Guest post by Andrea Pesking Katz of Great Thoughts. For two decades, I had a big power job in high pressure sales with a whole team working for me. The money and company were great. I reveled in the success and in being a top producer, one of the few women in the country to do so. I have the most supportive husband and family so I enjoyed being on top of my world. I’m sure many of you can relate. Then, I had the most wonderful twin girls in 2001. When they were little, I told my girls that God gives twins to people who have too much love. I continue to believe that is true! I was scheduled to return from maternity leave on September 11, 2001! I was about to leave for work that day when I saw the towers get hit on the news. I stayed home another week but, then I did go back to the grind. Again, I know that you know how I was feeling. I quickly realized that I was only continuing to work because the money was great. I bragged that I was SO lucky in that I made my own hours so that I was home when the kids were awake and went to my office during nap times. Unfortunately, that also meant that I was up on the computer at 4 in the morning and again at 8, after they went to bed. So, while I boasted about what a great job I had, I was wearing myself out completely. As I’ve spoken to other women, I now realize that many of us just wear ourselves out. For over 4 years I thought about retiring. When you are in the middle of a big sales career, there is never a good time to quit. There is always another deal on the horizon, another commission to earn. So I continued to work though my heart was not in it. I got cranky, gained weight and was just not in a good place. Finally after conquering and winning in yet another round of internal politics, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I gave 6 months’ notice and told the firm that I was really done. They threw me a beautiful party and gave me a Tiffany watch. I felt like a weight had been lifted and immediately started making my plans. I would work out all the time- I wanted to become one of those women you see walking with their friends daily. I used to make fun of those women, saying they needed to get a life. Now, all I wanted was to be one of those women! I would hang out with my mom more. Despite talking daily and weekly dinners, I didn’t get to have lunch, go shopping or cook with my mom nearly enough while working full time. Now I’d have that opportunity. Gourmet dinners would be cooked daily while I drove my girls to ballet. (I still don’t get the dichotomy of having to get dinner on the table while your kids have after school activities.) The problem with making plans I have learned is sometimes life gets in the way. It turns out that I was meant to retire at that time, though not for the reasons I wanted. Two months after I retired, my mother took ill. She was in the hospital for four months straight. We are talking about the woman who went to my house EVERY day to hang out with my twins. She taught them the alphabet and sang every tune from Broadway to them. For the first four months of my girls’ lives, my mom brought dinner to my house daily so that I wouldn’t have to cook. She was even known to drop off a new Chanel lipstick at my house that she thought would look fabulous for a big meeting. She would mail inspirational quotes to me at my office with notes reminding me how proud she was and how much she loved me. My new life consisted of dropping kids at school and going to the hospital every day. Then, when she came home, my life consisted of rushing to her house to cook meals and help with her care, supporting my father in his unbelievable efforts to cure her and managing my own household, kids, etc. I didn’t go walking or lose that 10 pounds. I ate everything in sight and focused on my kids and my mom. After a dreadful 10 months, my mother passed away, nine days before my twins turned 7. My core was shaken in a way that I never could have imagined. Immobilized by grief, I just functioned. I took care of my kids and that’s it. All of my great plans were not just put on hold, they were forgotten. Now three years later, I know in my heart that my mother would tell me to get on with my life. I started www.greatthoughts.com, a social network for higher income well educated women who liked to read and travel well. I am attempting to share my love of reading and good travel with like- minded souls. I still haven’t lost that 10 pounds and gourmet meals aren’t the norm here but I am happy and focused. The past few years have taught me that life throws curveballs so you have to get keep living and enjoying while you can. So what can you learn from my story? Get off the fence BEFORE life throws you a curveball. There is much more to life than making money. You can’t be a great mom if you aren’t taking care of yourself. I know that now and hope you do to. Maybe you have a web venture to explore or a second career that really interests you- GO FOR IT! Finally, please realize that you can’t drive kids to after school activities and serve a balance meal at the same time. And, sometimes please take a new lipstick to a friend as her mom might not be around to do so for her. Guest post by Andrea Pesking Katz. Andrea Peskind Katz runs Great Thoughts, a lifestyle blog focusing on Great Books and Great Travel. To quote Robert Frost, this website was created to “unite my avocation and my vocation.” After 20 years in high pressure sales, Andrea retired to spend time doing what she loves- hanging with her family, reading good books and enjoying good travel. Andrea is always looking for the next great read and the next great beach or warm locale.