We had the good fortune of connecting with Patricia Friberg MPS NBC-HWC and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Patricia, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
“Where the hustle began”
A story of self-discovery around work/ life balance
When I was 15 in the late 80s there was nothing I loved more than trying to keep up with the ever evolving fashion trends from stir-up pants, to oversize sweaters, to acid washed jeans, and everything needed to match with pops of color. We can’t forget about the crimpers, banana clips, Aquanet, Bonnie Bell Lip Gloss and electric blue Wet and Wild eye liner. As a middle-class family, we were lucky that we had all the basics, but if wanted anything more, we needed to work for it. I discovered early on that babysitting was inconsistent and it paid about $2.50 an hour.
One day as I walked across the street and opened the door to our local gas station, it was called Weigels, I saw the sign “Help Wanted, Stock Boy age 15”. “I can be a Stock Boy”, I thought, I bought my coke and asked for application.
Before I filled it out the application, I needed to ask my parent’s permission and I needed to know what I should write under “experience”.
“I want to be a Stock Boy at Weigels”, I said. My mom replied, “Patricia, I really do not want you working or anything interfering with your studies”.
With a fast rehearsed rebuttal I replied, “It is only 8 hours per week after school, I have good grades & the store is walking distance so you won’t even have to drive me.” Already knowing her next response, I started to walk away when she said, “Go ask your father”.
“Dad, I want to be a stock boy at Weigels.” I said with even more enthusiasm,
“Ask your mother”, he quickly replied trying to not engage.
“I did she said to check with you. I have good grades, I can walk there and they hire at 15.” The sales pitch continued, “This will help me build my resume with a real job so when I am 16 I will already have work experience which will give me a leg up on everyone else. I bet I will get a discount on those Guzzlers, but don’t worry, dad, I won’t spend all my earnings on cokes and candy, so can I?” I was breathless by this point.
When I finally got to that “yes” I turned in my application and was hired at just under minimum wage at $2.85 per hour and steady hours.
I skipped in the door for my first day of work at a real job.
While Gary the other stock boy stocked the candy shelves, loaded the cooler with cokes & dipped the gas, my manager, Ron, handed me a mop and cleaning supplies and pointed me to the bathroom.
YUCK!! I scrubbed that tile with my eyes burning from the ammonia wondering why do “I” have to clean the bathroom. But I did it.
The next day I was told to mop the floor with a long-haired mop that looked like a Laso Apso.
Slosh Slosh in the bucket, Squish, squish with the wringer, back and forth “GIRL, you have way too much water on this mop”, Ron yelled
“I’ll do better Ron,” I pleaded.
6 weeks later: “Girl, I told you there’s too much water on that mop.”
Well, I had really never grasped the perfect water to mop ratio but I can “read a room”, I quit before Ron could fire me.
This turned out to be just the 1st of a laundry list of jobs: from a bow maker at a ribbon store, to dressing as Clifford the big red dog at Books a Million. From a waitress and art camp director to nannying for a billionaire. from a case manager in homeless shelters, crisis worker on hotlines, therapist at an eating disorders clinic to a trainer for the NFL players, Pilates instructor at Harpo, and a manager of many gyms and studios.
No job was ever beneath me and I LOVED the hustle and work grind. I loved hearing the click of my heels on the pavement, the sound of my feet running down a clinic hallway, and the pounding of my feet on a gym floor because it meant I had purpose.
In fact, in 1999, when I moved from NYC to New Hampshire with my fiance’, I handed my new tax guy all my W2’s while he counted:
“1, 2, 3 4,5 “. (pause)
“This is a new office record”, he exclaimed.
“When do you sleep?” he asked me.
It wasn’t until this time two years ago when it all caught up with me.
My dad fell ill just a short time. After I left my corporate job.
I’m so grateful for the gift of those 9 uninterrupted days when I could be fully present with my father before he passed.
And I know, if I’d still been working, like I had been since I was 15. My dad wouldn’t have wanted me there with him. He would have expected me to go to work. Sitting by his bedside, not listening for my heels clicking down the pavement or pounding in a gym, I could finally listen intently to the beating of his human heart—and mine.
I might have started off working to live, to get those cool 80s clothes, to pay my rent, to survive. I’d begun living to work, becoming addicted to the hustle and being productive.
Today I work to live again and to live a life toward balance
I work for myself, and I’ll let you know how it goes,
right after I mop the floor of my office.
This story was written over the pandemic when I was taking a class at Second City”. This story shares the moment when I realized I needed to re-evaluate my life balance through the lens of self- compassion.
I had to figure out how to perform at my best, but without sacrificing my health, relationships, or other areas of my life. When I coach, I use the Wheel of Well-being. It gives us a good visual on area of your life’s balance by scoring different categories. We see where we are finding success and feel areas of our lives that are working. We will also take a look at other pieces of pie that we identify areas you would like to change or see improvements. The categories in this wheel can include Career, Financial, Health, Family, Community, Nutrition, Meaning & Purpose, Friends, Significant Other, Spirituality Emotional, Fun & Leisure, And Home Environment.
I see balance as a continuum that is ever evolving and ever changing based on the needs at that particular time. The goal is not to make the wheel perfectly equal, but by looking at it we can see how we can create better balance to keep the wheel turning smoothly for optimal performance and overall happiness.
Now, I’m getting an opportunity to really put this self-care thing to the test. We just moved to Switzerland for my husband’s 3 year work placement. We have two boys age 16 and 11. I was fortunate that since the pandemic forced my coaching business online, I am able to continue working remotely and take on new projects. Through this expat experience, I am aware of the work/life balance from a new perspective. There is so much we can learn from other cultures with regard to work and leisure. My newest podcast / youtube show is “Swiss Mrs”, it will explore crossing boarders to new perspectives. It is about how we change, the human experience, and what we can learn from the swiss culture. It will premier this fall.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Podcasting, coaching, and fitness keep me busy professionally
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh My, there are so many to choose from and this is making me a little homesick.
In the LA area there are so many options and amazing restaurants including: Beauty & Essex, The Ivy on the Shore, Geoffrey’s in Malibu and Piccalo in Venice, Doheny Room and Bottega Louie, Calamigos Ranch “M Cafe”. I would look and see what is playing at local theaters as well as the Pantages. For live music look into the Greek theater, Hollywood bowl and the Santa Barbara bowl. While in the LA region, take in the beauty of the Santa Monica mountains with a hike or trail horseback ride. It is fun to experience some shopping on Robertson and Melrose or see it all at the Topanga Mall Woodland Hills.
For the spas I would recommend the new spa, “Relais” at the Westlake Village Inn or for a short drive head up to the Ojai Valley Inn.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Second City for providing amazing classes that I enjoyed throughout the pandemic on zoom. College of Executive Coaching for providing so many trainings that I got to use my top VIA strength “Love of Learning” throughout the year. The National Board of Health and Wellness Coaches for creating a licensing body for professional coaches. Podopolo for providing a great place for me to connect with other podcasters and to learn & grow. Mary Kincaid, story coach, for helping me bring all of my stories to life. Lastly, all of my podcast guests I have had throughout the last year that have inspired me to keep going with it and make a second podcast “Swiss Mrs”.
Instagram: @patriciafriberg and @swissmrsshow
Facebook: Patricia Richardson Friberg and Patricia Friberg Coaching
Ashley Harrett photography and Kathleen Hagan Hair & Make Up