Tag Archives: Family

Not-So-New Mother Finding Balance

The response to my essay in the Sunday New York Times has been astonishing. The biggest learning is that we all crave a more nuanced approach to how women (and men) integrate their work and family obligations.

(Byron Eggenschwiler)

(Byron Eggenschwiler)

We were all strangers that spring of 1996. Our only connection was that we had all recently given birth at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., and, as recommended by our doctors, had signed up for the New Mother training class. Once a week, we sat in a circle sharing our concerns as a nurse educator led the discussion. It was like those consciousness-raising sessions from the 1960s. But, unlike our mothers who had gathered to secure their place in the world, we gathered to figure out how to be mothers in spite of it.

 

Read the full essay here.

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Back on the Fast Track

It was an honor to interview three amazing women I profiled for a recent San Jose Mercury News article. Alison Cormack, Mary Page Platerink, and Kriste Michelini collectively debunk the myth that you can’t step back from your career to focus on your family and then return to great success. They also show us how they carved their own authentic path to a “having it all”.

Mary Page Platerink (Photo by Karl Mondon)

Mary Page Platerink (Photo by Karl Mondon)

A woman spends years building her career. Then family becomes her new priority, so she steps out of her high-powered job to raise children. What happens when she wants to get back in the game? Since Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg launched the “Lean In” movement in 2013, much attention has been paid to figuring out how to keep mothers in the workforce, but many have already left and are trying to get back in. There’s not one route for all. As these three Bay Area executive women demonstrate, you can reignite your professional life — and even take it in a wildly different, equally or more successful direction — even after taking years off from work. Here they share their stories and their advice.

Read the full article here.

New Beginnings Also Mean Endings

William the Graduate

William the Graduate

This essay originally appeared in Palo Alto Patch. I am reposting it in honor of all of the parents who are sending their beloveds off to college this month. Yes, one year later, and it is easier, much easier, but still bittersweet.

It’s graduation week around town. We’re hearing lots of speeches about new beginnings, following your dreams, and choosing roads less traveled. Students are told repeatedly “it’s all ahead of you.” But for those of us with children in cap and gown, it’s not all about the future. For us, it’s also about the past. Continue reading

Everyday Women and Unsung Heroes: Happy Women’s History Month

In honor of International Women’s Day, I am reposting this essay. It  originally appeared on BlogHer on March 8, 2010. 

It’s March and that means it’s Women’s History Month. In schools across the country, children will be learning about Sacagawea and Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth and the myriad other

My Unsung Hero

famous women who are lauded for their role in changing the course of history. They won’t, however, be reading about the everyday woman. The woman who cares for her children, works to support her family, volunteers in her community. The woman who is the backbone of this country and most others around the world. They will not be reading about my grandmother, Jeanette Stromberg. Continue reading

The New Face of Addiction

I spent months researching for this article in Diablo Magazine on the rise of prescription drug abuse amongst suburban teens. I interviewed mothers whose honor roll/athlete sons and daughters became slaves to their addictions. I interviewed teens who gave up their dreams of college and professional careers to live “one day at a time.” I was awed by their courage and willingness to speak out. They do not want any one else to go through what they have. And if you think it is “there,” think again. It is here, wherever your here is. Please read it, share it, and talk with others about it. Thank you.

It's A Pharmacy!

It’s A Pharmacy

You might recognize Ann Le Veille of Danville because so many of us are like her. She is a devoted mom who has focused almost all of her time on her family. She volunteered in her children’s schools, chauffeured her kids to their many activities, and was active in her church. Still in love with the man she’d married decades before, she thought she had the perfect life. And then her teenage daughter got hooked on prescription pain medications, and Le Veille realized nothing would ever be the same.

“Chelsea was a happy, social girl in elementary and middle school. Then she hit high school, and soon things began to change. The pressure to get top grades, to be popular, to be on the fast track for admission to a top college was overwhelming,” Le Veille says. So, she took her daughter to a doctor who prescribed Klonopin for Chelsea’s anxiety. Little did Le Veille know that would be the gateway drug to addiction.

The antianxiety medicine worked. Chelsea felt better, and things seemed to calm down. What Le Veille didn’t realize was that Chelsea liked the feeling of relief so much, she moved on to other pills, including Vicodin, Xanax, and finally, OxyContin. Soon, Chelsea’s grades were slipping, and she started hanging out with a new group of kids. “I knew something was wrong; I just didn’t understand what,” Le Veille says.

Within about six months, Le Veille’s daughter became so addicted, she would do anything for the next high. Chelsea stole pills from friends’ parents’ medicine cabinets and from anyone who had a prescription, and when those sources dried up, she turned to dealers to keep her buzzing. She got caught stealing jewelry from a store to pay for her habit. After many unsuccessful attempts to get Chelsea off pills, Le Veille and her husband felt forced to throw her out of the house. Their beloved daughter ended up on the streets.

“The drugs won,” says Le Veille. “The only way we could survive was if we went on without her. One of the worst days of my life was when I saw my ragged, barefoot daughter at a local gas station. She was living in the car of a friend, eating candy and potato chips to stay alive. I felt like I was in this movie of someone else’s life. I never dreamed it could happen to me.” Read more…
 

We Are Women. Hear Us Roar. Again.

This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Diablo Magazine.

Kriste Michelini and Children (Photo courtesy of Diablo Magazine)

It’s 7:30 on a Thursday evening, and 10 moms are gathered at Kriste Michelini’s interior design studio in Danville, drinking wine and eating off a veggie platter artfully arranged by Michelini. This isn’t a book group or PTA fundraiser. These mothers are busy trying to help Bridget Scott finalize the details of her business plan. She’s preparing to open her own chiropractic office, a lifelong dream, but is still determining the best way to incorporate the hours while placing family first. Scott wants to work while her children are in school and is confident she can find clients who will fit her schedule. But issues around finalizing a name and staff management are what she needs advice on. The other women, all business owners themselves, readily offer it.

Scott started Business Owner Moms (BOMS) in 2008 because she wanted to gather like-minded working mothers to offer each other support and guidance as they struggled to balance their professional ambitions with their personal lives. BOMS includes women such as Alamo’s Kristin Kiltz, a mother of three who quit her high-powered job at a public relations firm to set up her own PR consulting business; and Danville’s Julie Ligon, also a mother of three, who left her exciting marketing position at Gap to open one of the first franchise studios of the Dailey Method. The BOMS could have given up work completely to stay home with their children, but haven’t. Continue reading

My Father, the Breast Cancer Survivor

This essay originally appeared on BlogHer.

Jack Stromberg, Breast Cancer Survivor

My Dad, the Breast Cancer Survivor

In 1978, a few weeks after Christmas, my father had a radical mastectomy. The last words he said to me before the surgery were,  “they can take my nipple but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them take my ovaries.” So like my father to lighten the mood with a joke but, of course, cancer is no laughing matter. Continue reading