Three-Steps to Better Self-Care During Covid-19

I’m a big believer in the power of self-care.  I think it’s one of the most important tools that we have in our toolbox to be our best version of ourselves at work and at home.  In a time where we feel rocked by the Covid-19 pandemic on so many levels, we need self-care more than ever to stay resilient and power through.

The challenge to figure out how to manage work, family life, online learning, finances and keeping ourselves and our loved ones healthy is not an easy one.  It’s stressful and worrisome.  It’s complicated. It requires a plan to navigate and adjust constantly in this changing environment.  As an HR consultant, I’ve talked to company after company about how they are responding to keep their employees safe with Covid and they have shared their step-by-step plans, all backed by actions and well thought out processes to respond to every situation.  As a work life balance blogger for years, I have written articles and coached women on steps they can take with self-care to thrive.  The combination of self-care with a structured plan is powerful, especially in a time where we feel overwhelmed without a playbook to follow.

The truth of it is, we have it in us to figure this out.  We are smart, we are resourceful and we are problem solvers.  However, we can’t tap into our true capabilities if we are overwhelmed and stressed out.  That’s where self-care comes in.  Just like we are pivoting to quickly develop a plan to adjust at work, we need to adjust our self-care plan at home to help us get through this time in a healthy way. 

Committing to a self-care plan that addresses your current needs will help you to be your best for yourself and others. Putting your plan in writing helps to ensure that you think through and commit to the actions that will make a difference.  The added step of acknowledging your worries and recognizing what you actually have control over can help to focus on what you can do something about, not what you can’t.  Here are three simple and quick tools to rock your self-care plan and get through this challenging time:

1. Develop a Self-Care Plan. Use the below chart to define your needs and actions you will take to care for yourself physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually and professionally.  Each of these 5 areas are important to consider to develop a well- rounded plan to care for you.  Keep it simple with no more than 3 actions you can take in each area. Print it out and put it in a noticeable place like your bathroom mirror so you can keep it top of mind.

2. Do a Pandemic Brain Dump – A brain dump is a tool that psychologists have used for years to help people get worries out of your head and in writing so that they can be acknowledged and addressed.  Check out the blog for a great overview of brain dumps and how they can plan an important part of self-care.   Attached is a pandemic brain dump that I created to define and address your worries that you actually have control over.

3. Check in on your progress and adjust your plan. Check in on yourself every week, like you would with a best friend or family member.  Ask “How’s it going? How are you feeling? How can I reset the plan and get back on track?”  Update your Pandemic Brain Dump to get it cleared out of your head so you can focus.  Publish your revised self-care plan and give yourself a positive affirmation that you are doing the best you can and are committed to managing through this.

Someday, we will look back on this time and see how much stronger we became in 2020.  Until then, stay healthy and reach out to me at  if you have any questions that I can help with in using these tools!

Thank U, Next


Who would have thought that Arianna Grande would be teaching me a career lesson, but she did. It happened in Bogota, Colombia when I was listening to her song “Thank U, Next” during a business trip. Arianna’s song is about moving on after bad break ups, what she’s learned from each relationship and how she’s getting stronger and growing as a result.

I had just gotten the call from a friend who lost her job due to a bad fit with her boss. She was a rockstar too, but the career type. A successful, bright and accomplished Marketing Executive who is really good at what she does. After a 20+ year career in Human Resources as a leader sourcing talent, I know what a rockstar looks like and I can spot it from a mile away.

I get these type of calls from women often. A friend or friend of a friend who lost her job, needs to find her way to leave her job or is paralyzed in fear unable to navigate a tough situation. Maybe partly because of my HR background, but I’ve been told it’s because of my ability to make an instant connection with women and calmly triage the situation to make them feel confident about their next steps. I will always drop everything to help, because I passionately care to help women figure it out like so many who have helped me.

Many times, it’s a bad boss, unfortunate or unfair circumstances that are out of your control. All too often we start out by blaming ourselves.  We instantly flush our hard-earned confidence down the toilet and slip into the fear that we will never recover from the situation and that our reputation is ruined. I know because I’ve been there too. It will happen to most of us at some point in our careers and it’s hard to bounce back.

My coaching always starts with navigating the next steps to make the transition as smooth as possible. I help women to plan out how they will deal with the circumstances to get the best outcome. I encourage them to write out their plan as it’s always helpful to see things in black and white to start the process of moving on. I show compassion, but I always suggest things for them to think about or do to move on, because I am a determined optimist and I believe that there is no choice but to figure it out.

Most importantly, I remind them to take care of themselves while they work through it and tap into the right people to support them and practice self-care. Do the work to get to the other side because it’s worth it when you get there. Don’t let anyone else write your story, it’s yours to create and nobody including a bad boss or company can take that away from you.

While you may have thought you would end up at a certain company or in a certain role, in time you will realize that it really wasn’t a match and it was good to move on. Some mistakes that you made and thought were such a big deal really didn’t matter and now you can sit back and laugh about it. And when you finally get that career defining boss or role, you’re so thankful because you learned so much. In reflection, there are people who you wish you could go back and thank because they were an angel and helped you when you didn’t even realize it.

Each person and situation teaches you different things and you will succeed and fail forward along the way. What matters most is not what happened, but how you move on, believe in yourself and become more confident as a result. Be grateful because challenges have their purpose too, if you use them to help you grow. Realize what these things have taught you and your future successes will be greater than your last.

I called my friend and told her to listen to Arianna’s song and then read this article. Ari, thanks for putting yourself out there to help other women and to each of you who’ve gone through a bad boss or company break up, I hope you can someday say “Thank U Next.”

The Reset

It was finally Friday and I was exhausted from the week. I was suffering from the classic symptoms, a demanding work schedule, pushing myself too hard and lack of sleep. Once again, I turned down plans with friends feeling too wiped out and guilty taking time for me when there was so much to do and not enough time for the kids. My kids could see it too, as I was getting crabby and inpatient. They could see the crash coming before I could. I resorted to a 30-minute power nap, hoping I would feel better. What I woke up to surprised me.

My 10-year-old daughter Olivia was standing by my phone as the alarm blared. She had a sly smile on her face. There were several post-it notes plastered all over my bathroom, each part of an important message.  A plea for me to not miss out on a night out with my girlfriends. Ideas on who they could stay with for a last-minute plan. An outfit was hanging on the rack ready to put on, all the way down to the shoes and purse. Olivia looked at me and said “Mom, your friends are going to start calling you waterfall because of how many rain checks you take.” Feeling a little refreshed, I realized how much I had put off friend plans and time for myself. It was time to take her advice.

That night as I sat with my other girls, the fabulous friends who I could relate to and laugh with, I remembered the advice that I’ve shared with so many before. We all need a reset sometimes to get our balance back on track. Getting to the bottom of what we need requires us to remember a few important things. Activities that reduce our stress don’t always make us feel fulfilled or recharged. For instance, exercise reduces my stress, but being creative designing handbags makes me feel recharged. Spending quality time with my family makes me feel fulfilled. Recognizing what each of these activities does for us is important to ensure that we do more of what we need at the time to get ourselves back on track.

The next morning, I made a commitment to myself to work on my reset. I pulled out a chart that I had prepared for a woman I was coaching to restore her balance. I remembered that resets don’t happen by osmosis. We have to be thoughtful on what is needed at the time to make it happen. We have to care as much about ourselves as we do for our families and our careers. We’re worth it and we deserve it.

Most importantly, we have to work to make it happen. Creating structure and a plan gives us more opportunity to be successful to get the results we want. When we do, the payoff is huge. We start to feel like the person we want to be and our motivation to be our best is restored.
Here is my Reset Tool for you to use and share with others:





The Unexpected Fall Wardrobe Staples

Hands down, fall is my favorite time of year. Not only for the beautiful change of colors in the trees, but for the fall fashions that come with it. Every year, I go on the hunt to try to get a few unique pieces that I can wear for work and on the weekends. This year, I came across Nordstrom’s Halogen line of transitional leather bombers that are great for both. I paired this with a pair of Cole  Haan grey suede boots that I bought last year. Every time I wear them I get stopped by women who love the color and ask me where I got them, so I researched them and found this year’s beautiful version at Macy’s. Together or separate, I always pair them with accessories that add interest or a pop of color. Easy to pull together and always a classic look that I can get out of the house quickly and feel great. See below for the links to these finds!


Nordstroms Halogen Leather Coat

Cole Haan Arlean Suede Boots



I never thought I could do it. For years, I watched other women go to exercise class, get in great shape and enjoy the camaraderie of being with other women. Finding enough time for myself with two kids and a job that required regular travel made it an impossible feat. When a job transition occurred in December of 2015, I challenged myself to think differently to make this career phase include more of the things that were important to me.

Thanks to my sister-in-law Dawn, who is always onto the best ideas, I signed up for Pure Barre, a high intensity exercise class that uses a ballet bar, bands and isometric moves. I knew it was going to be a hard-like really hard. On the surface, this was not a good idea. The studio was twenty minutes away, I couldn’t touch my toes much less survive 55 minutes of torture, but it was now or never and I was determined.

The studio owner Brynn Hanson and instructors were positive and supportive, which made me feel like I was meant to be there. The classes were as hard as I expected, but in time, a funny thing happened. Torture turned to challenge and with each step that I made it became a little more bearable. I managed my time better to ensure I could go and my strength improved. I started to look forward to the stretch and deep breaths at the end, which gave such a great start to my day and made me feel better about myself.

When they introduced Platform classes, it was clear from the chatter at the classes that this was not something I could do. Pure Barre class meets cardio for an even higher intensity level and calorie burn. I avoided it like the plague for months on end until January came and I was in desperate need to shake off a few holiday pounds. I admitted to several women at the class that I was afraid to try it as it seemed too hard. They encouraged me and gave me the boost I needed to put myself out there. I gave myself permission to fail, as long as I tried. I could always leave, step in the bathroom for a fake restroom break or just leave early for an “appointment” mid class.

It turns out I loved it, even though it was hard. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone was exactly what I needed to shake up my game. The women alongside me in class were sweating and suffering just like I was, but we were all in it together and here to support each other.

As women, striving to be our best personally and professionally, the fear of the unknown can be crippling. Focusing on the limiting factors can take away from our ability to grow in ways we never knew we could. With the support of other women and admitting our vulnerabilities in a safe place, we can push and be pushed to try.

Platform became another platform for me to take my game to the next level. No, I haven’t shook those holiday pounds yet, but more importantly I am reminded of what I can do if I put myself out there and engage the support of others. A special thank you Dawn, Brynn, Kat, Pure Barre and many others in class. You’ve helped me more than you know.

Remembering Brenda Barnes

This week Brenda Barnes, legendary Fortune 500 CEO, mother and advocate for working women passed away at the age of 63. It was a sad day for many on multiple levels. She was known most recently for her role as CEO of Sara Lee and was named by Fortune Magazine as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world. She was also a pioneer for finding new ways to keep women in the workforce through flexible work schedules so that companies didn’t lose their critical pipeline of female talent.

Her path to CEO of Sara Lee was not traditional. She worked her way up the corporate ladder to be the CEO and President of Pepsi’s North American business, but she later stepped down to care for her children who were 10, 8 and 7 at the time. This move sparked an international debate on the issue if women could “have it all.” Many looked at her move as a setback for working women, but what came next would surprise many, as her story didn’t end there.

She spent the next several years sitting on several public company boards, before returning to a CEO role at Sara Lee. It gave her unique experience and perspective that she never would have gotten if she had not made the bold move. A creative way to navigate her career path and work life balance.

In her role as CEO at Sara Lee, she created the first Returnship Program, allowing women to come back to meaningful roles after taking time off to be with their families. Born out of the need to solve a business problem, she changed the dynamics in corporate America and created instant advocacy for working women. This triggered many other companies to follow suit and find better ways for women to find balance while maintaining a career.

Back in 2013, I had an opportunity to meet Brenda for lunch and talk about the challenges that we face as working women and how we manage our balance. She agreed to meet with me after I had written her a letter, which was delivered to her through a common acquaintance. I knew this was not something that she did often. Her advice, which I am sharing with you now, was simple but impactful.

Do what’s right for you. It sounds simple, but it’s not always easy to do. Brenda told me that her decision to step down was difficult, but at the time, she said that she wanted and needed more time with her kids. Her decision was for personal reasons, but it was part of a bigger plan to meet her balance needs and stay in the game in a different role. Know your needs, be courageous and plan your next moves with intention.

Create new paths to make change in the workplace. Be an advocate for change. Business problems get solved by voicing new ideas and charting new paths.   Do this in your work and your personal lives, because the two connect in many ways.

Confidence is critical to your success. As a working woman, confidence is something that your employer can’t give you, but you need. Building confidence is hard, even for the most successful women, but it’s like a muscle that builds as you exercise it. Don’t overlook the importance of this, especially in male dominated environments where asserting your needs can be challenging.

Navigate your career path in strategic ways. Know your areas of strength and position yourself in roles where you utilize these skills and solve complex problems for the business. Think out of the box on ways to make your next moves and know there are untraditional paths that can get you to the same place.

I took her advice to heart with several actions to further my own career. When I changed jobs, I took a remote role to manage my balance in a way that was better for me and my family. I hired a communication coach to build my presentation skills to feel more confident presenting at an executive level. I started the first working parent committee at our elementary school to advocate for working parents to participate in school events in new and more flexible ways. Most importantly, I realized that she’s one of us. Brenda and many other women of her stature have the same challenges that we do. Connecting with other women to get ideas on how to work through them is powerful.

I, on behalf of many women thank Brenda for all she did for us, both directly and indirectly. I’ll forever be thankful for her guidance.

The Power of Sleep


I am a huge believer in the power of sleep. As an advocate for work life balance, I talk and write about the importance of getting good sleep as part of my self-care model. In fact, I believe that getting good sleep goes beyond self-care, and is a key part of our success formula in our careers and our businesses.

The facts back this assertion. Study after study shows that good sleep leads to higher productivity, better decision-making and enables us to keep our emotions in control in the workplace. Arianna Huffington’s book “The Sleep Revolution” puts the sleep crisis on the front burner of businesses today, citing that worker productivity costs us an average of $2,280 annually per employee due to lost productivity from sleep deprivation. Companies are now taking sleep more seriously, educating employees on the importance of sleep and creating more flexible work hours for employees to manage their schedules in a healthier way.

As fate would have it, in 2016, I brought my commitment to sleep to a whole new level. I had the opportunity to take on the role of SVP of Human Resources at Elite Comfort Solutions, an innovative sleep products company that is changing the way we sleep, literally. Our company develops new technology in the design and comfort of mattresses and sleep products. We are growing wildly as a result of our innovative ideas to help make our customers’ beds and pillows feel comfortable and cool.

My role as a leader in our business is to create a culture where both our employees and our business thrive. Success is built on having productive employees who contribute every day and are engaged in growth. To be engaged, they must be well rested. I now create my messaging about sleep as a reminder to them of the importance of sleep, both to be more productive and to support their work life balance.

Here are three things that we can do as leaders to share the message of the power of sleep:


  1. Change the conversation about sleep in the work place. Stop talking about fewer hours of sleep as a badge of productivity and dedication to your job. Start bragging about getting a full 7 to 8 hours and how much better you feel as a result. Encourage your traveling coworkers to not take the earliest flight of the day at the expense of less sleep. We need strategic thinking and balanced emotions in every meeting. Getting good sleep helps to achieve this.
  2. Manage your technology to enable good rest. Technology and smart phones allow us to work 24-7 without barriers or work rules to enforce good practices. The blue light emitted from these devices can affect our melatonin levels that enable us to get good rest. Buy yourself an alarm clock to replace your phone on your nightstand. If that’s too radical, at least change your settings on your phone to avoid the phone from emitting blue light. Set technology limits to avoid checking email late at night when you should be focused on unwinding. Encourage coworkers to do the same.
  3. Learn to do a reset on sleep. We’re all human and changing habits is hard. I am challenged as well to practice the work life balance and sleep advice that I preach. Learn to reset when your sleep habits slip. Give yourself permission to take a 30 minute nap to recharge on the weekend. Track your sleep to monitor when you are getting a full night and when you are not. Make it a priority to get back on track when you miss multiple days of a full night sleep.

Join me to help lead the way to make a difference and support good sleep habits in the workplace.  We can make a difference.

Designing Your Time –A Work Life Balance Discussion with Cynthia Rowley

Last year, I had and incredibly exciting opportunity to meet fashion icon Cynthia Rowley and talk to her about one of my favorite topics, work life balance.

I  attended the William Blair Annual Woman’s Leadership Luncheon where Cynthia and designer Mario Pinto were on a panel to discuss how they found their success as designers and business women.  It was packed full of business women,  journalists and budding designers all trying to get a glimpse into world of fashion and pick up a few business tips along the way.

Cynthia emphasized the need to constantly be re-inventing, reimagining, rethinking and evolving to grow. This was not only with her brand, but with her business and how she operates as a leader.  Constantly challenging the status quo and thinking of new ways to work is not an easy task, but necessary to stay at the top.

While there were so many great points made about managing a business and how she expanded her brand, I was most intrigued by my one on one conversation with her after the session ended.

I waited patiently for a few moments to talk direct with Cynthia about another challenge I knew she faced, how she juggles it all with her family and business. It was without hesitation that she responded that she was surprised nobody asked about this in the Q&A, but it was a challenge for sure. She approached her work life balance like she approached her business, with progressive thinking to create an environment where both her business and family could thrive. In New York, she set up her offices close to her home so that she and her husband could manage the logistics of her demanding schedule. Beyond designing clothes and products, she works hard at designing her schedule to be there for the important things for her family, while meeting the business expectations as well. She was insightful, kind and genuine in her support to other women to inspire them to create their own success.

This conversation stuck with me as I faced my own challenges and decisions in how I design my balance and career decisions. This year, I faced a job change and I took her advice. I set up my new offices for my consulting business close to home and created a small workspace for my kids to come after school to do their homework on days that they don’t have activities. I changed how I flex my schedule so that I can finally enroll in that exercise class that I’ve been thinking about for years, but never thought I could fit in. I ditched the traditional office look and made the space inspiring and beautiful so that I looked forward to going to work and think creatively about my work. Most importantly, I realized that it’s easy to stay in the box of the traditional way of working, but when we open our mind to new ideas in how we can create our own success, the sky is the limit of what we can accomplish.

Check out Cynthia’s beautiful new line of dresses and accessories at

The Dreaded Salary Negotiations: Three Things You Can Do to Up Your Game

Job applicants having interview

The September issue of Marie Claire magazine included a collection of helpful articles on what working women can do to close the wage gap.  Featuring input from the New York Times columnist Jessica Bennett’s newest book “Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual,” the article outlines some sobering statistics on the wage gap between men and women, but more interestingly, some things you can do to negotiate more effectively for yourself.
So let’s start with the facts.  According to the article, the Census Bureau still estimates that women still earn $0.79 for every dollar that men make.  A 2016 Survey Monkey report cited that 55% of women vs. 45% of men say they have never asked for a raise. Finally, a Carnegie Mellon University study found that when offered a job, 57% of the men asked for more money but only 7% of the women did.  Shocking, but what do we do about it?
We have to learn to advocate for ourselves and understand the right time to do it.  Bennett recommends that when negotiating, cite your specific accomplishments, but tie it back to the team to show a collaborative approach.  Don’t compromise quickly and take the first offer on the table and don’t relate your ask to your personal needs.
In my experience as a Human Resources Leader and learning to negotiate on my own behalf, I know how hard this can be on both sides.  In over 20 years of talking to hundreds of women about negotiating their salaries, from CEOs of large public companies to women entering the workforce, I have never talked to one who enjoyed advocating for themselves.  Companies have budgets they are charged with managing and we hate having to ask for something that should be so evident that we deserve. So how do we do it?
I encourage women to know the facts, be aware of the timing of when they should negotiate and practice their salary pitch.  Here are some tips to help with your salary negotiations:
Know the facts:  There are plenty of resources available to get salary data on what jobs pay. and Indeed are two easy to access free websites for job seekers and employers which provide salary data based on job title.  Use these resources as a baseline of what market pay for the role is.  Negotiating with the facts and your accomplishments can help to support your request and give you the confidence that your request is reasonable.
Timing:  I always recommend that the best time to negotiate salary is at the time of hire or promotion.  Communicate your ask by saying “this is my targeted salary that I am looking for in the new role.”  If the salary comes up short, don’t be afraid to ask if they can get closer to your desired amount, split the difference or as Bennet says be reviewed in six months for an increase.  If you are waiting for the next merit increases at work, set the stage early with your boss that given your accomplishments or added responsibilities you would like to have a discussion at your review about a higher salary. Tell your boss in advance that your salary goal is x and how can he/she help you to achieve this if your performance continues to excel?
Practice Your Pitch:  Lastly, don’t forget to practice your pitch before you ask.  Since these conversations are typically uncomfortable, it’s important to script out what you will say and how you will respond to the push back.  Avoid having these conversations on the fly (unless the timing is right and you are ceasing an opportunity) and don’t have them when you are emotionally run down.
The reality is just like anything else, you get better with practice, so learn to negotiate in small steps and use every opportunity to negotiate as an opportunity to not only achieve your goals, but to up your game.

Working Women Wardrobe Pieces Nordstroms Halogen Line

While shopping for my kids back to school outfits, I couldn’t help but wander to the women’s section to see what was new for fall.  Always looking for basics that I can use for work and transition to my life wardrobe, I fell for these great pieces from Nordstrom’s Halogen line!  Modern with a little edge, moderately priced and well made, these are easy pieces to say yes to.

Halogen Asymmetrical Zip Pencil Skirt:

Halogen Merino Blend Cardigan:

Halogen Belted Short Wool Blend Coat: