Category Archives: Relationships

Lean In? Maybe it should be Lean On…

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Copyright JC Politi Photography

According to an editorial in the New York Times this week, Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, has a new book coming out this year entitled “Lean In.”

Her main hypothesis is that women internalize the messages surrounding them that they should not be aggressive or assertive and that they frequently make career decisions based on concerns that are not yet real, such as kids or a spouse that have yet to come. She places much of the blame for the lack of women in leadership positions on these issues.

I have written about Sandberg’s theories on this blog in the past. I shared that I have fallen prey to some of these tendencies myself over the course of my career. I certainly know that I am an abysmal negotiator when it comes to my salary; sometimes it seems I am more likely to negotiate down than up.

But I wonder about younger women and if this paradigm is shifting. While the statistics on women in leadership positions remain fairly bleak, young women now have competent role models like Hillary Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg and Sonia Sotomayor, whose work encourages them to shoot for the stars.

As I have written before, what has not shifted as much are the workplace policies that allow women and men to find a way to balance a family and a career. There is no question that workplace policies need to shift to enable men, as well as women, to contribute fully in both the workplace and at home if that is what that family chooses.

It seems that young women and men are making more demands of their employers for things like telecommuting and flexible schedules to enable them to better achieve balance. And a number of extremely talented people are making these demands, so companies are forced to choose between accepting these requests and losing talented staff.

The choice for me would be simple. I would choose a balanced, talented staff person any day over someone who is going to work themselves to the bone until they are burned out and unable to contribute. And if all it takes is a flexible work schedule to make that person content over the long-term, who wouldn’t fulfill that request?

What do you think? When do you think we will reach a tipping point and when companies will change their policies to make them more family-friendly? Do you think family friendly policies impact a company’s bottom line? If so, how? Do you think our corporate culture is ready for this shift, or will these change come about as the next generation reaches leadership positions and can force change?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

16 Comments

Filed under Business, Career Planning, Culture, Economy, equality, Fitness, Home, Income inequality, Parenting, Politcs, Relationships, social pressures, Stereotypes, Women

Tunes Tuesday: Les Miserables

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Copyright JC Politi Photography

I had MLK day off yesterday and I finally went to see Les Mis. I will never forget the first time I saw the play years ago in DC. I had no expectations, but was absolutely blown away. It was love at first listen. So, of course I also enjoyed the movie.

There are so many important themes in this musical – the most powerful of all for me has to be Javert’s struggle to see shades of grey between good and evil.

But the theme of grinding poverty is pervasive in the story. While I was tempted to have Master of the House be this week’s Tunes Tuesday song because it always makes me giggle, I thought instead I would highlight one of the more meaningful and thoughtful songs, At the End of the Day.

At the End of the Day

Workers: At the end of the day you’re another day older
And that’s all you can say for the life of the poor
It’s a struggle, it’s a war
And there’s nothing that anyone’s giving
One more day, standing about, what is it for?
One day less to be living.
At the end of the day you’re another day colder
And the shirt on your back doesn’t keep out the chill
And the righteous hurry past
They don’t hear the little ones crying
And the winter is coming on fast, ready to kill
One day nearer to dying!
At the end of the day there’s another day dawning
And the sun in the morning is waiting to rise
Like the waves crash on the sand
Like a storm that’ll break any second
There’s a hunger in the land
There’s a reckoning still to be reckoned
And there’s gonna be hell to pay
At the end of the day!

[The foreman and workers, including Fantine, emerge.]
Foreman:At the end of the day you get nothing for nothing
Sitting flat on your bum doesn’t buy any bread
Workers:There are children back at home
And the children have got to be fed
And you’re lucky to be in a job
And in a bed!
And we’re counting our blessings!

What do you think? Have you seen Les Mis? What did you think? What themes resonate most for you? What is your favorite musical?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

16 Comments

Filed under Art, Economy, equality, Ethics, Income inequality, International, Love, Music, Poetry, Poverty, Relationships

Tunes Tuesday: Same Auld Lang Syne

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Happy New Year from Buenos Aires! (Note: newsofthetimes.org will be taking a break for two weeks while I am off backpacking in Patagonia and taking LOTS of pictures!!!)

This song is the song that inspired my holiday Tunes Tuesdays – it has been a favorite tune for a long time. Can’t you just feel the awkwardness and the snow turn into rain?

Same Auld Lang Syne

Dan Fogelberg

Met my old lover in the
grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole behind her in the
frozen foods
And I touched her on the sleeve
She didn’t recognize the
face at first
But then her eyes flew
open wide
She went to hug me and she
spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried.
We took her groceries to the
checkout stand
The food was totalled up and
bagged
We stood there lost in our
embarrassment
As the conversation dragged.
We went to have ourselves
a drink or two
But couldn’t find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at
the liquor store
And we drank it in her car.
We drank a toast to
innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond
the emptiness
But neither one knew how.
She said she’d married her
an architect
Who kept her warm and safe
and dry
She would have liked to say she
loved the man
But she didn’t like to lie.
I said the years had been a
friend to her
And that her eyes were still
as blue
But in those eyes I wasn’t
sure if I saw
Doubt or gratitude.
She said she saw me in the
record stores
And that I must be doing well
I said the audience was
heavenly
But the traveling was hell.
We drank a toast to
innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond
the emptiness
But neither one knew how.
We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to time
Reliving in our eloquence
Another ‘auld lang syne’…
The beer was empty and our
tongues were tired
And running out of things to say
She gave a kiss to me as I got out
And I watched her drive away.
Just for a moment I was
back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make
my way back home
The snow turned into rain —

The video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sYu12PdqVI&feature=youtube_gdata_player

What do you think? What is your favorite wistful song about old times? How do you celebrate the new year?

30 Comments

Filed under Music, Poetry, Relationships, Uncategorized

Hunger Knows No Borders: Poverty at Home and Abroad

Copyright JC Politi Photography

There is an article in the New York Times this week about the increasing number of people living in poverty in Spain.

The article references the fact that the unemployment rate in Spain is over 50% for young people and that over 20% of families in Spain live in poverty. It tells the stories of people who find themselves forced to search for food in trash bins in order to feed themselves and their families.

It is striking to read about how dire the situation is in Spain right now, especially after having just visited the country. We were blown away by the food and the beauty, but this article makes it clear that there is another, much more tragic, story to be told.

As I read this article, I felt like I was reading about the United States. The article spoke of people who had never been on government assistance who are now accessing food pantries or searching through dumpsters for food.

So frequently, we read an article like this and look at it as an interesting, but sad anecdote from a foreign land. But the truth is, we can see the same thing here in our own back yards every day.

Copyright JC Politi Photography

The recession has had far-reaching implications across the globe. The number of people in the United States who are accessing public benefits has sky-rocketed.

Some people complain about the number of people who are accessing government assistance, including food assistance. I don’t understand this.

If jobs are not available and people are hungry, why would we not be grateful to live in a society where people who have hit rock bottom have a place to go to feed themselves and their children? How can we be so sure that we will not be the next family to come upon hard times, through a loss of a job or through a medical emergency that leaves us financially devastated?

I am honestly baffled and saddened by the lack of compassion in much of the United States during these difficult economic times.

What do you think? Why do you think people are so critical of government efforts to support low-income families? Why do you think people are so quick to judge families who have come upon hard times? How can people be so sure that they will not be the next person to need a little help? And how can we reduce the stigma associated with accepting government assistance so that more people can have a bridge to survive their current hardship in the hopes of eventually getting a job and escaping poverty?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

28 Comments

Filed under Culture, Economy, Ethics, Health, Income inequality, International, Photography, Photos, Policy, Politcs, Poverty, Relationships, Role of Government, Stereotypes, travel

Travel Photo of the Year Contest and Travel Theme: Sunset

Perito Moreno Glacier, Calafate, Argentina (Patagonia)

Travel Photo of the Year Contest:

Bucket List Publications has chosen this photo as a finalist for their Travel Photo of the Year Contest! There are 18 finalists and I have some stiff competition. I would love your help!

You can vote every day for the next week. All you do is go see all  the finalists and click on this picture and click “like” or share to mark it as your favorite! You can send it to friends and family to encourage them to vote though Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and lots of other ways. It would mean a lot to get your vote!

Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack has issued a fun travel theme this week. The theme is Sunset. Here are a few of my favorite sunset photos and my favorite sunset song from Fiddler on the Roof. I danced with my Dad at my wedding to this song, so it is very special to me.

Ocean City, Maryland
Copyright JC Politi Photography

Grenada, Nicaragua
Copyright JC Politi Photography

Aspen, Colorado
Copyright JC Politi Photography

Sunrise, Sunset
Fiddler on the Roof

Is this the little girl I carried,
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older,
When did they?

When did she get to be a beauty,
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?

Sunrise, sunset .
Swiftly flow the days.

Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers,
Blossoming even as we gaze.

Sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laiden with happiness and tears.

What words of wisdom can I give them,
How can I help to ease their way?
Now they must learn from one another,
Day by day.

They look so natural together.
Just like two newlyweds should be.
Is there a canopy in store for me?

Sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laiden with happiness,
And tears

What do you think? Where was your favorite sunset? What does sunset mean to you?

I hope you will share your thoughts…and your VOTE! Thank you so much for reading!

Some of the other entries in the Sunset Travel Challenge:

Travel Theme: Sunset | a hectic life
Travel Theme: Sunset « Hunters Holidaying
SUNSET ANYONE? « Zeebra Designs & Destinations
Travel theme; Sunset « So where’s the snow?
Sunset | Canoe Communications
Travel theme: Sunset | One step at a time
Travel theme: Sunset | tahira’s
I can see Africa from my terrace! « East of Málaga
Travel Theme: Sunset « weird & cool stuff seen while out & about
travel theme: sunset | catbird in america
Travel Theme: Sunset | StandingStill
Travel theme: Sunset « Healthcare Updates
Travel theme: Sunset at Mopane | Have you ever…
Travel theme: SUNSET « scrapydo
Travel Theme: Sunset « A year in the Life
Travel Theme: Sunsets | rfljenksy – Practicing Simplicity
Travel theme: Sunset | Even A Girl Like Me
Travel Theme: Sunset | Eluding Ennui

 

 

 

 

43 Comments

Filed under Awards, Colorado, International, Love, Music, Parenting, Photography, Photos, Relationships, Travel Challenge, Weekly Photo Challenge

The Cost of Owning Too Much Stuff

 

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There is a thought-provoking blog on the New York Times website that examines the price we pay when we own too much stuff. This article hits home for me as a pack-rat at heart.

In particular, this sentence really jumped out at me:

When we hold on to stuff we no longer want or use, it does indeed cost us something more, if only in the time spent organizing and contemplating them.

Almost everything I own has a twin. If I find a pretty pair of shoes, especially if those shoes happen to be on sale, I feel I must have them in brown and in black. If we are talking about handbags, which are a particular obsession of mine, the options are endless.

But why do I feel the need to own more than one of most things? I know I am not alone. For some people, their downfall is gadgets. For others, it may be tools. Some people can’t get enough clothes.

It is clear that this is about much more than fulfilling our basic needs. And I am the last person to look down upon an occasional impractical splurge, but I am left wondering if it would make more sense to focus on the quality of what we own rather than the quantity.

Photo Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While I realize this is a problem that can only come with having disposable income, I would be willing to bet that even families living paycheck to paycheck can relate to this on some level. I also think this is highly influenced by culture, and that the United States is a society of hyper-accumulators.

I am fascinated by this tendency which, on its face does not make any sense, but at a gut level is so natural.

What do you think? What is your favorite thing to collect? Are you more likely to splurge on one high-quality item or to buy a lot of smaller, lower-quality, but similar items? Why do you think we hold onto things that we don’t use? Do you have trouble giving things away or do you frequently purge?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

If you liked this, you might also like:

Times are Rough: I’ve Got Too Much Stuff! (newsofthetimes.org)

The Hazards of Mountain Living: Colorado Forest Fires (newsofthetimes.org)

Our Disposable Culture and the Gentle Giants of Music (newsofthetimes.org)

72 Comments

Filed under Culture, Home, Love, Parenting, Relationships, social pressures

Helicopter Parents and Tiger Moms: Turns Out Neither Knows Best

Copyright JC Politi Photography

There was an opinion piece in the New York Times this weekend called “Raising Successful Children” which generated quite a bit of discussion.

The article examines the latest parenting research which found that giving children autonomy and allowing them to make mistakes leads to the best long-term outcomes.

My parents did a great job with this. I was sent to a sleep-away summer camp for the most of the summer every year in my formative years. I feel like this helped shape who I am more than almost anything else.

I worked for a wonderful organization called Amigos de las Americas which provides opportunities for young people to live in remote villages Latin America, where their autonomy is simply not in question.

These types of experiences can really help young people develop confidence in their abilities. The Times article lays out research to prove this hypothesis.

But it seems that it has become harder for parents to give their children space to make mistakes and to develop their independence. The article points out that there has been much attention devoted to “helicopter parents” and “tiger mothers” in the news in recent years.

I am not a parent and I can imagine that it would be difficult to find the balance between protecting your children and letting your children forge their own path. But I am intrigued and curious about what makes it more difficult for parents to do this today than when I was younger.

Certainly, when I was younger, we had parents who lived vicariously through their children, but I don’t feel like there was quite as much of what I see as overprotecting children.

What do you think? Do you think that parents are more protective now of their children that when you were young? Do you think this has to do with the increased dangers in our society like gun violence and crime? Do you struggle with this as a parent? Have you found any tips or strategies you would like to share with others?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

If you liked this, you might also like:

The Ritalan Generation: Why do some children fall behind in school? (newsofthetimes)

The Power of Strengths and Weaknesses: Giving kids permission to just be (newsofthetimes)

A New Kind of Playground: What happens when young children are connected with technology? (newsofthetimes)

52 Comments

Filed under Career Planning, Culture, Education, Love, Parenting, Relationships, social pressures, Technology, Youth Leadership

Our Disposable Culture and the Gentle Giants of Music

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Who would throw away a piano? And why does the mere thought of this make me sad?

There is an article this week in the New York Times called “For More Pianos, the Last Note is a Thud.” The article explores a new trend, in which pianos are being abandoned or destroyed at an alarming rate.

Some of the more disturbing excerpts from the article include:

 “Instead of spending hundreds or thousands to repair an old piano, you can buy a new one made in China that’s just as good, or you can buy a digital one that doesn’t need tuning and has all kinds of bells and whistles,” said Larry Fine, the editor and publisher of Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer, the industry bible.

“In wintertime we burn them,” he said, pointing to a round metal stove. “This one has eaten many pianos.”

Maybe it’s because I played the piano when I was young. I remember countless hours sitting at the piano, staring at the picture on the wall wondering when my practice session would be over or sneaking into the kitchen to change the timer that was set to document my 30 minute practice.

But there is something that makes me melancholy when I think about these gentle giants turned into firewood.

Learning to play the piano takes work. But the relationship between a pianist and her instrument is special – if a person puts in the time on the piano bench, the piano rewards her with the beautiful gift of music which she is free to share far and wide.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – Edwige Lombardi-Munhoven (cat called Gina)

We have become too cavalier about destroying our history. I am reminded of neighborhoods across the country where people tear down gorgeous historic houses to build McMansions. It is heartbreaking.

And the people building those McMansions with three bedrooms for each occupant can’t find the space for a piano?

What is this world coming to?

What do you think? Does this story make you sad or do you think I am just being nostalgic and resistant to progress? Are there other items that you grew up with that are now being disposed of that you hate to see discarded? Do you see any hope for reversing this trend?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

If you liked this, you might also like:

Piano Adoption (A great resource from the article noted above, where people can post pianos for adoption or can adopt a piano)

Romance in Paris: Why Do French Bookstores Continue to Thrive? (newsofthetimes.org)

Times Are Rough – I’ve Got Too Much Stuff!  (newsofthetimes.org)

The Importance of Slowing Down in a Busy Bee Culture (newsofthetimes.org)

74 Comments

Filed under Culture, Economy, Environment, Ethics, Love, Music, Relationships, Technology

Love is All Around

One of many signs this morning.
Copyright JC Politi Photography

In light of the horrific events in Colorado on Friday, I thought I would dedicate today’s post to love.

I just finished my first sprint triathlon of the summer (1/4 mile swim, 17+ mile bike and 3.1 mile run!!) and all I could think about this morning as I looked around me was love.

I have only done all-womens triathlons. Every event I have done, I have left inspired by the women of all ages, shapes and sizes who are putting themselves through something physically challenging just to know they can do it. The support the women show each other is truly inspiring.

But what has really touched me in these events is the men who come to support the women in their lives. They come with signs, with advice, with music and with cameras. And they come with love and support. I can’t explain what this means to the women racing.

I do triathlons for many reasons, but one of the reasons is to have something that is all my own. Something that enables me to feel like I really accomplished something I set my mind to. The fact that the men at these races support their partners who have similar goals warms my heart.

And my sweet husband is one of them, so I thank him for that.

In the immortal words of the movie Love, Actually:

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.

A few other things that inspired me to write this post:

I came across a post yesterday called Heartwarming Quotes from Children About Love. Some adults asked the kids to tell them what love meant to them. Some of my favorites:

When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.” Karen – age 7

“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.” Emily – age 8

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” Karl – age 5

You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” Jessica – age 8

And finally, my post on love would not be complete without including this wonderful video, which to me is just a picture of love around the world. Thank you to Mimi from Waiting for the Karma Truck for this one.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pwe-pA6TaZk&feature=player_detailpage

What do you think? What are some of your favorite movies about love? Or poems? Or quotes? What is something simple that makes you realize that love is all around?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

41 Comments

Filed under Culture, Fitness, Love, Parenting, Relationships, social pressures, Women

Secrets to a Long, Happy Marriage

From our Wedding in Argentina – 2007

Marriage is hard. We hear this all the time.

There is an article in the New York Times this week called The Wedding Effect, which really touched me.

The author is 29 years old and the article provides an honest, almost raw portrayal of her fears and skepticism regarding marriage. She calls marriage a “daredevil leap of faith,” which I think describes it perfectly.

The article held my interest for several reasons.

First, I could have written this same article at 29. My parents divorced when I was quite young – I think I was six. I was fortunate to have grandparents on both sides of the family who lived beyond 80, but both of their spouses died young.

When I was growing up, I had very few examples of marriage working through thick and thin. I had friends whose parents were still married and I remember being fascinated when I would occasionally hear their parents fight because I didn’t think people whose parents stayed together fought. I thought fighting meant divorce.

My husband and I have been married for five years this year. That feels like quite an accomplishment.

But this article reminded me of fears that I know are deeply embedded in my psyche about whether marriages can last. I am very happy in my marriage, and know that these questions come from that obnoxious inner voice whose words I simply need to hear and let go, much like the inner messages we hear telling us that we are not good enough.

From our small Baltimore wedding – we had two! Same dress…:-)

Whenever I meet couples who have been together for years, I ask their secret for a long marriage. This is not an attempt to make conversation. I am simply trying to place as many tools in my toolbox as I can to keep my marriage strong and to make up for the fact that my experience in my immediate family seemed to illustrate that only second marriages survive.

There is another interesting component to this article which is related to conversations we have had on this blog about women in the workplace. So many women have chosen to focus on their careers before marriage and before having children.

As I have written before, this can lead to women finding that by the time they are ready to have kids, their biological clocks have run out.

It is a cruel trick of nature and science definitely has it backwards on this one. I am quite confident I would be a significantly better parent now that I am 40 than I would have been at 21.

But I wonder how much of the fact that people are getting married later can be explained by fears like those described in this article. Statistics show the proliferation of children of divorce. This has to contribute to people getting married later in life.

What do you think? I would love to hear thoughts and advice for what keeps a marriage strong and healthy, through good and bad. What makes second marriages more successful? How do you silence the voices that question if your marriage is perfect? Is any marriage perfect? And do you think the fact that so many people came from homes with divorced parents is leading to later marriage? What impact do you see this having over the long term?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

85 Comments

Filed under Career Planning, Parenting, Relationships, Religion, social pressures, Women

Friendship Over 30: Why is it so much harder?

One of my favorite BFF’s of all times
Copyright JC Politi Photography

I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar,
but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.

Robert Brault
Why does it get more difficult to make friends as we age? This is the question posed by an article in the New York Times this week called “Friends of a Certain Age.” The article explores the complexities of friendships during different life stages.
We can all probably relate to the fact that developing meaningful friendships as we age is less common, but it seems that people of all ages would like to renew or strengthen friendships and develop new ones.
I have certainly noticed how much harder it is to make lasting friendships at this point in my life.
Even if I have a certain spark with someone that would, in my younger days, have rapidly led to an invitation to a happy hour, this does not happen as frequently.  Now, many of us have other people we need to check in with just to schedule a meet-up.

It can be so complicated to schedule time with friends that I sometimes end up avoiding the entire thing altogether – which means I sacrifice what could have been a beautiful friendship or allow a strong friendship to atrophy, which just exacerbates the problem.

My Baltimore BFFs from my wedding in 2007 – I love you guys!

But don’t we all miss the carefree nature and ease of developing and maintaining friendships we had when we were younger? If we didn’t, blogs and books like MWF seeking BFF would not skyrocket to the top of the bestseller lists. But they do.

I wonder if this is all related to the issues that we have been exploring here on this blog in other posts. Perhaps so much of our time and energy is spent keeping busy with work that we have no time left for friendship. If that is the case, we have lost something precious and sacred and must reprioritize.

What do you think? Have you found it harder to make close friends as you age? Have you found that this goes in waves, where sometimes you have more time and energy for friends than others? Do you have any tips or strategies for people who would like to maintain and strengthen their friendships, but struggle with this? Have you found that people’s choice of partners or their phase in life (married/unmarried, kids/no kids) impacts your ability to maintain friendships?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy:

Do You Prioritize Your Life or Your Work? Maybe It Is Time To Rethink

The Importance of Slowing Down in a Busy Bee Culture

To Connect or Not To Connect: That is the Question

 

45 Comments

Filed under Career Planning, Culture, Health, Photos, Relationships, Social Media, social pressures, Stereotypes, Technology

Why Are There So Few Women in Math and Science Professions?

There is a fascinating story on NPR this week about the lack of women in math and science fields that is worth a read.

It explores the reasons that there are more men than women in these fields and the reasons that many women do not stay in these fields. The article lays the blame on women’s awareness of stereotypes regarding their competency in these areas.

The author makes it clear that the problem is not all in women’s heads, but rather lays the blame at the feet of the pervasive messages that women hear on a daily basis about their abilities, or inabilities, in these areas.

I find this fascinating. When I was in middel school, I was told I was bad at two things – OK, maybe 3 things – math, science and art. Whether the people who told me these things recognized that they sent me this messages as a teenager or not, these messages stuck with me over the years; in fact, these messages have stuck with me to this day.

I worked in the field of domestic violence for many years and was always interested in the programs that many shelters have for children who have witnessed domestic violence, where they use art therapy to help children heal and cope with their untenable family situation.

As someone who was told that art was not a personal strength, I always felt more stressed by the idea of this type of therapy than soothed. The messages we are told when we are young stick with us.

The story on NPR seems to confirm this and posits the theory that this is one of the main reasons that women, even women in high level math and science professions, do not stay in those positions.

The story points out a fundamental challenge, in which there are not many women in these fields, and women seem less likely to enter these fields because they do not see themselves represented in these professions.

Quite a chicken and the egg conundrum.

What do you think? Have you, or your children, had any personal experiences with being told that you were not good at something? Have you found ways to counter these messages that work for you? Do you have any ideas about how more women could be encouraged to enter the fields of math and science? Or do you think that it is not really a problem to have this field so dominated by men?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

 

 

51 Comments

Filed under Business, Career Planning, Culture, Economy, Education, equality, Ethics, Health, Parenting, Policy, Politcs, Relationships, Role of Government, social pressures, Stereotypes, Technology, Women, Youth Leadership

Do you Prioritize Your Life or Your Work? Maybe It Is Time to Rethink

An article on the Harvard Business Review blog called, “If You Don’t Prioritize Your Life, Someone Else Will,” really made me think. I also read a thoughtful blog post on a similar subject over at Truth and Cake called “Save Your Own Ass.”

The concept behind both of these posts is simple: take care of yourself first because if you don’t, no one else will.

The Harvard Business Review article tells the story of a man who attended a meeting the day after his child was born, because he thought he should. While attending the meeting, the man realized that he really should have been with his wife and newborn child instead of at this routine business meeting.

This got me thinking about times when I have felt conflicted between work obligations and home obligations. One of these moments happened just last week.

As many of you know, we had a wildfire directly in front of our house last week. I was scheduled to drive five hours for an all day work meeting last Friday. I felt that I had to go to the meeting, but was concerned to travel so far from home at that moment.

I felt like I “should” make the meeting. My bosses over the years have been very supportive when I needed to bow out of something because of an emergency at home. It is not pressure from my employers that has made me feel that I need to meet my obligations at work, regardless of the situation at home.

I ended up calling into the meeting last week instead of travelling, which I thought was a good compromise. And we were fortunate that the weather and the firefighters helped quell the fire quickly. My colleagues at the meeting were very understanding as, I’m sure, the colleagues of the author of the Harvard Business Review blog post would have been on the day after his child’s birth.

I don’t know what makes these types of decisions more difficult than they need to be. Perhaps at times like these I need to remember to repeat my new mantra gleaned from the sage bloggers at Truth and Cake and the Harvard Business Review: Take care your yourself, because if you don’t, no one else will.

What do you think? What is it that makes us often feel the need to neglect the things in life that are most important, even when it is not necessary that we do so? Is it because we take for granted that the people and things we love will always be there, but work is fleeting? But doesn’t that make it even more important that we tend to our personal needs, lives and loves? Have you learned any lessons about this the hard way or the easy way that you would like to share? Any tips for people who struggle with these types of decisions?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

If you liked this, you might also like:

The Freedom of a Vacation: Why Would We Give That Up? 

The Importance of Slowing Down in a Busy Bee Culture

Does Anyone Care About the Lack of Women in Leadership Positions?

Give Me a Break: Why Do the US Jobs Offer So Little Vacation Time?  

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Filed under Business, Career Planning, Culture, Economy, Education, Forest Fires, Health, Parenting, Peace, Relationships, social pressures, Stereotypes, Women, Youth Leadership

The Ritalan Generation: Why Do Some Children Fall Behind in School?

David Brooks has an interesting opinion piece in the New York Times about how today’s schools leave some children behind.

He points out statistics showing that boys are falling behind girls in school and he posits a theory that this is because our school culture has become too homogenous. He claims that contemporary schools only promote teamwork and collaboration, instead of also including competition and military values.

His theory is that a diversity of teaching styles could help prevent some of the more active children from falling through the cracks and acting out.

I like the idea of diversity of thinking and feel that always adds value. But the bigger issue for me has to do with the homogeneity of the courses and teaching methods in schools today. The focus on teaching to a test has required teachers to shy away from using less traditional teaching styles and methods.

If teachers were able to tailor their classes more, perhaps they would able to find alternative ways to engage students with different learning styles.

Another factor to consider when discussing hyperactive children in the classroom is the overuse of medication that has proliferated over the past twenty years. I wonder if this is a direct result of the inability of teachers to tailor their classes because of the pressures to teach to the test.

That direct correlation may be a bit of a stretch, but if we are going to talk about kids who are falling behind, we must talk about the impact of the overmedication of our youth.

Kids in my generation were not overmedicated and there was no pressure to teach to a test. We had plenty of hyperactive kids – in fact I was probably one of them – but without medication, we turned out fine.

That last statement makes me sound like an old lady, talking about walking three miles barefoot to school in the snow when I was younger, and maybe that is who I have become. But I think it is interesting to explore our cultural history in order to find a path forward.

I have a philosophy for the most part of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I am sure the education system had significant problems when I was younger, but it does seem to have even more challenges now.

I am not a teacher, but I know that several of my readers are and many parents also read this blog. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts about this and suggestions for solutions to ensure that all kids can learn the skills necessary for future success.

What do you think? Do you feel like the culture in schools is homogenous to a fault? Do you think that this could be addressed, in part, by allowing teachers to have more flexibility in the classroom? How do you feel about the medications that so many kids are prescribed today? Do you think that hyperactive children are falling behind in school? And what suggestions do have to address this issue?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

If you liked this post, you might also like:

How Micromanaging Educators Stifles Reform

Making Education Brain Science

Forget Them! What Do YOU Want to Be When You Grow Up?

 

 

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Filed under Career Planning, Culture, Education, equality, Ethics, Parenting, Relationships, social pressures, Sports, Stereotypes, Youth Leadership

Simple Secret to Success: Just Do It

Copyright JC Politi Photography

The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
Lao Tzu

Are you optimistic or pessimistic? And how do you think this impacts your ability to set and reach your goals?

An article in the New York Times called “How to Make Optimism Work for You” offers tips and suggestions for increasing optimistic attitudes in people looking for work.

Suggestions include:

Face your fears head on. Step outside your comfort zone to help eliminate fear, anxiety and negative thoughts that can stand in the way of success.

Re-evaluate events in your everyday life. Tell yourself that maybe things aren’t so bad.

Practice mindful meditation. Allow feelings and thoughts to pass through your mind without judging or reacting to them; that helps create a sense of detachment from negative experiences.

Take control over how you feel instead of letting feelings control you. A sense that you control your destiny can help you bounce back from setbacks and maximize your enjoyment of life.

Laugh. Use positive feelings to counter negative ones.

Be fully engaged. Get involved in activities that are meaningful to you, whether it’s a career, hobby, sport or volunteering. Do it, as Bill Richmond says. Then learn how.

The last suggestion is the suggestion that intrigues me most. The article includes a portrait of a 90 year old man whose life reads like a who’s-who of Hollywood. His motto is “Do it. Then learn how.”

Copyright JC Politi Photography

I know many will be appalled at this suggestion. I am not one of them. I have always been impatient with the planning phase of projects, preferring to jump in and begin.

This may be a weakness on my part but, in fact, I can think of few times when this philosophy has backfired. Perhaps I have had to tweak something after beginning, but taking action has rarely been the wrong choice.

I should mention that Mr. Richmond, while quick to take action, also seems to be quick to recognize his need for further development in whatever he has begun, taking courses in whatever discipline he has chosen to work in next. But he takes the courses after he begins, not prior to taking the first step.

His advice resonates with me: “The important thing,” Mr. Richmond said in an interview, “is to visualize what you want and go after it. Be ready for an opening — serendipity — all the time.”

Many of us have a fear of failure or a need to be perfect, so we never take that first step. Many prefer to remain in the safety of the planning phase of a project until the real opportunity – or serendipity – has passed.

That is not how I want to live. I would rather fail, but fail while trying to actually do something. Inaction feels like the greatest failure to me.

You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.
Wayne Gretzky

What do you think? Do you prefer to have all of your plans in place before you make a major life decision or are you more willing to learn as you go? Do you think these tendencies are natural or learned? What do you encourage your kids to do when they are embarking on a project? Have you learned any lessons you would like to share with others about this?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

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