Archive of ‘WORK IT’ category

Not a Bit of Decent Pimento Cheese Anywhere

We moved to Chicago and I can barely believe it.

Being Southern is ingrained in Will and I. From the tops of our heads to the tips of our toes and down deep in our souls, we are the South.

We thought our kids would be the same. We imagined them to grow up saying yes ma’am and no sir and y’all. They would have snappy, colorful fashion sense and enjoy their grits and one day their bourbon. They would love a good Steeplechase and a tasteful monogram.

And maybe they still will. But for now, we’ve left the South. And one week in, all I can complain about is that you can’t buy a decent pimento cheese anywhere. The rest of this town is fantastic!

We’re temporarily living in Streeterville with views that will drop your jaw. Here’s what you can see from our living room at night.

Streeterville Night View

We’ve walked to the grocery store, the neighborhood Italian joint, and (three times a day) to the dog park. There’s a playground in downtown where Clara totally flipped her lid. The Chicago Children’s Museum is colossal and the Shedd Aquarium has penguins. What more could a kid desire?

One week in we feel exhilarated by our ultra-urban lifestyle. And while we know the new will eventually wear off and we’ll be grateful for a new version of city living that caters more to families than tourists, we plan to live it up in the meantime.

I’m going to try to write! Not just for the other Southern ex-pats here in Chicago who might relate to my tale. Not just for our friends and family back in Nashville who have asked for a glimpse into life here. But because I believe there aren’t enough women executives talking about both their careers and their families. You see, we moved here for my job. I’m the newly-appointed General Manager of the Chicago and LA offices of my company, Critical Mass. I love that for the rest of my kids’ lives, when they speak of the adventure of living in Chicago, they’ll say we did it for “mom’s big job”. I feel so proud and humbled to have been given the responsibility of the health and future of our office here. And I’m ready to take this town by storm!

That’s all for now. I’ve got to have the grocery delivery folks add a few ingredients to our cart so we can whip up some Masters-Style Pimento Cheese. Where there’s a Will (capital W intended), there’s a way.

– Julia

Ladies, Take Your Power Seats

Take The Lead ChallengeWell hello! Sorry for the blogging hiatus. I’ve got a good reason. Details on that forthcoming.

Working women of the Interwebs, I’ve got your “Lean In” opportunity for the day, week, month! Tomorrow night, February 19th, there is a free webinar featuring, among others, Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook and author of the best-selling book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. So those kids to bed, get yourself a glass of vino, and settle in with your computer for an evening that will inspire!

The event is happening at Arizona State University but anyone with a computer and Internet connection can tune in at 8pm EST / 7pm CST/ 6pm MST / 5pm PST. I myself am hosting a bunch of ambitious young ladies from my company at my home for the evening. Should be fun!

Here’s a summary of the agenda. More detail can be found here:

  • Welcomes from a variety of Take the Lead and Arizona State peeps
  • Tools for Success: The Power of Authenticity by Carla Harris, Morgan Stanley Managing Director
  • Panel Discussion: See It, Be It: Impact of Media on Women’s Leadership by 6 impressive women from the media sector
  • Sheryl Sandberg’s Keynote Speech and Q&A
  • Call to Action: Take the Lead Challenge and Presentation of Takeaway Gift by Gloria Felt

Online attendees get the takeaway gift as well so be sure to register to attend so your email address is on file.

If you can’t make the webinar tomorrow night, the Take the Lead organization sounds like an interesting one to follow. Their mission is to “prepare, develop, inspire and propel women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025″. This webinar is their big launch event but they seem to have lots of community and mentoring opportunities in the works, the likes of which will surely be touted at the end of the webinar tomorrow night.

If you tune in, let me know your thoughts!


Snapshots of My Heart, Taken When I’m Not There

Clara and The General

This touching photo of Clara relaxing with our 19-year-old pug “The General” appeared on the private Facebook group we use to share photos with family today. It made me smile. Then it made me wince. This is the life of a working mom sometimes, when the most touching moment you experience of your child all day is relayed by your nanny’s iPhone camera. I was not there to see it for myself.

I thought about this photo on my ride home for a long time today. I had left the office at 5:15, proud of myself for keeping my commitment to myself and our nanny Kayla to be home at a certain hour (my husband Will travels for work constantly so Kayla is at the mercy of my sometimes chaotic work schedule). Then cursed traffic struck and the commute I had thought would take 20 minutes took over 40. As I watched the minutes tick by on my dashboard clock, I thought about the fact that I would get less than 1 hour with my daughter before bedtime once I arrived home. Less than 1 hour!

In this photo she looks so safe and happy, content to study her block and babble to her old and sleepy dog. She’s got considerable dog hair on her leggings, evidence of an afternoon of productive, messy play in our hairy den. We work hard and have had some good luck and these things have contributed to our ability to hire a nanny that makes her feel safe and happy. I’m so grateful for this and the fact that Kayla takes the time to photograph Clara for us.

When I finally conquered the traffic and walked through the door tonight, Clara started to squeal from the other room and quickly toddled into the kitchen to put her arms in the air and reach for a hug. This must be what heaven feels like, right?! As Kayla put on her coat and gathered her keys, Clara reached for a goodbye snuggle from her before returning to my arms. Clara loves her “La-La” … how wonderful is that?

On days like today I can’t help but wonder what it would feel like to be a stay-at-home mom. Right now I am fulfilled by my work. I love developing my team. I’m exhilarated by the start of a new marketing assignment. I’m challenged by my boss to run a financially healthy account for our company. My clients, my colleagues and my company are truly terrific. If I subtracted that from my life and added in new discoveries in fine motor and language, budding friendships, counting and reading, trying new foods, dancing and laughter, tears and tantrums, and countless trips to the zoo, library, museum, park and potty, would something seem to be missing? Or would I miss work at all? Would I wince when former colleagues shared stories of new clients won-over or award-winning campaigns launched when I wasn’t there? I honestly don’t know.

My work is fulfilling and not to mention a really good living. But motherhood is joy. Today, thanks to some great people in my life, I get to have it all. The balance may not always be what I want. Between 9 and 5, I may have to settle for nothing but snapshots of the thing I care about most. But the truth is, right now, the blessings in my life knock me flat on my ass if I think about them long enough. I’m content – really, truly content. And lucky. And grateful to God.