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There has been much discussion raised about "Why are women leaving Architecture? and more broadly, Why is the profession losing key talent?"  Both women and men practitioners are disillusioned by the myth of work/life balance: Women are grappling with "have it all" expectations of juggling family time with the demands of full-time work.  Men are struggling to support their families solely on an architect's salary and fall back on asking spouses to maintain their jobs. The lack of affordable childcare and high cost of living only magnifies the challenges.  How did we end up in this modern family dilemma? What can we do to improve the situation?

INSPIRE%: Grit is what it takes… Lots of it

By Damaris Hollingsworth AIA, LEED AP

Grit (noun)
Google Dictionary:
courage and resolve; strength of character

Cambridge Dictionary:
courage and determination despite difficulty
courage, bravery, pluck, mettle, backbone, spirit, strength of character, strength of will, moral fiber, steel, nerve, fortitude, toughness, hardiness, resolve, resolution, determination, tenacity, perseverance, endurance; spunk

    To go from a black girl growing up in the inner cities of Sao Paulo, Brazil to an accomplished Architect in the United States takes a good amount of grit.
Damaris Hollingsworth (left) working with team members at  RSP Architects in Minneapolis. 

Damaris Hollingsworth (left) working with team members at  RSP Architects in Minneapolis. 

    When I was seven years old, my dad hired an architect to design and handle the city approvals for our house. That alone was something out of the ordinary. In the inner cities of Brazil, the land is often “taken,” the houses are built without city approvals, and there is no such a thing as the reinforcement of master plans, city zoning or code regulations. My dad, though an unsophisticated labor worker, has great character and refused to take anything that was not legally his or do anything that was not approved by the city. He and my mom notified us that for a few years there would be no birthdays or Christmas gifts. We would all collaborate to save money, so we could purchase the land and build a house. Once the land was purchased, it was time to hire an architect. Rosana, the woman my dad hired, came to our house for the first meeting on a Saturday afternoon. Up to that point, I honestly did not know that women could work outside of the house. My mom worked, she worked a lot, but she worked at home - sewing clothes for her clients, so she could keep a close eye on me and my two older siblings. In my seven year old mind it was the norm that moms stay home with the kids and dads go to work outside of the house. That was what all our neighbors and church friends did.

Hollingsworth's family home in Sao Paulo, Brazil (left). When she met the architect of her family home, Rosana, she knew she wanted to be an architect. Her family saved for years to buy the land, hire an architect and build a home. She lived there from 10 to 28 before moving to the United States. 

Hollingsworth's family home in Sao Paulo, Brazil (left). When she met the architect of her family home, Rosana, she knew she wanted to be an architect. Her family saved for years to buy the land, hire an architect and build a home. She lived there from 10 to 28 before moving to the United States. 

    When I saw Rosana around our dinner table meeting with my parents, I thought she looked powerful, intelligent and beautiful. I decided right there and then that I wanted to be whatever she was when I grew up. I asked my parents who she was. They told me she was our architect. I told them that I was going to be an architect too. My dad said that to be an architect I would need to attend college and colleges were not for people like “us.” I did not give him too much attention. I was going to be an architect.

    The years passed and it was time to talk about going to college and becoming an architect. My dad reminded me that our family could not afford to send me to college. Architectural schools were full time which meant I would not be able to continue to work full time and take classes only in the evenings as I had done through high school. My dad said the only option would be for me to go the University of Sao Paulo because it was free, even though it was the best school in the country and even in the Latin America. But that also was not for people like “us.” Now I was confused. I could understand why expensive was not for people like us, but I could not understand why free was also not for people like us. I asked questions and my dad explained that the selective process for that university benefitted kids who had been going to the best private schools all their lives. My inner city public school background would not cut it.

He was partially right. It took me three failures before I succeeded. The academic content that I had learned did not cover one third of the exams that I had to pass. I had to quit my job and take full time complementary classes, for which I got scholarships, for two full years before I was fairly competing with, what my dad used to call, the rich kids. The selective system did not benefit people like me, but I decided that I would find a way to get into that school. I was four years older than most kids when I started college. For two years, I baked cakes and sold them every day to make money for lunch and school supplies. In my third year I got an internship at the university planning department as an Urban Designer Intern. I did not have to bake cakes every day any more.

Hollingsworth (left) at the University of Sao Paulo where she studied Architecture and Urban Design.

Hollingsworth (left) at the University of Sao Paulo where she studied Architecture and Urban Design.

    Getting into the university and graduating after six years was hard. I had all types of hurdles to jump. From textbooks only in languages other than Portuguese (and back then I could only speak and read Portuguese) to the constant reminder that my background education did not prepare me enough for the university, or even to simply carry on a culturally rich conversation with my peers and professors. That feeling of not belonging in a group nagged me almost every day. But little did I know that while those had truly required a lot of determination and hard work, the hardest was yet to come. When the hardship in front of you depends on your efforts and resilience only, as demanding, unfair and difficult as it may be, it will only take you. It may take me three failures before I succeed, but I will get it done. By the time I earned my Architect and Urban Designer degree in Brazil, I had broader plans. I wanted to be an architect in the US. (Very) long story short, I moved to the US right after earning my degrees and started working as an intern at an architectural firm. The IDP hours were not a problem. My supervisor was pretty awesome and gave all the opportunities I needed to meet the hours and type of work requirements. A few years later I decided to stop avoiding the AREs. Once my mind was set on that, it took me nine months to pass all seven exams. This short summary may make it sound like this phase of my journey was easy. It was not. It was physically and emotionally draining. I thought about giving up and going back to Brazil where I was already a registered architect. But I held my ground and kept on pushing. Again, I was convinced that the hardest part was done.

That was when I first sensed the infamous glass ceiling and invisible walls. They frustrated me more than any of the barriers I had previously faced because overcoming them was not something my grit alone could do. I needed my peers, my leadership and the community to acknowledge their existence, and then work with me to remove them.

What I soon realized is that there was a lot of ground to conquer if I wanted to climb the ladder, reach for leadership and be an accomplished architect. That was when I first sensed the infamous glass ceiling and invisible walls. They frustrated me more than any of the barriers I had previously faced because overcoming them was not something my grit alone could do. I needed my peers, my leadership and the community to acknowledge their existence, and then work with me to remove them. The first big frustration was the fact that most people around me would not even believe that there was such a thing as a resistance to women, and more specifically to women of color in leadership roles. To be quite honest, at first, I did not recognize it myself. I would sense the resistance, the lack of acknowledgment to my leadership and the lack of respect for my position, and I always assumed that it was probably because I did not know how to answer that specific question, or because I had an accent, or because I looked young. I blamed myself for years. Only when I started to have dialogues with other women, especially women in leadership roles, I understood that the problems that I had been facing were far from being “my” problem.  

When I had only two out of seven exams left to pass, I asked my then leaders for a conversation. I had been consistently requesting feedback and talking about my goals since the very beginning of my journey with the firm. At that time I had new managers, and I wanted to make sure they were aware of my professional development progress, my goals and of my dedication. The meeting started with them going over a summary of all my previous reviews and the recommendations from my past managers. They seemed quite impressed with the comments, the compliments and with my professional development, personal growth and how, year after year, I had met and surpassed the goals that myself and my managers had set for me. Then they asked me what I was looking for, what was my long term goal. I told them that my goal was to be a principal at the firm some day and that after so many years being as dedicated and truly committed to the firm, I believed that my next step was a promotion to an associate position. The stares I received were filled with a mix of disbelief, shock, sarcasm and pity. It was like I had said something completely out of the ordinary. I reminded them that all my (white male and some white female) peers that had shown the type of work quality, work ethic and commitment that I had were already associates. After a couple of hours of conversation, I was told that maybe, in my case, it would be best if I left the firm, went somewhere where people did not know me since when I was an intern, so that they would be able to see past the inexperienced girl I once was. It broke my heart. I loved that firm. They took me in when I was fresh out of Brazil, they sponsored me through the immigration process, they taught me a great deal of skills. I had dreams and goals for myself in that firm and that conversation shattered my dreams. An awesome large firm hired me as a Higher Education Client Leader to oversee project staff, work with clients to ensure their goals are met, guide program development and facilitate vital documents during the design and construction phases; In other words, everything I had told my former managers I could do and was already doing.

    The reason I told the short version of my life story in the beginning is to say that, though going from inner city black girl to a registered architect in the US seems like a lot of hard work and determination (and it was), going from a registered architect to a senior leader architect as a woman and a person of color will take me much more than that. And in many workplaces, hard work and determination will not matter at all. It may get you pats on your back, “great job”s, high fives, mediocre bonuses and safe promotions. But the real progression toward the C suite will depend on the decision makers valuing the professional for their values, their talent (current and potential) and their loyalty and collaboration to the firm, nothing else.

    At this point you may be asking what I am doing to promote change and make our profession truly an equal opportunity profession. I am an active member of the AIA MN Diversity Task Force, and I have collaborated with writing the Diversity Task Force Report that was issued in October 2015. As a group, we talk about the initiatives that we need to take, both as individual professionals and as an organization, to significantly improve the representation of underrepresented groups in the architectural profession. When watching a lecture by Dr. Heather Hackman last November, I learned that diversity is the end goal, not the solution. When we add diversity into a broken system that benefits the dominant group, diversity will not last. Women and people of color will eventually be pushed out of the profession, which according to the data shared during the AIA Women in Leadership Summit in Seattle last year, has been the case for decades. I have just recently committed to private coaching with Dr. Hackman to truly educate myself on the subjects of unconscious bias and social justice. I believe that education is the mandatory first step for change to happen. As the new elect 2016/2017 co-chair for the AIA MN Women in Architecture Committee, I have had the opportunity to engage in conversations with the decision makers of the industry in the Twin Cities, along with the other co-chairs Amanda Aspenson and Maureen Colburn, to identify the problem, educate ourselves and the professional community on the roots of the problem and then create strategies for the solution and ways to implement it.

I know my story alone can inspire many to keep on pushing toward their goals and dreams, but the truth is, this journey should not have to be so difficult. I want the results of my work as a professional, as a member of the DTF and as a co-chair for the AIA MN WIA to be a not so bumpy road for the younger professionals and generations to come. If we accomplish the structural changes that we as a committee and as a task force are aiming for, the path toward senior leadership for women and people of color will  not be so painful, stressful, unfair and for some, too hard to stay on.

Do you have an INSPIRE% story you would like to share with the Equity by Design community? Email if you want more information on submitting a blogpost



AIA's Gold Medal: The Importance and Value of U.S. Architecture's Top Prize

Editor's Note:

On Wednesday, December 2, 2015, The American Institute of Architects announced Denise Scott Brown, hon. FAIA and Robert Venturi, FAIA, as joint winners of the 2016 AIA Gold Medal. The AIA cited the duo for their "built projects as well as literature that set the stage for Postmodernism and nearly every other formal evolution in architecture." Scott Brown and Venturi are the first duo to receive the Gold Medal, after the AIA approved a change to its bylaws in 2013 that allowed the award to be presented to up to two individuals working together towards a significant singular body of work.

The American Institute of Architects has named Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi the recipients of its 2016 Gold Medal, an honor that makes a statement about the role of women in design and takes a subtle shot at the field’s highest award, the Pritzker Architecture Prize.
— Blair Kamin

The post written below is by Julia Donoho, AIA, Esq. as a response to Architecture gold medal, rebutting Pritzker, goes to Scott Brown and Venturi, an article written on December 3, 2015 by Blair Kamin, The Chicago Tribune's Architectural Critic. Julia, who was part of the nomination team for Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi's AIA Gold Medal, contends the value and importance of earning this award is the highest honor in the AIA and spearheads progressive recognition within the profession of Architecture.

Mr. Kamin,
As the advocate on the AIA Board of Directors and Strategic Council who championed the nominations of Julia Morgan, Robert Venturi, and Denise Scott Brown, I am writing to give you some additional background and clear the record on the importance, value, and process of receiving the Gold Medal in Architecture from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The AIA Gold Medal is solid gold, and, like the gold medals from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, and the Union Internationale d’Architecture, it is given in recognition of “a significant body of work of lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture.”  It is a pinnacle of lifetime achievement. The Pritzker Prize is a bronze medal, given for “talent, vision and commitment,” typically received earlier in the career.  That the Pritzker has chosen to dub itself the “Nobel prize in architecture” is not an indication that it is a better award, or the top award in architecture, but more clearly reflects to us that they are using marketing slogans to inflate their importance, and the media has perpetuated that suggestion.

Receiving the AIA Gold Medal is of far greater value to the architects who have received it because of its importance.  While receiving a prize with a purse has intrinsic value, the architects who receive the Pritzker don’t really have to do anything in terms of nomination, and selection to get the award.  And, as with Robert Venturi, the candidate has no say in the matter.  When the Pritzker’s called to say he would be their recipient and he suggested that he and Denise Scott Brown should be the recipient together, they said no.  He did not apply for a solo award and he was clear in his speech that it was a “we” endeavor.  They refused to listen.  So, for Venturi, this award mostly brought him problems and dilemmas.  It has been terribly difficult for his personal relationship and for the whole profession to watch this couple asking to be treated appropriately.  Getting Pritzker’d can be a bad thing.

The process of receiving an AIA Gold Medal is the most rigorous in the industry and for that reason it is highly coveted.  First, there has to be a committee of peers who want the architect to have the award, who are willing to nominate and advocate.  A portfolio must be made with letters of support from other top architects and submitted to the AIA.  A Gold Medal Jury reviews submissions and makes a shortlist of three candidates for the Board to consider.   Then an advocate for each of the candidates comes before AIA Leadership and Regional Representatives to make a presentation.  Deliberations in private result in the final selection.  Because of this rigorous process, this is truly an award from the profession making it a far stronger acknowledgment of a lifetime of work of lasting impact than a single jury can provide.

In closing, the conferral of this award on Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown is not in any way a response to the Pritzker’s lack of vision.  It is really a new statement that Howard Roark is dead, that the myth of the lone genius as the only pathway to architectural impact is set aside, and an assertion that our profession is far more inclusive than ever before.  The American Institute of Architects is driving positive change through the power of design.
Standing up for themselves, and for opening our profession to a new paradigm, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown are once again American HEROES. They have opened our eyes, again. Their work is so profoundly impactful on our whole profession that it was an honor to finally get them the proper reward.   The AIA Gold Medal wall will now include these masters of modern architecture as we hold them up as two of our greatest architects, made greater still by a lifetime of working together.

Thank you,
Julia Donoho, AIA, Esq.
Architectural Advocate

Happy Hacksgiving 2015 - A Hacker's Thanksgiving (from an Architect's Table)

by Rosa Sheng, AIA

So Bob Borson decided to throw down a Thanksgiving Architalks blog challenge - from The Architect's Table -  right before the project deadline and right before the holiday, when we are trying to get ready for the big day. Thanks Bob! But being a good sport, I am sharing this ultra short and sweet post in the spirit of the season. So get ready to Treat. Your. Self.

What the Hack is Hacksgiving anyway? In the spirit of the Hackathon culture, it is a day of doing good and giving back. I have further hacked "Hacksgiving" - giving license to break the rules - to experience innovative life changing results. An easy place to start is the Architect's Table - so throw those dogmatic Thanksgiving traditions out the window and give yourself the room to "hack" - de-construct, re-interpret and resuscitate the true meaning of the holiday, Pilgrim. It's a day of sharing, giving back to those you care for and those that can't do for themselves. And also being grateful for all that we have. This includes celebrating the bounty of food available to us when there are those who make do with much less.

To embrace the spirit of Hacksgiving - take joy and liberation in breaking the rules and owning the day. Who says you have to make or eat Turkey? Who says you have to make everything from scratch and spend the entire day in the kitchen (unless you want to)? And who says you have to make all the traditional dishes exactly the way your family demands year after year? So my Hacksgiving gift and inspiration is a disruption of the "favorites". 

Cornish Game Hens w/ Olives & Fall Fruits - Because it's easier to manage small bird(s), then a larger unwieldy high maintenance one. This recipe from is a fail proof hit that I discovered 15 years ago and is one of my go to recipes. Marinate the birds overnight, stuff with fall fruits and olives and roast until ready. This is also a good option if you have a small guest list (or individual) Factor 1 hen for 2 people. Full recipe via link above.

What if you are a veggie/vegan? Dread T-day no more, because Hacksgiving has a delicious hack; Meet the Vegducken created by Katherine Sacks for Epicurious. Move over Turkey, here comes something prettier and tastier. 

photo by Chelsea Kyle via Epicurious

photo by Chelsea Kyle via Epicurious

Munchery Mashed Potatoes & Stuffing - I am outsourcing the traditional starches to the expert chefs this year at (loud gasp!). It's okay because it's Hacksgiving! There is a reason why it tastes like someone slaved all day making these dishes - because they did ! (so I don't have to!) Rather than killing ourselves, outsource the mash and stuffing to be delivered to your door, ready to heat and serve the next day. Shhhh, don't tell. Let's see if the guests notice the difference. Treat. Your. Self.

Surprise veggies - I have asked my guests to bring the veggies or a salad. I didn't tell them what to make. I said, "Surprise us". That's part of the fun right? But If you insist on making your own veggies Here are some Low maintenance vegetables to try: 

Romanesco , Broccoli or Cauliflower - Steam and season w/ salt, pepper, and lemon butter. or balsamic and olive oil.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding - Throw that bland, lifeless pumpkin pie out the window. Try this mash up of Pumpkin Pie meets Bread Pudding. For added hack points, add apples, raisins or other fall fruits (and maybe some spirits...) into the custard mix. If you want to use less sugar, add more spices. If you don't want to use cream, use kefir instead. Vegan version? Use coconut milk chia seed pudding. You get the idea, license to hack.

If you would like to find out more (non T-day) recipes from my hack kitchen, you can get them here. Falafel Waffles, Pannini Press Latkes, and Hummus Crab Cakes to name a few.

And last, but not least, don't forget the reason for the season. Give Thanks. Don't fight with your family or friends. Play Adele and sing "Hello" together.  The other thing you can do is buy a limited edition "Eat the Whale" T-shirt designed by yours truly to raise funds for The Equity Alliance website which will host all the WIA and Equity Groups' events, resources, and initiatives for equitable practice.  Treat. Your. Self. (Are you getting the subtle message?)

The Ultimate Hacksgiving Treat - Eat the Whale (Zero Calories and Full Satiation Guaranteed)

The Ultimate Hacksgiving Treat - Eat the Whale (Zero Calories and Full Satiation Guaranteed)

If you want to get more amazing recipes from the Architect's Table, please go to these links by my fellow Architalks Bloggerati friends. I am super Thankful for all of them and for each and everyone that takes the time to read these blog posts. Happy Hacksgiving! We can't wait to hack more in 2016 - Stay Hungry for Change with more good things to come. #EQxDHack16

Bob Borson - Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

Matthew Stanfield - FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Thanksgiving Feast...

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
This Thanksgiving: Something New

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
ArchiTalks: Bourbon. Every architect's friend.

Mark R. LePage - Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
From My Table To Yours

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Archi-Table - Any Berry Salad

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
"From an Architect's Table" Dolly Brown's Pumpkin Pie

Michael Riscica - Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
The Architect's Postmodern Thanksgiving!

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
All In the Family

Meghana Joshi - IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Archtalks from an Architects Table

Amy Kalar - ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
ArchiTalk #15: From An Architect's Table

Eric Wittman - intern[life] (@rico_w)
giving thanks and [wine]ing

Emily Grandstaff-Rice - Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
Unplug Tradition

Jarod Hall - di'velept (@divelept)

Jonathan Brown - Proto-Architecture (@mondo_tiki_man)
From an Architect's Holiday Table

EQxD Get Real: Search until you find your Yes!

by LaShae Ferguson

What happens when you graduate and you think you'll be designing buildings but you're not? What happens when you see all the cool kids doing amazing things on all the new technologies and you feel like a dinosaur? When you get the rare privilege of helping out on an amazing presentation but for the most part you do a lot of shop drawing reviews? Or being told you might not be ready to be on a team? The main challenge I faced was wanting to learn more, but being told that I should be happy where I am. Well, I wasn’t. I decided to work for small firms, mid-sized and large firms, and I was able to expand my network, find mentors and work on amazing projects. But this didn’t happen overnight - it took over 15 years. (Enjoy the journey right?) The first few years I was enrolled in college, taking classes at night and weekends and working during the day.

It was insane and a process of saving money, learning new skills, searching for my tribe and looking under every nook and cranny for opportunities that provided the space for growth. I sought out the person who helped me to get a scholarship and took her to lunch, sent congratulatory notes to firms whose work I admired and read the employment section of the newspaper every week. The opportunity for growth was a huge driving force but what exactly did I want to do?

For starters, I wanted to see how drawings translated in the field, meet with clients, learn how to conduct sales calls, and see a project from start to finish. I searched until I found a company that allowed me to do just that. And when a project came through the door that I wanted in on, I made it known, 'hey that looks like an awesome project, I want in on it!’ But it wasn’t a cake walk at all. Real talk: I had colleagues rail on me and toss drawings at me. But every single time I stood up for myself, unapologetically. When I felt that some personalities were too extreme, I actively searched out those who were more action oriented versus ego oriented. Take it how you will.

I chose to advance myself further by being an owner, because of my desire to be creative, make a living and have a life. It was scary, like jumping off a cliff without a parachute, but I saw no other way. I knew I wanted to be married and have children and from what I saw, unless you knew the right people and all the right things, returning to work after maternity leave might be questionable. So I decided that instead of working for firms,  I would partner with them. I cold called local small companies, kept in touch with people I worked with and partnered with other designers and contractors. I learned as much as I could in the field and a lot about how to deal with personalities, problem solving and business. I read a lot of amazing biographies and business books that extend beyond my profession.

And I understand, entrepreneurship is not for everyone, it can be scary, but here are a few general takeaways:

  1. Ask yourself, what is it I’m trying to do? Small projects, big projects? Am I good with presentations, production, details, technology, people?

  2. Do I see myself as a principal, vice president, owner?

  3. What are my strong points and areas thatwhere I need work on?

  4. Seek out those whose opinions you value and who will be 100% real with you.

  5. Reach out to someone that you admire and ask them out for coffee, make the connection and keep in touch.

  6. Build your network on social platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn and write sincere recommendations for those you know.  

  7. Go to local networking events.

  8. Ask lots of questions.

  9. Save your money.

  10. Become passionate about a cause and when and if you are able - volunteer.

  11. Become a board member.

  12. Build your tribe.

  13. Be curious, vocal and persistent.

  14. Understand that your path may be different from others, advancement (nor life) is not linear.

If you've gotten this far, to finish school, to work for a firm, you put in 80% right if someone tells you no, you can't, you're not ready, you pick yourself up and search until you find your yes.

About LaShae Ferguson @lashae_f

LaShae A. Ferguson, Assoc. AIA, Owner of L.A. Design Collective, LLC, An Architectural Design & Drawing Co., and graduate of the University of the District of Columbia. LaShae has co-managed design-construction projects worth over $8 million total. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and traveling.




EQxD Get Real - To read more about challenges and resilience from diverse viewpoints, go here.

In a similar spirit of spontaneity of the Archimom's Everyday Moments of Truth blog series, we are excited to bring you EQxD Get Real: True stories of Challenges and Resilience from diverse perspectives of architects and designers. Each day we will feature the stories of each person's challenges in the profession and what they learned from those experiences to inspire action for equitable practice in architecture. 


In Equitable PracticearchitalksINSPIRE%TagsEQxDGetReal

EQxD Get Real: Found - The Missing 32%

by Melissa Daniel

I have a theory that the missing 32% is not really missing. I believe the 32% is actually recorded higher because licensed architects who identify themselves as women choose not to volunteer in architectural surveys, join AIA or be part of any architecture group unless such activities are driven by their employer. The following are the top 5 reasons licensed women architects do not participate in any women architecture related activity:

1. I have no Time/Money.

This seems like a legitimate reason. AIA membership is expensive, and we all understand that family does come first. To participate in the architecture conversation, however, it is not necessary to either join an architecture organization nor spend time traveling to a meeting. Social media is a great way to engage the architecture community. Please note that the key word here is ‘engage’.  Simply creating a twitter account with no profile picture does not count. Get involve in the conversation. Your opinion matters.


2. Underrepresented.

This is not only frustrating but very discouraging. According to the web, Zahid Hadid is the only woman of color who practices architecture. For the licensed women who are on panels discussing women’s issues, neither have my mocha skin tone nor are in my generation. Due to this lack of representation, there’s a broad spectrum of women’s issues that are never discussed including single motherhood and sexual orientation discrimination. Topics like these cannot be discussed if we are not in the room. Let the architecture community know we exist by joining groups like LinkedIn and participate in the conversation. (Make sure you add a profile photo to your LinkedIn account. It is part of personal branding and it establishes trust.)

3. WIA (Women in Architecture)/ WID (Women in Development) is like a Sorority.

Being the newbie in any group is difficult. However, with close knit groups of women, there’s a stereotype of drama. Conversations of male‐bashing or cattiness really do not exist in WIA/WID groups. If they do in any local group, it’s time to get involved and change things. What we as women fail to realize is that the men have their own exclusive groups. It’s the usually the project architect/managers/associates that go to the bar after work while the women go home and tend to their families. It’s usually those men who bond at lunch while you eat at the workstation. They form fraternities and establish strong networks.  Ladies, we do not need to sit in our own islands. Something as simple as inviting the other female co‐worker(s) to lunch can mean all the difference. Remember, this is business.

4. Superwoman.  

The ‘superwoman’ architect has done it all. They conquered the work‐life balance and wonder why we haven’t done the same. The reality is however, they have struggled. Like their male counterparts, the ‘superwoman’ architect tends to have enormous egos and almost never show signs of weakness in public. Events like the EQxD#Hackathon taking place at the AIA National Convention in Atlanta will reveal the ‘superwoman’ architect’s struggles and tools to succeed.

5. "Sucky" Advice.

‘Be the best you can be’, ‘Be confident’, and ‘Work hard’ sounds more like a pep talk than advice. When there’s a serious question about ‘how do you handle a co‐worker when...’ is asked, finding women architects to give ‘real advice’ is difficult because there’s a perception that only superwoman architects exist out there. The best way to find the answers to the questions is to seek out women with similar situations and ask them. The problem is that these women don’t participate. A vicious cycle of the non‐participants seeking advice from other non‐participants. The only other way to find like‐minded women, join WIA/WID groups in your local area, find them on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. If you’re not having luck there, start your own group (physical or visual). ‘Eat the Whale’ a wise woman once told me.


About Melissa Daniel  @MelissaRDaniel 

Photo credit: D. Phinney

Photo credit: D. Phinney

Former AIA Diversity and Inclusion Council member, Melissa Daniel is passionate about changing the culture of the architecture profession. She spent the past three years as chair of the Women in Architecture Series serving AIA|DC, DCNOMA and AIA|NOVA WIA Committee. She was selected in 2012 for the Emerging Architect Award by AIA|DC, 2013 Young Architect of the year by DCCEAS and 2014 Leading Women under 40 by Maryland’s The Daily Record.


EQxD Get Real - To read more about challenges and resilience from diverse viewpoints, go here.

In a similar spirit of spontaneity of the Archimom's Everyday Moments of Truth blog series, we are excited to bring you EQxD Get Real: True stories of Challenges and Resilience from diverse perspectives of architects and designers. Each day we will feature the stories of each person's challenges in the profession and what they learned from those experiences to inspire action for equitable practice in architecture. 


When the Dog Bites and Bee Stings; Favorite Things

By Rosa Sheng, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens...

When Bob Borson "Life of an Architect" sent out the topic "Favorite Things" for the 5th edition of the #ArchiTalks blog series, I couldn't help by default to humming the epic and catchy tune from the Sound of Music. And thus, I am speaking of "favorite things" from this point of reference; In a difficult situation, "I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad." (in my best Julie Andrews voice) which is fitting with Equity by Design's mission and movement. 

At the EQxD Symposium this past October, keynote speaker Stew Friedman shared his book "Leading the Life You Want" and the secret sauce of successful leaders. "I have found that those who can harness the passion and powers of various parts of their lives and bring them together to achieve what I call four-way wins..." Stew said.  He further asked us to think about work and life not in the context of separate domains that required “balance”, but rather focus on the integration of the four areas of our life (Work/School (W), Home/Family (H), Community/Society (C), Self/Spirituality (S)) under the following goals: 1. Be Real. 2. Be Whole 3. Be Innovative. Each of these principles that Stew recommends seeks to cultivate a life in which our values, professional and social contributions are working in harmony rather than pulling us in opposite directions; perhaps not every minute of every day, but consistently over the course of our lives.

So while life can be incredibly busy, complicated and challenging; these are a “few” of my favorite things that support the theme of “leading the life you want”, finding respite and comfort in "things" that INSPIRE% me and sharing a bit of my "authentic-self" with you.

“The Finer Things Club” – Inspired by an episode of TV's “The Office” and similar in premise to a bucket list challenge, this idea of seeking out new and extraordinary experiences in life while consciously allowing guilt-free “leisure time” to be part of the norm. Approximately every other month, there is the chance to explore something new with my spouse; symphony night, a special dinner at a new restaurant, Flamenco dancing, touring Philip Johnson’s Glass House and Julia Morgan’s Hearst Castle, a Tony award winning Broadway musical, or taking a trip to a new destination, etc. These are the experiences that renew the spirit and energize with new passion and creativity. So work hard, but "play" harder.


Culinary Mash-Up Things - We are what we eat, right? I personally find energy and inspiration in exploring all that is "epicurious" and it's one of the main reasons I always felt that California is where I was meant to live. Food has always been an important part of my family growing up and as I have been educated and enlightened by the likes of Michael Pollen and cohorts to respect the way that it is grown, sourced, gathered, prepared, and eaten. So I started a food blog last year to document recipes in exploring healthier food alternatives. I have also posted them to my pinterest board if you would like to explore and trade recipes. I have fell off the wagon so to speak in the documentation of recipes, but have continued to explore food creation including kimchi and pickling, homemade dumplings and "bao", and even a yorkshire pudding.

Sketching Things– I have always had a love of sketching and watercoloring that started in college. My first job after graduating from Architecture school was as a manual renderer for retail developments armed with Prismacolor pencils, my T-square and entourage tracing templates. When we first moved the office to California, prior to getting computers, I was hand drawing presentation sketches for our client meetings. Today with all the compounded responsibilities of managing multiple projects, a quiet time to sketch has become a treasured event for documenting vacation travel.

I have mentioned the idea of "Sketchmob" to some. What if we granted ourselves some leisure time to sketch during the middle of the day, (maybe at lunchtime), forming a critical mass via social media with other like-minded architects thirsting for time to sketch? We get to sketch, some sunlight and fresh air away from our screens and desks. They (the public) would get the opportunity to observe our sketching and inquire about our activity and purpose. We tried this concept at the EQxD Symposium and it seamed to have some resonance.

Making Things - The manifestation of Architecture is a long process where the fruits of your design/detailing/specification/documentation labor take awhile (usually a multi-year process). So to satiate my desire for the immediate satisfaction of making things, I have many "hobbies" that include felting, knitting, raku pottery, graphic and web design. Thru the active process of making smaller things, I get to beta test design and construction on a micro level that often times forms lessons learned for macro level design in the Architectural built form.


Innovating Things - I strive to innovate in all parts of my life. At times it has gotten me into trouble to ask too often "Why not?". But for most of my professional and personal life, I have been rewarded for remaining committed to curiosity. So I seek to find activities that will inspire and support creativity, innovative thinking and action. To that end, I attended my first Hackathon last year at the SCUP Pacific Regional Conference in Los Angeles that was conceived by Lilian Asperin-Clyman, my co-chair for The Missing 32% Project and EQxD. The premise of the Hackathon was to solve a series of challenges in a very unconventional way. We had 8 hours, we formed 4 teams. We were given a problem statement and given the authority to think outside the proverbial box. I have to say that the Hackathon format greatly stimulated parts of my brain that felt like cobwebs had taken over. Many of the ideas that have developed for EQxD have been inspired by the intense creative thinking in a compressed amount of time because of that event. We are excited to offer a mini-hackathon at AIA convention this year in Atlanta on Wednesday 5/13 from 1-5pm.

Reading Things - I have always loved reading. When we started our family, I was committed to passing that love to my children. We try to have reading time as an evening ritual before the kids head off to bed. Its a precious time for bonding, literacy enhancement, and discovery unfold; often there are more questions than I can explain about life.  This curated bibliography includes my childhood favorites that I have enjoyed re-discovering with my kids. I am surprised at how much the lessons from those children's stories are still true to our adult lives and they have greatly informed the work of EQxD as well.

  1. Melinda Mae - If the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  2. The Little Blue Engine that Could by Watty Piper
  3. Star Belly Sneetches by Dr. Suess
  4. Iggy Peck the Architect and Rosie Reveer the Engiener by Andrea Beaty
  5. Anne of Green Gables Series by Budge Wilson
  6. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  7. Uno's Garden by Graeme Base
  8. What do people do all day? by Richard Scarry


If you would like to hear more favorite things from other #Architalks Architects, you can find them here: 

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect
My Favorite Things … again

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture
9 Things i Like

Marica McKeel – Studio MM
A Few of My Favorite Things

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet
How I Get Through My Day: My Favorite Things

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect
favorite things (at least a few)

Evan Troxel – Archispeak Podcast / TRXL
My Favorite Things

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC
My Favorite Things: the pieces of my story

Cormac Phalen – Cormac Phalen
Favorite Things

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect
favorite things… a few of my favorite things…

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC
These are a few of my favorite things..

Amy Kalar - ArchiMom
My 10 Favorite Things

Mark R. LePage - Entrepreneur Architect
Six Simple Acts that Make my Day

Nicholas Renard - Cote Renard Architecture
Favorite Things - Just a Few


Jeremiah Russell, AIA ROGUE Architecture




I Make Things - Jame L. Anderson, AIA

I make things; the labels we wear, the ways we define who we are and what we do.

When we are born, we get our first label.  On a form generated at the birthing center, hospital, or other, we are designated as Boy or Girl, Male or Female….Baby Girl So-and-So.  Generally, at the hospital, our last names are first our mother’s, before the birth certificate and naming conventions begin.

But at that moment, we are labeled, even before our parents label us.  With this little tag, much of our cultural norms follow: the pink or the blue.  No matter how hard one may try as a parent to skirt these norms and create something un-stereotypical, it is ever present. Then, we get the next label that our parents choose for us, our name. I’m a Jame—not a Jamie, or Jaime, or Jayme.  My Dad is James, thus Jame.

I have discovered that I carry a lot of those little titles on my Self. 

But starting at the beginning, I have always made things. From little ghost scribbles on the white walls of my parents’ home, to sculptures of the slate roofs of caving in barns out in our fields, I have always made things.  When I was in high school I made things and was labeled “artistic”.  Then I went to college and made more things, and considered myself and gave myself the label of “Artist”. 

These labels begin to become part of our identity and in a country preoccupied with what everyone does for a living, this is especially true. When I left the sanctuary which is the college art studio, and struck out in the world on my own, I continued to make things…but they were for other people, things in museums. Not the artifacts, the stuff around the artifacts.  Then I went back to school again. I chose an art school with an architecture program.  On entering, I never considered I’d ever be an “Architect” with that capital A.  I’m not really sure what I thought I was going to do; make really big sculptures perhaps?  But the little girl that used to dress up as Thomas Jefferson in rural Virginia was a grown up girl at RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) in the process of realizing that making buildings would be the next thing to do.  So I strove to define myself with another label.

I recall that in 1998, when I completed my Masters, the statistics held that 12% of licensed architects were women. I was amazed.  Amazed.  It was 1998 after all.  What happened to the burning of bras and to Virginia Wolf, Germaine Greer, Camille Paglia, Naomi Wolf and Gloria Steinem? It was as if I was reading Linda Nochlin again while sitting around a triangular dinner table eating from really strange plates.  With this knowledge I pushed forward and took exams and got my next label, AIA...Architect.  Boy, I showed them!

Somewhere after that I got another set of letters, this time at the front of my name. MRS. (Although my last name stayed the same.)  I was legally partnered with my soulmate, declared my love in front of 92 people and ate some cake. I was a fish with a bicycle and enjoying it.

But I was still “making things” (in quotations). At this point, I drew things, designed things, coordinated things that other people “made”. Hardhat and boots on, I stood on construction sites, argued with contractors and did everything an Architect should.  And I was part of a really big team that made really permanent things.  But I was definitely in the minority on site, and that first label was omnipresent.

The label of artist was becoming more and more a distant thing, switching perhaps to lower case and the upper case Architect took over. I then switched artistic capacities, moving in house to an incredible museum.  There, I designed things-that-other-people-made-that-made-things-that-other-people-made look good (if you can follow).  I was marrying art and architecture, or trying to.  I got to hold Picassos and install Rothkos and talk art, and design space.  One day somebody called me an exhibit designer and I wondered, is that what I am? What is the set of dress up clothes for that profession?

Then, I made my masterpiece, and got my next label, and honestly the one that has changed the most aspects of my life: the label of “Mom”, “Mommy”, Mother. This new label: did it obscure all of the other ones?  I make things for her too – things I never could have imagined making.  A non-cook who would prefer to use a drill or a welding torch to a sewing needle, my daughter’s requests have pushed my making into even newer territory.  I was taught never to learn to sew, cook or type because then someone would expect you to do so, but now I find that these new things are making challenges of their own.

So, I took a trip. Back to France and to stand in front of my two BFFs: Nike and Venus.

My soul mate/best friend/spouse was with me and we had a talk.  I was questioning who I was and it had dawned on me that it wasn’t having a child, that it wasn’t any career strife, it was that I had become distant from the direct making. I was 40.  (Maybe it was the zero.)

So I renovated an attic and got to work. 

I don’t make “art” for others.  Those objects are mine: uncompromised, unshared, things that exist in my own mind.  I use what I find in my studio and my home – readily available materials that are sometimes the cheapest and most immediate sort.  They, often, mark the passage of time in the least graceful manner.

I am still very interested in what is termed by many as “women’s issues” although I no longer see them as just affecting women – they are shared by us all.  I am interested in our labels and lines and intersections: boy/girl, pink/blue, black/white, either/or, virgin/whore, in/out, dead/alive, good/bad and either that line that separates them, or the space between them and the symmetry that is formed by them.

I am wondering about the term “artist” and all my other labels.  Which one is accurate?  Which one should I choose?

Art is not my profession, does that make the label untrue? I am a “person engaged in one or more of the broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts or demonstrating an art”.  So why have I not called myself an artist lately?  When did I no longer exist as one in my mind?

Am I an Architect with a capital A?  I am not in private practice, I have not built a building in several years and I do not have my own firm bearing my own name as the ‘big boys’ do, although I still have a piece of paper from the state of Virginia and a membership in the AIA

What does that make me?

I’m a wearer of all of these labels—Architect, Designer, Mom, Wife, Woman, and countless other things too.  I am not Pablo Picasso, Frank Gehry, or Coco Channel and I don’t need to be.  In fact, I don’t want to be.  And by defining myself, these labels are only adjectives, personifiers of me that speak to my experience, which I have learned helps me to make me, Me. 

So, what do I do? What am I?

I make things.

Written by Jame L. Anderson, AIA

She's an Architect! Judith Edelman on Sesame Street

The recent New York Times Op Ed "How to Rebuild Architecture" written by Steven Bingler and Martin C. Pedersen on Dec. 15, 2014 raises the question:  At what point does architecture’s potential to improve human life become lost because of its inability to connect with actual humans? 

When I was growing up, public television (in particular Sesame Street) was a big part of our afternoons; learning our numbers, colors, etc. I remember seeing this episode back in the day with Judith Edelman demonstrating what an Architect does. She didn't say much, and kids narrated most of the segment. But by just being part of the video, and showing what she does as an Architect, she inspired many young designers through her appearance on Sesame Street in 1975, including a future employee!

Recently, this video was made public (many thanks to Benjamin Edelman). I thought it was a great reminder to us all of the importance of doing great work; but it is also equally important to share what we do as Architects with children in a connected and meaningful way. 

Written by Rosa T. Sheng, AIA

An Archimom's Everyday Moments of Truth: Kathy Russell

Maybe it’s pure chance that I’m not in the missing 32%, because there have been times that I would have gladly walked away from architecture. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with my field. The region I live in is still recovering from the recession, so the stress of the slow periods is still present. In 2011, after having returned the previous year from maternity leave with my second child, I was one of many to be laid off from a mid-size firm. The thought of being a stay-at-home mom was more than appealing, but my husband was starting a new career and we had two young children to support. I considered changing careers, but I’d been practicing architecture for 18 years and it is all I really knew how to do. It’s how I think. It’s how my brain is wired. Every time I go in a new building, I wonder what is in all the layers of materials, what do the people inside do, what was the history of the building and I think about other solutions. You can’t just turn off that portion of your brain, so I keep giving architecture a chance.

During my first 18 years, I’d been in firms that 45-50 hours a week was average.  40 hours was practically considered part-time. I’ve worked in firms that required a fair amount of overnight travel. My first night away from my 10-month old son was supposed to be one night while I was in Nashville meeting with a client, but ended up being two nights as we got stuck in Minneapolis in a snowstorm. I didn’t sleep a wink because I was sure he was traumatized, but of course it was the first night he slept entirely through the night. My first few years of being a mother and an architect were difficult to juggle and full of self-inflicted guilt.

Currently, I am very lucky to be in a firm that values their employee’s lives and families. Overtime is not encouraged except when absolutely unavoidable, which is so refreshing given that I pride myself in being efficient and accurate. It’s also refreshing to work with women and men that actually spend time with their families and kids. As our city is family-oriented, our firm knows the value of soccer-game-sidelines network marketing.

As far as the future, there is too much fluctuation happening in architecture to know if it will remain permanent in my life. However, nothing is permanent and you sometimes just have to wing it.

Secret sauce that I rely on to juggle all that I do every day:

  • Maintain my sense of humor. Humor keeps things in proportion and puts people at ease.
  • Keep breathing.  I use the old yoga technique to keep grounded.
  • Lists are my friend.  Post-it, yellow tablets, on my phone, written on my hand.
  • Ask for help. It takes a village…
  • Pace myself.  Work and raising kids is like a marathon. It takes time and planning.

My everyday moments of truths that I’ve discovered:

1.     Quality daycare has been good for my kids. You will hear a lot of people saying how bad it is to not spend every moment of your day with your kids. I am amazed how well my son has done in adjusting to elementary school having learned social skills and had an early education. The daycare teachers were much better teachers for his developing brain than I could’ve been. I’m not a professional teacher and I’m not afraid to admit it.

2.     Accepted saying No in my personal life. If you’re working outside the home, full-time, with younger kids, you probably won’t be able to do PTO, after-school activities, church, community groups or maybe even AIA. I love volunteering and being involved, but it can’t be at the expense of my family or work. I’ve worried my kids are missing out on the cool week day activities, but I know they are getting compensation from quality child care that has good programs and the evenings and weekends to spend with their parents.

3.     Finding a support network. As there have been so few other working mothers at the firms I’ve worked, I’ve found support in women’s business organizations outside of architecture. Currently, I attend monthly lunches and wine tastings with a loosely organized network of professional working moms consisting of attorneys, CPAs, bankers, architects and engineers. Sharing survival tips and their comradery has been invaluable.

4.     Learned to ask lots of questions. Architects manage the big picture, so we’re not supposed to know every miniscule detail. Our consultant’s jobs are to convey their expertise, so make them earn their fee and ask them lots of questions. Bosses can get busy and forget you don’t know everything you need to know – I make sure to keep asking questions until I have the information to complete the job. It helps to just talk it through with them.

5.     Most freak-outs are overreaction. This applies to the children and to the adults. Get to the truth of what is causing the freak-out before deciding if it is freak-out worthy.  This comes in especially handy during construction and at bedtime.

6.     There is always a solution. If a situation is freak-out worthy, I remind myself there is almost always a sensible solution.  As architects, we are problem-solvers and consulting other problem-solvers helps find a collaborative solution.

7.     Sit at the table. This is the best lesson from the Lean In by Sherry Sandberg. Own your authority, take advantage of opportunities as they arise, speak your mind, set aside unnecessary humility and accept credit for your work.  I believed it before reading it, was taught it by my own mom, but it was really nice to have it reinforced by Sandberg.

8.     Teach as I go along. As I’m working with interns or doing chores with my kids, I try to mentor and teach. The day is full of learning opportunities that I try not to miss.

9.     Embrace change. Architecture has changed so much during the recession. As baby boomers approaching retirement, we’re headed to more change. Then there is always the unpredictable change. Our families change and kids change daily. Adapting and flexibility is required.

10.  Embrace the moments. You may remember the roller coaster scene in the Mary Steenburgen and Steve Martin movie, Parenthood. Life gets crazy and stressful but the moments are fleeting. I look back at the photos from the summer I was laid off in 2011. My kids were so small and beautiful. Those moments were so stressful and unappreciated. And now they’re gone.  It doesn’t matter what is happening at a particular moment, good or bad, because each moment is a gift.

Kathy Russell     

Kathy’s a project architect at ALSC Architects in Spokane, WA 

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An Archimom's Everyday Moments of Truth: Kristen Padavic

My Archiparent Journey

The Archimom stories I have been reading on the Equity by Design site and other social media sites regarding women in architecture over the past few months have been inspiring and remind me of the trials and successes I have experienced on my journey. I don't know how I feel about being an #Archimom if my husband doesn't require the title #Archidad, so for now, I'll just call myself an #Archiparent or perhaps more fitting, general life ninja.

I am a 38-year-old mother of identical twin daughters and an architect. In the same year that the economy bottomed out in a city that had already over built the exact building type my husband and I  were designing, I was blessed with the surprise of twins who were born ten weeks premature. The first several years of juggling work and parenting were a nightmare.  The laundry list of things that had happened to us was long and daunting. Besides the pay-cuts and our tiny 800 square foot home losing half of its value, our children had multiple health issues requiring therapy and lots of hospital visits. I have vivid memories of trudging through the snow with soaked pant legs after walking a mile to my office in Chicago, starting another twelve-hour day away from my family only to get a call that my child was having an asthma attack and needed to get to the ER. And I won't even touch on how my employer felt about my "situation."

Simply put, our life was not sustainable or enjoyable.  I was a very angry and tired person who no longer wanted to be an architect. Having always been a vivacious, happy woman, very direct and called a "tough cookie" by many, the male dominated aspects of the profession had never bothered me. My first employer was a trusted mentor, advocate and friend, who showed me how compassionate and human a boss could be. He shared with me the entire world of architecture that is never taught at school and gave me opportunities most young architects never see. I had once adored my career. However, having children with health issues and finding little compassion in my new employer, my value system had been completely turned on its head. Without really understanding what I was doing, I quit my job and we decided that we were throwing all of our negative energy away. We deliberately reframed our lives and sent out that positive energy to the universe. No more blaming the world for making this all so hard, and we called ourselves to action. Let the mortgage and the hospital bills go, we pronounced! We had no plan but we had each other.

Some say it was divine intervention or just old-fashioned luck; my husband’s friend saw my "Screw the World!" post on Facebook and gave us a call. He explained that his little home building company down in Texas was looking to bring a design team in-house, and asked if we would be willing to visit Austin and take a look. We felt the universe radiating positive energy towards us, towards our decision to let it all go, and moved to Texas two months later, joining the PSW team as partners.  Our company has grown from just a handful of us in a little run down house to over fifty of us building well-designed, sustainable, urban infill homes all over Texas.  And most importantly for our family, my husband and I have been able to craft a very sustainable set of careers and family life. Our company philosophy is founded on this principle as well, so we are trying to help our employees do the same. We have hired six architects and designers, of which over half are women and several are parents. Our families always take priority and that is non-negotiable.

This journey has provided so many lessons, none the least has been gratitude. Gratitude is the gift that keeps me loving what I do, even when I put in late nights. We both work hard, but have a joint purpose and immense gratitude in this opportunity. The list I have going in my mind is no longer about what is happening TO ME but what I am making happen and what I am ok with letting go. If I were to catalogue the ways in which I am able to successfully work and parent, here's a stab at a top five:

1. Having a life partner who takes on exactly half of the load that life throws at you. My husband and I have different styles and preferences, but we both do laundry and pick-up the girls. We go to the girls' pulmonologist together and trade off gymnastics. We have a system of tasks and we over-communicate about it.

2. Pouting is not allowed. One of the most important lessons we learned from our parenting coach to help us with our very behaviorally intense kids is to accept a challenge, deal with it and move on. Life can be very hard at times, especially when balancing work and kids, but negative energy sucks the life out of you.

3. You can always change your situation. Reframe it, scramble it up, and move to Alaska if you want. You won't die if walk away from a house, even. Own your situation - you get one chance at this!

4. Exercise often and take stock in you. Date nights are mandatory.

5. If you are an employer, give your employees the ability to have the life you would want to have. Treat them like adults. Not everyone will get to be an employer someday, so it comes with an immense amount of responsibility to help them shape lives that are meaningful and manageable.

architect, lead project designer  


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