My Career Path

Since this blog is titled “Memos and Motherhood,” perhaps I should share exactly how I got to where I am today.  From my first job as sandwich artist, to my internship at a local television station my journey to the law office life hasn’t been a straightforward path to say the least.

I was a bit of a perfectionist in high school. Valedictorian, member of every club under the sun (and officer in many of those), active youth group member and leader – I was busy in high school. I wanted to be a part of it all, mostly to ensure I went to college on scholarship and could get into the university of my choosing. At the time, I wanted to be a television meteorologist – McNeese State University (where I would be attending college) didn’t offer meteorology, so I opted to pursue television reporting.  I’ve always enjoyed public speaking and the rush of presenting something to large group of people.  I’ll never forget writing Mass Communications in the blank beside “college major” before submitting my application, it seemed so final and absolute.  While in high school I worked as a sandwich artist at Subway near my house.  It was a great first job, I learned how to deal with the public and make killer sandwiches at the same time.

My first semester of college I left my job at Subway to focus on school, which, looking back was completely unnecessary.  College was just as easy for me as high school had been, sure I would have to spend time studying but my 4.0 was never in any danger until the last few semesters (more on that later).  I remember enjoying my journalism and mass communication classes, I was content with my career field and hopeful that I could find a job doing exactly what I planned to do in high school.  It was between my second and third years of college I started to question what I wanted to spend my life doing.  I began to toy with the idea of law school.  That fall I signed up for two online paralegal classes, dipping my toes into the proverbial pool, if you will.  They were a disaster.  All of our assignments were busy work, our teacher was impossible to communicate with and to make matters worse, she lost all of my work in one class and gave me a B, destroying my 4.0.  I was not a happy camper, and since she was the only paralegal studies instructor I refused to sign up for anymore my last semester.  I didn’t push the idea of law school out of my head, though.  I always kept that door open, I borrowed LSAT books from the library and took a few practice tests to see how viable law school was as an option.

My employment in college was varied, to say the least: first, I went back to Subway for a year; then, I spent a semester working at after school care at a local parochial school and finally, I spent nearly a year as a sales associate at Express. Each job was so completely different from the others.  I learned with certainty that I was not destined to be a middle school teacher and that if I spent the rest of my life as a sales associate I would be perfectly fine with it.  I interned as a paralegal for one semester at our local non-profit civil law firm, and truly loved my experience there.  It was because of that internship that I am in the legal field today, after the nightmare that was paralegal studies. I also interned for a semester at our local Fox affiliate as a junior reporter and production intern.  It was here I made my first appearance on television.  Here’s the video for good measure (it’s cringeworthy to watch now…):

And another, for good measure.

I really enjoyed my Fox internship.  It was fun, I learned a ton about what happens behind the scenes before, during and after news casts.

I graduated college in three years as Summa Cum Laude.  I didn’t really know what I was planning on doing with life I just knew that I needed a job, because after graduation, my husband and I married and we moved to Northwest Arkansas.  After six weeks of job hunting, I was hired as a page designer at the Northwest Arkansas News (now the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette).  It was my first full-time job and quite an experience. It was difficult in the beginning: the page design rules, the AP style, the crippling fear of making an error (especially on the front page), condemning someone in a headline and most of all, being so far from home.  I muddled through the first month before I really started to

enjoy what I was doing.  My coworkers were great and I really liked designing pages.  What I didn’t like: the hours.  Three in the afternoon to midnight five days a week is tough to get used to working. I discovered that once we started a family that working in the media was not something I was going to be able to do, as much as I may have wanted to.  I stayed at that job for the duration of our time in Northwest Arkansas and was genuinely sad to leave.

Once we moved back home I started looking for another job, this time, preferably, one with regular hours that I knew would be in demand for years.  I back to my college days and that internship I enjoyed so much at the Law Center and started to search for law jobs.  Surprisingly, I found a position within a few weeks and it’s where I am to this day, nearly two years later. I work for the largest law firm in the area, under an attorney who does a mishmash of everything that doesn’t require litigation.  It’s been a journey to get here, but I am thankful for all the stops, twists and turns along the way because now I do what I really enjoy.

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Surviving Pregnancy in an Office

Or…What in the world is that thing in your office.

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My exercise ball chair…best purchase of my entire pregnancy.

Pregnancy is such an odd time in a woman’s life.   She’s stuck in an “in-between” stage, she’s a mother, but there is nothing she can really mother yet.  There is another human inside of her (seriously, think about that for a minute, if the wonder of it doesn’t elicit a pause maybe the sheer engineering of it might) and the physical changes that come along with that.  People feel the necessity to make remarks that would otherwise be considered so incredibly rude and ask intensely personal, pointed questions.  It’s no wonder women of yesteryear hid their status under hoop skirts, smocks and tent-like dresses or they spent the last months of their pregnancies in confinement.

Surviving pregnancy in an office environment takes a delicate balance of tact, ignorance, humor and grace.  It’s not necessarily an easy experience, but I’ve rounded up a few things to make it much more enjoyable.

Please, for the love of all that is beautiful in the world, don’t announce your pregnancy on social media before letting your superiors know.  Even if you don’t have anyone you work with on social media, word travels fast, especially in small towns and within certain career fields.  Personally, I let our HR guy know the week I found out I was pregnant in case I had another miscarriage.  I needed him to know ahead of time in the event that I needed to miss work for a few days.  I told a few friends I trusted to keep it secret a few weeks later and told my boss when I was 10 weeks and the rest of the firm within a few days of that.  The big Facebook announcement happened the same day I made my announcement at the firm.  It worked out very well for me and I will probably go the same route with any future pregnancies.

Figure out your company’s sick leave/maternity leave policy early.  I learned I needed to have a week of sick time or vacation time saved if I wanted to be paid before my FMLA kicked in, so I was stingy with taking time off for appointments.  It’s important to find out as much as you can, as early as you can so that you have eight months to plan instead of eight weeks or worse, eight days.  Get all the paperwork you can completed at the beginning of your third trimester or as early as your HR department allows.  In case of an early delivery, you don’t want to be filling out more paperwork than you have to.  I actually forgot to have my doctor sign off on it so I was making multiple trips into town with a newborn in tow – not an ideal situation.

Since we are talking about being out of the office: find a day and time that works well with your schedule and make an appointment at the same time for each, if you can.  I learned that morning were not a good time for the OB I was seeing in the first half of my pregnancy, she was super busy and there was always a pretty significant wait.  After tweaking the time over an appointment or two, I learned that late Wednesday afternoons were the best time to schedule an appointment.  The office was quiet, I got in to see her quickly and often I was the last appointment of the day – so I got more face time with the doctor.  Find what works for you, as well.  I liked to schedule appointments where I either went in before work or left work early to see the doctor.  Be mindful of how many hours of leave you take.  It’s so easy to call in during the first trimester, I was so tired, I was nauseous and I just didn’t want to be at work – but I knew that I had many doctor’s appointments (14 to be exact) and the week of unpaid leave at the beginning of my FMLA time.

Staying comfortable while at work is the key to having an enjoyable pregnancy.  Find clothes that fit properly, are comfortable to wear all day and (hopefully) cute.  I purchased a striped maternity dress from Motherhood (see above) around week 20 and wore it at least once a week for the remainder of my pregnancy – it was super comfortable and it made the oppressive late-summer heat of Louisiana a little more bearable.  Some people say buy a few expensive pieces that will last from one pregnancy to next, but I bought things that were less expensive because there is no telling which season I’ll be pregnant in (or how much weight I’ll gain) next time so that really cute pair of expensive maternity pants may or may not fit, might be out of style or might not be warm enough next time.  Investing in a exercise ball chair was the best decision I made the whole time I was pregnant.  My hips started hurting early in the second trimester and sitting at work was nearly unbearable at the end of the day.  Enter Amazon deal of the day for a exercise ball chair…my hips, core and butt never felt better.  Additionally, get up and take a stroll a few times an hour, it helps prevent stiffness and keep the blood flowing to your feet (this is a good time for all the time, not just pregnancy).

Most importantly, have a sense of humor about your body and pregnancy.  The last few weeks my belly was the topic of many break room conversations.  My co-workers would ask questions that normally one would consider obscene, but in all honesty, they were just excited for me and to meet my baby.  I knew going into those last weeks questions about my body’s “progression” would start cropping up and I was fully prepared to deal with it.  You will hear horror stories of epidurals go awry, nightmare c-sections and tears that required surgeries and physical therapy to fix – tune it out.  Smile and say “that’s interesting,” and let it go out the other ear.  You don’t need that negativity rolling around in your head leading up to the birth of your child.  And if all else fails, create a countdown calendar.  Crossing off each day felt like a victory in itself.

Pregnancy in an office can be an awkward, annoying and uncomfortable experience, but it doesn’t have to suck.

How I Meal Plan and Favorite Recipes


Meal planning saves my sanity.  I’m already pressed for time in the evenings after work, and having a plan set in stone (or ink) makes my day go by that much more smooth.  I can’t recall the first time I started to meal plan but it was within the first three months of being married.  Having a clear idea makes grocery shopping on the weekends a breeze.  I know exactly what I need and how much of it I need.  Having a plan is one of the best ways to save my sanity during the work week.

First a few setup steps for the process.  These came to be part of my weekly routine organically, but if you are starting from scratch there are decisions to be made. Continue reading “How I Meal Plan and Favorite Recipes”

When Motherhood is Heavy


When I found out I was pregnant I put on the burden of motherhood.  It was light then, I could go about my day without being weighed down by it.  As Livia grew, so did it, it became heavier, it made it harder for me to move around, both literally and figuratively.

After her birth it was suffocating.  The first weeks with a newborn are hard: little sleep occurs, diaper pails overflow and feedings stretch for hours.  And all of this on top of recovering from what is, at best, equivalent of running a marathon and at its worst major surgery.  I remember feeling trapped by early motherhood.  I remember crying in the shower one day during her first week mourning my pre-baby life.  I desperately loved Livia, but I wasn’t sure if I made a terrible mistake bringing a child into my life.  I cried when the sun went down because I was exhausted but knew I would get maybe an hour or two of sleep between feedings.  There was a heaviness in those early days I couldn’t shake. Continue reading “When Motherhood is Heavy”

What’s In My Pump Bag


Before Livia was born, heck even before I knew I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed.  My initial goal was until six months, exclusive or not, but as her arrival came closer I knew that I wanted to exclusively breastfeed until six months and continue until she was a year old.  Now that she is eight-months-old, I’m definitely considering to nurse her until she self-weans or another baby comes into the picture (tandem breastfeeding, to me, is like the gold medal of the breastfeeding Olympics).  When she was eight-weeks-old, however, I had to go back to work, so on that January morning I packed my Medela Pump In Style Advance, tubing and parts and headed off to the next leg of our breastfeeding journey.  Five months later, I’m still pumping three times a day and getting enough milk that I’m won’t have to supplement with formula anytime in the near future. Continue reading “What’s In My Pump Bag”