Starbucks, Not For Work

Years ago, while in high school and college, I worked at two different Starbucks. This was the pre-automated espresso machine days when the training took place on a French press with a handwritten passport of coffees and each machine had its own personality. I loved it. It was the first job I had that I truly loved going to. And I wasn’t into coffee at the time. I would drink (gag!) skim milk with ice in it. Yep- I was a strangey. Starbucks then was work, and I loved it.

In my education career days, Starbucks trips were not a thing. I had a Kuerig in my office and teachers and administrators don’t have the luxury of leaving the building for the most part. I developed a love for black coffee straight and piping hot from the kuerig.

When I sold my business earlier this month, we were thriving and SUPER busy. And I was spending way more time sitting in my local Starbucks working than I had ever anticipated. Literally all of my meetings were held at one of the local Starbucks and all of my office work was either there or at home well after Starbucks was closed. Starbucks has always felt like a work environment to me since the foundation of my working years was laid there 20+ (!) years ago.

On Tuesday, before C’s PT, I went to Starbucks. As a legit customer who was there for a cup of coffee. I didn’t have a laptop, tablet or file folder with me. I didn’t have a report lingering within my mental load that needed to be created. I just had my sleeping baby, and time to actually slow down. Imagine that!

And it was glorious. I sat. I drank coffee. I mentally prepared myself for what could have been a tough PT session (but wasn’t!). I was a mom. Just a mom. Not a business owner who also happened to be a mom. And it made me thankful for the decision that I made this month to sell my f4m baby. I need these moments with my littles. I need to be a customer at a Starbucks more often.

And the best part? I get to have a rich professional life with my Community Coordinator position @athleta along with still teaching a couple classes at night. See, as the business grew, so did my work hours. And the first things to go are self care followed by the little things that get you through the day like 15 minutes of coffee time at a Starbucks. And any business owner will tell you that it’s impossible to turn off your business brain when operating hours are closed. That is when the most brilliant ideas come to surface, after all! A wise woman who I know well, recently told me that she is up with her mental load at 3am every day. She knows the real-ness of owning a business while raising a family. It’s tough!

A couple months ago, a tweet circulated around my IG circle that read “we expect women to work as though they have no children and raise children as if they don’t work”. This is SO true. My kids took a back burner more than I would like to admit. They still have to at times, which is not a bad lesson in patience and empathy. But, at the height of the business and coincidentally the height of the number of children I mother, they were taking a backseat far too often. Hence, The Sale. Prior to the business, my career in education was booming, but I only saw my daughter awake for 30 minutes a day sometimes which broke my new mom heart. Thus, I went on the hunt for something that was the package deal, and fit4mom LZMW was born. And grew. And grew. And suddenly became a full time gig.

The first couple of weeks since I sold fit4mom have felt similar (from what I gather) to having a missing limb. This extension of me needed to function without me. And it has and still will. So much of my day-to-day was centered around fit4mom. I still wake up wondering things that are no longer my concern. I think that will take time to dissipate.

So now, I get to look at my week as a whole and figure out the times that I need to devote to working on my event planning and community outreach at Athleta- it’s not choosing whether to play Calico Critters with my daughter in the moment or take a last minute call or throw in a paw patrol so I can set up a course in online booking. I get to be present at 2pm on a Wednesday and know that I will be snuggled up with my firstborn while her brothers sleep without the burden of impending reports, schedules, and other work clouding my ability to mother. (By the way, Athleta is an amazing company and work environment to be a part of… hugely because the staff at my location is absolutely amazing- our GM is a mountain mover, and nothing stands in her way… plus everyone there appreciates a good risk taker, which is in my DNA). #meanttobe

So I vow now to be present. To not miss any more imaginative play opportunities because I have something huge to worry about. Working parents have to sacrifice so much, and as a working mom, I am no different, but I’m no longer working 24/7, and that is a welcome change. And when I go to work now, it is ahhhhazing. I’m energized, productive, and I get shit done. I love where my career has turned, and I would not be here without my fit4mom career first.

The sale happened 2 weeks ago, and I feel like I should have an FAQ section plastered on me that answers the questions of how everything is going/if I’m happy and if I like my new role. The answers are Great!, yes, and hell yes. I am lucky that I take calculated risks and believe in the big picture.

Next week, I’m going to go Starbucks again and just sit. Because now, I can.

My. Little. Why’s.

This is goodnight and not goodbye

Three years ago, I gave birth to something other than S, B, or C. I embarked on a journey that I was so terrified and so excited about. Business ownership. Franchise ownership. So scary. I felt empowered. I was terrified. I was ready. If anyone knows me, I go head on into my projects and I kick ass. It’s just my mantra.

And then I opened. And I had a 20 week B in my belly. And a baby S in tow. And shit, I felt like I had it all. Because I did. I still do. I think back to that first day, and I can’t even believe I had the gumption to just DO IT. I think about the challenges of opening a business from scratch and can’t even believe that the new mom in me did it. I admire that spark plug of a woman.

The hardest thing I ever did as a business owner was find people that believed in my purpose. Social media wasn’t my thing because #education. I was learning on the fly and happy to do so. With my gigantic belly. I was literally a decade behind on the times because of my prior career in education as far as small business goes.

The first key players in my undertaking were four women who I can’t imagine life without. Jenn, Sandra, Rebecca and Kathy. I met them because they googled me. And believed in me. And helped me grow F4M maybe without even knowing it. They are the bones of the business that even I didn’t know I needed.

Summer closed and I had B. It was the hardest time of my life. But it was a beautiful mess. And these women? They were there. Along with my lifeline, Jaime. Like I don’t know if I would be alive and well without her. She joined the fun right before I had B and was the unofficial midwife when I went into labor with B during a stroller strides class one day. She is the peanut butter to my jelly, and I’m lucky to call her the matriarch of my tribe.

Step on the gas, and you get a force to be reckoned with. I drove, drove, drove once I got past the really hard transition to two under two. I met Allison, Chloe, Hollyce and Sarah…. plus so many other women who knew my jam, my weakness, and my kryptonite just by the color of leggings I was wearing that day. I am lucky. And I was able to make that lemonade out of lemons. I was able to make my dream a reality.

Bring me to fall of 2018, and I barely recognize the woman who started this amazing business with not even an ounce of business ownership in her. She is fierce, loyal, driven, and a friend. She is influenced, daring, and still terrified.

And she is ready. Ready to pass this amazing torch of a business to some very deserving and super hardworking mamas. She is ready to show her kiddos what it means to be strong when letting go.

And that baby? The one I birthed? The business? It’s a child now. And it needs the skilled hands of Nicole and Kristen, its new mamas. They will be specially blending the family they have been building for a few years with their new baby. For 3 years, I built a childhood full of “popcorn” and “monkeys” for my babies. And they love it still. My kids will always be Stroller Strides kids, and I am blessed that they found the love of FIT4MOM. Heck, B was basically born at Strides one fall day!

As I transition to instructor, I am humbled by the grace and diligence of K & N. I’m in awe of the resilience of my team. I admire our village. I relish in the the beauty of it. Every time I see the friendships formed in the breeze of my business, I am in awe. Thank goodness for this village. It will continue to be a pillar of our community well after I am gone. And now, it is one, big and beautiful village of moms from Bloomingdale all the way up to Mundelein.

And so, I bid a fond farewell to the lifeblood of my motherhood. But only that business ownership part. As I said from the beginning, this is goodnight and not goodbye. Thank you to my amazing family and friends for all of the support throughout this incredible journey! Especially Ian, who has always believed in my dreams!

You can find me at my new venture as not only a mom of three and FIT4MOM instructor, but also as a Community Coordinator at Athleta where I will be an event planner and community leader! After all, athleisurewear is life, right?