How to make your own work life balance rules

A few nights ago, I reached on my nightstand for my iPad to shoot off an email before I went to sleep. By doing that, I completely broke my own rule about using mobile devices into my bedroom. I made the rule because I want my bedroom to be a sanctuary, a place I go to wind down, de-stress and restore my strength. When I think about work in my bedroom, I feel like I have nowhere to escape, no sense of work life balance.

Have you ever made a work life balance rule for yourself? Was it something like…. I'm not going to stay at the office past 6 p.m.! I'm not going to work on Saturdays! I'm not going to talk about work during dinner!

If you haven't, maybe it's time. What change big or small would make a difference in your life?

What do you feel you need more of in your life — time with your family, a good night sleep, weekend down time?

Now, make a rule that will improve that aspect of your life. Put it in positive terms such as….I am going to leave my office by 6 to enjoy more evening time with my kids.

Enforcing your rule is the crucial piece. So, how are you going to go about making work life balance changes that stick?

First, you need to have your rule visible. Put a reminder somewhere where you are going to see it at the time you most need it.  In my example, I should have a sticky note on the cover of my iPad that reminds me not to bring it into my bedroom. For you, that reminder may be an alarm on your phone that alerts you to leave the office at 6, or maybe a sticky note near the dinner table reminding you to discuss uplifting, non-work topics during your meal.

Next, enlist help. Encourage a co-worker or your spouse to remind you of your new rule. I told my husband to remind me of my no tech use in the bedroom rule in case I slip up.

Use technology to your advantage. There are ways to turn off your alerts outside of work hours or auto-responders that say "I may not respond to this email prior to Monday."

Lastly, don't give up. Things happen that could cause you to break your rule every now and then. If you break your rule, like I did, tell yourself it's a temporary setback and you are going to do better. You want to aim for big-picture, long-term improvement to your work life balance.

Having some set rules for balancing your life can help you prioritize and prepare for curveballs that come your way. Try your best to limit the exceptions and follow the work-life balance rules you have set for yourself. Once you find this happy balance of work and personal time you will be more fulfilled in your career and a much more happier friend and family member.


The Work/Life Balancing Act

How to Spring Clean Your Life

Spring clean your life

Exciting news! I was interviewed by Nicole Blades on BlogHer for a piece on How to Spring Clean Your Life (For Real)

Below is the piece that ran as a Blog Her Original Post:

Even if the weather in your region isn't acting like it, this is legit spring! One of the things that goes along with the season is cleaning, like, major, deep-rooted cleaning. But that clean-up plan extends beyond the kitchen cabinets and your underwear drawer.

That's why Cindy Goodman is here to help you spring clean your life.

Cindy’s nationally syndicated column, "Work Life Balancing Act" helps her readers with the daily work life balance struggle to find career and personal fulfillment — from tips on productivity to flexibility in the workplace. The column appears weekly in the Miami Herald, Star-Telegram, The Charlotte Observer and dozens of McClatchy newspapers. She is also a member of Hilton Garden Inn’s Bright Minds team, a group of influential women who offer time-saving tips and inspiration to empower the on-the-go business woman.

As a mother of three and also a veteran journalist, Cindy brings her personal experience to the work/life balancing act. She's here to help, folks. Take notes!

BlogHer: When we talk about "spring cleaning" our lives, it may seem a little daunting. Where do we start? What’s the best way to approach de-cluttering one's life? Is it about breaking things down into categories? Do we approach it similar to how we clean our closets: Keep, Donate, Discard?

Cindy Goodman: When it's time for spring cleaning a good place to start is your calendar. What is on your calendar that zaps your time and energy and creates stress? Is it too many networking events, too many kids’ activities, too many late nights at the office? What can you do to make your calendar look different? What can you delegate or where can you scale back to create more time for travel, or a new hobby, or hanging out with friends, those things that will put a smile on your face? De-cluttering your calendar and your to-do list will make a big difference in your stress level.

BlogHer: How might we go about "spring cleaning" our relationships? Is that even a thing? Can we detox our friendships/relationships?

CG: Look at the people in your life who are innovative, creative, inspiring, talented, supportive, and spend more time with them. When you give them more of your time, you will have less time for people who dwell on the negative. This might be one of the most important things we do to better balance our lives.

BlogHer: If we only have time and mind energy to tackle one thing in a Life De-Clutter Project, what should it be?

CG: Declutter the one thing you encounter every day that makes you feel disorganized. For example, every day I would park in my driveway and walk through my cluttered garage. It puts me in a bad mood walking into my home. Last spring, I decided to focus on straightening it out and tossing what I hadn’t used in a long time. By decluttering that one place, it changed my entire outlook every single day.

Most of us have one messy place we encounter daily and it makes us feel guilty and disorganized — it may be our underwear drawer, the backseat of our car, our desk drawer, our utensils drawer. Find your "one place" and tackle it. It will change your outlook!

BlogHer: Specifically talking to mothers, who are already juggling far too many things, what are some practical, actionable tips they can use to de-clutter their busy lives and move closer toward guilt-free work-life balance?

CG: There are three tips I try to follow:

1) Find your workplace soulmate, a superwoman you can count on to help you prioritize or rescue you in a pinch. One thing that I found interesting was on a recent survey Hilton Garden Inn put out that revealed 85 percent of employed women would be more likely to ask a fellow woman for help to get something done quickly at work. We need to continue to support each other!

2) Toss the gadgets that you never use and consider those that would be helpful. I have an electric rice cooker I will NEVER use. For a busy mom like me, it just doesn’t make my life any easier. We all have those kinds of things in our homes. But there are simple, inexpensive gadgets that would make our lives easier (most of them are invented by other moms). The Hilton Garden Inn survey I referenced earlier said that self-cleaning carpets (34 percent), self-folding laundry (34 percent ) and 3-D printers for meals (18 percent) are the top three gadgets busy women wish they would have. Someone should get on that!

3) Lastly, refuse to feel guilty. Clear out those things in your home that make you feel bad about what you haven’t gotten around to doing. I just tossed an unused photo album. I will never take the time to print photos and fill the album. If I really want to make an album I can create a digital one online. If you will never make muffins, toss the muffin pan. It’s okay. I give you permission to do it.

BlogHer: Once we’re done with the "life spring clean,” how can we keep it all organized and maintain the progress? How do we avoid slipping back into the life clutter all over again?

CG: Focus on that "one place" you want to keep organized and how great it feels to see it decluttered. That should be motivation to avoid slipping back into disorganization!


Nicole Blades is a novelist and freelance journalist who writes about family, identity and culture. 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

When your spouse travels for work

My husband is traveling for business a few days. 

A couple of years ago, I would have dreaded that he would be away from home. It would have meant I would have had to put the kids to bed, wake them up, get them ready, pack lunches and do all the cooking and cleaning — by myself. 

But now, things are different. I have only one child left at home, a teenager who is pretty self sufficient. Now, my husband's business travel means I don't have to make dinner. Last night, my son and I had leftovers. And, because my husband is away, we didn't even bother doing the dishes. They're still sitting in the sink. My son isn't about to complain.

What's more, I stayed up last night until way past midnight enjoying all the television shows I love to watch and he doesn't. I watched almost the entire season of HBO Girls. Again. 

Of course, I miss my husband and look forward to his return, but sometimes, alone time is just what a busy working parent needs. A recent Hilton Garden Inn survey found that 67 percent of women whom they surveyed confessed to wanting their significant others to go away on business trips so they could have time to themselves. 

Sometimes, my night to myself may include plowing through the stack of unread magazines I have on my nightstand or devouring a good book. I have had women who travel for work confess to me that they sometimes look forward to the night in the hotel room alone for the same reasons as I do — to get some alone time. I find complete, uninterrupted immersion in entertainment of my choice extremely relaxing.

So how do you spend time to yourself when either you or your significant other travels? Do you have a go-to routine that you look forward to?

(Share your answer on my Facebook page for a chance to win a weekend getaway!)



The Work/Life Balancing Act

Lessons from Mom

When I was young, my mother wore red as often as possible. She had a red car and a red front door. Red was her favorite color. Now as a mother myself, I realize there was much more to her color choice.

My mother was a single mother of three who worked as a teacher and spent most of her time around children. She balanced work and family long before there were modern conveniences like online shopping and virtual assistants.

I knew other mothers stayed home, but even though my mother worked, she was always there to pick me up from school or a dance and take me to weekend activities. If I was sick and couldn't go to school, I stayed home alone. If I wanted my clothes clean for school, I washed them. If I wanted lunch, I packed it. She made the working mother thing seem easy.

From growing up with a single, working mother, I learned a few lessons that serve me well today.

  1. Make your kids help. I make my kids do dishes, help with cooking, make their beds…all the things my mom made me do. It teaches them responsibility and takes some of the household chores off my plate.
  2. Be organized. My mother, a teacher, shopped during the summer for Christmas, birthdays, and emergencies. She had gifts in her closet at all times so we were never caught off guard should an invitation come our way.
  3. Savor Sunday night. Sunday nights were quiet time in our house. My mother paid the bills and planned dinners for the week. We did homework, read books and went to bed early. It helped to start the week from a place of peace.
  4. Insist on family dinners. We had all kinds of activities during the week but we knew to be home for dinner. Today, I credit that family time with how close I am with my siblings.
  5. Consider school as important as work. As my mother headed to her workplace, she told us our jobs were to go to school and do well. We took that responsibility seriously and today I tell my children the same thing.
  6. Only spend what you have. My mother only had a Sears credit card. That’s it. Everywhere else she paid cash. Money was tight but mom would not let us buy a thing unless we had the cash to pay for it. Otherwise, we would do without. I try to abide by the same rule and have stayed out of debt.
  7. Don't feel guilty for "me time". On Saturday night, my mother would go out and we would have a sitter until my older sister could babysit. It was my mother's time to do whatever she wanted as a woman, rather than a mom. Taking time for herself was how my mom kept her sanity and how I now keep mine.

While my mom still loves the color red, she doesn’t wear it as often today. She no longer needs to convince herself that she has power and determination to survive as a single mom. She has done her job well as a mother, grandmother and role model.

Happy Mother's Day to my mother and all of the other moms out there. You rock!


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My mother and stepfather both in red




The Work/Life Balancing Act

What makes a state the worst for a working mother?

Source: WalletHub




Yesterday, I drove past the bus stop and noticed a mother with young triplets trying to get her family onto the public bus. I wondered what her life was like — how difficult it is to support her family and she manages on a daily basis to get her family where they need to go. Is our public transportation accommodating? Is Florida's child care affordable? Is housing affordable?

With Mother’s Day approaching, and single moms with young children constituting nearly three-quarters of all working women, the personal-finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2016’s Best & Worst States for Working Moms.

So, what makes a state one of the worst for working mothers? Expensive child care, lousy paychecks, too few pediatricians, lack of advancement opportunities, crappy parental leave, and a huge wage gap.  And that's just the beginning of it!

In order to identify the best and worst states for working moms, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions: 1) Child Care, 2) Professional Opportunities and 3) Work-Life Balance.

From there, WalletHub’s analysts compared the attractiveness of each of the states to a working mother by using 13 key metrics such as median women’s salary, female unemployment rate, day-care quality, and the pay gap.

Vermont had the highest overall score. Nevada had the lowest.


Here's how my state (Florida) scored. (It's the 12th Worst State for Working Mothers):
Life as a Working Mom in Florida (1=Best; 25=Avg.) 

  • 24th – Day-Care Quality
  • 51st – Child-Care Costs (Adjusted for Median Women’s Salary)
  • 30th – Access to Pediatric Services
  • 18th – Gender Pay Gap (Women’s Earnings as % of Men’s)
  • 19th – Ratio of Female Executives to Male Executives
  • 34th – Median Women’s Salary (Adjusted for Cost of Living)
  • 34th – Female Unemployment Rate
  • 23rd – Parental Leave Policy
  • 39th – Length of Average Woman’s Workday
  • 20th – % of Single-Mom Families in Poverty


If you live in New York, then rejoice because you live in the best state for working mothers for daycare quality.

If you live in Washington D.C., there's good news for you, too. You live in the area with the highest percentage of pediatricians and the highest percent of female executives. 

Moms in Virginia have something to celebrate as well. You live in the state with the highest median women's salary, adjusted for cost of living: $ 45,452.

Let's hope states that ranked low make some improvements in the next year. We owe it to the nation's working mothers and the children they are raising!

For the full report, visit WalletHub



The Work/Life Balancing Act

Get the most from time alone and win a Hilton Garden Inn stay!

Which do you find more helpful to your work life balance? Spending a quiet evening in a hotelroom or having the house to yourself?

I find both appealing and I know lots of other women do, too. In fact, a recent Hilton Garden Inn survey  found that women still find it challenging to juggle work and personal life needs. Heck, 67 percent confessed to wanting their significant others to go away on business trips just so they could have time to themselves.

Having time to myself at home or even renting a hotel room for a weekend staycation every now and then provides the ideal opportunity to catch up on some much needed me time. Sometimes, that means watching movies or TV shows I enjoy but my husband doesn’t. My night to myself may also include plowing through the stack of unread magazines I have on my nightstand or just lounging by the pool with a good book.

I find complete, uninterrupted immersion in entertainment of my choice, extremely relaxing after a busy work week.

So how do you spend time to yourself when either you or your significant other travels? Do you have a go-to routine that you look forward to? Share your tips for balancing your life on Twitter or Instagram using #HGIBrightIdeas and tag me from now through May 20* and I’ll choose a winner for a two night stay at a Hilton Garden Inn location.**

Good luck! Looking forward to hearing about how you spend your “me time”!

*Winners will receive two (2) Be My Guest (BMG) certificates. The Reward Certificate is valid for one complimentary night for a standard room at participating hotels worldwide, subject to availability. Terms and conditions, and blackout dates may apply.

Why Meternity Leave is Ridiculous

Looks like author Meghann Foye sparked a conversation — and a controversy — with the release of her new novel "Meternity."

Meghann thinks people without kids should get an extended break from work, just like their co-workers who go on maternity or paternity leave. She speaks from experience. Years ago, Foye took her own self-financed meternity leave to kick start her writing career. I understand where Meghann is coming from. Burnout is a big problem in this country and childless workers are at risk because the perception is they are available all the time.  Everyone deserves "me time" which is why many workplaces have vacation days and Paid Time Off. .

But Americans aren't even taking the paid vacation time coming to them. Every year they leave tons of paid vacation days unused out of fear for their jobs, or too big a workload or all kinds of other reasons.  So are people going to take three months off unpaid for meternity leave? Let's be real, they most certainly are not.

If you have the desire and some savings, whether you are a parent or a single employee, you can take meternity leave any time you want. It's called quitting your job, regrouping and forging a new path that gives you the work life balance you seek. In that sense, meternity leave already is available to all workers.

On the flip side, what's going on in this country with maternity leave is pitiful.

Right now, 1 out of 4 mothers only takes two weeks off to have a kid, despite the toll on their bodies and the sleepless nights. Why? They can't afford to take more than that because our nation has no national policy on paid parental leave. Let's focus on getting that first. Let's help parents get the time they need to bond with their newborn, establish a routine and get ready for the balancing act that lies ahead. That will make a difference in our communities and for our families.  

What are your thoughts on meternity leave? Is it an insult to new parents? If you could afford it, would you take it?


The Work/Life Balancing Act

How to get your boss to let you work from home

                                                      Work from home



Is working from home a big deal at your organization? Is getting permission like asking your parent to borrow the car keys and drive across country?

Well, it shouldn't be big deal but many bosses just haven't realized it yet.

If you want to work from home (at least some of the time), company culture will factor into whether you get the OK  to do it. 

In many workplaces, you can coax your boss to let you work from home —  some or all of the time — if you approach it the right way. Here are some strategies I recommend:

Point out the benefit: Often the best way to approach the topic with your boss is to point out the benefit to him or her in having you spend less time commuting and more time being productive. Without a commute, it may be possible to make more early morning phone calls or have quiet time to be more creative in how you approach solutions. If the arrangement benefits your boss, it's a win-win and you're more likely to get approval.

Establish trust: If you've proven yourself a responsible worker, working from home one day a week, or as needed should be no big deal. If you haven't proven yourself, spend a few weeks going the extra mile and make your boss fully aware of how dependable you are.

Arrange childcare: If you're a working parent, you will need to assure your boss that you have childcare under control. It's impossible to supervise a child and get work done. You know this and your boss does too.

Establish a communication system: A recent poll shows 90 percent of the workforce has an interest in working from home some of the time. However, a boss fears that he will need you and won't be able to track you down.  So, if you want to sway your boss to let you work from home every Thursday or some other arrangement, you need to explain upfront how you plan to communicate your whereabouts and your results. 

Present it as a trial: Often, it's easier to roll something out as a pilot or trial run. It allows your boss to give the okay under the radar. Both you and your boss can decide if it works and whether any adjustments need to be made or higher ups need to approve the arrangement.

Be available outside of office hours. Today work is a give and take between you and your employer. If you want to work from home, you will need to show that you give flexibility in return. It may mean taking your boss' call at 8 p.m. or  responding to an email on a Saturday. Let your boss know upfront that you will give your all to make this arrangement work out.

As the interest in teleworking soars, more companies are creating work from home policies to promote work life balance. But they’re also realizing it takes much more than a policy to make newer, flexible ways of working acceptable. (See my Miami Herald article on this topic)

Slowly, but definitively, more employers are getting on board and creating a culture that makes working from home acceptable. The culture encourages upfront conversations about expectations of the employee and it encourages managers at all levels to be more outcomes-focused. 

So, if you're considering asking to work at home some of the time, go for it. Your chances of getting the green light are getting better and better!

The Work/Life Balancing Act

Yes, you can volunteer and have work life balance


Like most working parents, I run around most of the time like a chicken with my head cut off. I want to do so much but I always feel like I could do more, especially for my community. Well, it's National Volunteer Month so it's a great time to take inventory of your life and see how you might be able to give back. 

When I think of role models who give back, Tere Blanca immediately comes to mind. Tere is one of the few women in commercial real estate who has a proven track record and is well respected by men and women in her field. She is founder, president, and CEO of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, the leading independent full-service commercial real estate brokerage in South Florida. She's a working mother AND she has held prestigious positions as past chair of The Beacon Council and member of the Board of Governors of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce among all kinds of other positions in the community. Tere's company encourages volunteerism among its employees by underwriting the costs of charitable work, donating money to organizations her employees are involved with, and providing paid time off to volunteer.

Today, Tere is my guest blogger and I'm thrilled to have her weigh in on how she balances work, life, and volunteering. She can be reached at


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Tere's Motto: Volunteerism Drives Business Success

At my company, our passion for social causes has proved one of our most important business differentiators and drivers, helping establish our business in the midst of the 2009 economic downturn and propelling our sustained growth.

The game-changing volunteering I’m referring to goes beyond writing checks, sitting on boards, and occasionally attending galas and events. It involves identifying causes near to our hearts that we are personally passionate about, rolling up our sleeves, and generously donating our time and talents to meaningfully advance the organizations' missions.

I founded the firm on a non-negotiable pillar of giving back, encouraging volunteerism among all brokers and employees by underwriting charitable work, donating financial resources to the organizations we support, and providing paid time off to volunteer. This linked us with our community, giving us a close feel for its pulse, and enabling us to forge strong partnerships and networks while engaging on deep, human levels.

I did this simply because I wanted to give; I later realized it would drive incredible success, with some major national clients selecting us in part for our deep local community ties, having witnessed first-hand our abilities while involved in volunteer work or leading the charge to positively impact our community.

Another essential driver of business success is the ability to attract and retain talent, which also is enhanced through corporate social responsibility. Research shows most employees consider “contributing to society” indispensable for an ideal job. Millennials who participate in workplace volunteer activities are more satisfied and loyal.

Despite running a demanding business and raising a family, I have been able to find ample time to pour my heart into causes that deeply resonate with me. Often, I am asked, “How do you do it?”

Here is some of my best advice:

First, take a deep look within yourself and identify causes that you are truly passionate about. Identify the best organizations and opportunities that allow you to engage at a meaningful level in supporting those causes. Before committing, get to know the organizations and their boards well upfront to confirm there is a fit. As part of that process, develop an accurate understanding of the time commitment and expectations involved.

Next, understand how much time you can reasonably contribute every month and week. For first-timers, it is best to start small and build on your success. It is better to make meaningful contributions to one or two organizations than to join six boards and do a minimal amount of non-impactful work for each. This also avoids over-committing and letting folks down when you realize you cannot attend all the board meetings or have to withdraw from the organization.

Then, when you have decided what organizations you want to join, develop a written plan for your involvement. If you have marketing or public relations support at your company, it is helpful to engage their expertise in this process. Obtain a list of board meetings and key activities upfront and bake them into your calendar.

Most importantly,  make sure your team at work and your family at home are well aware of these commitments and ready to support you when needed. Proper planning also can help you identify non-essential activities that may be delegated or cut from your schedule. Something as simple as ordering in dinner rather than preparing a meal can free up your evening. Also, do not be shy to ask for support from your family and co-workers; after all, community is a fabric woven of individual lives and efforts. When we all do our part, no matter how seemingly small or trivial, the whole is strengthened and bettered.

I find it inexcusable that South Florida ranks last among 51 major metros for its volunteer rate. It also is bad business. For example, when we support City Year Miami’s mission to help keep students in school and on track to graduate, ready for college and careers, we’re building a better tomorrow for everyone: one with a broader talent pool, lower crime rates that result in lower insurance costs, and a society that is better equipped to attract business investment, fuel economic growth and enjoy a higher quality of life.

To paraphrase Horace Mann, “Doing nothing for our community is the undoing of business.”

Photos below are Tere in action!

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The Work/Life Balancing Act

How to be a Successful Female CEO

If you have never considered being CEO of a company, maybe it's time you start.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo didn’t always know she wanted to lead a company and now she’s the first female CEO of a publicly traded cruise line, Celebrity Cruises. Lisa said it was a male leader at her company who encouraged her to take on roles she hadn’t considered – including the top job. “At first I only wanted to be head of sales. I never got my dream job but I’m okay with that,” she said. “It took me 31 years to be CEO. If I had dreamed bigger, it would not have taken so long.”

LisaBefore Lisa was appointed the first woman president of Celebrity Cruises in December 2014, she was executive VP of operations for Royal Caribbean, which owns Celebrity. She started her career at Royal Caribbean as a sales manager.

 “If I could tell my younger self something, I would say, don’t limit what you want to be. Don’t make it be someone else that tells you you have more potential than you think you have.”

Lisa shared her personal story with more than 300 women at Top 50 Women-Led companies lunch sponsored by The Commonwealth Institute South Florida. Lisa believes she is a successful as a female CEO because she brings a level of emotional intelligence to the table. “Sometimes it works to your advantage to be a women and you have to use it in every way you can.”

To me, there is something awesome about the energy in a room filled with more than 300 businesswomen looking to gleam pearls of wisdom from some of the top female leaders in their industries

Let’s just say, no one was disappointed with what a panel of four successful CEOs shared.

Alicia Cervera, CEO of Cervera Real Estate, (also known as the condo sales queen in Miami) has overseen sales at some of the biggest condominium projects in Miami. Cervera said at least part of her success came about because she kept her identity as a woman, rather than trying to carry a briefcase and imitate how men act in business.  “Among all the men in real estate, I represented something different,” she said. Her advice to her younger self and other women: “Have a purpose. That’s more important than a goal. A purpose continues for life.”

Ellen Latham, a founder and partner in Orangetheory Fitness, has steered her company through meteoric growth. “We’re moving at a ridiculous pace,” she said. However, Latham said she stays relentlessly focused on her goal, which has landed her on the top of the list of fastest growing women-owned businesses. By staying focused, Ellen says she knows when to say no and how to eliminate distractions. When she’s not teaching a class, she’s brainstorming fitness routines to ensure consistency at Orangetheory locations. Ellen says for women to be successful they need to have partners in life that support them. “We all need to encourage the men in our lives to get that we’re in the business world and we’re here to stay.”

And lastly, Germaine Smith-Baugh,President and Chief Executive Officer of the Urban League of Broward County,said her boss saw leadership qualities in her that she didn't see in herself. She urged other women to see themselves as leaders. She also said women embraced her when she landed her position — giving her tips for how to balance work and family (including don't let your husband stand in the corner at a work event) and how to lead with confidence. She tries to do the same for other women rising up the ranks in their organizations. 

On Monday, my Balancing Act column had all kinds of tips that women CEOs shared for how they handle work life balance and the 24/7 demands on their time. One of my favorites was from Germaine who said: “There are times when work gets more and there are times when my family gets more — so I do a dance, sometime it’s waltz others times it may be the mambo."





(I took this at the TCI event. Not the best photo job, but I tried!)

The Work/Life Balancing Act