Name: Gina Crotts
Location: Saratoga Springs, Utah
First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I am a birth mother. I placed my baby girl for adoption in 2000. After placement, I started a non-profit organization called, Birth Mother Baskets (BMB), which led me to Mark L. and Greg. After helping with ParentFinder, in its early stages, and running BMB for 14 years, I stepped away from the adoption community. I followed my passion for art and became a Creative Arts Manager for a scrapbooking company here in Utah.
In 2017, I decided to follow my dream of writing a book—a memoir about my adoption story. Staying connected to Mark L. and Greg, throughout that time, led me back to CAIRS; as I could work from home and continue writing.
Take us through an average workday for you.
I typically wake up at 5:30am and work on my memoir, any side jobs I have going on, or practice yoga. Around 6:30am, I make breakfast for my three kids (unless I’m at yoga) and pack three lunches. My oldest son drives himself to school at 7am. I take my youngest son to school at 7:40am, while my husband takes our daughter to school at 7:50am. The morning hours are a circus at my house! By 8am the house is empty and still. I make a round of the house before I fire up my computer, tidying up beds, throwing in a load of laundry, and cleaning up breakfast.
I start with emails that have come in during the evening or weekend hours. I answer questions, make agency or parent requested edits to profiles, upload finalized text to the website, and respond to new profile text emails. I clear my inbox. I hate having emails in my inbox that I haven’t answered or read.
I check Wunderlist, an app Colin and I use to keep track of assigned parent profiles. I make a note of my assigned profiles and start with the profile that is due first, editing and revising the text. Once completed, I email the revised profile back to the couple with my suggestions and move on to the next profile. On Wednesdays or Thursdays, after my emails and edits are completed for the day, I start on my weekly blog post for Friday.
I pick my youngest son up from school at 2:15pm and my daughter at 2:45pm. I use this time in the car to listen to my favorite Podcast or Audiobook. Once home, I fire up my computer again and finish any task that is due that day. If a circus emergency comes up that needs my attention, and I get pulled away from my computer early, then I will recheck my email before heading to bed around 10 pm.
What is your workspace setup like? Do you have a picture? It’s okay if it’s a little messy!
My workspace changes from day to day, depending on how I feel. I do have a desk in our master bedroom, where I keep my monitor. I mostly sit there when I have a lot of finalized profiles that need to be uploaded to the website; this is when I like using the dual screens. More often than not, I work from my laptop, while sitting on the couch in our living room or on freezing days, on the floor by the fireplace. I feel most productive working at a local coffee shop. I enjoy the ambiance and the smell of freshly brewed coffee.
What is your best time-saving hack? Or just life hack, in general?
Take brain breaks! I meditate for 20 minutes every day, typically in the morning. I’ve been meditating for over three years now. It is a daily practice that helps me stay connected and centered.
I also use an app called BrainWaves, for 10 minutes in the afternoon. The brain break helps me shut off my “working brain” and relax my thoughts before I pick up the kids from school. I listen to the app while closing my eyes, and it gives my eyes a break from staring at the computer for hours.
What apps or software do you rely upon on a daily basis?
I use G-Suite docs the most while editing, and Grammarly. I check Wunderlist every day to keep track of what profiles I am assigned. Our team uses ZoHo to track where parents are in the profile process. I also use Skype to stay connected to the team. On a personal note—I use Audible, Podcast, BrainWaves, and Spotify daily.
Who are the people on your team who help you get things done? How do you rely on them?
I mainly work with Colin, Kim, and Mark Hurt.
Colin is a great mentor! We Skype daily to assign parent profiles. I message him often for editing advice—he’s way better than Grammarly. He is a positive light in my workday.
Kim is a fellow birth mother and the answer behind every question. When adoptive parents have concerns that I cannot address, I turn to Kim for guidance. She has a great heart and is willing to help in any way.
I pass every finalized profile text to Mark Hurt. He puts all of the magic together! I rely on Mark to inform me of any additional edits that need to completed before printing.
Working remotely has its pros and cons. I miss working in an office where I can build stronger relationships with my team, but Skype is a great way to stay connected with everyone. We all rely on each other to do our part. If one of use falls short, for whatever reason, someone is always there to help pick up the pieces and not point fingers. Our CAIRS team works together to create the best possible products for our adoptive couples.
How do you optimize your time each day?
As a mother of three, I don’t have time to be distracted by non-work related material while my children are at school, so I force myself to be the most productive from 8am-1pm.
I don’t hold myself to just a 9-5pm work schedule, especially if something family related comes up during a busy workday. I check emails from my phone to stay connected throughout the entire day. I take my laptop everywhere I go and I’m not afraid to respond to emails while laying in bed, if needs be. I have to address the most pressing and important issues first (work and family related) and I can’t get too caught up in my head if I have to walk away from one fire to put out a bigger one. I believe it comes with the territory of being a working mother, with three busy kids, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How do you recharge outside of work?
I have an incredible tribe of women who support me outside of work. We practice yoga together, attend salt cave meditations, enjoy wonderful meals, go hiking or snowshoeing, and meet for coffee.
I value my alone time as well by diving into a good book and a hot bath, taking a day trip to Salt Lake City to visit my favorite restaurants or doing a solo hike to the hot pots.
I always have an art project in the works—right now I am painting a mandala in the meditation room in my home. Art helps me stay grounded and keeps my creative flow moving.
Are you working on any side projects right now? Do you have any other passions that you pursue outside of work?
Yes, as I mentioned, I am writing my adoption memoir. Writing a book is time-consuming, and for me, emotionally exhausting. I’ve been working on my book for over a year now, and I am nearly ready to publish. Learning the in’s and out’s of writing, designing, and publishing takes patience, but I am enjoying the process.
I will be working as a meditation guide at a local salt cave here in Utah. I’ve been creating the program over the past few months, and I can’t wait to share this passion with others.
A girlfriend and I are working on a project called, Eunoia. We are designing a women’s retreat that focuses on the importance of connecting to your divine feminine power. We are in the beginning stages, but I am thrilled with the potential behind this project.
What are you currently reading? (Or listening to? If you’re into podcasts)
I am listening to the Cold podcast. It is a local crime story. I have been following it from day one, but the podcast dives into more details of the investigation and the devastating ending. It is fascinating and heart wrenching.
I’m also obsessed with Crime Junkies podcast. I like the way Ashley Flowers puts a story together and how each episode is a new murder mystery.
I tend to jump from book to book before I finish one. I have always read books this way. Right now, I am reading On Writing by Stephen King, a friend and fellow author recommended it.
I just started Women Who Run With the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés. She is a talented storyteller. I am mesmerized by her words.
I’m only 75 pages away from finishing Ask and It Is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks. It is covered in highlights and margin notes, which I rarely do, but I will turn back to this book often for guidance.
What is the best single piece of advice someone has ever given you and why?
“Everything is always working out for me.” Esther Hicks
I heard this on a YouTube interview with Esther, and it stuck with me. This has been my “go to” phrase when things are feeling out of control—when life seems to be taunting me to give up, when my daughter and I laugh about a great surprise, when my best friend and I feel like the worst moms in the world, when my sister and I can’t catch a break or when I need a reminder that eventually everything comes full circles.
When life gets messy, we get anxious, and we forget the love and light that surrounds us. We panic in chaos and fall back on negative routine, but whether we see the whole picture or just a slide of what is now—everything is always working to come together, to teach us, to lift us, and to bring us joy! If we can find that small moment before we give up, before we lose sight of our self-worth and say to ourselves—everything is always working out for me, then we will find power and possibility in the darkest moments.