Splurge Monday’s TPS Report: Red Peaked Lapel Blazer

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

SMYTHE Red Peaked Lapel BlazerIn general, I love Smythe blazers. This peaked lapel blazer (shown here in red; Bergdorf’s has it in blue) looks absolutely worth the splurge. It’s a standout piece, it’s interesting, it’s professional, and it’s gorgeous. Love the vents at the back hem, the tonal stitching, the darts, the herringbone. Wow. It’s $695 at Ssense. SMYTHE Red Peaked Lapel Blazer

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  1. Professor From The Future!!!!

    I like it but could never pull it off.

    • Wow, is this the US or some repressive regime that doesn’t allow any women’s rights?

    • phillygirlruns :



      • Clearly women should sit home knitting if they don’t want to be fondled by strange men.

        • Notice that it’s not even the woman’s skirt length or lipstick that brought on her assault. She apparently just wasn’t supposed to be out at all! I signed the petition.

    • First Year Law Student :

      She’s right, in the sense that some other woman would have been his victim instead. Which obviously, does not solve the problem.

      • 2/3 attorney :

        I have to disagree here.
        1. It may or may not be the case that someone else would have been victimized.
        2. Whether or not it is true, it doesn’t make her right to say that the woman should stay in her home unless she wants to be sexually assaulted.

        • BTW…I don’t think First Year Law Student was defending the judge lady. I think she was being snarky too.

        • First Year Law Student :

          I wasn’t trying to offer a defense to the judge, I just meant that, yes, technically, this woman would not have been assaulted by this man if she had not been in that particular bar that night. I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that this man would probably have assaulted some other woman at some other time in his life. This is probably unfair without knowing all the facts, but given the statistics on the number of women who have been victimized, I don’t think it’s terribly unreasonable.

          I’m sorry my snark didn’t travel well through the internet. It was early in the morning, and I hadn’t had my coffee yet.

      • In the technical, torts based reasoning, the judge was right that her going to the bar was a but-for cause of the crime taking place. But as any first year law student who has completed criminal law knows, the criminal act cuts off even the *negligant* causal chain, let alone the non-negligent causal chain. So basically….that judge lady can suck it.

        • Well…not to be overly didactic, but foreseeable criminal acts don’t necessarily cut off the chain of tort liability. The classic example that I use with my students is that of the landlord who doesn’t fix a stairwell light and is held liable when a tenant is raped by an attacker who’s hiding in the stairwell (depending on the jurisdiction, the LL may or may not be liable under those facts).

          But we’re not talking about tort liability here: if I were pickpocketed in a bar, a judge would never say, “well, you wouldn’t have been pickpocketed if you’d just stayed home.” In criminal law, as opposed to in tort law, the emphasis is supposed to be on the actions of the perpetrator. There is no assumption of risk in criminal law.

          • Haha. Sorry, that’s what I meant. In a traditional sense anyone leaving the house (or being born, or you know whatever) is a but for cause of them being a victim of a crime. But its stupid to point it out. That’s all I was trying to say.

            But the criminal forming the criminal intent to commit the crime cuts all of those previous but for causes at that point. So pointing out, “but for your parents getting it on 28 years ago, this guy wouldn’t have shot you” is a stupid thing to say…just as stupid as what this judge said.

            I knew I was mixing my legal metaphors. I guess I wasn’t clear though.

          • First Year Law Student :

            Random, but this reminded of my favorite r@pe (I’m not sure if we can type that or not?) analogy and how unfair it is to the victims: the wealthy man wearing a nice watch gets pickpocketed. The judge says “well, sir, you were dressed in a way that implied you have money. And previously, you have given lots of money away to charity. Don’t you think you were asking for it?” Or something along those lines. Anyway, have a great day!

    • Anon for this :

      What makes me even more upset is that the judge told her she’d “learned a lesson”. I was raped when I was a teenager, and you know what lesson I learned? That I was worthless, that I deserved it when I got into an abusive relationship, and then when I got out of that relationship, that I was a terrible person for having any sexual desires at all and that I should be afraid of all men and panic if one gets within my personal space for any reason. Wonderful lesson, that.

      That judge should be ashamed of herself. I hope the state bar can and does sanction her.

      • Sugar Magnolia :

        Here here! Thank you for your courage in sharing your views with us.

    • *sees Arizona in the URL* *scrolls right on by without reading — even this Texan has had enough of Arizona’s crazypantsness lately*

  2. Ok, I am not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but am I the only one who would feel a bit like Mephistopheles in this? I suppose in some ways it does make the splurge more reasonable because I could totally wear it on Halloween along with a long tail and some little horns.

  3. “Next up, in the Greatest Show on Earth! Twirling Tillie and her Tigers in Tutus will stun and amaze you as they tumble on a tightrope 50 feet above the arena!”

    Red might not be the best choice for this style.

  4. Diana Barry :

    Meh. I don’t like al that gaping in the front, makes it look too small.

    New product review – just got the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer in the “creme compact” and really like it. I am always buying concealer/foundation/etc and never using them, but this one goes on easily, covers my freckles and dark circles pretty well, and I don’t have to get my hands dirty if I use the little sponge thing. Note – I will also feel guilty if I don’t use it since it was (gasp!) $45. Yikes. But it seems to work really well, so, yay?

    • I’ve been eyeing that, as I’d love to use a tinted moisturizer, but worry that it would be a too sheer for me (I have a very pale complexion with continuously red cheeks – no need for blush ever!). Do you find the formula is about the same as a tinted moisturizer, or a bit stronger?

      • Diana Barry :

        I think it’s a little less sheer than the regular Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer. I had the same issue with that one – in order to get enough coverage on the dark circles/nose with freckles, I needed to use too much of it, then it was too moisturizing and made my nose shiny etc. This one is slightly more coverage, but doesn’t feel heavy like foundation (which I hate).

    • I’ve been on a quest to find a new tinted moisturizer since MAC changed their formula and the new one smells like medicine. I tried a bunch at Sephora, including the Laura Mercier, and it bothered my eyes. I didn’t even put it around my eyes and it bothered me. I didn’t use the creme compact and that sounds interesting.

      I currently have two new ones that I’m trying. One is Josie Maran in Creme. I like how it looks and it made my skin feel very dewy but it’s a bit harder to apply. It’s a very thick mousse-y texture. I just started trying Urban Decay Urban Defense in Halo and it doesn’t have as much coverage but feels better going on (a little lighter). Still haven’t decided which one works best – they’re so different. For what it’s worth, neither one bothers my very sensitive eyes.

      • I actually really like the Sephora brand tinted moisturizer – it’s relatively inexpensive and is the perfect amount of coverage for me.

        • Biopharma Girl :

          The Neutrogena compact moisturizer equivalent is really good. It hasn’t made me break out (I’m very acne-prone), and it has SPF 55.

    • I use the L’Oreal True Match Super-Blendable Compact Makeup-also a creme compact with a little sponge applicator-only about $10 in the supermarket or drug store! I like it, although I’m sure I would like the Laura Mercier as well, but this fits the bill for me.

      • Diana Barry :

        Maybe I will try that next. This one also matches my skin tone (which is always hard for me for some reason) but $10 is a heck of a lot better than $45!

    • Apropos of nothing, I will say that the Laura Mercier volumizing mascara is one of the best I’ve ever used. I’ve got oily skin and my mascara (applied only on the top lashes!) frequently makes an appearance as it melts throughout the day. For some reason, I haven’t had that problem with this mascara. So: win!

      • Couldn’t agree more. It makes my lashes look amazing! I actually left in such a rush this morning, that I (a) didn’t get to put it on at home and (b) forgot my makeup bag on the bathroom counter, and I notice the difference everytime I wash my hands and catch a glimpse of the mirror. I have an emergency drugstore mascara in my desk drawer that I used and it is just so.not.the.same!

      • Agree. No smudging under the eyes!

  5. Girl on FIRE! For the chic Katniss look.

  6. I like the colors, but I always get suckered in by pretty blazers only to have them hanging in my closet a year later.

    Question #1: Can a colored pencil skirt be worn to an informational interview? Over the weekend, I got a forest green and a burgundy pencil skirts and I love them. The green is so dark it’s almost black, if that helps.

    Question #2: Would a black jacket look too “harsh” with those colors? There are matching colored jackets, but it just felt like too much for me.

    Thanks in advance.

      • Brooklyn, Esq. :

        Ooh, I love those colors! Great skirt. What kind of place are you going to for the informational interview?

      • Divaliscious11 :

        Hey, those are nice. How long?

        • I’m about 5’9″ and curvy on the low and the black hits me mid knee and the colored versions hit between the top and middle of my knee. Bonus: Instead of a regular slit (which sometimes go a little high for my tastes), these have an inverted pleat. All of the movement fun without flash potential.

          • Divaliscious11 :

            Oh yeah. We are similar height shape. I may pick these up to add some fun, they are buy one get one half off

      • Since you mentioned that you are curvy, can you comment on fit? I love the dark green and black cherry colors. I am a pear. The am between a 12 and a 12P in the new SKIRT.

    • No idea on question 1 – not familiar with the “Rules” there, but definitely not too harsh a contrast with a black jacket. I think it would look quite nice. Good luck on the interview, too!

    • I would think those two colors would be fine assuming the industry is not super conservative. I agree that the matching jackets would be too much, so yes, black is fine :)

    • As to question 1, I really like “formal” separate for information interviews. Shows you’re taking the person seriously, but that you don’t think its an actual interview.

      As to number two, I think black would look fine with either of those colors, especially with a nice cream shell or something like that to soften the effect. Also lovely would be a grey.

    • The informational interview is with a BigLaw attorney who I met through my Inn. Her firm has an opening for an associate in the area I want to practice in and, I know it’s a long shot that they’ll hire someone right out of school, but I’m trying.

  7. This makes me want to shave my head.

    I really have been thinking about a pixie cut lately. I know it’s been discussed recently, but I would love some advice on whether or not to go through with it. I used to have long hair, then cut it to chin-length in college and dyed it every color of the rainbow. In the years since graduation, I’ve let it go back to my natural color and it’s been mostly collar-bone length with varying combinations of layers and bangs. For the past couple of years now, I’ve been disappointed with every haircut I’ve had. I mostly wear my hair in a ponytail because I don’t like how it looks down. My hair is dirty blonde and thick, but very fine. It’s mostly straight but starts to do odd flippy things when it gets shorter. I’ve tried several stylists and want to find someone who can give me the right cut for my face shape and hair type, but I keep leaving salons with what I think of as variations on the same medium-length-layered-bobs-for-30-somethings theme. It never looks bad, I guess, but it’s so . . . boring. Any thoughts?

    • Diana Barry :

      Is it only a little bit wavy? My hair is kind of like that too (very fine, but lots of strands) and a little wavy. I have bangs right now and a graduated bob – longer in front, quite short in back. I modeled it after the Major’s haircut in Ghost in the Shell (commenter Motoko Kusanagi, where are you?), which was my husband’s suggestion (!!). It is a little edgy but sitll looks professional. :)


      • I like that! My last several cuts have involved stylists cutting me what they called “flattering, face-framing layers,” which just look like “90s Jennifer Aniston layers” to me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on how to fix it, but I think going longer in the front and shorter in the back would work. My hair’s not terribly wavy. It’s just got a slight S-curve and will flip one way or the other depending on where in the S it gets cut.

      • Oh, just curious – what do you do to style it?

        • Diana Barry :

          Um, nothing really? I air dry and sometimes put some product in it when it is damp. I also end up putting the sides back every 2nd day when it is dirty.

          • Oh, that’s perfect for me! I’ve probably only used a hairdryer twice in the last decade (both times were before early morning job interviews).

      • Motoko Kusanagi :

        I approve :)

      • Anonymous Poser :

        Yay for the mention of Ghost in the Shell! The Major is pretty amazing…

        Thanks for making me smile after a rough weekend.

    • I’m with you. I pixied myself last winter, because I had it with my boring, just-not-it haircuts. Problem is, my hair is wavy and thick and very beautiful when long, but so.much.work (takes about a day to dry on its own, gets frizzy very easily, etc).
      However, I’m growing my pixie back out and it is painful. The reason I’m going through this, is that maintaining a pixie takes a lot of haircuts, and like you, I’m always disappointed when I’ve had one. Taking pictures to show the stylists doesn’t help…
      So no real advice here, more commiseration. But trying to pinpoint what is a bigger problem (your ‘boring’ hair or the disappointment after a ‘bad’ haircut) might help.

      • Kontraktor :

        Welcome to my exact life. I have this hair type and did a chop last November. I am trying to grow out and it is painful. As much of a pain my hair was when it was long, I can’t wait for it to be long again.

      • Had v. short hair up until a couple years ago. Growing it out was the worst. Right around chin length I could not manage my frizzy/wavy/curly mane into anything remotely professional.

    • I’ve had several pixie cuts, ranging from disasters to complete awesomeness. I have thick, fine hair like yours, so hopefully I can offer some useful advice. I’m currently growing out my awesome one and already miss it a bit. (I’ve had it for 18 months and am getting bored.)

      Here’s what I’ve learned from my excellent pixies:
      – Having the right hairdresser is a must. Even talented hairdressers can botch a pixie if they don’t ‘get’ how to make it work with your face shape, hair texture, etc. If you see a woman with a short haircut that you love, ask her for a stylist recommendation. I can’t stress this point enough.
      – They have hints of femininity: either a bit of softness somewhere and details that girl it up a bit. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but my stylist leaves some wispyness around my ears and neck, which keep it from going boyish or looking too ‘hard’ for my personality.
      – A strongly defined hair color helps the cut look polished. My hair is sort of a mousy brown on its own. While I can get away with that when my hair is longer, it looks sort of unfinished at pixie length. When I have a pixie, I always have highlights or dye it a better version of my natural color. It’s subtle, but makes a huge difference.
      – Styling is essential. Pay close attention to how your stylist does your hair. Product will be essential, especially if you have hair that gets flippy.
      – Get it cut often. Pixies are a huge time saver on a daily basis, but you have to trim it every 4-6 weeks. After about 5 weeks, the cut loses its shape and gets frumpy.

      What I’ve learned from my BAD pixies:
      – A good inspiration photo can prevent a lot of miscommunication about what you want. Simply telling your stylist that you want a pixie without giving her any idea about what overall vibe you’re going for (punky? edgy? conservative? feminine?) is a recipe for disaster.
      – Let me repeat: Not all stylists are good with short hair. Find one who is before you take the plunge.

      The pros of pixie cuts:
      – They stand out. When done well, they’re sassy and fun.
      – Daily maintenance is simple. (Although, it’s hard to skip washes, especially if you use product, so be aware of that.)

      The cons:
      – The growing-out process takes forever and bad hair days are a given during that phase.
      – You WILL need frequent haircuts.
      – You don’t have tons of styling options. Personally, that’s a plus for me because I’m terrible with hair but that would be a huge drawback for many.

      Good luck!

      • I recently cut my hair short and can’t agree with all of this more…..especially the part about the right person to do the cut. I fortunately knew two women with cool short cuts and they both used the same stylist. I went to him too and love having short hair. It’s the best cut I’ve ever had.

      • Excellent advice I can only second. FWIW, my “pixie cut” stage was very, very fun, and I often miss it. I’d totally go back to it now if DH wasn’t so stuck on longer hair and I had more ability to get frequent haircuts (adding babysitting cost to haircut cost makes it hard). I may still be back in a pixie cut one day.

        I was surprised at how the short cut flattered my face shape, in quite a flattering way. I have a long face, and long, thick hair tends to only accentuate that. Short hair lends itself well to feminine makeup and shows off the cheekbones.

        I say give it a whirl. If you hate it, well, you tried, and you can start the growing out process that much sooner. If you love it, win! (Note on the–admittedly painful–growing out process: Get frequent-enough haircuts during this time too. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but it really does help keep the shape less hate-able. Also learn how to wear it up in little clips.)

    • What does thick but fine mean? I thought they were opposites of each other (just curious because I’ve seen other people write the same thing).

      • Kontraktor :

        Fine hair, but lots and lots of it. This is my hair type. I seem to have bazillions and bazillions of hairs (when my hair was long, my pony tail thickness was probably the size of a quarter at the base), but the hair itself is really really fine and slippery.

      • Fine is opposite of coarse, as opposed to thick vs. thin. The first is the texture of each individual hair (wispy and fine, or coarse and more wiry, or in between) whereas the latter is the number of individual hairs on your head. Often they go together in the way you’d think (fine and thin, coarse and thick), but a lot of people have fine, thick hair.

    • Thanks for all the tips, everyone! I think I’m going to wait a little longer to chop it all off, but I’m saving this thread for the next time I have the urge. Meanwhile, I’m going to try the Major look and maybe get a semi-permanent color glaze to darken it up for fall.

      • Try also bringing pics of what you do not want in your new style. Point out what you don’t like about them. Ex: “the ends are too wispy” “bangs not long enough” “too much product on this model for my taste” whatever.
        Giving both likes and dislikes to your stylist can help keep communication open. Learned this the hard way :)

  8. The styling here makes it look too small on the model, but on the Bergdorf’s site it looks much better.

  9. Blonde Lawyer :

    Chronic procrastinators should skip this post:

    Play with kittens in animal shelters from your computer. A company has developed a robotic arm that can be controlled remotely. A couple animal shelters are using them so web viewers can play with the kittens from afar. Goodbye productivity.


  10. Overwhelmed :

    Career advice needed please:I just started a new job. It’s a huge step up for me with a lot more responsibility and I would really like to do well. This is a newly created position and I am the only person in my function responsible for supporting 2 business units. A few things I’d love some advice on:

    1) My key internal customers and partners are a group of male business leaders mostly in their late 40s. I am in my late 20’s and look much younger. Any tips on how to interact, relate and fit in with them?

    2) My immediate boss is based half a continent away in a different time zone.I strongly believe in taking 100% responsibility in making my relationship with her work and in keeping regular contact with her and updating her on my work. Does anyone have any advice on managing relationships with a boss whom they do not see on a regular or even monthly basis?

    3) I have another boss who is the head of one of the business units which I support. Any tips on managing more than 1 boss?

    4) I will not get a structured orientation program. I think it’s up to me to take the initiative to learn about the company’s products and customers to perform my job well and to really “sell” my role so that people within the organization will tap on me. Any advice on how I might do so?

    5) If the organization feels that I am the right person, they would like me to grow the team eventually. I will hire people and lead a team. I’d really like the opportunity to do so. How do I start demonstrating, in my current role as an individual contributor, that I am able to lead?

    It’s only my first day and while I’m excited about my new role, I cannot help but feel overwhelmed and worried that I won’t do well. I have only worked in jobs in the past with very clear reporting lines where my only stakeholder was really a boss who literally sat next to me and who would serve as the face of the function.

    My biggest fear is that I won’t do well. Any tips and advice will be very much appreciated!

    • For (2) set up a regular telcon or video conference with your boss. Also make sure you ask them whether they want to know every last detail or prefer brief updates if things crop up, to give you a feel for their style. And vice versa, share with the boss your communication style.

      I had a boss who once told me…you know you’re doing fine when I don’t email you or drop in on you that often. Now, till he said that, I’d been driving myself crazy wondering whether I was doing a good job or not!! So it is worth the time to be a bit more open since your boss also hopefully is keen on good communication!

    • on (1), I find it works best to just try to find some common interests (with my boss, it’s local restaurants, so Monday chitchat is usually where one of us went). I don’t really care about sports at all, but I do, however, leave the TV on for games so that I can catch the major plays and generally know who people are.

      on (2), although my only experience with this is while boss is working from home, I find it works best to just ask — does boss want an email summary at X frequency? Set up a daily call?

    • Overall advice, but probably most relevant to 1) – Read Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office if you haven’t already.
      Sorry to sound like a broken record since it seems like 90% of my posts since I discovered this site are to recommend that book, but I really think it is a must read for any woman concerned about not seeming too young with her colleagues, especially men

    • Congratulations on the new job ! It sounds from your questions that you’re thinking a lot about the personality and management dynamics of your new position. It may help to step back and look at your role from management’s perspective – why has the need for your new function arisen ? What is the problem it is supposed to solve or the opportunity it is supposed to address ? What are the external deliverables – business development, happier stakeholders, compliance with new regulations etc ? How does your function contribute ? How do these translate into some suitable goals, milestones, next steps for you ? And what support do you need from your bosses to acquire your internal clients – any specific resources, internal recommendations, mentoring, staffing on their own projects etc ?

      You have a good opportunity now to take the initiative on getting the ball rolling on your function’s business plan. Take the time to go through a couple of iterations with your multiple bosses – get their input, maybe engage some internal customers, add your own ideas. The iterative approach gives you plenty of opportunity to figure out the best communication style with each person, and the whole process will give you much more clarity on how to steer day-to-day issues too.

      Hope this helps !

    • For #3 (managing more than one boss), I’d just copy them both on periodic updates and make sure that both know what the other has asked you to do. If priorities collide, then try to get them together to make a decision, or explain to the one with what you think is the lesser priority about the one you think is the more important priority. At that point, that boss can take it up with the other boss. Do remember, though, that you can’t treat both bosses the same because they’ll have different personalities, work habits, etc.

      For #4, to me it’s helpful to try to meet people, ask what they do, etc. Try to get involved in the life of the company so that you know what’s going down. Spend time listening/learning and gradually start giving suggestions.

    • Overwhelmed :

      Thanks so much for all the helpful advice everyone. It’s so much appreciated and I feel better knowing there are things I can do to get settled.

  11. therapy related thread jack:

    So, over the weekend, there was a thread in which K made some comments about her life and then there was some discussion about what is tactful to reveal/conceal when you are building a therapeutic relationship. It got me thinking: does the background of your therapist/advice giver matter to you?

    My issue is that, coming from a very religious background, I basically have met a lot of hypocrites (God says do A. you should do A. I personally do B) and it’s really soured me on pastoral care and it’s something I’m very sensitive to. I halfheartedly attended a few therapy sessions but they weren’t very good. Just listened and encouraged my moaning. I’ve reached the point where I am now hoping to find and connect with a real therapist (some anxiety, weight issues etc). I’m prepared to put the work in to find someone great. I’m looking for someone who will challenge me, rather than passively listen. Would love some advice on which kind of therapy might be best for that.

    But also, if this person will have an interventionist role in my life, rather than just nodding and listening, I have an underlying concern about their own personal background. Should I be concerned if they don’t have their sh*t together? Does it matter? Should it matter?

    • My position on this is don’t ask, don’t tell. I never knew one thing about my therapist’s personal life except that she took a week off to get married, and I even felt kind of weird knowing that about her. If she had started injecting personal feelings about religion or something into the therapy I probably would have found a new therapist. I was there to talk to a detached, objective person so it was really important to me that she stay somewhat removed. Of course, I know people had the exact opposite feelings, so YMMV.

      • Oh I forgot to say that if your religious background is something that’s an issue for you, bring it up in your first session or interview. Let the therapist know that you come from a very religious background and you don’t practice that religion anymore so that is something that colors your viewpoint and experiences. See what she says and make your decision from there. I don’t think you have to ask about her personal religious beliefs to get an idea of how she would handle the issue of religion in your therapy. And if the person can provide you with effective therapy, then who really cares what’s going on her personal life?

      • I think don’t ask, don’t tell nicely sums it up for me, too. It would be incredibly unfair to assume that anyone needs to have a perfect life in order to do their job well, and in my experience it was actually quite helpful to know that my therapist had also dealt with anxiety issues because it made me feel like she understood what I was going through. That said, it’s also incredibly unfair for your therapist’s personal life to interfere with your therapy. If my therapist had started taking up therapy time with telling me about her issues, or if her disorganization interfered with me being able to schedule appointments, I probably would have started looking for a new therapist. I will admit that I was incredibly curious about her personal life, but I think it would have been counterproductive to know any more than bare bones information about her and her life.

      • OP here. Just wanted to say – thanks everyone for the advice. It was comprehensive and insightful. Corporette at its best.

        I will definitely implement a lot of the suggestions, including being upfront with a non-religious therapist about my goals. It seemed like a stupid question when I was asking it but I’m glad I did because the advice was fantastic.

    • Most therapists won’t reveal enough about their own personal lives for you to know if they have their sh*t together. K’s case is a bit different because the personal and professional are a bit mixed on this site.

      I know a lot of psychologists/therapists because I used to be married to one. My ex-h was a mess and I could see a difference between his responses and those of other psychologists in that he was not confident about what he was seeing in a person. But I was around them all in personal settings and heard them talk about things in psychological terms. Be careful about pastoral counseling. There are people who are trained in both counseling and pastoral care and then there are ministers who are attending to counsel with no training. I actually found someone at a faith-based counseling center (although that’s not what I was looking for, it just happened) through a friend who is both a minister and a therapist. My therapist (post-divorce) was awesome and helped me work through a lot of difficult issues.

      • The less I know, the better. In fact, my therapists wouldn’t even speak to me in public unless I acknowledged them by speaking first.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      Say your second paragraph exactly as you interview a few therapists. That will be incredibly helpful in you and the therapist determining if you are a good fit with each other. I’ve never known anything about any of my therapists. Married? Kids? Religious Background? Hometown? No idea. I complimented my therapist on her skirt a month ago and after I said it, we both knew I had crossed a line into “friendly” that we quickly retreated from. She’s not my friend. She’s my therapist. We’re there to talk about me, so whatever her life is like outside her office, she leaves it all at the door before we start our session.

    • I’ve never learned much about my therapists. They generally don’t reveal a lot about themselves. I don’t think their background matters so much as their style/methods do.

      As for finding someone good, look for someone who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy. That is the type of therapy that challenges you to change your thinking. I totally hear you on wanting that and not a passive listener. On the other hand, a good friend of mine is a therapist herself and has a crazy mother. She goes to a passive listener because she already knows the issues and what to do but sometimes she just needs a good vent session to remind herself to keep appropriate boundaries in place with her mother.

    • There are a lot of licensed therapists who conduct therapy from a particular faith perspective. I know there are a couple of Christian psychology professional associations, and I’m sure there are ones from other faiths too. I think you’d have better luck with an actual therapist who provides counseling from a faith-based perspective, rather than a pastoral counselor who has no professional training in therapy.

    • Elle wrote:
      Should I be concerned if they don’t have their sh*t together? Does it matter?

      It would matter to me, which is why I would never, ever consider therapy with K. I am very bothered by the fact that she announces her admittedly contriversial views, discusses her love life, and solicits paying customers, sometimes in the same post.

      I don’t have experience with therapy, but my kid had a few sessions with a psychologist who was a total flake wrt scheduling and even getting paid… Needless to say we fired her pretty soon.

      • K...in transition :

        Just to clear this up (though I guess I’m honored that you care so much about me to be bothered hehe)… I don’t come here to “solicit paying customers.” I come here as an ambitious woman seeking connection with other like-minded women. One of the aspects of my career and of my life is my belief in pro-equality. That said, it is within the profession’s required Code of Ethics to be pro-equality. This might be controversial to you but it is profession-wide. As for discussing love lives, it’s something that happens regularly here.

        Would a client from everywhere other than this site know about my personal life? Never. Do I acknowledge them in public? Never unless they approach me. Do they know my political beliefs? A basic internet search of the professional organization supports a Democratic candidate and being open minded and pro-equality. This is true for ALL social workers who abide by our Code (mandatory for any in practice).

        -rainbow- the more you know! :)

    • I’m sure others may disagree, but I think professionalism matters more than personal background. I had some memory problems following a serious head injury and my doctor recommended seeing a therapist to deal with the anxiety (the more stressed you get about not being able to remember something, the harder it is to remember). The first therapist I saw was a mess. She rattled on about problems with her kids and actually took a phone call from one of them in my session. I was willing to give her another chance until she canceled and offered to do the next session over the phone–you know, having known me for all of a half hour (actually less considering how little of it was spent talking about me). Fortunately I didn’t give up, and found an MD who was much more professional. You’re there to work on you, and you need to be the primary focus. You shouldn’t be listening to them prattle on about their own issues. You’re a patient not a friend. If someone doesn’t seem to be clicking with your expectations, I would advise looking elsewhere. I’m fortunate that with a few sessions focused on strategies for how to cope with feeling anxious, I was feeling much better and sent on my way. (Memory also was improving as I healed, which helped.)

      I know people will be mad hearing this, but I think it’s a profession that can draw a lot of flakes. You really need to be mindful of who you are putting so much trust in.

    • I would be concerned if they didn’t have it together. But mostly, you shouldn’t know. I think knowing that their sh*t isnt together means they overshare. Like I don’t want a doctor who drinks a bottle of wine everynight. But I should never know that information. if I know it, its because its interferring with the way he treats patients, and I can smell the booze/see the hangover/ etc. So if I know my therapist doesn’t have it together, it really means that that person is unprofessional.

    • I haven’t been in regular therapy, though I have done therapy during a few particularly stressful periods in my life. In general, I honestly believe no one in the whole world has it together. Everyone has their own things they’re struggling with, everyone has their own mountains they’re climbing, everyone has their own complicated life.

      And that’s okay. I don’t need my therapist to be perfect because I understand that just like everyone else in my life, I should consider the advice and input of my therapist and then decide if it’s right for ME. I shouldn’t just follow every piece of advice like it’s gospel. I should always use my own critical thinking skills to figure out if the advice is right for me in this moment.

      In the end, I think it’s like anything else you are getting advice on – you need to use your own judgment and accept that your therapist may have biases, personal situations or beliefs that differ from yours or you do not share. I may not have always been in perfect and healthy relationships, but if a friend asks me for advice on their relationship, I don’t say “Well, my life isn’t perfect so I couldn’t possibly offer you any input because it would be hypocritical.” Instead, I think about their situation and talk it out with them, and offer the best advice I can, both of us knowing that my advice is colored by my own experience and that her taking it is her own choice. In the end, I don’t think a therapist can know you better than you know yourself.

    • e_pontellier :

      I had some of your same concerns. I just started therapy (in May) and I am very happy with the woman I found. She’s very conveniently located and has great hours. For me, this first year or two is about clearing out the underbrush in my mind. I think the therapist’s personal life has very little to do with what kind of therapist they are, especially when the patient is new to therapy – and thus still learning how to evaluate her own thoughts/feelings.

      That being said, putting your hesitations about religion out there at the first meeting is crucial. The first time I met with my therapist, I told her that my goal was to improve my relationship with my DH, and I don’t want to hear suggestions about leaving him. DH and I have challenges, we’re working through them, and I wanted to feel safe talking to my therapist about it. She has been great about that – very supportive, but has (when asked) said that she will let me know if he sounds as though he is crossing any lines (e.g., abuse).

      I’m sure others feel differently about this, and it’s a very personal issue, so take this with a grain of salt. Good luck with your search!!

      • In the Pink :

        A little bit of information about a therapist can be appropriate, especially if you are looking for a good fit. To be honest, this maxim applies: You don’t have to have had a heart attack yourself to be a good cardiac surgeon.

        We are trained to put our personal beliefs and problems and history aside.

        However, if something is as essential to you as a faith life, you ought to bring it up right away.

        I can’t stand ending an appointment thinking we have agreement on something only to find out weeeeeeeks later that it wasn’t a fit for the person’s orientation, lifestyle, belief system or it was impractical in any one of a million ways.

        Don’t waste time – but up front.

    • Meh. I have mixed feelings.

      My one experience in therapy was surprisingly helpful with some things (toning down my perfectionism), but not for the main reason I went. The woman I went to kept going back to my childhood with a drug addicted alcoholic father over and over again even when I wanted to talk about other things. I found out later, after I stopped going to her, that she was a sober alcoholic. She had her life together and wasn’t a mess or whatever, but what I wanted from her was a way to move forward, not a way to rehash my childhood 40 different ways. I don’t know if her experience being an alcoholic clouded her professional judgement when it came to our time together, or if another therapist would have made me talk about the same things.

      I think when it comes down to it, I don’t think it matters if the therapist has her life together or not, or is what you would consider a “good person”, so long as it doesn’t impact the quality of your therapy received. I also think that none of us are perfect, we are all hypocrites in one way or another, and that sometimes being human and having your own flaws makes you a more compassionate person.

    • Honey Pillows :

      As with all things in therapy, the answer is… it depends.

      There are a lot of people who don’t feel comfortable opening up to a person unless they actually feel comfortable with the person. If that means knowing small details about their therapist, like their favorite music, their hometown, etc, then a good therapist should be able to release those small details up to the point where they feel comfortable. (Not releasing really personal details, potentially dangerous details, like sex life, children’s school, neighborhood, obviously.) If a therapist is clearly scattered, attention all over the place, late, messy office, unkempt, and you need someone who seems in control of their life, that’s different from demanding a therapist have their sh*t together. What you really need is someone who has their sh*t together as a therapist. How many of us are fantastic at our jobs, but maybe not so fantastic at our personal lives? It’s the same thing.

      However, if you view a therapist as just another doctor, then you might not need this kind of personal relationship. If you have fairly straightforward issues to work through, or are very open to the processes and suggestions a therapist will bring to the table, maybe you don’t need that. Many people don’t, and in their cases, knowing personal details about your therapist can seriously bother them, and hinder their progress.

      It sounds like you need the former, but I don’t think you need to grill your therapist on their religious beliefs. That’s often one of the lines a therapist won’t cross. I’d say first off, get away from pastoral care, because you know the background that therapist is coming from, and you disagree with it. Do mention in your first session your personal beliefs, and bring up what you need -but don’t necessarily demand that your therapist have the same background/beliefs as you. Almost all therapists will have some training in dealing with belief issues, since that’s a huge part of our emotional psyche, so a secular therapist should be able to approach your therapy from the angle you need.

      Also, do NOT give up on therapy if you go to a therapist you don’t like.

      Therapy is like hair styling. How many different stylists do we try before finding one we like? What makes us think we can spend less effort on someone who’s trying to help us fix our brains than someone helping us do our hair?

    • Senior Attorney :

      Team Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. If the therapist has his or her act together enough to provide therapy that is helpful to me, that’s all I need to know about him or her.

    • OP here. Just wanted to say – thanks everyone for the advice. It was comprehensive and insightful. Corp*r*tte at its best.

      I will definitely implement a lot of the suggestions, including being upfront with a non-religious therapist about my goals. It seemed like a stupid question when I was asking it but I’m glad I did because the advice was fantastic.

  12. Help! I think my hormones are going crazy. I recently had two children in 20 months, and nursed each for a year, ending a year ago. So I was an estrogen sea for a while. Now, I think I am in puberty #2, but I am becoming a boy — lots of dark hairs, mainly jaw line and down into my neck. Laser has helped, but it seems like new ones crop up even where the old ones have been burned off (i.e., upper lip continues to be fine, but ACK!!!!). And it doesn’t help that I have fair skin and these suckers are dark (I feel like I have to keep my hair longish to help hide this since I am now banned from plucking . . . during my remaining Good Neck Years).

    I read up on menopause and I’m probably nowhere near there, but I didn’t think that this war would be coming. Off to battle!

    • Have you seen an endocrinologist?

      • Nope. I guess I didn’t think that this was a medical problem, just an aesthetic issue. FWIW, everything else seems to be working as it did in my 30s.

        • Developing male hair growth patterns when you are a woman is almost definitely an endocrine problem. It might not be affecting anything other than hair growth, but it could be. I’d try to see an endocrinologist if I were you.

          Estrogens and testosterone are all derived from the same precursor (cholesterol) and their synthesis pathways are inter-related. In fact, I think some forms of estrogen are derived from testosterone (or vice versa, can’t quite remember all my grad school endocrinology). Anyway, it’s not unreasonable to think that the pregnancies and breast-feeding could have knocked something off a bit, hormonally speaking, and it’s impinging on the entire network. Maybe start with your OB/GYN or GP and see if they can refer you an endocrinologist.

        • It’s definitely an endocrine (i.e. hormonal) issue. I am sure an endocrinologist can identify the problems that are causing hair growth, etc, and help you find a remedy.

      • 2nd the endo reccomendation, or at least having your gyno run your hormone levels, extra dark hairs can be a symptom of PCOS, among other things. I have PCOS but it wasn’t diagnosed until after my 1st son was born – being on the pill for most of my late teens and 20s masked the symptoms up to that point.

    • After my 3rd child was born just after my 30th birthday I started noticing a few stray black hairs on my neck & chin. I think there are 2 on my neck and 4 or 5 on my chin that I watch for and pluck. (Although the neck ones seem to grown an inch overnight sometimes). Every couple of years another one sprouts. I ignore my slight moustache. The hairs on my upper lip are slightly darker but aren’t the thick, wiry ‘whisker’ texture that the other ones are. I’ve toyed with the idea of bleaching them, actually.

      Anyway, I think mentioning it to your dr might be a good idea, just to be sure your homone levels are where they should be. I haven’t mentioned my few extra hairs because I believe a few are normal, but if you have lots, that might be less normal, kwim?

    • Thanks all — have annual exam coming up, so will mention (although it will probably not help my case that have zapping session scheduled later this week — yay!).

      • Crap. I have awful chin hairs. I’ve never thought to see an endo…

      • Anon for this... :

        Sometimes seeing a dermatologist is enough, but sure see endocrine. It is definitely hormonal.

        It is actually very common for some women to have higher testosterone levels. While sometimes this can be associated with PCOS, often it isn’t. All my life, I have had oily skin, greasy hair if I didn’t wash it every day, struggled with skin issues (acne – especially on jawline/redness) and am very hairy (!argh!!!) and am constantly plucking/shaving/removing hair. Finally last year I saw a dermatologist after MULTIPLE primary care doctors since childhood had told me it was normal. Of course, my testosterone levels are high. Now I take sprionolactone (pill) daily….. and it is life changing for me.

        I smell like a girl (!), my skin is perfect, all the dark hairs on my face disappeared and the hair growth slowed on arms/legs, oily skin has gone and now my hair can go several days and still look good. For the first time in my life, I can wear sleaveless tops since I no longer have acne on my arms/back. I am so pissed at my stupid doctors for making me feel even more insecure at my looks by refusing to help me.

  13. This blazer does look “professional” but the profession mught be a cocktail waitress!

  14. The red is a little much but I love it in the blue! The blue seems more toned down and approachable, and a lot less devil/circus/costumey.

  15. Used Car Advice Threadjack- reposting, as this got lost in the “Next comments” page-fold limbo over the weekend.

    Saw a used car that really hits my sweet spot. I need a reliable car that gets from point A to point B and back again. My job requires me to be on the road a lot and it’s mostly highway miles. Also, need storage space for IKEA trips and other stuff.

    The car in question with the specs is $11,750 according to the Kelley Blue Book website. Dealer’s starting point is $13,500. Dealer showed me the maintenance records and carfax– car is pristine, no accidents, very regularly serviced at that very dealer’s shop, and is certified by that dealer.

    What would your opening bid be? Aggressive, with the goal of landing around the $11,750? Any tips would be helpful here. Thanks in advance.

    • 2/3 attorney :

      Start below what you want to end up paying – I’d probably offer 11,250 or so to start. You only have room to move up – obviously they’re not going to counter lower. Feel confident in your position – don’t forget that it is still a bad time to be in the car selling business, and they would rather sell you the car at a loss than keep it on the lot depreciating. Last year I bought a new car for less than the dealer invoice (what the manufacturer charges the dealer for the car) – play hard to get. If they won’t play ball, walk away and find someone who will. Good luck!

      • Well…I think it’s a better market for used cars than it is for new cars, which might be why the vehicle is priced over blue book.

        As for negotiating, I’d tell them that I was interested in that particular car, but were really only looking to spend about $10,000 or 10,500. That gives you room to go up, and for them to know that you want to come down. Then see where they take it from there. And be prepared to walk away if you aren’t getting they price you want. There will be other cars.

    • I’ve heard Kelley Blue Book is very seller-oriented and prices higher than true value. So you may be able to get below $11,750. I’d start at $10,000 at the highest.

    • I wish I had been more aggressive in negotiating my car. You have all the power. If it’s at a dealership, they are NOT going to get offended and refuse to sell you the car. They do this every day, so they don’t feel awkward about it like you, so you need to fortify! Find some facts/data in addition. I used consumer reports in addition to Blue Book. Also, find similar cars on Craigslist that are lower priced. What does Edmunds say? What’s the “clean trade in price” (a guess at how much they actually paid)? Are there nearby dealerships with the same model?

      Ok, so it’s perfect condition but when were the tires last replaced? You’ll probably have to do that soon. It isn’t the color you really wanted either, I’m sure. You could find some sort of new car for just over $13,500, and that would come with a longer warranty and would smell all new and have all the newest safety features. How old is the battery? Already 30 months through a 50 month guarantee?! That deserves a discount too. It’s been on the lot HOW long?! You boys must be anxious to get it out of here. Such a big car is a gas guzzler, I’m sure, no one is looking to buy with gas prices so high. You get the drift.

      They have anchored the price at $13,500. I’d start under 10,000. The difference between asking price and goal price is 1750. The difference between opening and goal price is also 1750 if you offer 10,000. That way you both compromise an equal amount. Or ask them to make you an offer on it, and see what they come back at (get them to bid against themselves).

      Do not let them focus on payments rather than price. They’ll say “how much can you afford a month” and offer you a 4% loan for 120 months or something crazy.

      Do walk away. If they don’t get down to your goal, say, “If you can sell it at that price to someone else, I guess you should. I’ll be looking elsewhere.” Leave for a few hours or days. They’ll call you. I walked from one car with that line, saying I had a second choice at a better price. I did, and bought choice 2. Guy 1 called to follow up a few hours later. They want that sale, so if you are being reasonable they will sell it to you.

      • Auto Anon :

        Thank you all for your advice on this. This is why I come back to this site again and again. Wise, kind, fun c*rp*rettes!

        On being more aggressive with my counter– that’s what I was thinking, starting around $10K and I will definitely do some more research and back up my counteroffer #s. (Thx for rec on Edmunds and Craigslist.)

  16. Ladies I would really appreciate some perspective.

    I am strongly considering becoming a SAHM for a few years, now that we just had our second child. I never ever thought I would even consider giving up my career, after 16 years. In some ways, it feels like a betrayal of my MBA, my upbringing , etc. But apart from missing the kiddies, I also feel very meh about the job these days. Like I cannot be bothered…it is very very unlike me, and I guess part of this is my hormones speaking.

    Financially I could have stopped working years ago. That isn’t the issue. But I’m worried I will quit and then regret it. Or if I continue working ( with not much enjoyment as I’m fed up of the rat race) , that I will regret not spending time with kids when they’re ready to leave the house. And husband is in a demanding job that doesn’t let him give time to kiddies on weekdays. I have excellent child are so that isn’t a problem.

    If it helps, I am 38 so I have 20+ career years ahead of me.

    Not sure whether I am asking for advice but happy to consider any words of wisdom you have. Anyone ever considered this?

    • I meant child care. Typo alert.

    • Also in Academia :

      Do what is right for YOU and your family. I hate the idea that if we change our minds about our life choices in education then we are somehow betraying it or not using it . . . whatever education you have makes you who you are, and your kids benefit from that, and your colleagues do too. So no matter where you are putting your experience to work, at home or in a job, I think it’s great.

      • I agree with this. I think you have to try to avoid letting guilt (either guilt over “betraying” your MBA or guilt over not being with your kids) make the decision for you. Instead focus on what you think would make you/your family happiest and function best. That’s going to differ in every family.

    • I think most women have considered this. Everyone’s viewpoint will differ, but here are the conclusions I reached. a) I like (love?) having adult interaction and derive personal satisfaction from my career, so I never really considered staying home full time; b) college is expensive-we will have two kids next year so $100K plus! Working at least part time has really helped us prepare for that hit; c) I have boys, so it was really important to me that they see a strong, confident, professional woman-I think their wives will thank me! and d) if you can, working part time for at least some period of time will perhaps satisfy your desire to be home with the kids. I worked 4 days/week or 5 days a week on a shortened schedule for quite a few years before going back to full time when my kids hit high school. Good luck with your decision!

      • I have a boy and girl, and I always thought I’d work post kids, so that kids would see that I wasn’t just “mum” and that they would realize that women could be strong, confident etc etc just as you say. That is also part of the guilt I’m feeling….that by being a SAHM , I won’t be able to give them that. I have never felt this conflicted!

        working part time in my part of the world isn’t really a thing. The only people I know who work PT are admin staff.

        I guess my fear of ‘boredom’ is my biggest issue.

        • It sounds like you’re bored at work and may also be bored at home. I think that’s a natural feeling at this point in one’s career. You don’t say what you do, only that working part time isn’t an option. What about switching jobs? Trying something new that would allow you to have a more flexible schedule but continue working at least part time? Can you teach? Transition industries? Is there a non-lawyer equivalent of going in-house in your industry that you could do?

          I am not at a point in my life where I have children, the desire to stay home or the financial ability to even consider the possibility, but here’s what my concerns are with ever making the full time stay home transition: I would be bored, I would become boring, I would eventually want to go back when the kids were older and it would be more difficult to make up for that gap on the resume. As concerns being boring, I don’t mean to sound harsh or be glib, but I think that’s a real problem for some people where you have two high achieving spouses, one stays home, the other comes home to only conversations about “did you notice how I moved the furniture around in the kids’ room” and “baby did the funniest thing at the playground today” and the marriage suffers. I am by no means saying that staying at home = your spouse will leave you for someone more interesting, and I know this is not “polite” convesation, but I have seen this start to happen to people I know and it’s something to consider in making your decision.

    • Is your field one that could work with a part-time schedule? This seems like the best solution. You get to keep your hand in, so if you want to go back full time later, you won’t be totally out of touch, but you get lots more time with the kids.

    • What you decide to do as far as your choices and your family only you can decide. I personally don’t think I could stay at home full time; I get too impatient, bored, lonely and frustrated.

      What about part time? It’s a nice combo of getting out of the house and doing “adult” stuff and being very present in your kids lives. It also gives you the flexibility to go back into a more full time role as they age. I know that if I stepped out completely from my career it would be near impossible for me to get back in; however if I cut back I could ramp up at some point in the future. Having kids at home is a pretty finite period of time.

    • I don’t have kids, but could it be that your current job and workplace are just blah and you need to find a new job that you’d be excited about?

      See, if you told me that you always hated going back to work and felt MBA-guilt, I’d say, “hey, be a SAHM, since the finances work.” But I don’t hear that in your post.

      • You’re right. It’s a bit of both, to be honest. But the disenchantment /work frustration has only recently crept in. Possibly because I see the work pyramid narrowing now that I’m at mid-to-really senior mgmt and see very very few opportunities for upward movement….who knows? Maybe this is my midlife crisis speaking.

    • I’m a bit ahead of you, work-wise, and think of this from time to time. I do really like what I do and find it challenging. I do have a meaningful, but small, volunteer task that I find to be incredibly rewarding. I do have a flexible schedule at times and take full advantage of it to be the down-in-the-weeds parent.

      I worry about paying for college x2 children around the age I will want to retire. If I could make the $ work out with a huge margin for error, I would quit easily. Don’t worry about other people if it is right for you — women will still go to school and work and having the option of walking out the door is a wonderful option to have. Having options is a huge privilege and if you use it, use it! And if you were smart and hardworking enough to have gotten this far, you will figure something out if you change your mind or want to do something else (for me, it would be attending nursing school later in life).

      You go, girl! I think you’ve earned the right to do what you want to do.

      • I’m in the same spot as you, plus a few years (41; lawyer; class of 97 law).

        I quit when my first child was born, because (i) I wanted to be with him, (ii) not thrilled with the job I had at the time, and (iii) could afford to. I was a SAHM for almost three years. I think it is the best thing I could ever have done — it gave me such an appreciation for “women’s work” and for, frankly, my own mother AND the blue-collar workers — nannies and childcare workers — that do this full time.

        For me (and YMMV), being a SAHM was MUCH MUCH MUCH harder than my professional job — its 24/7, you never get a break, I had PPD. Everything was a HUGE adjustment, from scheduling my time around naps to making idle chitchat. I spent my days hanging out with nannies with high school educations when I was used to speaking with PhDs, MBAs, and JDs about world events and the WSJ op-ed page.

        Being at home during the day, I had to make a whole new set of friends — moms, nannies, people socioeconomically different from me. Being a SAHM really opened my eyes to the fact that our family is very fortunate and I have a great life. It got me out of the “one percenter” (five percenter? ten?) bubble that so many of NYC professionals are in. Plus, I got to see the best things about being a mom — my child’s first steps, first smashed peas, first day of nursery school. For me, no amount of professional prestige can substitute for that.

        I did keep up my professional contacts — because, let’s face it, my only pre-baby friends are lawyers, since all I did was work 60-80 hours a week before baby #1 arrived. Soon after baby #2 arrived, I was offered my current part-time, work from home job. I hired a part-time nanny to take care of the kids and worked in our bedroom.

        Is it perfect? No. Is it for everyone? No. There were days as a SAHM that I longed for a conference call and stale catering pastries. Now, I struggle to find work-life balance like everyone else. The PT gig I do pays…. well, it pays for fun stuff and we don’t rely on it for income, but its keeping my resume alive.

        I’m rambling on here, but I guess the main points I’m trying to make are: (1) don’t assume that by being a SAHM that your career is over, and (2) all choices are tough. There is no one right answer, and the grass is always greener on the other side.

        • Oh and boredom re: staying home with the kids????

          Really? Seriously?

          Yeah, every job has its boring days. For me (YMMV), being a SAHM is not boring — it can be tedious, repetitive, and exhausting. Then again, so can every job. But generally, hanging out with toddlers is not boring — they are always doing something, their attention spans are 15 minutes at best, there is always a mess to clean up, and this little person is your kid, someone you love with all your heart. C-SPAN is boring. (Again, apologies and YMMV.)

          As for adult interaction – GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. Go to mommy & me classes (really mostly for the mommies), go to the park, walk around the neighborhood. Who do you think takes care of the kids? Adults. You will have adult interaction as a SAHM. Is is the same type of adults as in your MBA filled office? Probably not, but then again, look around your neighborhood. You may be pleasantly surprised.

          • I was bored. Bored and busy at the same time, if that makes sense. A pre-talking toddler is not very intellectually stimulating, but just enough demand to keep you from doing anything YOU want to do. I have highest respect for SAHM’s after trying it myself. It takes a kind of mental stamina and selflessness that I found exhausting!

            My salvation was finding a group of mom friends that regularly get together for everything from martini nights to kids’ birthday parties. They’re all intelligent, fun, interesting women who have made a variety of work/life balance choices for their families.

        • e_pontellier :

          It’s great to hear your experience, PT Lawyer. I’m in law school and my biological clock’s ticking has gotten to a dull roar. I’m curious what you (or anyone else!) would think about starting my career a few years later, to have 2-3 years right after law school as a SAHM. Thoughts? Anyone?

          • Oooh good one and tough question. I’ve been out of the hiring/interviewing market for 5 years (last job was in-house counsel and we didn’t hire new lawyers).

            If you take 3 years off right after the bar, I think you may have a tough time convincing interviewers/HR that you have not completely forgotten what you learned in law school. It might be better to get a job after law school (in this market, very hard) and if you get pregnant, well then, you get pregnant. (Make sure to know your firm/company’s maternity leave policies.) Or, a non-firm job/job that has very set 9-5 hours — law librarian, some city counsel jobs, etc — might be the way to go.

            Reading through the posts here — there are a couple mentions of being a “strong confident woman” to their kids. You know, having an office job is not the only way to do that.

            You show strength and leadership to your kids in many many ways……. and I am not kidding here, our local PTA is completely run by JD’s and MBA’s. (holy cr*p, you would not believe the spreadsheets for the bake sale.) Your brain does not automatically turn to mush when you have children or leave the office.

          • Motoko Kusanagi :

            I also think (especially in this economy) that you may have difficulty convincing potential employers that you made a choice to take 3 years off to have children, as opposed to not having any offers and deciding that, since you weren’t employed, you may as well take the time to start a family.

          • I clerked in a state trial court for two years after law school. I don’t have any children, but I think it was the kind of job where working full-time and raising children would have been relatively manageable. You may want to consider looking for those kinds of jobs immediately after law school, especially if you decide to have a baby while you’re in law school. As a bonus, clerking won’t hurt your resume (quite the opposite, in fact).

    • Thoughts on building your own practice? My favorite boss of all time packed it in at age 45. Her kids were in late middle school/early high school and she decided she was doing too much sacrificing to keep working.

      But she didn’t full out quit working, she just quit working a traditional office job. She was in the industry so long that she has been able to build out a successful consulting practice. over the past 4 years. We last had lunch and she says she’s making about 70% of her former salary while spending all the time she wants/needs with the kids and her only regret is not making a move sooner.

      So if you’re flexible financially, you may find you want to keep a toe or two in the workplace. In my former boss’s case, she always said she’d rather work than do housework– so her initial plan was to work just enough to be able to afford outsourcing her housework :)

    • Gah. Ate my long comment. To summarize:

      I have taken three relatively long breaks (8 months, 18 months, 9 months) since the first of my three children were born. I have been lucky to be able to move in and out of the workforce and have flexible, interesting jobs (I know, I’m extremely lucky). For me, staying home when they were very young was tough. Lots of emotional satisfaction and fulfillment but the day to day was boring. I missed adult stimulation. Since I didn’t have large gaps of time to get things done (volunteering, big around-the-house projects, reading books or studying another language) , I missed a feeling of accomplishment. All my free time went to laundry and chores.

      Consider solving the “meh” job problem with a new job now and taking time off when your children are older. You have more time (when they are in school) to tackle big projects– volunteering, training for a half-marathon, painting your house, whatever. Your children are older and there is a broader range of fun activities you can do with them. I like driving carpool and going on field trips because they and their friends are fun to talk to and it’s fun watching their activities. And their free time compresses so much, the afterschool time to hang out or evening time to read together or the carpool on the way to soccer is really special.

      That’s what has worked for me. Realize very well that not everyone is wired the same, but if you are accomplishment and goal oriented, it’s something to think about.

    • Research, Not Law :

      My husband, 41, is SAH. He did a mix of PT and FT SAH since our first child was born and has been FT SAH since our second was born. It started from a combination of push and pull factors, but he enjoys it as much as he expected he would. He was also beginning to have fading interest in his career of 15+ years. We were initially concerned about him re-entering the workforce after the long absence, but he is now planning on changing careers when the kids hit school age, so it’s a non-issue. I do believe he would be changing careers even if we had never had kids; his issues with his profession having nothing to do with family life.

      He has been maintaining his licensure, continuing education, etc, which has been good for keeping him current and networked. Not sure if something similar would be applicable in your field. Maybe you could keep your MBA skills honed and stay connected by joining an organization such as Rotary or serving on the board of a community organization?

      I personally don’t think you should feel you need to work just because you earned an MBA. Women’s liberation will be a success only once we can make our family and career decisions based on what we want. You shouldn’t feel pressured to work any more than you should feel pressured to stay at home.

    • K...in transition :

      If you quit and regret it, it sounds like you have the experience and the financial cushion to last til you find another job. If you keep working and regret it, you can’t make the kids regress so you can see them grow up again.

      I’m child-free, so I’m certainly not someone with experience, it just sounds like the odds of regretting not staying home sound more permanent than regretting quitting, especially when you’re fed up with work and might just need a break anyway!

    • I’m not in a profession where a stop-out is viable, but I do think that Leslie Bennetts’ book *The Feminine Mistake* contains some good practical advice about how to handle a break (and the downsides of a persistent break). In particular, some of her evidence of ageism being a bigger threat for women than men is sobering. Fair warning: she at times diminishes SAHM-ing. But I think her overall she’s pretty pragmatic in her approach.

  17. Chicago meetup! :

    Reposting to escape moderation…

    Let’s vote on a day and location! I’ve set up a survey here:
    www dot surveymonkey dot com slash s slash L57P9VN.

    I’m suggesting two days: Tuesday, Sept 25 or Thursday, Sept 27. I’ve set the kick off time in the poll as 5:30pm. I know this will be too early for some, but I (at least) plan to be there until at least 8pm.

    Primebar, Rittergut Wine Bar and 312 Chicago were repeat nominations for place, and so became finalists. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions!

    Winning time and place to be announced tomorrow and will be reposted periodically until the actual day. I’m really looking forward to meeting you all!


    • I’d love to do this, but I’m in Madison so I wouldn’t be able to make it until much later in the evening (even assuming I leave work early, and there’s no guarantee). Oh well. Play it by ear, I guess.

      • Chicago meetup! :

        You can email me at Chicago C o r p o r e t t e at gmail dot com and I’ll give you my phone number in case you’d like to text or call to see if things are still going on, etc. I used to go up to Madison for work regularly in the early 2000s and would love to hear how the city is doing!

    • Chicago meetup! :

      Survey link in good formatting: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/L57P9VN

  18. Seeking advice for managers…

    In two weeks I will be starting a new job in the organization where I currently work, managing a small team of three. I have quite a bit of project management experience, but I’ve never managed people before.

    Any tips for getting off on the right foot in this new role? Particularly for someone young?

    • Young manager here.

      It probably sounds obvious to more seasoned people managers, but two bits of advice have really, really helped me.

      When giving feedback: be specific, stay focused on that specific issue, listen, and, if it’s developmental feedback, walk away with specific and measurable plans for improvement.

      Set clear expectations for your direct reports. When somebody falls short, point out that specific expectation and why it’s an important piece of the overall puzzle. Be sure to start off by asking them if they were even aware of that expectation. Your conversation is going to move according on that answer. The same goes for positive feedback and explaining how somebody has exceeded expectations.

      Read up on managing difficult conversations. That is a huge part of managing people and–yes–it is difficult.

      Accept that people may not like you, may not like your decisions, and will chatter about you behind your back. I’ve grown some pretty thick skin and have blocked out the chatter. I appreciate when somebody wants to sit down with me and explain a real or perceived shortcoming to my face, because that is how we move forward. In my experience, that garners respect.

    • No Problem :

      Think a lot about the managers you’ve had in the past. What did you like about Boss A? What drove you nuts about Boss B? What did Boss C do that you will never ever in a million years ever do to your direct reports? What about Boss D are you definitely going to do? It would probably be good to sit down and actually write this stuff out.

      Remember that you are not their friend. You are their boss. It’s ok to know some personal stuff about each other, but know ahead of time that there is a line (decide what that line is) and do not cross it. Don’t let them cross it, either.

      Be really careful about what you say in email. Email is permanent. It can be forwarded, bcc’d, etc. without you knowing. Always be professional and direct.

      What is your communication style? Do you prefer written or oral? Do you want updates from your staff on a regular basis? How often? In what form? A lot of this will be project-specific, but it’s good to think about what kind of expectations you will have of your staff and how you communicate with them.

      I’m sure there are also lots of books about this topic, but I’m just speaking as someone also moving into management a little bit at a time (and trying to keep in mind all of the things – good and bad – I’ve learned from all my managers).

    • hellskitchen :

      Start off by being direct, assertive and very “managerial.” Establish your role as a manager first – you can become more friendly with them later on but it’s hard to do it the other way round

    • OP here, thanks for the tips! This job came totally unexpected to me, and I’m feeling unprepared to be a boss. I think that it will be very important, as you all said, to establish myself as their manager quickly. My personality veers toward accommodating, so that might be an initial challenge.

  19. For those of you who use Vanguard, is there a minimum amout you must invest? I’m just getting started so I’m looking to set aside 1-2k only. Is that amount too small?

    • What does their website say? This sounds like a really good question for their customer service line.

    • I also use Vanguard, and when I set up my account several years ago, most of the funds had a $3000 minimum buy-in. A few had $1000, if I remember correctly, but the selection was very limited. There were also a bunch that had a $10,000 minimum, but I think those were mostly ETF’s.

      I used the feature on their website that lets you compare funds. You can search by all sorts of parameters, like risk, but also by the minimum initial investment amount. You don’t have to be invested with them to use it; just go to the website and play around to see what you might want to buy and how much you would have to invest.

      • Also, don’t forget to check the fees and the expense ratio on each fund! They vary widely.

      • I opened a Vanguard account a few months ago (maybe closer to a year) and I believe the buy-in was $3000.

    • You need to check the offering documents (prospectus) for the specific funds that you want to invest in (it can vary from fund to fund within the same complex.) Also, investment minimums may be waived if you do automatic recurring investments (say, $100 a month). This information will also be in the prospectus.

    • Divaliscious11 :

      I think there may be a waiver of the minimums if you have aut0-deductions, which can be as low as $25 a month

    • K...in transition :

      STAR account starts at 1k, if I remember correctly!