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I was raised by my grandmother, a single parent
who worked as a cook for the Los Angeles school district for nearly all of her
adult life. She worked to put me through college with the hope that I would
have a long and secure career. But the world my grandmother prepared me for has
almost dissolved entirely.
We now have a global economy in which workers,
rather than sign on with a single company, must make their own way. This
economy has given women, particularly black women (the fastest-growing group of
entrepreneurs in the U.S. according to Forbes magazine), new opportunities and paths to financial empowerment.
Since my son was born eight years ago, I've
worked from home, and I've been able, most months, to cover my expenses as a
writer and a life coach. It has never been easy and there have been times when
I have needed assistance from family or social services.
We have choices now, and like me, many women are asking themselves what type of work will add value to their lives beyond dollars and cents.
Being flexible with my
time has been the key to balancing work and parenting. Writing and seeing
clients has given me the ability to control my own work schedule and be
available for my son. When I realized I would need to return to work, the
thought of being in an office or anywhere without flexibility for eight hours
per day, five days per week, seemed unrealistic. Honestly, I'd grown accustomed
to owning my time, and committing all of those precious hours to a job I didn't
enjoy or desire seemed like a form of prison. And if there's one thing motherhood has
taught me, it's that I should not sacrifice myself for my child. If I'm
miserable, I can be no good for my son. So while working in an office for an entire
day has never been something I've attached to feeling good, the limitations
that come with it now just feel out of the question.
Understanding who I am and what type of work
environments I thrive within, I've set out in this new economic world to build
a work life that will not only support me financially but will also feed my
spirit. After speaking with several moms who are also interested in making
money in ways that give them freedom, I came up with some themes for a work
life that might inspire me (or at least not deplete me). The four themes are
interaction, well-being for women, communication and nutrition. Once I got
clear about the themes, I set out to find jobs that would match the tasks I'm
naturally good at.
After my brother-in-law starting driving for
Uber, it occurred to me that this would be a great way to meet lots of people
and make a few dollars. The problem was I needed a reliable car. I did some research and learned that Uber offers a leasing program for potential drivers who
need a new or like-new vehicle, even if his or her credit was challenged. I
spoke with several people within this program to find out how realistic it
would me for me and my lifestyle, and I took the leap. I'm now an Uber driver
(with a new car!).
A dear friend of mine opened a women's gym in
the neighborhood I grew up in, the Crenshaw district of L.A. After years of
neglect, the community is currently undergoing a huge face-lift, and my
friend's new gym, Total Woman Gym and Spa, is part of that revitalization. Working
at the gym gives me a chance to do two things I love: Helping women improve
their sense of well-being and helping a good friend. Having been in this
community my entire life, I have strong relationships to church organizations
and nonprofit groups in the neighborhood. I love this work.
Mental Illness Media Rep
Like many people, I have a mentally ill family
member. Over the years, I've watched his illness shift the lives of his
parents, my aunt and uncle. Fortunately my aunt had the mind to get involved
with the local chapter of the National Association of Mental Illness. When she
asked me about handling their social media and blog from home, for a few hours
per week, I happily agreed. Watching her dedication to spreading information
about mental health inspires me, and I get to communicate (which I love!) an
One of my favorite jobs is making homemade
artisan almond milk. A few months ago I was doing a food detox and after
reading the ingredients of almond milk, I realized how easy (and much cheaper) it was to make my own. I then began my journey to find the organic products
including raw and organic almonds, organic dates, vanilla and purified water.
I purchased a nut bag and a Vitamix blender and a small business was born. After
I get my orders for the week, I shop for and my produce my weekly milk. I either
deliver the product or my customers pick it up. It's fun, healthy and
My grandma had no idea I'd have so many choices
that were never afforded to her. I've spoken with moms who do virtual-assistant
work, sell products through Etsy, hold traditional full-time positions or like
my friend, who has three children, opened a well-established franchise. We have
choices now, and like me, many women are asking themselves what type of work
will add value to their lives beyond dollars and cents. Career is becoming
something we can design to fit our strengths, our schedules and our dreams.