Whoo Hoo!  BlogHer12 is seriously in effect now.  It’s all about learning something from each other, right?  Ellen Gerstein is like family in these parts.  I (Ella, the assistant.  Rene is BlogHer12’ing) met Ellen at Disney Social Media Moms where we gushed over Rene, snarked and compared notes about speakers and discussed what real pizza is.  Anyway, check out the post, BlogHer12 Newbie?  If I Could Give You One Piece Of Advice…,  on her blog about finding a role model for who you want to be in this biz and you will see why I had to learn more about her.  Hope you guys get to meet her this weekend.  And, of course, BlogHer or not all are welcomed to participate.  Just shoot us an email and we will share your Life Lessons with the class.

Are you happy at the moment?

I am.  I am in a place where I respect what choices brought me here and I have very few regrets about my journey.

If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?

I would give my 16-year-old self a hug and say that it’s ok to have doubts and sometimes you have to go against the grain to do what is right for you.  You see, when I was 16 I was preparing to go to college, after having skipped 2 years of school.  I was in no way ready for the experience of living and coping on my own and had a very hard time at school.  I wish I could tell myself to not listen to my mom and have the courage to go to a different school closer to home, or just take a gap year so I could build up the social self-confidence that I so desperately was lacking.  No one in my life was supportive of those ideas, but I can’t help but think my life could have taken a very different turn if I went with my gut.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?

It’s such a cliché, but I learned to take better care of myself.  When you think you need to take the time to slow down, do it.  Otherwise, you wind up in sick bay and that isn’t going to work for anyone.

What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?

I want to start writing more.  My blog started out as an experiment in social media and now it’s turning into something quite “real”.  It’s time to really use it as an outlet for my creative energies.

What’s your secret to happiness?

Don’t be afraid to be happy.  So many women feel guilty for everything.  Once a day, remind yourself that being happy and content is ok.  I realized that one day playing tennis – I kept apologizing for all my bad shots but not recognizing the zingers that I hit.  I decided that for every bad shot, I had to take credit for some winners.

What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

Yoga, and I don’t go nearly enough!  But when I do, it’s a better feeling than the most chocolately sundae.

What’s your biggest regret?

That I made choices in college that seriously limited my options when I graduated.  I wasn’t able to take the risks and chances that were available to me.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

Be kind to others.  You don’t know what someone’s situation is, really and truly.  Always err on the side of giving someone the benefit of the doubt.

What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?

Procrastination is top of mind.  Starting with how long ago I was asked to do this and how long it took me to sit down and finish it.  Plus, I’m not the neatest person.  I’m not quite approaching Defcon Hoarder, but give it a while and I could be.

Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?

That people who have worked for me talk about what a great manager I am and how I have mentored them in such a way that has made a difference in their lives.  It shook me up the first time I heard it, because I wasn’t consciously trying to do so.  Now, I go in every day thinking about how I can do that for my team.

When were you happiest?

Ocean.  Beach.  Hawaii.  Pina colada.  Book.  Palm tree.

What ten words best describe you?

Kind, Funny, Crazy, Eccentric, Compulsive, Creative, Unusual, Weird, Weed.

Ellen Gerstein is the owner of Confessions Of An IT Girl, where she writes about all  her passions, including travel, marketing, social media, special needs parenting, and the glamorous life of a soccer mom.  She is Director of Marketing at Wiley, the global publisher headquartered in Hoboken NJ. She and her husband reside north of NYC and are the proud parents of two children.  You can follow Ellen’s tweets @elleinthecity.

More from GEM:

Life Lessons: Kelli Williams

Ask Rene: Should I Take Any, Old Job?

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