Issue #15: A new women-focused mural debuts in D.C. 🖌

Hey, CaWo readers! Welcome to a new newsletter, a new podcast episode, and a new advice column! There's so much to be thankful for this month—a new mural from The Washington Post's The Lily, great insight from Frances Reimers of Firestarter, and even a fun, new event from the National Building Museum, totally focused on women architects. See what you should keep your eyes on below.

Is it OK to use sick days for self-care or as "mental health" days?

Yes. Absolutely, imo. With a couple important caveats:

First, the unexpected timing of (most) sick-day situations can cause strain on your coworkers, which isn’t super friendly. If you’re considering calling in sick so you can take some you-time, but you’d be really screwing someone over work-wise, it’s worth considering that. But if your absence for a random day wouldn’t be particularly derailing, no worries here.

The second “but” I’ll add is that some workplace cultures will be more tolerant of this than others. I’ve worked plenty of places where taking a mental health day was explicitly fine, especially in the context of some specific cause. (I was dealing with some #MeToo stuff with a former employer, and my manager at the time knew about it and was very understanding when I told her I needed to take a couple days off). But some places are really sticklers for rules, or bullies about taking time off generally, or are miserly about all their benefits, so you’d want to be really judicious about taking them for self-care.

But the fact of the matter is that being in a bad place mentally can cause just as big a hit to your productivity and coworker relations as being physically ill. If you’re worried that your stress, or anxiety, or depression, or whatever you’re dealing with might make you say or do something you don’t want to do (like snapping and yelling at a coworker or breaking down and sobbing), then you gotta do what you gotta do.

Use your best judgement about whether you should be honest or not, but I certainly won’t blame you if just suddenly have a tummy ache one day. If you’re not putting your coworkers in too bad a way, don’t let yourself feel any guilt over it. Your company is making more money off your labor than you are, so taking a day or two for yourself every now and again is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. You’re not taking anything from the organization; in fact, you’re helping ensure that you continue to kick ass at your job.

If you’ve got a work, job-search, or networking question for Kim, hit her up at or find her on Twitter: @ranavain

  • The Washington Post’s The Lily unveils mural at Union Market for Women’s History Month. [The Washington Post]
  • D.C. Councilmember writes about her experience as a new mom in public service. [Women's Wire Weekly]
  • Learn about the often-overshadowed wife of Frederick Douglass, Anna, who made his work possible. [Smithsonian]
  • March 28: The National Building Museum will feature a panel of women architects who will discuss their experiences as design leaders.
  • March 29: Three experts from local non-profits will discuss the D.C.-specific issues facing women and girls locally, the work they are doing to support them, and what we all can do to help.
  • April 7: Join the National March Against Rape Culture!

Michelle Goldchain and Kim Stiens contributed to this newsletter.