I Played Hooky Today-and It Was Ok

Today’s blog post represents a new beginning for Mommy, ESQ.
In an effort to give you different perspectives from working moms across all sorts of professions, we’ve been recruiting working moms to write for us from all walks of life.

Today, we bring you a post from our newest Mommy, ESQ. blogger, Mary Caligiure. Mary is a working mom to an amazing eight month-old baby, Amadeo. She’s also a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist. I have known Mary for many years now, and she’s incredibly giving, smart and hard-working. She’s a great addition to our team. 

Mary, on behalf of Mommy, ESQ., we’re so happy to have you writing for us!


“I’m sorry. I’m not feeling well. I’m going to have to take a sick day.” This was the monumental decision that I made at 6:00 AM this morning. I decided to play hooky from work. Some may call it a personal day. Some may call it a mental health day. Whatever the name, I did it.

This decision was not come by easily. I work in an extremely demanding field (who doesn’t?!) where decisions that I make on a daily basis could affect the safety and well-being of a child-of many children. I find myself, in this position, worrying constantly whether the decisions that I make could result in a child being severely neglected or abused. No pressure. In reality, am I fully responsible? Of course not. But the truth is I care very passionately about my work and the children who I oversee and could not live with myself if something happened on my watch. So, I feel responsible.

Usually my job permits me to leave at an hour where I can get home in time to spend at least 30 minutes with my baby before he starts to melt down and needs to be put to bed for the night. Although slim, I cherish those 30 minutes that I get. Over the last few weeks, though, I was required to work late nights, resulting in my only seeing my 8 month year old son for a brief amount of time in the morning as I was rushing to get ready for work and for a brief moment in the middle of the night when he needed his dream feeding. I missed him. I missed snuggling him and smelling his head. I would ask my wife, who I am lucky enough to have as a stay-at-home mom, if she would send me pictures and videos throughout the day, just to briefly squelch those urges to leave work and rush home prematurely. Those “fixes” were only momentary, however, and finally, last night, I rushed through the door to try to catch my son for five minutes before he had to go to bed, and burst into tears. I hated not seeing him and having my, albeit small, quality time with him when I came home from work. Something had to give. In that moment, I informed my wife that I was quitting my job and we would have to find a way to live off the land. Perhaps I watch too much Alaskan Bush People-but I digress.

We, as mothers, feel that no one can care for our child as well as we can. So we like to take on more responsibility in caring for our child without asking for help-even at the expense of our own emotional and physical well-being. At my job, I feel the same. I feel like if I’m not at work, concerns will go unaddressed, things will not happen as they should, and the entire agency will fall apart. Am I a narcissist? I don’t consider myself one. I just feel responsible.

But something amazing happened today. I “called out sick.” I decided to take the time I so desperately needed to play with my baby, feed him, sniff his head, and kiss his cheeks about 1000 times (you would too. They really are bitable cheeks!). I allowed myself one day to not feel guilty for not going to work and for fibbing about my illness. I allowed myself the freedom to fully and whole-heartedly enjoy my mid-week day off with my wife and my baby. The most amazing part-nothing catastrophic happened at work. (I may have spoken to my boss at the end of the day just to check in). My staff continued to do what they always do. My clients continued to do what they always do. It was ok. Will I have to work a little bit harder tomorrow to catch up on what I missed today? Sure. But I will be able to go into work tomorrow with more focus, more energy, and more motivation than I was two days ago. I will be able to

go in to the office with the memories I created today with my baby, such as watching him giggle as my two dogs chased a ball in the back yard or watching him pull every book off of the book shelf as he explored each one with his little hands. I feel rejuvenated and, chances are that I will be even more productive tomorrow than I would have been in the two days combined had I not taken today off.

From this day off, I learned the importance of listening to my instincts. I learned the importance of taking time to stop, breathe, and focus on what’s really important. I learned that taking a day to spend quality time with my family is not something to feel guilty about and the world won’t come to a screeching halt if I need to take a day away from work. Is this something I will do all the time? No. I need a job and I understand the value of being able to provide for my family financially. But I also now know that periodically, I can play hooky-and it’s ok.


Chris Phone2Mary Caligiure is first and foremost a new mother to an amazing baby boy who is the light of her life. She and her wife enjoy spending time watching this little man as he begins to navigate and master this world trough play and exploration. Mary is also a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist and has been working in the mental health and child welfare field for the past nine years. She currently works in a supervisory position within the child welfare field with families who are struggling with mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, terminal illness, developmental delays, gang involvement, and various other psychosocial issues. To decompress, she loves spending time with her family, kissing her baby’s cheeks, sewing, reading, and working on various DIY Projects.

THINGS WE LOVE – Top Five Holiday Gifts for Working Moms

Whether you’re shopping for a working mom in your life or trying to come up with ideas for yourself that you can subtly drop to your significant other, we’re all searching for something this holiday season! As a working mom, I’m always on the hunt for products that will make my life easier and help me to spend more time focusing on my family instead of the office.

Here’s what I’m asking Santa for this year!

  1. A Smartphone Holder for the Stroller

Stroller Phone

I can speak from experience that this would be incredibly helpful for those of us that are expected to have access to our work e-mail outside of the office. It’s never fun to fumble through my pockets for my phone when I’m taking the girls for a stroll or try to push my stroller with one hand while I try (usually unsuccessfully) to type in my phone’s password. I’ve found these online and in Best Buy for about $40, and I think it’s an excellent gift of stocking stuffer for the working mom. The best part about it is that most of them can be attached to any type of handle, so you can also use it on your bike or treadmill.

 

  1. A Bluetooth Headset

Bluetooth headsetSo, this isn’t on my Christmas list this year…because I already bought it on Black Friday. And, I can tell you from experience that this should be at the top of all of your lists. Before getting my headset, I always felt like I needed a third–or fourth–hand to juggle my phone. I’d get a client call while carrying my briefcase and a diaper bag. Or, someone would call while I was working from home and trying to change a diaper. It’s also just generally more convenient to not have to fidget with wires while wearing a winter coat and running to Port Authority for my commute home. I got the LG Tone Pro headset when I purchased my LG v10 smartphone this Black Friday. They’re about $49.99, and they totally do the trick. A must-have for the working mom this season!

Also, the LG v10 smartphone is totally worth it. As someone who basically uses her phone only to respond to e-mails and take pictures of her kids, it totally delivers.

 

  1. A Contigo Leak-proof Travel Mug

travel mugFor the working (and commuting) mom that loves her coffee, I totally recommend a Contigo travel mug. Priced at about $13, I think this makes the perfect stocking stuffer. Whether I’m making my own coffee at home or running to 7-11 before hitting the bus, I use this mug every day. It conveniently fits in my purse and doesn’t leak. I might even purchase another one before the season is out!

 

  1. A Commuter Tote Bag

toteWhat working mom couldn’t stand to upgrade the bag she commutes with? I’ve been hunting down the perfect commuter tote bag this year that won’t break the bank. I mean, I’d happily accept a Louis Vuitton Neverfull tote, but I don’t exactly have a thousand dollars to blow on a new tote bag. I also have a pretty serious L.L. Bean problem obsession, so I’m asking Santa for this red leather Town and Field Tote from L.L. Bean online ($179.00 + free shipping). There are also some really cute options from Stella & Dot for the working mom in your life.

 

  1. A Family Photoshoot

Portrait  (73)Perhaps I can’t speak for all working moms out there, but there’s nothing more special to me than our family photos. I spend a lot of time away from home, and I love being able to show my co-workers, clients, and friends professional photos of my kids. I keep them on my phone, and I frame them and keep them in my office. They cheer me up on my roughest days at work. It’s a great (and often overlooked) gift to give to a working mom. We live in New Jersey and swear by What a Pretty Picture. The photographer, Tabitha Arce, is very reasonably-priced, and I’ve never seen her take a bad picture. We’ll be booking her for all of our family photoshoots, birthday parties, christenings, etc. to come! (Tabitha, if you’re reading this…Emily’s first birthday is coming up and we’re 100% booking you for it!) If you’re in the tri-state area and interested in booking this service for the working mom in your life, I would totally reach out. She’s exceptional!


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Today’s post is brought to you by Lisa Marie Lanham, the founder of Mommy, ESQ. Lisa is also an associate in the Consumer Finance Regulatory practice of a large New York City law firm. She loves her job, her family, and helping working moms find a balance between the growing demands of a family and a successful, full-time career. She has trained with the International Maternity Institute and offers group and one-on-one maternity coaching to all working moms. If you’re interested in learning more, you can reach her by commenting below, e-mailing Mommy_ESQ@outlook.com, or posting on any of Mommy, ESQ.’s social media pages.

WAKE UP WEDNESDAY – BE EXCITED FOR YOUR LIFE!

Today’s Thought:
If your life was a movie, would you go see the sequel?


I’ll admit it: I had a little bit of writer’s block for today’s #WakeUpWednesday post. I’m usually struggling with something at this point in the week. Whether it’s difficult client work, Emily’s crazy sleep habits, Mary Pat being sick, or feeling exhausted because I’m dealing with some of these things, I’m usually begging for Friday by now. It’s easy to identify a helpful #WakeUpWednesday topic when I’m struggling with something. It’s not so easy to whip something up when things are going well. What’s more, I thought that this week would be the easiest week to write something because I’m dealing with all of these things. Instead, I’m waking up feeling present, excited for each day, refreshed, and devoid of anything to write about.

I realized this morning that what I should be writing about is exactly how I’ve been feeling-excited for my life.

When I sit down and think about it, my life is rather monotonous. I wake up every morning get dressed, eat breakfast, commute, work all day, commute and then come home to eat dinner with my family and go to bed. How is it that I’m so excited every day? How have I managed to find such joy in what some would find to be horribly boring?

Although it’s always possible that this is just holiday cheer and I’ll get back to my usual, “struggling for balance” self in 2016, this feels more permanent, and I think it’s the product of some changes that I made in my life and schedule while Mommy, ESQ. was on hiatus. It’s a significant and life-altering shift, and one that I think all of us need to experience in order to joyfully experience what I’ve termed “working motherhood.”

If you aren’t excited or charged up about what you’re doing, you may experience financial success or raise amazing children, but you’re doing it at the expense of your emotional and physical health. If that’s the case, why do it at all? Why not live a life you’re excited about? Or, before rearranging your whole life, why not try instituting some small changes that allow you to have the time, energy, and perspective to feel that excitement?

This is your challenge for the next week: Savor every moment of your life. Feel more, love deeper, and laugh harder. Make the following changes and see if it doesn’t improve your current attitude towards your job, motherhood, and life:

  1. Have a “pre-mortem” meeting with yourself.  You’ve all heard of a post-mortem meeting, right? It’s when you meet after having gone through something and analyze what went wrong, what went right, what could have gone better, etc. Instead, have a pre-mortem meeting with yourself. Think about the portions of your days that stress you out and plan ahead on how to eliminate them. For example, my mornings stress me out the most. Emily is a terrible sleeper and would wake up as soon as she heard me trying to get dressed, making my coffee, packing my lunch, and running out the door. I hate leaving her as it is; it’s that much harder when I have to leave her and she’s screaming for Mommy to come pick her up. In order to minimize the noise and time spent putzing around in the morning getting myself together, I started planning my outfits for the week on Sunday night and hanging them close to the bathroom, where I can get dressed. I started charging my phone and leaving my bag in a more convenient place by the front door with my shoes. I started packing my lunch and setting the timer on my coffee pot the night before. Not only does it keep Emily sound asleep, but also I can wake up later and have a great, stress-free start to my day. You can “pre-mortem” plan for any and all aspects of your life. And, eliminating these stressors will certainly give you the time, space, and energy to feel more excited for your life! I actually got the idea to start doing this from an amazing TED Talk that you can view by clicking this link.
  2. Take Care of Your Body and Health.  I know that you can all agree that the first thing to go when you’re a working mom is your care for your own body and health. Who has time to take care of themselves when there’s a baby or toddler that needs you and hasn’t seen you all day? I can’t stress enough how important this is. Take your vitamins. Shower regularly. Wash your hair. Instead of staying up late after the kids go to bed so you can have a moment to yourself, get a decent night’s sleep. I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now, and I feel like a human again. I’ve even been adding in a little extra B-12, and it’s done amazing things for my psyche and my waistline. When you take care of yourself, you feel better about yourself. And, you have the physical and mental ability to feel deep excitement and satisfaction with every aspect of your life.
  3. Spend…Time…With Your Partner. Okay, so the days of making love on the kitchen floor in the middle of the day may be over. But that doesn’t mean that every encounter needs to feel like “we have 20 minutes before the baby starts crying and it’s been two weeks since the last opportunity for it, we might as well just get this over with.” Be adventurous. Read the Kama Sutra. Get a babysitter. Do it regularly. It’ll be the best forty bucks on a sitter you’ve ever spent, and I guarantee you’ll start feeling excited for every day and like your “pre-working mommy” self again.

I wish you all a wonderful, productive, and exciting! end of the week. Happy Wednesday, mamas!


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Today’s post is brought to you by Lisa Marie Lanham, the founder of Mommy, ESQ. Lisa is also an associate in the Consumer Finance Regulatory practice of a large New York City law firm. She loves her job, her family, and helping working moms find a balance between the growing demands of a family and a successful, full-time career. She has trained with the International Maternity Institute and offers group and one-on-one maternity coaching to all working moms. If you’re interested in learning more, you can reach her by commenting below, e-mailing Mommy_ESQ@outlook.com, or posting on any of Mommy, ESQ.’s social media pages.

THINGS WE LOVE! – FIVE DIY MONTESSORI-STYLE GIFTS FOR INFANTS AND TODDLERS

As a working mom to a 2 and ½-year old and a 9-month old, I don’t think there is any time more awe-inspiring, wondrous, or stressful for me than the holidays. Not only am I dealing with the everyday strains of a busy fourth quarter, but I also have to find the time to figure out what to give my girls for Christmas. And, I’m always trying not to break the bank while doing it. (I’m finding this to be especially difficult because I’m trying to create the best First Christmas EVER for our youngest!)

Additionally, it’s always important for my husband and I to provide our girls with fun and interactive books, toys, and activities that encourage their independence and allow us to spend lots of time together as a family. As a working mom, it’s especially important for me to spend real, quality time with my daughters. I definitely see the value in technology; however, I want the time that I spend outside of the office to be filled with memories that will last a lifetime. For me, that means spending time playing dress up, running around, and getting my hands dirty with my little girls.

We’re Montessori parents, which means that we’ve carefully planned out our home as a learning environment. When we moved into our home a year ago, we designed a playroom that promotes independence and free play and caters to our girls’ natural curiosity. We packed this room with discovery stations and toys, and we spend lots of time playing with them in there. This Christmas, we’re looking to expand this environment into the rest of our home and have spent lots of time researching how best to do this. It’s going to take a little creativity, DIY, and effort on our parts, but we’ve discovered that we can easily expand this Montessori learning environment into the rest of our house without breaking the bank. And, we couldn’t wait to share our research with you!

The list below contains our top five Montessori-style gifts for infants and toddlers, and we hope that it’ll give you some gift ideas as we sleigh ride into this holiday season!

  1. A Star Box for Infants

Star Box.jpg

For the cost of a cardboard box, some extra Christmas lights, and a pair of scissors, you can create a Star Box for your infant and/or toddler. I can’t wait to put this together. I really think our youngest, Emily, is going to get a kick out of it. She’s mesmerized by anything and everything bright and shiny! All you need to do is poke some holes in the top of the box, stick your Christmas lights through the hole, plug it in and let your little one crawl around. I even think our oldest, Mary Pat, is going to love it!

  1. An Animal Discovery Box

Animal Discovery Box

If I’m being honest, it doesn’t take much to entertain our toddler. Sure, she loves her YouTube Kids app on my phone, but she’s just as thrilled by books, flash cards, and figurines. She’s going through a phase where she LOVES animals. So, this Christmas, we’re going to make her an animal discovery box. Print out some pictures of animals, paste them to index cards, and get some animal figurines, and you’ve got the makings for a GREAT Montessori discovery box. I’d even recommend laminating the index cards. If your toddlers are anything like mine, they’re going to want to play with these while drinking a juice box or eating a snack, and laminating them protects them against ruin! For about $15 maximum, you, too, can give your infants and toddlers hours of great learning and fun!

  1. A Kitchen Prep Station and Table

Kitchen Prep Station.jpg

My husband is a classically-trained chef, and Mary Pat always wants to help him cook. We’re super excited to set up a prep station for her this Christmas because she’s finally hitting the age where she can get involved in the process. We’ve been working with her on her listening skills, and she’s beginning to take directions very well. We’re going to set up a little wooden table for her in our kitchen and put a cutting board on it. That’ll be her “prep station.” We’re also going to set up a drawer in our kitchen where all of her kitchen utensils will be. She’ll have plastic knives, measuring cups, a vegetable peeler, etc. We envision her using this prep station when my husband cooks at night, as well as during meal and snack times throughout the day. The goal is for her to learn to feed herself. I think this is a great idea and learning tool, and I can’t wait to get her started!

  1. A Pull Up Bar

Pull Up Bar

I am most excited about setting up this pull up bar and mirror for Emily. We’re currently in negotiations about where to place the pull up bar in our home; however, I’m thinking we can modify the version above to be more portable. I’ve seen some renditions of this on the Internet where parents make a free-standing pull up bar in front of a mirror, rather than attaching it to a wall. Emily is just getting to the point where she’s starting to pull herself up on anything she can find (couches, steps, the dogs…). She’s also enchanted by her own reflection. I truly believe this will be one of her most favorite gifts this Christmas. And, the best part about this is, the whole thing costs about $10! It’s the perfect gift for our little angel baby!

  1. Locks and Latches Sets

Latches and Locks

We’re going to try to make some of these a little bit more complicated for Mary Pat, but you can get a sense for what our plan is from the picture above. I think we’re going to make these on our own to keep the cost down; however, you can totally find them on the Internet by searching for “Montessori locks and latches.” The goal of the toy is to get your infant or toddler to use his/her natural curiosity to figure out how to open and close the locks. By making an easier and a more complicated set, we’re hoping that our girls can play with them together and teach each other how to use them. I think it’s going to be a great way to strengthen their problem-solving skills and foster some sisterly-love!


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Today’s post is brought to you by Lisa Marie Lanham, the founder of Mommy, ESQ. Lisa is also an associate in the Consumer Finance Regulatory practice of a large New York City law firm. She loves her job, her family, and helping working moms find a balance between the growing demands of a family and a successful, full-time career. She has trained with the International Maternity Institute and offers group and one-on-one maternity coaching to all working moms. If you’re interested in learning more, you can reach her by commenting below, e-mailing Mommy_ESQ@outlook.com, or posting on any of Mommy, ESQ.’s social media pages.

Wake Up Wednesday – Do Your Best

Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements


Yes, it’s Thursday. Yes, this is a #WakeUpWednesday post. No, I did not intentionally wait to post this until today given the topic.

I did, however, wake up this morning believing that this is a good opportunity to share this post with you, as many of you out there have unrealistic expectations for yourself when it comes to “doing your best.”

What does it mean to do your best? It’s something I’ve mentioned on this blog before. It’s discussed in The Four Agreements. It’s a topic on many people’s lips every day. My father, for example, is constantly telling me, “Lisa, you can only do your best. That’s all anyone can do.” I’ve heard the phrase and used the phrase hundreds–if not thousands–of times before, and I don’t think I’ve ever truly stopped to contemplate what that means. I’m stopping today to delve into what “doing your best” means for all of us because I haven’t believed that I’ve done my best this week, and I don’t know if that’s necessarily true.

The fourth quarter is notoriously a busy time for me as a consumer finance regulatory attorney. I have renewal applications for licenses for all of my clients; I have quarterly and annual filings that need to be made; I have billable hours to worry about; I’m trying to plan for the days that I need to work from home around the holidays. As a mom, I’m starting to worry about where I’m spending the holidays and what I’m going to get my husband and daughters and family and friends for Christmas. I also typically (and do currently) feel run down around this time of year. I’m tired all of the time. I want to spend my free minutes recuperating from rough days at the office and the stresses of my personal responsibilities. I want to give my full and best attention to my husband and family and friends and clients and co-workers, but I find that I’m not always able to because I feel stretched-thin and run down.

I’ve been feeling a little bit this way recently, and, in the midst of all of these feelings, I missed my window of opportunity yesterday to post this #WakeUpWednesday blog. I chastised myself for not “doing my best,” for not “trying hard enough,” to work towards providing you all with helpful content. I thought to myself last night that “I failed” this week, but “I guess there’s always an opportunity next week to post something.” I’d hoped all of you out there in cyberspace would forgive me for my failures yesterday.

I woke up this morning, however, thinking that I might not have failed yesterday. I really did try my best yesterday to get to this post. It’s just that, yesterday, doing my best and managing all of my personal and professional responsibilities meant that I didn’t have an opportunity to give you all a #WakeUpWednesday.

So, I thought, let’s post a #WakeUpWednesday today that discusses what it means to do your best.

Let’s roll into this weekend after having paused for a moment this morning to think about whether we’re doing our best and see where we all wind up on the “Doing Your Best” spectrum.

For me, “doing my best” meets me wherever I am. If I’m sick, I can only do the best that a sick person can do. If I’m tired, I can only do the best that a tired person can do. If I’m happy, wonderous, well-rested, loving… Well, you get the point. You and I can only do the best that we can based upon the specific circumstances of each moment of our lives. In order to “do our best,” I don’t believe that we need to be superhuman–that we always need to give more than we have. We just have to be cognizant of what our goals are, we need to be sincere about wanting to do our best to reach those goals, we need to give our full energy in any given moment towards achieving those goals, and, finally, we need to forgive ourselves if we aren’t giving as much energy as we could on our absolute best day. If our “best” today falls short of what our absolute BEST is, we need to love ourselves through it and fight another day. We need to take time to heal and recuperate so we can give even more of ourselves at a later time.

Today, Friday, and every day, I am going to follow these rules. I am going to rest peacefully knowing that I’ve given my best attention to you, my clients, my family, and myself at any given moment and circumstance in my life.

Thank you for the opportunity to bring this #WakeUpWednesday post to you on this gloomy Thursday morning. Thank you for helping me to realize that I have done my best. And, thank you for continuing to read this Mommy, ESQ. blog. Your support means everything to me.

With love,

Mommy, ESQ.


How do you know you’ve done your best? What is your metric for measuring it?

What are your rules to follow?

Reach out to us by commenting below, e-mailing mommy_esq@outlook.com, or reaching out via any of our social media pages.

We’d love to hear from you!

My Secret to a Successful Day

Meditation takes you beyond the mind’s noisy chatter
into the pure awareness
that is the source of all of your happiness, inspiration, and love

Deepak Chopra


I think it’s been evident through these posts that I’ve been struggling a bit with my return from maternity leave. I had this idea that I’d return from my second maternity leave with ease. I thought, somehow, that I’d “mastered it.” That, having been through the worst of the worst returning to work after having my oldest daughter, I’d have all the answers and be able to soar through my work days feeling balanced, successful, and happy.

Much to my dismay, I found that that wasn’t the case.

My youngest is now eight months old, and I’m still searching for the secret. In the past eight months, I have had moments of intense and unexplainable anxiety. I’ve felt out of control of my personal life and career and schedule on certain occasions. I’ve continued to have these moments even though I’ve begun to schedule myself better at work, practice gratitude for the wonderful blessings in my life, and live more in the present moment. And, I believe that in the past two weeks that I found the secret…

Meditation.

Now, I generally haven’t bought into meditation. I had tried it once when I was in college, but I didn’t put much effort into it. I never felt like it got me anywhere. I didn’t feel a connection to my inner self. What I found was that I’d sit there for fifteen minutes (maybe) and listen to the endless cycle of thoughts that went on in my head. So, when a friend mentioned that I should try a kundalini yoga and meditation class to help me get through this difficult period in my life, I was willing to try it but didn’t have much hope–or any expectation–that it would heal anything in me. Boy, was I wrong.

From my first class, I knew that this was something I needed to make a habit. Perhaps it’s that I’m at a different point in my life or that my psyche is crying out for permission to disconnect from the outside world, but I felt that stillness that so many speak about. I felt my body become less important, for lack of a better description. I felt bigger than my body. My breath felt as though I was breathing into a cave. I could sense the thoughts that were running through my head, but I was able to let them happen and pass through without paying attention to them. I couldn’t tell you for how long this feeling lasted, but it lasted for long enough that I felt a shift in me. I felt the benefits of my better scheduling, my gratitude, my “being present” because I spent time in the stillness reflecting on the wonderfulness of my life.

Given the immediacy of meditation’s benefits for me, I did some research into whether this is a practice that others in high stress, client-driven professions have benefited from, as well. Google it; I implore you. You’ll find an endless list of articles written about CEOs of multinational corporations, lawyers, financiers, etc. touting the benefits of meditation and discussing its impact on their lives. Just check out this article that lists a number of Fortune 500 CEOs that practice meditation. It’s incredible!

If I had to give you a piece of advice for changing your life this week, it would be this: Take the time for yourself to try to meditate. Here’s my recommendations for building it into your schedule:

  1. Give yourself permission to take time for you.  I’m not going to say much on this point because I think it’s fairly self-explanatory. As working moms, we can come up with any number of reasons not to take time for ourselves. We aren’t home with our kids that often, so we need to spend as much time with them as we can. There’s so much we haven’t accomplished at home this week, so we should stay home to do it. We should grocery shop. We should do laundry. We should prepare dinners for the week. The “should” list could go on forever and, somehow, “I should really do something that takes care of my emotional and physical health” never makes the list. Schedule an hour for yourself. Give yourself permission to meditate.
  2. Find a time that you’re able to do it and a space you feel comfortable meditating in.  Now, I know that I’m fortunate to have an office with a door on it. I take advantage of that by getting in a little bit earlier, shutting my door, and meditating. Generally speaking, I have a harder time finding the time to meditate when I’m at home. When I hear my kids running around or playing downstairs, I have a hard time getting to that openness, that stillness, that sets me up for a successful day. This week, I’m working on creating that space. For those of you that live in the area and are interested, I’ll be at Yoga + Herbs in Marlboro for its weekend meditation classes. There are two tonight at 5pm and 6pm, and I’ll be attending one of those. There’s another two tomorrow at 11am and 12pm, and I’m going to try to attend one of those, as well. I took my Kundalini class there, and the studio is really wonderful. If you’re in the area, I suggest you try it out.
  3. Find a meditation practice that speaks to you.  I’m still searching for the perfect meditation practice. I really enjoy Kundalini and chakra balancing meditation. For whatever reason, I feel like it’s able to get me to the space that I need to get to in order to really feel the benefits of meditating. If you’re a meditation beginner and don’t know where to start, I find that Oprah and Deepak’s 21-day meditation challenges are a great place to start. They have a free one going on right now that you can sign up for at oprah.com. There are also some great kundalini meditation videos on YouTube if you’re interested in trying that. I really like this one. There are also a few Kundalini and Chakra Balancing playlists on Spotify that I really enjoy listening to.

So, this week, I implore you to try to build this into your schedule. Just do it for one week and see if it doesn’t shift your perspective on your day and your life. See if you don’t find yourself to be more at peace.

Namaste, Mamas. I hope you have an amazing weekend.

With Love,

Mommy, ESQ.


Do you meditate? Are you going to commit this week to trying?

Leave a comment below, e-mail us at mommy_esq@outlook.com, or reach out via our social media pages.

We’d love to hear how meditation has impacted your life!

Choose to Live Your Best Life

All progress in our lives is the result of a conscious choice to take action. But, that’s easier said than done. The key to improvement is the ability to think beyond the moment and ask yourself, “What will this choice ultimately create in my life? Where will it lead? Who will I become as a result?

Tony Robbins, Unleash the Power Within


Since becoming a working mother, I have been on a journey to find myself. I lost myself when my oldest daughter was born in a sea of new responsibilities. I was thrust from a young, untethered law student/wife into the worlds of big law and motherhood simultaneously. In my life “BC” (before children), my biggest responsibility was making sure all of my needs were met. And, quite suddenly after having Mary Pat, that was no longer the case. I had a baby. An 8 lb., 15 oz., beautiful, crying, hungry little baby that needed her mom all of the time. I also had a position at a large law firm, and that came with demanding assignments, long work hours, and a virtually unending list of responsibilities to my clients and colleagues.

It was hard. Some days, it was all I could do to get out of bed and put pants on in the morning. In the early days of motherhood, I felt as though there was no time anymore for the things I enjoyed doing–yoga, meditation, happy hours with my friends, date nights with my husband, sleeping in on the weekends, etc. Every day I would wake up with a laundry list of things to accomplish and, when I reached the end of each day, I would collapse into bed for a few short hours so as to try and rest up to do it all over again.

My life began to feel like a seven-day-a-week job. I wasn’t joyfully cherishing my moments outside of the office as a new mom. I was stressing out my husband and everyone around me. I felt as though everything in my life–all of these new responsibilities–was happening TO me and not BECAUSE OF me.

Looking back now on those early days of motherhood, I realize how selfish and naïve I had been. I was missing out on days that I would never be able to get back with my daughter because I was too stressed and angry at how out of control I was of my life and schedule. By never stopping to take care of my physical and emotional health, I was wasting those precious moments.

I read the above-mentioned quote this morning and thought that this topic would be an excellent blog post for the week. A lot of the working mothers that I know feel exactly the way I did. Their days are terrible because their jobs are terrible. They are exhausted because of their clients, the fact that they’re breastfeeding, their commute is too long. They are miserable because they feel like they’re living their entire lives for other people.

I want to empower you to know that you always have a choice to live your best life. You always have the choice to make positive changes for yourself that help you to live joyfully as a working mother. Sometimes those positive changes take very drastic and difficult steps. Sometimes you’ll need to leave a job, switch to a flex week or find a better at-home support system. Sometimes your choices will bring up negative emotions for you; you’ll feel selfish for needing a moment for yourself away from your partner and kids. To that, I would tell you that it’s always worth it to make the change. I’ve taken some difficult steps myself:  I’ve moved law firms. My family made the choice for my husband to stay home with our children. We moved to a town that’s 20 minutes away from family members that can help us watch our children. I’ve asked for help at work when my schedule became too out of control. It wasn’t easy to speak up, but it was worth it.

I want to encourage you this weekend to sit down and think about what it would look like for you to live your very best life. How do you spend your days? What do you feel when you think about living it? I want you to also think about what steps you can take right now to make this life possible for you. Daydream about the possibilities. Talk to your partner, family and friends about changes you need to make. Bring yourself closer to living this life by taking one step towards it, and feel accomplished for having taken that step.

I am choosing to live my very best life at any cost. I hope you also choose to do the same. And, if you need some help to get there, know that Mommy, ESQ. is only one e-mail away.

With Love,

Mommy, ESQ.


Please reach out to Mommy, ESQ. by leaving a comment below, e-mailing us at mommy_esq@outlook.com or reaching out via any of our social media pages.

We’d love to know what your dream life looks like. What would make you the happiest? What are some of the things you’re going to do to make that dream a reality?

We look forward to hearing from you!

Wake Up Wednesday – Conquering Fear

We’ve got fear all wrong.
We think that fear is the opposite of love.
This belief is stopping you from unlocking your unlived potential and holding you back from living your purpose.
For us to live our purpose, for us to get unstuck, for us to live the life we know deep in our guts that we’re meant to be living – we must conquer fear.

Mastin Kipp, The Daily Love


As those of you that follow our Twitter feed know, this morning I was very inspired by Mastin Kipp and The Daily Love’s latest vlog, How to Conquer Fear. After returning to work from an extended family vacation, I didn’t realize how much fear I had surrounding my time away from the office. How would my bosses and co-workers feel about how much time I was off? What would people think about the fact that I didn’t work on my projects while I was out of the office? Did I accomplish enough before I left? Did I accomplish too little while I was out? Will I be able to accomplish enough to catch up on my missed days when I return?

My list of fears, stressors and “what ifs” run on and on, and I’ve been running through them in my head for the past few days…

That being said, my weekly e-mail from The Daily Love could not have come at a more perfect time. In this latest vlog, Mastin discusses that there are two types of fear:

  1. Survival fear; and
  2. Irrational fear.

“Survival fear” is the fear that keeps us alive. It’s the fear that we won’t be able to keep a roof over our head or that we’re about to be attacked in an alleyway, and that’s good fear. That fear preserves our life and keeps us going. We don’t want to get rid of that kind of fear. “Irrational fear” is fear that isn’t grounded in reality. For us working moms out there, it’s the voice in our head that says that people are judging the fact that we spend entire work weeks away from our children, that we’re going to be fired because we’re breastfeeding mothers, or that we’re going to be criticized for leaving work early to attend a doctor’s appointment or dance recital. We’re certainly afraid of these things and the fear is real, but they’re fears that we’ve created for ourselves and that don’t threaten our lives and livelihoods. These fears hold us back from joyfully identifying as both a mother and a professional. They’re limiting our ability to find happiness in certain aspects of our lives.

At the end of his vlog, Mastin asks that we call BULLSHIT! (sorry for the language) on our irrational fears. He asks us to write down the things that scare us and categorize them into survival fears and irrational fears. He then implores us to work through our irrational fears – set them aside so we can live a better, more purposeful life.

Well, I took Mastin’s advice today, and I’m charging forward into the rest of my work week despite my irrational fears. I feel like I could lift a car today. I feel so brave. And, I’m really looking forward to having a productive and fulfilling rest of the week. I especially can’t wait to dress up like a bumblebee and take my little girls trick-or-treating on Saturday.

If you have some time, I think you should do the same! If you’re having trouble getting started and don’t know where to turn, know that you can always reach out to Mommy, ESQ. and get the help you need.

With love,

Mommy, ESQ.


What are your irrational fears? What are your limiting beliefs?

Leave a comment below, e-mail us at mommy_esq@outlook.com, or reach out to us via our social media pages.

We’d love to hear from you!

GUEST BLOG – Lessons from a Woman in Law

Women in particular need to keep an eye on their physical and mental health. Because if we’re scurrying to and from appointments and errands, we don’t have a lot of time to take care of ourselves. We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own “To-Do” list.

Michelle Obama


I am very proud of my circle of girlfriends. Looking around, we are loving daughters, girlfriends, wives and/or mothers in addition to successful physicians assistants, nurses, speech pathologists, business owners, attorneys, government employees, accountants, financiers and lecturers of law.

In speaking with my friends about the Mommy, ESQ. maternity and life coaching program, I’ve come to recognize that each of us is on our own personal journey to “have it all.” We’re all searching for balance in our home lives and careers and face our own unique struggles in striking this balance.

I have learned so much from listening to my friends’ stories. Each of them has challenged me to think outside of my own life experiences and recognize that there is more than one path to a happy, balanced life. That, while no two lives will look the same, both of these lives can be fulfilled, balanced and happy.

In that spirit, today’s blog post is brought to you by Erika Pagano, a friend, writer, and speaker and an associate director, Eversheds Fellow, and lecturer of law for the University of Miami’s Law Without Walls program. In our work together through the Law Without Walls program, Erika and I often discuss the limitations of our society’s traditional views of an “office” and changes that could be made to make our work environments and schedules, well, better. Together, we mentor students (or, as we call them, “change agents”) dedicated to innovating the future of legal education and practice. In fact, I was so inspired by our work together that I decided to publicly launch the Mommy, ESQ. maternity and life coaching program.

I believe that there is much to be learned from Erika’s story, and I think you will all agree. A big THANK YOU to Erika for courageously sharing her personal struggles and tips for finding balance in a busy, crazy work world. I look forward to collaborating with her again to bring you more innovative ways to bring balance to your home lives and careers!

With love,

Mommy, ESQ.

****

There’s something in the air today. You know it well, as do I. Like Homer’s sirens, this something sings so seductively to smarts, talent, ingenuity, and grit—the qualities in which we women lawyers vest our pride. So what’s that sweet something? It’s the pervasive pressure to be nothing less than a total, utter, smashing success.

Hi. My name is Erika. Today, I’m here to play Circe, and advise you to plug your ears. The sirens’ song of perfection will kill your personal, professional, and interpersonal lives.

How do I know? It nearly killed mine.

Six months ago, I was a living, breathing legal Wonder Woman: in addition to teaching three law classes, running a global nonprofit, and planning my wedding abroad, I kept up strict megaformer pilates and kundalini yoga practices (and a solid golden tan, too). I thought I looked great. (One of my mentors recently claimed that I looked absolutely lifeless during this time.) I thought I felt great. (In retrospect, I didn’t feel a thing.) As I laid on a stretcher in a Miami Beach emergency room, unable to move or speak, I very quickly realized that my calculated decisions and deliberate structure were full of critical errors.

My literal and figurative collapse forced me to reevaluate my working style, lifestyle, and work–life balance. I may not be a mom, but I’m no stranger to high pressure, fast paced, results-driven work environments. Next to tropical beaches, they’re my favorite places to be. In lieu of my love for coconut oil, Lisa asked me to share my top lessons with you.  Let’s begin:

  1. The two-minute dance party: “What do you mean, dance party? I work in a biglaw office. I can’t dance. Partner will see me. How do I bill this? She’s ridiculous.” Stop. Look away from the document. Turn on a great song. Dance if you can. Bop your head and move your shoulders if you can’t. The key here is to break a destructive or unproductive train of thought with some positivity and physical activity. Confession: I just finished one myself.  (Junior Jack’s “Stupidisco,” a mid-aughts dance anthem sampling the Pointer Sisters’ “Dare me,” always does the trick.)
  2. Square breathing: Worry is like a vortex: It’s tough to break the flow, and easy to spiral out of control. It is 100% okay—no, it’s absolutely necessary—to stop and take a breath. My favorite technique is called “square breathing.” Inhale for four counts, hold the breath for four counts, exhale for four counts, and hold the emptiness for four counts. Repeat. Think back to snake, the Nokia classic, and picture your breath as that pixelated, crawling creature. I dare you not to smile.
  3. Friends: One of my biggest mistakes was pushing my friends aside. “Surely, they understand how busy I am,” I thought.  What I didn’t understand was the need for and importance of quality friend time.  A mid-day coffee, evening walk around the park, or shopping date for that theme + destination + summer camp + Pinterest explosion combo of wedding you’re both attending will prove therapeutic. You’re guaranteed a laugh or two and have the opportunity to feel supported and support a loved one. Talk about efficient!
  4. Calendar your life: You wouldn’t use a hammer to shape a bush of star jasmine, would you? (If you do this, email me. I’m interested.) Calendaring can be a great tool when used properly. Consider using yours as a tool to dedicate time to you. Block out an hour to use that cache of bath bombs you’ve had since last Christmas. Carve away a Tuesday night to detangle and polish all those tarnishing middle school Tiffany necklaces to the sweet sounds of Kroll Show reruns. Just like a meeting or conference call, you’re more likely to get on task when your device reminds you it’s time.
  5. Do your home work: I work from home (read: a tiny, beachside Art Deco apartment) a ton, with no plans to move my bed to the living room for the sake of creating a home office room. So, I snuck a vintage 5×7 rug from my parents’ house (Hi Mom, have you noticed yet?) and made it my dedicated working area. The rug is topped by a table, two chairs, my computer, and any necessary books, bills, or papers. I don’t dine here, nor do I wine here. This rug is where work—and only work—gets done. Cultivating a dedicated working space makes it much easier to focus my mind when necessary and walk away when the day is done. Tips: Root pothos for a tabletop science experiment. Read The Tao of Dana for more spatial insight.

So, what’s the takeaway? Ignore the sirens. Dance a little. Meet your bestie for a quick break at that kombucha speakeasy. Totally schedule that five-step hair mask your sister-in-law brought you back from Seoul. Breathe, snake-style. Embrace the decorating opportunity. It’s easy to write a thousand words of prosaic advice. It’s tougher to be authentic and straightforward. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share my past and impart some personally impactful lessons. Quality of life is more than an important ideal to me—it’s a way of life. I am grateful for the space Lisa has created for us to discuss our collective and individual journeys. I wish you happiness, health, and a lot of fun along the way.


What’s your story? What unique challenges have you faced? What are you tips for striking a balance between your home life and career?

We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below, e-mail us at mommy_esq@outlook.com, or reach out through any of our social media pages.

And, if you’re struggling to strike this balance on your own, know that you can always reach out to Mommy, ESQ. for help. Schedule your free thirty-minute session today!

WAKE UP WEDNESDAY Maybe You Just Need a Vacation

Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.

Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now


I am writing to you this #WakeUpWednesday from my first non-working vacation in a while, and it has been fantastic. Seriously, it’s just what the doctor ordered. I feel rested, rejuvenated, and recharged. And, in the past few days, I’ve realized what damage I’ve done to myself both mentally and physically by refusing to take a few days to disconnect from the office.

I’ve always been a hard worker, to a fault. Even before having children and beginning my career, I always made sure to be connected to my office on my vacations. I landed my first job out of college before I graduated, and I worked straight through law school, taking the bar exam, and two pregnancies. Yes, there have been vacations, but I spent the majority of my time on these vacations connected to my laptop or e-mail. I would return to work after my vacations feeling more stressed than I did before I left. Eventually, I gave up on taking time off altogether.

For a long time, I assumed that I was the only person out there with this issue; however, I’ve come to find that my story is just one of many. Accordingly to a recent study by the U.S. Travel Association, nearly 4 out of 10 Americans don’t plan to take all of their vacation days each year. Many don’t take vacation because they fear the work that will await them when they return to the office and don’t trust others to take care of their work while they’re away. They, like me, feel as though there’s no point to taking a break.

I am here to tell you, though, that there is a point to taking a break. Taking vacations leads to better physical health, more productivity at the office, closer family relationships, a lower change of burn out, and improved mental health. Feelings of calm arise during this time and relieve the stress you feel at the office, allowing your body and mind to heal in ways that it couldn’t if it were still under the pressures of a work day.

That being said, I still have had moments on this vacation where I start to panic about the work I will be returning to and that I didn’t accomplish enough before I left the office. I’m tempted to pick up my laptop and work remotely for a full day. I’ve come to realize that taking a meaningful vacation is an art for someone like me and takes practice to make perfect. In the spirit of being a better “vacationer,” I am going to do the following:

  1. Leave the WiFi/Phone/Computer Behind: I’ve made the decision to take this vacation in order to relax and recharge, so I’m not going to let work creep into my time away. I have dedicated times that I’m checking my e-mails during the day and responding to my colleagues only when necessary. I’ve also resolved to work only if something urgent pops up. If it isn’t urgent, it can wait until my “buffer day,” which I’ll get to in a bit. Although this has resulted in a little bit of stress for me, I’ve felt much more relaxed on this vacation than I have in the past. “Unplugging,” I’ve decided, is definitely a skill worth mastering.
  2. Delegate Responsibilities that Don’t Need to be Handled Immediately: Before leaving the office, I spoke with a colleague about the fact that I was taking a family vacation. He knew that for the next week that I would contact him when necessary about handling certain of my responsibilities while I was out. It has made me feel better to have a little bit of an “action plan” and know that not all of my projects would be dropped while away. I’d definitely recommend this to any other type-A employees out there struggling to take a bit of a break.
  3. I’ve Built In a Buffer Day: About 90% of my stress comes from the fact that I know I’ll be returning to a full inbox and work assignments that haven’t been tended to in a week. My first days back to the office are almost always a “catch up” day. So, I’ve given myself a buffer between returning home from my vacation and heading back into the office. It’s going to give me a day to hide out in my home office and deal with all I’ve missed without being interrupted. I’ve actually been able to relax more during my week off knowing that certain things will be handled on Sunday before I begin the upcoming week.

So, plan your vacations. Schedule time to unplug. Spend time reconnecting with people and things that you love. And, if it’s too overwhelming to do on your own and you need some guidance, reach out. Mommy, ESQ. is always here to help.

With love,

Mommy, ESQ.

What are you willing to commit to in order to unplug? Do you have an upcoming vacation planned? What sorts of adventures do you want to take?

Write a comment below or reach out via e-mail at mommy_esq@outlook.com or any of our social media pages!

We’d love to hear from you!