Tag Archives: Women

To My Sisters

Lent started on March 1 and if you’re a practicing Catholic, you give something up. So, I gave up apologizing, casually throwing around “I’m sorry” when it wasn’t needed and certainly when I didn’t mean it. I also made a point to find at least one woman, each day, who left on impression on me. Maybe she showed kindness, or strength or listened when I needed it. Plus it’s Women’s History Month, why not focus on my fierce lady friends!

sistasMy little mission yielded a few lessons or maybe observations is a better word for what I saw. In 31 days, women close to me and complete strangers influenced the trajectory of my day. Each, in her own way, raised me up: with encouragement, compassion, advice or a mug of wine. I didn’t struggle to identify someone each day; in fact it was the opposite, I couldn’t choose one name!

As I paid close attention to the women I interacted with, I also paid close attention to my apologizing tendency as well as other negative language I use without even thinking about it. I saw myself really thinking about  saying I’m sorry. I only did it when I truly meant it. It made such a difference!

Word choice and the language we use especially when talk about ourselves is important. In the last month, when I listened more closely to these same women, they were far less empowering when it came to speaking about themselves. I heard women struggling to accept compliments, be recognized, say thank you and talk positively about themselves. It wasn’t always the case but happened more often than not.

It’s been an enlightening 31 days and my intentionality around apologizing and language will continue past the month of March. Now my PSA: Ladies, our paths are different from our male counterparts. That is fact, however, don’t forget where we as a population have come from. We must own our power as women, to set the example for those behind us. You are whole, you are strong, you have God-given talents that no one else possesses. They are uniquely yours. Own them!

The way each woman who crossed my path this month acted is how we all must treat one another. With respect, humility, compassion and grace. We must raise each other up. When one succeeds, it is a victory for all. It sounds preachy and idealistic, I know. However, it’s the only way to move forward and to make sure everyone knows and appreciates a woman’s worth.

How Do You Define Success?

Lean In” and Sheryl Sandberg have permeated every news channel, major corporation and magazine cover during the last couple of months. The book has been wildly successful and Sandberg has led an army of mainly women in the charge for equality in the workplace. While her book is very helpful and it’s great companies want to aid women in the work/life balance struggle, “Lean In” is not a gospel for every woman out there.

The work/life balance is such a personal issue for men and women alike that no one prescribed way can be applied to everyone’s situation. In reality, it comes down to how you define success. Is is a c-suite office, a certain pay grade, or having happy, responsible children? I can’t answer that question for you and neither can Sheryl Sandberg. What we can do, as women fighting for a better tomorrow, is lift each other up rather than bring one another down.

acsuccessSuccess is one of those obscure topics like happiness. There’s the dictionary definition but that can’t possibly capture everyone’s feelings on these sometimes lofty out-of-reach ideas. A co-worker recently shared a Harvard Business Review (HRB) article that eloquently addressed the topic of success saying “You have to define what success means to you—understanding, of course, that your definition will evolve over time.” I experienced this epitome earlier in the week when I made the conscious decision to attend my fitness class instead of staying later at work. As a young professional, my career is top of mind, but since the start of 2014, my health has become a top priority too. Right now, being successful means taking time for myself, whether that is a yoga class or a manicure.

It is easy to define success right now as a single, young professional with no responsibility to anyone but myself. However, I know it will gradually become harder, when I add a significant other and children to the mix. That is why I enjoyed the HBR article so much; it is okay for your definition of success to change as your grow and figure out what you want from this life. I look at others my age and occasionally question their lack of ambition. But who am I to define success for them? I can’t want for others what they don’t want for themselves. We can’t define success for anyone else but ourselves.

I think that having a clear definition of success and sharing it with your board of directors is important. Of course,definesuccess you can change this definition whenever you need to, but keeping it top of mind will help you make tough decisions. If you define success as being home with your children by 6 p.m. three nights a week, write it on a post-it, share it with your team and make it happen! I doubt it will always be easy and sometimes you’ll have to sacrifice, but keeping your definition of success top of mind should help.

How do you define success? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments section!

 

Motivation Mondays: One Billion Rising

One in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. 

About three weeks ago on Valentine’s Day, One Billion Rising overtook cities around the world to deliver an important message. They staged flash mobs, held dance parties and brought an important issue to the forefront. One Billion Rising is a mission, an uprising if you will that raises awareness of violence against women around the world. On Valentine’s Day, also known as V-Day, this organization took to Twitter, Facebook and every other social media site to call men and women everywhere to participate in a revolution. They tweeted and posted instructions about meet-ups around the world. They invited people to dance, to raise awareness and to challenge the norm. It is not acceptable for the violence women and girls face each day. It was time for a revolution, a time for change.

Celebrities like Kerry Washington and Eve took to Twitter as well to support the cause. Updates were constantly coming from Brazil, Poland, New York City and so many other places around the world. Videos of millions of people dancing and holding signs with shocking statistics were uploaded instantly to the One Billion Rising website. Their online presence was strong, their message was clear and their goal was inspiring. Think about the statistic above: 1 in 3 women will be raped or beaten. 1 in 3 women. That’s your mother, your aunt, your best friend. It is not acceptable. It cannot be tolerated anymore. We all, men and women alike, stop this violence and use our voices. No means no. We will not be disrespected. We will be one billion rising.

Check out one of their videos below

How to Take Off Your Cape

My friends and I have an ongoing joke about being superwomen. We talk about wearing capes and saving the world. You know, just your typical girl talk goofiness. But some of our jokes hold truth.

People have called me a superwoman. I usually laugh in their faces. But, in their opinion, I put my cape on and try to fix everyone and everything, never stopping until I get it right. Now back home and searching for jobs, I’m the same way, applying to as many jobs as possible, rewriting my résumé and cover letters over and over again. You get the picture.

I blame my superwoman personality on the women in my life. My mother, stepmother, godmother, aunts, cousins and best friends are my superwomen. I’ve watched them overcome personal struggles without a complaint or thrive professionally and run the world. These women have set the bar high and continue to challenge me to push harder, fight longer and be all I can be.

But there’s one problem with superwomen: we do not know how to take off our capes. We cannot ask for help in any way, shape or form. We try to save the world every day and do not understand why we can’t get it all accomplished. The women closest to me can’t accept my help even when it’s absolutely necessary. So how do we take our capes off?

First off, we are not superwomen with magical powers. We are human beings with real needs like sleep, food and breaks from our lives. Next, we need to realize that asking for help isn’t a weakness. Instead, it’s admitting we can’t do it all without losing our minds. Lastly, we have to stay balanced. Some days we can do it all with a smile. Others, we just need to lay on the couch, watch Scandal and pretend we’re Olivia Pope.

I will continue to iron my superwoman cape but I will also remember when to take it off and breathe. To my superwomen, thank you for inspiring me and being there every step of the way.

“A great friend looks out for you when you’ve forgotten to look out for yourself. Find these superwomen, love them and let them love you” – Alicia Keys

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