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Of late, my reflection shows an older version of my youthful self. Even after a good night’s rest, puffy bags hang like buoys anchoring my heavy eyelids. Wrinkles and sunspots mock younger years spent sunbathing and carefree living. As I scan my chin for unruly hairs I wonder, “Are you there, Self? It’s me, Myself.”

Like millions of women before me, becoming a mother shifted my focus from me to my daughter. In 2012, I packed up my office desk to be a stay-at-home-mom. I had a budding sales career but, with an infant at home, international business trips and exceeding year end goals intruded on the fleeting time with my baby girl.

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While I would not trade the last three years for any desk job, living off one salary has had more sacrifices than just a corporate title. I no longer treat myself to monthly pedicures, though my feet would benefit from the exfoliating. My wardrobe is, at best, last year’s end of season sales. Chef and I go for date lunches while Ouisie is at preschool rather than dinners to save on babysitting. Though opting out of work has resulted in budget cuts and profit loss, it has generated the greatest return on our investment.

The extortionate cost of living in Los Angeles compounded with Ouisie going five days a week to pre-K this fall dictate it is time for me to find a new job career.  It is scary and exhilarating.  Over the Christmas holidays, I confessed to my uncle that I wanted to be a writer. He looked me in the eye and said, “Then do it. Don’t look back on your life with any regrets.”

Every day I encourage and teach our daughter to explore her interests and follow her passions. What then should hinder me from finding a career that fulfills my passions? I want to be successful, but even more, I want to make a difference and contribute to this crazy beautiful world.

After I dusted off the resume and polished my LinkedIn profile, I began networking with previous bosses and new local contacts. I applied to dream jobs online and signed up for weekly job newsletters.

And then, nothing happened.

Last week, while browsing the web for freelance writing jobs, I stumbled across Mom Angeles. I submitted some writing samples to the editor and was delighted when an invitation to their hosted Mom Fair dropped in my inbox. The timing was perfect.

On Monday night, I was reenergized by a vibrant panel of successful working moms. From life coaches to corporate executives, the women shared how they aligned their passions with their careers. I was ready to go get’em. 

Amy Ritz, Marketing Lead for Accenture’s practice in Northern California, talked on her triumphant return to corporate America after a nine year maternity leave. Another speaker who stood out was certified executive career coach, Jennifer Bevan Chow.

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Jennifer served as a career coach at UCLA Anderson School of Management for almost six years. She holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from M.I.T., and an MBA from Wharton School. Her stellar career includes being  a brand manager at Neutrogena Corp,  a management consultant at Bain & Co, and an Investment Banking analyst at J.P. Morgan on Wall Street. But then the game changer arrived in 2004,  Jennifer became a mom.

“Suddenly, getting home at 8 p.m. didn’t seem so “wonderful” anymore. I had always envisioned “having it all,” but in my new reality I saw that there had to be choices. It was an agonizing decision, but I ended up leaving my brand management job to focus on my son, DJ. I was a stay-at-home mom for 2 years and while I cherished the time with my son, I was also experiencing an identity crisis. I had always valued my professional accomplishments, and here I was consumed with poopy diapers, mommy groups, and nap schedules.

A new path needed to be forged: I knew I didn’t want to return to a demanding corporate role, but I also knew I needed to find work that I could balance with my new role as a mom.” 

A few years ago she started her own coaching company, Path Relaunch. Her website is a wonderful resource for anyone in a career transition or for a mom’s relaunch. A great place to start is her 10 Questions to Jumpstart Your Career Relaunch.

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Being out of work has allowed me to take an introspective look at my interests and passions. For three years, I have stared hard into the mirror and deep into my soul.

In speaking with numerous like minded moms, I found the common thread weaved throughout us is the chosen career before kids was just a job, not a passion. It was therefore easy, and in some cases a relief, to walk away. But like Jennifer Bevan discovered about herself, most of us need, and crave, a challenge or creative outlet in addition to raising our children.

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I left the Mom Fair with my head held high, and my mind determined to find my niche in this world.  If they can do it, so can I. And perhaps the corner office still awaits, but for now, at least, I want work and home to be in harmony, not at war.

And so, that night I returned home and parked my car. Before getting out I stared hard into the rearview mirror and answered, “I am back Self. It is me, Myself.”

This post is not commissioned or for promotional purposes.  For more information on Jennifer Bevan please refer to Path Relaunch. To find more information on the next Mom Fair, please visit this link