Monday, October 28, 2013

back on the wagon?

I cannot begin to tell you how many posts I have in draft status. It has been over four months since my last post. I’ve barely been able to think, let alone write, since the summer. My brain and my body are completely fried. I’m burned out from work and parenting and life. I went straight from the corporate Hunger Games (yet another post in draft status) to selecting my team, to implementing new processes, to picking up the pieces from all of the change. I’ve worked an average of 80 hours per week since April and it is killing me. Sure there have been a couple of weeks where I only put in 60 hours and the week of my daughter’s birthday (July), I only worked 40. But still…this is too much and it’s not healthy. I feel like a blob. I have been eating too much sugar, haven’t been logging as many miles as I’d like and I even gave up on Pure Barre for a few months. I think I’ve put on four pounds, although – thankfully - my clothes fit well. It’s time to find some balance. Since work isn’t going to slow down, I am going to try to hold myself more accountable to me. Step one – meet my new friend, the FitBit. I bought this bad boy as my birthday present to myself and I’ve been wearing it religiously. Now it’s time to make sure I hit my 10k steps every day. I like seeing how the little changes I make impact my calorie burn, so it’s a motivator. Step two – return to Pure Barre. I’ve started going once per week and I’m signed up for at least one class a week through November. Step thee – return to Mamavation. Here I am, ladies! I’m hoping that you will help me stick to this!

Monday, June 10, 2013

it pays off

Last week, I posted this photo online. 

I was excited to show off my child in the pool and didn't think too much about it.  Almost instantly, an old friend commented, "smokin' hot bod!"  Seriously?  Who would think I was "smokin' hot?!?"  Then I looked a little closer at the pic.  I've come a long way from my post-pregnancy body.  The fact that I'm willing to wear a bikini at the local family hangout pool is a testament to the fact that I'm comfortable with myself.  Sometimes I struggle with eating too much junk food and sometimes I have to force myself to work out, but this picture made me realize that it pays off.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Friend Makin' Monday

This is my first Friend Makin' Monday post and I'm a day late! If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please add your links there too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!
 Questions and Answers
  1. Do you use coupons?    I do! I also use Retail Me Not for online shopping.
  2. How often do you weigh yourself?    Pretty much every day, but I don't freak out about it.
  3. What was your favorite TV show as a kid?    The Cosby Show (ditto Regan)
  4. How often do you drink alcohol?    Once a month or so...usually wine.
  5. Have you ever met a celebrity or public figure that you really admire?  Nope
  6. If you had to choose between only your cell phone or only your laptop all week which would you choose?   Phone, no doubt!
  7. What is your favorite brand of detergent?    Ecos (buy it in bulk from Costco)
  8. If there was a movie about your life, who would play the role?  Selma Blair...we have similar coloring and she plays lots of quirky roles.
  9. What book are you currently reading?    I just started the Perks of Being a Wallflower
  10. If you could spend one day on vacation anywhere in the world, which place would you choose?    Someplace tropical...white sandy beach

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions.  Don’t forget to link up in the comments, and say hi to someone new!  Happy Monday!

Worse than a desk job

I have been sitting in interviews for over a week.  Seriously...40+ hours of interviewing candidates in the last week.  It has been intense.  On the bright side, I've found some really wonderful candidates for the manager roles on my team.  On the not so bright side, I feel like a complete slug thanks to all the sitting.

Seriously, sitting in a conference room doing all these interviews is far worse than sitting at a desk.  It's been like groundhog day!  I used four different versions of my interview guide, so I wasn't asking each candidate the same questions, but still...  It was really hard to keep organized and on track in the interviews.  Thank goodness that I practice what I preach to hiring managers about taking good interview notes!

So back to the sitting.  I was in the office, sitting in a conference room from 7a-5p each day last week.  Then I went to my office and worked for a few hours to get somewhat caught up on email.  Long story short, I didn't work out nearly as much as I wanted to.  By the time I got home from work, I was completely drained and just wanted to veg in front of the TV or go to bed.  I think I only got in one workout all week.

This week is off to a similar start.  We've had long talent calibration sessions and these conference room pow-wows are killing me!  I need to walk around.  I need to move!  I'm also suffering from some allergy issues and my throat is a mess.  I didn't work out last night as a result.  Tonight will be better though.  I'm planning on 3 miles and some strength training.  Tomorrow I'm scheduled for a Pure Barre class.  I'm not sure what is in store for the rest of the week, but I'm hoping for nice weather this weekend so we can go on a family hike.

Have an awesome week, sistas!

“ This post is sponsored by Noelle Katai and Mamavation – a community dedicated to obesity prevention & weight loss for women and I’m writing this to be entered into a giveaway ”

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Hunger Games

I'll start by saying that I've never read The Hunger Games or seen the movie (there IS a movie, right?).  I know very little about the book.  What I do understand is this: There are a bunch of kids who are put together and have to fight for survival.  The last person alive wins the hunger games.  Hopefully this is an accurate synopsis.

As I've mentioned a few times before, my company is going through a massive restructuring right now.  It's a six-month process that started in January.  Our entire business line is being centralized and consolidated.  As a result, we are all interviewing for jobs in the new structure.  In my case, I've been interviewing for my current role/title.  It has been a long process...11 interviews over a five-day timeframe.  Add into that the fact that I've worked for the company for six years and have been in my current role for the last four, which means a long window of successes and mistakes that are part of the equation as well.  It's a bit grueling to think about it all.

We recently had an all-employee meeting and at the end, I overheard a colleague comment that "this process is like The Hunger Games.  We're all fighting to the death."  How awful...but at the same time, I understand her take on the situation.  It's incredibly uncomfortable to "compete" with your peers and friends for a limited number of jobs.  That being said, this process has been a learning experience and I think you may find value from the knowledge I've gained.  So, here it goes.

Preparation is key. 
I spent countless hours updating my resume, reviewing the backgrounds of my interviewers, studying up on key metrics, planning for and documenting my first 6 months in the "new" role, and practicing responses to potential interview questions. 
    • I actually locked myself in a conference room on Easter Sunday and spent 6 hours putting together a PowerPoint deck that laid out my plan for the "new" role.  I didn't need the deck for each interviewer, but it came in handy for a few of the discussions.  The deck was clearly a differentiator for me and I'm happy that I invested the time into it.
    • I pulled together pages and pages of potential interview questions.  I thought through responses for behavioral, situational and traditional questions.  I practiced a few with my husband to make sure that my wording seemed positive and upbeat, even when talking about my weaknesses and failures. 
    • I'm fortunate to be a data-driven individual, so I pulled every core metric for each interviewer that I met with and created a grid "cheat sheet" that I could study prior to each interaction.  I also included key information about the interviewer's background that I wanted to remember as well as points that I thought would be relevant to the individual discussion.  For example, the president of one of our facilities went to college where I grew up.  I noted this and was able to tie it to our conversation.  I also included interesting projects that his team recently rolled out.  Finally, I included HR KPIs like turnover rates and was able to tie their rates to project success during the discussion.  It was amazing...I was able to hit on each of these items during the discussion.  We developed a strong rapport and he was impressed that I had taken the time to get to know his business. 
Confidence goes a long way.
There's a fine line between confidence and cockiness and you have to tread lightly here.  I feel like this is a difficult task for me.  I'm fairly young and I've always been an overachiever.  I work hard to make sure that people don't think of me as someone who's too focused on future career growth because the truth is, I'm not.  I'm very happy where I am.  I'm a mom and I have balance in my life.  If I continue to grow quickly in my career, I will lose that balance.  I focused all of my interview responses on the fact that I can do the job.  I talked about my successes and learning from my failures.  I was open and honest, and I think this helped bolster my confidence.  Finally, I looked at the strengths and weaknesses outlined in my last performance review and really played up the strengths.  It's empowering to see good stuff about yourself in writing.  I kept that in mind.

Dress the part.
Wear a suit, people!!  Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.  Don't look sloppy.  Iron your shirt.  Shine your shoes.  Fix your hair.  Don't wear colors that are too bright or clothes that are too trendy.  Be tasteful.  Here are a few of my outfits from the week.  I decided to mix in some trendy colors, but kept the overall look conservative.

Say "thank you."
Each evening, after normal work hours, I wrote a thank you note or email to each interviewer.  I emailed the executives and sent handwritten notes to the HR teams.  Each thank you note was personalized based on the discussion I had with the interviewer.  For example, one president shared that she felt a lot of similarities between my responses and her experience, particularly as they related to work/life balance.  When I sent my follow up email, I thanked her for sharing that connection and told her how much that meant to me.

Be nice.
For all the fear and uncertainty that you're feeling right now, there are others who are feeling it too.  Whether you're interviewing due to a re-org or just trying to find a new job, remember that everyone has been in your shoes at some point.  Be nice.  If you know your competition, don't bash them.  Understand and empathize with those around you.  Interviewing is nerve-wracking!  Treat everyone the way that you would want to be treated and you'll be fine.

If you've found yourself in a similar situation, best wishes for great interviews!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sorry,'s been a while

I owe you an apology.  I haven't written or commented on your posts in a few weeks and I feel like a slacker because of it.  Things have been hectic in my life and I'm just starting to get caught up.  I traveled for work two weeks in a row, which is always tough on me.  It's hard for me to be away from N for a couple of days at a time, let alone two back-to-back trips.  I ended up behind at work as a result of being out of the office and am still in email jail.  Oh,'s going to be fine.

To update you on my work saga, I GOT THE JOB!  I found out two weeks ago that my interviewing went well and I landed the job I wanted.  It's even a promotion, so D took me out on Friday night to celebrate.  It feels good to have that stress behind me.  Now I'm even busier at work while we move through the rest of the re-org.  I've been putting in long hours and have been working from home late into the evenings. 

As for my health, things are going well.  I've spent a fair amount of time working out to ease my stress.  I got a little behind during my traveling and think I put on a pound or two thanks to all the required four-course meals.  I'm not worried about it though.  I'm cutting my calories just a bit this week to even out and have been working out really hard.  It's nice to not be a complete slave to the scale!

Now that the weather is nice, I'm getting outside for more walks as well.  N has been a bit feisty this weekend, so we spent a fair amount of time walking outside.  I think it's time for me to invest in a Fuelband...I'd like the motivation of a daily step goal...

That's all for me.  I hope you all have a super week!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sugar addition...Easter was tough

I've been very quiet recently and I'm sorry for that.  I feel bad about not commenting on your posts or sharing much here.  I've been going through a lot and haven't had the time or energy to spend online.

The last couple of weeks have been a roller coaster of sugar, family visits, travel, work stress, and hormones.  The Easter Bunny brought me a bunch of Reester bunnies which I have no ability to resist.  I've had a few of them and they just seem to feed my ridiculous sugar addiction.  I'll be happy when I get rid of them all! 

I completed 11 interviews for my job last week and should find out the outcome in another week or so.  At this point, the waiting is really the hardest part (thanks, Tom Petty).  Until I know the outcome, I'm sitting quietly and trying not to stress too much.

I'm working out plenty, thank goodness.  It's what is keeping me sane.  This week will be tough though because I'm a single parent for a few days and then as soon as my husband gets home, I'm heading to Texas for a few days. 

I hope you're all doing well!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Quick Mamavation Check-In

Another week has passed and I'm still in the middle of this waiting game.  Things have gone radio silent at work and that hasn't been great for my stress level.  Instead of assuming that no news is good news, I tend to worry.  Despite the worrying, I've done a good job with my workouts and made good food choices.  I'm working out to fight the stress and I'm 100% positive that is what is keeping me sane right now.  Every time I freak out about the possibility of not having a paycheck in a few weeks, I lace up my shoes (or promise myself that I will once I leave the office) and burn those feelings away.

Last night, I reached one quarter of my annual mileage goal, which felt good.  I like knowing that I'm on track with small milestones.  I'm working towards 300 miles for the year and hit 75 miles.  My elbow and shoulder are healing, so I'm back to doing pushups. I had to take this week of from Pure Barre because of work scheduling conflicts, but I'll be back at it next week.  Hopefully I can fit in some Tae Bo this week because punching really helps combat the crazy feelings I'm having right now!

What about you?  Are you having a good week?  Any suggestions for fighting stress?  It's going to be a tough couple of weeks and I can use all the advice I can get!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Way Too Busy

This week went by in the blink of an eye.  I've been so busy that I've barely kept up with Twitter, let alone the #2weekchallenge.  I feel like a complete slacker for not keeping the commitment, but I'm trying not to hold onto too much guilt about it.

First the good news.  I recently developed a work concept into a full program that was so well received, we decided to market it externally.  Over the course of the last week, I pitched the idea to another major company, developed sample materials for their review and guess what...they bought it!!  I have moved from being typical HR overhead to a source of revenue!  I am so excited about it...I can barely contain it.  What I'm thrilled about is the pitch.  I found the time to fully prepare myself and I knocked it out of the park.  I was confident, which made all the difference.  That confidence is a big improvement for me.

Anyway, so after the company decided they wanted to buy my program, I had to kick it into high gear.  I've spent the past several days on conference calls and emailing at all hours of the night trying to get this thing ready to roll out in a week.  Between this and my normal job (which hasn't slowed down), I haven't been getting much sleep.  I'm also preparing for my upcoming interviews and trying to be as ready as possible.  I've spent almost all weekend working from my house...and there's no end in sight.  I think I have another eight hours of work ahead of my and it's already 7pm.  I guess I should stop writing and get back to it.

So, back to Mamavation stuff.  I only did one day of the #2weekchallenge and then I strained my elbow.  It's almost back to normal now, but was a mess earlier this week.  I was able to get in several miles this week (I had to work off some of the stress), but I definitely didn't work out as much as I wanted to.  I was great about food though, so it all works out.

This week is going to be tough.  I have a ton of work to do, but I'm going to fit in as many workouts as possible.  Although I'm not officially on the #2weekchallenge bandwagon anymore, I'm going to try to do some of the workouts to support my sistas. :)

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Glass Half Full

My last few posts have been a bit negative.  It's been difficult for me to keep a positive attitude when my world has been so tumultuous.  The reality is, though, that what I'm going through is nothing compared to what some of you Mamavation Sistas are going through.  My stress is just my job.  I need to keep reminding myself that it's JUST a job.  It's not family drama or illness or even worse.  So I'm going to focus on seeing the glass half full.

The stress meter was up and down for me last week.  I had a good chat with my new VP and it's clear that I have a very good chance at staying in a role that I enjoy and will keep the lights on at home.  I'm going to be less involved in a few of the projects and programs that bring me true joy, but I'll still have a voice.  It will all be okay...I just have to get on the other side of this month.  My first task was updating my resume.  I know, what kind of HR person worth her salt doesn't update her resume?!?  Apparently, I don't.  Mine hasn't been touched in 4 years.  I think I've got it nearly done though.  It needs one more proofread and then hopefully, I can submit it tomorrow.  Then I wait.  I think I'll start interviewing the following week and will really need your cheers then.  The interview process will be a two week marathon!

I haven't gotten a good night of sleep in over a week, and it's really starting to show on my face.  I've been chugging a ton of water with the hope that it will make a difference, but nothing can cover the circles under my eyes right now.  Maybe I'll get to buy some new makeup as a result of this though?  Anyone have suggestions for a good under eye concealer?

I've been really enjoying my workouts and stuck with my plan for last week.  The best news from last week is that I finished my 100 push-up challenge and I met it!!  I was able to do 101 uninterrupted push-ups last week.  I'm so proud!  My time with the Tae Bo DVDs has also been awesome.  There's something so freeing about punching along with Billy Blanks!  I made great food choices over the week as well.  On Friday night, my husband told me that we were going out for burgers and good beer.  Apparently, beer is a stress reducer and he thought I needed one.  I had my first beer in about nine months and it was sooo good.  The Chimay and blue cheese burger was just what I needed as a reward for all of my hard work.

I've meal and workout planned for the upcoming week.  We're eating lots of chicken and Brussels sprouts.  I'm taking the week off from Pure Barre, but am doing an extra elliptical workout to make up for it.  I even got to go for a short hike today. 

So, this is going to be a good week.  What about for all of you?  How can I help cheer you on?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Our week in pictures

Although last week was tough for me, our family had a pretty good time.  Our adventures included snow tubing at a local park, a birthday party for Dr. Seuss, and N's first time skiing.  She had a blast!  Here are a few (not great quality) pics from the week.

Off the rails, but climbing back on

I've been quiet this week because the week has been pretty bad.  I haven't said much because there's nothing positive to share.  Instead, I've been eating my feelings and my stress.  To top if off, I'm PMSy, so I've been craving salt and sugar ALL THE TIME.  I know it's bad and I'm determined to move beyond this terrible week, so I think it's time to share the situation with my Mamavation Sistas.

On Monday, I had a meeting with a colleague and realized that the current and pending reorganization of my department was essentially already worked out.  I knew in my gut that the people I wanted to get the new roles weren't going to get them and it would likely impact me in some pretty significant ways.  Of course I couldn't talk to anyone about this, so I picked up some M&Ms.

Throughout the week, I watched my team become more and more nervous as rumors flew around about upcoming announcements.  I tried to keep quiet and stuffed my face with Oreos.

On Thursday, the new selections were made.  I didn't hear from my boss until that evening, and I could tell from his cryptic message that things weren't good.  I went to a networking event and tried to hold it together, but it was a little much.  When I went home, I couldn't force myself to work out and I just sat in bed, watching TV. 

Finally, on Friday, the announcement about the new structure was sent out.  As I predicted, the whole thing was predetermined, despite the last month of stress and interviewing for my boss and all of his peers.  The new structure will be fine and I know that ultimately, I will be fine, it's just really sad to realize that it was all a charade.  I've lost so much trust as a result of this...and I feel so naive for believing that things might work out differently.  On Friday night, I enjoyed some red wine and kettle chips.

So here we are now.  I'll be meeting with my new VP on Monday and hope to hear his vision for our department.  I don't know if I'll fit into that or if I'll end up interviewing for a different role in the company or if I'll have to find a new employer.  I probably won't know the outcome of this for a month.  I will have to handle my emotions for the next four weeks and need to find a way to curb my eating behavior while I work through this stress.  It's job is so much of who I am and I am struggling with the ambiguity.  It will be okay though.

I've signed up for the Mamavation #2weekchallenge - the timing couldn't be more perfect.  I need some daily accountability to work off my stress.  The challenge is still a week away so in the meantime, I have the following plan.

Sunday, March 3rd: Tae Bo 10 Minute Workout, 3 miles, #plankaday
Monday, March 4th: Final fit test for the 100 PushUp Challenge!!, 2 miles, #plankaday
Tuesday, March 5th: Pure Barre
Wednesday, March 6th: 2-3 miles, #plankaday, pushups
Thursday, March 7th: REST
Friday, March 8th: 2-3 miles, #plankaday, pushups
Saturday, March 9th: Tae Bo, #plankaday
Sunday, March 10th: REST

I'm going to stop stressing about the extra calories I ate this week and just proceed normally with food.  I'm planning healthy meals for the week and plan to avoid sugar.  I'm back on track...starting today!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Preschool Drama

Tonight, as N was getting ready for her bath, I heard her shriek, "You're not my friend and I'm going to kick you in the face."  Based on her tone, she was mad as hell at her father and she said it to be mean.  I ran into the hallway, scooped her up, and put her in the time out corner so everyone could calm down.  I was so mad at this display of anger from her.  Where did she learn such horrible words and when did she learn how to be mean?

After she calmed herself, I sat down with N and asked who used those words. She instantly shared the name of one of her classmates and based on what I've seen from this little girl at after school, I believe her.  She then proceeded to tell me how the same girl won't play with her anymore and said they weren't friends.  Apparently, N responded with a "well, you're not my friend either" comment. For reference, N is 3 and the other girl is 4.  Seriously?!? When did preschool become filled with drama?

N and I had a long discussion about using nice words and not mean words.  She told me all about how some girls won't play with her friends and it's clear that there's some exclusion happening.  We talked about the importance of playing with everyone and making good choices.  She seems to understand, but I'm sure in the thick of things at school, it will be hard to remember.  Any guidance on how I should proceed?  I'm at a loss here...

Update on Goals

We're nearly two months into the New Year, so I thought it was a good time to give a quick accountability update on my goals.   
  1. Write regularly.  Write in my own blog, leave comments on others, and write about N's childhood so she has a record of it.
    • This is going well.  I've posted at least once per week and have been able to leave comments on other blogs as well.  I could probably be better about chronicling N's childhood...most of my posts have been about me (conceited??).
  2. Constantly remind myself that N is not trying to drive me crazy...she's just 3.  Give myself time outs when her behavior starts to upset me.
    • This is going really well for me, but has caused me to notice that my husband could be much better.  I've actually been pretty pissed at him recently because of my frustration about how he interacts with her.  I guess it's time to address that as a secondary issue.
  3. Focus on wellness, not just fitness.  Change my workout routine to include more yoga and strength training to help me feel calm and centered.  The goal here is to help #2 above.
    • I've felt the most impact from this goal.  I've successfully changed my workout routine and my stress levels have reduced as an outcome.  I posted a sample week here in my last Mamavation post and I was able to stick with most of the plan.  I've been so sore from my Pure Barre classes that I've gotten a few days behind on my push-up challenge, but otherwise, I finished everything I set out to last week.  I'm up to 62 uninterrupted push-ups now and I'm pretty proud of it.  I made it through a full hour of Tae Bo yesterday, which is also an accomplishment in my book.
    • I still haven't been able to incorporate yoga because of my schedule.  I have some pre-paid passes to the local hot yoga studio though, so I need to make the time to go. 
  4. Take care of my skin.  I'm 32 years old and all of the sudden, my face is showing it.  This year, I will invest in, and regularly use, skincare products.
    • This is FRUSTRATING!  I've been using a Murad anti-aging and correcting product since the New Year and it hasn't made a difference.  Is this because my skin is beyond repair or because I'm not using a good product?  Regardless, this is expensive and a bit disappointing.
    • Does anyone have recommendations of good anti-aging products to share? I'm all ears at this point!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mamavation Monday 2/18

Last week was mixed for me.  I am still doing well with my workout routine, but I've really struggled with food choices.  I'm feeling very sluggish and I know it's because I'm eating too much sugar.  My carb/fat/protein ratio has been off kilter for a few weeks and I haven't been able to get back on track.  I'm eating too many's those damned Cadbury Eggs!! I've told myself that the sugar splurges are okay because I'm stressed, but frankly, that's bullshit. I know I need to manage stress with exercise and just have to hold myself accountable.

This week, I plan to lower my calorie target a bit. I need to show myself that I have some self control. I can stick to a calorie goal, whereas it's hard for me to cut out something specific.  With less calories,I'm  forced to focus on eating healthy, whole foods and I tend to avoid junk.  Hopefully this approach will work for me.  Most of the dinners I've planned for the week include chicken.  My plan is to make enough to take some chicken to work for lunch each day. I assume that if I eat ,ore protein at lunch, I won't want chocolate at 3pm. :)

As for workouts, I have the following planned:
Monday: Cardio (3miles) and #plankaday
Tuesday: Pure Barre (I've found it to be a great workout and I'm so sore after!). We plank in class, so it also meets my #plankaday goal.
Wednesday: Cardio (2-3 miles), #plankaday, and push-ups for the 100 push-up challenge
Thursday: rest
Friday: push-ups for the 100 push-up challenge and #plankaday
Saturday: Cardio (Tae Bo?) and #plankaday
Sunday: push-ups for the 100 push-up challenge and #plankaday

This should be my last week of the push-up challenge...I'm excited to see how many I can do at the end of it.  More to come on that next week.  I'm also very focused on water intake.  I do really well with the #64ozchallenge during the weekdays, but I've been struggling on the weekends.  I just need to be more conscious of it.

What do you have planned?  Have a great week, ladies!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Multi-tasking is Overrated

I'm writing this while on a conference call.  Not with anyone inside my organization (don't worry, employer!), but still...  I'm multitasking.  This has become the story of my life.  It is extremely rare that I sit down and focus on just one thing at a time.  This dawned on me last night as I was phone interviewing a new babysitter while driving to the gym.  Should I really be screening a potential caregiver for my child while racing to my next location?

I've always been an overachiever.  I've always been busy and thanks to my ADD, I never sit still.  Generally speaking, I do a damn good job of "wearing multiple hats."  That being said, since I've become a mom, I've taken this juggling act to a whole new level.

I responded to work email while I was in labor.  I read parenting blogs and researched developmental milestones during N's 2AM nursing sessions. Rather than "sleeping while the baby slept," I participated in conference calls during my maternity leave.  When I went back to work, I scheduled every moment of my day so that I could fit late afternoon Kindermusik classes into my week. Three years later, my husband and I have our schedules down to a science.  Exercise when N is asleep; laundry and kitchen cleaning while she watches cartoons on Saturday morning; one Saturday afternoon per month as alone time while the other parent does something special with N.  The science part of it is great.  We wouldn't be able to manage our lives if we weren't this organized and methodical.  I am starting to realize that I may be killing myself with all of this activity though.  I'm stressed.  I'm tired (and the circles under my eyes are visible proof).  I'm finding a new gray hair every week.  There are moments when I feel like I'm failing at work.  Can I really do my best and make every project/interaction/experience great if I'm not totally focused?  How many typos could have been avoided in this post if I proofread it without my work IM dinging in the background?

I hung up the phone with the new babysitter last night and realized that I didn't ask her a couple of very basic questions.  I was so excited about her based on the first impression she made on me and so worried about being late for my exercise class that I skimped on the interview.  Good grief, I interview for a living.  How is it acceptable for me to not give it 100% when it's for my child?!  How many other times have I done something similar and not realized it?

So, for now, I am going to find a way to be more focused.  I'm going to block time on my calendar for the regular to-dos and find a way to focus on them.  I'm also going to find time to just focus on my child.  She deserves to have me to read her library book without being distracted by the VIP alert emails from my boss on my phone.  She needs me to help her with trace numbers without running to the kitchen to stir whatever I'm making for dinner.  Maybe we'll start ordering take-out once a week.  I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I need to make it happen.  I'm open to suggestions if any of you wonderful moms are willing to share.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Growing Up: The Reality of Death

I'm 32 years old and IT has hit.  A huge concern about mortality has officially landed square in my lap.  I'm sad and I'm scared.

My best friend found a lump in her breast.  She's been back and forth with physicians about it for two weeks and finally, they acknowledged that something was wrong.  After several mammograms, they sufficiently freaked her out by indicating that the mass was quite large and an odd shape.  It also turned out that she had several other masses that needed to be reviewed.  Several biopsies and 4.5 days of waiting later, she has been told that she doesn't have cancer, but they don't know what's wrong with her.  She'll continue to have mammograms every few months while they investigate the issue.

4.5 days of waiting.  4.5 days of crying and freaking out and speculating and imagining worst case scenarios.  She has a toddler.  She is engaged and will soon have two stepchildren.  Her fiance travels for work 100% of the time.  How would she handle a cancer diagnosis?  She lives an hour away from civilization.  How would she handle treatment?  How could I help her when I'm stressed about my own life and I live six hours away?  Thank God it all turned out alright, at least for now.

I just learned that a colleague passed away last night.  I just saw him last week.  The email this morning indicated that his cause of death is still TBD.  He wasn't sick.  He wasn't in an accident.  He just dropped dead?!?  He has a wife and two kids.  I can't even imagine how awful this must be for them.

I've been very fortunate in that until now, I haven't had to think much about death.  These two events have me thinking though...should I be more concerned?  Should I be contingency planning?  My husband and I have drafted our will, but we haven't been able to finalize it.  We need to do that.  We need to share it openly with our family and those who would be involved in supporting N.  It's incredibly sad to think about and a very grown-up topic.  Although I'm an adult, I don't feel ready for it.

For now, I will put away my tears and add "finalize will" to my to-do list.  It seems such an odd thing to type into Wunderlist...

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Topic of Dieting

Over the weekend, N and I were at a play date with one of her friends. We were over at the friend's house with her mother and father who are amazing Italian cooks. Both parents were born in Italy and have been in the US for since grad school and they’re known in our kids’ friend circle for making amazing meals. They fixed lunch for everyone and when we sat down to eat, seemed surprised by my choices. The parents made a salad with olive oil and vinegar, a bacon spinach quiche, pasta with tomato sauce, and rolls. They also served wine – at lunch. I brought these massive red velvet cupcakes from Costco for dessert because I didn’t have time to bake and I thought they were festive.

I chose a small piece of quiche, half of a roll and a large portion of the salad, with just the vinegar as dressing. No wine for me (I can’t drink and then work out), which was very shocking to them and caused the obligatory “Come on, live a little!” statement. Despite the peer pressure, I abstained.

I decided to have half of a cupcake for dessert. I work out hard and I do so because I like sweets. I never avoid dessert. This was also shocking to the parents. The mother made a comment about how she guessed I could handle having a cupcake because of my size, but she couldn’t.

The lunch conversation then turned to the topic of diets, which I really detest. My child and two other impressionable young girls were at the table. I don’t use the word diet in my house. I talk to my child about how I make good choices and I work out to stay healthy. When I was little, my mom was always on a diet and I know that impacted my view of food, my body, and my image. I don’t want that to rub off on N. I’ve made good choices so that N doesn’t feel that pressure from me as she grows up. The dreaded 4-letter D word came up though.

I’ve pondered the fact that in a few years, N’s friends will start talking about diets. When that time comes, I’m planning to focus my response around fueling and taking care of our bodies and being strong women. I know there will be peer pressure, but I feel as equipped as possible to help her through it – when she’s a little older. I never imagined that the topic would come up so early though. She’s 3 years old…I don’t want her thinking about this now.

We went home and after her nap, I asked N to help me make dinner. I talked to her about what we were cooking and shared how it was a balanced meal, full of protein and good carbs to give us energy and help her grow. For dessert, she had one piece of chocolate and thoroughly enjoyed it. She didn’t ask for more because she was full and satisfied. The topic of dieting hasn’t come up since and hopefully, it won’t for a while.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Bye-bye, Baby Fat

Tonight, while rubbing lotion into my daughter's sensitive skin, I noticed something.  The fat rolls on her wrists are no longer there. N was an adorably rotund baby and I was so proud of the rolls that my body created. She was a bottomless pit for her entire first year.  At her demand, I woke multiple times each night to feed her until she was nearly a year old.  I didn't mind because I could see the result of my sleepless nights...that sweet, sweet baby chub.

The creases in her wrists were the last evidence of those delicious rolls and now they're gone.  My baby has turned into a little girl in what feels like an instant.
So, I put N to bed, went in my room, and cried. I know it sounds self-centered, but it's sad to realize there's no more evidence that she was dependent upon me.  She has become her own little human being; a healthy, growing, active little girl.  I know it's all good stuff, but it's still a little sad.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Overcoming Stress

This year, I resolved to change up my workout routine and find the joy in exercise.  I'm doing well overall and feel like I'm keeping the resolution.  At this point, I've finished 33/300 miles for the year, kept on track with the 100 Push-Up Challenge, done #plankaday almost every single night, started the #64ozchallenge, and added in a few new types of exercise.  I'm signed up for a Pure Barre class on Tuesday and I've started back with Tae Bo.  I feel stronger and I know I'm working muscles that I've previously ignored.  

I've previously shared that things are a bit stressful at work right now.  I'm used to stress and as a problem-solver, I tend to thrive in it.  This stress is a little different though.  This stress had me a little worried and caused me to doubt myself.  That's not a good scenario for me.

On Friday, I worked from home because I had several heads-down tasks that needed to be done and I wanted to focus.  I planned to spend the lunch hour with Billy Blanks and my Tae Bo DVD.  I was going out to dinner with my husband on Friday night and wanted to burn some major calories so I could indulge in wine and dessert.  My lunchtime workout was interrupted by work.  My IM kept flashing and email kept coming in and my cell phone was ringing.  It turns out that I didn't do a great job of communicating a project with my team and as a result they were worried about it.  I felt like I goofed and that didn't help the self-confidence that was already wavering.  

I'm horomonal and all I wanted was salt.  The last phone call was the beginning of my potato chip fueled downward spiral.  Before I knew it, I had eaten 800 calories worth of kettle chips while reading and rereading my notes from my project plan.  I managed to put the rest of the chips away and pull myself together.  I was still frustrated and dinner out with the hubs wasn't great.  I ended up being over my calorie goal for the day, which stressed me out even more.

Yesterday was more of the same.  I was feeling stressed and just wanted chocolate and salt.  I ate too much bad stuff but kept pounding water for the #64ozchallenge.  I was so full that I felt like I could vomit. This is my natural reaction to bingeing.  I don't even have to gag...even after 10 years, my body still naturally ties to purge when I eat way too much.  I found myself in the bathroom, trying not to vomit and realzied that I've quickly hit a breaking point.  I've lost control because I'm stressed and I need to kick myself in the ass.  

Stress is, well, stressful.  But this is life and life is full of stressful events.  I have to get over it.  My family shouldn't have to deal with my weird moods, poor food choices or ultimately, poor health because I'm stressed out.  I have an obligation to pull myself up by my bootstraps and move forward.

So I have.  I scheduled a massage for next weekend.  I woke up and drank lots of water.  I fixed a healthy breakfast for my family and then went outside to shovel snow.  I shoveled our driveway and sidewalk and just kept going.  I listened to upbeat music and shoveled three of my neighbors sidewalks and I felt much better.  I came inside cold, but sweaty and invigorated.  I've finished a work project, meal planned and cleaned.  I feel like the Energizer Bunny and that's when I thrive.

I'm going to keep focusing on the positive and try to stop stressing because it's not healthy.  I'd like my Mamavation sisters to help.  Please check in on me via Twitter occasionally over the next few weeks and ask me how things are going.  I know that things will be tumultuous this month and I'd love to feel your support.  Let me know how I can support you too!  

Saturday, February 2, 2013


We are in the early stages of a massive restructuring at work.  As a result, I'm not sure who my boss will be, what my role will be (if I'm still employed at the end of this), or where my office will be located. We've been told that we will all need to interview for the new roles in the new structure, but those haven't been finalized yet.  I have great faith in my current boss and since learning this news two weeks ago, have been confident that both he and the rest of our team will handle the new structure well.  Most of the time, I have good thoughts and believe that I will have a solid role in the new structure, but there are moments when I'm not so confident.  I've been told that I'm valued and that I don't need to worry about finding a job outside of our company.  That being said, there are moments when I worry that they're just hinting at the fact that I will likely have a role, but there's no guarantee that the role will be at my same level or compensation.

I just blogged about how wonderful N's education is and then literally, two minutes after scheduling the post, I checked the mail and discovered her 2013-2014 school contract with a due date of late February.  I'm afraid to sign the contract and jinx myself.  If I sign it, am I being overly confident in my employment situation?  What happens if I sign the contract and then my work life falls apart?  I won't know what's happening with my job for a couple of months, so I'm freaked out.  

After opening the mail, I came upstairs to get some work done while N played.  I was sitting at my computer with her behind me, playing on her keyboard.  Given my stress level after opening the contract, the noise of her banging on the keys was driving me berserk and I was trying really hard not to snap.  I turned around to look at her and she smiled and asked me to play with her.  Then she squeezed my face and said "Mommy, let's do something fun."  I crawled on the floor with her and started spelling out names with her letter blocks.  After a few minutes, she pulled out her toy helicopter and asked me to help because she couldn't get it to turn on.  I simply flipped a hidden switch and it started working.  She responded with "You fixed it! Mommy, you always fix things."

This child has faith in me that I don't always have in myself.  She's right though - I do always fix things.  From her perspective, that means cleaning up messes and fixing boo boos, but I am a naturally a problem solver.  If I end up in a difficult employment situation, or worse, if I end up unemployed, I will find a way to fix it.  I'll prove myself and be promoted or I'll find another job.  I'm going to trust her comment and follow the confidence she has in me and just sign the contract. 

The Application of Knowledge in PreK

 The tuition for N’s school is increasing next year.  I’m not surprised…when we began the process of selecting a school, I quickly learned that it was going to be expensive and continue to become even more so.  This is what we signed up for.  However, when my husband saw the tuition increases, he pretty much flipped out.  The expiration of the Bush tax cuts definitely impacted our wallets in January and it was a little scary to see how that will track through to our attempts at saving.  We’re now feeling like any annual merit raises we receive will go straight to the cost of N’s education and we’re worried about how we save up enough to do all the things we hope to over the next few years. 
The saving grace in our house this week was the regular newsletter from the Director of N’s school.  My husband saw the newsletter and immediately texted me to make sure I read it right away.  The theme was “Cultivating Understanding Through Learning by Doing.”  Here’s a snippet:
Recently, the parent of a Pre-K student shared with me a conversation she had with her daughter about artists.  The parent was telling her daughter that her favorite artist is Matisse.  Her young daughter responded enthusiastically, and proceeded to tell her mother about Matisse.  The parent was amazed her young daughter knew about Matisse and knew specific things about him.  It is a true mark of understanding when a child can take information and apply it in a new context.   I was not surprised when she shared this story with me.  Her daughter learned about Matisse in the context of learning about shapes and color.  She made connections with things she was very familiar with and she created her own designs, in the same way that Matisse had.  She is developing an understanding of what it means to be an artist and how artists convey ideas from their minds to others through their art.  As Einstein said, understanding something deeply allows us to convey information in a simple, direct way.  When we truly understand we can express ourselves clearly, and we can apply what we know to new situations.  Developing understanding is critical in learning.
I’m the parent she’s referring to and N is the daughter.  The story is 100% true and when I shared it with the Director, I was expressing my gratitude for how broad N’s learning experience has been this year.  I am wildly impressed by the things she tells me.  This morning, for example, the first thing she told me was that it’s Groundhog Day.  She then asked me if we could watch the groundhog because she wanted to know if he was going to see his shadow.  She sang a song about the holiday and knew all about dear Phil, including the words from the annual proclamations!  After breakfast, I checked the news and told her that Phil didn’t see his shadow.  She responded with “That means that Spring will be here soon.  Yay for warm weather and the sun!”  I let her watch the video of the event online and understood it.  She’s three years old, people!  It’s amazing to me that she fully comprehends these concepts.  The school Director is right, it’s because they allow the students to learn by doing and apply their knowledge. 
Between seeing the mention of our daughter in the school newsletter and hearing her go on and on about Punxsutawney Phil, I think that both my dear husband and I are over the tuition hike concern.  J

I've Lost My Spark

I’m fortunate to spend time with executives from my company on a regular basis.  Although I experience the typical ups and downs of (being a mom in) the corporate world, I work for a great company and we have some very strong leaders.  There’s one in particular, who I really connect with and see as a mentor.  Last week, I sat down with her for our monthly touch-base and decided to be candid with her.  I shared that I was feeling like a doormat.  I want people to get along and I’ve let myself take the blame for things that were in no way my fault. She responded with a comment about how she feels that I’ve lost my spark.


Then she told me that she empathized.  Things have been difficult within our team and as a woman, it’s easy to focus your energy on other things outside of the office.  She guessed that because of work frustration, I’ve been focusing my energy on my daughter.

Even bigger ouch.

It’s one thing to assume that I’ve lost my professional spark.  I understand that and can see where she’s coming from.  It’s another to assume that my focus is torn between work and family.  I hate that this topic even comes up.  I’m mad at myself for being upset that there’s a perception that I’m not completely focused on work.  Most of all, I’m really disappointed in myself because I care. 
I’m a good mom.  I should be happy that she assumed that I’m focusing on my child.  I just don’t want her or anyone else in the workplace to think that.  I want her to think that I can take everything in stride and excel in all my roles.  I appreciate her persepctive as a strong female.  I appreciated the honesty of her comments, but they cut me to the core.

I came home from work and snuggled with my child.  Then, in typical three year old fashion, she started acting up.  Secretly, I wished that I could go back to work and focus on something I could control.  Spark or not, in the office, I have control over my world.  If I ask someone to send a contract out or call an employee or whatever, it gets done.  I don’t have to ask twice.  I don’t have someone saying, “Mommy, say it as a sentence” or "no, I don't want to do that."

I want to be and think I am a good mom.  I’m proud of my daughter and love showing her off.  I also want to do well at work.  I want my child to see me do well at work so that I can be a good role model.  I want the women on my team to see me as a strong leader who achieves balance.  At the same time, I fight the perception that I’m working to find that balance.  It's a tough emotional struggle and I'm not sure why I do this to myself.

I'm working to reignite my spark and I know I'll be successful.  Just in the last few days, there have been some good changes in the office.  Things are feeling positive and the kindling is ready to help make a flame.  I am going to focus on nurturing that spark instead of trying to change the perception that I'm focused on my child.  A good mother can do both, and that's what I am.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Eyes on the Prize

In my quest for core strength, I've been doing a lot of planking recently and one night last week, I did my #plankaday in my sports bra. I made the mistake of looking down and practically burst into tears as a result. My tummy, it just looked saggy. I hadn't previously realized the full effects of pregnancy on my body. Sure, I knew that my boobs weren't what they used to be, but I didn't think they were bad.  The saggy tummy  realization caused me to rip off my bra and see that my chest is in the same shape. OH...MY...GOD.

Fast forward to today. I was at Dick's this morning to pick up a new resistance band (I broke my old one this week) and noticed that they had running shorts on clearance.  I grabbed a pair of mediums (smalls just seemed so small) and paid just $5.98 them.  When I got home and tried them on, I realized two things.  First, the mediums were big (yay)!  I never really saw myself wearing a size small, but that seems to be the norm for me these days.  Such a victory.  The second, and most important thing is that I have really great legs.  I'm fortunate to be tall and (now) lean with some muscle definition.  All of my hard work over the last year plus has really paid off for my gams!

I've never been proud of my body.  As someone who survived an eating disorder, I clearly have some residual body image issues.  The recent realization that my upper body is showing evidence of mommyhood didn't sit well with me.  However, seeing a really great part of my body helped to put things into perspective. My chest is the way it is because I proudly breastfed my daughter for 15 months.  She was a gloriously fat baby who never had a single ounce of formula and I love the fact that my body was able to provide for her.  What I saw earlier this week is evidence of that triumph, not something to be ashamed of.  My legs look this way now because I've worked my ass off in the gym.  I may not be able to significantly improve my chest, but I can certainly keep working on and show off my rockin' legs!  Now, I have a new reason to do a few more squats.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to put on a short skirt and then find my husband. ;)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Admitting I'm tired...

Recently, while perusing Pinterest, I saw an eye concealer with a caption that read “No one will realize how tired you really are.”  It caught my attention because I have some pretty serious circles under my eyes.  I looked at the link and I think I might have even pinned it to my “For Me” board.  Then I promptly went on with the rest of my day.
I’ve been really busy over the last few months.  When I think about it, I’ve been busy for years and years.  It’s just my nature to always be active.  The trouble is that now, in my thirties, all the hustle and bustle is catching up with me.  I never sit still and it’s getting worse.  I’m pretty sure that my activity level is overcompensating for my exhaustion.  I don’t want to admit that I need to slow down and chill out.  I want to be the perfect mom.  I want to prove that I can work full time and be a great mom and be in shape and be stylish and be…everything to everyone.  I keep taking on more and more and more and more.  To that end, at the beginning of the month, I committed to extra workouts, an annual mileage goal and a ton of strength training.  I’ve been doing it, but in retrospect, I’m pretty sure that this is another example of overcommitting.  This activity level isn’t sustainable given my busy lifestyle.
I was able to spend some time thinking over the weekend and I remembered that Pinterest eye stuff.  The thing that struck me was the phrase “No one will realize how tired you really are.”  I’ve come to the realization that I’m expending a lot of energy trying to make sure that no one realizes that I’m worn out.  I’ve been hopeful that the extra exercise would give me more oomph, but I’m literally too tired for that oomph to stick with me.  When I finish a workout, I feel good.  The next day, I have to drag my tired ass out of bed to fight through my daily routine again.   Tonight, for example, I am so worn out from the stress of work, my sick kid, the whirlwind multi-state trip I took this weekend, and cleaning up my house, that the last thing I have the energy for is working out.  I’ll go do it, but I really just need to go to bed.  Tomorrow, when my kid yells for me to get up at 5:30am, I’m going to be resentful… resentful of her and resentful of my decision to prioritize exercise over sleep.
I need to find a balance.  I’ve been so positive about my lifestyle change.  I need to get that positivity back and chill out.  I need to stop stressing about exercise and find the joy in it again.  Until I find that joy, I’m going to cut back a bit.  I’m still keeping my mileage goal and will be doing my regular push-ups and planking.  I’m going to put the rest of it on hold for a week or two and spend the extra time in bed.  I’m hopeful that with a little extra rest, I’ll come out of my funk and get my workout mojo back.

Casual Tuesday

I never, and I mean NEVER, get to dress down for work.  Our office usually offers a jeans on Friday deal in exchange for a monetary donation to a charity, but I'm not able to take advantage of it for a number of reasons.  Today though, our team has an off site meeting all afternoon and we decided to offer a casual dress day.  As a result, jeans for all!
Rather than look super stylish, I decided to go for comfort and warmth.  The temperature is in the single digits here and with the wind chill, it's like 20 below or something.  I'm wearing a turtleneck sweater that I purchased during a trip to Whistler many years ago, last year's Hudson jeans, striped knee socks and my slightly odd Kork Ease mary janes.  The sweater has a cute kangaroo pocket, which I really love.  I hate the feel of wearing a belt with jeans, so I have a camisole on to help provide some extra coverage in the backside...just in case my jeans slide down a bit.
Yay for a comfy day at work!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mamavation Monday Post #3

I'm sore.

Since jumping on the Mamavation bandwagon, I've been sore.  While I was on winter break, I kept up with most of the hazing workouts and some of the moves really kicked my butt (lunges in particular).  At that point, I realized that my workouts haven't been doing everything that I'd like, so the soreness prompted me to change my entire workout routine.  I'm doing a 100 push up challenge and although I'm almost done with week 2, my shoulders are STILL sore.  I've started doing planks and have more than doubled my time over the last week.  As a result, my abs are sore.  I bought a couple of Tae Bo DVDs.  I loved Billy Blanks 10 years ago, but this afternoon, when I popped the 10 minute workouts disc in, I cursed him.  Now, my quads are sore.

Sore, sore, sore, sore, sore...

Here's the thing...I'm not really complaining.  I like the feeling of achy muscles.  I know that I'm working hard and I love the fact that my body is responding to it.  I can feel myself getting stronger and becoming more powerful.  When I picked up my 38 pound daughter to put her in the cart at Costco today, it was easy.  That was exactly what I hoped would happen.  I'm literally becoming healthier for my family.  Today, N asked me if I was going to do push ups.  She wanted to join me.  How cool is it that at the age of 3, she understands that exercise is good for you.  I've been very careful to ensure that she doesn't associate my lifestyle with weight loss, rather it's all about being healthy.  At dinner tonight, she told me that she loved the quinoa I made for her and my heart melted.

The best development of the week is that my husband started a couch to 5k program.  He's in great shape as a result of eating well and strength training 3-4 times per week for like, forever.  His downfall is cardio.  He will attempt the elliptical, but gets bored immediately and gives up.  He doesn't have a bike and frankly, the weather in our city doesn't make biking easy.  Anyway, he's been paying attention to the fact that I'm shaking up my routines and he decided to do the same.  He went for his first run yesterday and really enjoyed it.  I think he's also really liking the alone time that running affords. :) 

So, although I'm sore, I'm thankful.  My family is healthy and continuing down this lifestyle change with me.  I couldn't be happier about the aches and pains in my muscles because they're proof that I'm doing something right.

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Own Office Fashion Show

At the beginning of the week, I saw this post on Liberating WM about Working with Style.  This is a regular topic for the LWM ladies, but in this post the author is a fellow HR professional, so of course I decided to check out her duds.  I was impressed by - and jealous of - her style.  My look tends to be a little different, so after mentally comparing the two, I decided to take a few of my own snapshots this week.  The lighting isn't very good, but you'll get the general idea.  It's my first week back in the office after the holidays and I was forced to give up my at home uniform of sweatshirt, yoga pants, Uggs and this super hawt hairstyle.

As a side note, there's no way that I would have taken fashion shots a year ago.  When I was heavier, I hid behind my clothes.  I wore lots of bulky suit jackets and roomy dresses with empire waists that in no way showed my silhouette.  Things are different now.  I feel more confident and I like buying clothes.

The challenge for my closet is that I work for a large corporation and the dress code is pretty conservative.  I don't mind the expected attire, but it does limit the fun I can have with fashion.  We're pretty much a suit and tie office M-Th and Friday is a sort of dress down day.  I get around this (to a certain extent) by wearing dresses.

I love dresses with a slight sixties flare and am having great luck finding peices in a few places.  The first is Boden.  I have to buy everything online because there's not a shop in my area, but it's worthwhile.  Their stuff ships super fast and is always great quality.  Best of all, they have almost everything in tall sizes.  Since I'm 5'8", I can't get away with regular length pants and dresses.  Boden has some great options for me.
* Above: Dress: Boden; navy blue tights and silver belt: Target; silver heels: J.Crew (circa 2006)

* Below: Dress: London Times from Macys; watch: vintage (my grandfather's); black tights: Target; shoes: Franco Sarto from Nordstrom (circa 2010)

The accessories I'm comfortable pushing the dress code limits with are shoes.  In my opinion, the higher the heel, the better.  For example, these heels are five inches, but really comfortable because of the platform.  I wouldn't run any marathons or carry my child in them, but for the office, they work. 
* Below: dress: Kohls; earrings: Target; necklace: Ann Taylor Loft; shoes: Nine West

Although I like my heels to be sky-high, I also look for more conservative options that are comfortable.  These red mary janes aren't really my style, but I decided to take a chance on them (thanks, Twitter feedback) and I think they're a win.
* Below: dress: Land's End (yay for clearance!); sweater tights: TJ Maxx; shoes: Kork Ease from Zappos; bag to drag my crap to/from work: Brighton (gift from my bestie)

As much as I love to wear dresses, there are days when I just can't pull that off.  Case in point, yesterday.  I had an interview with a reporter and needed to suit up.  It wasn't on-camera, but my general look for any video-recorded interview is a black suit with a bright shirt underneath.  It's boring, but looks good on film and doesn't call my credibility into question. 
* Below: suit: Ann Taylor; shirt: Express (circa 2005); basic black belt: Old Navy; patent leather mary janes (they have red heels!): Nine West from Macy's (circa 2008)

So, that's my week in clothing.  It's not easy to dress in a way that makes me feel stylish within the confines of my corporate culture, but generally, I feel like my clothes show my personality.  Happy shopping!