10 yearsDo you remember what you were doing 10 years ago this month?  I do.  Not because my life back then wasn’t a blur of diapers and night wakings, babbles and cries, incomparable joy and unrelenting guilt.  No, it’s because I have proof – concrete proof – of what I set in motion in June 2014.

One evening that month, after our little ones were asleep, I climbed upstairs to my bedroom at our old house.  “Should I, or shouldn’t I?” I remember my mind swirling, as I opened my laptop on the green comforter and curled up on my bed.  What if I write something and no one reads it?  What if I write something and lots of people read it and hate it?  Or what if I don’t write at all, and I’m mad at myself for not doing anything about all these working parent struggles I’m both living and witnessing?

Bravery won out that day, and a few weeks later, this blog post was live on my newly-minted WordPress site.  Back then, I was working full time in a health policy job I loved.  I had one and three-year-old boys.  I thought of myself as a risk-averse lawyer with no business skills.  And I certainly didn’t know anything about websites or blogging or social media.

I also didn’t know that there’s data to support the idea that having a “side-gig” actually makes you happier in your day job.  Or that Mindful Return would become the first “job” I’d have for an entire decade.

10 Years: A Birthday or an Anniversary?

What would a 10-year celebratory blog post be without a little bit of lawyerly semantics?!  As I sat here reflecting on my experiences creating a program from scratch and running a company for 10 years, I started debating with myself.  When I say I’m celebrating 10 years of Mindful Return, am I celebrating a birthday or an anniversary?

The case for calling it a birthday: Mindful Return did not exist before June 2014.  In some sense, I birthed this program and community into being.  I gestated the idea for a while, and it has required ongoing feeding and nurturing to help it grow.  In many ways, Mindful Return has felt like my third child.  So yes, perhaps a birthday.

The case for calling it an anniversary: Before I make this case, you should know that today is in fact my wedding anniversary!  16 years with my amazing husband, my partner in parenthood crime, Jason Levin.  It seems an anniversary is meant to refer to a celebration of a memorable occasion.  Or “the date on which an event took place in a previous year.”  So yes, Mindful Return is having an anniversary, too.  Launching this experiment in community building was indeed a memorable occasion and a notable event in my life.

Ultimately, who really cares what we call it, though.  The important thing is taking the time to celebrate!

What I’m Most Proud Of

As I look back over this decade, what I’m not feeling inclined to do is create a laundry list of Mindful Return related accomplishments.  (Maybe I’ll save that for an end-of-year post!)  Rather, I want to focus on what I’m most proud of about leading this program for 10 years.  Here are my top four:

  1. Growing Organically & Sustainably: If you’ve followed our journey, you know that Mindful Return and our team of now 20, which partners with 111 employers, has grown slowly and steadily over time.  Yes, it started as a 20-minute-a-night side gig and evolved to being my main professional focus, but I’ve pivoted in increments over time.  I was on a 50% schedule as a Partner at a global law firm before I left for self-employment, to focus more time and energy on Mindful Return.  I’ve also onboarded team members when the moment was right or when an opportunity came to me, rather than trying to force anything.  I’m proud of having grown in a way that has been sustainable for my own wellbeing and that of my family.
  2. Imagining and Creating Something I Felt Unqualified to Build: “But I don’t have an MBA!” was the refrain that ran through my brain for many years, as I launched and built Mindful Return. It turns out I didn’t take a single class in law school on Medicare regulations, and yet I became a Medicare regulatory lawyer.  And it turns out yes, it’s possible to create a successful company without going to business school, too.  I have the benefit of being married to someone with an MBA and an entrepreneurial spirit, and yes, those things have helped.  But as Marie Forleo is known for saying, “everything is figureoutable.”
  3. Building a Deeply Supportive Community: Do you know that of the thousands of people who have taken Mindful Return’s courses over the past decade, I’ve never once had to evict a single person from our course platform for unsupportive behavior?  I am so proud of this authentic, genuinely supportive community of working parents.  You all show up as your realest and most supportive selves in every course, every alumni call, every retreat, and every interaction.  When I introduce one of you to another of you and you hit it off, my heart explodes with joy.  When I see you sharing your advice, empathy, and shoulders to cry on with one another, I say “yes, this is why.”
  4. My Team: Everyone who works so hard and so passionately, sometimes publicly and often behind the scenes, to keep Mindful Return going: I am so proud of you.  Particularly throughout 2024, which has been a rough year for our family, you’ve been there in all the ways to support me.  Having colleagues you genuinely want to spend time with and show up for every day is the biggest gift, and I couldn’t keep on keepin’ on in Mindful Return land without you.

10 years

A Year of Festivities!

When my own birthday rolls around, I always like to think of it as a birthday week.  Given that a decade of leading a company feels even bigger than a singular birthday, I’ve decided to keep this celebration going for a year.  I hereby officially invite you to consider this period from June 2024 to May 2025 to be the 10th Anniversary Celebratory Year of Mindful Return!

To fete the occasion, we’ve got some special events on the horizon, including:

  • An end-of-summer course giveaway;
  • A working parent retreat in a warm and sunny location in early 2025;
  • An All-Community 10 Year Anniversary Zoom gathering later this year!

I’m committed to making this milestone matter, and I hope you’ll be an active part of the festivities.

Thank you for being here with me.  For reading this blog and my newsletter, week after week.  For sharing your working parent challenges and wins, and simply for showing up and cheering one another on all these years.

Together, we’ve got this thing called working parenthood.


Back to Work After Baby

Want more practical tips on working parenthood?  Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave

Our Gift To You

At Mindful Return, we know that calm, thoughtful planning, and time for reflection, are keys to success in working parent life. Our FREE guide, 99 Questions to Ask Yourself Before, During, and After Maternity Leave, is our gift to you and your new bundle of joy.

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