Burned out. Scared. Energized.
Those descriptions sum up the last few years of Paula Faris’s life.
After feeling overworked at ABC News because of her schedule anchoring “Good Morning America Weekend” and co-hosting “The View,” she chose to take on the less time-consuming position of being a correspondent in order to spend more time with her husband and three children. But in March 2020, Paula learned that ABC News wouldn’t be renewing her contract, forcing her to completely re-evaluate what to do moving forward. Then, things got even crazier when COVID-19 shut down much of the world.
With God’s help, Paula navigated fear and uncertainty, realizing that her own struggles as a working mother reflected the lives of millions of women around the country. She is now using her communication and journalism skills not only as a popular podcaster and author, but as the founder of Carry Media, a company which aims to celebrate and advocate for working mothers. We discussed all the changes in her life recently on “Christopher Closeup” (podcast below).
When the pandemic shutdowns happened in March 2020, both Paula and her husband John, who works in commercial real estate, were told to work remotely, so they took their kids and relocated to South Carolina, where Paula’s sister lives and where they had recently purchased an investment property. Though they initially planned to return to New York after a few weeks, they felt a sense of peace in South Carolina and decided to stay.
“Thank God we didn’t get what we wanted,” observes Paula. “Thank God we got what we needed…It’s been such a blessing to us living down here in South Carolina, pushing a bit of a reset on our lives, walking into new scary chapters. I’m an independent contractor. I have a podcast [Faith and Calling], and I’m launching a media company, which is wholly terrifying to me. My husband’s job has shifted. He’s still with the same company, but God opened up a lot of doors to create a new position, where he could essentially work from home about 80% of the time, and still travel. So, we have offices in our house now, and this is where we hustle.”
Though she has a positive attitude about it now, Paula admits that losing her job led her through the stages of grief, such as anger, depression, and acceptance. “I’ve had to learn that I can be sad and expectant in the same breath,” she said.
It was also ironic that at the time Paula lost her job, she was releasing her memoir “Called Out: Why I Traded Two Dream Jobs for a Life of True Calling.“
She says, “I wrote that about pumping the brakes in 2018, when I stepped away from anchoring weekend GMA, and also co-hosting The View, because I needed to get my life back. I felt like I was never nailing it as a mom. I was never nailing it as an employee. And so, I needed to strike a new balance. My bosses at ABC were great for a bit, trying to find this new normal and stepping into a much less prestigious position. But then they decided not to renew my contract. And so, I say part of the change was my choice, and part of it wasn’t.”
“But it led me into this new season,” continued Paula. “And what I’ve learned the last couple of years is…God calls us to do different things in different seasons…I feel this heart for the mom in the workforce who is burned out, exhausted, and trying to bring home the bacon and fry it, too. It just never feels like she’s quite nailing it. There’s not a lot of support for her…So, I’m like, ‘Okay, God, what do I do with this?’ Fast forward, I’m launching a media company, which is all about championing, and advocating, and celebrating the mom in the workforce…I’m taking the skills and talents that made me an effective broadcaster into this new space: my ability to ask questions, engage in conversation, my curiosity, my propensity to get things done.”
Paula named her new company Carry Media because she wants to help carry working mothers toward feeling less isolated and alone – and by giving them practical and emotional support. (Sign up for their free emails at CarryMedia.com)
“Some women work because they have to put food on the table,” notes Paula. “Some women work because they want to. I was the primary breadwinner of our family for a long time. I had moved up the corporate ladder. I got to the pinnacle of my career. And then, I was like, ‘What good is it to gain the world, but to lose my soul in the process?’…Often, moms have to make a choice. We’re punished for just furthering society by even having children. There are these misconceptions that we don’t want to work, or we can’t get the job done… Motherhood makes us a better leader. Motherhood makes us an empathizer. Motherhood makes us a visionary. Motherhood makes us incredibly efficient. The workplace just needs to do better by moms…So my goal through [Carry Media] is to shine a light on companies that are doing good by working moms, to change the narrative of what it means to be a mom in the workforce. Our slogan is, ‘Because being a working mom should work.’…We’re advocates. We’re cheerleaders. We’re not burning bridges and bras. We’re not beating the dead horse, but we are beating the drum.”
It has been said that “women can have it all, but not at the same time.” In other words, women can’t have a fulfilling, successful career, while also being present and effective mothers. But given more flexibility and support, Paula believes that women could accomplish both simultaneously. And it comes down to the policies that are in place here in the U.S., be they within corporate structures themselves or government policies.
She explains, “When you peel back the layers, it’s a matter of an American culture that says we value the family. But do we really?…We put so much emphasis on career and success…You go to other countries, and it’s not like that. They have wonderful family leave structures. They have affordable childcare, but they also take six to eight weeks of vacation. Their job isn’t their life. It’s all about this family structure and supporting one another. I think the way things are set up right now, we can’t have it all at the same time. We’re trying to, but that’s why 90% of working moms are burned out and exhausted all the time.”
“We’re not trying to make political statements,” adds Paula. “We’re just trying to tell the stories of the working mom, so that we can change those stories…I think the way to affect positive change is not by emasculating men. It’s not by diminishing anyone else. It’s by linking arms, and saying, ‘We need your help.’ At the end of the day, we’re just trying to create strong families. We’re trying to rebrand what it means to be a mom in America, a mom in the workforce. It should not be a risk, and a liability.”
In reflecting on both her present and her future, Paula concludes, “God’s calling me to this new chapter, and I hold it loosely. He might call me to something else in two years, and that could change. But the point is, I don’t determine my value and my worth from what I do anymore. And I know that wherever I’m called, whatever it is vocationally, I’m there to effectively shine a light. That’s the ultimate calling: to shine a light for Jesus, wherever you are.”
(To listen to my full interview with Paula Faris, click on the podcast link):