The next chapter. A big, fat, page-turner of a chapter.

I know it’s been a bit radio silent over here lately. I’ve been absurdly busy–new projects, weekend trips with the kids, a speaking engagement or two, adventures in cooking (more on that later), hobbling around with summer shoe-blisters, and the whole leaving my job to return to freelancing thing.

Yes I did.

Also, call me the only person in the world who leaves a full-time office job and then gets more busy.

Deutsch, the agency I returned to work for over the last 3 years is one of the most amazing, inspiring, big-hearted, culturally-rich agencies anywhere. For those of you who only know advertising through Mad Men, it is not that; we don’t even get booze before lunch! (That you know of, Mr. Holding Company Board of Directors Guy.) It’s just smart, strategic people doing the best job they can to create ideas that matter. I loved being in that environment. I will always be grateful for their support and encouragement of all the things I do outside the office too; how many bloggers can post some nice social media accolade on their Facebook page, check back, and see their CEO was the first to like it?

When I am asked, as I often am, “how do you do it all?” I have always answered that I don’t do it all.

I had an employer who respected that they were not my only priority in life, a village worth of committed friends and family to lean on, and a business partner who jumps in when needed, to say, no worries–I got this one.

Also, a few dirty dishes in the sink. Sometimes. Occasionally.

it's okay to say no

Is the change scary? A bit. But I have to say it’s nice to be not quite so exhausted, which I have been for a long time now. (With a delightful stash of undereye circle miracle creams to prove it.) Imagine months on end of finishing a full day of work, having dinner with the kids, reading and bedtime routine, then picking up work again around 9:30PM every night knowing I was still drowning in a sea of emails and to-do’s that I would try and tackle again around 5:30AM.

We all have to admit we have limits.

I had clearly reached mine.

Fortunately I’m more excited than nervous. It’s exciting to be able to focus more on my own business, consulting for different brands that I respect, freelancing  with companies doing exciting things, and saying yes to Google calendar invites from people I want to know better

It’s nice to have meetings in coffee shops instead of staring at the same concrete walls every day. Its nice to get back to that guy who emailed me about that thing in oh…say, February, and tell him that yeah! I finally have time to come over and talk so how’s noon on Thursday?

(Are you one of those people? If so, here’s my mass apology for not getting back to you. Try me again if you don’t hate me by now.)

Doors are opening. It’s thrilling.

What’s more, I’m now realizing how much I’m loving having more time at home.

I think it’s all the little things with my kids that at-home parents may take for granted. Like spending an extra few minutes lingering after drop-off at gymnastic camp, surreptitiously watching the girls giggle and play without them knowing I’m there. Or making homemade chicken nuggets (panko, baby) and not feeling like I’m sleepwalking through it.

I don’t know if there’s ever such a thing as balance. Is there?

Yeah, “juggling” is about as tired as shoulder pads from the Dynasty era, but it might be most apt.

It’s interesting timing, considering I just started contributing to the American Express tumblr blog which is all about helping people pursue their passions.  (Some say there are no coincidences.)

This week I offered up some of the best career advice I ever got myself, that’s actually worth taking. A lot of it is from my dad, who is awesome at that kind of thing. I think #2 helped me accept this decision. Although #7 might be my favorite.

american express passion project | liz gumbinner career advice

Deep breath.

And, onward.


55 thoughts on “The next chapter. A big, fat, page-turner of a chapter.”

  1. Congratulations on whatever comes next. I’m sure it’s scary and exciting all at once.

  2. Wow, Liz, this post made me exhale. Congratulations! This is a you-and-your-kids-AND-your-career-centered move–brava! As someone who just birthed a preemie and a new principal job and is vowing to assess all along if it will all work for all the players, particularly me and my family, I applaud and admire you. Role model!

    I’m gushing. But this is great news, Liz. Enjoy.

    1. Thank you Fer. And congrats on your new baby!

      Seriously, check out tip #2. Some of the best career advice ever. You will rock whatever happens.

  3. When I worked in theatre I used to say, “When the butterflies of ‘lights up’ go away, it’s time to do something new.”

    Wishing you butterflies in your new chapter. And light, lots and lots of beautiful light!


  4. Major congratulations and props (do people still say that?) over here. I’ve been wanting to do what you’ve done for a long time, but am apparently not brave enough to take the leap away from the steady paycheck. I envy and admire you.

  5. Congrats on this new chapter! I was worried you were going to say you were quitting your blog… so glad that’s not it! 🙂

  6. For every day I don’t know how I do this mostly-freelance life, I think of the part that won’t let me go back to the other way just yet. It may be my crazy part, but so far she’s winning.

    This is great news. Good for you.

  7. Wow, congratulations! I was hoping that the page-turner hinted at you finally writing a book, but I’m sure that’s in your future. I’m sure you’ll have much success in the years ahead!

  8. Congrats Liz!!! As someone who just made a big career change–left high salary/travel/unfulfilling job to return to the classroom as a teacher. It is exciting.

    Having more time with the kids and at home is worth it all. So happy for you.

  9. I am so thrilled for you, Liz! I noticed that you had moved to freelance status and I am very glad to read that it was an intentional leap in the direction you’ve been moving towards. I have no doubt your next chapter will be awesome. As I am working on figuring out what’s next for me career-wise I love your advice. Working on #6 (and kicking myself for falling in the trap of being “too busy” and not doing as good a job at it as I should have) and reminding myself of the wisdom of #7 daily. I had actually started practicing #2 except in 3 month/quarterly increments. Terrific recommendation!

  10. Congratulations!!!! You have always been one of my favorite people both inside and outside the blogosphere and you are so going to rock this.

  11. Yaaay! Great great news…..sooo excited for you! Look out world, here you come! You will never regret it!
    Oh, and I am one of those peeps hankering for a minute of your attention, hah! So I am stepping up in the line for that cuppa and catch up on the beautiful streets of Brooklyn SOON! We leave to live in Mexico in October, so you have another deadline!! ;o)) Tail wagging for our brave new worlds….weeeeeeee!!

  12. Congrats! I’m starting a new career after being an at home mom for 4 years. I will follow your advice…especially about getting out since I will be working from home.

  13. Congratulations Liz! Best of luck on pursuing what really matters to you. Thanks for taking us along on another (wonderful!) ride.

  14. Well we know that whatever follows, you will shine. I’ve had the privilege of watching you in these years as you bloomed as gifted blogger and entrepreneur … and mom. May this next chapter bring you more joy and success. Look out Brooklyn !

  15. I typed up a comment early today and it got eaten. Perhaps the IT gods were telling me I shouldn’t be commenting on blogs at work…

    The short version is: this is awesome news! Congratulations.

    The rest was about how our work culture in the US is sick. Even “good” companies have too much nonsense like face time requirements and silly policies that treat workers like children. I am starting to think that it is time for me to quit fighting this from the inside, and go out on my own. Maybe I’ll even start a company and try to show the world that it doesn’t have to be this way, that people are actually more productive when you treat them like adults. Maybe I can make that work, maybe I can’t. But I think I’ll enjoy my life a lot more if I try.

  16. Mazel Tov Liz-you inspire and amaze me! Hugs to you and the girls. xo

  17. Mazel tov and all the best! Just discovered your blog and love it, very inspiring. Can’t wait to hear about the cooking adventures 😉

  18. Pretty fan-frickin-tastic, if you ask me. I’m sure there will be even more opportunities and excitements coming your way – and ours via you – now that you have more time to entertain them. Looking forward to not just a page turn — but a whole new book.

  19. Congrats! So exciting.

    And you’re right about those extra minutes. When I went back part-time I realized that I savor the banal much more when I am home with my son now.

  20. I seem to encourage people on a daily basis to quit their job. It’s like I’m a magnet for them coming to me to convince them to just do it. I’m gonna bookmark this post and just share with them.
    It truly is about following your passions…wherever they may be!

    Thrilled for you!

  21. This made me want to cry because I know all to well about the exhausted part. I am reading your blog right because I’m taking a break from working at this hour. Hopefully someday soon, I will figure out a nice balance where going to bed at 10:30 pm or even 11 is the norm.
    Congratulations on the big jump. And so happy to see that you had posted again!

  22. I could have uttered these words myself. In late June, I left a nearly 10-year position as a brand strategist at Lippincott, which although not advertising, is similar enough. We all watched Mad Men and the longer-term employees would reminisce about their two cocktail lunches with Gordon Lippincott back in day, when the firm was busy creating the Coke Swirl and naming little-known brands like Duracell. The glory days of our firm, so I hear.
    I, too, was desperate to have my own schedule, to spend more time with the kids, to meet new and interesting people.
    This is the existential crisis we mothers have had to face early in this 21st Century– how to be successful in our work life and home life without pushing past our natural limitations. But as entrepreneurs, we’re paving the model for the next generation of women who want to Lean In but do it on their own terms. We’re showing that we can do it all, but you need to have creativity and guts to do so. So congratulations. The smartest move you could have made.
    I posted my own leaving-the-job story on my site if you want to check it out.

    1. Thanks Jessica. I loved working there. I now love this too. It’s nice to have options, isn’t it?

  23. I do contracted work from home for a company out of state and the last time I visited I spent a couple days working in office with them. Best company ever, but I was amazed at how being in an office all day sucked every creative fiber from my being. And it wasn’t just that I wasn’t feeling creative or inspired, I flat out didn’t care. EXHAUSTED. I love the people I work with, but I hated that 9 to 5. You’re going to love this new direction (sounds like you already do)!

  24. Finally got to read…and I’m so excited for you!!!
    Here’s to change, chances, chicken nuggets, and bright skies ahead!

  25. Finally got to read, and I’m so excited for you!
    Here’s to change, chances, chicken nuggets, and bright skies ahead!

  26. I can’t believe I’m only reading this now (I’ve been offline a lot this summer). CONGRATS on this huge shift, Liz! This is amazing, you are amazing. I want to hear everything.

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