Episode 9: The Long Haul

This photo of a teenage girl waiting for a train was taken in Chicago, Illinois 1960 by an unknown photographer. 

This photo of a teenage girl waiting for a train was taken in Chicago, Illinois 1960 by an unknown photographer. 

All summer, we’ve been exploring what it means to make progress—professionally, personally, and creatively. But how do we make that progress last? Momma B is here to help with advice for the long haul of a creative project, the strategic planning of a fruitful career, and the balancing act between your work and personal life. This episode also includes solid advice from a rock-&-rolling engineer, an actress you’ll recognize from TV, and the founder of a start-up.

We are on the quest for questions about families. If you could use some advice for your family, send in your question pronto.


Michaela Watkins is an actress, comedian and writer. She’s most excited for you to see her on the third season of Casual on Hulu. She has also appeared on TV in The New Adventures of Old Christine, Enlightened and Transparent as well as in the films, The Back-up Plan, Wanderlust,  and Enough Said. She was also a cast member on Saturday Night Live.

Bryan Garza is an entertainer, engineer, and wonderful husband. He has been the singer of the indie-rock band, Scissors for Lefty, since 1999. In that time, his band was signed to Rough Trade Records (UK) and played over 500 shows, touring with The Arctic Monkeys, Erasure, Smashing Pumpkins, and Metric to name a few. He also worked as a quality engineer in biomedical industry before joining UCSF as an analyst and technology project coordinator. He now makes music with his wife as Love Jerks.

Jerome Bortman spent his 35+ career working for The Navy, NASA, and The Department of Justice. He is a prostate cancer survivor, dedicated to raising prostate cancer awareness with the Obediah Cole Foundation and saving Floridian fowl with Save Our Seabirds.


QUESTION 1: Creative Failure

Six months ago I finished my first novel.  Yay me!  I was (and am) proud of that accomplishment and after years of writing on weekends and during my time-off, I was more than ready to start the process of looking for an agent to represent my book to publishers.  
I knew that this part of the process was a little bit like matchmaking in terms of finding and soliciting an agent who was as excited to represent my book as I was to write it, but as the rejections roll in one after the next, I find myself struggling to maintain the confidence and conviction I had for my work when I was writing it.  I have to fight hard against the perfectionist in me who immediately feels a sense of shame and failure when I get another rejection email from an agent, and even though I still believe there's an agent (and readers!) out there for this book, I've found myself a bit paralyzed in terms of my creative process.
After weeks of feeling rather depressed about my prospects, I had the realization that this was the most rejection I've ever had to face in my entire life.  On one hand, recognizing the inherent privilege of my situation put this whole thing in perspective for me, but on the other, I still feel stuck.
So my question is two-pronged: how to handle rejection as a creative person who's also a perfectionist, and how do I grapple with that sense of something being "incomplete"?     
Signed, Recently Rejected

Question 2: Implementing a Chosen Path

I have a very … varied personality. And I know I like a lot of variety in my life. Every time I take a personality test I’m always categorized as “the entertainer.” I’m a go-getter and have a lot of aspirations. I also get bored easily.
A few years ago, when I was still in school, I laid out a great number of goals to reach what I had determined was my final career destination in public health and nutrition. And over the last few years I’ve kept myself really busy and super focused on accomplishing each of those things -- undergrad, internship, grad school, work experience, and any extra certifications I could do to bulk my resume or put a letter behind my name.
Here I am a few years later and I’ve completed every goal on that list, even landing what I had deemed as my dream job as a community nutritionist. Aaaaaand I found that job to be too monotonous and I left after a year. Now I work at a hospital. So far, I love it—it’s more exciting and challenging. But when I think of this job as something I’ll do for the rest of my life, that feels so daunting to me. My question is: how do I stay motivated to stay in my career for the long haul? People say they worked the same job for 15-20 years and I just can’t see that for myself, even though I love this work. It is hard for me to picture the long haul when I have a nagging feeling that this won’t keep me satisfied forever.
Sincerely, An Entertainer Not So Easily Entertained

QUESTION 3: Balancing big life & a big career

I am really busy with work this summer. I’m the CEO of a start-up. We’ve been building the company for the past five years, but now is really make-it or break-it time. Before the end of the year, I need to raise the next several million dollars in investment to keep my company afloat. So the stakes are quite high. Also this summer, I’m getting married. My partner and I are planning a pretty elaborate destination wedding, so he and I haven’t “hit the easy button” on that either. I know you like to say the only requirement for a wedding is that it be transcendent. How do I make sure that I’m present and in the moment for both my wedding and my business? Beyond the wedding, I know this is going to be a lifelong balance I need to strike.
Sincerely, Bride with a Business

Advice from Mom is a production of Wise Ones Advice Services. It was produced by Juliet Hinely & Rebecca Garza-Bortman. Editing by Juliet Hinely. Mixing and mastered by Jake Young. Publicity by Jane Riccobono. Audio assistance by Bryan Garza. The song throughout this episode is Rebel in Motion by Scissors for Lefty. Our theme music is by Love Jerks. To hear this song with vocals and to see Rebecca on bass, check out their latest live video.

Episode 8: Making Progress

This photo was taken in New York in 1917. That lady making some progress on knitting is "Frances White." Half of the vaudeville team Rock & White.

This photo was taken in New York in 1917. That lady making some progress on knitting is "Frances White." Half of the vaudeville team Rock & White.

Figuring out your personal process of progress can be tricky! Momma B is here to help with advice for taking feedback on your work, balancing your creative pursuits with your daily responsibilities, and playing well with others. This episode also includes solid advice from all-star guests like some Nashville songbirds, Whit Hill & Kira Small, a novelist currently on the NYT best seller list, Janelle Brown, and the one of NPR’s favorite duo, The Kitchen Sisters!

We want to hear how your summer project is coming along! Call into our summer project hotline and leave us a little message about your progress. Call 1-706-9-ASK-MOM or send us a message.

Meet the wise guests of this episode:

The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva) are the producers of the duPont-Columbia and James Beard Award-winning series, Hidden Kitchens on NPR’s Morning Edition and two Peabody Award-winning NPR series, Lost & Found Sound and The Sonic Memorial Project. Their latest season of stories, Hidden Kitchens: Kimchi Diplomacy: War and Peace and Food was given a 2017 James Beard Award and their podcast, The Kitchen Sisters Present… was awarded a Webby for Best Documentary Podcast, both on the same day. Their NPR series The Hidden World of Girls {Girls and the Women They Become} was hosted by Tina Fey. The Kitchen Sisters have appeared live-onstage in multimedia performances with Pop-Up Magazine, at TED, SXSW, the Third Coast International Audio Festival,  Radiotopia Live, The Smithsonian and more. 

The Kitchen Sisters' non-profit media collaboration is dedicated to creating documentaries that chronicle untold stories of culture and tradition, presenting voices from the edges and the margins, to keeping the airwaves vibrant, imaginative and democratic, and to training young people and others with a passion to be involved in public media. Their book, Hidden Kitchens was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. They are part of the Radiotopia podcast collective from PRX. Currently they are in collaboration with Prospect.4, the New Orleans Triennial and creating a new NPR Morning Edition series, The Keepers – stories of activist archivists, rogue librarians, curators, collectors and historians. They are also working on their second book Show the Girls the Snakes and their first Broadway musical.

Janelle Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, This Is Where We Live, and the recently released Watch Me Disappear. Her journalism and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Vogue, Elle, Wired, Self, The Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications. Bay Area listeners can catch Janelle at Keplers Books in Menlo Park on Monday, August 7, 2017 at 7:30pm. Learn more about Janelle and her upcoming readings on her site.

Kira Small is a nationally touring singer-songwriter, recording artist, 2015 International Songwriting Competition Finalist, 2012 Independent Music Awards winner and former member of Berklee College of Music’s Voice Faculty. As an in-demand Nashville session vocalist, she has toured/recorded with Martina McBride, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Ray Price, Peter Frampton, Wynonna Judd, even Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter). She also makes lemons out of lemonade. Kira’s June 2016 release 3 AM is one of those albums where an artist, in making sense of a time of personal upheaval, almost accidentally crafts a career masterpiece.  Hear her music, see her upcoming shows or book a house concert on her site.

Whit Hill is a Nashville-based singer/songwriter. In 2012, she was a winner of the Kerrville Folk Festival's New Folk competition—one of folk music's greatest honors. Raised in New York City, where she was a child actor, Whit worked as a dancer and choreographer in Michigan for many years before focusing on music and moving to Nashville in 2008. Her two albums, “We Are Here” (2003) and “Farsighted” (2006) have received wide critical acclaim. Her most recent album, I Dug it Up (2015), is a collection of songs about the hobby of metal detecting. Hear it all on her site

From the top of the show:

Hadley Davis Rierson is a Los Angeles-based writer, mother, wife and arts advocate. A published author by the age of 26, Hadley went on to write for television (“Dawson’s Creek,” “Spin City,” “Scrubs”) and film (Disney’s “Ice Princess”). She now contributes to the New York Times and The Los Angeles Review of Books.

From the finale of the show:

Majo Molfino is a writer, speaker, and women’s creative leadership coach. With a Masters in Design from Stanford, she supports women in becoming better, more resilient creative leaders at top companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, and IDEO. Her work has been highlighted in FastCoDesign, The Huffington Post, Medium and LinkedIn. She is also the host of Heroine (http://bit.ly/herpod) – a podcast featuring the journeys of top creative women leaders and risk-takers. When she isn’t writing, coaching, or podcasting, she’s sipping on tea and writing poems in the Redwoods. Learn more on her site

Nathalie Arbel is a San Francisco-based writer and editor. Her work on design leadership, marketing, and entrepreneurship has been published in FastCoDesign, TechCrunch, and more. She's currently working on a book called Data-Driven Marketing (www.clearbit.com/books/data-driven-marketing). Nathalie started as a product marketer at Google and YouTube, and is originally from Silicon Valley with roots in Switzerland and Israel. Also, she loves pottery. Learn more on her site

Momma B’s link goodie bag

Question 1: Accepting Creative Feedback 

I'm an independent filmmaker and writer. In the last few years, I feel very fortunate that I’ve been seeing some success!

I'm focused on developing my voice as a storyteller. I know the way to improve is by showing my work-in-progress to others and to ask what's working and what's not.  I always try to be open to feedback. Some feedback is helpful, while others not so much. I'm also wary that as a woman, I get more negative feedback than my male counterparts.  In the past, overly critical feedback has killed a project before it had time to grow.  Do you have advice for how to take feedback - whom to trust and how to protect your work at its most vulnerable stage, while also being open to input that could help your creative work improve greatly?   -Signed, Finding my Way in Feedback

Question 2: Creativity & Parenting

I’ve a professional writer & editor. I started in book publishing and and now I work in a museum. Occasionally, I’d do some writing gigs on the side. I used to play in bands and paint, but it’s been a long time since I experienced that "creative flow". Now I mostly make up lyrics to silly songs for my 2-year old kid and still try to write a little on the side, but not really, because who am I kidding?
My big question to fellow parents who are creative professionals is "How do you do it?" How do you make time and energy for anything other than feeding, entertaining, loving, reading books, keeping this little human from hurting himself? Plus getting at least 5 hours of sleep a night, maintaining a relationship with your partner, and going to a job 40 hours a week? How?? What are the parameters or loopholes that make this all possible because my partner and I haven't seemed to find any.
Signed, Wondering How to Have it All

Question 3: Creative Collaboration 

For many years, I worked with a writing partner on a number of projects, including a feature screenplay and two tv pilots. Our work styles really differed. I liked solving issues in the work via the Socratic method of cooperative argumentative dialogue. On the other hand, my writing partner, who is also a guy and also my same age, felt that all I was doing was arguing and being combative. It became clear that some of this was a remnant from our respective childhood experiences -- my family likes to argue and his does not. He eventually declared he couldn't work with me anymore and it ended not just our working partnership, but also our friendship. Recently, I've reached out again to rekindle the friendship, but I still harbor resentment that he so willing to walk away from our 20-year friendship because of this rocky work relationship. Any advice on how to reach closure so we can move on together as friends? 
Signed, Fight Vs. Flight

Episode 7: Starting Something Big

This photo was taken in January 11, 1945 by an unknown photographer. It’s a portrait of Second Lieutenant Arthur Wong Jr. a Chinese-American aviator from Oakland, California. Roughly 25% of all Chinese-American soldiers during World War II served with the Army Air Forces. Collection of Oakland Museum of California.

This photo was taken in January 11, 1945 by an unknown photographer. It’s a portrait of Second Lieutenant Arthur Wong Jr. a Chinese-American aviator from Oakland, California. Roughly 25% of all Chinese-American soldiers during World War II served with the Army Air Forces. Collection of Oakland Museum of California.

Hitting some stumbling blocks when it comes to starting something BIG? Momma B is here to help. This episode includes some solid advice from all-star guests like world-touring DJ Atish Mehta, New York Times illustrator Wendy MacNaughton, Zak and Shira from the Pregnant Pause podcast and Doree Shafrir, author of the novel Startup. Momma B even says a bad word!

Meet the wise guests of this episode:

Momma B’s link goodie bag

Question 1: Prioritizing your creative pursuits

This year I graduated from art school and I’m proud to say I’m fully-employed as a junior product designer. Sometimes, I miss doing art projects, but now I don’t know what I want to draw, paint or sculpt. In college, we always had fun projects to work on, but now I'm at a loss. But on the other hand, I'm also at a loss for time...Is it possible to get back into art with a full-time job or will I have to wait until I’m old and have earned it, then pick up a paintbrush and become the next Wayne Thiebaud? ;-)
Signed, Pass the Pastels

Question 2: Turning passion into a career

A few years ago, I started tinkering audio and making radio stories. It quickly became my passion. My day job is totally unrelated to audio, I’ve kept the fire burning by taking audio classes and building a community of fellow podcasters and radio journalists. I even made a rule for  myself that I’m not allowed to go to bed until I’ve worked on one of my audio projects at least a little bit!
Almost every time I work on my projects, I feel like I’m eating candy while opening Christmas presents.  I love the freedom to make exactly what I want, to be playful and creative, and to work at a comfortable pace.
Long story short: some changes at my day job accelerated my decision to devote a period of time to trying to take this passion in a professional direction. Last week I gave notice, and I’m starting to interview for audio-related gigs.
I have never done anything related to audio for money before. I have also never made anything that wasn’t exactly what I wanted to make. How do I bring my strong clarity around what I love into the reality of market forces, capitalism, and my limited experience?  What’s the best mindset that I can have as I step over the line from hobbyist to professional?
Signed, A Girl Who Just Wants to Have Fun...and Make Money

Question 3: Making a Big Life Decision

I have a question about families. Or rather non-families. I’ve been in a very positive relationship for the last 5 years. The only thing we differ on is the question of having children. My partner would currently rather not have kids. I personally waffle back and forth on the issue—each option tortures me. I feel like it is the biggest decision of my life and sometimes it is all consuming. I’m afraid of losing out and regretting it later in life, but on the other hand, I don’t want to leave this positive relationship behind. Especially if I’m not at all sure about having children myself. I sometimes wish I would medically be unable to have children just because it would take away the pressure. Then I could let go without having to actively make this time-sensitive decision. It has gone so far that I am having difficulties being supportive of my friends who are planning to have a family. I am afraid that seeing their lives will trigger me and send me into a thinking spiral again. Part of the problem for me is that in our culture, women are expected to want to have children and I am lacking positive role models for a motherless life.
My partner and I have a big open talk each year where we decide if we want to have children. This helps me to let go a little in between, otherwise I would ask myself even more. My partner says he’s leaning towards “no” but that his opinion might change, but it’s not very likely. We both embrace this yearly opportunity, but I want a strategy to let go a bit more. How can I embrace the chaos and unpredictability of life without the constant fear of making a "wrong" decision?
Signed, Parental Guidance

Show Credits

Advice from Mom is a production of Wise Ones Advice Services. It was produced by Juliet Hinely & Rebecca Garza-Bortman. Editing by Juliet Hinely. Mixing and mastering by Jake Young. Publicity by Jane Riccobono. Audio assistance by Bryan Garza. The theme music is by Love, Jerks. The song throughout this episode is Rebel in Motion by Scissors for Lefty.

Episode 6: Wise Moms of Pittsburgh

For this special Mother’s Day episode, we are going into mom-overload with listener questions about how to talk to your parent about their mental health, how to help little ones adjust to a culturally-different environment, and how to convince your partner that you two should adopt. Each question will be slathered in 3 doses of advice and we’ll be playing plenty of mother daughter pickleball, but this time, I’m not in San Francisco, many states apart from my mom. For this episode, I’m within hugging distance. And you know who else is? Some of my mom’s wise friends, who are also moms (and don’t worry, also skilled professionals). That’s right: we are IN the mothership. 

This episode’s second opinions include:

  • Beth Dean is a product designer at Facebook, who works at the intersection of ethics and advertising. She is also an illustrator who creates weirdo comics, psychedelic posters and spooky toys. 
  • Dianna L. Ploof, EdD is an assistant professor in the  Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Co-Director of the Office of Faculty Development.  Trained in organizational development and behavioral science, she also consults with organizations in areas such as leadership development, team building and conflict management.  She would say her most important role has been as the  mother of a now 26-year son. She also loves to do jigsaw puzzles with my mom!
  • Rev. Mary Lynn Gras is a Christian minister and mother and grandmother, who loves to knit.
  • Dr. Lani M.Ventura-Mustin is a chiropractor and mother of 3, who loves to kickbox. 

Momma B’s link goodie bag:

Question 1: how to talk to your parent about their mental health

I've been lucky enough to benefit from all that personal development, self-help, and mental health resources have to offer in this modern day and age. I've read books, been to therapy, and taken up yoga and meditation - all of which have really helped me through anxiety and depression that started to plague me as I entered my college years. I still struggle with those inner demons, but I feel so lucky that I've had access to this kind of help, and feel more able to cope than ever. I don't know where I'd be today if I never learned about the feedback loop from stimulus, thought, and emotion, or that how we react to the world is a choice.
I find that interacting with people who haven't had access to similar resources (or done the same level of personal work) can be hard. Especially when one of those people is my mom. I see my mom struggling so much from issues of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, and watch her endure painful rollercoasters of emotion. I really want to help her and be there for her. What she wants from me is an ear. What I really want is to teach her the strategies I've learned and frankly, tell her to finally go to therapy. It would help her so much, but due to a generational divide, stigma, denial, etc., I just can't crack that nut.
How do I approach this topic without offending or hurting her? How do I finally get my mom to read some of the books I have, go to therapy, or approach mental health in the same way?  Or, do I accept her for who she is and listen, patiently? Thanks for your help in navigating a touchy subject.
Signed, Somewhat enlightened but still occasionally depressed.

Question 2: how to help little ones adjust to a culturally-different environment

I’m the mom of 2 spirited little ones, in search of motherly advice on introducing my two & four year-old kids into a pint-sized Jewish preschool.
As a family, we are social and outgoing. My husband and I are both mixed race and value multicultural diversity. We love to participate in our children's events and would like to continue to do so at this new school. Our fear is that in this new pre-school our kids won’t fit. We will be one of the only non-Jewish families enrolled. That fear was mostly quelled by visiting and experiencing the warm, nurturing, and engaging learning environment. We anticipate our kids will flourish. But our family has had limited exposure to the Jewish community and faith and we are a bit intimidated and anxious.
So far, it seems like our non-denominational faith is the elephant in the room...Our biggest fear is that our daughter and son will receive different treatment (From the kids or the adults?) because of our differences as a family...and as parents, we want to ensure we reduce this risk and create as a smooth transition. We are also super-duper excited to join this new community and learn new things as a family.
I’m desperately seeking your motherly pearls of wisdom to help navigate our family's interfaith preschool transition.
Signed, Newbie to the Jewish Scene

Question 3:  how to convince your partner that you two should adopt

I’m a guy, so I’m not a mom myself, but my wife and I have been married for a few years and together for nearly 10, so the question about kids has definitely come up. We both go back and forth on it for various reasons. Not feeling stable financially, not wanting to give up our freedom, not knowing what will happen to the planet earth (Ok, that is a big one, but it IS something we talk about). Anyway, I do really believe that when it comes down to it, we both actually would like to be parents but just aren’t ready yet. We’re in our early 30’s now but by the time we’re ready to have kids we could be in our late 30’s, maybe even 40? With that age in mind, health concerns arise. I brought up adoption as an option and learned my wife was not very into that idea. This surprised me since I generally think of her as a warm and generous and empathetic person. She said she liked it in theory but was worried that an adopted child wouldn’t really feel like OUR child. She also voiced worry about not knowing the background of the child and how that would play out as they grow up. So I guess we’re uncertain about having kids in general, but I think adoption is an important path to keep open in our case. Any ideas on how to take the conversation farther and maybe open her up to this idea?
Sincerely, Adoption Option

Show Credits

Advice from Mom is a production of Wise Ones Advice Services. It was produced by Juliet Hinely & Rebecca Garza-Bortman. Editing and mixing by Juliet Hinely. Sound engineering by Helen Wigger at WESA Pittsburgh. Publicity by Jane Riccobono. Audio assistance by Bryan Garza. Moral support by Jerome Bortman & Aviva Rubin. The theme music is by Love, Jerks. The song throughout this episode is Rebel in Motion by Scissors for Lefty.

Episode 5: Life Detours


Momma B is here to help when your life takes an unexpected turn!

This episode’s second opinions include:

  • Eli Horowitz is the creator and director of the podcast, Homecoming from Gimlet Media. He is also the co-creator of The Silent History, a digital novel; The Clock Without a Face, a treasure-hunt mystery; and was the managing editor and then publisher of McSweeney’s—
  • Ronda L. Metcalf (back by popular demand), who works at UCSF, dispatching for Facilities Services.
  • Suzanne Rico, is a journalist, fertility advocate and world traveler. Previously, she spent two decades in broadcast journalism, including eight years as the morning news anchor for KCBS-TV, Los Angeles.
  • Jerome Bortman (yep, that's right!), spent his 35+ career working for The Navy, NASA, and The Department of Justice. He is a prostate cancer survivor, dedicated to raising cancer awareness with the Obediah Cole Foundation and saving Floridian fowl with Save Our Seabirds.

QUESTION 1: An expected life turn

Four years ago, I had just gotten married and my husband and I were thinking of moving to Sonoma. Now I am a single parent, living in Las Vegas. I’ve changed my career to interior design, gone back to school full-time. I’m also working full-time, parenting full-time, trying to build a business, trying to build new friendships here, and, oh, trying to date. Oy, I’m exhausted just writing it out.
I chose to move to Vegas when I was pregnant and separating from my now-ex, because this is where my parents retired. I never thought in a million years I would live in Vegas—hence a life detour! Weirdly, it's been a really lovely, calm, quiet place to heal, grow, reboot, to say the least.
It was definitely a big deal to change careers at age 40 - both professionally to start over and also financially as a single parent.
There is a pretty big learning curve at my job. Eight weeks into the job, I am still struggling to get the quick turnarounds my clients need. Rationally I know it's ok, but emotionally I feel like I am failing because I can't figure it out quite yet. How do I stop being so hard on myself?
It’s not like I’m trying to be perfect or feel always in control, but I somehow create these expectations that I have to meet. I’m the one always telling my friends to just do you, it's all good, give yourself a break, etc.  Why am I unable to do this for myself?
Signed, Vegas Single Moms Club


QUESTION 2: many life changes

I am 26 year old American living in London, getting married in a few months to the best person ever, and have a career I really like and I am struggling with a debilitating fear of, well, everything.
I am constantly finding things to be afraid of. Mostly I sweep these fears under the rug and force myself to move on, but sometimes I have a fear confirmed that only makes the process worse. To be specific, I am mostly afraid of health issues and dying.
I recently became pregnant. My fiancé and I both want to have children soon, but we are in the middle of moving back to the United States from England. We won't have anywhere to live, let alone jobs, for a while until we find our footing in our new country. So we made the decision not to carry through with the pregnancy. One week before my procedure, I had a miscarriage at 6 weeks pregnant. When we went to the hospital to have a scan, they couldn't find the embryo, it was gone. But they did find a rather large cyst on my ovary. The nurses assured me this is normal and has no bearing on fertility, and did not cause my miscarriage, but it left me paralysed in fear that I had miscarried due to my health, my body, my fault.
I haven't been able to get past this. The idea that my body failed me has me worried about what will happen when we do want to have a baby. I'm starting to wonder if my constant worry and anxiety over my health is becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy.
I have gone to doctors and been tested for everything and there isn't anything wrong with me, I am a normal young adult. But every time I get a tinge of pain, anything, I immediately assume the worst. At this very moment I have a small bit of pain on my side and am trying very hard not to assume I have breast cancer. How should I cope with my fears?
Signed, Nervous in London


QUESTION 3: In need of a detour

How do you know when it's time to *move on*? Is it when you first ask yourself the question? Is there a time limit to how long you should stay somewhere? Like at a job?
I’m a thoughtful and quiet single guy. I’ve had the same job for 10 years and lived in the same place for 14 years. I’m in the midst of an emotional week: I felt humbled by coworkers, celebrating my work anniversary. I felt sad and regretful after coming across my grandparent’s obituary and not visiting them more often. And I’m fearful that I will soon be evicted when the building I live in is finally sold.
I’m trying to balance the anxiety of not making a change, while everyone around me moves on. It's a question of making a change for the sake of change,  but I don't really know where to go.
Signed, Long Term Tenant

Momma B’s link goodie bag:

Learn more about temperament evaluations
Learn more about Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Show Credits

Advice from Mom is a production of Wise Ones Advice Services. It was produced by Juliet Hinely & Rebecca Garza-Bortman. Editing and mixing by Juliet Hinely.  Audio assistance by Bryan Garza. Publicity by Jane Riccobono. Workbook editing by Nathalie Arbel. The theme music is by Love, Jerks. The song throughout this episode is Rebel in Motion by Scissors for Lefty.


Episode 4: Breakups


This episode comes with a downloadable breakup workbook. Get your copy here.

Lee's  Visualizations: Peak Break-Up Times on Facebook
Breakups Per Day  |  Dating Life Cycle  |   Methods of Breaking the News

This episode’s second opinions include:

Question 1: Early-stage break-up

Hi Momma B. Thanks for the amazing advice in the last few episodes. My breakup question is, how do you know whether to pursue a friendship with someone after a short romantic fling fizzles out?
I'm a 28 year old woman and the last time I had a proper, loving relationship was 9 years ago. I've been focusing on online dating in an effort to change that. I don't often get a genuine connection with someone, but when I do like a guy, I'm quick to get a bit too gaga over him. I think that might have happened with my friend in the question and I wonder whether it scared him off. I'm also putting effort into meeting new platonic friends right now, because I've been feeling lonely in my city.
I recently went out with a guy I met on a dating app. We had 3 amazing dates, but he hasn't contacted me since, so I think he's lost interest. Normally I would just move on, but I keep recalling the pure joy of spending time with him on our first couple dates. Within seconds of meeting each other, we were joking, laughing, and climbing trees. He brought out the silly in me, and we shared many artistic interests. I rarely experience that fun, high-energy connection with another person, even if it's just a friendship. And I've been hungry for that kind of friendship for a while. I don't know many people in my city that get me to loosen up and be myself.
Can I spin this romantic rejection into a platonic relationship? Even though I don't know this person well yet, I suspect he's a gem, and I'm intrigued by the possibility of a friendship that brings more jokes, art, and support into my life. But I'm not sure how to reach out and ask whether he'd be open to that. I'm also afraid I'm wrong about him being a good guy. Maybe he'll reject me platonically too, and I'll get double-crushed. Should I risk it?
Signed, Friendzoner

Question 2: Supportive Friend of a Divorcee

Five years ago I went to the wedding of one of my best friends. This year, she's getting a divorce.
When they were married, my friend and her husband were both undecided about having kids, but as the years progressed she decided she REALLY wanted to have kids, and he decided he definitely did not.
What started off as a mature separation between two adults who saw different futures for themselves, has turned into a messy divorce with dramatic visits, painful insults, even divorce papers that have been ripped up twice. The whole thing just seems incredibly unlike her.
My usual M.O. in friend breakups is to listen, ask questions, and support my friends no matter what their decision. But in this case I think it's clear she needs to get out of this ASAP, especially if she wants to have time to have kids.
So, I'm in uncharted territory—how do I encourage her to get through this, move on, make a clean break without overstepping and possibly harming our relationship in this whole mess?

Signed, Supportive in San Francisco

Question 3: Compounded breakups

Dear Momma B,
My question is about how to move on after a breakup. A year and a half ago I ended a four-year relationship. Although it was my decision, it was still very painful.  It was a remarkably clean break in many ways. He moved out of our apartment quickly, we split our things up pretty amicably, and I have only communicated with him a few times since. Even so, when I think about the relationship or run into him at a party, it still brings up a lot of sadness and guilt. I get the feeling he is still upset with me. I've reached out to him in hopes that we can relate in a less-charged, more-friendly way, but he has not been receptive. In general I wish I could focus on the good things we shared, but instead I get caught up with how it ended.
I recently ended another year-long relationship, so now that I have these two pretty heavy emotional breakups in my recent past is making me wonder if there’s something I should be doing differently after a breakup. The prevailing approach seems to be to cut your ex out of your life completely—throw out everything that reminds you of them and pretty much erase them from your life. But I don’t want to do that! They were a big part of my life and I cherish many of the experiences I shared with them.
I am confident that I don’t want to be with either of these men, and overall I am learning a lot about myself and about what I want in a partner. So why do I feel bad when I think about them? Also, you should know that I took your advice from your dating episode and made a chart of all my past relationships, comparing them to the qualities of my ideal partner. It was a surprisingly moving exercise, so thank you! I feel like I’m working with a new paradigm now, ready for a more solid relationship than ever before. So although I’m optimistic about my future, I could use some help cleaning up my past.
Sincerely, Sentimental Spring Cleaner

Show Credits 

I even have exciting news for the credits for those of you who care about my sanity and wellbeing or just the quality of this show. I’ve found a creative partner to build this podcastle with!! Juliet Hinely is co-producing this episode with me. She has also edited and mixed it. 

The workbook that I hope you will pour your soul into soon was edited by Nathalie Arbel. Jane Riccobono does our publicity. Advice from Mom is a production of Wise Ones Advice Services. 

The opera you heard with Momma B’s story was indeed LA TRAVIATA as performed by the famous Madame Maria Callas. Our theme music is by Love, Jerks. That’s my band with my husband. Save the arts! 

Thanks to Papa B, Jocelyn, Aviva, Serena, Hadley, Ash, Ginny, Jane, Emily, Blair, Nina, Jasmeet,  and my man, Bryan. Ready for a sneak preview of the breakup workbook???

Episode 3: Workplace Woes


This episode is crafted to help you with your workplace woes. This month we take on three classic workplace woes: toxic work environments, losing your job, and feeling like you can’t be yourself at work.

Every question you’ll hear on today’s show has been sent in by a fellow listener. We are always taking new questions, so if you want some advice from Momma B, please Request Advice. You can also leave a voicemail or text us your request: 706-9-ASK-MOM. Less fancifully, that number is (706) 927-5666. We are currently working on upcoming episodes about break-ups and creative pursuits. Send those questions in pronto!

Each question on this episode gets 3 doses of advice. First you’ll hear Momma B’s advice. Next: You’ll hear a segment called Mother-Daughter Pickleball, where your host, Rebecca presents some clarifying questions and builds on Momma B's advice. Last, you’ll hear a second opinion, because it’s always good to get a second opinion.

Question 1: Recovering from a Toxic Work Environment

I'm a female creative professional, working in tech industry for the past 8 years. A few years ago, I left a terrible work situation at a "hot" tech start-up. Employees were pitted against each other and rewarded for gutting their peers' projects, sexual harassment was shrugged off on the daily, and shipping projects depended on currying favor with the higher ups' boys club rather than work, data and merit. I've had the good fortune of having plenty of good experiences and projects since I left, but I find my first instinct with people is still to assume they are trying to trick me, or prove that I'm not competent. I'm trying to be less suspicious, but there's a part of me that hangs onto the idea that I was supposed to 'learn' something from all that bad joojoo. What can I do to accept and validate my own experience without condemning all of humanity to the garbage heap?
Signed, Workplace Warrior

The guests in this segment are Sadia Harper of Collective Health and Julie Mora-Blanco of Adobe.

Question 2: building back your confidence after losing your job

Through most of my life I've enjoyed career success: receiving positive evaluations, taking constructive criticism and working to make improvements where needed, all while earning the respect of my managers, employees, and peers.
Then, last year I was laid off and found myself unemployed for the first time in my career of over 20 years. It was rough, but I tried to embrace it as just the kick in the pants I needed to make a change and grow in my career. My job search took longer than expected and I encountered a few bumps along the way, but eventually I found a new job I loved and things were looking up.
But my good fortune didn't last and I was soon struggling to prove myself in my new role, which was admittedly a stretch that I was bit underprepared for. After several months of giving it my all yet still failing to turn things around in the eyes of my boss, we agreed that things weren't working out and parted ways.
I'm proud of how I handled that difficult situation and the effort I put into addressing it, but in the end I still failed. Now I'm unemployed for the second time in a year and my confidence is shot. How can I project the necessary confidence for a successful job search when my track record is tarnished and I'm filled with self-doubt?
Signed, Failing at Forty

The guest in this segment is Robert (Tre) Laughlin. He runs All Systems Health. and has a Masters Degree in Oriental Medicine, certified medical qigong practitioner, certified as a functional medicine practitioner, and is currently pursuing his doctorate in Longevity at Yo San University in L.A., a Chinese and Integrative Medicine University founded and informed by the Ni family, that holds a 39 generation lineage in Taoist healing. In addition to being a master acupuncturist and herbalist, he loves geeking out on specialized lab tests that can help see the big picture for ultimate health and wellbeing. Tre also loves biohacking, and considers Chinese Medicine to be the original biohacking platform.  He combines the most ancient medicines with the most cutting edge tech to create a personalized and optimized treatment plan.

Question 3: Bringing your personal to work

I'm comfortable with my colleagues and can be myself workin' 9 to 5. Well, my working hours are more like 10 to 7, but don't tell Dolly Parton. Like Dolly, I too feel comfortable bringing my whole-self to work. So that's not the   heft of my question.
Rather, my question is this: When it comes to professional pursuits outside the office—writing blog posts, speaking at conferences, tweeting the tweets, and giving the occasional interview (#blessed emoji)—how do I balance the good sense to remain professional with the opportunity to be personable?
Are there techniques or exercises to determine the best amount of humor to bring into my public persona as I tip-toe this tightrope of career suicide?
I admire Ellen DeGeneres' ability to be humorous, respected, likable, and remain entertaining despite the status quo for comedians to make crass, offensive, or inflammatory jokes. Nevertheless, Ellen is squarely in the business of comedy and I—in addition to never having won a Presidential Medal of Freedom—work in a more conservative profession where, unfortunately, decorum and LinkedIn still matter.   
In an age where the internet immortalizes every public display, how do we get more comfortable bringing our personalities into our careers? ... or with the foreboding doom that may be unavoidable with such a risk? Am I going to end up helpless and homeless if my creative expressions miss their mark!? (This is literally a question I've asked my therapist multiple times—he won't answer anymore, so now I'm asking you.)
Sincerely, Profesh versus Pizzazz

The guests in this segment are Kelli Dragovich is the SVP of People at Hired.  

Tim Federle is the author of Better Nate Than Ever — Tim’s debut novel about a small-town teenager who crashes an audition for E.T.: The Musical — was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and inspired a sequel that won the Lambda Literary Award.

Tim’s latest YA novel, The Great American Whatever, was called “a Holden Caulfield for a new generation” (Kirkus) and was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus and School Library Journal and a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times.

Described as “a prolific scribe whose breezy wit isn’t bound to a single genre” (The Huffington Post), Federle also writes bestselling recipe books, including Tequila Mockingbird (over 200,000 copies sold) and Gone With the Gin.


Episode 2: Dating Advice from Mom

The complete SHOW NOTES

This episode is on dating! We provide advice for those who miss the puppy love of younger years, for those who feel misunderstood while dating, and for those who are looking to make a friendship into a romance and so much mawwwwr!!!

Every question you’ll hear on today’s show has been sent in by a fellow listener. We are always taking new questions, so if you want some advice from Momma B, please Request Advice. You can also leave a voicemail or text us your request: 706-9-ASK-MOM. Less fancifully, that number is (706) 927-5666. We are currently working on upcoming episodes about working woes and break-ups. Send those questions in pronto!

Each question on this episode gets 3 doses of advice. First you’ll hear Momma B’s advice. Next: You’ll hear a segment called Mother-Daughter Pickleball, where your host, Rebecca presents some clarifying questions and builds on Momma B's advice. Last, you’ll hear a second opinion, because it’s always good to get a second opinion.

Question 1: For those who miss the puppy love of younger years

I am a straight male knocking on 40’s door. It feels like I have been single forever. I was in love once, in my late 20s. After two & a half years I ended it - twice! - because we couldn’t seem to get past the fact that I didn’t communicate well or enough, whether it was talking about everyday things, or giving her space to communicate, or communicating my love for her. She’s married with a family, living far away. I still care for her like no other person in the world. But she needed more and somehow I wasn’t expressing the full depth of my love.
I might look good on paper, but I just can’t make anything stick. I have had a long string of 2-3 month lady friends that just end because I don’t feel the connection, conversation or commonalities are strong enough to go on. I am all but certain that the fault lies with me and my communication—similar issues to those with my ex, 10 years ago. While I often retreat to introversion, the truth is my quiet belies my desire to share, connect and grow with a partner. Perhaps if I were more open I could find more ways to connect.
The more this situation of singleness lingers, the more I feel like I should just detach the apps, try to stop pining for ladies, and focus on self actualization if that’s even possible. I suppose I still strive for the connection like the one I had in my 20s. Is that kind of puppy love unrealistic now that I am nearing 40? At the same time, there has to be some spark, does there not? How do you find a spark on a first date with a stranger from some stupid app?
Signed, Knock knock knocking on 40's door

The guest in this segment is Lisa Podell. Lisa Podell is a former matchmaker for The Dating Ring and founder of Better Sessions. She has over 10 years of experience as a teacher, educational specialist, certified life coach, and public speaker; specializing in helping individuals attain their personal and professional goals.

Lisa is also known for her position in Washington Square Park as Free Advice Girl, by which she seeks to uplift humanity one conversation at a time. She has spoken to over 5,000 people in service to this mission. With her passion for education, Lisa piloted The Advice Project. This was a series of educational workshops held in NYC public schools designed to empower adolescents to develop and express their own voice.

Question 2: Advice for those who feel misunderstood while dating

I'm hesitant to admit this, but I'm worried that men don't understand me. I’m a 31-year-old female and I know this is such a cliche, but I am slowly feeling like it’s true. The men I've dated recently are either afraid of commitment, ignore the underlying meanings to things, or don't realize when their actions or words mean something bigger. When do you consider it general male denseness or actually something they're hinting at, but afraid to admit out loud?
Signed, Doubtful Dater

The guest in this segment is Ronda L. Metcalf. She works at UCSF, dispatching for Facilities Services. She is the most awesome person to ever give advice on this podcast, even Momma B says so.

Question 3: Advice for those who looking to make a friendship into a romance.

I'm a 36-year old gay man who has always struggled to find relationships with people who share my desire to balance the brain AND body. I usually end up settling for men who only exhibits the desirable physical characteristics OR the intellectual ones. Ultimately, I’m left unsatisfied and move on quickly.  
When I find someone I really like—which is rare—I am very cautious as I don't want to mess it up. I would like a long-term fulfilling relationship with a partner some day, but don't want to sacrifice potential friends to do so.
About a year ago, I was introduced to a man we'll call Handsome Nugget. He is the rare bird with both the brains & the body. For most of our dates, I made most of the plans, most of our conversations were about things he didn't like in his life, and the sex never felt quite right. We formally dated for about 2 months before I decided to call it off before we both grew resentful. I still really liked him, his interests, his wisdom, his body, his smile.
Recently he reached out to me when he learned about a tragedy in my life and we've rekindled a friendship, but neither of us have made any romantic moves. He and I can talk for hours and I feel really connected to him. He is someone I would like to have in my life for a long long time as a friend or preferably, a boyfriend.
How do I tell Handsome Nugget that I am interested in dating him seriously and getting physical without putting our friendship at risk?
Signed, Handsome Nugget Lover

The guest in this segment is Charlie Beckerman. Charlie Beckerman is kind of surprised anyone wants his advice about dating, but not so surprised that he's not going to give it. He's the creator of the podcast Serial Dater which can be found at www.serialdaterpodcast.com, as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. He's also one-half of Fashion It So, the Internet's premiere Star Trek: The Next Generation fashion blog. During the day he writes for Bustle.com about all sorts of political stuff. For more information about all of his projects, check out www.charliebeckerman.com.

Show Credits

Advice from Mom is a production of Wise Ones Advice Services. It produced & edited by me, RGB. Sound engineering by Bryan Garza. Our theme music is Love, Jerks.

Big thanks to everyone who sent us questions, and to all my friends who gave input & advice for this episode (Sasha, Ash, Aviva, Jane, Michael, Brad, and Bryan) and to Papa B and my sister Laura for helping me organize a special birthday treat for Momma B for her 70th birthday. If you’d like to add your birthday wish to Momma B, call 706-9-ASK-MOM, I promise to never answer if you promise always to sing.


Episode 1: Post-Election Advice



The episode is divided into segments, like a musical album, allowing you, our darling listener to pick and choose which questions you'd like to dive into. This post-election episode includes 3 questions and some general advice at the top and bottom of the show. We highly recommend a complete listen (but of course we would). 

Each question gets 3 doses of advice. First you’ll hear Momma B’s advice. Next: You’ll hear a segment called Mother-Daughter Pickelball, where your host, Rebecca presents some clarifying questions and builds on Momma B's advice. Last, you’ll hear a second opinion, because it’s always good to get a second opinion.

This podcast is for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer diagnosis or treatment of any medical or psychological condition. All treatment decisions should be made in partnership with your health professional.



The question is:

Since the election, I can’t stop reading the news. It’s the only way I’ve found to wrap my brain around what just happened. It’s not calming. It’s fear-inducing. On the other hand, I know I can't just bury my head in the sand, as much as that sounds so nice right now. What are some good coping mechanisms? How can I stay engaged without being on edge all of the time? Signed, Feeling Blue in Blue State

The guest in this segment is Ahmad El Najar. Ahmad El Najar is a former legislative staffer and political campaign manager, now working on public policy and strategy at Townsquared in New York. Previously, he worked as the Communications Director, City and County of San Francisco, Board of Supervisors. He has an International Human Rights Law degree from Oxford University. His current political advocacy work is with Take Back NYC. [on LinkedIn]

As mentioned in this segment: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.



The question is:

I'm a normal person with a normal job and a pretty normal life. Like many people this election season, I was motivated by fear to step out of my comfort zone and get political. I made calls for the Hillary campaign, wrote #ImWithHer letters, and even wore business-casual clothes to Las Vegas where I stood outside for 12 hours as a poll observer. The thing is, I LOVED it. I loved that feeling of working hard for something that mattered, and it was about 10x more satisfying than the sizable paycheck I get from my corporate marketing job. Now the election is over and I'm doing all the things I'm supposed to be doing... reading ALL the news, calling my local and national representatives, becoming a member of the ACLU, etc. But I feel like I'm permanently changed, and now everything in my day job seems so ridiculous and utterly meaningless. I used to think my job was fun, and that I was lucky for getting paid to be creative. Now I come home feeling disgusted with myself for wasting my brain, my time, and whatever meager semblance of talent I have left. (Yep, I'm in THAT kinda dark place.) My question is: What do I do now? How do I know if this feeling is a real sign to make a change or just a fleeting fancy of some 32-year-old with the social consciousness of a freshman at a liberal arts school? Signed, Optimistic People-Pleaser

The guest in this segment is Arun Chaudhary. Arun Chaudhary is a filmmaker working in politics. He is currently a partner at Revolution Messaging.

Chaudhary was the first official White House videographer, a position created for him at the beginning of the Obama administration. Chaudhary traveled extensively with the President, capturing public events and behind-the-scenes moments as well as producing and packaging presidential tapings for the Internet and broadcast television. He is the creator and architect of “West Wing Week,” the first-ever online video diary of the White House. During his tenure, he wrote, produced, shot and edited over 63 episodes of West Wing Week, documenting the President through his rigorous weekly agenda. He also directed many tapings of the Weekly Address.

Chaudhary was a key member of Barack Obama's New Media Team during the 2008 campaign. As the New Media Road Director, Chaudhary oversaw the team responsible for capturing the day-to-day life of the future president in video and stills. He and his team set a new standard in documenting history, delivering crucial images to the public from the road in real time.

Before joining the Obama team, Chaudhary worked in film in New York and was part of the NYU Graduate Film Department faculty. He received his MFA in Filmmaking from NYU and his BA in Film Theory from Cornell University. Chaudhary has been profiled by the New York Times, the BBC, National Journal, Politico, Fortune, and many political websites. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, son and daughter.



Here's the question:

As a minority, how do I deal with feelings of inadequacy, alienation, rejection anxiety, and hopelessness. At a personal level, I need some empowering alternatives to feeling like I "don't belong" here in the US?
A little backstory on me: I’m a non-political Latin American MD MBA, married to an American-born Anglo Saxon. We live a simple life in PA. I grew up during the war in my country of origin and have survived multiple traumas. Despite having worked in human development and altruism; despite having a legal status, being highly educated, and achieving a great deal of inner healing; the election results shook my insides to the point of anguish and powerlessness. Signed, Domesticated Fox

The guest in this segment is again, Ahmad El Najar. See his bio above (part 2)

As mentioned in this segment: World Without Hate.


As mentioned in this segment:  How to Host a Resistance Revival

Thank you so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe. If you share this podcast with a friend in need, then you are a friend indeed!

A big thanks to our guests, Ahmad El Najar & Arun Chaudhary, to everyone who sent us questions, and to all my friends who beta-tested this episode (Aviva, Jane, Michael, Bryan, and Emily all the way up in Alaska) to Papa B, who patiently waited for so many suppers while Momma B and I recorded, and to my lovely husband who is an abundant source of helpfulness and has been very patient with me when I can't stop working on my new found love of podcast tinkering. And a huge big thank you to my mom for sharing her wisdom, her time, and her love.

Advice from Mom is a production of Wise Ones Advice Services. It produced & edited by me, RGB. Sound engineering by Bryan Garza. Publicity by Jane Riccobono. The music in this episode is by Love, Jerks. Their song, Little Less Lonesome, featured in this episode will be out in Spring 2017.

Bonus: Home for the Holidays

Bonus: show notes

This is a holiday bonus segment for Episode 01 of Advice from Mom.

If traveling for the holidays means visiting politically-divided households, this bonus is for you. Momma B & me would like to offer you a little audio care package for your journey.

Each question gets 3 doses of advice. First you’ll hear Momma B’s advice. Next: You’ll hear a segment called Mother-Daughter Pickleball, where your host, Rebecca presents some clarifying questions and builds on Momma B's advice. Last, you’ll hear a second opinion, because it’s always good to get a second opinion.

This is the question:

I voted for Hillary this election and let’s just say my mom voted very differently. She keeps telling me everything's fine. I should "get over it." She's invalidating my feelings and it absolutely breaks my heart. I consider my mom my best friend, but right now, she doesn't understand me.
I'm going to see her next week. I feel like if I attempt to talk to her about this, we'll both get too emotional and overreact. We are peas in a pod that way.
How can I move towards a place of understanding and forgiveness without causing a huge argument? I worry if I say something, it will end badly. If I don't say something, then her choice is validated, which I certainly don’t want. Is there middle ground?
Signed, Drinking in San Francisco