What Kenny Rogers Taught Me About When To “Say Uncle”

By: Roshanda Pratt

RoshandaRemember when you were a little kid wrestling with your brother or sister? If you were like me, you were probably the one in agony on the bottom while your sister tried out the new moves she learned from G.L.O.W. (Glorious Ladies of Wrestling). It never failed; my sister would have me a “Nelson hold” while I worked tirelessly to maneuver out. Unfortunately, being the smaller sibling, I had to wave the white flag and scream out, “Uncle.”  I hated admitting defeat. My sister, on the other hand, relished in it.

There is something about the idiom “say uncle” that makes one feel like a wimp or a quitter.  Why is it that women seem to have difficulty with surrender?  I blame Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind” with her damsel in distress drama or maybe I should blame the bra burning movement with their mantra, “I am women hear me roar.”

Surrender, as defined in the 1828 Noah Webster dictionary, means “to yield to the power of another; to give or deliver up possession upon compulsion or demand.” Let us focus for a moment on the first definition, “to yield to the power of another.” I would interpret that to mean the one who surrenders is the one receiving the greatest benefit. Let’s consider my beginning example.  My sister had me in a half nelson choke hold. I fought for as long as I could and finally decided to “surrender” my will in order to give her some “brief” power.

In my life, I have realized that “saying uncle” does not have to be such a bad thing. I learned the art of surrender as a college student embarking on the adventure of forgiveness. I learned how to surrender when it came to marrying my college love. I learned the beauty of surrender when my face was in a toilet dealing with morning sickness with my first child.

And, as I type this, I am again screaming “uncle.” Last year, I took the plunge into business ownership, starting a media consulting business.  The first year had lots of success, but there was also failure. Recently, I was brought on as a media consultant for a new business endeavor with other professionals.  The workload has increased, but I am having a great time being able to control my own schedule.  However, at the same time my schedule was becoming hectic, forming me to work late into the night trying to meet deadlines and projects.

One night, as I struggled to write a blog post, I realized I was again on that imaginary mat, pinned to the ground but refusing to surrender.  I needed to “say uncle.” That decision came recently when I submitted my “resignation” to the Every Woman Blog. I have enjoyed what I like to call my online “diary” community for the past two years. But, as the famous song goes, “Now it’s time to say goodbye to all our company…” I have enjoyed this experience, the friendships I have made with fellow bloggers, and the chance to connect with all of the readers. But, I must surrender.

As I typed my resignation letter, I disliked every bit of it, but knew it needed to be done. I had been taking a gamble for a long time and I had to look at my hand and stop “bluffing” with my life. The wonderful team at the Every Woman blog was supportive about my decision and left the door open for me to guest post. I was extremely grateful because this experience has been amazing!

Life is a series of wrestling bouts where someone has to “Say Uncle.” As women, I think we have to learn how to be okay with walking away, surrendering for something better or just to gain some priority in our lives. Doing so does not mean you are quitter, it just means you are smart enough to know when something is no longer working or you are no longer giving your best!

In the words of Kenny Rogers, “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”

So my dear friends, what do you need to surrender or “say uncle” to? And why have you not done it yet?

I won’t say goodbye. Instead, I will say see you soon!

The “New” Working Mom

By: Roshanda Pratt

r8 bloomShe arises at 6 a.m. to get the children ready for school. By 8:30 a.m. she is back home, preparing for a meeting with a potential client and putting in a load of laundry.  This is a brief description of the “new” working mom.  She is known as a “mompreneur.” According to Biz Online, Ellen Parlapiano and Pat Cobe, two leading authorities on women-owned businesses, coined the term back in the late 1990’s.  Entreprenuer.com defines a mompreneur as a female business owner who’s actively balancing the roles of mother and entrepreneur. According to statistics, women make up the fastest-growing segment of small business owners today.  There are many reasons why women venture into the business world.  For some, it is an opportunity to provide a better service or product than is currently available, while others want to be their own boss. For most, it is the opportunity to make more money.

As a mompreneur, my reason for leaving the traditional workforce to work from home is solely to pursue my passion and to create a legacy for my children.  My husband and I want to give our children greater opportunities or a better start in life than we ever had.  What a blessing to pass on not only generational wealth, but a business idea in which our children could further expand.  Isn’t this what Sam Walton, Truett Cathy and Jerome Monroe Smucker did?  For too long, the business world has been left up to the men.  But there is an emergence of women who are not just staying at home, but making it profitable.

However, this “new” working mom requires a considerable amount of discipline, time management and support.  For example, I work up until 30 minutes before the children get home from school. This allows me to transition my thoughts from work mode to being plain old mom. Then comes homework, dinner (which is sometimes prepared by my husband), baths and preparation for school with some goofing off in the midst of it, and then it is back to the work grind until sometimes midnight. Since I have roles both as a business owner and a mom, I must work hard at not only one job, but two. In no way am I minimizing my friends who work outside the home, in particular single mothers. In fact, let’s take a moment right now to applaud our sisters who are working hard both outside and inside the home. We celebrate YOU!

Even though I have many roles, including acting as a referee in the disputes over toys, serving as a taxi driver, reviewing additional problems while returning client phone calls, and finishing up a project or blog post, I would not trade my “work” life.  It has been a juggling act between maintaining a family life and growing my media and marketing business, but the lessons I have learned and the legacy it will create for my children is priceless.  The other day, I asked my oldest daughter, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” She told me a school teacher. I asked her, instead of being a teacher why not own the school?  My daughter may not have understood at the time, but I am putting an image in her that she does not need to work in a job that already exists; she can create one. Is this not what every woman wants; a chance to create her own thing?

What do you think? Is there a difference between mothers who work from home versus those who work outside of the home?

Ro 🙂

Tips for Productivity

By: Summer Brons

Although I [usually] consider myself a relatively productive individual, blog posts and articles with tips for being even more efficient always seem to be some of my favorites. It’s interesting to see how others balance their busy schedules and find small ways to get ahead. Thus, I thought it might be fun to share a few tactics I try to implement for myself:

Prepare for the day ahead. I find that my weekday mornings go much smoother when I’ve taken a few minutes out of the previous evening to get myself on the right track to start the day.

I can waste more time than anyone I know staring at a closet full of clothes, completely incapable of choosing an outfit. I also excel at getting dressed, hating everything I’m wearing and then changing clothes 12 times before I finally settle on something I’m still not thrilled with. If I force myself to choose an outfit the evening before, I know exactly what I’m slipping into after my shower and can get on with my morning.

The same goes for packing a lunch before heading to bed. Not only am I saving money and gas by taking food to work with me, if I’ve prepped it the night before, I can simply snag it from the fridge and head out the door once I’m ready to leave. This is far more efficient than scurrying around the kitchen trying to put together a reasonable meal before work in between bites of breakfast, making coffee and letting the dog out.

Make a to-do list. I know, I know, people have sworn by to-do lists for years. I’m unfortunately not one of those people. I’ll occasionally scribble out a list with lofty ambitions of accomplishing everything I’ve deemed worthy of committing to chicken scratch, keeping a pen close at hand so I can smugly cross one task off a time … and rarely find this fantasy as my end result. I’ll either abandon the list once I’m busy enough that I don’t have the time nor inclination to refer to it anymore, or I’ll forget about it entirely. But when I do actually write a coherent to-do list and stick to it? The results are pretty amazing.

If you want to be super detailed, organize your to-do list into multiple categories so you have an outline of exactly which tasks are absolute necessities, and others that won’t start any fires if they’re pushed off to tomorrow’s list. You can make a list for your entire day and a separate one for your workday once you get to the office. By day, I work in project management and if I didn’t have a legal pad next to me at all times, I’d be lost.

Decide on your non-negotiables. Work is obviously a non-negotiable for your day. Anything that requires you to be there at a particular time is probably going to be something you can’t exactly reschedule without repercussions, but you can use this concept to your advantage to squeeze extra time out of your day.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I hear people complaining about how they just “don’t have time” to workout. I completely understand that sometimes the day just slips away and suddenly the plan to run five miles was lost somewhere between happy hour and laundry, but if you treat your workout as an obligation instead of an option, you’ll be surprised where you can find extra time. Waking up one hour earlier (or staying up one hour later, depending on the hours you keep) can offer just enough time to get your heart rate up and burn a few calories.

The same can be said for anything else that you know you really SHOULD be doing, but often don’t. Whether referring to your creative endeavors, a repair project around the house, even just a few quiet minutes alone to read a novel – consider it a must-do instead of a “If I have time, I’ll try to get to it.”

Quit putting everything off.  Procrastinating is fantastically easy to do, which is probably why so many of us do it. But instead of repeating myself, for this tip I’m going to refer you to my last LMC blog post, “Changing With the Leaves.”  In short: stop saying you’ll change your ways “next week” or “starting in December,” and just do it right now. You’ll be surprised how quickly a change can take effect when you decide to act on it rather than just think about it.

I’m certainly not saying that I do all of these things without fail, but they are a few of my favorites to keep in mind when I’m looking for ways to get things done. What are a few of your own techniques for managing your time?