Being Female – Michelle Obama’s Speech and Trump’s Words

I couldn’t watch Michelle Obama’s speech. You know, the one that’s all over Facebook and in the news. The one she gave in New Hampshire last week, in which she talked about Trump’s horrible comments about how he relates to women. In which she talks about what it’s like being female in our culture.

You see, I started to watch the video with my husband, but I asked him to stop it. After a few minutes, it struck a nerve. It brought up too many memories of similar circumstances in my own life, of being female and being objectified. It was, honestly, too painful for me to finish watching.

When I was 13, a stranger, a man at least 10 years older than me, led me into a secluded part of a park and forced himself on me. I ran away before anything truly terrible happened, but I was scared and ashamed as if somehow I was responsible for his actions. That was the first time, but sadly not the last time, that a man made unwanted advances at me or that I felt ashamed of what had happened to me.

As an adult, I have been the object of crass comments and lewd stares. Once, while I was running on a Saturday morning, dressed in tights and a t-shirt, a stranger yelled, “Work that pussy!” as I ran by him. Another time, I was called to HR to discuss my job, and the employee questioning me stared at my chest for most of the time I was in his office.

I’m not alone in experiencing this behavior. Every woman, every single woman I’ve spoken to, has a similar story. Or she has many stories. It’s commonplace enough to make you think it’s part of the collective female narrative. This is what to expect if you are a girl or woman. This is a rite of passage for being female. A man is going to try to kiss you or touch you when you haven’t consented to it. A man is going to say something to you that relegates you to body parts for his enjoyment. You will feel shame for being female.

 

After the uproar over Trump’s horrible words, many said, “Let’s get back to the real issues.” Well, I call bullshit on that.

Treating women like objects that can be manhandled and dominated, acting as if women are only breasts and vaginas that exist for a man’s pleasure, these are real issues. This behavior and thinking affects girls and women in the educational system. It affects women in the workforce. It affects women in domestic relationships. It affects our laws and institutional practices. So, I cannot imagine an issue more important or real.

This kind of behavior and thinking is insidious. It whispers under its breath that, “Girls, you aren’t equal, and you don’t control your own bodies.”

 

When females are devalued by words and actions, it impacts all of us – men, women – and our society. It doesn’t just influence how men view women. It influences how women view themselves.

So let’s not brush over what Trump said. He spoke his truth. And, unfortunately, that truth is shared by many others. Those in political power. Those working at our offices. Those praying at our churches. Those strangers you run into on the street.

Well, this is my truth. I am not a pussy. I am not tits. I am not your plaything or your property. I am scientist and an educator and a runner and a writer and a parent and a spouse. I work. I raise kids. I volunteer at the school library. I pay taxes. I vote. This is being female. This is who I am.

Feed Your Soul from 5 to 9 (And Not from 9 to 5)

The other day I was talking with my husband about my job. Like any job, mine can be a source of frustration. There are several cons that keep me wondering if I should stay. Like, I don’t see myself growing professionally in the position I’m currently in or even having the possibility of growing beyond the position I’m currently in. I don’t see myself making more money. I don’t feel like the job feeds my soul or nurtures my passions although it involves writing and science (2 facets of my life that I love).

So I told my husband exactly what I’ve been thinking. “I might start looking for another job next year, because this job doesn’t feed my soul.”

The other day, I told my husband, “I might look for another job, because this job doesn’t feed my soul.” He said, "Keep your job. Feed your soul elsewhere."

Image courtesy of Flickr user Anthony Easton

Do You Love What You Do?

This kind of thinking – that you should do what you love and do work that matters – is relatively new in the collective consciousness. It is born of the self-improvement movement that implores us to pursue our passion. It is born of Steve Jobs who said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” It is born of sites like Live Your Legend, which maintains, “doing work you love is a fundamental human right.”

This kind of thinking has seeped into my own mindset. So I tell my husband, “I might start looking for another job next year, because this job doesn’t feed my soul.”

And my husband turns to me and says, “Keep your job, and feed your soul outside of work time.”

He wasn’t being dismissive of my desire to do meaningful work or love what I do. He was reminding me that my current job, for all it’s not so great parts, is a pretty good gig. It allows me enormous flexibility and freedom. It’s not a full time job, and it doesn’t have regularly scheduled hours. So, in effect, it provides me lots of time, time every single day, to pursue my interests (or run errands or take a nap or do nothing at all).

No, the job itself may not feed my soul, but it provides the opportunity for me to feed my soul. My soul gets fed from 5 to 9 rather than from 9 to 5. And that’s okay.

Your Job Can Have Meaning Without Feeding Your Soul.

What Steve Jobs and Live Your Legend and a million other sources fail to recognize is that every job is meaningful, whether you love it or not. (By the way, I’m not knocking Live Your Legend. I’m actually a fan and subscribe to their newsletter.)

Doing what you’re passionate about doesn’t have to pay you a salary. Doing what you’re passionate about simply means you do it, because you want to or need to in order to stay sane, be happy, and move through life.

Unless you’re a weapons dealer or a warlord, your work has real meaning. No matter what you do. Cleaning toilets is meaningful if it helps feed your family. Bookkeeping is meaningful if you find it fulfilling. Processing and copyediting manuscripts (my “day” job) is meaningful. It’s meaningful, because it affords me the luxury of being home every day with hours to write or run or take a nap (all of which I am passionate about).

Maybe promoting the idea that we all ought to follow our passion in our professional lives is a little short sighted. Honestly, isn’t it enough simply to find time every day to do what you love? If you can do that in your work, then great. But, if you can’t, then that’s okay, too.

Keep doing what you love. Keep feeding your soul, even if it’s from 5 to 9 and not 9 to 5..

 

 

 

 

Forge The Marriage Bond – Life Lesson #3127

Bond is a funny word. The first definition is ‘something shared between people, that connects them.’ Like a marriage bond. The second definition is ‘a chain that is used to prevent someone from acting freely.’ Like a marriage bond.

Like anything of worth, marriage is work. You have to constantly shape it and work at it to forge a sustainable marriage bond. Otherwise, the bond weakens.

Photo courtesy of pixabay user Tante Tati

What I mean is that in marriage, you are emotionally, financially, and physically connected to someone else. Of course you can’t act freely. Marriage isn’t all about you. It’s all about TWO of you and the partnership you’ve created.

I’ve been in my second marriage for 14 years. Having screwed up my first marriage beyond repair, I like to think that I am a bit more invested in making this new one work. (Oh, the generous thoughts I have). I want to believe that I am actively forging the marriage bond I’ve made, doing my part to stay connected.

But, let’s face it. It’s easy to get complacent in a marriage. Sometimes, when you have a job and a child and/or a long list of obligations and responsibilities, you neglect your marriage. That’s just life. Working on your relationship becomes less of a priority when you have a deadline to meet, a child to take to a lesson, bills to pay, laundry to do, etc. You take for granted that the marriage will coast by with minimal effort, that it can sustain neglect.

Then reality slaps you in the face. You come to your senses and realize that this line of thinking is totally false. Neglect never sustains anything. If you stop watering a plant, it dies. If you stop exercising, you gain weight. If you stop attending to your marriage, it suffers. It’s that simple.

This realization happened to me recently. I discovered my marriage on the back burner, where I had let it languish for a few months. I got busy with life then noticed that I was saying and doing things, and not saying and not doing things, that were self-serving and not relationship-serving.

Both my actions – an unkind word here, a negative tone there – and my inactions – thoughtlessness, carelessness, inattention – were creating break points in my marriage bond. As a result, I wasn’t forging the marriage bond. I was chiseling away at it.

Like anything worth anything, marriage is work. It’s hard work, committed work, life long (or as long as you want the marriage to last) work. You have to constantly shape it and work at it to forge a sustainable marriage bond and stay connected. Otherwise, the bond gets stressed and breaks.

Life lesson #3127. Invest in the relationship you’ve chosen. Take your marriage off the back burner. Stop letting the relationship coast. Work it. Pay attention. Stay connected. Forge the marriage bond you want.

What I’ve Learned From Donald Trump

If you haven’t learned a few things from Donald Trump, you haven’t been paying attention this election season. If nothing else, this man has been a stellar example of how not to relate to others and how not to behave.

Throughout his campaign, Trump has been reckless, over-reactive, and quick-tempered. In my opinion, he has exhibited an impressive lack of forethought, good judgment, and calmness – qualities most people admire and strive to have.

So, it’s the honest truth when I say that I have learned a lot from Donald Trump. Donald Trump has taught me 4 crucial lessons on how to be a better human.

  1. An immediate reaction is not always warranted. Sometimes the best response is no response at all. We all feel slighted or wronged from time to time. When this happens, it’s hard not to tap out a quick  email and tell that jerk who offended you what an a**hole he is. But, in the end, what purpose does that hot tempered reaction serve? Sure, it might make you feel better in the moment, but does it actually change the situation for you? Does it bring you a sense of peace, a feeling of happiness, or resolution to a sticky situation? Unlikely.
  2. Pause and think before you say or do something. Sometimes a little time out from whatever is making you crazy is all you need in order to regroup. Rather than immediately reacting to something when you feel aggrieved (see point 1 above), create some time and space between the stimulus and your response. Pause. Breathe. Walk around the block. Write that email (but do not put anyone’s name in the “To” line for god’s sake!), then hit delete. The desire to react will subside. You won’t have reacted, and you’ll feel better for it.
  3. Listen deeply to others. People you know, respect, and trust can have good advice to give. Often, that advice is coming from a point of view that may be more objective than yours. So, listen to what other people have to say. Don’t be so committed to your own way of thinking, and your own ideas about how things ought to be, that you can’t consider the counsel of others. Also, don’t close yourself off because you’ve been offended by what someone has said. Consider where that person is coming from. They may be speaking from their own wounds.
  4. Put your big girl panties on and say you’re sorry. We all screw up. We all say and do things we wish we could take back. But, we can’t take these things back (hence the importance of points 1 and 2 above). We can’t undo the wrongheaded things we’ve done, but we can recognize the error of our ways and be adult about it. Yes, it’s hard to get past our ego (admitting we were wrong) and our embarrassment (because we did something stupid), and admit our mistakes, but that’s what you have to do when you screw up. Apologize and make things right.

You all know that I’m all about learning from whatever experience in which you find yourself – good or bad. So, instead of rolling my eyes when I witness atrocious behavior from others, I’m turning the tables and getting something out of it. I’m letting Trump teach me. And he’s teaching me a lot.

What I Learned From Trump

What have I learned from Donald Trump? How to be a better human.