Archive: December 2007

Holiday Drama, Trauma and Joy

Today, our last Free-for-All of the year, let's get into the holiday spirit by sharing our favorite holiday "balance" tales. The time your boss made you work Christmas Day. The year you gave yourself the present of quitting a hated job. The New Year's Eve spent finishing your application to law school. Whatever happened yesterday or your dreaded obligations for next week. I once had to go to Mexico to work a trade show on Thanksgiving. The trip turned out to be really fun, although my relatives back home in turkey town thought "working on Thanksgiving" constituted some kind of sacrilege. It is easy to forget that Thanksgiving is an American holiday. My worst Christmas, without a doubt, was the year my first husband and I split up. The break occurred a few days before December 25, and naturally we canceled our holiday plans together. I had no place to...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | December 21, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (51)

Working Women Are Happy (And So Are Their Husbands)

By Rebeldad Brian Reid It's been awhile since we had a nice balance brouhaha, but I knew there was one boiling when I saw this headline at the BBC: "Mothers 'are happier' having job." The folks over at Salon picked up on it, too, running a piece that declared "The whole 'working mother' thing actually works." Of course, I couldn't trust the media to get all the facts right, so I dug up the research, from the UK's Institute for Social and Economic Research. According to the study, satisfaction with life is lowest for women who don't do paid work; those who work full-time have the highest ratings. I'm not a social scientist, but all of this seems compelling and seems to stick a pin in the idea that working women are caught in a life of two-sphere drudgery. On the flip side, it's not fair to label at-home parents...

By Brian Reid | December 20, 2007; 9:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Holiday Books

It has been waaaay too long since we've done a Virtual Book Club. So now, just in time for last-minute holiday gift ideas, I invite any and all good book recommendations that help you stay "balanced." No need to stick to work/family subjects or self-help business or parenting books here; anything that you've enjoyed over the past 12 months will do. As for me, I tend to favor memoirs and most of my top ten have a "balance" theme -- people coming to terms with their childhoods or finding more meaning in their lives. But my 20 minutes reading before conking out every night are one of the only guaranteed moments of peace amidst my daily work/life insanity. As you can see from my list below, I often prefer books that help me forget the juggling act. Top 10 favorite books I've read in the past year: 1) Sarah's Key...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | December 19, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (47)

Breast Cancer and Balance

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Writers need to use their full names. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Ann Bradley As a full-time worker for the past 25 years and the mother of three children ranging in age from 5 to 16 (plus two teenage stepchildren), I have struggled to "balance" my life for years. Now, at this busy holiday time, I am struggling to balance work, family, and breast cancer. Some decisions are easy. My husband and I sat down with the kids and redistributed household duties to get me through treatment. I accepted an invitation from a friend for...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | December 18, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (19)

The Duplicitous Female Maze

A disturbing New York Times Modern Love column ran recently. It's about a 41-year-old woman reflecting on being raped in college and the collusion of her sorority sisters in the aftermath. Both sexes behave appallingly in Kelly Valen's tale of losing her virginity in an alcoholic stupor while her date's fraternity brothers watched from a nearby window ledge. (As an aside, the frequency of these so-called "Ledge Parties" and other bad boy behavior make me quake about sending my daughters out into the world of higher education.) Afterwards, when she clearly needed a sisterhood of support, her sorority voted she was no longer "sorority material" and forced her out of her college home. Now, as the mother of three daughters, she wonders about a lifetime of navigating what she calls "the duplicitous female maze." "In the two decades since, I've been a full-time lawyer, a working mother and a stay-at-home...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | December 17, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Grown-Up Tattletales

A few days ago, I was hanging out at school pick-up while my kids got their backpacks. I talked to a friend's eight-year-old son until his nanny drove up to get him. He got into the car and had barely shut the door before she peeled out. He didn't have his seat belt buckled and there was no booster in sight. I thought: What do I do? Stop her? Call my friend, who recently returned to a full-time job after several years as a stay-at-home mom? Mind my own business and figure she is okay with her babysitter's lax attitude toward car safety? I called my friend and told her. She thanked me but otherwise seemed unconcerned. Oh well, I thought; I did what I thought was right. Then just a week later, another mom stopped me in car line. "I saw your daughter running down Wisconsin Avenue last Monday...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | December 14, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (115)

Holiday Balance and Budgets

By Rebeldad Brian Reid There's plenty to be crazy about this time of year, what with the eggnog-induced weight gain and the hand-cramping that comes with writing out addresses for holiday cards, but this year I seem to be acutely aware of the year-end financial stresses. Maybe it's the uncertainty of waiting to see if there'll be a holiday bonus in my stocking, or maybe it's just the cumulative effect of dozens of holiday purchases. I'm just coming off of the sticker shock of cooking at Thanksgiving (there's no such thing as a cheap 20-pound bird), and all of a sudden I'm faced with sixty bucks for a tree (borderline-outrageous for a guy whose childhood Christmas trees grew in his backyard), plus a few dollars on lights at Target, plus the Secret Santa gifts, plus end-of-year tips, plus the family presents and kid presents and Santa presents. In some ways,...

By Brian Reid | December 13, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Do Women Want a Woman in the White House?

With 328 days to go until the 2008 presidential elections -- and less than a month before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary -- analysis about Hillary Clinton's status as the first female front-runner is heating up in media coverage. Not surprisingly, one area of dissection is Hillary's appeal to women, particularly working women and moms of all ages, ethnicities and household incomes (working and staying home). The Wall Street Journal argues that female executives are less than supportive of their alpha female peer. "So far, she's doing better among women of more modest means," writes Monica Langley in a front page Weekend Journal piece, Friends of Hillary. Despite the fact that 40 percent of Sen. Clinton's top fund-raisers are women, and high-profile business women such as Diane von Furstenberg, Meg Whitman and Geraldine Laybourne support Clinton, professional women overall seem to be proving a harder sell. "One theory...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | December 12, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (69)

A Tale of Two Decembers

By Denise Aranoff-Brown Since I moved to the D.C. area almost 10 years ago, I have been a marketing executive in the banking/financial services industry running a 40-person department. We moved here so my husband could start a new business and I could support us while he ramped up. We had two kids in three years. Our sons, now 7 and 4, were well cared for in day care and after-care programs that they have attended since they were 3 months old. All was very "balanced" in our lives. Except that inertia had set in professionally and I had zero time to figure out what I wanted to do. Then, suddenly last December, I was offered a generous severance package and literally walked away from my career. Now, I had time to look for that next, more inspiring opportunity. But in 10 years in which I had accomplished so much...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | December 11, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (62)

CEO vs. Parent I.Q.

Finally, a simple answer to my most burning question (not): Should I be a CEO or a gazillionaire entrepreneur? The University of Chicago business school has ranked the top traits for excellent CEO performance vs. entrepreneurs, according to the recent Are You CEO Material? in the Wall Street Journal. Take the test yourself: Group A (CEOs) Persistence Attention to detail Efficiency Analytical skills Setting High Standards Group B (Entrepreneurs) Strong oral communication Teamwork Flexibility/adaptability Enthusiasm Listening skills Now I know why I'm neither the next Bill Gates nor the next Jack Welch: I have a few but not all of either group's traits. But in addition to being an interesting aptitude test, this research got me thinking about another list: good parenting traits. Here are my top qualities for excellent, balanced parenting (and like the other groups, I've got a few, but not all of these critical success factors in...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | December 10, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (63)

No More Company Holiday Parties?

According to The Wall Street Journal's Independent Street, nearly half of U.S. small business owners are planning a holiday for their office, store or business in 2007, up one percentage point from 2006. Every company I've worked for, large or small, has had a holiday party for employees, and often spouses. The results have ranged from lovely to boring to a chore for all involved. My best was a party where a group of us in sales planned, cooked and served a holiday meal to the highest performing group in our division. The worst -- a holiday party when I saw my (married) boss kiss one of my (married) peers. Yuck! What's your take? Are holiday office parties helpful to morale -- or are they obsolete? What are the best -- and worst -- holiday office parties you've been to? If it were your decision, would you revamp or remove...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | December 7, 2007; 8:00 AM ET | Comments (73)

Goodbye, Station Wagon

By Rebeldad Brian Reid According to MSNBC, it's official: the station wagon is dead. Again. Dodge is pulling its aggressively named Magnum off the market, making it the latest wagon to disappear. This gives families one less option when it comes time to pick a vehicle that can transport two adults, three kids, a pet kennel, two fishing poles and a full load of groceries. Of course, I can't imagine weeping for the station wagon. Even though my family had a string of them growing up, I don't have any nostalgic feelings for the low-slung parentmobiles of my youth (except for the reverse-facing third row -- the coveted "way back" -- which seems to have gone the way of leaded gasoline). Picking a good kid car is tough, especially if you aspire to drive something that doesn't look like a kid car. SUVs are environmental disasters. Sedans make for a...

By Brian Reid | December 6, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (120)

Vroom -- A Woman Revs Up a Man's World

Forty-four year old Tammy Darvish just shattered a particularly tough glass ceiling -- or maybe it's more accurate to call it a garage roof. Darvish is the vice president of Darcars Automotive Group, a 26-dealer automotive sales company based in Silver Spring, Md. Tamara Darvish is the first woman to be elected chair of the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association. (Kevin Clark - The Washington Post) According to an article about Darvish in yesterday's Washington Post, Once in a Miniskirt, Now She Wears the Pants, she's become the first female chairman of the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association, a 90-year-old group which until now has only had white men at the helm. Her current partnership position marks quite a road trip from her start in her family's dealership back in 1984, when her brother and father had her dress up in a white leather miniskirt, red high heels...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | December 5, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (84)

Mommy Wars in India

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Writers need to use their full names. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Priyadarshini Narendra I'm a "working mom" from India with two kids under five. The issues of "balance" are the same here as everywhere else in the world, and I would like to put in my two paise (cents) on the subject. I've lived both lives, and neither is better. I had to quit my work in marketing during my first pregnancy due to complications. For six months after my son arrived, I stayed home because I couldn't face the thought of leaving him....

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | December 4, 2007; 7:10 AM ET | Comments (91)

Kids, Cooking and Holiday Balance

As I've admitted before, I'm a lousy cook. And, like most parents, I'm too busy to spend much time experimenting in the kitchen. But that doesn't mean I've given up on my kids eating well -- and nutritiously. This is especially challenging during the holidays, when candy canes, Christmas cookies, Hanukkah gelt and school parties supplied by ubermoms abound. Three new books have arrived to help those with cooking challenges, like me, find some nutritional balance during December. Deceptively Delicious has gotten a lot of attention because the author is married to comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Jessica Seinfeld has three kids under eight and she partnered with a prominent nutritionist to create the recipes, so I figure she's got some degree of credibility in the kitchen. Her shtick is hiding nutritious foods in kids' favorite foods, and the key is puree: cauliflower, kale, blueberries, avocado, etc. The Sneaky Chef has gotten...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | December 3, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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