Be the Dandelion

Posted on

I was at the park with my 2 year old when I noticed it in a crowd of mulch. It stopped both of us in our
tracks. “What that doing here?” my son asked as he pointed downward.

Huh. Well how about that. A dandelion.

There it stood, tall and brave, yards in between the slide and the teeter totter. It looked completely out
of place, as if someone had buried and propped it just right. Yet, it was rooted and strong, growing
among all of the protective mulch.

A dandelion is tenacious. It can grow just about anywhere, regardless of soil conditions. A dandelion can
endure freezing temps, persevere through intense heat, and continue to thrive in crowds. Not much can
overpower it. Mowing over it will spread its seeds, causing it to multiply. Picking it will likely do the

It’s name translates to “lion’s tooth”, and for good reason. This is the badass of all flowers.

Having this knowledge completely changes the narrative. That weed growing in your yard is not only a
sign of spring and warm weather, but it’s a sign of strength, determination, and the perfect amount of
stubbornness. I want to be like the dandelion.

Motherhood is freaking hard. Before I became a mother, I remember thinking childbirth was going to be
the most challenging thing I’d have to do for my child. Not even close. A three day stay in the hospital
with 24 hour room service, a care team, and unlimited cable is hardly roughing it. I remember looking
forward to my next stay while pregnant with my second, knowing I wouldn’t have meals to make,
schedules to maintain, or a full load of laundry and dishes to clean. Childbirth was like a weekend
getaway compared to what happens next.

But we are built strong, mamas. We are designed to withstand the tantrums, flood of hormones, the
growing pains, and the struggles. We are not only made to survive in every situation, but to GROW. Even
when we are stepped on, emotionally beaten, and withered to the ground, our roots are strong. And the
seeds we share only make our family stronger.

So, the next time your child brings you a bouquet of lion’s teeth, remind yourself of that bright,
determined spirit deep within you. You are a badass flower.

By Gracemarie Boland
Mama, yogi, health enthusiast, and lover of all things family and the perfect glass of red

The Incident

Posted on

I remember the moments leading up to what I’ll refer to as “the incident”.

I was at my favorite grocery store, with my sons sitting elbow to elbow in the firetruck shopping cart. It was a Friday afternoon and the weather was gross. And by gross, I mean that hot, thick humidity that has you question why you bothered doing your hair and makeup in the first place gross.

I had just picked up my oldest from school and needed a few things from the store before the weekend. I promised it would be a “quick stop” to grab a few staples. And I promised a stop in the bakery department. Because, well, it takes a village and the occasional sugary bribe.

I made my loop around the aisles in record time just as my kiddos bit into the last of their complementary sprinkle cookies. Ahh, perfect timing. And there I stood, with around a dozen other hot, sweaty, ready to be home shoppers, divided between two ques. That’s right. A dozen shoppers, with full carts and baskets. And two check-out lines. Fanfreakingtastic.

With every inch I made toward the cashier, my minis became louder, more tired, and downright done with this shopping experience. The sugar didn’t exactly help, either. They became impatient and loud. My oldest had to go to the bathroom and was “seriously at a 10” on the how-bad-do-you-have-to-go scale. My youngest was just over a year old at the time and more mobile than ever. He wanted out of that cart. He needed a distraction. I quickly became the mom that opened up the package of Goldfish crackers before paying for them. Then the Chee rios. And eventually, the milk. Yup. Did I mention the line was long?

Finally, my baby began to settle as we pulled up to the cashier. The cashier looked over at me and said “Bipolar baby, huh?”.

I couldn’t believe the words that came out of her mouth. Even more so, I couldn’t believe the way she said it. It took every ounce of self-control to redirect my attention. I so badly wanted to school this youngster on what it actually means to experience bipolar. Or why society has such a strong stigma against mental disabilities such as bipolar because of uneducated smart mouths like hers. I also really, really wanted to stuff my kid’s pacifier down her throat. But that felt harsh. And unsanitary. So I stood there, staring at my groceries, waiting to get out and get home.

I couldn’t believe what I just heard. And so casual. What gave her the audacity to say such a thing?

And then it hit me…

She simply doesn’t know anyone with bipolar, so why on earth would she understand it?

I, on the other hand, have a great amount of understanding of bipolar. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced what a bipolar episode can do to a loved one, and what that in turn does to a family. I’ve witnessed extreme highs and lows coupled with denial and anger. I’ve written the long list of previously prescribed medications, recent hospitalizations, and triggers that resulted from a manic episode. I’ve watched someone I love become someone I didn’t know. I’ve had to mourn the person I knew my whole life and accept new normals of the person he is today. I’ve had to explain absences to employers, behaviors to acquaintances, and hard truths to close family. And as painful as all of this has been, the most devastating part is knowing that the person experiencing all of this is being robbed of a life they once had.

The grocery store incident gave me insight into how much the average person really understands mental disorders. If we truly took the time to learn the meaning and causes of someone’s struggle, we’d likely be far more understanding and supportive. And in turn, the person struggling with the disorder would be more likely to receive the help they need on a consistent basis and likely have more long -term stability and success. Why? Because support is the cornerstone of success when attempting t o function with any illness. Again, there’s that village. When we know we have a team rooting for us, we tend to play our best.

According to the National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI), 1 in 5 adults in the US experience mental illness in a given year. Look around you. Chances are someone you know and love has experienced mental struggle. But did they share it with you? We live in a world that loves the highlight reel. We see filtered photos and funny memes, beautiful family photo shoots, and the perfect angled selfie. But how often do you read about someone’s experience in the psychiatric ward? Likely, never.

If I could redo that day at the grocery store, it would go a little like this: Instacart.

But if that wasn’t an option, I’d turn to the cashier that made the comment and simply say, “No, my child does not have bipolar. But my brother does. And his life is not easy. Not a day goes by without me praying that he finds peace and stability, and not a moment goes by when I’m not worried about my DNA. So for the sake of my brother, and my family, I’d really appreciate it if you took the time to understand what bipolar actually means and how you could support them if you ever encounter someone with it.”

And then I’d drop my bills as if I’d drop my mic, and strut out of there with my loud, sweaty, babies…and trail of Goldfish crackers.

By Gracemarie Boland

Mama, yogi, health enthusiast, and lover of all things family and the perfect glass of red

Young Women & Opportunities in Financial Services


The financial services industry is primed to welcome a new generation of women leaders. However, traditional mindsets around roles may limit that future.

The talents needed to succeed in financial services roles are no different than many traditional female-dominated professions such as nursing or teaching. These include empathy, education, relationship-building, communication and problem solving. The inequality we find in the financial services industry today (and other male-dominated fields) could be the result of decades of misappropriating women’s inherent skill-sets. And, as we look to help guide younger women, the solution to gender inequality can begin before a career path is forged.

Opportunities in financial services are often not presented to young girls or college women. Looking beyond the dizzying terms and analysis associated with finance and micro- and macro-economic theory there is an entirely different dimension often not considered. Instead of a role that is calculating “total return”, how about a role that “impacts a life?” There are many roles, from investment analysts, portfolio managers or wealth advisors that can place a woman in close proximity to helping individuals and families enjoy retirement, send children to college, buy a 2nd home or fund a lifelong bucket list item. Instead of asking children what they want to be when they grow up, we should ask what they think their talents are or what they do best.

It starts in middle school
The reason for the scarcity in women pursuing a career in finance starts as early as middle school. In a Microsoft study, they found that between the ages of 12 and 15, girls lose interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects. In addition, they found that despite the high priority that is placed on STEM in schools, especially in expanding female interest, there was still a decrease in the number of girls interested in STEM. Many girls citing that it was due to peer pressure—girls were not rewarded like boys in their efforts socially for pursuing STEM subjects.

The studies have spoken
Yes, it is concerning on a gender equity level that women aren’t pursuing careers in finance, but it is also concerning for firms themselves. Studies have indicated that women are better investors than men. According to a study conducted by Warwick Business School, they found that women outperformed men at investing by 1.9 percent. In addition, women were found to outperform men because of their skills and dedication to long-term goals and view (FA Magazine). Women tend to focus on a family’s financial goals over investment performance.

As a female in the financial services industry, I see how women are more adept at reading social cues, paying attention to the pace and tone of clients’ speech and forming authentic relationships with clients. Of course, women do not have a domination on these skills. Men have them, too. And to some degree, these skills can be developed—by both women and men—through training. But female advisors tend to address financial decisions with empathy and directness, which I feel provides an approach that can set their female clients on the right track. Contrast this approach with the investment-driven, “win/lose” proposition that has been the more traditional approach.

Younger women entering the field need mentors to help them develop their careers, supporters to recognize their achievements, and to boost their self-confidence. Unfortunately, the financial services industry can appear uninviting to women, as most executives and decision makers on the front lines are men. When talented women looking to advance their careers see other women at the helm of a firm, they can more readily anticipate their own progress toward leadership roles. That is why a growing number of financial institutions such as Calamos Wealth Management, are creating programs to actively recruit and support women in key leadership roles.

Next Steps
I keep asking the same question: If women are statistically better performers than men in the “art” of providing financial services, why aren’t there more women on the front-lines of today’s leading firms? My answer revolves around you, the mothers of the next generation. We need to support and nurture self-confidence within our girls. But more importantly, we need to change the characterization of financial services from “number crunching” to that of “impacting a life.” It is about being a woman at the center of connecting with people, helping them through some of life’s most complex challenges, and enjoying the satisfaction of seeing clients achieve their life’s financial goals.


Calamos Wealth Management LLC is an investment advisor registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Calamos Wealth Management LLC is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice.
This material is distributed for informational purposes only. The information contained herein is based on internal research derived from various sources and does not purport to be statements of all material facts relating to the information mentioned, and while not guaranteed as to the accuracy or completeness, has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable. The opinions referenced are as of the date of the publication, are subject to change due to changes in the market or economic conditions, and may not necessarily come to pass.
©2019 Calamos Wealth Management LLC. All Rights Reserved.

10 Minute Workout

Posted on

To reduce the risk of injury, before beginning this or any exercise program, please consult a healthcare provider for appropriate exercise prescription and safety precautions. The exercise instructions and advice presented are in no way intended as a substitute for medical consultation.

Life these days is BUSY.  It is often filled with work, errands, kid activities, homework, meal preparation, and if we are lucky, seven hours of sleep each night.  We often have to make sacrifices when it comes to our own personal goals of health and wellness in order to fit in our endless amount of commitments.  Finding the time to drive to the gym, exercise, and drive home can be daunting, or just down right unfeasible. I’m here to tell you that small bouts of moderate intensity exercise CAN make a positive difference in muscle tone, strength, endurance, and even our waistline.  Below are some exercises you can do at home – and even better: they can be done in a small space with no special equipment. Our own bodies can provide plenty of resistance for improving strength, along with increasing heart rate, especially when combined with repetition and reduced downtime between activities.  Consider having the whole family take part in the 10 Minute Workout! It’s a great way to spend a little time together, promotes health and wellness for the whole family, and can even have some friendly competition!

These exercises should be done without experiencing joint pain.  While you may feel muscle fatigue, or muscle soreness, joint pain is not normal, and should not be ignored.  If you are new to an exercise routine, start slowly with sets and repetitions. Shoot for 10 repetitions for each exercise, except the planks.  Start with 3-4 repetitions for the planks. You can eventually work your way up to performing these activities together as a circuit and increasing hold times on the static activities.  Set a timer for 10 minutes and keep participating in the activities until the timer dings!

Maria Kronk, PT, MPT, CMPT, SCS is a Physical Therapist and Clinic Director with Ivy Rehab in Lisle, IL.  Ms. Kronk has over 15 years of experience in the Out-Patient Physical Therapy setting. She specializes in treating patients with varying musculoskeletal dysfunctions.  Ms. Kronk is also passionate about health, wellness, and fitness, and loves incorporating these concepts into the care of her patients.

Visit us HERE to view the exercises!

For more information visit us HERE or call 630-326-8810

Single Mother Finds Stability Through Shelter


Alma was 19 when she left Mexico in 1994. By 1997, she was married to her first husband, and in 2000 she had a baby boy. Six months after the birth of her son, she faced a terrible tragedy: her husband had passed away. Things were tough, but Alma was tougher. With a helping hand from her sister and a new husband in the picture, by 2008, things were looking up again. Alma was excited to have a partner in life again, and her son was happy to have a father. After a few years, Alma gave birth to two beautiful twin girls. But in 2013, things were not working out with her second husband, and Alma had to move with her three children yet again. 

As she started to struggle again, thinking of the needs of her family and the possibilities that might be available, Alma prayed for guidance. She wanted a place she could call home and raise her children with dignity. A few days later, her girls brought a flyer home from school with information about DuPage Habitat for Humanity. Alma says, “It was the answer to my prayers.” 

Now, Alma is on track to becoming a Habitat Homeowner, her son is a freshman in college set on obtaining his Masters in Paleontology, and her girls are in second grade. She says raising her kids in their own home “is so important for me and for their development and confidence.” 
“My biggest inspiration for working toward my home is to guide my kids to be great people that, in the future, will help others as well. Since the day they told us that we are a part of the program, my girls ask me if they may start packing. We are very excited to own a home in the near future,” Alma tells us. 

Alma says the best part of her experience so far is meeting and getting to know all the people, and making new, lasting friendships. She’s bursting with appreciation for the volunteers who are helping to change her life, and the lives of many others. 

If you would like to be a part of Alma’s dedication on April 23rd from 4 – 6 PM, you can find more information and RSVP here:

Get involved with DuPage Habitat’s mission by raising money for our Women Build fundraiser today. Participate as an individual or start a team today and make a difference in another mom’s life:

Hide & Seek


How can I feel so smothered, yet so lonely at the exact same time? I take a ‘break’, two minutes to bend my knees and lower my bum to the couch and exhale. Thirty seconds in my toddler climbs on top of me. He gives so much love…the sweet child must say “I love you Mommy” one hundred times a day. I feel guilty for simply not wanting to be touched. To be left alone. For two minutes. Please. But then the words of society, my peers, my friends ring in my head.

“You’re SO lucky.”

“MUST be nice.”

“I WISH I had the time you do!”

I snap out of it and embrace the hugs, the small moments that will soon pass…because I am reminded all the time by well-meaning older parents.

“Cherish every moment.”

“One day they won’t want to be with you.”

“You’re going to miss this.”

About a year and a half ago I hit a wall. (Not literally…I’m ok). A naturally extroverted person, I thrive around people…I mean, my major WAS Communications for Pete’s sake…I love to communicate, preferably with positive people, adults. Perhaps I like to communicate a little too much (my more mild-tempered hubs would say).

Find your tribe ‘they’ say. They will be your saving grace. It’s a cliché, but truer words were never spoken. I had an amazing tribe when my oldest was a baby. There were five of us. We laughed together, cried together, swapped stories of breastfeeding, sleepless nights and concerns over every little milestone our children did or didn’t reach. We had text threads a mile long, at all hours of the day and night. They were my rocks. But one child turned into two, then three for some. Friends moved, our oldest started school programs, some went back to work…and life moved into auto-pilot. There’s this in-between time. Between baby groups and elementary school. This in-between time almost broke me. But two opportunities entered my life…and they helped me to regain some of what I needed back-communication with adults, a sense of purpose beyond the home.

Let me be clear, many stay-at-home parents don’t seek out a different purpose. After all, what greater purpose is there than to raise little humans? I get that. Of course I get that. I know moms and dads who are their best selves taking care of their children 100% of the time. It seemed so black and white to me. Quit complaining and go back to work, or quit complaining and savor the moments. Could there be an in-between? Was it selfish to want an in-between?

I believe that opportunity presents itself when you least expect it, but are secretly searching for it. I was seeking something. I didn’t know what, how, when or where, but gosh was I seeking. I now work part-time hours from my home, or anywhere I want for that matter. I have a team of supportive, smart, brave, amazing (mostly) women surrounding me and they are all from different walks of life and different parts of the country. We laugh, we lean on each other, we brainstorm, we create and we fill our buckets so that we can pour into those closest to us.

Around the exact same time I joined this girl gang (totally legal by the way!), Dr. Cathy Subber approached me about being part of The Naperville Moms Network cast on NCTV17. We had no relationship other than doctor/chiropractic patient, but it was her office manager Allison who thought I might be a good fit. Remember how I mentioned that I love to talk? Poor Allison didn’t realize she often was the only 15 minutes of the day I communicated with someone over 4 feet. She probably thought, “This girl comes in and talks my ear off. She probably has a lot to say.” Spot on, Allison! This former musical theater gal was thrilled to be part of the panel. And this opportunity has lead to friendships and a beautiful network of local moms trying to balance and succeed.

I was going to title this post lost and found…but felt that was a bit dramatic. I was never lost. I didn’t need to find myself. I do think part of me was hidden a bit though. I sought the in-between, and here I am.

Erica Lopez lives in Naperville with her husband Rick and two children, Natalie and Brandon (7 and 4). She is a former high school English teacher, Independent Consultant with Rodan+Fields and part of the The Naperville Mom’s Network on NCTV17. She enjoys time with her family traveling, laughing and making memories both big and small.

Are you living in the zoo or in the jungle?


Are you living in the zoo or the jungle?

I’m not referring to the loads of laundry, endless dishes, your son’s bathroom, and that massive collection of hot wheels throughout your living room. I’m referring to how YOU are living within yourself.

This seems like a silly question, especially for me. I met my husband in a college bar, fell in love, had our first born, and moved to the suburbs. We chose Naperville because we wanted a great school district, safe neighborhood, and a family friendly atmosphere. Approximately 3 years later, we had baby #2.

Like a toddler, I thrive on routine. Wake up at 5am, workout, feed the minions, down my protein shake, ensure oldest minion is free of breakfast remnants on his face, give his backpack a quick scan, and get him out the door ready for carpool. Then my youngest and I head out to storytime at the library (seriously, Naperville, three libraries? You make it so easy.), a play date, or the grocery store (preferably one that hands out free cookies). We return home, I attempt to get a vegetable in his mouth, and then….ahhhh naptime. Yes, fellow mamas of 2 and under year olds. You know exactly what I’m referring to. Those 90-120 minutes of uninterrupted, quiet bliss to fill any which way I choose. And because I am certifiable type A, my time is typically filled with laundry, cleaning, bills, or organization of some sort. Then, at exactly 2:10pm, I wake up my chunky monkey and we head out in my sweet minivan to pick up my oldest from Kindergarten. Once home, we have a snack, play legos, practice piano, I step on aforementioned legos, curse under my breath, and then prep dinner. Shortly after my husband strolls into the house and our kids welcome him with hugs and excitement. After dinner it’s bath time (or the battle of bath time “This is the worst thing in the entire world, Mom”. We aren’t short on drama over here), then we read exactly 3 books, and send our boys to dreamland. Then hubs and I exchange moments about our day with a glass of red while I prep lunches and set my crack pot (coffee) for the next day’s adventures.

And, repeat…

In case it isn’t clear yet, I love routine.

I like to know what is happening and when it is happening. I don’t like surprises unless it involves my birthday or sushi (how do they sneak so much goodness into one little roll?). I’ve instated Taco Tuesday’s, Pasta Wednesday’s, and so on’s just to keep things in predictable motion. I plan my workouts one month in advance. I manage both a digital and chalkboard family calendar that is updated regularly so we know what to expect throughout the month. I have check lists and chore lists and to-do’s prepped the night before so I know exactly what my day will look like tomorrow. I keep order. I like order. I need order.

Friends, I live in the zoo.

It’s safe. Predictable. Easy. And it’s as comfortable as an oversized sweatshirt with fluffy slippers.

But it isn’t always the best way to live. In fact, if you are anything like me, you could be missing out on some pretty awesome opportunities.

One Saturday morning, I overheard my husband and son discussing a video they had watched on YouTube. It was titled “Learning like a Jungle Tiger”. Whether you have a 6 year old or a 16 year old, or if you are a thirty-something that could use a little perspective (eh-hem, that’d be me), I promise you this 5 minute video will be time well spent. The basis of it is that the tiger that lives in the zoo has a very easy, predictable life. He is super safe in that cage. However, the jungle tiger has to learn how to hunt, protect, and live in a dangerous environment. The jungle tiger has a much harder life. She’s living at the edge of her abilities and constantly stretched outside of her comfort zone. The jungle tiger is growing exponentially and can survive anywhere. And chances are, she’s pretty confident in both her stripes and scars.

Unlike our tiger friends, we get to choose how we live and what we think:

I can’t dance.

I am not athletic.

I am a terrible cook.

I could never wear that outfit.

I wish I could sing.

Pinterest is ruining my life.

These are all limiting beliefs that we’ve become comfortable with self-labeling. We want to do the things that make us feel good (in our comfy cage). But what if we tried doing the things we aren’t naturally good at? Learning has very little to do with our natural gifts. We can learn ANYTHING in the right environment.

Since watching this video, my household has adopted the “zoo or jungle” way of living. Whenever someone is faced with a decision that would normally default to what they are comfortable with, we ask “Do you want to live in the zoo, or live in the jungle?” Without question, it’s the jungle. It’s wild and scary and so very uncomfortable, but my god it is so much healthier for us to experience and grow from, regardless of the outcome.

So, fellow moms, as easy as it may be to keep your routine, I encourage you to unlatch your cage and play outside. Sign up for that Zumba class. Attend a mom’s night out by yourself. Burn tonight’s boeuf bourguignon and sign up for a cooking class tomorrow. Grab a handful of friends, or don’t, and get to that karaoke bar. Make the Pinterest fail. Chances are, you’ll learn from the experience and ace the next one. And if not, that’s ok too. Not every hunt will be a success, but we can still grow from the adventure. What we choose today will ultimately make tomorrow that much more memorable, or, just another routine day.

After all, your minions are watching you. They are growing and learning how to step outside into the wild under the care and direction of you, Mom Tiger. Let them explore, share their discoveries, and learn as much as possible along the way.

Learning Like a Jungle Tiger: Boland

Mama, yogi, health enthusiast, and lover of all things family and the perfect glass of red.

Career break to care for children


Career Break to Care for Children

I still remember the resume writing class I took a million years ago back when I was in college. The instructor told us that our resume shouldn’t be just a list of jobs. It should be the “storyteller of your career.” So how do you write the story of your career when it has a long intermission, a couple of plot twists, and a surprise ending?

After graduating from college, I dabbled a bit in marketing and advertising before landing in public and media relations. I loved what I did and planned to keep working in some form when I started a family.

Then came the intermission. I had three babies all at once.

I stepped away from my career when my triplets arrived. I had fought so hard to have them, and I didn’t want to miss a single minute of their childhood. Not to mention, my entire paycheck would have gone to childcare! I knew I’d probably go back to work at some point. Little by little. Maybe I’d freelance or find a part time gig.

Then came the plot twist. I got divorced.

I had been out of the workforce for over ten years. In those ten years, newsletters were replaced by websites and press releases were replaced by social media. Public relations was not the same field I had left. My computer and writing skills were rusty, and I needed way more than a “gig.” I needed to support myself and my kids. I was worried and overwhelmed and had no idea what would happen next.

Then came another plot twist. I completely started over.

That was 2014. Today, I work for a global, billion-dollar company, have traveled to Australia and Europe, hold four professional certifications, and manage processes that I’d never even heard of until five years ago. I work every day from my home office. And I’m not in PR. I’m in IT Security.

No matter why you want to – or have to – go back to work after taking time off to care for someone else, you can do it. Here’s how.

  1. Find an in. I started at my company as a part time office assistant. If you used to be an HR manager before you left the workforce, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll re-enter as an HR manager. Instead, look for a good organization with a culture that supports career growth and take whatever job they’ll give you.
  2. Prove you’ve got what it takes. You may not find your inspiration by filling up the coffee machine or stocking office supplies but do it well and do it with a smile on your face. I did, and someone noticed.
  3. Tell people your story. It surprised me to find that most working people support stay-at-home moms returning to the workforce and want to see them succeed.  A few of my coworkers – all with 25+ years in the field – heard my story, supported me in my first IT job, and mentored me as I learned the ropes.
  4. Prepare to work hard. “It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.” Amen. No matter what level you were at when you quit, you will have to sharpen your skills and get yourself up to speed. I realized that going back to college was not financially or logistically possible as a single mom. So I studied at home every night for two years – in between fixing dinner, driving carpool, and helping with homework. I took four exams, passed them all, and now hold some of the top professional certifications in my field.
  5. Consider a different path – especially if you need to work. Don’t limit yourself to only what you used to do. My approach to this second career was very different than my first. I recognized that my decision to be a stay-at-home mom coupled with my current life circumstances might not afford me the luxury of pursuing the job of my dreams. This time, it was about finding a career that would bring me financial independence. I’m well on my way to that goal because I was open to doing something different.
  6. But don’t forget what you’re good at. As I was settling into my new career, I talked about my communications background with some coworkers. Turns out that a lot of IT folks aren’t very fond of writing. Now, a large part of my job involves translating technical information into written policy. Surprise ending! I still get to write every single day.

The story of my career has an intermission, some plot twists, and a surprise ending. How do you disguise all of that craziness when you’re writing your resume and interviewing for a job?  You don’t. You own your crazy story and make sure you share it. It’s what makes you interesting and illustrates just how resilient you are.

Sandwiched in between my PR job and my IT job, my marketing degree and my technology certifications, my resume reads “Career break to care for children.” And I typed it in bold.

-Monica Hultgren

Monica is a single mom of teenage triplets and a cocker spaniel named Lucy. She is also a former SAHM with a background in communications and a career in IT security. Her favorite food is pizza, her favorite place is the beach, and her favorite word is “resilience.”

Mom Guilt


Mom guilt

I was thinking of switching up my “Mom In Business” blog post this time to something more MOM focused.  Let’s be honest, there are so many topics to choose from that can make you laugh, cry, or both than mortgages I was thinking of what I would want to talk about since I am not a parenting expert, but rather a work in progress. I have a 5-year-old, 3-year-old and one on the way due March 4, 2019.  Every time I think I have the hang of things, the rug is pulled out from under me. Does anyone else feel that way?

I’m not officially a stay-at-home mom, or a mom that works full-time outside the house, but rather I’m somewhere in between. See, I have an awesome job as a mortgage advisor that allows me to work and be my best professional self, while also being able to raise my kids. I hear the struggles of parents that work outside the home full-time, but also the struggles of losing your “self” staying home to raise your kids full time. No matter which side of the coin you land on, ALL moms experience guilt. Whether the guilt is not enough time with their families or not enough time for their professional selves.

My parents both worked full time outside the home. My maternal grandparents were instrumental in supporting my mom as she was often left as a single mom over the years until the divorce finally happened. Nowadays, it seems like more of us are raising our kids without as much help from family since so many of us must work and work longer in life. My mom always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards for her. She had to go to work in the early 80s during the recession when my dad was laid off. She had 3 kids under 5. Currently, she is still at the “temp job” she got way back when.  However, while she worked long hours, she always made us feel special and tirelessly made sure all our sports uniforms were cleaned multiple times a week, even if that meant doing laundry until the wee hours of the morning. My mom always wished she could do more for us whether that was a bigger presence in our school, or at extracurricular activities. My mom always had the mom guilt as a mom and what she missed.

Reflecting on that, as her only daughter of three, I never thought she was less than amazing. She still made every holiday, birthday and “just because” day so special for each of us, despite how she might have felt during that time.

Personally, after I had my first in October 2013 I was finishing up my masters in the art of teaching and set to student teach March 2014. I went on maternity leave from my loan officer/assistant position and didn’t come back to Perl as an assistant. I had to student teach a few short weeks after my return and had to resign from the salary portion of my job. We paid someone to stay with my 5-month-old daughter while I made no money as a student teacher. However, I finished my degree in May of that year. The following year, I finished my additional endorsement required by the Chicago Public Schools (ESL) just 2 weeks before I had my son. So here I was, an overeducated part-time loan officer and mom. Daycare was going to be somewhere around $3,500/mo., which would absorb my entire salary as a teacher. So, I stayed a loan officer as I have been since entering the business in 2002.

I have been thinking over the years the direction I wanted my mortgage business to go. Finally, last fall I decided I wanted to have a website and use this platform to educate and discuss topics related to my experience as someone who has been in the financial field for 16 years. It’s been fun, and I finally launched this website July 2018.  I still have my masters and started substitute teaching in District 203 when time allows this school year. I like having options professionally, whether I am using my teaching degree now or not, it’s my story that I am writing every day.

For those of you on the fence about going back to work, or staying home, check out This website was introduced to me back in 2014. The woman that created it left the workforce to raise her kids, then realized it was hard going back to work after taking that time off. She is from the northern suburbs of IL and has grown this business to help educated moms with real experience find work that works for their lives, whether it’s full-time, part-time, contract, remote, or in office. You can customize your profile and the team helps find jobs that you might be a match for. This can help you get the best of both worlds should you feel you are missing this.

I felt so lonely after I had my first baby at 34, and often still feel that way since I am not profiled as a stay at home mom or full-time mom. However, I am still writing my story and wanted to share it with those of you struggling. It’s weird to work your whole life, then shift to a life about others and shift your priorities. I feel like I am always holding on to my professional self. This makes me feel good about myself. Perhaps my next topic will be self-care. This can mean so many different things for each of us.

Please be kind to yourself, you are doing a great job. No matter what kind of mom you are, working or not, we need to support each other and be kind to one another. Let me know what you think of this blog post, and how you might relate.

Happy Holidays!!

Mortgage Mom

Pamela Harambasic


Choosing Gratitude


For the past few months I have been going downtown Chicago to be a part of a women’s leadership seminar.  15 women, whom I have never met, from all walks of life and business backgrounds sharing their life experiences and wisdoms.  One thing we were asked to do is take an online test at (try it, it is really cool!).  At the end of the 120 questions that you answered, you got a print out with your “character strengths profile”.  My top character strength was listed as gratitude, my least was love of learning (I’m not a details girl!).

I really thought about the first one. Gratitude.  It is something that is available to all of us and doesn’t cost a cent.  I’m not exactly sure when this became the guiding force in my life, but I am thankful that I picked up this trait along the way.  I, like most people, have been through my share of losses and rough patches.  During those times I really focused on accepting the fact that this was going to be a “down” season of my life.  I worked on knowing that it would not last forever and not trying to fight it and make it “all ok” immediately.

I also tried not to let those rough times define who I was on a day to day basis stealing all of my happiness and joy away.  I would literally set aside specific times to focus on the issues I had to face and tackle them.  Feel them and experience them for future closure. At other times, I would put the issues on the back burner and really enjoy the people around me and parts of my life that were going well.  I would actually visualize that my problems were in one of those big exercise balls and I would mentally sit on it.  This way, I was on top of my problems not letting them be on top of me.

This may seem like an over simplification, but I believe we truly choose our thoughts.  We choose what we focus on and how much space we let those thoughts have in our mind.  The more we let positive, uplifting, empowering thoughts fill our minds, the more we live life with those emotions at the forefront.  When negative thoughts, that do not serve us well, come to mind, mentally put up a stop sign.  Tell them to go back to where they came from.  They just aren’t welcome anymore.

It takes time and it takes practice to slowly train your mind to see things in this way, but it is worth it.  Life is full of ups and downs and unfortunately there are no guarantees of a perfectly smooth ride.  I believe our overall happiness and well being is in our control as we manage our reactions to the times that life shoots out lemons at us.  Finding ways to choose gratitude will always get you going in the right direction and help solidify a life of joy.


Dr. Cathy Subber

**This post was originally written for the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business Blog a few years ago, but it is still very true today.**