»» Tell us about you work with CALM…
What is your role at CALM and how did you find yourself working for this incredible organization?
I am a Program Manager for Parenting and Family Programs and I am also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for CALM. I get to oversee some programs at CALM that focus on prevention and treatment of child abuse and I get to provide individual and family therapy. I became involved with CALM after moving to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles. I started networking and hearing about CALM through supervisors and colleagues at other organizations that I worked at. CALM was always talked about with a level of respect and admiration for the programs they offered and the supervisors and clinicians in the organization. I interviewed and was sold on the mission of preventing and treating child abuse. I was also greatly influenced by the clinical director at the time, who was extremely sharp and knowledgeable in the field, so much so that she intimidated me at first and I knew this was just what I needed to push myself to learn and grow.
Central Coast Mama wants to help ensure that every person in our community knows about the incredible ways CALM helps our local families. Can you tell us more about CALM and what your WHY is for working for CALM?
CALM not only treats child abuse, it also prevents abuse by working with a lot of families who are struggling to find the right way to parent/support their children. We provide programs that help guide parents through parenting classes, individual therapy and even home visitation. I think the work with parents is what keeps me engaged in this work. After becoming a parent myself, I realized how challenging parenting could be and how fast things can get overwhelming and then children suffer and then the whole family suffers. Sometimes it takes just a simple guidance of a professional telling parents that they are doing things right, or that their children’s behaviors are normal to help a parent feel reassured that they are doing their best. We are also equipped with different types of evidenced based treatments that provide families with interventions to treat challenging behaviors in children. When we start seeing a child we really assess all the members of the family, and we will often also provide services to parents who find themselves emotionally unstable to be present for their children.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you?
The biggest challenge for me has been my pregnancy. I had a great pregnancy up until the last month. I started developing a rash on my body and the doctors did not know what it was. I had a lot of anxiety due to feeling hot, itchy and my skin burned after I scratched. The dermatologist wanted me to take a medication, however I worried for my baby’s well-being and decided not to take it. I also worried that I would not be able to hold my baby when he was born because the palms of my hands had such a bad rash that it hurt to use them and this made me very sad. During this time I really focused on putting my therapeutic interventions to use, I did yoga, mindfulness exercises, and exercised to decrease my anxiety. I got through this time by also praying a lot and leaving what I could not control in the hands of God. I also learned to talk about my needs and fears to my husband, family and friends and not keep them to myself, as this was only making the anxiety increase. My baby was born healthy and my rash started going away almost immediately after he was born.
What do you love most about your CALM job?
For me my work is more of a calling, a passion in life more than a job. I would probably be doing something similar even if I was not working. What I particularly like about CALM is the great people that work there, sharing a laugh or connecting on the work or things we are doing in life is meaningful to me. I also really love how CALM has supported me with my work schedule as a mom. After I had my son, I took a good amount of maternity leave and then eased my way back to work and I would then take my son to work once a week when he was little. It gets harder to achieve career goals when you start having children and when I applied for a program manager position I knew I would not be able to work 40 hour weeks, and at the same time I knew I would be good fit for the position. I appreciated how the administration was able to work with my schedule and they were able to provide me with some flexibly around my personal needs.
Any advice for balancing motherhood with work life?
My advise would be that however you balance it, be kind to yourself as a mom. It is never an easy decision and for some it is not an option due to financial responsibilities. I always talk to my client’s about self care and how important it is for everyone and especially a mother. We give so much of ourselves to our children, we need to also replenish ourselves with love and kindness. For me, I need date nights to connect with my partner, girls nights to laugh my stresses away, and massages to loosen up my tense muscles from all the planning and thinking that parenting takes.
»» On Motherhood…
Tell us about your family!
I have wonderful loving and supporting husband Arthur Cislo. Art emigrated from Poland to Santa Barbara in 84. We meet in Los Angeles in 2005 and have been married for 6 years. What I love most about Art is his ability to make me laugh, this is important to me because I love nothing more than to laugh. Art is very smart and is often reminding me of world history, he is also my go to person for Math and Science. We have a four year old son Sebastian Santos Cislo. Sebastian is growing to be a very caring, friendly and enthusiastic boy, his excitement for life is refreshing. He is on his way to being Trilingual (Spanish, English and Polish). I am most proud of his ability to connect with people, he loves watching people, meeting people and is quick to run to a crying child to offer hug or a comforting touch. He loves to travel and explore and has an amazing memory for a four year old.
How has becoming a mother changed you?
Becoming a mother has made me even more emphatic in understanding parents and their struggles as couples, individuals and parents. When I was pregnant I was emotional all the time, everything made me cry even though I was also very happy and excited. This made me more emphatic toward pregnant mothers that are dealing with domestic violence or other family or personal struggles. It also made me realize how tiring it can be for some parents who are up all night with a crying baby and then have to work the next day and might find themselves irritable or prone to potential child abuse due to not being able to adequately take care of their personal needs. Being with my son has also has taught me to slow down and enjoy the moment. I love watching him play, eat, talk, and if I am not focused on the moment I miss out on what a wonderful being he is.
What would you tell your 22 year old self?
Continue to sleep in, sleep is a luxury the older you get. Things will work out, just continue doing what you love and dreaming and working towards your goals. Don’t complain about how little time you have! After kids you will realize how much time you had to spare in the past.
What are three items on your Mommy-Must-Have list?
The B.O.B. stroller- I was not a runner before my son. After having him, I realized I needed to include him in my work out if I wanted to make the time to work out.
Baby monitors: you cannot watch your baby at all times during sleep and play. I used the monitor when I cooked or wanted to take a decent shower.
The medicine ball was also a life saver. I would bounce on it when we rocked our son to sleep and it worked like magic. I also used it to sit while I was pregnant, it was the most comfortable way to sit at work and it helped keep my pelvis aligned and position the baby.
»» As a CENTRAL COAST MAMA…
Describe your ideal day to savor the Central Coast with your family.
The ideal day for my family is to drive up to Solvang on a Sunday morning, while enjoying the views up the 101 or 154. Have an early lunch at The Succulent Cafe or Fresco cafe (they both have outdoor seating, great for kids) take the Solvang Trolley ride while having McConnell’s ice cream, then walk around Solvang and maybe grab a pastry. Mommy can then get a 15 minute foot massage at The Little Rainbow foot spa before heading out to Sunny Fields Park, this is an adorable wooden playground for kids.
»» Current faves!
What are your go-to spots?
Family-Friendly Spot: Fish Enterprise, we always request to sit by the fish tank.
Breakfast: Goleta coffee shop, Jeannine’s bakery Santa Barbara.
Brunch: Los Arroyos in Montecito
Lunch: Corazon Cocina, Jane
Dinner: Tap Thai, Los Agaves
Winery: Buttonwood in Solvang
Craft Brewery: Corks n’ Crowns tasting room in Santa Barbara
Best Date Night: Arigato Sushi and a movie or walk on the breakwater.
Best Girls Night Out: Drinks and dinner at Convivo at the Santa Barbara Inn
Boutique: Lovebird boutique