doctorate degree:

(1) To continue my quest for knowledge and to squelch out boredom - my primary motivation for heading back to graduate school is purely intrinsic. I love learning and being in school allows me the freedom to do so. It also forces me to "stretch out my brain" on a daily basis.

(2) To earn credibility so that I can ultimately impact society for good - Professors are a formidable presence in our world. They are respected and revered as leaders and torch-bearers. They have a profound and pervasive influence on the thoughts and morals of their wide-reaching community network. Indeed, they mold the minds of the newest generations.

(3) To open career doors for the future - I'd like to be a professor and a writer. Obtaining my Ph.D. will help me to do both.

Saturday, January 6, 2007


I have a wonderful husband who inspires me, motivates me, romances me, and sharpens my "rough edges". I have a beautiful daughter with a magical smile that seems to shatter all of the sadness and melancholy in the world. I have a love-filled home, a healthy body, a curious mind, and a heart full of hope.

If you know me well, you know that if you:
a. give me $20, it will probably still be in my wallet next week.
b. take me shopping, I probably won't buy anything.
c. invite me to an in-home party (candles, avon, mary kay, etc.), I will gracefully bow out.

Suffice it to say, I feel incredibly content.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Charity Work

I've been thinking about what it means to follow Christ. My thoughts lead me to philanthropy. He was, after all, a humanitarian - the greatest one that ever lived. He demonstrated altruism, public-mindedness, and mercy on a daily basis. His causes were social causes - feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and healing the sick. He was a champion for the orphans, the widows, and the impoverished.

If my quest is to walk in His footsteps (which it is), then I logically conclude that I should be more involved in charitable causes. That said, I am now on-the-lookout for volunteer opportunities - preferably work that I can do from home or with a baby in tow.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Ph.D. decisions

As many of you know, I would like to apply for admittance into a doctoral program for the fall of 2007 or the spring of 2008. I have narrowed my list of programs down to the following four (in order of interest): 1. Retailing & Consumer Sciences, 2. Communication, 3. Marketing, and 4. Family Studies & Human Development.

I currently have a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Educational Counseling. My primary career interests are Professor and Author. Other careers that intrigue me include: Event Planner, Marketing Director, Magazine/Book Editor, Motivational Speaker, Documentary Producer/Creator, University Administrator, Public Relations Rep, Researcher, and/or Business Owner. At this juncture in my life, I am not interested in continuing in the K-12 educational sector or in moving into the private practice/counseling/psychology arena.

Family & friends, I'd love to hear you weigh in on the topic. What program do you think fits my career interests, goals, and personality best?

Wednesday, January 3, 2007


I've been on a "contest kick" lately. Yes, it's true. I've been entering dozens of contests - perhaps up to 100. My favorite kind of contests are - surprise - any that involve writing. I especially am drawn to short paragraph/essay contests on a prescribed topic ("In 250 words or less, describe your dream vacation...", something like that). I also compete in other writing contests - historical essays, poetry, grant proposals, nominations. And, I confess, I enter sweepstakes as well. The lure is the possibility of winning an all-expenses-paid vacation, a makeover, a shopping spree, a new bike, a donation to the charity of my choice, or any other number of things. I am attracted to the hope that perhaps my essay might win over the hearts of the judges or that my name might be pulled out of the proverbial hat.

Wish me luck on this wild and crazy venture. You can check back with me in about six months to see if my efforts were futile or if my hopeful attempts resulted in anything fun or fabulous.

If you happen to run across any contests in the newspaper or your favorite magazine or the local department store, please send me a link or a cut-out. It's a silly hobby, I know - but my imagination about the prospect of what could be keeps me energized.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Life as a New Mom

On September 9th, 2006, my world turned upside down. In one magic moment, overwhelming joy and indescribeable love entered my life. Little Kayla changed me forever in a completely positive way - I want to be beautiful, healthy, compassionate, intelligent, and successful - because I want to be her hero.

All of my dreams have new meaning and clarity:

* Love God first.
* Be a wonderful wife.
* Be a great mom.
* Write & publish books.
* Obtain a Ph.D.
* Be physically fit and healthy.

* Speak at conferences, camps, and schools.
* Conduct research on issues related to teens, families, marriage, and motherhood.
* Teach at a university.
* Have my own website.
* Organize large-scale conventions, conferences, expos, and other events - especially events targeting girls, women, and moms.
* Freelance, oversee, or consult for a magazine.
* Create or work in an organization that helps girls and young women as the navigate the growing up process.

And many more little things...