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To the Nuthouse and Back by Ally Loprete

 by Ally LoPrete, Our Milk Money.com

Yes, I was there. I was horribly embarrassed at first, but I’ve now come to appreciate the experience as one of my most favorite journeys. After all, when we OWN our experiences as things that make us who we are, what is there to be ashamed about?What brought me there was a breakdown resulting from extreme exhaustion. I’d simply forgotten to take care of myself.  I had not slept since 2007. I had lost a pregnancy, I wasn’t eating, my son and my husband were being neglected, and there was no end in sight.I certainly did not mean to end up in the hospital. I’d succeeded in launching Ourmilkmoney.com, become a leader to more than 2500 businesses nationwide, and the promise of our impending growth was exceptional. As a new mother, I was raising a very demanding 2 year old, running a household and teaching musical theater 2 nights a week. I’d put these things in motion and sent them spinning so fast that I was unable to keep up with the pace. I hadn’t learned to set limits or manage my time, so it makes perfect sense that every corner of my life was deteriorating.In the hospital I did not have access to the internet or digital communication which turned out to be the best medicine. This forced my life to slow down… something I had not been able to do by myself. I had no choice but to rest, heal, and create some new boundaries for myself so that this would never happen again.I met several other patients who at first, I’ll admit, frightened me. I felt that I had nothing in common with them, and perhaps they picked up on this because on that first day when I arrived, several of them asked me “How are you crazy?” as if they weren’t sure I was crazy enough to be accepted into their club. Great. I thought. I am not even accepted IN HERE. I answered the question each time with a joke, “Being Crazy is part of my charm.”  It got a laugh almost every time. I began to feel like the female version of R.P. McMurphy. I also decided in that moment to spend the next 72 hours laughing at the absurdity of the situation, healing, resting and learning how to never end up in here again.I learned a lot. Infect, I might dare say that the experience was life changing. I learned that everyone is a little crazy, and everyone is a little sane. I actually began to make friends with some of the other patients, and I learned more about how they had ended up in a place like this. Some of them had come from such disturbing lives, it was no wonder they needed help. I had always appreciated my life and my family, but this experience taught me to VALUE it, in a way that I had not been doing. Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned was the actual physical and mental damage I had done to myself, my family, and my company. I had taken on too much and worked a ridiculous number of hours – close to 120 hours a week – for no pay. I worked every minute that I could during the day, and when my  entire family was sleeping peacefully at night, I took advantage of the quiet time to work, staying up until the next morning several times a week.  I didn’t know how to say “no” and agreed to just about everything anyone ever asked of me. A friend wanted to have a bake sale and of course, I agreed to bake…AND market AND shop. Anyone needed a ride to the airport? Sure, ask Ally, she’ll always say yes. It was hard for me to take a step back from this, because wanting to please others has always been a weakness of mine. But in the hospital, I learned how to give from a different part of myself without disturbing my “reserves”. I learned the importance of scheduling in the basics of living a healthy lifestyle: eating, sleeping and playing. The results were astounding. I gained control and became more productive. It seems so simple and yet when I ran out of time these are the things I tended to skimp on the most. It was no wonder I became sick. My machine was literally breaking down.  I learned the importance of taking time to do a peaceful activity for myself, such as meditating, making a piece of jewelry or doing some watercolor. I spent most of my time at the hospital reading, journaling and painting. This replenished me, cleared out my mind and helped me to empower myself. Now I schedule in 5 minutes each morning to meditate, and 2 hours a week to watercolor.Yes, I am grateful for my visit to “the nuthouse.” It woke me up. It taught me that without health and happiness, we simply cannot give to the things in our lives that we are ultimately living for. It taught me to laugh again, and that I can choose to laugh my way through anything at all. My experience at the nuthouse was a gift, and so I felt it necessary to leave a gift of my own. Before leaving the premise, I taped up a watercolor painting of the beach in the rec-room for all to see. It read, ” So what if we are crazy?  It’s part of our charm.”

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Culture Shock and the Stay at Home Parent by Ally Loprete/Our Milk Money

by Ally Loprete

Becoming a stay at home parent is like culture shock. At least, I believe it
is after you’ve already been a working parent in the corporate world. Had I
gone straight to staying at home when my maternity leave was over, it may
have been easier to adjust, but for me, it was culture shock.

Culture shock isn’t such a bad thing. We adjust, we always adjust, and most
of the time we realize AFTER the adjustment period that every electric zap
to our system, no matter how painful, was worth it. In fact, I am beginning
to see after everything I’ve experienced in the past 3 years, that in order
to reach a cleaner and clearer destination you have to wade through waters
of muck and filth. I like to call it the storm before the rainbow. I’ve been
using that analogy very often these past few years.

We had a “storm” before the rainbow while trying to conceive my son. 

 There was a storm when I and found a less than warm welcome back to work
upon my return from maternity leave, but then the rainbow appeared as I got
back into the swing of things and was recruited to a new department.

There was a new storm when my new department laid off our entire team just 2
weeks after recruiting me. The wind and rain were fierce with fear and
horror as we tried to figure out how to exist without my corporate income,
and once we realized we could subtract daycare expenses, and survive on
severance and unemployment, the rainbow emerged.

I had a #$^(*$ storm when I started my stay at home status and realized I
didn’t know how to care for my child because the terrible daycare I had him
in refused to tell me anything about the details of his day, his schedule,
what he ate, or when he slept. That was much like going through a 2nd
post-partum. My husband received many panicked calls from me that first week
sobbing, “We should just give him back to them. I can’t even take care of my
son as well as that awful daycare.”

What I didn’t realize is that the rainbow had already begun to form. As the
days wore on, I began to settle into this new culture. It began to fit me so
well, I wondered if I ever truly fit into the old culture of being a working
mom. My son and I began to bond more than ever, and I was amazed at how he
began flourishing. He never battled me on nap time, and it almost seemed as
if he was happy to go down, knowing that I would be there when he woke up.
My husband came home to a full cooked meal every night, a refrigerator
filled with food, and his laundry done. So the only thing left for him to do
was spend quality time with us until bedtime.

This was the culture I belonged to, and I decided that I was going to stay.
The rainbow that has filled our lives has burned so brightly since then,
that no storm has every come close to washing it away since then. I wonder
sometimes if others have this same rainbow in their lives, but they forget
to notice it because it’s always been there. Or maybe, there truly does need
to be a storm sometimes before the rainbow can exist. If we hadn’t struggled
to get where we are now, how would we know that it’s better over here? It’s
times like these that I am glad for the dark times, as much I am the bright
sunny ones.

Ally Loprete
Ally Loprete Co-Founder
ally@ourmilkmoney.com

www.ourmilkmoney.com

presented by www.motherhoodincorporated.com

Our Milk Money is Born!

Do people really know what it takes to be a stay at home mom?  I certainly never knew. I began to wonder if others would value the products that I am selling more just because of where they came from, and how it’s value is much greater because it means a mother can stay home and raise her son
herself, rather than send him to the only cheap daycare that was available while she worked in a large corporation- whose products may cost the same, but aren’t nearly as valuable.

As a stay-at-home parent, I found the internet to be a useful resource, espcially since shopping with a toddler was the last thing I wanted to do. With my new little idea, I began to try and find products that were sold by stay-at-home parents like myself. I figured it was good Karma, and I happily imagined some other cyber mom performing the same search and looking to buy from ME, simply because I was a parent.
I searched for hours, and with nothing, finally gave up. It seemed that finding a self-employed parent who sold my favorite shampoo was about as easy as shaving my legs with a tweezers .

I knew there had to be someone out there, but if they were in the 647,005th page of an internet search, finding them would take a miracle. I murmured to myself how easy it would be to go to a site that listed all the self-employed parents across the country- and in that same fraction of a second, I knew that if there wasn’t one, I was going to create it.

I immediately called Kelli, a fellow mom who I’d recently met and bonded with on a playdate who I knew was also looking for a new business venture. I told her about my idea, and her response was, “That’s brilliant. Let’s do it.”
Our Milk Money was born.
Before I knew it, I was a business owner.  Funny. Now that I am here, I can’t imagine ever working for anyone else again. 

Ally's Jewelry Business

I started making jewelry. It was relaxing and fun, and I did my best thinking while working quietly with my hands. One day, while trying to copy an expensive necklace I’d seen in a magazine, I started thinking about the value of the jewelry I was creating. The one in the magazine was probably
over $200, and reproduced many times over so that many would enjoy purchasing and then wearing it.

Mine looked exactly the same, and cost me no more that $3 to make. I could sell it for $50 and still feel that I was over
charging. I started dreaming about actually selling my necklace and what that $50 would mean to me and my family. At that point, we were beginning to feel for the first time what it was like to be poor. Now that we were being deprived
of my previous salary, we had begun to experience a real financial shock to our once- comfortable lives.

We’d recently become conscious of every dollar spent in order to survive. So, an extra $50 would be such a nice bonus. I
wondered what $50 would mean to the department store that sold their expensive necklace. Pure pocket change, I imagined.
My thoughts took me to another place- would people buy my necklace over the store’s necklace if they knew I was a mom? What if they knew that I’d be able to buy milk and warm clothes for my son? I had to believe that if presented that way, and my jewelry was made as easily accessible to them,
they’d choose to support me and my family…all for just purchasing a necklace that they would have bought anyway.

Next week, see how Ally turns her business into an online business — not just for jewelry but for all work at home parents!

Check out her site at http://www.ourmilkmoney.com

Succeeding in Motherhood

So many of us have a desire to succeed in motherhood the way
that our mothers did.
I’d never understood until I became one, what a mom has to go through on a daily basis, and since discovering this, I’ve grown very passionate about this issue. Do not misunderstand. I love being at home with my child, but it’s the most work I’ve ever had in my life, and the notion that we don’t get paid for this, when just last year I actually had a decent income from
an office job that let me surf the internet 90% of the time from pure boredom… well, it just feels really backwards. 

The fact is the average American family cannot exist on one income, so women who have chosen to stay at home have to find a way to bring in a supplemental income IN ADDITION to
raising a family. Fortunately, we are growing faster and faster towards our future, and into an even more superior age of technology.

Because of the internet, we have been able to create even more opportunities for ourselves as parents and entrepreneurs.

Running a household is work enough, and the average stay-at-home deserves a nice paycheck for that alone. Running a business on top of that may seem near impossible, yet women across the country are doing it. They are getting creative, and they are making it work. They find a way, because they have
to.
I wanted to be one of those people. I needed to learn from them. But where could I find them? On my internet searches, they never popped up. Only people promising me I could find my way to happiness through multilevel marketing were coming up.  What should I do?

Tune in next week as we see Ally start her first business and what it leads to!

Check out her online business at www.ourmilkmoney.com

Me run my own company?

The truth is that I was angry that our society has become so dependent on certain conveniences that we can no longer support a family of 3 on one income.  Don’t get me wrong. I am proud of the strides we’ve made since the 1950’s where women were seen as unqualified to do anything but stay at home and be a homemaker.

Back then, the notion of a woman running her own company
was unheard of. Today, some of our greatest business leaders and CEOs are women, and it’s something to be proud of.  I certainly don’t want to take any steps backwards, when we’ve come so far. But then why are so many of us choosing to stay at home with our children when we’ve already proven to the
world that we are capable of so much more? It’s a simple answer, in my opinion.
It’s how we are built as women.
Where we once achieved great satisfaction in proving to society that the corporate world could perhaps, use a dash of the motherly instinct for a change…once we became actual mothers, nothing compared with the joy that was brought from “working” with our children. It was as if our lives had been empty before that moment in time, as if we truly were not meant for another other kind of life. Yes, we are capable of doing it all, and we’ve proven that to the world over and over again. But, when you get right down to it, nothing beats motherhood. It’s how we were built.

Next week, tune in as we hear more from Ally and her thoughts as she starts her business.

Check out her site at www.ourmilkmoney.com.

How My Company Was Born

It’s funny, when I was working in the big corporate world, I swore there was nothing else I could ever do. Run my own business? Yeah, right.
Once my son was born, everyone heard me complain for an entire year about how hard it was to be a working mother.

Maybe it was the hormones, or maybe I just felt like whining, but at the time, I wasn’t willing to do anything
about it. I listened to my mother-in-law lecture me in her most supportive way, “I bet you could run your own business from home. You are so creative.
I am sure you could come up with something!”
My answer was always some version of “Thank you, but I am just not responsible enough. I don’t think I’d be able to hold myself accountable. I need a boss to tell me what to do, and I need to be able to rely on a steady paycheck. Besides, I don’t know anything about how to run my own company!”
I’d laugh at the absurdity of the thought.
Of course there was still a small part of me that wondered if I did ever run my own business, what would I do?
And then, again, I’d laugh at the absurdity of the thought.
And then I’d do some research online to see what others were doing. I’d find a bunch of ads for companies promising lots of wealth with very little work.
I’d day dream at what I’d do with all that extra cash- quit my job, pull my son out of daycare, buy a bigger house, maybe even hire a house keeper, and play, play, play. Happily ever after, play.
And then, once again, I’d laugh at the absurdity of the thought.
That is how I made myself believe I was trapped in my office job and I would never be able to enjoy a different life.
It wasn’t until I was laid off that I was forced to consider the issue at a more serious level.

Next week check in with Ally as she continues her journey.  Check out her site at www.ourmilkmoney.com.