Saturday, April 21, 2012


Remember back when I thought I would be bored this week (see two posts ago)? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! I am completely laughing at my utterly naive self. This week kicked my ass! Mostly because I'm not really unemployed; I'm self-employed. I've got contract work and some copyright cases keeping me busy during the three and a half hours my son is at school. Do you know how short a time three and a half hours is? It's short. This week, I envisioned (1) dusting off my running shoes and going for an hour-long jog or hike at least three times, (2) taking everything out of my kitchen cabinets and giving the kitchen a good scrub, (3) returning a couple shirts I bought from Target two months ago that I chose not to try on in the store and ended up looking pretty hideous on me, (4) making some diy-cleaning recipes that I've been itching to try, (5) laying on the couch sipping my morning coffee while catching up on the news, and, oh yes, (6) relaxing, de-stressing. I accomplished none of the above.

The three hours allotted to contract work was not enough. So after I picked my son up from school on Monday and Tuesday, I gave him puzzles and tried to continue working. But he wanted to play with me. And I needed to do work. But he wanted to play. And I started to get annoyed - doesn't he understand that I need to work?! And then I caught myself. What on earth am I doing? He is the reason I'm at home in the first place - so I can spend more time with him! Sounds fairly obvious but I've been such a workhorse for the past ten years that it's hard to jump out of that mode. And I realized: there's a learning curve for being a self-employed, work-from-home mom. When we are together, I put the computer away and we play. (Note that I said computer; I haven't yet shaked the habit of checking emails every four minutes.) The rest of the week was much better because I unabashedly blocked work from my head during playtime.

Notwithstanding the craziness of my week (and the fact that my kitchen is a complete and utter mess), I feel more happy and relaxed than I have in years. So on that note, I leave you with some wise words from pinterest:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Life Choice Explained

I realized after I wrote my last post that I haven't exactly explained on this blog the reason for my recent foray into unemployment. I did, however, share it on a fantastic blog written by a lawyer-turned-stay-at-home-mom - But I Do Have A Law Degree - that I discovered upon typing the following search into google when I was looking for inspiration: "ex lawyer mom stay at home." She gave me inspiration. (So did the blog The Ex-Lawyers Club and so did numerous conversations with other former lawyer moms who saw the light and found another path, but I digress). So here is my story as posted (sightly modified) in But I Do Have A Law Degree:

I have been practicing as a litigator for nearly ten years, and I can't even believe it's been a decade. When I was a budding associate at one of the big firms, I thought for sure I would be out after year five. But here I am, ten years later, reevaluating my life and career choice.

I don't have regrets - I received a fantastic legal education that has not only benefitted me career-wise, but has been incredibly useful in life. My salary paid for a nice house in Los Angeles. We take nice vacations. My son goes to my preschool of choice.

I've worked at a big firm, at a small firm; for complete assholes, for lovely mentors. I've pulled countless all nighters. Most years I made - and far exceeded - my billable hour requirement, and last year, for the first time, I fell short. I was in trial until the day before my due date (I am probably the only woman relieved that my son came a week late because I needed the rest). I breastfed for a year and pumped in the most interesting of locations, including in a public restroom, during a break while deposing the plaintiff in a multi-million dollar case, while driving.

I always thought I would be able to balance it all, but when my son turned three, I realized that I could not be a litigator and the kind of mom that I wanted to be. Those two very full-time jobs simply don't mesh for me. I feel like a cliche in that I constantly feel guilty about my inability to either put in 100% at work or 100% at home.

Mostly, it's the stress of the billable hour requirement that I simply can't deal with. If I take a day or a morning off, I have to make those hours up sometime. But when? After a full day of work, followed by cooking dinner, bath time, play time, book time, and bedtime? After all that, I am spent and need to just melt into the couch.

So, inspired by the quote "She took a leap of faith, and grew her wings on her way down," I am giving my notice this week. And I'm scared. But extremely excited at the same time. Financially, it will be a big adjustment and a struggle, but I'm setting myself up with some contract work and other (hopefully) interesting work that I can do from home. I am also exploring the wonderful world of blogging (you can find me at A Tired Working Mommy - unfortunate name but I was clearly tired that day).

I wish I could have made it work, and perhaps this is just a phase in my life and I'll go back to full-time litigation in the future. But I haven't felt this happy and carefree in a very long time, and I'm looking forward to the possibilities that lie ahead. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Unemployment Achieved

Notice given. Last day + drinks + sad goodbyes had. Unemployment achieved. Tomorrow is my first Monday of unemployment. I will take my son to school, come home, and...and what?!? What do I do?

I do have some contract work lined up (my bank account is relieved), and I'm looking forward to running errands sans weekend crowds. But the whole point of this exercise is to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. And that's really my conundrum. What do I want to be when I grow up? (Since I'm posing questions that are impossible to answer, here's another: when am I officially considered "grown up"?) I'm trying to turn my interests into something marketable, lucrative, and fun, but there's a little bit of fear in me that holds me back from just pressing the "go" button. I suppose I should take this all one step at a time. That would be loads easier if I had a definitive plan, but I think I may actually try and enjoy the lack of one and see what happens. So far, I've contacted organizations I'm passionate about to offer my services; I'm volunteering for a women's conference; and I've even made breakfast plans with an old friend. In the middle of the day. Of course, a little bit of work and a lot of play time with my three-year-old cutie pie are in the plans.

For the past ten years, I've had to account for my time in six-minute increments. That means that I literally have had to write down every itty bitty task I've done during every minute of the day for the past ten years of my working life. In a word, it sucked! I am very looking forward to enjoying week one of unemployment without giving a thought to the billable hour. To that, I say, hallelujah!

Homemade Suds

About a year ago I decided to try making my own laundry detergent. (Sidenote: maybe this is why I got tired of working full time. Trying to be a diy-er + full-time lawyer + wife + mom = tired combination.) I whipped up another batch yesterday - took me all of 5 minutes - and thought: it's time to share. This recipe does not require an arsenal of chemicals. Three ingredients: borax, baking soda or washing soda (whichever you have handy), and a bar of soap.

I was skeptical about whether or not this recipe would really get our clothes clean. But it does, and I have a pretty messy son! Added bonus: clothes come out static free so no need for fabric softener. It is so easy to make, and I get my own personal satisfaction knowing that I am saving the landfills from plastic bottles; saving the money in my wallet for other goodies; and saving my family, the earth, and my washing machine from harsh and unnecessary chemicals.

Here's how to make it:

1. Grate one bar of soap into a bowl using a cheese grater. I use Dr. Bronner's castile soap, which is made almost entirely from organic oils. It is a bit pricey for a bar of soap so I opt for the peppermint scented soap, which is about $1 cheaper than the other scents if you buy it at Trader Joe's. (Clothes do not come out smelling like peppermint; just a mild, fresh scent.) Costs about $3.50. But you can use any bar of soap you like. Some folks use Fels Naptha for its stain-fighting quality but I'm skeptical of the ingredients. The whole point is to stay away from ingredients I can't pronounce and that are not fully disclosed (such as "fragrance"). My son helps me with this part - he loves grating the soap!

2. Add one cup of baking or washing soda. I use baking soda because I always have a few boxes laying around.

3. Add one cup of borax. Borax can be found on the bottom shelf of the detergent aisle at any store or Target. It costs $4 for a 4-5 pound box. This box will last you more than a year. There is an ongoing debate about the safety of borax (click here for the pro and con). I wouldn't bathe in it (as some folks used to do), but I tend to think that it's fine for use as a laundry detergent.

4. Mix together well.

5. Store in a glass mason jar or tupperware or whatever you have at home, and use 1 - 1 1/2 tbs. per load. I have a front-load HE washer, and it works great! You will not see suds. That's OK. It's working, I promise.

Happy washing!