Friday, January 18, 2013

The Having It All Project: Liz Polay-Wettengel

I met Liz through a friend who was a coworker of hers (and since I know he'll read this, I'm waiting for him to agree to be part of this project too), when we had one of those all-too-rare fun lunches on a work day. We began following each other on Twitter and I love all of the insightful articles she posts. Though the majority of our friendship has been online, she's someone I can see getting to know a lot better in the years to come. Here's how Liz is having it all.

Briefly describe your life and what you think makes it unique.
I have a wonderful husband and two boys ages 6.5 and 17 months. We live in Salem, MA and my kids are growing up believing that any beach is about 5 minutes away and that Halloween lasts for the entire month of October. I spent much of my life working in the music business surrounded by tantrums and chaos. It prepared me well for motherhood. Now I create marketing and communications strategies for non-profits.

I have recently dedicated myself to eating better and getting regular exercise in my life. I would not be able to accomplish that without the support of my family. There have been many evenings where I have left my husband to put both boys to bed on his own while I went to the gym. I have lost 40 pounds so far and recently ran my first 5K with my sister and some friends and my family was there cheering us on at the finish line.

What are some of your favorite tips and strategies for coping with the chaos?
Making sure that I get some “me” time. Pedicures, massage, sleeping in just for an hour longer than everyone else. I wouldn’t be able to do this without being married to someone who is a 100% parenting partner with me.

As far as coping while working full time outside of the home, I strongly believe that part of this juggling act has to do with asking for what you want from your employers. It is important to me to be there for my kids. To be able to volunteer at school every once in a while, to be able to get them when they are sick and for them to know I am there when they need me, but it does me no good to just complain that I work and cannot be there. These days, more and more employers have the tools to allow for workers to get work done remotely. Ask for what you need, whether that is partial telecommuting, adjusted hours or a four day work week you will never get it if you don’t have that conversation. This is a two way street, you have to be dedicated to making it work. Work hard and be just as loyal to your work as you are expecting your employer to be to you.

Please share a moment where it all broke down, and how you got through it.
The question is which to choose! Expect things to break down, expect things to go wrong, there are many times that they will.

We are a one car family by choice and there have been times where I need to work late or attend a meeting or event outside of typical work hours. One day I had an evening appointment, and I had the car. I had to get the kids, grab my husband from the train, drop them off and get to my meeting.
So of course, my tire blows out. I stood at the side of the road with no way to get the kids, or my husband. I had to figure out how to get the car to a place to be fixed AND I had a meeting.

This was literally a moment where it all broke down.

After a moment, I gathered my senses, called my future brother-in-law to help and got the kids and the husband. My meeting participants completely understood and we rescheduled. Towed the car to where it could be fixed first thing in the morning.

The lesson here is .. Breathe. Don’t panic. Take stock of what you need to do, be rational and think about how to solve your problem and you will get things worked out.

And maybe it’s time to buy a second car.

Do you have any balance role models? Anything you try to avoid because it wouldn't work for you?
I have many role models for many parts of my life. These are the people I get advice from in order to achieve success. Whether that is success in business, in parenting or even with “balance”, I think that everyone should have role models. I think that each role model offers something different that I’d like to see in my life and I learn from that.

There really isn’t anything I tend to avoid. Different things work in different situations.

Think back to your 18th birthday. How is your life different from how you expected it to be then?
I’m not sure how I would have expected life after 40 to be when I was 18. I was pretty wild and was mostly wondering when my next concert was. I’ve always taken a “work hard for what you want and take it as it comes” approach to living my life. It has served me well. I have lived an exciting life so far, full of grand adventure, great love and beautiful children. Whether I expected this kind of life or not, I sure do feel lucky to have it.

Relate to what Liz is saying? Leave her some love in the comments. Read other posts from The Having It All Project here. Want to participate? Send me an email at!

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