Tag Archives: PROFESSIONAL

136 days.

5 Oct

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I start my new job on Monday. Tomorrow, October 6th, after 136 days of getting my feet wet as a Mom of two. This heavy, overwhelming feeling is familiar. I’ve been here before, so most would think, (myself included) I’d have a clue as to how to navigate through it. Alas, I don’t. So I’m here again. Staring at the calendar, marveling at how fast the days flew by, wishing I had more time. I can imagine there are many of us out there doing the same thing, some for different reasons, some for the same.

There is an ongoing dialogue, maybe even a debate, between those of us Moms who stay at home, and those of us who return to work. What is better? What is fair? Is there a line? Should there be?

In a perfect world, I would stay at home and raise my girls, never missing a milestone or a moment in their formative years… but I would also go back to work.  I’ve spent the last 13 years being a professional since graduating college, and I like where I landed. What to do when you want to be in two places at once?

Is it selfish to have kids only to pass them off for a portion of the time? Do I have a greater responsibility to rise in the professional ranks because I am raising girls, and they need an in-home role model that proves there is no limit to what they can accomplish? How do I convince myself they don’t feel abandoned as I walk out the door? It sounds dramatic, but if I am living in full disclosure-ville, I think about it every time I leave the house without them in tow.

Is it important to back off, give the helicopter a rest, and let them formulate their independence regardless of the likely bruises, mistakes, potential bullies, danger zones et al. that lie ahead? Yes. Probably. Who knows. I think the best approach to this topic is to speak singularly. For me, I want to do both. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, some days I would like to trade the tea in for a double tall vodka, ok a lot of days, but at my core, I am doing what I want to be doing.

Parenting is not for everyone. I am a staunch supporter of that. Being a woman doesn’t mean you NEED to be a mother. It’s ridiculously hard, so you need to be all in. Which leads me back to my original dilemma of how one pulls off being the invested employee whilst being the super mom? I don’t buy into the ‘lean in’ movement. I like this author’s take on why it doesn’t work. Again, for me personally, I don’t live to work. I want to be a Mom more than anything, but I still need to flash my skill set and continue my professional trajectory. I think striking the perfect balance between at home and profession is best.

So what should we call this? Straddling the line? What does this balance look like? For me, its choosing what you want to spend your time doing, and whatever it is, wherever you’re at in that moment, do it to the best of your ability. No excuses. Growth and opportunity spring from being uncomfortable, and as I tell my 2-year-old, never say can’t. It is possible to excel at both. I think I can… I think I can…

If you’re a Mom of two or on the precipice of becoming one, here are a couple of tactics that worked for me.

TWO-do list.

  • Get a routine going for you as soon as possible. Mine consisted of coffee every morning OUT OF THE HOUSE at Java Man. I walked, ran, (almost always with both girls in tow) or drove to get it so I was out of the house and everyone got a little fresh air and sunshine.
  • Pay attention to the toddler as much as possible. They will remember, the baby won’t. I included Stella in everything. She didn’t always want to partake, but I at least gave her the option. Change the baby, watch Mama feed the baby, dress the baby, rock the baby etc.
  • Make sure one parent, or person is always paying attention to the toddler. (Do you see a theme happening here?) I learned quickly the toddler was the hard part of this equation, not the baby.
  • If breastfeeding, do it standing up sometimes. It’s easy and then you can maneuver around and (feign) you’re involved in whatever activity the toddler is doing.
  • Play doh. It works, trust me. We tell her what to make us and she goes to town.
  • Stella discovered a really cute YOUTUBE channel called Charli’s Crafty Kitchen. I allowed her iPad time every day during lunch and at 5pm. She watched these vignettes, and now has a much more vested interest in food, what we’re eating and how we made it. Check it out parents, super cute!!
  • Get the toddler involved in something new. During my maternity leave we had Stella in a private swim class with her friend Olivia once a week for 5 weeks. After that, we took her to ART ZONE to paint, play and get dirty once a week as well. It was a good distraction and (I think) made her feel like we were still concentrating on just her for a bit. (Please note, I brought the baby to both events. Kept her in the stroller and so again it was fresh air and a change of scenery for Wren as well.)
  • Dance parties. Yep – we put on our apple tv and went to town dancing around the living room. Wren either slept or I held her and Stella and I got a chance to get exercise and goof around.
  • We napped Wren in her Mamaroo upstairs in the middle of the play zone. We did this with Stella too, but I think it’s even more important with the 2nd because they need to get accustomed to chaos. Unlike your first, the second is always going to be in the middle of Toddler-ville. If they need a museum-esque atmosphere to sleep, you might be in trouble down the road.
  • Great blogs to know, follow and read – www.mothermag.com, www.clementinedaily.com, www.smallfryblog.com, www.weelicious.com 

These 136 days will be missed. Unlike the first time when I was so overwhelmed I barely moved off the couch, I truly enjoyed every waking moment of being able to just be a Mom. I owe a huge nod to my husband who made it possible for me to take this much time.

These 136 days were also hard earned. There were tears, fights, failures, highlights, a heart so full it can’t be described, a deeper appreciation, an awakening, a desire for more (dare I say it) and a lot of help. Help that deserves to be called out by me, to live in perpetuity in the annals of this blog, which may or may not be read, but at least exists for someone to find.

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This still exists, stationed in our kitchen. I wrote this to myself at the end of June when Ralph went back to work, and my parents left. It was just me and the girls for the first week of July. Overwhelmed doesn’t cover it.

Luella says… Cue the orchestra, this might take a while. And the awards go to…

Katie – you came because you knew I needed you to. Full stop. You’re amazing. I am so lucky you’re my best friend. I love you. xo

Mollie & Heather – you visited, dropped off food (homemade at that) and affirmed why we’re so lucky to call you great friends who live down the street. I love you both, thank you! xo

Ali – you got me out of the house and a lot of times out of my own way. You’re the go-to when it comes to what the benchmark is. Love you, thank you! xo

Tina & Gene – I am not going to say much because after 30+ years of friendship you already know. We’re sisters. You’re always there when I need you. I can’t believe how lucky we are to go through this together. Cheers to forever, I love you. xo

Leslie – You’re the only other person in the world most like me. I am so glad you got to be a part of this one. You handled Stella and everything as well, if not better, than I would have myself. But then again, of course you did. Thank you for being so amazing. I love you so much and marvel at all you can accomplish. What can’t you do? xo

Mom & Dad – You too came when I needed you to. Mom you also gave me permission to be overwhelmed. I needed that. It helped me set the tone for my own expectations, and gave me the confidence I needed to tackle handling both girls. You shaped me, and I hope to do as good of a job for our girls. I love you both, see you soon. xo

Nana & Nanu – Not much I can put into words here. I couldn’t do it without you. I will never be able to repay your generosity of time, your selfless willingness to help, and the inherent trust I have knowing the girls are in the best hands. I love you both very much. My gratitude is marrow-deep. xo

Ralph – I found you and now we’ve built a family. You’re the best Dad I know. From late night get ups, to launching your own business teaching others how to swaddle ;), to hair bows in your hair – you’re all in, 100% of the time. Thank you for walking this road with me. I love you  more than anything. It has and always will begin and end with you. xo

Stella & Wren – You’re both everything I ever wanted. When I was little I didn’t dream about my wedding. Watching you both grow alongside of Daddy and I matches the snapshots I’ve carried in my head, of what I hoped would be my future. You + Daddy are what I dreamed of. I love you forever. xo

 

 

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An Introduction.

9 Sep

 

Welcome to Luella says. I have been meaning to get this up and running forever now but just couldn’t find the time. Ok, in truth I just got married and was my own wedding planner. Needless to say I was a bit busy. Anyway, it is a personal perspective on life and fashion. In order for that to make sense to those of you who don’t know me, read the introduction below and become acquainted. Everyone is an expert on their own life, I have been fortunate, through my professional career, to become an expert on fashion as well.

My mother always told me, “life is a series of choices” and so I followed that mantra and still do. When I graduated from college in 2001, I was a bit lost. Up until that point there was an unspoken formula to follow. Go to school, go to college, graduate and get a job. What no one tells you though, is just how difficult it is to find a job you are happy with and qualified for at the same time.  I had done well in college but the marketplace for new graduates in 2001 was terrible. I moved back home to Wisconsin from Arizona and needed guidance. What next? I was lucky to have a Mom who I considered a good barometer on life. She told me to make a wish list of my dream jobs and to think big. Life is about taking risks and I decided I was going to follow my heart. I went to task on my list, laughing a bit along the way figuring none of these organizations were even going to glance at my limited resume. Well I was wrong. Marie Claire magazine offered me a post-graduate internship to work underneath the Fashion Merchandising Editor in the sample closet. In actuality, I had to pay $600 for graduate credits to be able to work there for free. Somehow that didn’t seem right, but it was the push that got me to move to New York City and officially begin my foray into fashion.

I had never been to New York but it was on my “life list” and so like a scene out of Felicity, I flew there, took a taxi and when dropped off at the curb looked up and realized this is my life now, put your head down and make something of yourself. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE has to put their time in. I worked at Marie Claire for five months, even though originally I was supposed to work for three. I kept thinking I would weasel myself into the ranks here eventually. The issue was this job was for college credit which I didn’t need and didn’t pay a salary or offer benefits of any kind. (Sidebar…I did get to go the Christmas party at Tavern on the Green though which was an amazing experience.) Anyway, I was working 60 hours a week, LOVING my job and exposure to everything fashion but struggling to stay afloat monetarily in Manhattan. I was 22, young, passionate and desperate for a salaried job. Finally through a reference from the Accessories Editor at Marie Claire,  I got a job at Rafe New York as the Assistant to the Vice President and Sales and Marketing Director. I loved both of these jobs so much. I was exposed to everything imaginable because in essence that is New York living. After a year I decided I was not a New Yorker. I moved to Los Angeles, another destination on my “life list”. I was Coast surfing and landed in Beverly Hills on Almont Drive with my childhood best friend, Kelly.

LA was much more my scene. I didn’t realize how much I longed for space, grass, sunshine and the ability to drive my own car. I LOVE New York, I think it is one of the best cities in the world but not to live in, at least not for me. I got a job working in a multi-line showroom downtown in the fashion district and was on my way to building my career again. After working for almost 3 years for 8 different designers, I got the opportunity to open a US Showroom for a Danish women’s designer collection, Casch Copenhagen. It really was my dream job. I flew to Denmark and gave my business plan to the “suits” so to speak and they said yes! What an experience. I have since spent the last 5.5 years moving from Account Executive, to National Sales & Brand Manager to Director of Sales. I have weathered many highs and lows with this company. I loved loved loved my job. I put everything into it. I took an almost scientific approach to the business.  The fashion industry has too many showrooms, too many brands, too many designers etc. I knew the importance of being at the helm of a European indie brand and relished all the opportunities that came along with it.

Things have recently changed in my life. My scope has shifted. Maybe it is getting married, maybe it is the internal company struggle we went through these last 1.5 years or maybe it is the realization I need to move on to a new challenge. I am not sure but I will always believe working for Casch Copenhagen, Groa, Gro a Live and By Gro Abrahamsson changed my life. I will always be grateful. Thank you to those who remained constant, you gave me an experience unlike anything I thought I would have growing up in a small town in Wisconsin. So looking forward I move on to the next chapter.

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