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The Wixii™ Project: Joy Castillo

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Joy Castillo

Name: Joy Castillo 

Location:  Colorado

Company: PorchLight Real Estate Group

Professional Industry: Real Estate 

Job Title: Realtor

WIXII-ISM™ FROM JOY: 

“I work for a woman-owned and operated company.  The leadership is comprised of all mothers, as is most of the staff.  Honestly, I think this has made a huge difference in my success and work-life mix.”

“My career was born from my desire to have a particular parenting experience (and provide a particular experience to my children), and not from a passion for the work itself.  Better managing my work-life mix meant having more control over my schedule.”

“I think I developed this skill – or, if you will, power of choice – very young.  So often, there wasn’t much to be happy about, but being sad was a drag; so I learned to choose to focus on things that felt good and push through the rest.”

JOY’S STORY:

Meet our featured Wixii™, Joy Castillo.  She is in her late 30s and mother to 3 daughters, ages 14, 12, and 8.  She has a B.A. in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley and is currently writing a novel.  She is a Realtor with PorchLight Real Estate Group, and her husband is a public school teacher.

JOY’S CAREER PATH:

When I graduated from Cal, my plan was to go to grad school.  I thought I was bound for academia.  Several life events derailed that plan, the most significant of which was student loan debt/no money.  I began teaching school, and ended up doing so for several years.  When I had my second child, I could not bring myself to return to work.  But we were still a two-income household.  So I began to scramble – trying to “have it all.” I taught night school.  I tutored.  I cared for a neighbor’s newborn along with my toddler and infant.  And then I decided to go to real estate school, in hopes that profession would give me more control over my schedule.  I have been selling residential real estate full time since 2002.

JOY’S MINDSET AND WORK-LIFE MIX:

I am a generally cheerful person, yet I wouldn’t call myself optimistic.  I tend to focus on the “big picture,” but am also quite practical.  I have always been good at so-called “grunt work,” as long as it clearly relates to the goal.  I cannot stand any task that appears meaningless.  I am very service-oriented, which drives me to be virtually tireless when it comes to work.  Something that only the office staff and agents on the opposite end of my deals know is that I LOVE contracts.

I work about 45 hours/week (as many as 70), much of which is from my home office.  I am often gone in the evenings and weekends, when my husband is home and able to care for our children.  I usually schedule work around my children’s school events, field trips, games, concerts and recitals.  I drive a carpool and have no nanny (although when my girls were little, we did) – my mother helps out a lot, too.  My husband and I share the household duties.  I try to work out at least 3x/week, and I just completed the Bolder Boulder (the first race I’ve ever run) and have signed-up for another 10K (although running is not my favorite sport, a girl could get used to this!).  I founded and belong to a book club that meets monthly and just finished an eight-week writer’s workshop.  I try not to stop to contemplate the madness of my schedule, and instead, “just keep swimming.”

Describe a “day in your life” from waketime to bedtime:

My alarm goes off at 6am, but my husband has usually brought me breakfast by then.  At 6, I wake-up my girls (usually with a song) and we start the mad rush to 7:20 departure time.  I feed the dogs and do two of my three girls’ hair, and if I’ve got an early appointment, get myself ready too.  If not, I get a head start on work (email).  My husband makes breakfast and packs the girls’ lunches.  Carpool takes about 40 minutes, and then it’s off to the gym or for a run with my two dogs…or to work.  By 10am I’m busy at work, and don’t come up for air until 3:30, when my children get home.  If I’m home, I help with homework.  A few nights a week, I leave again around 5pm, and by that time, my husband is home to begin the crazy pm shift, which involves shuttling kids to activities and serving dinner (which is cooked fresh one night, served leftover the next).  By 8:30pm/9pm, I fall into bed with my Kindle.

How does your current mindset/attitude empower and/or frustrate your ability to thrive in your work-life mix?  How has your mindset/attitude toward life changed over time?

Although I am not a cheerful person by nature, I do choose to enjoy life.  I tend to find pleasure in most things, whether it be background music, the view of the Rocky Mountains when I look up from the files on my desk, my children’s stories of their day at school, my friends’ and clients’ victories (great and small), a brief chat with a neighbor, or reading a well-crafted post on Facebook.  I think I developed this skill – or, if you will, power of choice – very young.  So often, there wasn’t much to be happy about, but being sad was a drag; so I learned to choose to focus on things that felt good and push through the rest.  This, more than any other attitude, has served me well in all areas of my life.

What specific actions, choices, steps and/or decisions have you made (or would you like to make) to better manage your work-life mix?

Over the years I have had to come to terms with the fact that not much of the “on paper” details of my life look like I imagined they would.  I thought I would be living in an urban setting, researching and writing full time, and possibly teaching at a university.  Instead, I live in the suburbs and sell real estate.  This career was born from my desire to have a particular parenting experience (and provide a particular experience to my children), and not from a passion for the work itself.  Better managing my work-life mix meant having more control over my schedule.  In the early years, more control meant nursing my baby in the car before an inspection instead of, when I was teaching, pumping manually (because the closet in which I had to hide had no electric outlet) and throwing out the milk.  More control meant trips to the zoo or museum between appointments.  More control meant I cringed when my eldest, upon arriving at a friend’s house for the first time, would exclaim (quite naturally), “I love your hardwoods!”  In those early days, more control often meant not being taken seriously as a professional because I had any number of (albeit well-behaved) children in-tow or couldn’t attend the happy hours and mixers my colleagues did.  Since I have always been a “big picture” thinker, I don’t think this dramatic shift was as traumatic as it might have been.  It has not been easy, and keeping my “eye on the prize” has been critical in preventing the existential crises I see so many women having.  If I wanted to be the mother I envisioned being, I needed to make some serious alterations to my career plan.  After an “arranged marriage” of sorts, I have grown to love my job and excel in the field, and consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to have a meaningful career.

Please share specific tips for effectively managing your time and schedule.

Having a routine is critical.  Being flexible enough not to get derailed by a break in routine is also extremely important.  And…put EVERYTHING in your Google calendar!

Please share your favorite efficiencies and timesavers.

Delegate.  Identify the parts of your life in which you are replaceable.  Then, find people who can do as good a job or better than you in those parts, and let go.  Examples from my life:  cooking, cleaning, file management, deadline management, chauffeuring kids, trips to the post office, dog grooming, accounting…I already mentioned putting EVERYTHING in my Google calendar…but need to say it again.

If you could change one thing about your work-life mix, what would it be?

I would like to have a full-time housekeeper. (I want this so badly, I think it should have written it in all CAPS.)

What do you currently find most challenging/concerning about your work-life mix?  What areas do you most needs support?

Housekeeping is the most challenging part of my work-life mix.  A close second is managing the logistics of my three children’s social, school, and extracurricular activities.  At any given moment, one or more of them needs to be dropped off, chaperoned, picked up, cheered for, shopped with, paid for, etc.  Since our children outnumber us (and we have our own obligations), this aspect of our lives is extremely challenging, and often frustrating.

Are there changes your workplace or you could make to better manage your work-life mix?

Probably.  But I don’t know what they are.  In general, my workplace is very supportive of my lifestyle, and the support staff is always willing to go the extra mile to pick up any slack – especially during the 3pm-5pm M-F window (i.e., after school).  I am so lucky to work for a company that places such high value on live-work balance, especially for mothers.

What advice would you give an earlier version of yourself?

Travel more-a lot more.  Stay single longer.  Consider possibilities other than those engraved in your socio-cultural imagination.  Write.

Is there anything you would like to share about work-life mix?

I work for a woman-owned and operated company.  The leadership is comprised of all mothers, as is most of the staff.  Honestly, I think this has made a huge difference in my success and work-life mix.

I find there is such a chasm between mothers who work outside the home and those who don’t.  Frankly, I don’t like to discuss my work with my peers who do not work outside the home, as I feel like we speak different languages.  I have felt judged, and I have judged.  In my community, there is a general attitude that women work outside the home for one of two reasons:  either they must due to financial reasons, or they don’t enjoy motherhood as much as their stay-at-home peers.  In the future, when my three daughters are juggling the work-life mix, I hope there is more specific support for and, consequently, cultural acceptance of mothers who work outside the home.

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