Coffee and Red Lipstick

By Ana Rosa Ramírez Toft-Nielsen

I get asked this question a lot: how do you juggle it all? Family? Full time job? Adjunct? Volunteering? My short answer is Coffee and Red Lipstick. I drink A LOT of coffee and I ALWAYS have my red lipstick on. Both are my clutch – just what makes it look like I can juggle it all. 

As the saying goes, “just look like you know what you are doing.” Honestly, it takes a lot of organization, planning, and support. If you know me, I am a very routine-based individual that plans out almost every moment of the day. This is the way I cope with my over extended schedule and anxiety. It allows me to know when things will happen, so that I have enough time to fit it all in and plan for deviations. Also, I don’t waste any moment of my day. I am a huge multi-tasker and complete tasks as they occur to me or are assigned. I have a running “to-do” list with deadlines and reminders. 

I credit most of these organization and executive functioning skills to my time as a boarding student and student athlete. And no, if you were wondering, I wasn’t sent away because I was a bad kid. Boarding school taught me how to organize my time because we had no parental oversight on completing homework, laundry, food, budgeting, and even college applications. We did have dorm parents, but they could only do so much (they were wonderful by the way!). At school, we had a designated study hall that implemented good study habits and time management skills. I had to learn at an early age how to manage my time. It is a skill that serves me well as a parent and professional. In college, it was a running joke about the calendar I would impose on myself of early deadlines to complete assignments, papers, etc. By giving myself early deadlines, this alleviated the anxiety of last-minute issues, edits, or complications. This carried over into how I complete my professional obligations. As a student athlete, I worked as a team and my teammates relied on me to show up, work hard and meet a common goal. It taught me how to strive to be better, incorporate feedback as it is given, and be a team player. If I did well, so did my teammates. 

Lastly, my support system is amazing. I am extremely fortunate to have a supportive partner, extended family, friends, and colleagues. I rely on them for daily support in just getting through the day, encouragement to get past my imposter syndrome, and emotional guidance. I do not take that for granted. As a working parent, I always feel like I am letting someone down. However, I must remember that I am human, I am doing my best and we all make mistakes. I am a high functioning anxious person that thrives on routine and planning. By organizing the factors I can control, I can make room for the issues THAT WILL arise no matter how much I plan. This provides me comfort and allows me to get through each busy day. I encourage everyone to find their Coffee and Red Lipstick, but also make room for those deviations that we know occur. 


Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. The essays represent their personal beliefs and not that of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.