Whole Parenting Family

on failing as a lawyer & gifts

I sent resume after resume on the resume paper you’re supposed to send it out on. The employment market had crashed to a smoldering pile of burnt resumes (mine, all of them, probably). My credentials from law school and a federal clerkship, a work-abroad fellowship, all did not amount to the 5-8 years experience required. 

So when we moved back home, my husband and I, I was lucky enough to get a special appointment to a position that was part-time and unpaid. But it was experience with a kind and generous boss and collegial co-workers. I mean can you say you’re a co-worker if you’re a volunteer? I drove an hour each way to it. I threw up in the car, in the building, leaving court to do it, on the way home, and every other spot. Early on I was pregnant with my first.

Everyone wanted to know how my “job” was going. I couldn’t face telling them I didn’t really have a job. I had a position. So I told them that. Hoping somehow by not owning the unfortunate circumstances of all beginning lawyers I would look like I still had it together. Look like I was still gifted and talented. I was still the me I had felt like in law school. Like I hadn’t failed.

I eventually left the position to throw up more and more at home, and eventually, cradle a little babe in my healing lap and say: I didn’t get to pursue that dream but this one is nice. I had begun a small private practice and it carried over through the first year and half of this little babe’s life. When we were expecting another little one, and the throwing up began again in earnest, I closed that practice up. I never was successful at that. Failed again.

When women at a mom group heard I was an attorney staying at home, some nodded and murmured how sacrificial I was. Others furrowed their brows, confused by why I would give that up. I had no clear answers other than knowing I couldn’t be the lawyer I wanted to be and a mom at the same time. I felt like I had missed out on sharing my gifts with the world.

Blogging was born somewhere nestled in there, a need to write, think, share, reach outside of my diapers and nursing sessions to talk about … wait for it … diapers and nursing #ironic #mommyblogger

But through that world I met Jenna Guizar. And when our third child was 5 months old, I took the leap to help her with Blessed is She. It was a night here and there and the odd weekend. Texting after everyone was asleep and she was off-work or at-work. My kids knew her voice on speaker. My mind filled with editing, managing, planning, dreaming. Only this time, it worked with my family life. This time, it worked because of my family life.

In these years of having babies, I had my own faith journey to grapple with, marrying a man with a profoundly deep and active faith life, wanting my children to see me living it out instead of lecturing on it. I knew I couldn’t give what I didn’t have. And Blessed is She, working with Jenna and the mighty and inspiring writers she brought on board? They taught me how to have a relationship with God in a real, tangible, adult way. Their writing, their examples, their authentic struggles along the way let me know there was something deeper waiting for me on the other side of my cradle Catholicism. I am forever changed by the truths of the Church and a relationship with God that brought me past feeling like a failure.

This past year I’ve been writing a course. A course for women who want to understand why they’re a gift. Beyond an avocation toward helping out in certain ways, beyond a list of character traits that could help their organization. The gift that they are simply as God’s child. To own it, believe it, and give themselves back to their community, relationships, and God. To do it more fully.

The course is ready now. I’m shy about promoting it. It’s a lot of my heart and research and reading and listening to the Church’s teachings, Scripture, the lives of the Saints. I believe there’s something in it that’s worthwhile for everyone, every age & stage. It’s not the Nell show or that would be super embarrassing.

The link is here to buy it. It’s 5 videos on gift and 2 bonus ones on specifically leadership of a group. Each is about 30 minutes and a combo of me on camera & slides with my voice over them. You start with an assessment for your personality traits, then go deeper in prayer and the challenges you may face given your traits. Authentic sisterhood is addressed & identified as to how to build based on those traits. We dive deep into living a life in the presence of God to fully know His love and your gift. We wrap up with looking at your gifts in the light of the Gifts & Fruits of the Holy Spirit. Join over 150 women!

(For any who wants to apply to come to the Lodge on a private small group retreat with Jenna and me, that’s available, too. Organic food and I’ll bounce your baby!)

If you’re not sure, watch the free workshop where you hear my back story and some of the content. I trust you can find something there for you, too. Over 1000 women signed up for it!

All this to say, if you want to know the gift that you are, the Church can show you. If you are floundering at where you are in life, the Traditions and Sacraments will anchor you. If you’re unsure about His path for you, He will show you. You don’t need my course for any of this, but my course can help you get your bearings to discover these things for yourself.

Love love love,



  1. Laura @ Life is Beautiful on January 16, 2019 at 10:58 am

    All of this is so beautiful…so many gems.

    “I didn’t get to pursue that dream but this one is nice.”

    “I couldn’t be both the lawyer and the mom I wanted to be by doing both.” YES, that’s how i feel about my nursing license and motherhood…love them both but can’t do both well together.

    And your course and BIS work is so inspiring to me…lately my verse from the Lord has been the one about the potter and the clay…He is shaping me as I walk through the mess and I need not be afraid of it.

    • Natural Mama Nell on January 23, 2019 at 9:18 am

      Amen, AMEN!

  2. Shannon on January 16, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    Going to watch the replay of the workshop when I can to see if this might be for me. We just moved across the continent to another country and bought a new house, though, so I doubt this will be quite the right season!

    But what I came here to this combox to say is that you were a gift to me when I was experiencing, much to my surprise, HG with my second kiddo. And you are part of the reason that I am able to say that while this moment in time is (probably, if God agrees) not quite the moment to have our third, that time will come (probably soon) and I will (probably) survive. So thank you for being a gift, and helping me to offer my body and self as gift to my husband and family.

    • Natural Mama Nell on January 23, 2019 at 9:17 am

      You are so so kind. I’m so grateful for the internet at times like these!!

  3. Haley on March 16, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    I really needed this. I am graduating nurse practitioner school in just a few weeks, and have gone back and forth about taking an NP jobs or just staying a per diem nurse. Financially, we are SO blessed that i do not need to work, but it is this nagging guilt that i would be wasting my degree. I am so so torn. I have a 2 year old and a 3 month old and I know that raising them is what I need to do, and you’re right it’s so hard to be a good employee and a good mom.

    Okay done ranting, thank you for your post and honestly! I kindly ask for prayers that I can be at peace with staying home and being “just a mom”

    • novicenaturalmama on July 19, 2019 at 5:24 am

      hugs, friend!!