Monday, November 21, 2016

In Her Shoes: How Celia Catlett Corrals Her Day

By Yelena Sapin

Celia Catlett doesn't let the demands of work prevent her from spending quality time with her family. 

Of all the many shoes in Celia Catlett’s closet, the bedazzled cowboy boots probably represent her best. “Cowboy culture is rooted in loyalty, integrity, being true to who you are, and taking no nonsense. I really identify with that.” Like a good cowboy, the Memphis, Tennessee, native also understands that a relaxed grip on the reins is the key to staying firmly in the saddle. A wife, mother of three, and general counsel and corporate secretary at Texas Roadhouse, Celia wrangles her day into order by staying flexible and allowing the different areas of her life to bleed into one another.

Up at around 5:30am, Celia enjoys some “me time” while the house is still quiet. She showers and dresses, reads from her daily devotional book, checks her email, and puts the coffee on. Then it’s time to rouse the children — 5-year-old Julia, 7-year-old Grant, and 9-year old Carolyn — and get them ready for school. “My kids are still little enough that I'm very involved in their morning routine.”

By 7am the kids are out the door. Celia’s husband Scott takes them to school, leaving her free to graze on the children’s’ breakfast leftovers — she hates throwing away food — and finish gathering herself for work. Armed with a big travel mug of coffee, Celia tackles the 30-minute commute from her Fisherville home and arrives at the office between 8 and 8:30am.

The daily agenda is typically full of phone calls, emails, and a variety of meetings, but Celia tweaks her work schedule to fit in opportunities to volunteer at the kids’ school. “I want to be involved in my kids’ lives and be present and visible to their teachers and to the whole network of adults who are helping to raise them. That’s very important to me, and I don’t ever feel like I have to apologize for that or make excuses at work.”

Photos by Sunni Wigginton 

Unless it’s to make a quick visit to the kids’ school, Celia rarely takes time out when she’s working. If she doesn’t have a lunch meeting, she eats at her desk. “I have a wonderful assistant who knows all my favorites at Jimmy John’s and Panera. She takes care of me and makes sure I eat.”

The reason Celia pushes herself through the workday is so she can leave the office early enough to walk in one of the nearby parks before she gets home. She keeps a gym bag in the car and tries to squeeze in walks as many times a week as she can. “I zone out and clear my head. It’s the only exercise I found that I don’t hate.”

Although Celia likes to exercise in silence and doesn’t listen to music while she walks, she still makes herself available for the occasional work-related phone call at this time. “My philosophy is that personal life is going to intrude on work, and work is going to intrude on personal life. It’s got to be fluid.”

Celia gets home by 6:30pm to relieve the babysitter who cares for the kids after school. She spends the remaining hours until the children’s bedtime hearing about their day, helping with homework, starting dinner for herself and her husband, and making sure that the household is in order. “There’s a lot of administration. The kids have different after-school activities, and some days it takes all five of us — me, my husband, the babysitter, and my husband’s parents who live here in town — to accomplish what needs to happen every day.”

Once the kids are in bed, Celia catches up with Scott, who is also an attorney, over dinner. “It’s really the only proper meal that either of us get, and we try to focus on making it a healthy one. We’re very aware of trying to take care of our bodies so that we’re here when our children are older.”

Depending on how the day has gone, the rest of the evening can be taken up with a combination of laundry, a late conference call, or a backlog of work emails clamoring for Celia’s attention. On quieter nights she gets to relax in front of the TV and enjoy some downtime with her husband. By 11pm she’s ready for bed. “Sometimes I’ll try to read, but I’m usually too tired. I’m an Olympic-class sleeper — as soon as I’m horizontal, I’m out.”

1 comment:

  1. Truly an outstanding family woman and business woman. Great article.


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