Make Space for Grace

make-spaceforgraceI cannot even tell you how many times I’ve repeated that to myself in just the past 48 hours. I’ve got a hard week ahead. That’s not me being a pessimist. It’s true. There are some things on my calendar that make me cringe, but they come with the current season of my life. A series of things that are  in direct opposition to what I really believe bu align with the expectation of others.  I’m smack in the middle of  soul work that is all about trying to be my authentic self, knowing, I’ve got a week ahead of doing the opposite.

So, I’ve decided the best thing I can try to do is to make space for grace.  If I don’t, I coach myself into trying to believe what I don’t or fault find with myself for not believing like others, which will not bode well for me. I’ve been there, done that, and hated it. I also know that making space for grace means trusting God that in these moments there will be opportunities to further the conversations about the ways the things I’ve been asked to orchestrate this week aren’t really in the best interest of the very people I was asked to support. Making space for grace this week will also mean making space for relinquishing control. I do this overcompensating thing when I have to do something I don’t agree with, and then my need to control everything gets amped up. It’s hard to not be in control if you are worried you’re going to be exposed for being your inauthentic self or that something will come off mediocre cause you didn’t really want to do it in the first place. But grace says I don’t have to be in control. It says that I can punt all the internal angst and the outward obligations to the Master Controller.

Finally making space for grace will mean pushing past the curtains of fear, anxiety, and disagreement, so that I can see anything that may be of value. I may not be on board with all that I have been charged to lead this week, particularly the mode of delivery, but grace says that if I trust, and stay present, that it is absolutely possible for me to see, hear, or experience some great and even necessary things.

So team, that’s all I got for you this Monday morning. Until it’s #FinallyFriday!  xxoo

Light Bulb Moment No. 1

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Photo courtesy of Bantu Wear 

I have been told that the perkiness served up by most Starbucks baristas is not coincidental. Starbucks doesn’t have the market on joyful, enthusiastic, optimistic people. They just make it a part of who they are and if you are going to work for them then you have to buy into and be who they are. I have known this tidbit for years, when a new client of mine came straight to our first appointment in her uniform.

Yet, as I waited for my tea and smiled at the barista thinking “It must be so nice to do work you look forward to coming to and makes you smile everyday,” is beyond me. Because as soon as those words left my mental mouth I realized that I too could do that. However for the past couple of years I totally bought into this myth that I didn’t need that. That I didn’t need to be positively emotionally connected to my job, it didn’t need to make me happy just money to pay blasted bills. That to expect happiness or joy from my job most days than not was unreasonable. Kinda like expecting any of my celebrity crushes to just pop up at my place and take me to dinner in Paris (that is unreasonable…they don’r know where I live…or me. )The barista called out my drink and smiled as he passed it to me.

Here’s what I’m thinking. I’m thinking it’s absolutely okay to desire, expect, and seek a job or jobs that add or show potential to add joy and happiness to our lives. There are no guarantees and we probably should shy away from our joy and happiness being primarily reliant on factors outside of ourselves.  Still, lack of guarantees should not have us thinking we are seeking to much by seeking joy and happiness in an activity that uses so much of our time, energy, ability.  I say, ignore the super pragmatic basic well meaning folks who say as long as you get a paycheck emotional welfare is overrated. I’d say it’s underrated. A job that makes you happy (assuming g nothing illegal makes you happy, or anything that harms you or others) is not asking for too much. It may be what you need just as much if not more than the paycheck. 

Here’s hoping this added a little light to your day! xxoo

Clarity in the Crazy

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Photo courtesy of Shop Style.com

I had been back for a day and I was not feeling it. I was feeling irritable and tired despite having slept soundly (minus a dream about visiting Hong Kong and shopping my heart out and meeting some random but really cute guy) for the past almost 9 hours. I was tempted to go back to sleep, telling myself maybe I needed more rest, but I wanted to get to the coffee shop before the crowd got there and snag my favorite two seater table by the window and get some work done.

 

As I  stared in the mirror and brushed my teeth I told myself tar I could just stay home. I still had a lot of packing to do and I don’t need a coffee shop to get my work done. I had my comfy green couch in the living room, my sturdy little desk in my office, or my feather top mattress bed. I had a host of my own teas, plenty of eggs, peppers, onion, and chicken sausage to whip up a get breakfast. “Get out the house Ahyana.” I said as I gargled.

I got dressed, put my hair up, and took a look at my little daily inspiration calendar on my nightstand, courtesy of my dad last Christmas. I’d been away for a bout two weeks and swiftly flipped the pages from July 10th to today’s date. The inspiration was about insecurity and emotional hiding. I know tat doesn’t sound inspirational. The inspiration came from the reminder that I don’t need to be insecure or hide because God loves me and wants all of me. See- inspiration! So why did I start to cry? Because my response to the Why are you emotionally hiding?  It was simple and yet caught me off guard. I felt ashamed.

I felt ashamed for not sticking things out at my job, for not making it work, for not staying despite how unhealthy it was and how real my experiences were with racism and sexism. As I said this aloud to myself, the dozen or so boxes stacked from hardwood floor to off white ceiling, empty hangers, and random collection of accessories atop my white three bureau,  there was a moment of clarity. As I said aloud that I was ashamed for not staying, I was flooded with the moments that initially nudged then shook then slammed me into resigning. “Ahyana that’s crazy.” It was crazy.  I don’t use the word crazy lightly. To me it makes no type of rational sense to be ashamed of leaving a place (or relationship) that is unsafe and causes harm. I half smiled as I unplugged my phone, moved a few boxes to reach my large read canvas tote bag to fill with all of the things I’d need to be productive at the coffee shop.

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

As I walked the four blocks to get my jasmine green tea and my favorite window seat I thought more about why I even thought I should have stayed in a situation that wasn’t healthy or safe. I knew before I reached the stop sign at the corner of my street that it was something that had been normalized for me. Not only had I observed several family members stay in unhealthy relationships (including domestic violence relationships), but friends, and colleagues do the same.  I’d listened to how it could be worse (and not daring to dream it could also be better), that if they wait it out it would change (nope boo boo, change creates change), that so and so was just “in one of their moods,”  and the list of rationalizations for coping through circumstances that were unhealthy but seemed to provide some type of “I am strong” award could go on because even as I type this ,the list of people I know striving for that award  and staying in places and with people that I’ve watched negatively impact their welfare, goes on an on.

I’m not anti strength. I’m anti unhealthy. I’m anti a definition of strength that I’ve experienced and witnessed come at the expense of physical, emotional, financial, relational, mental health.  I’m anti strength that when the sacrifices are counted they include me, myself, and I. I’m anti strength that deems staying more valuable than the courage it takes to walk away, speak up, stand up, say enough or see yourself and unravel your identity from a codependent entanglement to the approval or welfare of others as a number one priority. That isn’t strength. That’s crazy.

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Photo courtesy of Le Happy.com

By the time I actually sat in my blue and tan wicker seat by the bay window with the   sunlight stroking my cheek, sipped my tea and thoroughly  enjoyed my pastry, I breathed deeply, slowly, satisfied in clarity that I had nothing to be ashamed of, that I didn’t need to defend my decision to leave or hide it from folks for that matter. I managed to identify what I needed to thrive in a space and managed to make an exit after their demonstrating an inability to provide that (a safe, racist and sexist free environment, and one where if racism, sexism, or any form of discrimination did occur was addressed and not ignored). I chose what I needed and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. For those of you who say that perhaps the people who chose to stay in unhealthy circumstances reserve that right, I agree, they do. I realize I don’t always know the dynamics of the circumstance, only what I see or what a person chooses to share. I also know that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s not a raccoon. So if it looks unhealthy, sounds unhealthy,  I’m not going to call it healthy ( but will respect whatever the person chooses to call it). At the end of the day the Simply LIVEd Life is a chosen life, and I just hope people choose healthy, to lean into the hard stuff, muddle through the tears, stay alert and  for and seek that moment of clarity (it will come) in the midst of the crazy, and let that clarity help guide you out of the crazy.

Can’t (Don’t Want To) Help It

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

It happened again. I don’t know if I couldn’t help it or if I had no interest in helping it. What did help however were the facial expressions that only communicated appreciation that I had done it. That I had taken over the meeting like a boss, didn’t play nice but was inclusive and respectful, asked the challenging questions, and made sure that we got stuff done in that meeting. We were done in a half an hour and there was only gratitude.

I had a similar experience the week prior.  I took to the dry erase board in our conference room, got us organized, facilitated us hammering out the schedule for a training we were creating, happily provided the reality checks for those in the room who spring forth like Old Faithful with more ideas than time or tenacity to bring them to fruition, kept us in the hour we allotted for the meeting, and when our time concluded my colleagues provided a variety of thank yous.

It didn’t really feel like I ‘did” anything, except perhaps decide that I was not going to leave any more meetings where I felt robbed of my time because of someone else. There was no way I was walking back to my office or home for lunch with the opportunity to complain about my time being disrespected and no one really leading the meeting and effectively facilitating the meeting in a way that kept us to task, accomplished the goal of the meeting, and was inclusive of those there. I had decided that I was finished with hiding in my own shadow, or as my dear friend chided all of us women in a conversation a few weeks ago to “stop playing small.” That was all I really did. The rest, the asking the questions, restating, clearly communicating, pushing back even up against the powers that be, keeping us in or under the allotted time and junk was easy peasy. That’s part of the A.King package, and what’s in the A.King package, came out- unapologetically might I add.

Photo courtesy of Luv Rum Cake. Tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of Luv Rum Cake. Tumblr.com

My momma’s spin on the Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,” is- What’s in you will come out of you. I should add that she usually where remind me and my siblings of this if we were being mean to one another, selfish, or critical.  I took it as her way of encouraging us to take a moment and reflect on what was going on with us that was manifesting itself in mean, selfish, or critical behavior. My momma was pro reflection and encouraging us to find the connection between what our thoughts and feelings as they impacted our behavior before Ilyana Vanzant was fixing anybody’s life, Oprah was OWNing anything, Dr. Phil was tough loving it out with us, or Steve was suggesting we think like the fellas.

I hold fast to both the scripture, and my momma’s cliff notes version of it, knowing in those meetings what was in me, despite an environment what worked relentlessly overtly ad covertly to stifle it (me), was spilling out. My leadership spilled forth. My ability to clearly, respectfully, professionally, and passionately communicate overflowed. My commitment to being inclusive and asking questions or pushing back on decisions that were exclusive leaked from the left and the right. My genuine desire to empower people to use their voice, and use it from a place of thoughtful critical thinking splashed all across those four walls. Who I was came out. And it was liberating and impressive. It really was. It was that kind of liberation and impressiveness you feel when you get home and your multitasking skills go to the next level as you manage to kick your shoes off, unhook your bra, and take your hair down in under 10 seconds while still on your phone debriefing your day with one of your favorite folks in your life.

Here’s the deal, the most unlived life you can choose to live is the one where you develop arthritis from holding in what is in you or develop chronic shin splints from chasing after whatever was in you that spilled out. It’s miserable, painful, unfulfilling, and selfish. I didn’t need the thanksgiving from my colleagues after either meeting, but what it communicated to me was that they wanted and maybe needed what was in me.  When we refuse to let our gifts, talents, abilities, and passions (as long as they don’t harm us or others) out- it’s selfish. I’m not negating painful experiences of rejection, invalidation, or abandonment that we may have experienced when we let ourselves bubble forth, I’m just saying it’s not an excuse to become a recluse. If anything it can serve as a springboard for us to do the work and experience the healing we need to get back out there and live from an authentic place, an abundant place, a liberated lively fulfilling place for ourselves and for others. Besides if you are going to have to be around whatever is in you spilling out of you, I don’t recommend fear, anxiety, bitterness, and doubt being what you end up chillaxing in or spewing on others.

Photo courtesy of Vogue Magazine.com

Photo courtesy of Vogue Magazine.com

Here’s my hope for those of you reading this. My hope is that you decide you are worthy enough as you are how you are, and that what is in you- your talents, intelligence, creativity, compassion, sincerity, etc. is worthy of springing forth. That you, right now, at your height, weight, current hair color, texture, and length, shape, employment status, education status, socioeconomic status, relationship status, parent status, etc. is host to some ideas and abilities that are unique to you and has the power to cultivate change, inspire others, and get stuff done. I’m praying that opportunities present themselves this week where you decide to let all of the giftedness of what’s in you come out of you. And if you get a moment leave a note in the comments below letting folks know how that went for you or send me an email. Be, do, LIVE well!

 

 

Love the Work, Loathe the Job

Photo courtesy of Go To Glamour Girl.com

Photo courtesy of Go To Glamour Girl.com

She had hope in her voice when she asked how I liked my job. I was tempted to lie. She knew how challenging things were at the last place. I hated to disappoint her. “It’s ok, ” I responded. I couldn’t lie. She was disappointed. “Just ok?,”  she continued. “Yeah, just okay. I’m grateful for it,”  I said and smiled. She looked confused. “It’s a job Ash. And for that I am grateful but it’s there’s work that I love to do and sometimes that happens at my job, most of the time it doesn’t. That’s okay. I didn’t expect my job to be the place I did my most fulfilling work. But then again I see a job and work as two different things.”  She looked mildly satisfied with my response.

Work and jobs are not one in the same. Work, you will do until you cease to be or cease to be capable. If you are fortunate you may have a job that allows you to do work that you love. If you’re not so fortunate then be grateful for the job, see it for what it is, and make room for the work you want to do that would yield similar benefits to a job (i.e. steady income, ability to cover health insurance, etc.)

The things that matter to us are the things we work with, towards, for, and out. Work is not a desk, a shift of 8, 14, 24, or 36 hours. It is not a destination, doesn’t have a 20 or 60 minute commute. There is no 10 year or 25 year anniversary and no retirement. That’s a job.I think, at least in the U.S. we have made jobs work and this when we leave or finish a job, we think that our work is complete too. Wrong.

Photo courtesy of Exquisite Girl.com

Photo courtesy of Exquisite Girl.com

When I tell people I don’t love my job but I love my work they look puzzled. I smile and wait patiently hoping they get it. Usually they don’t. So I tell them that I love being creative, helping people, having hard but necessary conversations that offer insight, hope, and empowerment. I love creating spaces for people to explore, create, and recreate themselves. I get great joy from providing tools to help people work at relationships. I love allowing people to be courageous in telling their story or changing their story. I even love calling out ignorant and privileged administrators who sprinkle their ill informed ideas with microaggressions and exclusive commentary. However, I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT LOVE  my job.

I do not love the constraints of a schedule, the questioning of my authority or expertise often because of the color of my skin, gender, or age. I do not love meetings or antiquated systems that were never designed to help or support the people I love to partner and work with. I do not love spaces that I can’t feng shui on a whim, or being able to freely choose to work in my home, Starbucks, or the library if that’s what I deem necessary to be productive and effective. I do love not being able to plan travel when I desire because of an event to help staff.  I do enjoy being effective in 4 hours but having to stick around for another four because that’s part of my job. I don’t enjoy being surrounded by a majority of folks who can spell change but have not desire or concept of what that looks like. I loathe being placated and politics that are more times than not self serving and maintain a crabs in the bucket culture. See, ewww , I do not love my job. And I don’t just mean the current one. I haven’t loved a job in a long time. I’ve loved the work, the clients, the students, some of my team, and some of my supervisors. My jobs have been tolerable because I can insert work I love.

When I am not at my job I still work. The creativity, conversations, supporting, space creating, writing, all continue. This blog is work I adore, not a job. Speaking at the Black Girl Project Conference in October, work, not a job. All the conferences and workshops I’ve been privileged to o in the past three years have been wonderful hard yet victorious work.  My relationships, the familial, friend, and other are work. Yes, you have been fooled again if you think relationships aren’t work. They are. May you choose to relate with those who view you as worthy of that work and vice versa.

Photo courtesy of Diego Guevara

Photo courtesy of Diego Guevara

This week may you reconsider your perspective of that which you deem work and that which you see as a job. May you find liberty in knowing your job can be just that, a job, and you can still work at, on, with, for that which you are called and created to do. It’s not an either of, but a both and. May you find new energy and strength for your work (work ain’t always easy) and your job, especially if your job supports you (i.e. helps you keep a roof over your head, food in the fridge, bills paid on time, clothe for the kids, etc.) but doesn’t necessarily make room for you to do work that brings you joy. May you find courage and wisdom to work at the relationships that are hard work and express gratitude for the relationships that aren’t hard work ( I heart the ones where we just get each other, but that’s not to be taken for granted). May you fund time to create a plan that allows you to do more work and less job. And finally, may you you have a great week at your job and a great week working!

From the Black Girl Project Summit With Love xxoo

Last Saturday was the end of a three weekends in a row away from my cozy corner of the world tour. There was a birthday shindig for my east coast nephew one weekend, chaperoning some rather amazing international students in Manhattan, and then as fate would have it, my last weekend away I would spend it doing what I love- talking to women and girls about living incredibly victoriously and emphatically. I would spend two hours with forty eight beautiful brown feminine faces keeping it real on the ways in which we need to imagine wellness and redefine strength. It was glorious!  I had the absolute pleasure of spending time with some incredibly beautiful, brave, and talented young women and girls at The Black Girl Project Summit in Brooklyn, NY. I was thrilled to have conversations about functional depression and redefining the strong Black woman, as well as sit in on sessions about intimacy and gender roles. Just sharing a few pictures from the day where I got to do what I love. Have a sweet weekend and I will greet you on the other side of October Monday morning! xxoo

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A Lady Who Loves Herself & Her Work

gwen2It is in my most bias far from humble I pronounce it as fact although I suppose it is really an opinion- that everyone should have an Aunt Gwen. Especially women. We need someone in our lives who lives, breathes, and bleeds the courage to live what they believe and what they know they were created to do. We need someone who is so in love with who they know themselves to be that the love wins out over fear and allows them to take leaps of faith. My aunt, Gwen Wright, did that about twenty years ago. When private banking lost its luster, she struck out on her own as a business consultant in San Francisco. She helped the owners of one of my favorite restaurants in the Bay Area, 1300 on Filmore, get its start. She also has a few clients in the Midwest and in NYC. She hasn’t looked back and since I was twenty I looked on in absolute awe. When I thought about who to have on the blog that is head over heels about their work Gwen was the first person to come to mind. She has absolutely fallen in love with her work.

TSLL: How did you know you’d fallen in love with your work? That it wasn’t an idea or something that could just be financially profitable?

GW: Oh it was something that brought me joy. It was something I could do all the time. I looked forward to it when I started and I still look forward to it. There’s nothing about it I want to avoid. It’s my life. I don’t compartmentalize. It’s integrated, fluid, and holistic. This is who I am.

TSLL: What do you love the most about your work?

GW: I love the flexibility and there is always something new. The industries are the same. I primarily do a lot of fashion and restaurants. But the clients are new with new ideas whether they are just starting or expanding . Something is always manifesting and it’s great to be a part of and to watch.

TSLL: What do you love least about your work?

GW: When clients have unrealistic expectations. Some clients are stuck in the past or the present but refuse to commit to the present. I help them focus. There is also the reality of being an entrepreneur that some people have unrealistic expectations about. I have a background in finances so I can help them with that but it is still a pain sometimes you know.

TSLL: How did you choose the work?

GW: I don’t know if I chose it. Maybe I did. I just knew I couldn’t work in corporate world. I was in private banking which was fun and it’s also very entrepreneurial. However, when the big banks started taking over, it was less fun. So I left and started contract work and then that turned into what I do now.

TSLL: What do you love about the people you work with?

GW: Oh I love love love my clients and the other entrepreneurs I am connected to. I love their support, friendship, comradery, and their help when needed. It’s a community.

TSLL: What has been a highlight for you in this work love affair? 

GW: Every day there is some type of highlight or low light. Sometimes the low light is clients who don’t get it and struggle to focus. Multi passionate people are great but they don’t always realize you have to pick one place to start. So that can be annoying.The highlight is when it manifest. When we do the work and it’s done.

TSLL: Tell me about a challenge you encountered in your work and how did you work through it?

GW: I’m a patient woman which comes in handy with clients who struggle to focus. Now, if a client is too needy, I have no problem letting them know that I can no longer work with them. Usually when I have a client who is all over the place I give them assignments.  Sometimes I won’t talk to them until the assignment is done. Action is the part of strategy that makes things happen. I model the consistency I want them to have.

TSLL: How do you make time to do the other things in your life that you love outside of work?

GW: I always take time for self. I just schedule time for me on my calendar. I pencil it in and I will say “I am so sorry I am unavailable that day,” if a client request to meet during a time that I have set aside to take care of myself and do the things I enjoy.

TSLL: How does your work compliment the characteristics you love about your personality?

GW: I’m adventurous and a good critical thinker. In my work there is always something new and my inkling for problem solving gets tapped into regularly.

TSLL: What are some hints that you think might help someone identify that they are falling for a particular career path or business venture?

GW: I would say sit down and ask yourself –

  • What do you do all the time?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What do you enjoy?

Also, think of your interests.  Sometimes you can learn a skill set you don’t have but are interested in if you go learn about it. I tell potential clients, if you are really interested in a particular field, go work or volunteer in it, and then tell me if you still want to start a business in it. If they lost interest, it was a fantasy. I say try it on and see what you like. Is it feeding the soul?  If it is- explore it. Some people think they can’t do any number of things and I always say “How do you know?”

TSLL: What advice would you give for the person who doesn’t love what they do? 

GW: If you’re not happy doing what you’re doing then you better do something else. You can have more than a job. Where is the job taking you? Some people I tell them get a job so you can keep your business. There is a difference between a job and the work you love and until you get to do the work you love full time; sometimes you have to get a job. But it’s a different way of thinking and the job is a means to an end, not the end. Doing what you love every day, that is the end. A very happy ending at that.

To learn more about Gwen or yo work with her visit http://www.thewrightconsultants.com/

Back After Baby- One Woman’s Story

We are just about half way through September, the unofficial end to summer has come and gone, leaves are starting to change color (at least in my nook of the world), and fall is about to make a comeback. Folks are settling into familiar routines once again and the new normal, you know the one, the September through May routine, is back in action. Yet while you read this and nod in agreement, there are men and women who have a new September through May routine, one that is shaped by the birth of a child.

Recently I caught up with Ronika Money- Adams, wife of one, mom of two, lover of Jesus, dweller of Dover, Delaware, higher education professional, believer in educating, supporting, and empowering women, and sharer of her experiences in going back to work after the birth of her two children, Kimora and Kaiden. May her words resonate and encourage you. 

Photo courtesy of Alex Elle

Photo courtesy of Alex Elle

TSLL: As a mother of two children, it would seem that you have had to “go back to work” twice. What if anything was different about going back to work after Kimora’s birth? After Kaiden’s?

RMA: After Kimora’s birth, I did not return to work until she was 7½ months old.  I had resigned from my position as a Residence Director and was looking for a new opportunity. That opportunity ended up being a full time position with a 3-4 day schedule at a non profit organization. Due to the schedule, I didn’t feel as if I had fully returned back to work until I was hired full time at a university in Pennsylvania, when she was approaching 11 months old. I would say had a somewhat smooth adjustment with her.

Now, returning to work after Kaiden’s birth was painful to be honest.  Unlike Kimora, Kaiden had an emergency delivery and spent nearly 3 weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit.  I returned to work just after he turned 3 months old.  I found myself regretting my decision to return so soon.  I would’ve preferred to have returned when he was at least 5 or 6 months old, but with our medical bills rolling in so quickly I didn’t want us to be down one salary. I did not feel the same peace I felt when I returned to work after having Kaiden. I wanted the have the same foundation of time I had with Kimora.  I also breastfed Kaiden which added another layer of difference to my return to work.

TSLL: What would you do differently if anything about maternal/paternal leave?

RMA: I would have researched the options for a reduced work schedule to ease my transition back to work with Kaiden or have made budgetary adjustments to allow for a longer leave period.

TSLL: When you think about the first time you went back to work after your first child, what was the most exciting?  Most challenging?

RMA: The most exciting thing was being able to communicate with adults about adult issues.  When I was home with Kimora, I gained a new found respect for stay at home moms.  They do not have an easy job. The most challenging thing was not being able to spend time with Kimora the way I had when I was home. We played together, took naps together, and I found her smile to be soothing. Thankfully, she was being watched by my mom who was 5 minutes away from the job I had when she was 7 ½ months and 30 minutes away from the position I took in Pennsylvania.

TSLL: What do wish you had known about the back to work transition?

RMA: I wish that I had known that I could have worked an abbreviated schedule to assist with my transition back to work. I also wished that I had paid more attention to the attitude and culture of my workplace towards returning mothers.  There are no nursing spaces and accommodations are different for staff and faculty who are returning parents.

TSLL: How does being a working mom influence the way you parent, if at all?
RMA: Being a working mom, influences the level of importance I place on spending time with my children. Work has my time 40 hours or more a week.  I want to make sure my children have time with me as well.  I don’t want them to say at my funeral “ We loved our mom, she was always at work.”  I find this to be the case more now that I am a mother of two and my daughter will be 8 years old. She needs me to be there. I’m working on taking more time off.

TSLL: How does parenting influence the way you work, if at all?
RMA: I believe being a parent has made me for empathetic and understanding of out of work life issues affecting my staff.   If someone is sick, I want them to stay home and get well. I know what it feels like to run yourself into to the ground at work and come home to do same thing.  I’ve become a better supervisor in my opinion as a result of my having a second child and trying to take better care of myself for them.

TSLL: How did your friends and family have supported you in the back to work transition?

RMA: I’m very blessed.  My mother  has been the caretaker for both of my children when I returned to work after their births.  She is honored to take care of her grandchildren and finds it rewarding to spend time with them.  I don’t know that my transitions would have been as smooth as they were emotionally if she wasn’t so supportive.  My aunt was also a great source of support in the area of child care with Kimora whenever my mother wasn’t available.

TSLL: How could employers  have supported you in the back to work transition?

RMA: Employers can be more understanding of the lack of sleep and emotional strain being experienced by returning parents. I can’t say that these two issues are limited to mothers because there are fathers who take paternity leave and experience just as much of a lack of sleep and emotional strain.

TSLL: Looking back, at your experience of going back, are there any words of wisdom you would offer parents returning to work after having, adopting, or being given custody of a child?

RMA: My advice to any parents returning to work would be to establish a transition plan that gives you and your family the most peace.  I know finances play a huge role in when we choose to return but it is vital that you have a sense of peace for you and your family.  Research your Human Resource policies related to leave and utilize a flexible schedule option.

So what was your transition like back to work? #DaretoShare

Back In The Office- 5 Ways to Make Over Your Monday

I am editing this post after one of the best weekends I’ve had in a while and not being a part of an organization that grants Labor Day off. Mhmm. Yup, you read that correct. One amazing weekend in DC with my girls, eating, drinking, and dancing until the wee hours of Sunday morning and I just reached over to set my alarm for 5:45am Monday morning. I am thinking that this alone means I temporarily have an authority on how to make over Mondays o that going back to work on a Monday can be  more joyful, almost as joyful as if I started the post by welcoming you to the weekend.

Photo courtesy of Norvz Austria

Photo courtesy of Norvz Austria

Extra Time- I know. You probably feel like it’s rough enough that Monday got here quicker than you anticipated, but trust me, sleeping until the last possible minute-the minute that will allow you to leap out of bed, into the two minute shower, and then into clothes you are pretty sure are clean and you didn’t just wear to work, does not make for a good Monday.  Honestly t doesn’t usually make for a good any day. Give yourself an extra 20 minute in the morning to do something you enjoy. Yes, wake up and do something you enjoy before you mentally run through your to do list, fantasize about who you hope is out sick, or try to sleep for those extra 20 minutes.  Recently I went back to getting up early enough to spend an hour sipping tea, reading my bible, journaling, pining, etc. after that hour I then transition into work mode.  It makes a huge difference starting my day and my work week with things that bring me joy.

Photo courtesy of Purse Blog.com

Photo courtesy of Purse Blog.com

Make it colorful- Color impacts your mojo. You can research color theory a little later. Colors influence our mood, and for some more than for others.  Put the black pants back in the closet and go for the green or purple ones. Resist the plain blouse and go for the one with the polka dots. Wear that funky purple and green bangle bracelet and try the gold hoops instead of the barely there silver studs.  When you look good you will feel good and color has the power to make you look and feel good. Resist the neutral uniform on Mondays and just be a little more creative. If you are reading this and doubt your ability to wear color or patterns in a fun creative way, get thee to Pinterest.

Photo courtesy of Garden Guides.com

Photo courtesy of Garden Guides.com

Power pack your lunch bag- There is nothing like looking forward to a good meal. Don’t cheat yourself. If Sunday dinner was the epitome of nourishment for your body and soul, then pack up the leftovers for round two on Monday afternoon. If it’s a busy Monday, don’t bank on heading to McDonalds or Starbucks, pack in the fruits, veggies, and nuts. I can’t even tell you how in love I am with the fresh fruit I snagged at the Farmers Market this weekend. And yes I am slipping one of those Nectarines into my lunch bag for Monday. Now if you have a morning meeting uptown and an afternoon meeting downtown, and eating out is what will facilitate a smooth transition, just eat somewhere good. Sometimes I find such predicaments are perfect for grabbing Sushi. Let that marinate. Sushi in the middle of your Monday. Divine! (Well divine if you love sushi.

Photo courtesy of U Gallery

Photo courtesy of U Gallery

Move and groove- Honestly, Mondays are my first day of the week back at the gym, but if you aren’t on the workout train just yet, at least put on your favorite playlist or online station that gets you moving and grooving. Anthony Hamilton is my station most nights, and in the mornings I need more of my gospel stations or some throw back TLC. Wake yourself up to some music that has a beat that can do nothing less but get you on your feet. My shoes are often the last thing I put on because I am too busy slipping and sliding across my hardwood floors before heading into the office.

Photo courtesy of Joanna Goddard

Photo courtesy of Joanna Goddard

Make up your mind- There is nothing like making up your mind that you will have a good Monday (or any day really). It may sound all pop psychology-ish, but the truth of the matter is, as you think, so are you. If you want to have a Monday that is full of peace, and joy, and productivity, then you have to declare that it will be so. Furthermore, when things happen that are out  of your control, you can choose how to react, and you can react in a way that grounds you in whatever you declared for the day. Just try it, you got a lot of Mondays ahead.

Have a super sweet Monday, and honestly I think these tips can work for any day. The truth is we often negate the power of starting our days in a way that can powerfully and positively impact the rest of our day.  Take back your mornings, take back your Mondays, take back your power and the endless possibilities to LIVE well. xxoo