Monday, August 26, 2013

Girls oh Girls...

Happy 93rd anniversary of Women's Right to vote in the USA.  

So the debate on Facebook, started by my mother, is about the term Girls.  When is it appropriate to call someone a girl?   There are my girls, the women I hang with and lord knows where I would be without my girls.   By the way, thank you each and every one of you.    If I had girls children there would be my girls, however only boys here; that is a good use of the word girls.

Let's call it out folks. We are not talking about my girl friends or children or a ethnic or cultural use of the word.  We are talking about when full grown lady/women are being called a girl due to conscious or unconscious lack of respect.  The girls at the office, my girl, would you girls...  The same girls that would be pregnant and lifting a Culligan bottle into its tank while the Dr. in question was busy reading a research journal.  

This use of terminology to control the image of people, that may work for and with a person, has not been something that is exclusive to men, although it has been more prevalent.    When I have encounter this in my job history, it generally surprised me, offended me and was out of line.  As I generally remarked negatively, when it was used, it was not repeated in my presence. 

Emotional Unintelligent 20's answer "Last time I checked I have had my period for at least XX number of years so I am not a or your girl."

Emotionally Intelligent 40's answer "While one always wants to look younger, and I appreciate that you feel I have aged well, I would no longer consider myself a girl and would prefer to be known as your worthy team mate and work associate." 

More often I would see someone else being termed my girls or the girls, referring to a work house of effective multitasking women that generally were keeping many business going.  This army of efficient women were amazing, and without which, the man in question, would be shaking his head in terminal frustration.  

In tribute to those women and the women of 93 years ago that worked diligently to give us these rights, to the women who kept the movement alive and to those that need to take it into the future I give you two clips:

Who remembers the movie 9 to 5 without seeing Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin take on their boss for just such behavior.   Or this clip, turning a rooster into a hen.

Then there is Mary Poppins classic of our sisters fighting the fight across the sea. 

Keep it real ya' all. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

And the Semester Starts.

I rarely talk about my profession as a Professor at Stephens College in Columbia MO.   However today is the first day back at school.  Stephens is a very unique educational environment and draws a unique student. The school is a small college in a big college town, it is all women and has been around since the 1830's.  We have small classes and intense student faculty connections.  I advise students as well as teach and frankly I love it.

I wanted to mention how amazing it is to teach all women.  No offence intended Dudes.  Yet these ladies have made the choice to come to Stephens and be in an all women environment. There are many reasons  they choose it, course offerings, environment, freedom, legacy, connections etc.... What ever their reasoning, I want to congratulated them for taking this journey.

So my first class today was Lead Her Ship. This is a freshman experience course focusing on the skills we need to navigate the professional world as women.  It is going to be great fun.  Today we launched the class and watched a YouTube video with an 2011 interview with Gloria Steinem   It is a great kick off.

Some things to think about from this video:

  • We can't have equality in the work place until we have equality in the home. 
  • Quantity of women in the work place is not quality of jobs held by women. 
  • The Pink Ghetto is made up of jobs we can't or will not outsource.  
  • Poor women always had two jobs, one in the work place and one at home, now most women have two jobs.  
  • Women do not need to become men in the work force. It is not about integrating into a not so good system it is about transforming to a better system.
  • Patriarchy is the control of women's reproductive rights in an effort to restricting bodies of superior group while exploiting the bodies of inferior groups to maintain class and exploit cheep labor.

This semester is going to be such good fun.  Look forward to lots of great stuff coming your way.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Emotional Intelligence vs the Puddle.

Are you emotionally intelligent?

"No, next question." says my husband.  "None of us are."
What is emotional intelligent?  Is it a state of unawareness of the social cues around you, is it narcissism, is it a fine line of discrimination, or is it a bend toward drama and politics.  

How many times have you heard the argument that women are too emotional? Plenty of men are as well, however that is generally dismissed as testosterone enforced machismo. Yet, I can not deny that when I feel emotions it can be hard to control things. Such as if I am really angry I may cry, however if I am really sad I may also cry.  Guess what, a bit too much sappy happiness or any Walt Disney and there I am again crying.  I recently went to a funeral for a work associate's son and I cried throughout the mass, yet I had never met the deceased.  

I can say that over the last couple of decades of work life I have seem my emotional intelligence IQ increase.  I no longer automatically volunteer that opinion, I think about what I am going to say, and frankly just leave some things sitting out there in the open and allowing the silent chatter to be silent.  I know that a few years back, I would not have been able to leave those juicy bits out there.  Either strategic thinking, wisdom, balance or calm sure have made it easier to get through the labyrinth.    Yet I am no where near perfect, there is a long way to go for me.  

Part of it is cultural, one has to admit.   East Coast Brashness, Mid American Sensibilities, West Coast Ease, Northern Directness, and Southern Charm all play their roles.  Then there is Canadian Sarcasm, and Mexican Spice, African American Directness, Jewish Guilt and Wit, Asian Customs and Respect, European Sophistication, Israeli Forthrightness....  When you are workwith people from various cultures some understanding has to be made for the passions of the variety.   Yet to progress in the business world the skills of emotional intelligence are vital and one needs to have an understanding of the multicultural playing field and where the predominant cultural is lays.  

I will not lie, this was hard for me.  I was a big city girl from an immigrant family, a Jew and a  immigrant myself to this country.  So this translated to a sophisticated, brash, witty, guilt ridden, sarcastic, direct, forthright, woman with a slowly climbing emotional intelligence in a totally different cultureal relm.  

Now narcissism is just a reality.  As outward focused as we can be, there is part of us that is here to advance ourselves.  This aspect of human nature is part of what keeps us at the top of the food chain.  Yet some folks are just way too narcissistic for their own good.  This is the person that is so caught up in their own drama that they offend everyone near them.  Like having a skinny friend tell you how fat they feel and how you could never understand, mean while your have not been their size since you were 12.  The thing about narcissism is that people don't tend to out grown it, frankly they don't get much better in their lives. Their subjective reality is just too strong to take into considerations others around them.  They generally either end up running the show or self-destructing. 

So how to we attain this mythical emotional intelligence? 
1) Cut the drama.  Take a step back and breathe. Don't engage it, it will go away. 
2) Don't cry at the office.  Keep the extreme emotions for the drive home.  Road rage here we come.
3) Keep your emotional guards up to some extent. You do not need to tell the entire story, keep most details to yourself.   
4) Don't throw trash where you eat. So don't poison your environment at work with negative vibes or sentiment. Especially keep away from negativity about past work places.  Only bring up past stuff if it is essential. 
5) Know that it is not personal, it is business.  You are only as valuable as your last project success. 
6) Upset? Write the email... then don't send and erase it.  Again Breathe
7) Think Strategic not emotionally. Again Breathe
8) Did I say don't take it personal?  Well that one is worth hearing twice.

Good luck, but remember that when you are out of work, and life is chill, you can let your emotional intelligence slip and jump in a puddle or two.  :)   


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Can you say "NO"?

So the new Semester starts in a few days.  My blog is going to take on a new twist and include some subject matter inspired by a classes I am creating and teaching.  One such class is a First Year Experience Class, called Lead Her Ship. This class along with a bunch of other classes in this series have an overarching theme of Society and Self.  This particular section is a Women's Studies class.  The Class will focus on the Women's Professional Journey.  The class is for an all women's college and will be a blast.   My goal is to help these young women, building their tool kits to carry them through their career, acquire some of the knowledge, skills and outlooks that will help them maneuver themselves to their goals what ever they may be.

In this process I guess the Disgruntled Feminist may have some disgruntled thoughts about what holds women back, both within ourselves and from the outside.  I may even get grumpy and ramble on a bit about lack of respect, hurdles and discrimination.  I apologize ahead of time, but welcome to the ride.  Maybe we will all learn a thing or two or become more aware.  We shall have to see.

I may refer to women mostly in my descriptions, but know that I know that many men may also feel these feelings and may be able to grow or learn from the techniques mentioned. Buck up little soldiers... oooohhh that was stereotypically gender discriminatory.  Poor dudes.  

One Topic I am researching, and I have begun to enjoy, is how Women have a really hard time saying "NO".  I can attest to this being true.  I am absolutely terrible at saying no.  When asked to help out with something I mostly say yes. This could be at work, from the synagogue, the kids schools, friends, etc..  I don't like to say no for many reasons.  It makes me feel uncomfortable. I know I will do a great job.  There frequently is no one else to do the task.  I want people to think well of me.   I know if I help others that when I am in need others will help me. On and on and around and around the mulberry bush we go.  So my plate is often over flowing with things to do.  Need something done ask a busy person. 

I am not alone in this.  I know many, many people, and women in majority, that find themselves in this position.  This is not a value judgement, just a fact.  So how do we learn to say "NO".  In the book Womenomics they talk about saying no without guilt.  There it is, the elephant in the room.  GUILT.  I have a hard time saying no without guilt.  I come from a strong Jewish home.  I was raised on the stuff.  I can still hear my Grandmother aka Boobie, saying " I could be dead, three days, no one would know, no one calls, no one stops by, they'll find my body, laying there...." 

So the book says to say it creatively.  "That sounds like a great project, I wish I could help, however my schedule is full right now."  Or "I wish I could help but we have a family policy about eating dinner together on XXX night."  "That sure sounds great, here are my priorities right now, if you want me to take this on, can I get the XXX report to you a week late instead?" 

It also said to say no early.  That gives the person time to find someone else.  I have a tendency to drag it on as I don't want to confront and disappoint.  Then it is too late and I have to do it or mess it up for everyone.   I had not thought of dealing with it early.   I am often busy avoiding the impact and just scheduling it in somewhere there in between sleep and making pickles.  

So can I say no creatively, timely, and with an understanding for which projects are priorities vs extraneous? We will see.  Sorry in advance if I refuse your request.  It might just be me practicing saying no.  I might get good at it.  Will the world stop rotating on it's axes, or will I experience more control over my life and time.  I'll put keep you posted on my task list... 

New Instructors and a welcome home

We made it back.  Yes, back in town, for the upcoming semester and back to yoga.  It had been 2 1/2 weeks without hot yoga; a little yoga here and there but no hot yoga and nothing consistent.

I returned to Sumit Columbia my home practice.  I admit I was scared.  I was scared of the heat and of the extreme work out.  As I got to class I noticed that Katie Wear was the instructor.  This Spring Sumit had an instructor training and now all the new instructors and getting their sea legs and building their strength as instructors. They have proved themselves with double works outs for weeks and a rigorous in class preparation.   Yet they each need to get their cadence and feel their strength.  

So Katie, is a sweetheart. She was often present at the 9:00 class that I frequented for months.  She worked really hard and had achieved some serious flexibility.  Now she was teaching the class.  It was exciting to see how she felt the strength of the class and was letting it fly.  You could tell she was a little hesitant occationaly, as any new instructor would be, but she was connecting with her students and watching for adjustments. She was complimenting people that did well and in control of the room.  She was moving from knowing it to internalizing it.  I enjoyed her class.  I look forward to watching her as she lets her wings fly.  

Before I went away I had Molly Sutton as an instructor and she was really quite good. She had the routine down pat and a strong rhythm.  She had seen the strength of the practice for herself and some of her family members.  She was driven to share this amazing journey.  She was inspired and was passing that on to her class.  She was on the schedule a lot and it showed in her proficiency. 

Today I did a practice with Axton.   Let me preface this with the fact that Axton's Mom is probably the strongest and tightest of the teachers.  Her yoga background is a mile wide and a mile thick.  She has a background in Bikrum and is chiseled and strong.  She is the wonderful lady who told me there was no room for failure when doing a 30 day challenge. She is the one that says Push, and push, and push.   So Axton has some pretty big feet to fill.  

So Axton was leading the class with Emily in the class helping him with temperature control etc, as a great mother does for her child.  Axton knew the script, and in his voice I could hear the strength of his Mother.  His voice had a great tone and I could see him adjusting with the people's needs.  He did go a little fast as he was nervous.   Yet he naturally added a point that made me think.  Most new teacher are too worried about script to add anything deep.   Axton said, when we were in Tree that if you swayed that was OK because trees swayed like that. It was comforting and it was said with a Winnie the Pooh kind of empathy.  It showed the Yogi Axton has the potential to be, to fly beyond or with the mother bird as we hope all of children will do.   

Good luck to all the new instructors.  I am sure I will have the pleasure of practicing with many soon.  It is good to be back.      

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Yoga under the stars and thunder in the mountains

I got to do Yoga for the first time on this trip last night.   It was about 10:30 at night when I finally had time to drag out my mat.  I say drag because I was already exhausted.  According to my new Fitbit, which I will talk about in a later post, we had walked over 7 miles already that day. We had visited the mighty Mammoth Springs at the North Entrance of Yellowstone park.  We had also hiked to a hot spring that poured into Yellowstone River and had soaked for a couple of hours.   After getting back to our cabin, making a great dinner and getting the kids to bed I was rather done.   Yet I knew I needed to do some yoga.  Todd, my husband, was encouraging me to get down and stretch. 

So I put on the standing series recording that I had purchased from the Moksha in Toronto and put my mat out on the front porch.  If I was going to do this I wanted it to be outside under the stars.  I was so tired so knew I was not going to be able to do the entire 90 minutes.   I started strong doing many standing poses watching the starts in the sky and feeling the energy of the mountains around me.   The clouds rolled in and eventually lightning started to light up the night sky.  This was also very energizing.   Of course once the rain started in earnest I moved inside and finished up with some floor work.   

I certainly felt all the hiking we had been doing with tight worn out legs.  Yet the sense of peace that came over me once I was done was tremendous.   I fell sleep with ease and slept hard.   Doing yoga to the recording from Moksha was really quite nice.  I know I changed some of the poses up a little to go more with my Sumit poses but most of them were pretty similar.   

Doing Yoga, with it's deep breaths and centering qualities seems appropriate here in the mountains where Mother Earth's energies seem to flow out of the earth and sky like the geysers and hot springs that have immortalized this area.  These is magic in the air and land and I plan to harness it all I can while I am here through Yoga, Meditation and connection to Nature.   

Team mom thank you very much.

So we have been traveling across the county with the boys on the family vacation. We are right out of the grizwalds but add in iPads. After four days, I have experienced something interesting.  Team mom. What does this mean? Well as we went to these places I saw families everywhere dealing with the same issues we had been; Kids with way too much energy and testing boundaries in a sleep deprived sugar buzzed frenzy.

So, as we traveled through these, Wonders of the World, such as the Badlands in SD, Mount Rush, and then Devils Tower, I had been comforted by Team Mom.  At the Badlands, when the kids were pushing boundaries and trying to climb these huge structures with nothing but crocks on, I looked to the sky  and asked for help and patience not to scream at my kids one more time. A Mom came up to me and said "Don't worry you are almost there, in a couple more years they will stop that constant bickering."  She had four kids in her brood and they were not currently killing each other, crying or screaming like mine were.

Another time when the kids were fighting over some nonsensical nothingness, another mother came up to me and told me I was doing a good job.  This really meant a lot to me.   I was trying to work out their problems and barely hanging on to my temper by the skin of my teeth.   Just this simple 'you are doing a good job', made all the difference.

The third time a Mom gave me a boost, was again at the Badlands. The kids were climbing something they could easily have fallen to their death from and I had just finished telling them they had to come down.   I told them that I had given them the freedom to climb, and they did not want me to regret giving them the freedom.  The reality was, there was no way I could have gone up there and gotten them down, so I had relying on their sense of honor to stop when I said it was high enough.   Another mother came up to me and said "Amen Sister" and then told her kids the same thing.

These interactions felt so good.  I will never see these women again.  Yet each one of them gave me a little strength to think maybe, just maybe, I am not nuts and will make it through the current parenting challenges of, traveling across country with the family.

Thanks Team Mom.