Tag Archive | pie

On Baked Goods, Gardening, And Cultivating Career

You already know the writing of Carinn Jade from her popular website Welcome to the Motherhood, as well as her pieces from Mommyish and the New York Times.  She’s the real deal– real writer, real Mom, real lawyer, real friend.  I could go on, but let’s hear from her as she embarks on a new chapter in her careers with a heart full of acceptance and a future as bright as a cluster of stars on clear summer night.

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Lately I’ve been struggling.  I’ve also been succeeding.  I’ve been picking and choosing and placing and planning.  Through this process I’ve been visualizing what’s really important in my life.  I imagined myself as a pie with three thick slices*.  Fill it with whatever pleases you (mine is peach cream) but picture it.

image credit: weareoregon.com

image credit: weareoregon.com


(*Note: there are other slices of my identity such as wife, yogi, dysfunctional twitter user, but those are firmly established.  The three slices below are the ones I’ve been struggling with over the past few years.)

One slice of me is a mom.  The kind that gets down on the floor to play cars, who runs over the jungle gym bridges, and who delights in making my kids laugh by doing crazy things.  I have enjoyed my days at home with my children without a shred of regret.  That’s not to say I haven’t lost my shit on occasion or doubted my ability to be a full-time parent, but I never regretted giving up my career in finance for them.  For the most part I was exhausted but happy, even more so when I became a freelancer who channeled that leftover longing into writing.  Which brings me to the next slice.

Another part of me is a writer.  I have written all over the internet about myself, my struggles in motherhood, and my opinion on popular headlines from a parent’s point of view.  Since December I have also written two very shitty first draft (a la Anne Lamont’s perfect phrase) novels.  The first one was DOA, but I am in love with the second and am revising my heart out.  I recently pitched an agent who requested a full before I had to admit I didn’t have a full.  I do have a polished 50 pages that I am willing to show and I let that fly today.

Another part of me is a lawyer.  I spent almost 20 years either dreaming of, studying to be, or actually being a lawyer.  I’ve spent the past 4 years trying to reject it.  I was disillusioned by the lack of women role models and simply didn’t have it in me to put in the number of hours it would require to break that glass ceiling over a lawyer trying to be successful in finance.  As a mother of two young kids, honestly, I just didn’t think I had it in me.  I have regretted that a lot in the past year and many of my Mommyish posts revealed my struggle.  While I was happy in my personal choice, I felt I was letting down all female lawyers, or at the very least my daughter if she ever wanted to practice law and have a family.  I had opted out and blamed the culture (which is partially to blame) instead of continually trying to change it or finding a better fit.  That time is over.  I start full time next week with the law firm that gave me my start right after law school.

I know what you are thinking.  This is a lot of crazy shit.  Going back to the law full time after my writing career really gained traction — how does that make any sense?  You’re thinking “blow up that three-piece pie, Carinn, because something’s gotta give.”

It’s true, things will change.  But I am hoping it’s mostly my analogy.  A pie, I’ve realized, is a fully baked and completed product.  Which I am not.  I am more like a farmer growing a vegetable garden.  I’ve got my plot of land.  The soil is rich and dark and fertile.  I’m growing carrots, snow peas, and beets.  Each one requires attention at different times, each one has slightly different seasons.  Learning which crop will sustain me will take time and careful tending.  Season after season I will improve my product through trial and error.  It will take many seasons of work, no matter how much I try to muscle through it faster.  Turns out, vegetable gardens don’t respond to my strong arm attempts.

I have no idea what this next chapter looks like in real life.  I do, however, know that I will practice acceptance daily — of all the competing parts of me and all of the good and bad parts of this journey.  I’ve learned that by rejecting an important but complicated aspect of my life, I was rejecting part of me.  All this did was invite struggle.  If a part of my identity falls away, it must do so naturally, rather than me trying to push it out of the picture because it’s not always comfortable.

In the past few weeks during which these changes have been set in motion, this quote rings true.

If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.

-J. Krishanmurti

Here’s To Transformation.


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If you would like to post here about your work life (or lack thereof), contact me at Christie.o.tate@gmail.com


Compulsory Gratitude

I’m grateful. I swear I am grateful, but this pressure to suddenly demonstrate it here and on Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram and Twitter is making it feel less genuine for me.

Something about the compulsory nature of the gratitude is rubbing me the wrong way.  I am not the only one, thank Heavens, and here’s my favorite post on the gratitude from Carinn at Welcome to the Motherhood.

Man, I am grateful for her and her uncanny gift of keeping the shizz real. (See, that was genuine.)

And I will bow my head today to give thanks for a meal that is graciously served to me (even though I think turkey is generally a boring protein, and pumpkin pie is like 17th on my favorite dessert list, because HELLO? Where’s the chocolate in pumpkin pie?), and I will surrender to the theme of gratitude because my heart actually is full of it. Brimming.

My biggest problem is my healthy, vibrant children don’t sleep late enough for my taste.  And sometimes I feel fat and ugly.  And my therapist has confused vacation time with working time.  And sometimes I hate my hair. Oh– and I am not sure how to make a career as a writer, much less how to finish my novel.  Throw in a few days per month of existential malaise and a low-grade fear of people, and that’s the list of my problems.

I may be self-absorbed and immature, but I am not stupid.  I know that someone who has the above list as the sum of her life problems has an extraordinary life.

I should have gratitude coursing through my veins, and often I do.  But the pressure to package it as clever and pithy and bloggy just makes it feel like a mockery to me.  And it makes me feel like a failure because I have seen plenty of extraordinary writing about gratitude.  Also, railing against the gratitude “trend” is sort of boorish– after all, as far as trends go, it’s a pretty good one (unlike, say, skinny jeans or huffing glue).

So, I’ll share this with you: I am grateful for my everythings* and for the few boundaries I have between my private life and my public life, which is my way of saying that’s all I’m saying about this now, but check back later, because I may be more forthcoming.

*Not a typo. I meant to say “everythings.” Have you read Room by Emma Donoghue*? I was going for something like the language that her main character used.  Did it work?  Ok, well, I tried.

*Wanna amp up your gratitude? Read Donoghue’s Room and be grateful you were not born into the situation that she depicts there.