Month: August 2014

Barbara Rittinger Rigo

Barb Rigo

 

Barbara Rittinger Rigo focuses her practice on representing management in a wide range of labor and employment matters, including:

  • Trials for race, gender, age, disability and national origin discrimination claims
  • Arbitration
  • Mediation
  • Family and Medical Leave Act litigation
  • Wage and hour class actions
  • Trade secret law

She defends clients in all types of industries, including transportation, hospitality and pharmaceutical, in state and federal courts, as well as before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and state and federal departments of labor. 
Barbara focuses a large part of her practice on counseling employers on day-to-day compliance with local, state and federal statutes, such as:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Title VII
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
  • Wage payment collection laws
  • Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN)

She is a frequent speaker on those and other topics. She also drafts and reviews employer policies and employment and severance agreements for clients spanning numerous industries.

Barbara is a member of the Discrimination Commission for the Township of Haverford. She is also a member of Littler Mendelson’s Diversity Advisory Committee. Prior to joining Littler, she was an associate at two large firms in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. In law school, she was a senior editor of the Dickinson Law Review.

Q:  What path led to your career as an Employment and Labor Attorney?  What qualities make someone excel in your field?

BR: I always wanted to be a lawyer, probably because my dad is a lawyer. A lot of people fall into law because they don’t know what else to do, but becoming a lawyer was always my goal. I became involved with employment and labor law, because I was into Constitutional law, but it’s really because I have the most interesting cases. Every day, my work is like the Jerry Springer show. I love the interesting human stories and freak shows. I love people claiming that something crazy happened and then deconstructing their story to find out what actually happened.

I think for labor and employment, unlike a corporate lawyer, practicality is a key trait. Being able to listen and figure out what is important. A lot of times the things that people focus on aren’t really important to their lawsuit, so I help them understand what is important and come to a resolution they can live with. To be successful as a lawyer, being responsive is also incredibly important. I hope that my clients feel like they can talk to me and that I’m quick to respond. I also like to prove my point. It’s an annoying trait in a kid (as my mom tells me and as I deal with every day with my kids) but it’s a good trait in a lawyer. I don’t think my nature would be suited to a less adversarial profession.

Q: How do you juggle the demands on your time?  What brings you balance?

BR: I’m really lucky that I work with people who respect my need for balance, and I have throughout my career. My husband, Steve, travels a lot. My colleagues were really supportive and respected my ability do this job in a flexible way, even if it wasn’t the way everyone else does it. But what goes along with that is that you have to be prepared for people to think you’re less dedicated and not let it bother you. I really like my work; I love doing what I do. I’m really lucky to have had mentors that supported me and gave me the flexibility to keep doing this job. And when the job was less flexible than I wanted because of a trial or other work obligations, I’m lucky to have a husband, parents, family and babysitters (who are like family) who helped pick up the slack when I needed it. Otherwise it never would have worked.

Smart phones also changed my life so that I can have the balance to work from anywhere, including being on top of work when I’m with my kids or volunteering at their school. I try to be home for dinner every night. Even if I have more work to do, I do it after the kids are in bed. I always wanted to be part of my kids’ education, volunteering, taking the kids to school. My regular schedule was that I took my kids to school so I could connect to them and that world and then go to work. I want their teachers to know who I am. I’m lucky to have a job where I can come in a little late.

Q: What advice would you give to an earlier version of yourself?

BR: Relax.

Part of our development at work includes personality tests. They really are dead on. Through this test they had us take at work I could see that I hit the roof quickly with stress, but I come down quickly too. Over time I’ve learned how to not hit the roof as much. I probably wasted a lot of time being frustrated. I’ve learned that it’s important not to take things so personally.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing you’ve done?

BR: My kids. There’s nothing else that matters to me as much as them and their accomplishments. They’re not perfect, so working through their problems is rewarding too.

Q: Life is beauty and pain.  Tell me about the role of pain in your life.

BR: I have that Irish-Catholic guilt that says that things can always be worse, and I am so blessed. I feel so lucky. Certainly sometimes life gives you problems and pain and I look at it like pain makes you stronger, because you have to push through it. No one ever solved a problem by staying in bed. I like to push through problems to try to solve them, and if I can’t, I try to look at the positive and how blessed I am to have what I have. I do complain and I’m sarcastic, but I still have to push thru it- and I always try to.

Q: How does being Irish-Catholic shape your view of the world?

BR: I think it’s just about community- whatever community or communities you choose. For me, in part, it’s my religion. Whatever your religion, I hope it impacts you to strive to be a better person and to do the right thing. I’m not always perfect, but it gives me some kind moral compass. Every religion gives you that, so it doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as you have something that guides you to do the right thing or be a better person.

Q:  What question did I miss?  What else should I know about you?

BR: One thing that I think about a lot is that if I had the chance to do it all over again would I do the same thing? I’m sure I would. Staying at work wasn’t the easiest choice after having kids, but I’m grateful that I made that choice and grateful for the people who helped me make it. A lot of people look back on their careers and lives and wish they had done things differently, but I think I’d do the same things again. I’d maybe just try to have had more fun doing it. And yelled less….

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Julie Mathers

Photo credit: Molly S Photography, http://mollysphotography.com

Photo credit: Molly S Photography, http://mollysphotography.com

Julie Mathers is a passionate educator, tutor, and yoga teacher. She works as the Educational Director for Owl Hill Learning Centers and teaches yoga at Evolution Power Yoga. Julie has three much-loved babies (a “singleton and twins!”) and has been married for eight years to her British husband. Julie openly shares about her life and struggle with an eating disorder on her blog.

Q: Tell us about your background and your path in life. Who are you? Where did you come from?

I was born and raised outside of Philadelphia in a small town named Swathmore. I was the fourth generation to be born and raised there in a very small family. I came to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to go to school to be a teacher. I had this instinct from square one that I wanted to teach. Even growing up I made my sister play school all the time. It’s what I did. I stayed in Lancaster because I ended up teaching and continuing my education here. Right now, I coordinate preschool programs for a private childcare company called Owl Hill Learning Center and teach at Evolution Power Yoga.

I got sick in 2000. I’m learning that a lot of my life and what I was doing up until that point were precursors to the disease. It was during my junior year in college that I started wrestling with an eating disorder, mostly anorexia.

Usually there is a trigger that sets off an eating disorder. One of my triggers was that I was with an abusive boyfriend for six years. Our breakup in 2000 was a catalyst for my eating disorder. I didn’t get sick because I wanted him back or because I was devastated by the breakup, but because I was used to being emotionally and verbally abused. It wasn’t him that specifically caused it, he was one piece of it, but I was missing something I had had for six years. I had this negative relationship, but it also gave me safety because it gave me a definition. It gave me an identity and it was what I knew. When it was gone, I needed to find a punishment to replace it. To define myself.

So, I chose ”Ed”, eating disorder, and we call him “Ed’ because it gives all of my thoughts and my behaviors a name and an alias. Because I’m not Ed. I’m not an eating disorder, I’m Julie. I’m a teacher and a mom and a friend, and I’m not Ed. The disease is Ed.

I faked recovery for over 13 years, but last year I went into full out-patient recovery, including therapy, psychiatrists, psychologists, dieticians, groups, etc. I worked to get back to a healthy body weight and I’m working towards fine-tuning all of the wonderful things that come along with shifting all of the patterns that come with eating disorders. It’s my work. And my big passion is making the world understand that this is a disease that kills, just like cancer, and it should be handled with the same amount of intensity, understanding, compassion, and awareness. Eating disorders don’t just affect white rich girls, they affect everyone. It’s for men, it’s for all ages, it’s for all ethnicities. It’s a huge disease with lots of facets and it has to be dealt with that way. It has to be dealt with mind, body, and soul!

After a year of therapy, I learned that I didn’t know how to be mindful. I’m learning how to know when I’m full and know when I’m hungry. I’m learning how to honor my needs, desires, and wants. I’m learning how to say “No”. I’m learning about self-compassion, anxiety, guilt, and shame. People without an eating disorder can eat anything without attaching feeling or meaning around it. If I eat something that’s not healthy for me, I feel so guilty and ashamed about it. I attach all of these negative emotions around eating and food. I’m learning to sit with those emotions. In past years, I could numb out negative feelings by not eating and I was extremely disconnected from my body. I’m learning to be present now.

I’m working on a series of events called Love Your Selfie—No Edits. The very first part of that series is a scale smash event. I rented a space for two hours with all these events tied around letting go of numbers that confine you. We’re literally going to have a graveyard with sledgehammers and mallets to smash the you-know-what out of scales. That’s going to be followed up by an eight-week body-image workshop series and the culminating event is going to be a transformational speaker, Suzanne Conrad. She’s going to be coming from Vancouver and she does a life coaching leadership series. She’s coming to the Ware Center to speak. The workshop series will extend from Sunday, October 5 to Sunday, November 23 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Evolution Power Yoga in Lancaster.

Q:  You’ve been identified by someone as being incredible. What do people see in you that is incredible?

JM: That is really hard for me to answer. I have a hard time believing that I am incredible. Parents say to me that I’m an amazing educator or students say that I am a great yoga teacher and it’s really difficult for me to say thank you. I don’t think anything I do is incredible, because for me nothing I do is enough.

Incredible to me is something that’s not reserved for me. I have to DO something to be incredible, right? And you know, maybe the incredible thing is that I’m learning how to be me. And that me is enough.

Q: What advice would you give to an earlier version of yourself?

JM: Don’t worry about being perfect. Because perfect doesn’t exist and it will be a life of hell trying to find it Also, perfect people aren’t fun, because they’re not living. The only things that are perfect are inanimate objects, because they’re not alive. My entire life I’ve been trying to be perfect—a perfect eater, a perfect teacher, a perfect mom, a perfect woman, a perfect body—and it’s so stressful trying to be that way. I’ve literally killed myself for perfection. My expectations are unrealistic and I expect 195% of myself at all times and it’s just not possible.

To be honest, I am so afraid of my children having the same disease that I had. The only way I can stop that is to make sure that I am honest with them and let them know that these are the lessons that I have. I learn so much by watching my kids. My son said to me the other day, “Mommy, I just stop when I’m full because I’ll just have it later on.” When I asked him how he knew that he said, “I just know.” It was awesome.

Q: Tell me about struggle.

JM: I think it comes from trying to be perfect. My biggest struggle has been dichotomous, black and white, all or nothing thinking. For example, my thinking was either eat everything and purge through exercise, or eat nothing. It was, “I’m going to do 755 things in one day or be so sick that I have to be in bed.” That type of thinking is hard, especially when you’re trying to be intuitive with your eating and your mindfulness, and your rest. Nothing is ever enough and there are no limits with that kind of thinking.

My struggle is this—how do I let go and how do I trust? How do I just be? How do I relax with what is and stay present? I’ve lived past and future and I’ve missed so much that is present. My struggle is being here now. The present is always OK, it’s living in the future that causes anxiety.

Q: Life is beauty and pain. You’ve told me about pain in your life—What is beautiful in your life?

JM: There is so much beauty in my life, but unfortunately I feel like I’ve missed so much of it. Beauty for me is on the inside. It’s not a size anymore. It’s doing what gives me life. What makes me thrive. I thrive by teaching—a teacher to myself, a teacher to students in the classroom or in the yoga studio. Teaching others by example that you don’t have to starve yourself or go on a diet, that women get to eat fries and not just salads. For me, beauty is what makes me come alive.

My kids are beauty. My kids are amazing and trusting. They are free and freedom is beautiful.

Beauty is compassion. It’s caring. Beauty is healthy, but nothing to do with your body size—it’s freedom from rules or rigidity.

Again, there’s so much in my life that is beautiful. I get to do what I love. I get paid to educate on a daily basis. Beauty is that I got to have these wonderful babies even after I had an illness. I spent so much time in my disease that I lost sight of all things beautiful…and there’s so much.

Q:  What question did I miss? What else should I know about you?

JM: I think that I am really passionate. I’m really driven and have this hard work ethic and I want that compassion, work ethic, and drive to attract people. I’m not here to change the world, but I’m here to be a little selfish and to take care of myself so that others can see that that’s ok.

I’m completely dedicated to my kids and I want the world to be different for them. That’s my mission.

I’m extremely thankful for the reception that I’ve had on my blog in my coming out as having an eating disorder. The support has been incredibly non-judgmental and supportive. This community has been an amazing accountability partner. I thank my yoga practice, too. Yoga started as a form of purging to get rid of calories, but now my yoga practice has forced me to be in my body. Now that I have a healthy body weight, my practice has gotten much stronger. It has given me a connection to myself.

I’m ready to start life. I don’t want to miss any more.EPY_LoveYourSelfie_Promos_4P

LN Lurie

LN Lurie_iw

LN Lurie is an extremely interesting dynamo. She’s an audio engineer whose expertise is in gaming. According to LinkedIn, LN specializes in “picking a direction, putting out fires, and replacing [herself] with efficient pipelines.” Through our interview, I also saw a passionate leader, who is great at telling stories through podcasts and using sound as a medium to communicate. LN is a global volunteer and her work includes disaster relief in the Philippines during Typhoon Haiyan. Some of her past roles include “Queen of all things Audible” and “Super Audio Girl.” (Is it clear yet why I think LN is awesome?) Currently, LN is wanderlusting across Africa while the rest of us drool over her pictures.

Q:  How does telling the stories of others make you consider yourself and your story?

LL: I believe that when you re-tell a story, it becomes yours. Not the actions or experiences, but the story is yours. The takeaway is yours. With that said—I believe that ANYTHING I hear, I’m an audio person, after all, I try to relate that story to my life.

An example is hearing my grandmother talk about her life. She’s 90. She grew up during the depression where having a bit of string to tie up her hair was coveted. Hearing stories like hers, if anything, make me grateful for the things that we DO have in this world. When I retell this, I hope you become grateful or mindful as well.

Q: What role has music played in your life? Are there artists that you turn to time and time again?

LL: This is my favorite question. I was a music major—I’ve played the violin since age three and bassoon since seventh grade. I’ve played countless instruments because I originally wanted to become a band instructor. “What’s a bassoon?” you ask…don’t feel bad. My professors at Berklee, a Jazz school in Boston, didn’t know either. They actually called it a “wooden saxophone”.

But yes, music is incredibly important to my life. Because of school, I analyze music instead of simply listening to it. First I hear the melody, then the counter melody, the rhythm, the bass line, how everything works together, the chord progressions…and finally by the seventh or eight time I listen to a song, that’s when I’ll hear the words.

My mom was a piano pedagogy major. She didn’t allow me to listen to anything “unless they were dead.” She thought current music wasn’t really music. So I grew up listening to Beatles, Mozart, Chopin, and Beethoven. When Kurt Cobain died, I was ecstatic! I ran home and said, “MOM!? CAN I LISTEN TO NIRVANA NOW?!” and she just looked at me and said “No. He’s not dead enough.”

A story I really wanted to share with you is about how music makes this weird thing happen in my brain, and probably everyone, where all of a sudden you hear a piece of music and you remember where you were when you first heard it, or how that piece has personal meaning for you.

I remember listening to Metallica’s One during a YMCA lock-up after a school dance. My High School Sweetheart Greg and I had just finished running up and down stairs, hyped up on Mountain Dew, and that song came on. We both stopped as if we were shot and drop down on the floor, mesmerized by the song, staring at the ceiling, trying to control our breath as we hold our planks. I get taken over by this almost trance-like guitar solo in the beginning. The music transports me to July 1999 and we are sitting on a wall listening to Metallica live. It’s pitch black except for a few joints and cigarettes. The guitar solo starts, I stare at the crowd, and it starts to rain. In real life, I snap out of my haze, realizing that I’ve been holding a plank for three minutes at the YMCA and I start to do Box Jumps.

It’s amazing how music can transport you and tells stories.

Q: What advice would you give to an earlier version of yourself?

LL: I would tell myself to think bigger. I could always think bigger. Also to think more simply….and don’t listen so much to my mother!

Q: What is the most rewarding thing you’ve done?

LL: Teaching my 90-yearr-old grandma how to use an iPad.

Seriously. Do you know how difficult that is?! I mean—I’ve worked in corporate America. I’ve dealt with sexual harassment. I’ve traveled solo around the world, I’ve moved to new countries, I’ve been poorly kidnapped in Ecuador, I’ve had my bag and all my belongings stolen in Panama, I finished a marathon, I’ve survived the world’s worst typhoon in history in the Philippines, I’ve been a first-responder on many incidents, I’ve been published countless times in video games. I’ve played Bassoon Porn Music! But my greatest achievement is teaching my 90-year-old grandma how to use an iPad.

How I measured my success was by writing her a message on Facebook. She “liked” it! That was it. That was the best day of my life!

Q: Life is beauty and pain.  Tell me about pain in your life.

LL: I sliced open my thumb with a machete in Guatemala. Where there is no clean running water and I had to wash out my hand with rum. Is that the type of pain you’re talking about?…I’m sure it’s not.

My other pain is my biggest challenge right now. I’m about to embark on a journey to Africa with $5,000, which seems like a lot and maybe it is, but I’m going to pretty touristy places. I like some amenities, so my biggest challenges is that I’m still unemployed, basically, but my finances are in a scary, unknown situation. On this trip, I’ve planned three weeks so far, but that’s all time with family. I used to be someone with a 10-year goal and 10-year plan, but I’ve found that I miss out by planning so much. I backpacked through Europe and found that I only had two good stories from those three weeks because I planned so much. I started planning less when I went around the world and I started finding better stories. For Africa, I’m not planning at all, which is a huge challenge because I’m such a planner and a control freak. So not having any finances and being a control freak, I have no idea how I’m going to do this. And I don’t know what will happen when I come back. All those things are pretty scary.