Monday, November 25, 2013

It's Okay To Be An Imperfect Mom - You Are Not Alone

Mom Blogger
I recently came across a tweet that really resonated with me.  It said, "I would rather admit I am an imperfect mom, than have other imperfect mothers think they are alone. ~ @mommykeepslaugh."

As a type-A everything - mom, wife, HR professional, daughter, sister, you name it, it is really hard for me to be vulnerable and accept being less than perfect.  To me, it sometimes feels like accepting less than perfect is somehow like giving up, and giving up never sits well with me.  I am learning though that it can be a strength to embrace being "imperfect."

I know, I know.  It sounds like a "duh" epiphany but I think, especially when it comes to being a new mother, enough people do not talk about how hard it is.  Or if they do talk about it, it is more in a "right of passage" sort of way.  Meaning, all new moms have to go through it.  We did it, and we survived, so suck it up.

And do not get me wrong, I am not looking for a pity party or anything.  I just think it would be nice if more moms would share their vulnerable moments, because I think it is in those vulnerable moments, those crying on the bathroom floor moments that new moms like to know they are not alone.

It's Okay To Be An Imperfect Mom.

Everyone Expects You To Be Happy But We Should Share When We Are Not.  
Right after you have the baby, whenever you see people, they expect you to be happy.  They fawn over your new bundle of joy and jokingly ask you if you are sleeping.  I understand, and I get it.  And of course I love my baby more than life itself, but with this greatest high, comes the greatest low.  Yet you smile for your friends and family because you do not want to disappoint them.  I know I personally felt like the worst person in the world during those early months.  I was having tearful arguments with my husband and some growing resentment due to the loss of what seemed like all personal time.  I know everyone said it was going to be hard, but I thought they just meant from sheer exhaustion.  I was utterly unprepared for how much a new baby would rock my rock solid relationship with my husband.

And I have to remember that It's Okay To Be An Imperfect Mom and to let other moms know they are not alone.

I kept this pain to myself too long.  Part of the reason I am writing this post is because twice now I have shared my near-divorce story with other new moms, and both times, in teary eyed moments, they shared a similar experience.  It felt cathartic to realize that we were not alone.

And It's Okay To Be An Imperfect Mom and admit you need outside help.

My husband and I Personally Sought Out Couples' Counseling.  My husband and I noticed we had been arguing a lot more than usual and our relationship had more tension than it ever had before the baby.  We took advantage of my company's Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  Most companies offer one free of charge with your benefits.  Our program included 6 free counseling sessions.  I wish more people would be open to seeking therapy, and I also wish therapy was something people did not feel ashamed for seeking.  Even when I mentioned the idea of writing this post to my family, they questioned my decision to share that I went to counseling.  I told them they had missed the whole point of my post, because I want other moms to know that it is okay to go to therapy.  It does not mean you are weak or crazy.  It means you are going through a major life change while sleep deprived, and yes, you could benefit from a third party mediating conversations with your husband, because he too, is sleep deprived and going through a major life change.

For us, it was really beneficial and I have to say, a great overall experience.  Sometimes, you have to hear it from a stranger before you really "hear" it, and even though we might have gotten through it without her, it really helped meeting with her weekly.  It got us through the tough parts.  Therapy taught us a lot about each other and allowed us the techniques to communicate more effectively with one another.  We have a stronger relationship now because of it.

And It's Okay To Be An Imperfect Mom Because Being A Great Mother Looks Different In Every Case.  

Parenting seems to be a topic many people like to weigh in on and share their opinion with you.  It is really easy to feel like a "bad mom."  All you have to do is listen to other parents and open up any article on the internet to see that whatever you are doing at home is "wrong."  I have since concluded that it is okay to be imperfect because there is no perfect mom.  That would imply that there is a "right" way to do everything, and frankly, there is not.  There are a lot of different ways to do things, and being a good mom means knowing what is right for you and your family.  It also means supporting other moms and their imperfectness, because I would rather admit I am an imperfect mom, than have other imperfect mothers think they are alone.

What do you think?  What have been your vulnerable, imperfect moments?

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What is a Triad Lunch? And Why You Should Have One.

Miltons Del Mar
What is a Triad lunch?  Basically it's a fancy label for a 3 person lunch, but why is it important?  And what's so magical about the number 3?

Well 3 years ago this month, my company actually learned about the importance of triads from Dave Logan and Tribal Leadership.  And thus, my first triad was born.  It was during an employee development day, when they told us to break up into groups of 3.  I looked around and saw my friend Ryan in IT.  We did the customary head nod.  One partner found.  I looked the other way and saw Darissa in Sales.  We exchanged smiles.  Found my third.  And the rest is history.  Lol, well not really, but it did turn out really well.

So what makes a Triad successful?  Well, the long and short of it is that when you have 3 people, you tend to be more productive and accountable.  Think about it.  Ever tell your friend you wanted to meet her at the gym or go on a run.  Did you ever meet up or call each other right before and tell her you were tired and ask if you wanted to go shopping or catch a movie instead?  Or did you both agree to just pass altogether?

Enter the triad.  If there were 3 of you, and one of you suggested a movie instead of running, then it should follow that at least one of you would be like "No, guys we should really run today."  At least, that's the idea.  You hedge your bets by have 2 others trying to be healthy instead of just one.

So What Makes a Great Triad?
Here are some tips to keep in mind when putting one together:
  1. Ask what do we want to accomplish?  There should be a goal in mind.  In my first triad, we were asked to brainstorm what the barriers were to accomplishing our smart goals.  Each of us shared what our goals were and what road blocks we were running into at work.  
  2. What resources or strengths do we bring to the table?  Figure out what each of your strengths are.  Ryan is in IT, I am in HR, and Darissa is in Sales.  We each have great complimentary backgrounds and experience.  We leverage this when analyzing each other's problems.  We can provide unique and innovative insights because of it.
  3. What specific actions are necessary to accomplish our goal?  Ideally, after brainstorming, you'll be able to lay out specific action items for you to accomplish your goal.  
  4. Shared values.  This is self-explanatory.  At least, I hope it is.
So let's pull the running example back in, since all of us want to be healthier but don't always have the will power to do so.
  1. We want to be healthier.  Maybe we each want to lose 10 lbs.  Put it in writing.
  2. What are we each good at?  Maybe one person has trained for a marathon before and can help set the pace and training schedule.  Maybe you're good at researching and planning, then you can pick different trails to run and pick out the dates to meet up.
  3. Who's going to be responsible for what?  Maybe someone is in charge of suggesting meal options or bringing water to hydrate on the runs.  Someone else can bring a pedometer or download an app to track how far you have run.
  4. You're all in this together and care about each other's progress.  You can act as cheerleader for both parties.  Check in with each other and help one another achieve your health goals.
See how easy it is?  You can apply this to anything.

And the BEST PART is that our personal triad had the best kind of ending, at least in my mind.  When we first formed, we had scheduled a triad lunch, and I forget why, but I had to cancel.  I know, poor example setting right?  Well Darissa and Ryan kept the meeting anyways and went to lunch (see the accountability despite my flakiness?).  Fast forward 3 years, and the two of them are engaged to be married.  So I like to think everything happens for a reason :)

So the next time you'd like to mix it up or boost your productivity, try a triad.  Host a blog hop with 2 other people, agree to workout in threes, you name it.  Have fun and be sure to come back and tell me about it!

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day and Why You Should Eliminate "Try" From Your Vocabulary

San Diego Walk
Today I came out to support my colleagues in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk.  I was only out there for 2 hours but I had such a great experience.  I am so proud of them.  On the left is my great friend Bri of San Briego and in the middle is my amazing manager Shanna.

I almost did not make it to the race, as the weekend was packed with chores and errands.  I had told them last week that I would join them for a couple hours on Saturday but the day got away from me, and it did not happen.

In the last couple years, I have become more conscious of not using the word "try".  The reason being that when you say "try", it immediately excuses yourself from having to follow through.  For example, if I had said that I would try to make it out this weekend to the walk, then I could have easily chalked up my efforts to trying yesterday and be done with it.  It is questionable that I would have definitely made it a point to come out today.

So I say commit to eliminating "try" from your vocabulary.  Do not say you are going to "try" and workout tomorrow, just say you are going to workout tomorrow.  I have to admit that I am borrowing this tip from my favorite fitness guru Chalene Johnson but it's a tip worth sharing.  It also applies to many things you want to accomplish in life.  If you have a goal, don't "try" to achieve it, just do it.  You will be amazed how it changes your mindset and makes you more inclined to follow through and take action.

What do you want to achieve?  Have you used the word "try" in relation to them?  Go ahead and commit to them now.  You are capable of so much.  So post below and tell me what you are going do, not what you are trying to do.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Best Surprise Office Visitor Ever!

I live for moments like this.  My mom called me and asked if I was busy.  I started to smile as I realized it meant that she was in the area with my baby girl.  She asked if I had time for a visit, and I was like "yes, of course!"

Rewind back a couple months when I got the same call and actually had to say no because I was running late to a meeting I had called.  That time it nearly broke my heart, but today was different, and I was definitely going to sneak in a cuddle or two...or three.

Being a working mom can be tough sometimes, but I am so lucky and blessed that my own mom is able to watch my daughter during the day.  I hope they build a really strong bond because of it.

My coworkers enjoyed Kaelani's visit as well.  They joked that it should be an initiative of the wellness committee to include baby visits for the well-being of the employees.  I laughed at the joke, but in all seriousness, it sure felt good for the heart to hold and hug her.

What are your favorite mom moments?  I'd love to hear about them.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How to Prepare for an Interview in 3 Easy Steps

There are a million and one ways to prepare for an interview, but if you are short on time, then I would recommend these 3 bare minimum steps:

1.  Ask and Understand the Business.  This is assuming you have already gone through a phone screening and are scheduled for an in-person interview.  Take advantage of the fact that you now have an inside connection at the company.  You would be amazed what information you can get from a recruiter or HR person, if only you asked.  So go ahead, ask as many questions as they will allow.  Here are some questions I would recommend:
  • Who will I be interviewing with?
  • What can you tell me about their interviewing styles?
  • How would you describe the employee culture?
  • I want to make sure I understand your business.  Do you mind if I summarize what I think it is and get your feedback?
  • Who are your competitors?  And how do you differentiate yourself?
  • I want to make a great impression.  Do you have any other advice for me?
  • What is the parking situation?  Are there any special instructions?  
2.  Prepare 5-10 Mini-Stories.  These will basically be your answers to any interview question you might get.  Think about the best work you have done on the job and make sure each story is 2-3 minutes in length total and includes the following:
  • Situation - Always start with the problem or beginning state.  Perhaps you were assigned a task and only had 2 days to complete it by and on a limited budget.
  • Action - Describe what you personally did to resolve the above situation.
  • Result - Share what the end result was and if known, the ROI from your actions.
If possible, make sure you have a story for as many subjects or interview questions you anticipate they might have.  Here are some suggestions.
  • A time you demonstrated high initiative.
  • An example where you implemented a new process.
  • A situation where you dealt with a difficult personality.
  • A time where you executed a project flawlessly.
  • An example where you demonstrated leadership.
  • A situation where you adapted quickly or thrived during a change in strategic initiative.
Now you will have an arsenal of answers to choose from during your interview.  Regardless of what they ask, you should be able to use one of your prepared mini-stories and worse-case tailor it to answer their questions.  And because you will have prepared these ahead of time, it will lessen the chance you have of rambling.

3.  Create a List of Questions.  Make sure you take the time to prepare some thoughtful questions for the interviewers.  This is a two-way interview.  Make sure this is a role and a company that really fits your needs and qualifications.  Here are some ideas:
  • Is this a new role?  If it is not, then why is it vacant?
  • What actions are you looking for this person to do in the first 30 days?
  • How will you measure success in the role?  
  • What are the company's major strategic initiatives for the next 3-5 years?
  • How does this position contribute to the bigger picture?
  • Can you describe a typical work day?
  • What kind of training or on-boarding is provided?
If you do these 3 things, you should be in pretty good shape.  Make sure to Google map the location of your interview and give yourself ample time to arrive early.  I always like to engage the receptionist in conversation if possible and ask the above questions.  It will tell you a lot about a company, especially about the leadership if the receptionist is able to articulate the company's strategic goals.  It will also be telling if the person you are interviewing with knows what actions he or she is looking for in the first 30 days and if there are already metrics in place to measure success.  If these questions cannot be answered, it could have implications for the effectiveness of internal communication and collaboration.  These questions are meant to uncover what it is really like to work for a company.  Use the answers you get as clues to what it would be like to be their employee and ask yourself if you like what you are hearing.

Do you have any ideas to add?  What advice would you give job seekers when preparing for an interview?

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Where to Eat in Cardiff and What is a 'Blate'?

If you are looking for a great place to eat in Cardiff, I highly recommend Pacific Coast Grill.  I did not know what to expect yesterday, when I drove up the coast to my first "blate."  If you're not familiar with the term, it's basically the words blogger and date put together.  This is basically a fun word to describe a blogger meet-up.

My friend and colleague Bri of SanBriego let me know about this cool group called the So Cal Sistas.  When I arrived, the hosts, Jill and Amanda were already there.  They had stylishly set the table and gifted each of us with the flower and ribboned package pictured above (look for another post later on the beautiful green lace necklace Jill made).  It was all quite classy and a detail I probably would have totally forgotten if I had been in charge of organizing the event.  I loved it!

Now to the restaurant, you could not have picked a better location.  Right on the water, the view was
amazing.  Plus, it was such a beautiful day.  The air was just a little crisp but dreamily gorgeous.  The food was delicious.  I ordered the Cardiff Reef Roll pictured to your right.  It was so incredibly yummy.  I could have eaten two if the $18 price tag wasn't so high.  It was certainly a treat though, and the company was fantastic.  I really enjoyed getting to know the other So Cal Bloggers.

The only downside was that the long table made it a little difficult to engage in conversation with everyone, but we all agreed we would get together again in a more social and flexible setting like a Temecula wine tour.

Overall, I enjoyed my first 'blate' and will definitely be trying to set up more of these.  It's one thing to
interact with other bloggers online, but something has to be said for actually meeting up in person.  I read somewhere that most blog readers are other bloggers, so it would make sense that you would want to connect and take advantage of the opportunity to meet up with other local bloggers.

So, if you're in San Diego or Southern California, please let me know.  I'd love to meet you, and so would the other girls.

Be sure to check out these great blogs:

Left to Right (Picture courtesy of Amanda Kathryn):
Top Row - Jill from Classy with a Kick, Me :), Abby from The Fabulous Life of a Natural Disaster, Amanda from Amanda Kathryn, Amanda from A Beautiful Mess, Adrienne from Pretty Chouette, and Brianne from San Briego
Bottom Row - Jessica from Wifesticated, Kailyn from Kailyn Marie, and Marty from Marty with the Party

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