On September 11th, 2001 Denise Berger made a decision that would end up saving her life. At 8:46 that morning, Denise was working in the South Tower of The World Trade Center on the 103rd floor, when she saw an airplane crash into the North Tower. At the time, nobody in her building was aware that the collision was a terror attack. Denise said she saw the plane crash as if it was in slow motion. Her vantage point was such that she could make out figures sitting in the cockpit. After the initial impact, she heard several explosions and was fearful that the Tower she was in would catch fire too. She made a split second decision to get out of the building. Denise followed her gut and figured she could always go back to her desk later if there was no need to worry. In addition, Denise was newly pregnant with her second child.
By following her gut, she saved her own life and that of her unborn child. The attacks of September 11th had a dramatic impact on all Americans. But, for those people who escaped death and witnessed tragedy first hand the impact was even more profound. On that day, Denise lost her boss, several co-workers and even knew a passenger who was on board one of the planes that was hijacked. When we talked about how this has affected her life, she said after September 11th she had two choices: she could spend the rest of her life reliving the events of that day or she could embrace the fact that she escaped death and live each day to the fullest. We are sitting here today talking because she chose to embrace life.
Before I knew any of Denise’s background, I admired her. Bright, warm and beautiful are some of the adjectives that swirled in my head when I saw her around town. I decided to interview Denise for this site, because she is a stay at work mom and I have not yet featured an Inspired Mom who works in corporate world. Denise works at AON International where she is the Chair of the Women’s International Network (WIN). WIN provides a global community for working women seeking mentorship, professional and personal growth, workplace flexibility, and visibility. In addition, Denise writes for Mommytrackd.com (under Newsflash see “hot topics”) and does a radio show on MomsTheWordShow.com. She is an advocate for women on every level. Whether you are a stay-at-work mom or a stay-at-home mom, keep reading, there is something here for everyone.
I asked Denise some of her secrets for keeping track of her various commitments while raising a family. Her advice follows below:
First, you must have a calendar/scheduling system that works. Keeping track of your obligations as well as scheduling time for yourself can all be managed if you have a calendar or appointment system that is effective. Some of Denise’s top priorities include breakfast with her kids, picking them up at school twice a week, two trips to the gym every week (hopefully three), one night out with her husband and, of course, work. Her scheduling system keeps her from over-committing and forgetting important tasks. It also assures her that she can stay true to her priorities.
Don’t overcommit/over schedule yourself. Denise recently wrote an article which discussed a problem that many of us encounter: too much to do and not enough time to do it. This situation can be improved if we selectively say “no” or “not now” to commitments which do not harmonize with the list of priorities we have for ourselves and our families. Furthermore, you will be less stressed and less likely to cancel or flake on those people who are important to you.
Finally, don’t feel guilty about the decisions you make. Take charge of your destiny and move through life with vigor and happiness. Denise decided to leave her office on September 11th- that saved her life. She decided to continue working after having children- and she is proud of her accomplishments. She takes time to go to the gym- because her physical and mental health are just as important as her family.
When I commented that she seems to live with no regrets, she assured me that she has doubts about the choices she makes just like the rest of us. But, having doubts is a normal part of progress making choices. By trusting your choices and focusing on why those decisions have made you better or stronger you are more likely to find peace.
No matter what you want to do in your life, think about starting today. Tell your kids you love them, thank your husband for his support, let your friends know you care. Figure out what is important and be committed to your goals. Life is too precious to make excuses.