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Archive for January, 2013
Enjoy the Simple Pleasures in Life

Do you rush through your day in an attempt to check off everything on your to-do list?  Or do you take time to slow down and “smell the roses”?  It’s true that we are happiest when we enjoy the simple pleasures.  It could be gazing at the stars, listening to the rain, or enjoying a warm cup of tea.  When we stop to enjoy the little things we naturally slow down and enjoy life.

It’s so easy to put all of our energy into achieving our goals – making money, building a business, advancing our career, or completing our to-do lists.  In our drive to succeed, we tend to miss, or dismiss the things that bring us joy.  They seem secondary – a reward after a hard day’s work.

Think about the things that make you smile.  Often they are the simple things that cost nothing at all.  Here’s my list of simple pleasures:

  • Enjoying a good cup of coffee
  • Petting my cat, Spooky, who’s curled up in my lap
  • Listening to music
  • Watching the deer on my morning (or afternoon) walk
  • Enjoying fresh flowers in the house
  • Receiving my morning “bear hug” from my husband
  • Reading a good novel by the fire
  • Sitting out on my deck and watching the hummingbirds at the feeder

What about you?  What brings you joy?  Make a list of things that bring you peace, joy and contentment.  Then take a little time out each day to enjoy one of the items on your list.  You’ll be glad you did!

What simple things bring you joy?  Please share with other readers.

10 Working Moms Secrets for Getting Out of the House on Time

Here’s a guest article from (

Mornings can be the most difficult part of the day for many working moms. Trying to get the kids and themselves ready and out the door on time seems to always take much longer than expected. With these 10 tips, working moms can make their mornings much more manageable and make their family’s morning departure one that is on time and not late.

1. Wake up 30 minutes before everyone else. If you don’t first care for your own needs, you won’t be able to care for the needs of others in your family. Waking up before everyone else allows you to get ready to start your day without interruption. Enjoy your coffee and paper in peace, prior to waking up the others.

2. Lay out clothes the night before. The older children get, the more say they want to have in their wardrobe choices. Provide children with two or three acceptable choices and let them choose what to wear. Hanging a plastic shoe organizer over the back of their door and filling each pocket with a matched outfit can make choosing an outfit easier for preschoolers.

3. Always repack your diaper bag once you return home. Resist the urge to drop it and forget about it. Once you are home, repack your diaper bag with spare clothing, diapers, snacks, and any other necessities you may need and then leave it by the door so it’s ready to go when you are.

4. Keep a tote filled with necessities in the car. Keeping a tote filled with spare clothes, nonperishable snacks and bottled water, diapers, a package of wipes, sun screen, and any other essentials can come in handy if you’re out longer than originally planned or if you forget your diaper bag.

5. Unpack and repack backpacks once you return home. Avoid scavenger hunts by emptying bags once home, tending to what needs your attention, and repacking such items soon after returning home. It’s much better to handle these tasks when you’re not rushed and pressed for time.

6. Have a set place for shoes. Avoid missing shoes by placing a large basket by the front door for everyone to place their shoes in when returning home. A boot tray can also be used to store wet shoes after wearing.

7. Get the kids up early enough. Whatever time you think you need to wake the kids up to allow them to be ready on time, add 15 minutes to it. It is inevitable that one child is going to spill something at breakfast and another is going to take too long in the bathroom, and those 15 extra minutes can be the difference between being on time and being late.

8. Have your stuff ready to go the night before. In the evening, get your work and personal stuff ready for the next day. Be sure your briefcase is packed and on the counter ready to go, and your work attire, along with accessories, are ready to wear.

9. Prepare lunches the night before. While some items can’t be packed the night before, if you’re sending something that can be, like leftovers, pack and prepare them right after dinner. Grabbing and going can make mornings easier.

10. Have a short and sweet goodbye routine. It can certainly be tempting to give your baby one last kiss or to leave and comeback to check on her several times before making your final departure, but don’t give into temptation. Doing so just prolongs the goodbye and makes the transition more difficult for you both. If you have a trusted caregiver, trust her to do her job and redirect your child after you leave.

Mornings don’t have to be filled with mayhem. With a little planning and preparation, you can start your day off on time.

Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance published a list of the Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance.  Employees reported how their companies rate for balancing work with personal life.  Here are the top five companies along with their rating.  I’ve also included employee comments.

MITRE – 4.5 (out of 5)

“Grow your skills, keep a work life balance, and work with highly intelligent and ethical people”

Most of the people you work with are extremely sharp and driven to do what is right for the government agencies they serve and the American taxpayer. Work-life balance is very real and everyone is encouraged to take time off and keep their work hours under control. There is constant opportunity for non-traditional “career advancement”: working on tasks outside of your experience/degree, training, and collaboration.

North Highland – 4.5

“A great place to work”

- They're serious about work/life balance.
- You really have the freedom to mold your own career path.
- Incredibly friendly people.

Agilent Technologies – 4.4

“Agilent is an amazing place to work”

Agilent believes strongly in work/life balance. They generally pay a little less than their competitors, but they respect and value their employees and their families. The work environment is much less stressful than the competition. It's very easy to change projects and even job functions within the company.

People are free to move between marketing, planning, manufacturing, R&D, etc and learn along the way. Professional and personal development is highly encouraged for all employees, even if beyond the scope of your current job function.

SAS Institute – 4.4

“SAS is a great place to work, but you have to be there a very long time to advance.”

SAS heavily promotes work/life balance. SAS offers countless benefits (not just health insurance...) like aquatic center, onsite childcare, subsidized meals at the onsite cafes, gym, and list goes on and on and on.

CareerBuilder – 4.4


Great benefits. People are fun, really smart. Good balance between home and work. Casual dress code. Knowledge sharing is abundant.

For the full listing of companies, click here.

Let Go of Perfectionism

Do you want to do it all and do it perfectly?  If so, you may be a perfectionist – a high-achiever who makes no room for mistakes. Those of us who fall into this category are always sensitive to weaknesses in ourselves and others.  Unfortunately, we are a rigid bunch, and we are prone to self-doubt and fears of disapproval.  Unlike people who strive for excellence, a perfectionist is driven and determined in a way that isn’t healthy. They are unable to enjoy the process of achieving because the pursuit of the goal causes so much anxiety. Wanting it all and wanting to do it perfectly is enough to drive any woman insane.

In a recent survey of U.S. working women, 61% indicated that “high expectations of themselves” was one of their biggest work-life challenges. In particular, they thought they should be able to do it all and do it all well. One woman commented, “I don’t have enough time to do everything as well as I would like – cleaner home, nice meals for my husband, more time with children and  grandchildren, etc.”

It’s important to have high standards for yourself, but be aware of the difference between high standards and impossibly high standards.  Always strive for excellence, but at the same time, remember that no one is perfect except God.  I love this quote by Michael J. Fox – “I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection.  Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”

We are susceptible to perfectionism, each one of us. Do you really need to cook a gourmet, three-course dinner each night? Or are leftovers good enough? Does your house really need to pass the white-glove test? Or can you live with a little dust? Does your home really need to look like a model home? Or will second-hand furniture do?

When I became a mom I realized I needed to lower my expectations or I would go bonkers. I used to follow my toddler around picking up her toys all day long. Ten minutes after picking up toys, more toys were strewn in the other room. My efforts achieved nothing and only exhausted me. Finally I learned to live with the clutter.  If you don’t let go, you’ll go crazy. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just good enough. Now I go for “good enough.” Consider what’s good enough for you.

Rather than hold yourself to impossible standards, be a realist:

Recognize your limits.  Remember you are not superhuman nor do you have super powers.

Lower your standards when needed. You don’t need to live with the anxiety.  Your peace of mind is more important than living up to impossibly high standards.

Accept your imperfections. You might make a few mistakes.  You might even fail.  So what?  Let’s face it – you’re human.  Learn from your mistakes and move on.

Let go of perfectionism. Instead strive for excellence, but don’t expect perfect.

New Year’s Resolutions — and How to Keep Them

This New Year’s many of us are resolving to get healthy, get organized or save money.  Here are the top 5 New Year’s resolutions for 2012 (according to the Journal of Clinical Psychology):

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Get Organized
  3. Spend Less, Save More
  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
  5. Stay Fit and Healthy

Yet despite our best intentions, within a few months many of us will fall back into old habits.  Forty-five percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, yet only 8% actually achieve them (Journal of Clinical Psychology).  How can you be part of the 8% and keep your resolutions?  Here are three steps for success:


  • Make realistic, attainable goals and develop a specific action plan – Don’t just resolve to lose weight; set a goal to lose a specific number, say 20 pounds, and to drop a pound a week.
  • Establish confidence in your goals and publicly share your resolutions – The social pressure creates accountability, because you don’t want to report back about a failure.


  • Track your progress regularly and reward success – For example, weigh yourself on a weekly basis and reward yourself with a manicure or facial for every five pounds lost.
  • Use slip-ups to strengthen your resolve – Avoid self-blame during times of weakness, but resolve to do even better.


  • Cultivate social support – Find an accountability partner who will support you in your efforts to make lasting changes.
  • Create a plan to deal with slips – Stick with it.  We all fall victim to temptation.  The difference between successful resolvers and failed ones is the ability to bounce back from relapses.
  • Think of your goal as a marathon instead of a sprint – Remember it take three months for a change to become routine.