I’ve been a professionall coach since 1995, and became International Coach Federation-certified as one of the first Professional Certified Coaches in 1999, during the initial rollout of coach certifications. Since 2006, I’ve been credentialed as a Master Certified Coach (MCC), the highest level credential awarded by the ICF, the professional organization for coaches. I am a graduate of Coach University, the first coach training program in the world and still among the top 5 programs.
My prior business and education experience includes training, facilitation, project management, and computer systems work. I worked as a training and education specialist at the Polaroid Corporation and as a systems analyst at a mid-sized, top notch consulting firm, Abt Associates. I have also run successful freelance businesses: as a database application developer, and now as a coach.
The mother of two young women and married for 40 years, I understand first-hand the challenges of creating balance and integration within a full life, while committed to the highest professional standards. I also have direct, personal experience with career change, mid-career challenges, and hitting one’s stride.
I graduated from Northwestern University, spent some time on the West Coast, and then found my way “back East” to Boston and began teaching English as a Second Language. I met my husband in a Chinese restaurant, through some mutual friends. My first impression of him: for a good looking Harvard Law student he was remarkably un-arrogant. As I got to know him, I could see what a terrific person he was, and what a good match he was for me.
I got my Masters degree at Boston University and started my teaching career there.
Jon and I got married, and a few years later, we had our first child, Emily. About halfway through that pregnancy, we realized very late one Saturday night sitting around the kitchen table talking, that after the baby was born, he very much wanted to stay home full time to parent, and I very much wanted to go back to work full time at BU. And that’s exactly what we did. At the time, it was a very unusual thing to do and lots of people thought we were nuts! But that is what we really wanted, and we’ve never regretted it.
Sarah was born three years later. By that time we were both working part time, which we did for many years. We had a strong commitment to egalitarian parenting and bread-winning. Eventually Jon went back to work full time, something I did much later.
From teaching at BU I moved into the corporate world, working in Training and Education at Polaroid, which I did for many years. While still at Polaroid I made a transition into software work, first automating my office’s local program data, and then doing the same for some of the other training offices. I couldn’t get enough of it; eventually, I left Polaroid and did freelance database work for several years. I then went to work for my best client, a research and consulting firm, Abt Associates.
When I went to work at Abt Associates as a Systems Analyst, I negotiated an 80% position so I could be home 3 afternoons a week with my kids. I had a sitter the other 2 days. I gave myself permission to work as much as I wanted to, and my drive and ambition, which had been on hold for many years really took off. I worked all the time! I frequently went back to the office in the evenings or worked at home.
I remember one Fourth of July up in New Hampshire with my family. I sat on the blanket holding our spot for the fireworks that would come later. Jon, Emily and Sarah went off to play mini-golf, and I sat there with a 30-page printout of a C program and finally found the bug that had been making me crazy for days.
My life was WAY out of balance. I had zero time to myself. I used to get my house key and my office key mixed up. I had very poor boundaries between my work and my home. I was frequently “at work” in my head, even if my body was home. These years my husband worked full time at the law firm where he became a partner. I was the primary parent in terms of logistics and the myriad details that keep a busy household running. I think of these as our 90-mile-an-hour years, which flew by in a blur.
Eventually, the 90-mile-an-hour life stopped working. As my daughters became teenagers, I realized that to stay in touch with them the way I wanted to, I needed more time with them. At the same time, I had really “teched out” in my systems work – I reached a point where I just never again wanted to even hear about a new operating system! Through a very challenging and non-linear process, I eventually found my way out of the systems job and into my own business as a career and work-life coach (which later morphed into executive and career coaching), while learning how to parent my adolescent daughters and recover from years of running on empty.
My daughters are now adults, living in other states. I feel very connected to them. We see each other often and have family dinners again and do a lot of laughing and talking. It’s always good to see them and be together. The challenge of parenting continues – it’s just different now: there’s my wonderful son-in-law, a terrific boyfriend, 2 grandchildren and 3 grand-dogs.
I love doing the work I do. I get to work with people, up close and in a way that makes a big difference for them. Whether it’s about leadership challenges, balance, career success, or transitions, when people hire me, they are ready get real and move forward, and that’s very compelling for me.
One thing that helps me stay in balance is structuring into my schedule other intense activities besides work. For many years I sang a lot: one year I made a CD with two friends, and other years I sang with a community chorus or a small a capella group. My fitness regime is very central for me. Some years ago I rode a 2-day, 170-mile charity bicycle ride across MA a couple of times. I make a point of staying connected to friends and community. I garden, make and sell chunky jewelry, and stay close to my extended family. These days I do yoga, spinning, and Zumba.
And probably most central to my balance is my relationship with my husband. After all the years we co-captained the crush of activity that our household was – we’re finding the empty nest to be another very good stage of life.