A Three Part Journey. Part 1: The Ego

A short note:  As I was contemplating writing this post, I realized that there was a strong possibility that the post could end up being quite lengthly.  As a result, I decided to tell this story in three parts:
1. The Ego - provides background information on a struggle I recently faced at work. 
2. It's Complicated - a realization that we are human, and being human, stress can affect us in many ways 
3. Lessons Learned - summary of what I learned from the struggle

Hope you enjoy :)

After I returned to work from maternity leave, I decided that I was going to be a "Mom" first and put my career on hold.  That lasted, oh, about 3 weeks, when I was approached about a position that really fit my interests and had a lot of opportunity for growth.  About 5 weeks after I was made aware of the position, I was offered and accepted the position as a Program Manager for new technology development initiatives and proudly went to work each day eager to learn.  On one hand, I thought I was crazy; I accepted a position with WAY more responsibility, customer visability, travel requirements and did I mention I was trying to learn how to balance being a working mother and wife?  On the other hand, I was excited to learn; everything was new and I approached each day in my usual passionate, energetic and bubbly fashion. 

That energy carried me through eight months in to the position, until I was faced with a challenge.  My first real challenge.  Unfortunately, I was faced with an extremely difficult customer.  In an ideal world, your customer would be more of a partner, where you work together to achieve their goals and everyone ends up in a 'win-win' scenario.  That's the "Steven Covey" scenario and it was clear that just wasn't what I was handed.   I soon realized the importance of clear and concise communication - both oral and written.  If I had a phone conversation with my customer, I immediately followed up with an email documenting our discussion so there was a paper trail.  Any proactive steps I took to quickly come up with a solution to a problem or request, was soon transformed into reactive scramble due to her unwillingness to cooperate or pure oversight.  I was slightly relieved to see that I wasn't the only person who had this problem - it seems that every person she dealt with had the same impression I had (which was a relief!!)

Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things, her dislike or displeasure with our company showed in our evaluation from the big customer.  I wasn't pleased, and in fact,when I saw the evaluation, tears filled my eyes.  Suddenly all of the hard work, technology development and advancement our team achieved over the past year was completely overshadowed by a misunderstanding that caused her to be relentless in the evaluation.

After the tears and disappointment passed, a new found passion emerged.  I was determined to get this right.  This customer recently told me how she had her last PM fired and I was determined not to let that happen to me.  I developed a written response to the evaluation and presented it to my senior leadership team.  Before presenting, my dear hubby (who works for the same company), sent me an IM  "Stay strong, don't lose your temper. If you do, you'll lose credibility.  Talk slow.  They will understand. You'll be great"  I did just as he said and even emerged at the end with a smile.  I believe my concluding remark was "Boy, have I learned a lot!" 

I was afraid of the response from my leadership team, however they were more than supportive and completely understood the difficult situation. One of my mentors came in to my office about a week after this happend; the conversation was less than pleasant.  To caveat, I have a great deal of respect for this person, so I was quite baffled as the conversation progressed.  It went something like this...(and I'm only skimming the high points):

Mentor: You need to set your ego aside and fix this. 
Me (thinkig): Ego? Did he say ego? Did he say big ego? Really? Me. Ego?

I don't know if I even heard much more of the conversation after this.  But I do remember:

Me (thinking): Ego? Seriously?
Mentor: Welcome to the real world.  This is a real job. If you want happy-go-lucky and everything-is-perfect, go back to what you were doing before. 
Me (thinking): Did he say Ego? (Wall starting to go up...still thinking...) Whoa...did he just diss my old jobs? How does he know what I did and that it was insignificant to this job?  Really. Ego. Hmm.

Yes, all of that was in one conversation.  Talk about MOTIVATING!  At that moment, I had no clue what had just happened.  This person that I admired and respected, came in to give me a pep talk and all it did was completely demotivate me. 

Well, I grabbed the bull by the horns and am happy to report that I (think) I've turned the situation around.  The difficult customer was assigned to a new role and I am now working with a new customer.  We had a face-to-face crucial conversation where I explained the difficulties that I and the team experienced in the previous year and developed a business rhythm to keep him informed. 

As far as The Ego goes, I learned alot about myself from that one, simple statement and am actually grateful to my mentor for saying those words.  Come back for Part 3 on Friday to learn about what I learned from this entire experience.  I will say it circles back to Maya Angelou's saying 'When You Learn, Teach." And a shout out to Oprah's article "Oprah's Biggest Aha Moment Yet - and How It Could Lead To Yours."  (It's all interconnected - read that article today as I was waiting for a test you'll read about tomorrow in Part 2). 


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving 2011! 

Wishing all of you a few quiet moments to among the hustle, bustle and excitement of the holiday season to reflect on the many blessings of life! 


Tell Me About Yourself Blog Award

A big THANK YOU and smile :) goes out to Julianne from Sew Fantastic for awarding me with the "Tell Me About Yourself" blog award!!  I was so excited when I found out earlier this week and couldn't wait to pass it on to others!!

There are only two rules for this award...share 7 interesting facts about me and pass on to 15 other bloggers.

7 Things About Me
1. I am an over-achiever go-getter
2. I LOVE Christmas...and I mean LOVE! I'm the person who starts listening to Christmas music in July.
3. I married my high-school sweetheart and have been with him for more than half my life...and I'm only 29.
4. I love to cook and tried out for 'The Next Food Network Star'. (Stay tuned for my famous New Year's Dinner recipe!)
5. I was born on my Grandmother's birthday and plan to write a book about her one day, thus you can say I'm an aspiring author.
6. I've been on National TV.  The Hubby and I went to a taping of 'The View' and they selected us to tape the commercial. The Hubby messed up his lines so I got 3 minutes of fame!
7. Of all the things I love, and there are many, I love being a Mama, most of all!!

I now pass this award on to these 15 AMAZING BLOGGERS!! 

1. Bumber's Bumblings
2. Huppie Mama
3. Mama Do It All
4. Modern Mommy Magic
5. Mommy Bags
6. A Mom Just Winging It
7. The Epic Adventures of a Modern Mom
8. 20 Going on 80
9. Little Mudpies
10. Peace Love Recipes
11. Simply Kelly B
12. Never a Dull Moment
13. The Domesticated Mama
14. Mommy with Selective Memory
15. Mama's Musings

Thanks again Julianne!!


PHD? Not This Time!

I finally did it! I mastered PHD syndrome - Projects Half Done, that is!

This journey started back in May when a Groupon was offered for The Little Shop. The Little Shop is a quaint quilting and sewing shop located in beautiful downtown Haddonfield, NJ.  I wanted to learn more about sewing so I purchased the Groupon for myself and my friend, Jennifer.  

As I periodically scanned their class schedules, one class caught my eye - the Amy Butler Sunday Sling

A lover of Vera Bradley bags, I knew I just had to sign up for this class.  The class schedule was quite enticing, as well.  The class met every Thursday from 7-9 for 3 weeks and at the end of the class, you had a bag.  Really?  Knowing my track record for completing projects, I was a bit skeptical.  Keep in mind I have a quilt that is nearly complete and about 20 knitting projects stashed in our guest bedroom a.k.a. the craft room

It turns out, the class stayed true to its promise. In just 3 weeks and a total of 7.5 hours, I completed the bag.  We were all shocked, even the dear hubby who said "Get the hell out of here! You completed it!"

The class is perfect for working mothers who want a night out with minimal commitment to do homework outside of class.  Our instructor, Debbie, was fantastic as well.  She was extremely laid back, easy going and was extremely helpful stepping through the various steps and even helping us with our mistakes.  She even taught Jen how to measure! ;)  (Poor Jen, a brilliant individual, yet she had the most difficult time measuring and cutting fabric to the correct pattern size.) 

Jennifer and Kim

Debbi with Cindy and Lana
Cindy Anxiously Turning her Bag

Lana and Cindy Proudly Showcasing Their Creations
A big Thank You goes out to Debbie and The Little Shop for helping me overcome PHD!!  To my new friends Cindy, Kim and Lana, I greatly enjoyed our conversation and company!  Hope to see you in the next class!  Happy Sewing!


Work Love Pray Book Online Book Club

I was navigating through my dashboard on Thursday night and saw a blog post that caught my eye "Why I'm Leading the Work Love Pray Online Bookclub" by Susan DiMickele.

I just said a few weeks ago that if I had more time (hahaha), I would start or try to find/participate in a book club.  And I also realized that while my blog is titled 'The Diary of a Working Mother', I have focused thus far on balancing the "home" portion and not much effort has been spent detailing the challenges of dealing with the work force.  After I saw the schedule, there was no way I could resist.

The book club will be meeting every Tuesday at 4Word to discuss the books over the next six weeks:
     November 15: Chapters 1-3
     November 22: Chapters 4-6
     November 29: Chapters 7-9
     December 6: Chapters 10-12
     December 13: Chapters 13-15
     December 20: Chapters 16-18

Best of all, you leave your comments on the 4Word blog and don't need to worry if you fall behind! The 4Word website was founded by the author, Diane Paddison, and is a "national nonprofit designed to connect, lead and support young professional Christian women to fulfill their God-given potential."

I went to Amazon, ordered my copy and read the first chapter yesterday (yes, within 24 hours the book was here!) After I read the first question for reflection, I knew I made the right decision in adding yet another activity to my already over-committed schedule (I'm being totally serious!)

1st question: Describe your dream job - either one that you already have, or one that you wish you could have.  

So how about it? Are you up for participating in a book club that will prompt you to look inward and hopefully provide some tips/tricks for balancing and climbing that corporate ladder with Mommy-hood?  I know I am :)

Hope to see you there!


Vacation = Cleaning?

I blinked in July and somehow traveled through time to land in November.  Where did the past four months go?  I traveled the US from San Diego to Hawaii to Chicago and back to Philly for work forcing the Hubby to play Mr. Mom while I was away.  Needless to say, the past few months have been quite hectic.

During that time, we had to prioritize and the house was at the bottom of the list.  We were doing the bare minimum to get by with a semi-clean house, but it seemed as though any free time we had at home, we spent cleaning.  Not fun.

Two weeks ago, the hubby and I decided to take two vacation days - Friday and Monday to give us a four day weekend.  We sent Roland to daycare and tackled the house.  We cleaned, we sorted, we snuck in a few naps and prepped the house for the upcoming holiday season.  After spending some much needed time and attention to the house, we seem to be functioning much better as a family.  Why? Because everything has a place and there is a place for everything!

We have one room left to tackle (the den) and a few bins of baby gear to sort through and after that - we will be finished!  We truly had a great time spending two days together without interruption and are committed to doing so more often!!


Picky Eater? Perhaps Not.

Until today, I was thoroughly confused as to how Roland could be a good eater throughout the day, and yet such a picky eater at dinner time.  Dinner time is not pleasant.  At all.  At least, not pleasant 80% of the time.   And thus, I often wonder if we're putting our kiddo to bed hungry...

He loves a wide variety of food including avocados, greek yogurt (referred to as "Yo-Yo"), salmon patties and asparagus (yeah, I know...not the typical foods you would think a 1.5 year old would like). We sat down for dinner tonight hopeful that the left over beef braciole would be a hit, but were not surprised when he pushed it away and said "Noooooo".  

As I was preparing his lunch/snacks for tomorrow, I calculated the calories in his favorite daily sandwich - the PB&J.  340 calories between 1tbsp of jelly, 2tbsp of peanut butter and the bread!  I started to wonder how many calories he consumes throughout the day.   By the time we reach 4:00 PM, he consumes nearly 1100 calories!  I did some research on the internet at found out that he should be consuming 1000 calories in a day. (Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Appendix 6) Perhaps he's just not hungry for dinner, and we were interpreting his lack of hunger as a picky 1.5 year old! 

That makes sense.  The fact that he eats a wide variety of foods throughout the day and doesn't appear to be interested at dinner supports my new found hypothesis.  It could also explain why Roland gets up so early in the morning (5:30 am after a 7:30 pm bedtime); it could be that he's hungry! I plan to test my hypothesis throughout the week and will report back next Sunday to see if my new theory holds. 

(I am by no means a calorie counter (in fact, if asked today, couldn't even tell you how many calories I should be consuming); I do know how important it is for Roland to get the proper nutrition so that he can grow mentally and physically.)