Career choice

I saw this article the other day – and it made me stop and think.  Check it out here.  I hope that this will make you think about WHY you want to do a particular career before you get there and realize that it is just too painful to do day-in and day-out.



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SAHMs vs. The working mom

Recently I was having a discussion with colleague of mine.  We were actually ooing and ahhing over his very young daughter and discussing the merits of the fact that his wife is able to stay home and look after her until she determines whether she would like to re-enter the work force or continue on to be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM).  This conversation was layered with the recent release of a book, The Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin.  Interestingly, the book is about very wealthy SAHM (that only NYC could really create) and how their world is focused on childrearing perfect children, maintaining control (over their body, infidelity and status) and escaping via any variety of substances.  Several articles have now been written about the book two of which you can find here and here.

Now of course these sorts of stories hardly apply to either of us in the conversation, but it led us down the rabbit hole of SAHMs vs. Working moms.  And specifically, the competition that inevitably builds between these two types of women.  Why?  Is there jealousy?  Expectation?  As our conversation progressed, my friend offered his support of his wife (which is fantastic) – that he would support her to do what she thought was best for her and for their daughter.  Although this is great and in many ways absolves men of the issue almost entirely, it in no way changes the competition of the moms.

What can we do a a society?  How does this impact the advancement of equality of the genders in our society?  Do working women suffer if there are peers who choose to leave their career to stay at home?  How does society fair?  Our children?  If there is no parent at home, who raises the child?  A service or a nanny.  Believe me, I understand the fear around either option.  I have personally witnessed more than one nanny on the streets of NYC being reasonably aggressive towards the children in their care.  I also know that I am not convinced that I would like to stay at home with my child/ren should I have them.

So what to do?  In my utopian world, it would be great to bridge the gap.  If society is constructed to be a “man’s world” then it is up to women to help one another.  We will only be as strong as each woman willing to contribute.  No matter what one’s choice it, I hope that we can all work together to make childrearing more possible and better for our children together than separated.  It would be great to be friends with women who make both choices so that if you are a working mom and you run into a bind at the office you can lean a little bit on the SAHM … and as a SAHM and your kids grow up – and you prepare to re-enter the work force you will already have peers and connections to can help you and support you along the way.

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Hormones 101

Recently, I began to do some work with the The Hormone Project – and the more that I dug around the more that I realized that most women do not know very much about their hormones – or menstruation.  So, in coordination with QSXX (quantified self women’s meet-up) and Bridget’s Botanicals, I put together a short presentation.  I have uploaded the slide deck to this blog post.

Please take a look. If you have any questions feel free to contact me at [email protected].

If you are interested in joining the New York QSXX meet-up group check out the group page here.

If you are interested in reaching out for proper herbalism help contact Bridget here.


Presentation here: Hormones 101

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Women in STEM: An interview with Dr. Nancy Hopkins @ MIT

Candice Helfand By Candice Helfand

Editor’s Note: This interview is part of a project in which we hope to explore the continued lack of female representation for employees and entrepreneurs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The first installment of this series can be found here.


Here is the full interview:

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Does your “social cap” stop you from taking the lead?

Recently Harvard Business School has been trying to make some important changes, but will women allow it?

HBS study

As a partial op-ed piece, I can understand and appreciate the way these women feel regarding their “social cap.”  Yet, it is baffling to me that women feel so undervalued without a partner.  Why is it that such feelings and sentiments occur in our overly privileged and educated society?  How can we change this?

I can understand that change takes time, but seriously, are we there yet?

I look forward to a world where young girls can emotional and societal freedom to chose whatever path suits her best without the worry of a “social cap.”


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Gender disparity is not only an issue in math and science, but also in Philosophy

It is unfortunate to read things posted like this by the New York Times.  It is important to share this article with the greater population.  It is disgusting that yet another male academic has wielded his power to oppress a female student.  When will this stop?

McGinn resigns from the University of Miami.  

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de la Femme is now packaging events!

Dear de la Femme community,

Thank you for your support and participation since our inception in 2011.  We have recently decided to take a few months to specifically design a package of events that will begin in October of 2013.  These events will be focused on career advancement and women in the workforce.

This will not affect our blog articles and posted information on our website!

We look forward to seeing you at our next series of events!



the de la Femme team

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Julia Gillard: Australia’s now former female Prime Minister

It has been of recent interest both in Australia and internationally regarding the ousting of the Prime Minister (now former), Julia Gillard.  Although Julia came to be the prime minister of Australia through non-voted means, her time has shown many successful policy implementations in the country including the advancement of education, disability care, and better environmental policies.  Through public polling and perhaps too much back-and-forth battling, Kevin Rudd has now resumed his initial Prime Minister seat.

Irrespective of the political decisions made within the country by both the government structures as well as by the people, I want to focus on Juila.  I also want to focus on the fact that Australia was able to see Julia, a woman, as a leader and a strong political figure.  She, like many great political women before her (e.g. Hillary Clinton, Margret Thatcher, Angela Merkel and etc.), fought hard for her country – but did she do enough to break down the barriers that women are faced with today?  Could policy have been changed to make things better?

What is that would really make women more accepted into society?  Is there such a thing?  Or will it be that we just need time and flattening of hierarchal structures that millenials continue to provide us with?  What does her removal of the prime minster’s seat and from politics mean for women in the future?

I have mulled through these sentiments for too much time.  I still don’t think that women are truly ready to accept themselves, but to also run aspects of this world in a way that can make society change its mind.  As women we are faced with many internal conflicts, some of which generate from societal bounds, but some of which we impose upon ourselves.  As women grow older we are faced with new questions.  How do we stay focused on our career?  How do we participate in relationships (friendships and partners)?  What is really important to each of us?  Some times things that we think are important (a career) takes a step down to an ailing parent, friends in need, the desire to build better communities as opposed to being wealthy.  And, if these things do begin to change us, why do we insist on playing in the world the way that men played before us?

I wish that Julia would have spent more time not on just empowering girls to grow up and become interesting and productive BUT to have put in policies that would have helped socieity to give these ladies some support.  The role of government is to realize what is best for its people and to build structures that incentivize people to change current societal rules.  And, because I hate vague suggestions, I will share with you what I would have liked to have seen.  Based on a ton of data, women tend to take a step back when they start having children (and perhaps before).  Why is this?  BECAUSE MAKING A BABY IS REALLY HARD WORK!  In the US women in the unskilled work force get 6 weeks.  I cannot imagine that a women’s body has even regained form by that time.  I digress.  Here in Australia women are afforded a considerable amount of time off (up to a year) BUT you still have to raise this child, and since we all can’t be like Marissa Mayer and build a nursery just next door to our office – we have to think how to change this.

It would have been great to see Julia build a plan that helps mothers and incentivizes fathers to be a part of their children’s lives.  That could have come in reduced/free childcare, forced paternity leave, greater flexibility in the days that we work (I mean, I could work a Saturday if I had to!).  Having babies is a BIG commitment and the role of the government is to help alleviate that burden on families and I think that women would fair better if they had the childcare support that they need.

It would be great to see this in the US, but since the policy in the US is far too conservative for such regulations to be imposed, I cannot see this being a likely phenomenon for decades to come (or perhaps more…).

A link to a NYT article on Julia Gillard HERE.

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A family life.

This year marks my 30th year of life.  I feel that I have done so many things since I was born, but with my jump into my 30s I have spent a great deal of time reflecting.  I noticed that my emotional position of career over family is starting to change.  I have now watched many mothers struggle with the day-to-day issues that young children bring (including, but not limited to, stripping naked and peeing all over the floor in a mater of miliseconds).   BUT, I feel that I am, for the first time, starting  to consider a family.  I can’t believe that I even have this idea, but I suspect over the course of the next few years I would begin to try for one (in whatever way that looks like).

I recognize that I have at least another decade of reproductivity (1), so I can continue to put off the decision to have children that most likely will consume, to some degree, my level of happiness (2).  But now new questions surface… how will I contend with the career that I have built?  How will my life change?  Will I need to give up my career?  Should I take a year off?  Would my employer support this?

Never do I consider my partner, or his feelings and sacrifices.  How will we do this together is probably a more suitable question.  BUT, it has been the burden of the women for so many years to be both a super mom and a power house in the office.  That task is incredibly daunting, and quite frankly, impossible.  I think that it is time that our society not only accepts, but embraces, a society where BOTH parents are participating in child rearing.

Recently, I came across two articles on this topic specifically around affordable childcare and how it helps to stabilize home economics.  I have been preaching this idea pretty much since I was 21, but it wasn’t until I moved to Australia that I realized that my idea is already a reality.  CHILDCARE IS SUBSIDIZED!  Affordable childcare provides families with the ability to manage their career and intrapersonal relationships without a HUGE financial burden.  This is great for both parents!!  (Check out both articles here: 3, 4).

So, as I move forward in my life, career, and family-oriented mindset I know that there are places my ideas have been realized.  I am not sure how I will manage children, relationships, and reality but I do know that continued support for affordable childcare in both the US and abroad is a top priority.


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What does it mean to be successful?

It has been a complete whirlwind moving across the world, but I have learned so many things.  If nothing else I have learned that success is NOT climbing up the corporate (or social ladder).  It is really about finding what makes your heart tick and your mind come alive.

It was inspiring to read Linda Descano’s post on “Metrics of Success“.  It helped me to better understand myself whilst preparing to set some actual standards for my own life and career path.  Your career is important, but don’t let it get in the way of having a full and wonderful life.

We at de la Femme support the balance between career and life choice.  If you have questions or are looking to join our group, please contact us at info

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Do you really want to be a CEO?

Recently I read a short publication by McKinsey and Co. that looked into fortune 500 companies and “successful” women.  Of the companies analyzed,  only 12 met 3 out 4 of the criteria in their metric system (read it here).  This is not unusual.  We have all seen these types of statistics before — women in the C suite are a rarity today, but are they going to go extinct?

A bit of a dodo myself, I started out reaching for the top — dreaming of being a CEO, but then life began to change.  I learned that I am interested in all sorts of things, not just working 24/7 to climb the corporate ladder so that I can spend 100% of my time working with men and pretending to like things like golf or what happened in the most recent sporting event.  As it turns out, I am not alone.  It seems that many gen-y women feel similar to myself (read it here).

So what is it that has changed?  For me, it has been about integrating in a more relaxed culture and being exposed to the average worker.  It is really nice to sleep in and wake up in a house full of people, chatting with them, making food, eating food, and doing nothing but building greater emotional connections with the people around me.  If all I did was work, I would be isolated and would lack a strong emotional connection to the people and environment of which I am attempting to serve.

I look forward to working with women in my generation as well as current leaders to change the mentality of our culture so that women can make all sorts of different choices, but can still be heard.  I also look forward to working with men in helping them to become better fathers who will be granted the opportunity to be at home with their children for at least some part of their careers.

What would you do?  Do you think that this is a legitimate issues?  How can we as a society change it?

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How can we become equal partners when it comes to parenting?

Recently I had the good fortune of visiting my boyfriend’s eldest sister and her family.  Other than having a lovely little boy (aged 2), her and her husband were both professionals who worked in the government and shared parental care during the week equally (well, nearly).   Basic breakdown of schedule: Monday and Tuesday, mom and dad went work and son went to daycare where Grandmom and Grandpop picked him up in the afternoons for a little play-time.  Wednesday, dad stayed home and even prepared dinner while mom went to work and put in extra hours.  Thursday and Friday, mom stayed home for some one-on-one time.  Both mom and dad worked hard to build their careers and their family as equal partners.

This was both amazing to me and perplexing.  Although I have seen other marriages/partnerships with somewhat equal duties, none to this extent.  Even in my own family, my mother carried the burden of cooking dinner every night, laundry, managing my brother and me, AND working hard in her profession as a guidance councilor.  Did my father do nothing?  No, he was great at so many things, but he was not the primary parent when it came to doing basic home “things.”   I thought about this for a long time — how I will I manage parenting and partnership?  How will I build a career, partnership, and a family?

The first thing I want to note is that Australia generally allows for more egalitarian parenting with the laws that are currently in place.  Most of these laws are not in place in the US.  Check out this great article in the NY times that discusses this in great detail here.  With that said, I want to know how we expect to move forward if these laws do not change?  How will we move forward in the US?  How will we make it possible for our little girls to grow up knowing that they don’t need to be supermom and have a high powered career AND that their male partners will know how to step up to that challenge of being truly equal in their parenting?  How will we make all of this possible?

These are important questions that I continuously spend time trying to know how I will help make it possible for little girls to grow up as true equals.  How will I do it personally, …professionally?  How will I contribute on a global scale?  What do you think?

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Princeton alumna advice: Ladies get married to your college sweetheart

Just today I was checking in with a blogger with whom I have mixed emotions, Penolope Trunk.  I originally liked Penelope Trunk’s advice, and sometimes I still do, but more and more I find that I do not necessarily agree.  [This is not to say that she is bad, in fact, her command of the English language is very much appreciated.]  Regardless, she had posted a recent blog article on the connection between March madness and workplace issues, including the wage gap and issues related to women.  In her post she cited an article that has since been removed, but I was able to recover from the Princetonian.

A alumna from 1977, Susan A. Patton, wrote a letter that encouraged young women to get married (and select from) their Princeton-attending male peers.   My first thought was defensive and quite honestly disgusted; however, she does make a fair point.  Generally speaking if your priority in life is to marry an ivy league counterpart and produce ivy league children — then YES! by all means should you select in college.  But like all decisions, there are consequences and I just wanted to list a few of the things that come to mind for me:

1. Not knowing yourself

2. Not enjoying multiple sexual partners

3. Not prioritizing your career or pursuing your interests in your own time

4. Not having the opportunity to live out your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s… etc. in a fashion that is your choice

There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting married young (or old) or having children (or not) at any age as long as you are doing what you think you want and living the life that you would like to live (without hurting others).   As you can imagine I did not opt to marry my high school/college sweetheart.  We both had a lot of “growing up to do” that required our separation.  Because I walked away from that relationship, I have enjoyed learning about me, traveling extensively, learning how to pick great friends, lovers, and overall how to be a better partner, teammate, and friend.  I have enjoyed learning what it means to be on your own and independent.  I have learned the kindness of strangers and I have gotten to live all over the world, just like I had imagined as a little girl.  Because I didn’t opt to be second to another’s life when I was younger “just because there were more to choose from” I have had the pleasure of learning how to live with myself everyday until I no longer live on this earth.

Being a woman is a tough job and there is no right way to do it.  DLF advocates for helping women at all stages and throughout all decisions that each woman will face throughout their lives and careers!


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Popular science blogger is female!!

No matter what, at the end of the day I love science (which is great so that I can justify that PhD!).  Combine that with my desire to troll the internet for any variety of information and you would not be surprised that I found the facebook page I fucking love science.” (Please excuse the strong use of language, but it is the title of the blog.)

To be honest though, I am no sleuth or early adopter of this page — in fact, the page has 4,257,078 likes.  (I just checked it.)  Being a woman myself, it never even occurred to me that the sex of the individual who created the site was either female or male.  This is probably because it doesn’t matter to me AND it is no surprise to me that women like science.  I mean, I do and I am a lady.   Some of the best scientists I know first hand are also ladies, so why wouldn’t a woman write a science blog?  There are many women that write a variety of blogs including on science.  Check out the blog of my awesome friend here which is based on understanding the links between medicine and evolution.

Well, it seems that some portion of the male population was VERY surprised by this fact.  So much so, that there is now an article posted on it.  It is unfortunate that so many (men and women) still have a negative perception of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, & mathematics).  We have an uphill battle, but I would like to commend all of the women that walk the walk every day and a special thanks to Elise Andrew for creating a fantastic blog that has brought me so many interesting facts that I have thoroughly enjoyed.


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How do you deal with a difficult boss?

Since moving, I have learned several things that I miss about Boston that haven’t really caught on here in Brisbane, Australia.  Women here are still fighting the fight that women in Boston/US fought nearly a decade ago.  Gender roles are still maintained at a much higher level, despite the fact that the Prime Minister is a female (Julia Gillard).

More pertinent to my life directly, I have been fortunate enough to get some temporary work.  I have been grateful for the opportunity, however, I have noticed some issues with my male boss lately that I am not quite accustomed.  This prompted me to understand the male ego a bit more intimately in order to better understand how I can “manage up” the issues that I have been encountering.  So, I looked to a male oriented website on bosses/careers, and I wanted to post it.  It is a great article and may help other women understand their male bosses/colleagues better in order to communicate more effectively in the work place.

Just remember – the boss is only human.  Every person will always face potentially difficult paths with current and future bosses.  If you feel that you have or currently are experiencing sexual harassment or gender discrimination be sure to contact your HR department.

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International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day.  Here at the University of Queensland in Australia a breakfast (“brekky”) was hosted by UniQuest, the commercialization entity attached to the university, and lead by guest speaker Ann Harrap.  Ann was the first Australian high commissioner to South Africa and fought an uphill battle to promote women in these types of places.

I would like to take a moment to reflect on all of the amazing women, including you, that help to advance women in the workplace everyday!

Happy International Women’s Day!


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The next de la Femme event is here!

Come join de la Femme and speaker Lauren Celano from Propel Careers to discuss career options in life sciences.

Do you have questions on how to manage your career effectively?  Transition from your education into the work force?  Or how to network in order to land that perfect job?  Then register here for DLF’s next event  “Career Opportunities in Life Sciences” on March 28th at 6PM.

We are proud to announce  that  SAI Life Sciences as our sponsor for this event.  SAI Life Sciences is an India-based CRO (Contract Research Organization) devoted to helping pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and academics in the processes of drug discovery and development.

We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Questions? Please contact us at [email protected]

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Inspirational or impossible?

I wanted to post something that perhaps we could consider in our own future!


“Think about it: More time to be with your family, your friends, take hikes, cook healthier food, sleep more, read more, think more, breath more. There’s not a yoga class on the planet that can deliver what a 25-hour work week could.”


Check out the full article here.

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My adventure to Oz: Goodbyes are sad.

“Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.” – Dalai Lama

Last night, as I was having dinner with my adopted Boston family I couldn’t help but love the familiarity of it all.  The greetings, the people, the conversation, the food, and how everything was organized.  Truly, it felt like home.  A home and a life that I have participated in for several years now.  It is strange to think how this will all go away – and then I became sad.

This was followed by walking into my own apartment and knowing that I have little time left to know that sense of “home” that I have spent years creating in Boston.  I first moved into my current apartment several years ago — when it was really hot.  I had several boys help me move, two of whom I will be reunited with in Oz (which is kind of a magical thought).   Anyway, as I climbed up the two flights of spiraled stairs and opened the door to Annie and Percy (my kitties) and K– M. I couldn’t help but feel incredibly sad.  Sad because my life that I have created, that I love so much, I will be leaving in less than two weeks.  Sad that all this sense of family and familiarity will be swapped for adventure and the new.

I reflected on these feelings for probably longer than I should have considering that it resulted in less sleep than I actually need.  Although I am very sad about leaving, it is because of my desire to know and to change that I will go.  This life will not be left behind in the way that a child discards a toy as they grow-up, but this life will be carried with me.  It will be hard to maintain relationships 10,000 miles away and  with significantly different time zones, BUT, I will build new relationships and I will work hard to stay in touch and to be adaptable to change and a new way of life.

I feel incredibly lucky to be given the chance to try a new life in a different country.  My success is not measured by whether or not I get a job or make super best friends, but by showing up to the starting line — by taking the leap of faith and getting on the plane.  And, I could never do any of this without tremendous support by my friends and family.  My growth will be my measure of success and my success cannot come without sacrifice.  So, although it will be sad to say good-bye (repeatedly), it is a necessary step for change and therefore growth.

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My adventure to Oz: When did I become a hoarder?

So, packing, not exactly my favorite thing…

Moving to another country involves me packing.  I believe that only K– M. can truly understand and appreciate the horrors of what this means.  Packing to go anywhere — even for just a weekend — is a long and difficult process.  Not that I actually pack in advance.  I generally just talk about packing for about a week, mostly about how much I hate it and the fact that I don’t want to do it.  Then just before I need to pack I freak out, stay up late, and just in the nick of time I finish before I walk out the door [or the leaving time is adjusted to allow for me to pack].  It is an arduous process, as one can imagine.

So, like I said, moving to another country involves me packing.  The process of packing was initiated when A– K. visited in early December and had to help me make decisions about what stays and what gets to come along.  These are difficult decisions.  A– was pretty tough on me (I might add) – throwing things away and moving my beloved possessions so efficiently into the “not going” pile. It was incredibly stressful to think that my wardrobe of well worn (and well loved) athletic gear was not going to come with me, at least not in full.  I was also expected to make decisions on scarves (all academics/Bostonian women can appreciate this sentiment), socks, and shoes!  Shoes!!  They need to come with me!

With all of these decisions to leave nearly everything behind, I have started to panic about all the things that I will no longer have access to (or that I have access to at a MUCH higher cost) – the hair gel I use, livingproof, doesn’t exist yet in Oz, medications and a prescription plan, perfume and make-up, professional attire (Banana Republic does not deliver to Oz), sneakers, and etc.  So, I have started hoarding and making endless purchases that make little to no sense.  I even bought NEW bed-sheets and pillow!  [This is particularly mind blowing to A– since she initially told me that I was NOT taking my bedding.]

With all of this said, have I actually started packing?? — and the answer is … YES!  Incredible!  Nearly everything I own is boxed (except for clothing), my room is rented, the cats are nearly prepped for the upcoming change from Mommy to K– M.  Have I started putting anything in suitcases?  Absolutely not!  A– K., K– M., V–P., and Mom will have those jobs — I mean, you can’t really expect that I would do that on my own!


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My adventure to Oz: “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.”

Getting excited for the move, well, sort of…

I still cannot believe that I made this decision.  In fact, I made the decision to knowingly quit my job and move to another country without the safety of another job in place nearly 4 months ago. So, with ups and downs that reached heights close to Mt. Everest, I did ultimately follow through.  I quit my job just before the holiday break at the office.  WOW!  I couldn’t believe I really did it!  And on top of it all my boss, who has been tremendous in so many ways, not only handled it so well BUT also supported me and my insanity to move to the other side of the world!  This is absolutely incredible considering my track record in academics whereby there is no support of any decision other than your commitment to the continuation of hell as a post-doc.

Well, now the holidays are over and I am now back in Boston anxiously awaiting my departure for Oz [T-19 days until departure].  Also, I am back at work — which is even more strange since giving my notice.  Perhaps everyone feels this way, but I feel so disconnected with the tasks at hand and it seems irrational to even try to complete things.   I do, however, feel much better since giving my notice.  Despite my weird attitude towards work, I am happy to be seeing colleagues that I have been away from for the last week.  It is surreal to think that they will not be transplanted with me to whatever place of work I end up.  Hopefully, I will be able to stay in touch with them as they have  contributed to my personal and professional development in so many awesome ways!

So, ahhhh, relief from the major stress of quitting — and now just the reliance on myself that this is the best decision for me at this time [which I know it is].




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