State of the Workspace 2015: working from home vs working from an office

I’m at a point where I can say I’ve gone both ways, and, a year into my ‘new’ job, I can sum up my thoughts on working from home versus working from an office.

In no particular order, except that the first item on the list is OBVIOUSLY most important, here is my…

State of the Workspace 2015:

Clothes: Actually… It’s not as hard as I thought to fake it with clothes that feel like pajamas but play the part. Perhaps even harder than the ever elusive ‘work-life balance’ is this – the ‘feel good-look half decent’ balance. And about ten months in, I figured out concealer.

Audio enrichment: Podcasts while running in the morning – check. Podcasts while commuting in the morning – check. This category gets a tie.

Fitness: Now I spend the time I was running, driving. But I also spend the time I was sitting at a kitchen table eating, racing around the office to find people. The fact is, I really missing running. I miss feeling fit. I felt more fit during my third pregnancy while working from home than I do now.

Food: In this category, I lose either way. Why is food during work hours such a hassle?

Networks: Obviously working in an office with lots of different people connected to other different people is better for making connections, getting fresh air, and practicing my native skills of empathy and tolerance. Well, some of the time.

Coworkers: From home, I worked for a ’boutique’ marketing agency, learned a lot about the business, worked on very different projects, experienced client relationships and sharpened a lot of skills. I was working with a tiny team of people I’ve worked with for years before – we knew each other very well. And Skyped daily. But I always knew – introvert that I am – that I missed having a team in my vicinity. Knocking on other people’s doors (or barging in as the case may be), striking up conversations over coffee. Part of that is the fortune of working with great people. Part of that is – introvert that I am – I do require human interaction in doses. Like vitamin D.

Parenting: You know what – in a weird way, working in an office wins. You’d think that being home all day means when you pick up the kids you have way more energy to spend with them. But I find it to be the opposite. I was a drag as a WAHM. I was done by 4pm. Now, I’m still on at 4pm. And 6pm. I’m tired, of course. And I have way less time for the random stuff I used to do for the kids. But the quality of the time and my mood is way better. And I can be amusing and silly way easier with the energy floodgates opened.

Boundaries: I didn’t have as much opportunity to push boundaries. I had some – working with clients taught me a lot, both business-wise and skills. It did push me. But being around dozens of people and solving tactical problems while solving people problems while keeping my shit together at a constant rate is a whole other skill set. Which, it turns out, I already had from the pre-WAHM days. I had just forgotten.

Happiness: When I took my current job a year ago, I knew all hell was breaking loose. The hours. The commute. The energy. The sacrifices. How would I manage it all? But as absolutely insane as it was to be thrown in the deep end right from the gate – I was growing happier. And then I realized – working from home wasn’t working for me. There are a lot of benefits, and a lot of things I miss.

And then, this past winter, those days it was pouring outside, and I’d think, ‘who the hell would choose to go outside for any reason today?’ but I’d still push myself to get dressed and get in my car and wish for the WAHM lifestyle… well, those days did always come to an end.

I’m simply… happier now than I was then.

Seriously, I think it’s the vitamin D.

So, State of the Workspace 2015: I’m sure I’ll work from home again. I’m sure I’ll work in different offices, too.

But after three years at home, I’m happy to be doing something different.

5 metaphors that describe my working motherhood right now

Just for fun, because I just finished working and it’s after 10pm, here are five metaphoric-idiomic examples I can think of off the top of my head that describe my experience right now as a fairly career-driven, family-driven, career driven, family driven, career and family driven working mom.

  1. I’m on a roller coaster that in theory could stop, but I can’t reach the lever, and the fact is, I kind of don’t want to reach for the lever, because I’m a sado-masochist curious about where this will stop.
  2. The chicken comes first. Also, the egg. Both come first. And you rule the roost. Both roosts. You rule all the roosts even when you’re pooped.
  3. Most of the time, it’s about keeping your head above water. Sometimes you just have to hold your breath and jump in, feet first. Sometimes it’s not you jumping in, but your kid, at his swim lesson, while you’re scrambling to organize a press release.
  4. The ball is in my court. Constantly. But my hands are tied. And now my wrists are tired. And also my face. My face is tired.
  5. There is no such thing – for anyone, ever – as sleeping like a baby.

And with that, Slack is buzzing and some kid is stirring and cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon…

WANTED: someone to talk to

ThankfulIs anybody out there?

Two 30-something partners and parents of three and full time marketing professionals seeking someone similar who has figured it all out. Realizing that no one has truly figured it all out, also seeking someone who has at least crossed to the other side of hectic and has less regrets than one would assume.

These individuals cannot currently provide help in the form of locally-residing parents or trust funds or native fluent Hebrew or any spare time.

But they can provide:

  • a generally optimistic take on it all
  • a healthy dose of not taking life too seriously
  • a joint sense of humor that takes the edge off

If you have any information as to where the secret to making this work might be located, or anyone who has survived not making it work but making it work enough, please be in touch.

No better Israel education than the one from your sabra kids

Things I love about Independence Day season in Israel:

  • Every year – without fail – I manage to learn something new from my kids.
  • This morning, all dressed up for the gan celebration, on the way to the car, my gan-aged kids broke out into song together.
  • I asked them to teach it to me.
  • By the time we got to gan, we were all three singing it together.
  • The song – Eretz Yisrael Sheli Yaffa v’Gam Porachat – was stuck in my head by the time I pulled away from gan.

 ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת 
מילים ולחן: דתיה בן דור

ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת
מי בנה ומי נטע
כולנו ביחד
אני בניתי בית בארץ ישראל
אז יש לנו ארץ
ויש לנו בית בארץ ישראל

ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת
מי בנה ומי נטע
כולנו ביחד
אני נטעתי עץ בארץ ישראל
אז יש לנו ארץ
ויש לנו בית
ויש לנו עץ בארץ ישראל

ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת
מי בנה ומי נטע
כולנו ביחד
אני סללתי כביש בארץ ישראל
אז יש לנו ארץ
ויש לנו בית
ויש לנו עץ
ויש לנו כביש בארץ ישראל

ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת
מי בנה ומי נטע
כולנו ביחד
אני בניתי גשר בארץ ישראל
אז יש לנו ארץ
ויש לנו בית
ויש לנו עץ
ויש לנו כביש
ויש לנו גשר בארץ ישראל

ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת
מי בנה ומי נטע
כולנו ביחד
אני חיברתי שיר בארץ ישראל
אז יש לנו ארץ
ויש לנו בית
ויש לנו עץ
ויש לנו כביש
ויש לנו גשר
ויש לנו שיר על ארץ ישראל

On casting my lot: 10 life lessons about making aliyah, after a decade in Israel

I arrived here ten years ago today.

Ten years in Israel. A decade living here, a decade not living anywhere else.

A few years back, I shed the term ‘aliyah’ from my personal experience vocabulary. It wasn’t a conscious decision but it slowly crept through as I realized living here and making it here is way more than ‘aliyah’ as the word has come to be packaged and sold.

But I’m breaking out the a-word for this list I deserve to write after a decade of making it in Israel. For the pride I feel as a successful American expat, as a successful implant into the place I know as home.

Am I assuming I know so much and have so much wisdom to impart? Yes.

Or, as my Israeli persona might say it, pashut mageya li.

Ten Life Tips for Making It in Israel (according to me):

1. Dream big but manage expectations

In 2004, you know what I wanted to be when I’d grow up? Some sort of political savior, the bringer of peace and light, a lone voice of reason in the Middle East.

In 2015, you know what I want to be when I grow up? A seeing eye dog trainer.

Wanting to be a part of change in the world got me part of the way here. It wasn’t the only thing that got me here – adventure, ideology, travel, leaving home, the potential to build my adult life a little differently. A healthy dose of idealism is a good thing. A healthy dose of realism is a very good thing.

As long as it’s healthy, hold on to your idealism loosely enough to still realize you’re going to be taking buses and paying taxes on a daily basis.

2. It’s easier if you’re easygoing

Keep your options open. This is probably a piece of advice new olim get a lot and ignore the most. Or not, but I’ve definitely seen it around me over the years. People who are stuck on an idea, stuck to a career path, stuck to lifelong notions of what living in Israel means. Stuck to who they were, stuck to who they thought they’d be by now. Stuck to assumptions made by the time they were filling in immigration application forms.

It’s not just ‘life is more easygoing in the Middle East’ or some Mediterranean culture thing. It’s about making a big move in life and throwing as much flexibility at it as you can handle. Discomfort outside the box means you’re doing something right!

3. Let go of pride

It’s a tough one, even on the best of days. I had pride problems long before I moved to another country where just about everything is done differently. If we can master this one, we can have a great time getting through the everyday challenges of being a new immigrant. Learn from everyone. Learn from the old ladies at the bus stop. Learn from the sabra kids.

And speaking of hurt pride…

4. Speak Hebrew. Speak more Hebrew. Even on your worst Hebrew days.

Ten years in I still have bad Hebrew days. Like, really really bad Hebrew days. Like I’m not that hot to trot on a typical day – I’ll always sound like an immigrant – but there are those days you’re on the phone with some customer service rep and you’ll hear the wrong tense or male/female mistakes coming out of your mouth – really 101 stuff – and think, wtf?!

Blame the parenting exhaustion, blame the lack of TV, blame the circle of friends I keep.

I have this rule. The only professional I am allowed to ask to speak in English with is a medical one. And even there, I don’t use it all the time. For instance, I gave birth to my first and third kids in Hebrew.

But it happens. And even when I’m so fucking exhausted because the baby hasn’t slept in a week and we’re sitting at the doctor and I’m begging the Universe to just have him switch to English to relieve me of my personal hell, well… he doesn’t. And I keep going.

5. Come with a viable career path or create one

The last job I had in the States – after my university stints in journalism and activism – was totally utilitarian. Its purpose was to get me cash to get me as far as I could paying rent in Jerusalem. I was an English and Political Science major in university, and I had no freakin clue what my next job would be if I were to remain in the States. In fact, I hadn’t even given it a thought. I was going to be a political wunderkind in Israel, remember?

But I got here, and after arousing from a 6 month haze, I started job searching for real. I spent a month chipping away at job boards and submitting cvs every day. A few interviews. Then I threw my cv into the wind and I got super, but incredibly, but insanely lucky with the job I landed.

Funny thing – I was hired because of the journalism experience, as a… marketing manager at a startup.

I had no clue about startups. I was supposed to save the whales. I thought I was selling out. I thought I had no clue about marketing. But I was wrong – my timing was great for getting involved in online marketing, where the spirit of a college activist can really take flight in the hi tech world. And gaining these skills sets me on a path to help my causes in other ways, in my spare time and my current job.

Ten years later, I’m still here with a career. I got insanely lucky with the opportunity but see #2 above.

6. Not everyone is out to get you (or, complain but then stop complaining)

Ah, immigrant life. So much to laugh about. So much to scream about.

Israel – what a country, huh?!

Laugh, cry, tell jokes, complain once in a while… just don’t overdo it. It’ll eat you up. I see threads in anglo groups on Facebook bitching out living here and I think, really? You’re going to let it eat you up?

People are people. Maybe it’s because I come from NYC. Everyone is out to get you, no one is out to get you. There are assholes taking advantage of people every where in the world.

Some people here try to take advantage of you. Some people elsewhere try, too. And most people are just looking out for #1 – including, well, me and you.

Have a sigh, have a laugh, have a cry and move on.

7. It’s not really only ‘making aliyah'; it’s also becoming an expat

Every immigrant has multiple personalities. You have your native one while in your native country, you have your immigrant one in your new country. You have your ‘Old Country’ one while hanging with your buddies from the Old Country in your new country.

Embrace it. We get to be a lot of things to different people. We are by default somewhat worldly. We have a level of life experience.

When all those taxi drivers ask why the hell you moved here when you’re from New York, for instance, they have no clue. You had another life. You have reasons. You have dreams. Proudly answer him. Represent your whole identity.

8. Be true to yourself: don’t lose yourself but lose yourself a little bit

I like to joke, except I’m not joking, that in English, I’m Liz, in my 30s, with a couple university degrees and world travel behind me, with life experience, with an opinion to share. In Hebrew, I’m Elisheva, a five-year-old in kindergarten who needs speech therapy.

But over the years, overcoming my pride, I’ve learned to embrace it. It is what it is. I am worth more than the quality of my second language, of my lack of native childhood, of my working hard to make it work here.

There’s a lot to me. I’m ok with all those sides. I’m not going to be anything that I’m not – I’m not gonna fake it, pretend I can roll my resh (huuuge pet peeve and I’m not alone here), be more sassy than I am, blow up at people because I’m trying to be ‘Israeli.’

I know many shy, quiet Israelis, by the way.

Be yourself. Sometimes, be a spicy version of yourself. Enjoy yourself. Let other people enjoy who you are.

9. Maintain various immigrant lifelines

Build friendships with all kinds of people, but speaking of the immigrant community specifically, all kinds of other immigrants. Have a few vatikim in your pocket, ranging from ‘got here last year’ to ‘got here five years ago’ to ‘holy crap how many wars have you lived through?!’

Ask, take and give advice. When you’ve been here long enough, be the vatik to a good number of off-the-boats.

10. Take it one fucking day at a time

To my fellow expats, my fellow olim, my fellow vatikim – how awesome is this? How insane are we, to pick up and travel somewhere and label it home? To go in the way that many many humans have throughout history? To live where we choose to live? To defy our birth country, our mother tongue?

We all have something in common, we made a choice to take a chance. And it may work out for you and me – and may not work out for either of us, whether after a year, five, ten or 50.

We’re all mad here – we’re all laughing till we cry, crying till we laugh, rolling our eyes at how corrupt our government is, trying to be heard, trying to make a decent living wage, balking at the price of cottage cheese one day, praising our tight-knit relationship to the cab driver the next. We’re angry, we’re ecstatic, we’re depressed. We’re running to bomb shelters, we’re dancing in public streets holding a Torah.

We’re now Israeli. We were something else. But each of us, one way or another, have cast our lot with this crazy place, the gathering of the Jewish people, Israel.

Those 3 dreaded words: work life balance

Waldorf Astoria bathroom selfieHow is it natural to go from a 6-month-old clawing at your neck while laughing in your face all day, and then at 5pm switching to wearing suitable Waldorf Astoria clothing, packing business cards into your clutch and smiling like you haven’t been waking up every two hours for the last few nights?

It’s not. It’s not natural. There’s no way. The trick is to not give up on yourself while trying to make it seem natural.

Or the trick is to get as many cute cheeky naked butt shots of the 6-month-old before you have to leave for the evening. The trick is not to think too hard that you haven’t seen the other kids since 8am and won’t see them before they go to bed tonight.

The trick is to not feel weird about leaving the house every day with diapers stuffed next to your work laptop. Or to ignore that it’s a shame you’re sweating through your nice work clothes as you race back and forth between ballet and soccer practice.

One day I’ll come back here and explain to you how I did it.

First I gotta figure out how I’m going to do it.

 

 

Women, workplace, wages, BEYONCÉ.

A solution to the gender wage gap

Something I’m learning: getting ‘older’ professionally exposes me to considering more often the ‘women in professional situations’ issues.

Here are a few things I’m thinking about today:

When Women Manage Men Who Don’t Respect Women

Kinda surprised this went on that far; then again, I’m also totally not surprised. Her line of thinking seems familiar to me.  I’m sure a lot of that is personality. But we’ve all been programmed by society in some way.

John Oliver on the Gender Pay Gap

John Oliver decimates and hilarifies the American gender pay gap issue. As John Oliver does. I’ll admit, this is not something I think about much. I try to focus on my own deal, there are a lot of female workplace gripes to be had. But when you put it like this…

Beyoncé‘s business genius by the numbers

And, finally, well… Beyoncé. Though Beyoncé gives me mixed messages about how I should feel about Beyoncé.

 

UPDATE: Somehow I missed The Daily Show’s Jessica Williams exploring sexism in the city…

*Sandberg!* and other things I got from work this week.

Self-Portrait. I call it, ‘Keeping Shit Together’

>clink!<

Here’s to my first full out-of-the-home work week (ok, 80% out-of-the-home) in three years.

Do I have observations? Yes, I have observations. Somewhere. Probably. Behind my droopy eyelids. Under the piles and piles of house mess I’m responsible for.

Obviously, there are pros and cons of working from home and working from an office.

But it’s the latter that’s made me go, Sandberg! .at least three or four times a day.

Sandberg, as in Sheryl Sandberg. Goddess of Facebook. Leader of Lean In. Mother of… at least one.

Sandberg.

Let’s take pumping. If breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural, most basic act of a mother sustaining her child, pumping is the ‘do I look like a cow in this?’ version.

Yes, honey, you look like a cow with two plastic cups at your breasts squeezing every drop of a substance that falls under the category of ‘bodily fluid’ into a container with bright yellow milliliter markings up the side.

Then you’re meant to button up, get back to your desk and analyze TPS reports.

Sandberg!

And in some cases, you may, uh, be doing that in an executive office.

That isn’t your own.

HowEVER, Sheryl (and Marissa, for that matter) – you never mentioned the commute! Well, not the traffic part or the crazy drivers. But the QUIET. The sweet sweet sound of silence in the form of engine revving and wheels rotating and you know what? I don’t even know what else goes on because in my head, there are just trees blowing in the wind and beautiful blue skies overhead and the occasional cussing out the guy in front of me, but even that is adult conversation.

I will say this for Sandberg… I may not have your money or stature, but at least I have a family-friendly culture backing me. And some decent female role models to talk to, within a relative arm’s reach.

It’s going to be hectic and insane and every breath seems as delicate as a spiderweb cliche, holding everything together. For now. (Until I think of a better cliche).

I hope your American female colleagues can say the same soon enough.