Recently, I had the privilege of meeting Karen Barr, publisher and editor of Raising Arizona Kids Magazine, and I hope to lunch with her again soon. As soon as we started talking I knew she would be great to feature on our blog.
Her boys are in their 20s and she is still passionate about being a mom, and if you read my blogs regularly, follow me on Twitter or we are friends on Facebook you know that I am also very passionate about being a mom (and I post #proudmommymoments weekly).
Karen has a master’s in business administration from Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from the University of Guam.
Karen started her career as a reporter for the Pacific Daily News and then worked at the Arizona Republic, where she met her husband Dan, and then she started Raising Arizona Kids as a home-based business when her boys were 2 and 4.
So, Karen, take it away!
What do you want to tell the blogosphere about yourself today?
After 25 years at this, it still excites me to see a new magazine come out each month. I am immensely proud of having sustained a small publication through two recessions and momentous changes in technology. The journey has been challenging, exciting, overwhelming, surprising, sometimes downright scary and always incredibly rewarding.
When I started Raising Arizona Kids, there was no such thing as email or Google! Everything we did had to be hand- or mail-delivered—every article, every photograph, every advertisement. My children spent a lot of time in the car, which causes me no small amount of guilt to this day. But when I ask my sons about this, they say things like, “Mom, I learned to read in the back seat of the car” or “Mom, we’d be in therapy forever if you had concentrated all of your energy on us!”
The demands of Raising Arizona Kids prevented me from being a helicopter parent. But ironically, raising kids prevented me from turning into a complete workaholic. My children’s schedules created boundaries on my time that I now recognize as healthy and balancing. I never missed a game or school performance or classroom volunteer opportunity that was important to me, even if I paid for it by working late into the night (and every weekend). I’m glad I was able to carve out that time to support my sons and be an observer to their daily lives, even if I often felt that I was only “half there” because of worries about work. It was tough doing both jobs at once but I survived—and my sons thrived despite my many distractions.
Andy, 29, is an independent political consultant based in Washington, D.C. He is engaged to be married in September 2015 and we couldn’t be happier about the woman he has chosen to spend his life with. Like him, she is smart, ambitious, dedicated and fun.
David, 27, is in his first year of law school at Chicago Kent University. He has been in Chicago for several years, first as a researcher for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign and then at a big PR/consulting firm. His passion is social justice. He has a delightful young woman in his life, too, and a sweet dog they both dote on (Dave sends pictures of my “grand-dog” via text message.).
I am proud to be married to Phoenix attorney Dan Barr, who parlayed his love of journalism into a law career largely devoted to supporting First Amendment issues on behalf of Arizona media. As the partner in charge of pro bono litigation at Perkins Coie, he and his team participated in two landmark victories this fall: a federal judge striking down Arizona’s same-sex marriage ban and a ruling that Arizona’s prisons were putting inmates in danger of receiving unconstitutionally low levels of health care.
My husband and I took a two-month sabbatical last summer, which gave me time and space to ponder new directions for my future. I have always been “too busy” to focus on a number of creative projects that are screaming for attention in my head. So I am working to reduce my involvement in the day-to-day management of the business by leaning a bit harder on my very capable and committed staff.
I am also actively recruiting younger moms to influence and embrace the mission of Raising Arizona Kids. I expect one day in the not-too-distant future I will find exactly the right person to replace me—someone who will take this third “baby” to places even more exciting than I could ever have imagined.