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