Beyond Our Fractured Feminism

We’ve come a long way since Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s 1848 Declaration of Rights and Sentiments. Yet in the long view of human evolution and development, women’s liberties appear on the scene in a New York minute. For most of existence, women were protected by men. As a result, they were property of men, silenced by men, and worse.

we_can_do_itIn the United States, women were granted the simple right to vote less than 100 years ago (here’s a great timeline of women’s rights from the National Women’s History Project). Birth control became widely available in the 60’s. Title IX provided equality of education in the 70’s. While in Switzerland, women weren’t able to vote until 1980! And today, in many parts of the world, women continue to be abused and pushed aside.

In truth, there has never been a singular women’s movement. Women’s rights first emerged in the western world, but have slowly been given credence in other regions. Women all over the world have faced off against varied oppressors. The movement has witnessed peaks and valleys of second-wave, third-wave, and now a fourth-wave feminism. There’s liberal feminism, lesbian feminism, even ecofeminism – and what do you know, the word feminism was coined by a MAN! – 19th-century French philosopher Charles Fourier. We’ve been labeled, insulted, dissuaded, and beaten back. We’ve often disagreed, but that’s OK – disagreement spurs dialogue.

Remarkably, out of our disparate struggles and different experiences, arose the largest protest in U.S. history, the Women’s March – a passionate sea of more than 2.9 million men and women of diverse backgrounds gathered at sites around the world to send a message that we stand together for all rights!

And now it’s time to rise above the pussyhats, crude jokes, pop aphorisms, and biting criticism of the “other” side. This very radicalism is partly responsible for our deep divisions.

lady-justice-blindfolded_55d3389af74020f6

The feminist movement is not a power struggle; it is a platform for justice. Lady Justice embodies divine order and moral courage. She does not slander; she does not shout from a megaphone and make demands.

We should NOT sit back and accept catcalls and blatant disrespect, but it’s dramatic to say that we live in a rape culture. We live in a highly sexualized culture. And there’s wisdom in a measured response so that when a more severe one is needed it can be taken seriously.

The gender gap is real, but we have to stop and realize that women have only been in the workforce in significant numbers since the late 60’s/early 70’s. It is up to us to Lean In to leadership (for heaven’s sake more men named John run large companies than women). More female voices in leadership and governance around the world are essential in order to have true equality of opportunity.

In all pursuits, it’s important that we find ways to Thrive.

Our passion is unmatched. Our spirit is unassailable. Our time is now.

Nevertheless, as we persist: may we strive for impartiality in our judgements, generosity toward others and the past, and a steadfast commitment to justice.

After all, our rights are human rights!

Caring on a Down Day

fd73f3e7d0f48dbe9dec361593df9e78Giving a shit ALL the time is exhausting! Let’s admit – it’s not humanly possible. And caring to the point of carrying guilt for “not doing enough” is worse than counterproductive. It’s cruel!

While some days feel like perfect 10s, others really are terrible 2s. And on down days we often feel like two-year-olds– selfish, pouty, and needy. I hate down days with a passion! But my strong disdain doesn’t make them go away. They pop up unexpectedly at the worst of times. And they cycle regularly, as all women can attest.

Down days are an unfortunate fact of life.

Doing well and doing right by others, means learning to take it all in stride. In order to be CHILL – we have to manage our energy levels, not just our time. Energy springs from physical and emotional wellbeing, including mind and spirit. Check out this great read from the HBR archives.

On down days, be vigilant to acknowledge and accept frailties, rather than attempting to power through. Here are ideas of ways to avoid being an asshole on your down days:

  • Observe the day, be inquisitive and open-minded before diving into action.
  • When you run into trouble, ask why first: “Is it really that bad?”
  • Address more routine tasks and try to tackle complex problems later, if you can.
  • Reschedule important meetings. Adjust your schedule to how you feel, as much as possible.
  • Stay active and get hands on: use your full body to engage in the work of the day, rather than just your mind.
  • Work out vigorously, even though you don’t feel like it. Go for a jog or try kickboxing (a fav for punching out frustrations!)
  • Remove “should” from your vocabulary altogether! There’s no such thing!
  • Don’t fall into the reward trap: seeking the comfort of food, shopping, or other vices is only temporary and can backfire.
  • Get organized! Write an active to-do list to focus your attention. One of my favorite online organization tools is www.todoist.com
  • Get a good night’s sleep!
  • Listen to your favorite tunes. Joni Mitchell’s Blue is at the same time sad and soulful as it is playful and bright – the perfect recipe for acknowledging and uplifting the spirit.
  • Take it in! Breathe deeply! Pray! Meditate! Count to 10!
  • Hydrate and eat healthy, body nourishing foods.
  • Find a safe space and try a primal scream. Sometimes it helps to shout it out.
  • Go ahead and cry if you need to, it’s cool.
  • If you can muster it, write a list of things you’re grateful for, OR if it feels disingenuous – just write!
  • Call a family member, a friend, or talk things out with a trusted confidant.
  • Don’t complain, especially at work, it only makes things worse.
  • Try to keep a sense of humor about the day’s events. Watch a quick comedy sketch: George Carlin’s sardonic wit is ideal for down days!
  • Take it easy, in all manner of the phrase!
  • Wear your best clothes to feel as comfortable and confident as possible.
  • Try simple acts of kindness, yield to others and the world around you: smile to a stranger, hold the door open, let a car merge ahead of you, etc.
  • Just slow down! And know that by doing so, you’re reserving energy for another day!

You, yes YOU, are the only one who can fill your punchbowl. Everyone else tends to suck out the punch!punchbowlSo, on down days exercise extreme self-compassion and a bit of caution. Please don’t try to do it all. Perfect is the enemy of very good!

Workplace Karma & Caramels

We spend a TON of time at work! On average: over 90,000 hours in a lifetime! With technology and the advent of the 24/7 workplace, we’re expected to devote even more energy. The mental gymnastics of trying to “keep up” is a serious source of stress in our lives!

Yikes! Umm, yeah, did you get that memo?

In our daily slog, we regularly expect co-workers to meet OUR demands. Yet in an increasingly unrelenting world, how often do we break from our requests to say thanks? What’s more, we’re taught in order to achieve, someone else must fail. As a result, we do all manner of things to get ahead at others expense. Let’s be honest, we are not very kind.

Well, what goes around comes around people! And it’s time for a change.

Motivational and behavioral psychologists like Professor Carol Dweck at Stanford University are calling for a shift in mindset. Do you have a growth mindset?

131baf1e3f1870cf082d51c5367d63c6I’ve long been drawn to the concept of abundance. IF we think there are plenty of opportunities for everyone and genuinely want others to succeed, we’re more likely to find a rising tide that floats all boats. The power of positivity is contagious.

We do have the power to create more positive work environments with each word and deed. In his book Give and Take, author Adam Grant says that givers really can get ahead in the workplace, by giving in a way that nurtures their soul. Assess your Give and Take dynamic! Giving doesn’t have to mean that you’re a push-over. It means you value mutually beneficial relationships and you’re mature enough to understand that personal growth doesn’t have to come at a cost.

We can have our cake and eat it too, so let’s stop with the “Sorry Milton”!

Let’s take the time to acknowledge and celebrate our teammates for helping us reach our goals. Let us ALL eat cake! Work is better when we do it together!

compassionate-caramelsOne of the ways I like to say thanks is through food. What better way to win over hearts, than through the stomach! And it just so happens that my talented sister-in-law makes the best caramels EVER – small batch, in delectable flavors, handmade with love! In addition, 10% of sales goes to her local food bank! The gift of Jennifer’s Compassionate Caramels is a double do-good! If you’ve gotten caramels from me (and you know who you are), you know that I truly value your partnership and friendship in the workplace, nom nom nom! Thank you!

Human creatures thrive on appreciation. We want to be valued for our contributions. Truly, a little kindness goes a VERY along way in relieving workplace stress! Check out these simple ideas for saying thanks from themuse, or share your own here.

Umm, yeah, we all hate TPS reports! So why don’t you just go ahead and be kind to your colleagues!!! Umm, yeah, thanks!