Category: Work-Life Balance

Getting Things Done


Serene Almehmi is an Intern from the University of North Carolina. (photo by Donn Young.)

Getting things done is much bigger than checking items off a to-do list, though
that is incredibly satisfying. It involves adopting new habits, tools, and processes that
can help us become our most productive selves.

Setting intentional priorities is the framework for getting things done. If everything
is important, nothing is. To-do lists are often lengthy and ever-evolving with little thought
given to how much priority each item should receive.

Five choices can transform your checklist and help you focus on extraordinary

1. Act on the Important
People have the potential to achieve remarkable things, not by getting everything done,
but by getting the right things done.

2. Go for the Extraordinary
Dream big, take every opportunity you can to learn, and take action.

3. Schedule the Big Rocks
The Big Rocks are your most important priorities, so put them in your calendar first.
That way, less important things have to fight their way onto your calendar.

4. Rule your Technology
With technology, our attention is always under unprecedented attack. To reduce the
interruption, check your email at scheduled times and put away your phone as much as
possible at work.

5. Fuel your Fire
Today’s exhausting, high pressure work environment burns people out at an alarming
rate. Take time for yourself to renew your sources of energy: be social, seek inspiration,
exercise, and rest.

Who Wants to Play?

April Benetollo, CEO Momentum

Jenny Golden is the founder of MyPRISM. Jenny is a Natural Health Practitioner and Behavior Analyst. She has designed MyPRISM to guide others toward a sense of flourishing, and has been doing so with the Momentum Team!  Recently Jenny took our team to the playground. I asked her to take our lesson and modify it into a blog post we could share. Enjoy! 

Play is often seen as something that is only for children or something that is frivolous and unnecessary. However, play is an essential part of our health and wellbeing, no matter what age we are. Researcher Johan Huizinga defined play as “Play is a free activity standing quite consciously outside ‘ordinary’ life as being ‘not serious,’ but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly. It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it. It proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner.  In this blog, we will explore the importance of play in health, and how it fits into the PRISM model of health and radiance.

Most of us have not been engaging in the types and quantities of play as we did as children.  In order to get back to our play roots and benefit from this fundamental category of health, we will dig into what play looks and feels like as a reorientation to this concept.  

According to Dr. Stuart Brown, who founded the National Institute of Play, the following are the seven properties of play:

  • Apparently purposeless: Play is done for its own sake, not for any external goal or reward.
  • Voluntary nature: It is a freely chosen activity, not forced or required.
  • Inherent attraction: Play is enjoyable and intrinsically rewarding.
  • Freedom from time: It can happen for as long or as short a time as the player desires.
  • Diminished self-consciousness: During play, we are less concerned with how we appear.
  • Improvisational potential: Play can be creative and spontaneous, with the player making up or changing the rules as they go.
  • Continuation of desire: It is a pursuit of something we enjoy and desire, and we feel we do not want it to end.  
Andrea McCaskey, Statewide Director of Programs Momentum

There are many benefits to play that make it an important part of our health and wellbeing. Play increases PERMA, a model of well being that has been studied to increase human flourishing.  PERMA stands for positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. It lowers stress, speeds up learning, increases social wellbeing, and heals emotional wounds.

In the PRISM model of health and radiance, play is one of five fundamental pillars. It falls under the “P” pillar, which stands for play. The other pillars are:

“R” stands for Relate:  connecting with others and ourselves in meaningful and fulfilling ways. 

“I” stands for Illuminate:  lowering and managing our everyday stress burden. 

“S” stands for sustain:  consuming foods, beverages, supplements and medicines that fuel us to live our best and brightest lives.  “M” stands for mend:  repairing our bodies physically and emotionally.


Play is intricately involved in all of these areas of health.

Playing to relate can increase emotional intelligence, refine skills such as boundaries, communication, body language, cooperation with others. 

Playing to illuminate can lower cortisol and increase norepinephrine, connect parts of the brain associated with learning and acquisition of new habits, enhance meditation and mindfulness, and increase BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor)in the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex where decisions are made.  BDNF promotes the survival of nerve cells (neurons) by playing a role in the growth, maturation (differentiation), and maintenance of these cells

Playing to sustain can increase enjoyment of healthy foods, slow eating for better digestion, and increase excitement about consuming healthy foods. 

Playing to mend can increase BDNF in the amygdala where trauma, hurt, and fear reside, help us process difficult emotions, protect the brain and increase deep sleep.  

Knowing the elements of play is important in recognizing when we are in a state of play. Dr. Scott Eberle describes the elements of play to include:

  • Anticipation
  • Surprise
  • Pleasure
  • Understanding
  • Strength
  • Poise
  • Grace
  • Contentment

There are many different play personalities, and everyone may have a combination of them. They include artist/creators, jokers, collectors, kinesthetics, storytellers, explorers, competitors, and directors.

Mindy Santo, Mentor Coordinator Momentum

If you are looking to begin playing, there are a few tips to get started.

  1. Observe play experts, both children and adults, who embody a playful lifestyle. 
  2. Learn about the benefits of play.  Many research studies have been conducted on the importance and benefits of play.  The National Institute of Play offers many resources and education for anyone looking to learn more about play.  
  3. Set play goals.  Even small amounts of time getting into a playful mindset can have a big impact on health outcomes and flourishing.  Set strategic times and ways that you will engage in play on a daily basis.
  4. Engage others in your play.  Building a community of playing can help you have accountability as well as increased motivation and fun when you are beginning your play journey.  
  5. Have fun discovering your own play style.  Playing again can feel a bit awkward at first.  Try a variety of ways to play to discover the right one that works for you. 
  6. Remember that play gets better and better the more you do it.  The more we build these skills, the more we will enjoy the increases in feel good neurotransmitters that are increased in a state of play.  

It’s time to bring back the joy and freedom of play into our lives. Don’t let the responsibilities of adulthood make you forget the importance of play. Playing is not only fun and exciting, but it’s also essential for our health and well-being. It helps to reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and boost our mood. So, let’s make time to get outside and play like we did when we were kids. Whether it’s with friends, family, or even on our own, let’s embrace the power of play and rediscover the joy of being carefree and playful. Let’s make it a priority to get moving, have fun, and improve our overall health and well-being. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get out there and play!

Contributed by Jenny Golden, Founder
February 28, 2023

Self-Care is Not Selfish

Are you taking time for self-care? If you’ve been short-changing the most important person in your life, take a moment close your eyes, take 10 deep breaths, and reflect upon what you need in the self-care department.
When you are done with your 10th breath, write down three steps you can take to rectify the situation. Cover the basics. Do you:
  • Sleep enough?
  • Eat nutritious foods?
  • Exercise regularly?
  • Keep medical appointments?
  • Relax/meditate?
  • Practice positive self-talk?
  • Draw healthy boundaries?
Remember this wisdom shared by Dr. Lisa Graham at the Momentum conference:
“Selfish is putting your own want ahead of others’ needs. Self-care is putting your own needs ahead of others’ wants.”
We’ve got more self-care strategies on our YouTube channel, including this one with Momentum alum Dr. Cheri Canon.

Meet Sharon Lovoy!

Sharon LovoySharon Lovoy will be leading a session at our 2022 Momentum Conference called “The Swiss Army Knife of Conflict Resolution– The Skills To Make A Difference.” The session will provide attendees with tools to problem-solve and to dissolve conflict within the workplace in healthy ways. Read below to find out some more behind-the-scenes information about Sharon!

How did you get started in your profession?

“I was head of Human Resources for two different organizations and then I was laid off on 12.2.1991 along with 49 other people. It was devastating! The bank that laid me off was ordered by the government to cut positions immediately. My former leader and mentor, Jack Phillips, encouraged me to start my consulting business so I could come back legally and work for them. Together we created my organization’s name—Lovoy’s Team Works, Inc. Luckily, I had done free workshops for other companies for 15 years before I lost my job. Those free workshops gave me a ready set of clients which now number 350! I’m so thankful for the opportunities to work with Mercedes, UAB, Shipt, and many small companies as well. I actually wrote about all of this in a book entitled “Building a Successful Consulting Practice” by Jack and Patti Phillips. I contributed a chapter “You are Known by the Company You Keep,” where I detailed the many mistakes I made starting my company and how my failures led to success.”

What’s your connection to Momentum?

“I have several!! April Benetollo, the CEO, was formerly at Daxko, a client of mine. The added bonus is that we go to Zumba together. We have been friends for years. Additionally, I’ve been a longtime fangirl of Andrea McCaskey. I spoke at an earlier Momentum conference and later became an Executive Coach for Class 18 and Class 19. I also did a session on Crucial Conversations for the Emerge class and I did a book club on the same topic (I’m a Master Trainer in Crucial Conversations). I intentionally connect to every woman I meet through Momentum because that is where you find the amazing women!”

Who should come to your breakout session?

“Anyone who is experiencing conflict at work and/or at home! That pretty much means everyone! It’s hard to remember a time when we had peace and joy.”

What will people gain from coming to your session?

“I will give participants an easy-to-remember tool to help resolve conflict (AKA: The Swiss Army Knife of Conflict Resolution)!”

How did you have to adapt in your work because of the pandemic?

“When the pandemic first hit, I literally thought my life as a coach and facilitator was over. I then took stock of what I could do virtually, sent myself to a high-level class on virtual facilitation, and quickly started adapting all of my presentations to the new format. Additionally, I took this opportunity to attend many classes online. I’ve been a Master Type professional for many years, but found more training in that area. I also sent myself to Breakthrough Coaching classes where I got my Advanced Practitioner Certification. My coaching business has literally exploded! I’m also looking forward to in-person. It has turned out to be a rich and rewarding time.”

Are there any resources (books, podcasts, etc.) people can start checking out to prepare for your session?

“I’m submitting my book, Cure Your Staff Infection: The Leader’s Guide to Dealing with Work Place Drama, Contagious Bad Behavior and Knots in the Pit of Your Stomach to a publisher. It is has been a labor of love. Joseph Grenny, author of Crucial Conversations, wrote the foreward.”

What’s Birmingham’s best kept secret?

“I think the best kept secret are the beautiful Rails to Trails in Birmingham and the surrounding area. Bike riding became my salvation and feeling of freedom during the throes of the pandemic. I’m waiting for better weather to get back on my bike.  I also got pickleball paddles for Christmas. Stay tuned as I start lessons soon!”

Any other fun facts about yourself or your career?

“My most exciting project happened during the pandemic. Retired General Wesley Clark, Retired Supreme Commander of NATO, asked me to be his lead facilitator for a new project bringing together Democrats, Republicans and Independents. His Executive Director, Mary-Lee Smith, Patti Phillips, and I developed the Civility Leadership Institute. We took written applications and ultimately selected 28 diverse individuals to be a part of the inaugural class. They joined in training to learn about each other’s Personality Types, to gain Crucial Conversations skills, and to engage in Roundtables with national figures who are the opposite sides of issues.

The ultimate goal is to design playbooks to repeat this process to increase mutual respect, courage and integrity all over the country. Our first cohort started in July 2021 and is still meeting. Cohort 2 applications will be taken in March 2022. I would encourage anyone interested in being a part of helping our country to reach civility, apply for this process. My cell is 205.913.2982 and I’m willing to talk with anyone who wants to apply.”

Our upcoming 2022 Momentum Conference will highlight Sharon Lovoy, as well as other breakout session speakers who focus on leadership and empowerment. Registration ends on March 1st!

Fun Galentine’s Day Ideas

Where Did Galentine's Day Come From - When Is Galentine's Day Looking for a fun way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with all of the special gals in your life? Here are five fun ideas to try!

1. Galentine’s Brunch

Get your girls together and have a Galentine’s Day brunch! Make cute heart-shaped pancakes and waffles, a fresh bowl of fruit with cool-whip and melted chocolate to dip, and top it off with a pink-strawberry mimosa!

2. Charcuterie Picnic

If the sun is out and shining, take a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up some nice charcuterie meats and cheeses to make a little travel food board. Don’t forget dessert! Pick a picture-perfect spot outside (for cute pics, of course!) and have a nice afternoon with the girls! If you’re in the Birmingham area, try Railroad Park!

3. DIY Photoshoot

Set up a cute themed-background and take fun pictures with friends! Pick up some pink and red streamers to hang from the ceiling in front of a white-sheet background. Find some heart-shaped balloons and pose!

4. Girls Night In

Pop some popcorn, find a cheesy rom-com or sappy romance movie, and snuggle up under some blankets for a fun night in! 

5. DIY Spa Day

Want to feel refreshed and relaxed? Have a fun spa day at home! Buy some face masks at the store, or try some DIY face mask recipes and rate the results! You and your girls can give each other manicures with a fun pop of pink to fit the Galentine’s Day theme!

The Future of Work and Women

In the ever-evolving business world, it is important for women to ask themselves, “How can my skills today be leveraged in a completely different business vertical?”

Martha Underwood is no stranger to adapting to new verticals. She was recruited to work for IBM as an EDI Analyst out of college. There Underwood was able to explore different roles and learn about her strengths and interests. She learned first-hand the importance of learning how technology can be used in various industries and how to adapt to different business verticals successfully. In 2016, Underwood founded the organization ExecutivEstrogen, which coaches women on utilizing their unique perspectives into practical leadership tools.

These skills became beneficial when the world adapted to the Coronavirus-19 pandemic. Martha Underwood successfully transitioned her coaching services to online, but she did see a decline in bookings as women grew overwhelmed with work, children, and regular stress during the pandemic. Now that businesses are opening back up and individuals are returning to the office, more women see the need for coaching and are actively seeking help to gain clarity on how they fit and thrive in their careers.

That is why Martha Underwood is thrilled to be hosting the breakout session, “The Future of Work and Women,” at Momentum Leadership Conference this March. Women who attend will walk away with actionable insights on how to position themselves for the jobs of the future. Underwood will walk through examples of how they can leverage their existing talents and map them to the job market of tomorrow.

Register to attend Momentum Leadership Conference 2022 today:

Meet Salaam Green

Salaam Green was born in the Black Belt of Alabama and was raised by a family of educators and her single mother. She grew up in a poverty-stricken area because there was no industry or financial empowerment in the Black Belt region.

However, despite the circumstances, Salaam had several influential people in her life who encouraged her to read, write, and dream for a bright future. When her mom found out she wanted to be a writer as a little girl, she encouraged Salaam to read more books. Her auntie, who was also her first grade teacher, had her write for the first time in a little book. It was then when Salaam realized she could put all of her imagination into her writing. In middle school, Salaam’s mom introduced her to the University of Montevallo and she fell in love with it. Her sixth grade teacher instilled the hope inside of her that she would attend that school one day.

Sure enough, Salaam graduated from the University of Montevallo with an English degree. She soon realized that she wasn’t making money as a writer at first, and decided to go back to school to work in early childhood education. Salaam worked with babies and toddlers for years, and when she decided she was too old to work with babies and kids, she pursued a career as an administrator working for the State of Alabama.

Later in life, as she was working as an administrator, Salaam went through a divorce and a career change, and fell into a depression as so many new life changes were going on around her. 

Because of this, Salaam was able to reignite her passion for writing. She discusses a writing class that she signed up for, and for four years, she sat on a “red couch” and “rewrote her life,” which helped her come out of depression and reframe her identity.

Salaam decided to start her own business of “red couch writers” through her company called Literary Healing Arts in 2016. Her target audience is other women who are challenged by personal adversity, and she wants to help overcome the norms of corporate America. Red Couch Writers allows women to ask themselves questions like “how are you feeling today,” “what do you want to let go of,” and “what do you want to keep?” She organizes classes and workshops for organizations with hopes that they can all “write themselves back together again.”

Salaam has been awarded the Poet Award for Innovation in Alabama for writing about the place where the world comes to create. 

At the Momentum Leaders Conference in March, Salaam will be leading a breakout workshop for soul deep diving called Rewrite Your Success Story.

To hear more about Salaam Green’s story, click here to listen to her segment on our podcast.

Contributed by Maya Donaldson

The Sandwich Generation

Do you have aging parents or grandparents as well as children?  Are you caring for an older adult? If so, you are a member of the sandwich generation, a term coined by Dorothy Miller in 1981 that has become so ubiquitous that it was enshrined in the Miriam-Webster dictionary in 2006.

Sandwich families are everywhere!  Eldercare journalist Carol Abaya defines three types of generational sandwiches:

1. Traditional:  Those sandwiched between their own children and heir aging parents who need care or help.

2. Club Sandwich:  Those sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren OR those with young children, aging parents and grandparents.

3. Open-Faced Sandwich:  Anyone else caring for an older adult.

My own mother was “sandwiched” caring for me, my sister, and her father.

Perhaps this group should be called the ‘rubber band generation’ as we are pulled in one direction by elder care needs and another by dependent care needs.  Or maybe we should be called the ‘ping pong ball’ generation as we bounce between trips to the pediatrician and the geriatrician.

Whatever we call it, it has its unique joys and challenges.

Be Ready for Role Reversal:  Becoming the caregiver for someone who once cared for you is the emotional rollercoaster of role reversal. Give yourself space to navigate and process a new dynamic.

Share the Burden:  Resources that need to be re-allocated include time, energy and finances.  You do not have to do everything by yourself.  Make sure your children are doing age-appropriate tasks for themselves.  Don’t be afraid or ashamed to enlist siblings, spouses, partners and friends to support you.

Hire a Helper:  Prioritize a handful of tasks that you prefer to do yourself and hire a helper to wash the dog or drive the carpool.

Get Professional Assistance:  Use professional resources such as counselors, lawyers, accountants, supportive online networks and pastoral care to help you find your way.

Discuss your Status with your Boss:  By having a frank discussion with your boss, you can explore options that may ease the balance between family and work life.

Don’t Miss Out on Joy:  Caring for others can be messy and tiring but can also provide immense moments of joy and gratitude if we keep our hearts and minds open.

There are lots of online resources such disease specific advocate networks (Alzheimer’s, heart disease, etc.), area agencies on aging, including the United Way and pages related to seniors and senior issues that can provide a variety of information.

Contributed by Frannie Horn, ALC JD NCC. 

Frannie Horn is an Associate Licensed Counselor under the supervision of Carol Hollis-White, LPC-S.  She practices with Apollo Counseling and see individuals and couples. 

Kids’ Health and the New Normal

The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental and physical health, but for our kids, the pandemic has disrupted their growth process. Children have been distanced from their friends and extended family, ceased many extracurricular activities, and experienced home-schooling for the first time. All of these changes take a toll on their development. 

Everyone wants what is best for their child. During COVID lockdowns,  that meant keeping them home to prevent them from getting the virus. Now that most children have returned to school, albeit with new masking and distancing rules, here are some ways you can help your child adjust to the “new normal” with advice from experts. 

Christina Low Kapalu, PhD works at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City as a Child Psychologist. She suggests explaining things that have changed and things that have stayed the same so that your kids are not confused, “Start by discussing how things are the same AND different. When things are changing so rapidly, it is important to highlight all the things that are staying the same. Children can still call friends, ride their bikes, hang out with immediate family members, practice their favorite activities and enjoy being outdoors. This helps to reinforce the aspects of daily life that are predictable and routine, things that help us to manage during these difficult times. Then, you can move on to discussing changes.”

Returning to this “new normal” can cause unwanted stress for your child as well. Doctor Linda Nicolotti with Brenner Children’s discusses ways to reduce stress in the family, “Spend family time together by playing games, going for a walk or a bike ride, or preparing a meal together. Get creative, and ask everyone to contribute ideas about how to spend enjoyable time together” 

With all the new changes occurring, children are bound to get stressed out, and sometimes it is hard for them to communicate their emotions. Unicef discusses key ways to help calm kids down when they do get stressed out, “Take a break, when you start feeling angry, take a 20-second cool down. Breathe in and out slowly 5 times before you speak or move. Go somewhere else for 10 minutes to regain control of your emotions. If you have safe outdoor space, go outside.” 

At the end of the day, family is what is most important, and making sure your kids are alright. Hopefully, these tips can offer you a little support in returning back to “new normal” life with your children. 

Contributed by Carrie Davis 

Setting Priorities the Eisenhower Way

Working moms have many priorities that take over their everyday lives. Prioritizing time is crucial because for most moms, balancing work, kids, and everyday tasks can seem impossible. Setting priorities is a great way to make it clear what you need to do to make the most of your time. 

The first step to setting priorities is deciding what needs to be done and what is most important to you. A great way to organize your priorities and figure this out is to use the Eisenhower Quadrant method. This method not only helps you visualize your priorities, it gives you a smart way to triage your activities according to their level of importance and sense urgency. 

The Eisenhower Quadrant is broken up into four sections: 

  1. Urgent and Important – the first quadrant contains tasks that are most urgent and important to you, like getting your quarterly team report done in time for the staff meeting. Do these tasks first, as efficiently as possible. 
  2. Not Urgent but Important – The second quadrant contains tasks that are not necessarily urgent, but they are certainly important to you, such as requesting a mentor. Make sure you make time for these by blocking time on your calendar, otherwise they tend to slip perpetually. 
  3. Urgent but Not Important – The third quadrant contains tasks that are urgent but not important, like when your partner asks you to pick up his or her dry-cleaning needed for their trip tomorrow. These tasks are best delegated or declined when possible. 
  4. Not Urgent and Not Important – The last quadrant contains tasks that are not urgent and not important, such as lingering on social media. Do your best to eliminate these. 
from Mental Models for Software Engineers

By deciding what is the most important and determining the sense of urgency, you can delay and even eliminate certain tasks that felt imperative before using the quadrant to evaluate them. 

Setting priorities makes life easier and more rewarding for everyone, especially for working mothers. By using the Eisenhower Quadrant, every day can be a little less stressful and a lot more purposeful. 

Contributed by Carrie Davis.