1313

David looked at the envelope with trepidation.  It had his name on the outside with a ‘Mr.’ in front of the David Landry.   The name and address had been hand-written, and the paper texture and colour screamed elegance.  Wondering who would be sending him such a formal and at the same time personal letter, he opened it, careful not to tear any edges.

The letter was written in the same elegant hand writing on rich-feeling buff paper.  A logo appeared in the top left corner, but no official return address, just 13/13 SW.

‘Dear Mr. Landry, Congratulations!  It has come to our attention that you will be celebrating your 21st birthday on this upcoming Friday, September 13, 2013.  The 13/13 Club will be celebrating that same date as well.  Our grand opening is planned for the very same Friday the 13th as your birthday and we would like to extend you an invitation to attend as our honoured guest, all expenses will be covered including drinks and meals for you and a guest.

Please RSVP by burning this letter at midnight tonight in your backyard.  We hope to see you there.’

There was no closing salutation or signature.

As soon as David finished reading the strange letter he heard a knock on the front door.  Opening it, he saw his friend Jack standing there.  ‘Hey man, what did you want?’ Jack blurted as soon as the door opened.

‘What do mean what did I want?’ David asked letting Jack in and at the same time passing him the letter.

‘Never mind; thought you called‘s all.’  Jack took the letter and read.  ‘Whoa!  We goin’?’

‘Uh, ‘course!  Free is one of my favourites.  But weird, I don’t remember any club at 13th Street and 13th Avenue SW – isn’t that all apartment buildings?’

‘Even weirder, Bro.  There’s not even a 13th Street down there.  I remember ‘cause I got lost looking for an apartment to do a delivery one day, and was reading all the street signs when Boom!  All a’ sudden I was at 14th Street.  No 13.’

At midnight that night David and Jack went into the backyard and burnt the letter, trusting their inviter would get the message.

Friday night, David pulled up in his Mom’s Scion and honked twice.  Jack ran out letting the front door bang behind him.  ‘Let’s go,’ he said jumping in and slamming the door.  The car entered 13 Avenue at 12 Street 20 minutes later, at 9:15 pm.  They drove up 13 Avenue slowly looking at all the high rise apartments.

‘There it is!’ Jack yelled pointing to his right.  A single lane unpaved road was marked with a small green street sign that read ’13 Street SW – You are here!’  A very small building nestled back between two of the taller apartment buildings came into their sight.  ‘I never noticed that before!  I guess I was wrong.’ Jack said getting out of the car and walking up to the front door without checking to see if David was following.  He was.

A tall blonde woman in a long form-fitting black dress met them at the door.  David could not tell how old she was – somewhere between 22 and 45 would be his guess.  She held the door open ‘Welcome, boys, enjoy the fantasy. Her deep, husky voice was confident and in contrast with her darting eyes that looked up and down the streets as she ushered them in.  Monyka, as they learned her name to be, walked between them holding each of their hands with a firm, but sensuous grip, and led them to the bar where she introduced them to, yes, Igor.  Igor told them they did not have to drink draft here, they would be served any drink they wanted as Club 13/13’s honoured guests.  David finally ordered a Canadian and Jack requested a Tom Collins.  ‘What?  I saw it in a movie and I’ve always wanted to try one.’

‘You’re weird, man.’  Jack shrugged at David’s comment and sucked on his straw.

The two wandered around the club, checking out the joint which was hopping with extremely attractive men and women, but something felt strangely odd.  The women wore too much makeup and the men looked like they were wearing wigs, all presenting fake larger-than-life smiles every time the two guys walked past.  A few women reached out and touched both Jack and Dave, but the boys kept walking past.  Two attractive women, one a buxom blonde, the other a sultry redhead, approach them and asked if they would like to dance.  Well, they didn’t exactly ask; they grabbed the two men and pulled them onto the dance floor.  Dave and Jack dropped off their almost empty glasses on the nearest table and followed the two beauties.  The men moved awkwardly at first, not used to dancing, far less being the centre of attention (so it seemed), but soon loosened up (what was in those drinks?).

David noticed that other people who looked just as awkward and nervous as he and Jack had also been pulled onto the dance floor by gaudy over-done and overly beautiful dance partners.  There seemed to be equal numbers of both men and women of all ages.

‘Happy Birthday, everyone!’ the tall blonde Monyka from the door was on stage now holding a microphone.  ‘You are the honoured guests of ‘The 13/13 Club’, and we want to give you the best time you have ever had in your life.’  She almost sounded like a game show host.  Jack thought that she was going to tell someone to ‘Come on down’ or start turning letters or something.  ‘We want to spoil you, boys and girls!  It’s your special day – Friday the 13th – make the most of it!  Ha, ha!’  She kind of danced around in circles while shimmering paper confetti fluttered down all around her, coating her blonde hair.  All the people on the dance floor had stopped moving and were staring at her.  Jack assumed that most of these people had a September 13th birthday, but his judgement said none of them on the same year.  There was maybe one younger than his buddy, Dave, but some of these people seemed to be as old as his grandma.  As Blondie left the stage, Jack noticed that she shot a stabbing glance at the DJ then said something that looked harsh by the way her mouth moved and her face contorted, although he could not hear.  The DJ nodded and looked down at his tunes, reaching for something under the turntable.

‘Hey, Man,’ Jack yelled in David’s ear; the music was so loud he had to lean in really close.  ‘I think it’s time to get outta here.’

‘Are you crazy, Bud?  These chicks.  These tunes.  I think we gotta stay.’ David turned and began grinding with his dance partner, whose name he still did not know.

Jack shook his head.  ‘I’m gonna get a smoke then. K?’  He turned and walked off the dance floor, patting his jacket.  ‘Aaah, Man!’ Jack turned back around and headed to Dave.  ‘My cigs are in the car, Bro.  Gimme your keys.’  David handed them to Jack without even missing one move.  Jack took them and headed straight for the door.

‘Where are you going?’ Blondie was standing right in front of Jack, blocking the door.  She smiled.

‘I forgot my smokes in the car.  I need a little break.’

‘Here, take one of mine.’ She snapped open a silver case that was tucked inside the left side of her bra.  It was filled with single cigarettes of every brand Jack had ever heard of, and some he hadn’t.

‘Thanks,’ Jack said, taking a Number 7. ‘This is my brand.’

‘I know’ said Blondie. Jack headed for the door again.  ‘We have a balcony,’ she said grabbing his arm and not waiting for an answer, led him to the back of the club. ‘All our guests smoke there.  Would you like another drink, Jack?’

‘You know my name?  How?….’ he was dumb-founded and at the same time concerned.  This lady did not want him leaving this club, not for any reason. Why?  He looked out at his best friend on the dance floor, dumb smile on his face – drunk.  He was oblivious.  Jack looked around the whole club, from here he could see everything.  The birthday people and their guests were all on the dance floor. They all had mildly dazed looks on their faces.  Their partners had become even more garish and gaudy, if that was possible.  Jack looked across the stage at the giant clock on the wall.  It was one of those Kit Cat Clocks, but enormous.  He saw that it was 11:45 pm.  Fifteen minutes to midnight.  What does that mean?  The DJ was holding a giant magnet-looking object over his head and Jack could swear he could see waves coming off it.  Must be the lighting in this place.

Turning to his host who had completely ignored his last question, Jack asked ‘So, did you invite all the people in Calgary who have a birthday on September 13 for your grand opening?’

‘Of course we did.  All 13 of them.’ Blondie replied.

‘What a great idea.  Did they all make it?’ Jack asked smiling his own fake, but actually real-looking smile. He reached out and touched Blondie’s arm.

‘Not quite,’ she replied, the corners of her mouth turning down in a severe grimace.  ‘But, we are always hopeful.’ Blondie threw her head back and brought her own elongated slim cigarette to her lips, breathing in deeply.  She straightened her head back up and blew a long line of smoke across Jack’s forehead. It smelled musky and sensuous.  He closed his eyes, feeling drowsy.

At that moment, what sounded like a door bell rang.  It was a deep tone, much like a gong.

‘The last guest,’ Blondie said, her eyes going wide.  Without excusing herself from Jack, she leaped up and hurriedly made her way toward the door.  She had to cross the dance floor and continued to get stuck, being grabbed by admirers and patrons.  Pushing them aside, she smiled and curtly continued on her way.

Jack snapped out of his trance brought on by the musky-smelling cigarette smoke and took this moment to act.  He had decided something dubiously evil was going on here.  He and David were getting out.  He almost sprinted to the dance floor in the opposite direction of Blondie, so as to not attract her attention, racing as fast as he could toward David.  Jack raced past David, grabbing his hand on the way.  Not saying anything, he pulled and dragged him toward the exit.

‘What’s going on, Jack?’ David yelled, sounding irritated.

‘I…We…I have to tell you something, Dave!’ not really a lie, he did have to tell David something.  Yeah, to get out of here.  Jack’s eyes were on the door as Blondie approached it, her tight long black dress accentuating every curve, and she was very curvy (and slim at the same time).  Her long white arm reached out and grabbed the door handled. She pulled it open.  Two middle-aged people stood there in elegant evening attire.  The woman wore a fur coat even though it was barely past summer; the man wore a tux.

‘And who is the birthday boy or girl?’ Blondie asked, smiling her big, red, fake smile.

The woman raised her hand and dropped her eyes. ‘Sorry we’re late.  We hadn’t decided until the last minute, and then it just felt like we needed to be here.’

‘You’re never too late.’ Blondie replied smiling at them both, then quickly turning and giving the DJ a grimace and a nod. We’re ready, it seemed to say. She began to close the giant door to the club.

Jack took this moment to pull David even harder.  He literally screamed in his ear, ‘Come on, Bro!  We’re outta here!’ and dragged him through the door just as it was swinging closed.  Did Blondie see them?  Probably.  At that exact second, Jack heard a loud tone.  It was coming from the giant Kit Cat clock in the club behind them.  It was beginning to toll midnight.  When the clock finished, there was a rushing noise, and then a white flash of light; the door of ‘The 13/13 Club’ slammed shut with a sound like thunder.  Jack and David were thrown off their feet, but not too hard.  They landed on the grass next to the sidewalk.

David lay on his stomach, lifting up onto all fours; he shook his head and looked around.  ‘Hey Jack, will you look at that?’ He was pointing behind them.  ‘The Club’s gone!  The road is gone too!’ And it was.  Behind them was just another apartment building and they sat on the grass and stared up at it.  ‘What the…’

The next morning Jack, who had slept on David’s couch, got up and flicked on the TV, grabbing the carton of milk out of the fridge.  David walked into the living room still stretching.  ‘What’s up, Bro?’ he said yawning.

Jack pointed the carton that he was drinking out of toward the TV with an amazed look on his face.  The news was on.  The announcer was describing a series of missing person’s reports that had come in early that morning – 24 people in all; 12 of them coincidently born on September 13.

‘Whoa, Dude!  I think we barely got away.  You were supposed to be number 13!  Thirteen all born on September 13, celebrating their birthday at ‘The 13/13 Club’ in 2013.  That’s too creepy.’  Jack looked out the window, dropping the milk carton away from his mouth.  TV reporters and cameras were pulling up outside Dave’s house.

Somewhere in another dimension, a tall blonde woman named Monyka stared out a window into darkness and let out a long, stifled scream.

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Week 16…(at last) Unauthentic You

So, I started down the road of re-entering the workforce and I have discovered that I am considered ‘an older worker’.  Yikes!  Although, I am 52 years old, I have never considered myself ‘old’.  I mean, really, I do all the things that I did when I was 20, some of them better now.  Heck, a LOT of them better now!  And the way things are going in Canada, most people retire when they’re 65, 70…or even older!  I’ve still got plenty of good years left.  When I think of ‘older’ I see some gray-haired granny with a walker, one of those old hearing horns, and baggy support hose tucked into practical shoes.  I thought of myself as vibrant, youthful, fun-loving, tech-savvy, and career-driven.  But apparently, this is not so.

My search has led me to various career fairs, workshops and counselors in an attempt to figure out why, although I have submitted hundreds and hundreds of applications, I am not getting any bites.  Over and over I kept hearing the same thing; ‘Make your resume ageless’ – eliminate anything on your resume further back than 10 or 15 years.  Employers calculate how old you are based on your experience and your education.  You don’t have to put dates on your experience and skills.  Well, I had been at my last company for 10 years, so that eliminates a lot of my experience; things which I consider would be valuable – no priceless – to any potential employer.  In one breath, I was told not to assume that employers aren’t looking for older workers, and in the next, I was told to blur my resume so they could not calculate my age!  Don’t tell people the dates you got your education, they just need to know what education you have.

Mix up the words you use – Human Resources people like a variety of synonyms for the word ‘manage’, like ‘be in charge’, ‘collaborate’, ‘unify’, ‘successfully lead’.  Why?  Align the words you use in your resume and cover letter to match the words used in the job posting.  Don’t lie, exactly, but rather elaborate your skills to show a fit for the role.  This is because most application systems are now automated and look for matching words or phrases to filter out applicants. Don’t put all your skills and experience in your resume if you are applying for positions that are at a lower level than you previously held; the employer will suspect that you just want a foot in the door and you will leave as soon as something better comes along.  Hmmm, won’t we all do that anyhow?

These are HR people telling us what to put on our resumes to ‘fool’ HR people!  This does not make any sense.  Why are we not scraping off the fluff and flotsam and getting down to the meat and potatoes?  Why am I lying about who and what I am, what I do, and how I do it?  And, of course, when I did it!

A large portion of the online applications ask several questions that I find intrusive. Sure, they say that these are ‘optional’ but what does that really mean?  If you don’t answer the questions, then your resume is tossed; they have 300 more applicants that are willing to answer.  These questions are framed with the purpose of providing equality in employment, but trust me, they are just as likely used to cull out anyone that particular hiring organization deems ‘undesirable’.  The typical questions are (paraphrased here):

  • Do you identify as a woman?
  • Do you identify as aboriginal?
  • Do you identify as a visible minority?
  • Do you identify as a person with a disability?

I mean, WTF? I do not see ‘Do you identify as a man?’, or ‘Do you identify as Caucasian?’   What is the real purpose of these questions?  When I must respond to these questions in order to submit my resume, they put such a bad taste in my mouth.  Why not just ask, ‘What religion are you?’, ‘Are you planning on getting pregnant?’, ‘Are we going to have to purchase special equipment to accommodate you?’. 

Let me tell you some great things about ‘older workers’.

  • They have experience. They have had experiences, been through things, probably had to deal with situations that come along only occasionally, and have learned from them.
  • They have seen how things used to be done, and how they are done now, so they have worked through progressive change already and are probably quite comfortable with it.
  • They have gone through their child-rearing years, or are at the tail-end of them, or past these years far enough that they will not be having children. Not that I don’t love children and think parents need to have an advocate for fairness in the workplace, but that is an entirely separate blog post!
  • It is less likely they will be out partying on a work night.
  • They have seen enough to not take crap from anyone.
  • They are confident.
  • They know what they can do.

We are constantly being judged.  It does not matter what you do, what you look like, what you think, who you love, what you eat, or what you wear.  Somebody, somewhere, is going to look at you and say ‘I don’t like that.’  Too fucking bad.

The other day a young man came to my door with a flyer for a woman who was running for Ward Counsellor in my area.  The flyer did not say ANYTHING about what she stood for or what she wanted to do for the community, but it did give narrative on where she went to school, what volunteering she has done, where she previously worked, and copious pictures of her wearing neck-high ‘Mom’ sweaters walking with her daughter, laughing with her husband, and shaking hands with some official.  Oh Yeah, you got my vote!  Image is everything!

I am in a dilemma.  Do I bend to what society wants me to be, or do I do what I want to do, dress how I want to dress, and be who I want to be?  Always, there is the fear that if I am authentic, I will be judged and rejected.  Fit in.  Fake it ‘til you make it.  I am reminded of one of my favorite Simpson episodes, ‘Always Be Yourself.’  https://youtu.be/r5WeAmEVW8o  But in the real world, we often do not have those who will be there to support us always, no matter who we are.

What the heck.  There are no guarantees that anyone will hire me anyhow, even if I do ‘conform’.  So, why don’t I keep looking for those jobs that will accept me just as I am?  And in the meantime…I think I’ll keep on writing.

 

 

 

 

 

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Week 15 – Open Up

 

Have you ever encountered those people who want to get a point across and they are insisting that you just accept their point, and when they see that you don’t accept their point, they get louder, they talk over you, and sometimes they even yell.  I find this a very difficult personality to deal with.

When talking about religion, when talking about politics, personal morals, beliefs, honestly, yelling at me does not mean you are right. I really suggest that people have facts; reasons why they believe something, and be willing to accept that not everyone agrees.  Isn’t that an epiphany. If everyone agreed there were not be 4 political parties in Canada.  Honestly, people are not all meant to think the same.  We all have different experiences different environments, we take things in differently and respond to things differently.  It is ok (as long as you are not hurting other people).

Part of communication is listening to other people; listening and trying to understand their point of view and what they are trying to say.  And also, questioning that and asking why. Why do you feel that way?  Why are you saying that?  What are the supporting facts that make you feel that way?  They might not have any.  They might just feel that way.  And that’s ok.

That also gives you the opportunity to say, here are the facts and reasons why I believe my point of view.  And isn’t that a much better way of convincing someone to come to your side, rather than yelling at them, and telling them that they’re wrong, and they’re stupid, and bullying them or ignoring them, or treating them like they are a horrible person because you don’t have the same beliefs?  That doesn’t convince me.  Would it convince you?  That is what causes conflict and hate.

If I said or did something 20 years ago, that was 20 years ago!!!!  I hope that I have had some growth over 20 years.  If you haven’t had any growth over 20 years and you are the same person, you are stagnant, and you need to open up and start communicating.  Listening to things, thinking, having opinions, making decisions, moving forward, making yourself better.  There is a lot of fear in trying to improve yourself; sometimes we just feel comfortable in who we are and we resist change.  This is who I am, this is what I do, this is what I think, and I got it all figured out.  We DON’T got it all figured out; especially at 20 years old.  We think we do, but at every age you are going to have a different level of understanding. You’ve had different experiences, new things have happened, technology the world events – things change.  I hope you change too.

I recall this one “discussion” I had with an atheist.  I am not an atheist, but I am not a religious person and I don’t necessarily believe in God as described in the bible.  I guess I align with ‘agnostic’.  This person talked over me, would not listen to me, and made assumptions about me, possibly because I sent my kids to Catholic school. He made some assumptions about who I was and what I thought.  First of all, God, Religion, the Bible and Spirituality are four separate topics with some crossovers.  No one is right, you have an opinion.  Yelling at me and talking over me does not make you right.  If someone else believes in God that is described in the bible, that is their choice; it does not mean they are stupid, it doesn’t make them awful.  If someone doesn’t believe in God, the same thing.  However, this atheist did assume; he didn’t even ask me what I thought, or allow me to express myself.

Assumptions, as per the old saying, make an ass out of you and me (Ass-u-me)! An assumption is a bias; when you assume something about someone, you are expressing your bias.  Just because I believe that all women should have the right to choose an abortion if they want one, does not mean that I would have one.  I sent my children to Catholic school.  Although I was actually baptized Catholic, I am not Catholic.  I do not practice the Catholic religion or rites, and I do not believe in God the way it is described in the bible.  I have my own beliefs and I have my own spirituality and I do not like to practice religion.

I think a lot of people want to be in control.  They want to be in control of people around them, of how people around them act, how people around them feel, and how people around them think.  Two prime roles that have a duty and are in a position of power that can play a part in controlling, are parents and leaders.  I have been both.  And in both positions, I think our primary duty is:  #1 – we have an obligation to show our children and the people who report to us the facts, and #2 – we have an obligation to teach them how to make decisions. Then they have an obligation to think, and to use their brain and to use their experiences, which are different than mine even if they are my children (they have different experiences), and to use their opinions to form a decision.

As a leader, you have an obligation to uphold the company’s direction.  So, if there are some things where you say this is the company’s direction, even if you think differently, you must abide by this direction, or you can choose to leave.

As a parent, you have an obligation to provide them with medical services, education, housing, food & water, and safety.  Those are the decisions you make for them.  Allow them to think, please.  I know so many people do not.

So many leaders have the attitude of ‘Just do it because I am the boss!’  Many parents have the perception of ‘I’m the parent; that’s why!’  You know, it is ok to answer your kids and give them a reason, and give them a reason why you think the way you do, and say, ‘For now, I am in charge of you, and we’re going to make the decisions based on how I feel.’ (I would still recommend getting their input.  Just sayin’.)

At times when we are in a situation where someone is getting in our face about something they don’t agree with us on, probably more often than not, the timing isn’t good, or the environment is not conducive for said discussion.  To have a good discussion may require a good length of time to cover all the items that you need to get your point across appropriately and fully.

Basically, you just have to shut them down and move on in those situations.  An approach could be, ‘You know what, I would love to talk about this further in a more appropriate setting.  Why don’t we plan to get together?’  Another way is just to say, ‘Well, I think we simply just don’t agree, and that’s ok not to agree. So, what else is new with you?’

Try to have your facts.  Try not to blow up and stoop to that person’s level.  But, I think in some cases, I have a few people who are consistently displaying this behaviour, so I may start talking over them and yelling at them to try and show them how it feels.  If that’s how they want to communication, perhaps that’s how I should communicate back.

 

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Week 14 – Practice What you Preach

 

Say what you mean, but don’t say it meanly.  This has been my mantra for years. But if someone is being a dick, is it ok to be a dick myself when I tell them to behave?  Or does that just make me a dick, too?  I think if it walks like a dick, acts like a dick and talks like a dick…it’s a dick.

For a long time I was a very negative person.  I was angry, but not at the world, as so many people are, but at myself.  I spoke harshly to strangers, if I spoke at all.  I had very negative inner self-talk, but not about myself…oh, no…about other people and how they just need to learn to be better…kinda like me.

It took me a while to come to realize that I am responsible for my own life, and other people are responsible for their own.  They have the right to live their life however they wish (as long as it’s within the boundaries of the law…I suppose).  Oh sure, children up to about 18, have other people make the majority of their life-altering decisions, but as adults, we are solely responsible.  If we let other people make decisions for us, WE ARE LETTING THEM.  They cannot do it unless WE let them.  We are responsible for the decision, because we allowed them to make it for us.  And…we should not try to pass judgement on others and make decisions for them unless asked for our opinion, (and even then don’t tell them what to do).  Lesson in boundaries.

Epiphanies, Ah-ha moments and lights turning on, allowed me to see the value of each person and their very different life.  While I have come to the harsh realization that I cannot change the consequences of my past decisions, I can certainly change my attitude.  I have learned a lot about communication and negativity and attitude and I want to scream at the top of my lungs to share it with the world.  But…but, I say, I could use a little lesson in practicing what I preach.

It is a harsh reality to face the fact that I have felt ‘holier than thou’ (yes, I mean all of thou), and justified in telling people when I believe they are misbehaving.  I have been silent for so long and I am just adjusting to my new-found voice, which yearns to speak of the past evils that I allowed to prevail without penance.  I believe in vulnerability and here I go again, because I need to humble myself enough to accept that I am not perfect, and that everyone makes mistakes,
EVEN the misbehaver.  But mistakes do not define a person – unless you will not learn from the mistake.  So, give them a break and mind your own business.  Do you have the right to tell someone they are wrong, Evelyn?

No, no.  In fact, isn’t calling someone out the same as judging them?  Of course, no one should allow bad behaviour to go on.  One can merely say ‘That is bad behaviour.  You do not need to speak like that.  Please tell me what you want to but in a respectful way.’

Most of my life, I went along with the decisions of people with strong personalities because I did not know how to approach conflict.  I wanted everyone to ‘like’ me.  That is not what makes people like you by the way.  Standing up for yourself does not mean that a) a conflict will be volatile, and b) that you cannot continue to have a respectful and close relationship with the person.  It just means that you are setting boundaries.  A phrase I have learned to use is, ‘That does not work for me.’  Another is, ‘I want to talk to you about something that is upsetting for me.’

Why is it that we have such a distaste for those who have different morals and beliefs than us?  Difference is what makes this world so glorious.  If everyone was the same, then what beliefs should we all follow? Yours? Mine?  Someone else’s?  Who’s right?  Does this even matter?  I often wonder why we cannot go through life not just tolerating others, but accepting, condoning, supporting and yes, embracing their differences.  Why not love people because they are different than us?

Sounds seriously simple.  Yet still, I find myself judging others all the time.  At least lately I can catch myself when I am judging, but I would rather catch myself NOT judging others.

Judgers are gonna judge, haters are gonna hate.  Hello.  It’s my life, not yours.  And why do you even care anyhow?  And why do I even care anyhow either?  Judgers need to justify their own lives.  They may believe that they live without sin or perhaps they sin better than others.  I have seen people who got nothing together and just about nadda going on, but they choose to sneer and turn up their noses at other people’s faults.  I do not get it.  I want to scream ‘Get the big chip off your shoulder and get your own house clean before you judge others!’  But…that is wrong, and it is not following my own sage (ha ha, spicy) advice.

To continue a relationship with a hater, a judger, a negator, a bad ‘tude, you gotta get in their head.  You gotta see what they see. You need to know what they know.  But… don’t stoop so low as to judge them back.  Respectfully, (that means with an intentionally nice attitude, where you are genuinely interested), ASK the misbehaver, ‘Why do you feel that way?  I have noticed that you seem to be quite angry about something; is there any way that I can help?  What’s going on?  What are the reasons you believe that?’  This should be prefaced with a deep breath and 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10…SMILE!  A good dose of empathy may help to see the situation from their perspective.  Offer help, not punishment.  How about politely questioning people, to find out what they are all about.  Instead of putting up a your own defensive wall, have actual FACTS ready about why you choose what you choose, even if the fact is that it makes you feel good.

Man, I could sure use a dose of my own medicine.  I need to learn that even though I think I am ‘enlightened’, I am just a dick.

 

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Week 13: What is Success?

 

What is success anyhow?  Is success having a big house, a fancy sports car, a well-paying prestigious job, being the leader, being famous?

I don’t think so.

 

 

Tony Robbins says it’s a focus on something that brings value to world, not dollars to your bank account.

 

 

 

Brian Tracy identifies that success is the ability to solve problems.

 

Earl Nightingale defines success as the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.

The definition in the dictionary is:

suc·cess – səkˈses/

noun

  • the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.  “the president had some success in restoring confidence”

synonyms:  favorable outcome, successfulness, successful result, triumph

“the success of his play”

  • the attainment of popularity or profit.

synonyms: prosperity, affluence, wealth, riches, opulence

“the trappings of success”

  • a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.

synonyms: triumph, bestseller, blockbuster, sellout

“I must make a success of my business”
Zig Ziglar has a list of what Success IS and what Success ISN’T:

 

What Success Is:

  1. Success is knowing that you did a great job when you close the door to your office at the end of each workday and head for home.
  2. Success is having a home and people to love who love you in return.
  3. Success is having the financial security to meet your obligations each month and the knowledge that you have provided that security for your family in the event of your demise.
  4. Success is having the kind of faith that lets you know where to turn when there seems to be no place to turn.
  5. Success is having an interest or hobby that gives you joy and peace.
  6. Success is knowing who you are, and Whose you are.
  7. Success is taking good care of you and waking up healthy each day.
  8. Success is slipping under the covers at the end of the day and realizing with gratitude that, “It just doesn’t get much better than this!”

You see from this list that success is defined by more than one sentence. Success involves the whole person, and if you skimp on one area, you will limit your success.

Now, let’s take a look at what success isn’t.

What Success Isn’t:

  1. Success isn’t missing dinner with the family several times a week because of working excessively.
  2. Success isn’t rushing home from work and hiding out with the TV thinking, “After the day I’ve had, I need my space!”
  3. Success isn’t about how to make more money when you already have more money than you can spend.
  4. Success isn’t about going to church and ignoring everything you hear.
  5. Success isn’t all work and no play.
  6. Success isn’t about being so busy that you live on unhealthy fast food, served to you through little windows.
  7. Success isn’t spending mental energy worrying about late projects, being home on time, your health, missing your child’s school play, being able to pay your bills, or finding joy in your life.
  8. Success isn’t texting while you drive to catch up on your overloaded schedule.

 

For me, success is actively pursuing something that adds value to the world and my own life.  Whether or not I am ‘great’ at that something, is irrelevant, as long as I am open to learning, adjusting and improving, and that I work at it with my best efforts to do the best job that I can.

We often judge people from our own personal opinions, morals and beliefs because somehow…we obviously know better.  Success looks different for each person, and judging other people’s lives does not do a thing for them, but it says a lot about who you are.  We need to look inwardly and work on our own success.

I have said it before; Know yourself.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  Be vulnerable and be teachable.  Be willing to learn from others – you can learn something from ANYONE.  Stop believing that you know everything or can do things better than others. You can’t.  You need to rely on other people if you want to become successful.

I believe that part of success is also service to others.  When you have become successful in one area of your life, you should help others who seek that same information.

And…as I have said ‘successful in one area of your life’, let’s not forget that it is possible to be wildly successful in one area, but not successful in other areas.  Success is not just about money and career.  Success includes relationships, spirituality, health and fitness, communication skills, as well as your other talents and hobbies of pursuit.

The mind is an amazing thing. We can achieve anything if we have the correct mindset, the right attitude, and put in the work towards a goal.

In 2010, I decided that I wanted to become a formal leader at work.  I set my mind that I would achieve that goal in one year and that I would make $100,000 per year.  My efforts saw me read every book I could find on leadership, I took all the in-house courses offered on leadership, and I reviewed and studied leader job descriptions at my company.  I asked people in current leadership positions what they thought it would take to become a leader.  I got myself a mentor and told her that my specific intention was to learn how to be a leader.  Almost exactly one year later I applied for a leadership position and I got it.  Shortly after that, I achieved my goal of making just over $100,000 per year.  Success.

I have always loved the Spanish language and wanted to learn it because in Canada we can easily travel to Mexico and South America where this language is spoken in a variety of dialects.  In February of 2012, I purchased Pimsleur Speak and Read Essential Spanish.  It was a 16-CD program with two 30-minute lessons on each CD. that taught you the basics.  You practice for no more than 30 minutes each day.  After the first day, I was shocked that I was actually speaking Spanish!  I could remember everything that I had learned and greedily gobbled up all the lessons over the next month!  Before I was finished, I had ordered the next level and then went onto EBay and found four more advanced versions.  Every single day without fail, as soon as I got home, I would take of my coat and then sit in my kitchen learning Spanish for 30 minutes before I did anything else.  When I had finished all of the programs, I transferred them to my iPod and I began listening and practicing on the bus during my morning and evening commute.  I know that I need to continue to advance; however, I am now very fluent in Spanish!  Success.

Quitting my job was not an easy decision to make (remember the $100,000+ per year earlier mentioned?).  I did this because the job was not in alignment with my life beliefs, my passions and my goals, and as a result it caused me excessive amounts of stress.  I no longer felt successful.  In fact, I felt like a failure.  I needed to do something that I felt would add value to the world and to my life.  This is why I write.  Currently, I am writing a novel with a key message that I feel needs to be heard.  I started this blog to allow me to express myself and to allow other people to check in and give their own opinions, beliefs and ideas about these topics.  I want to help people in a positive way to express themselves.  Pursuit of a worthy goal.  Success.

Think about your life.  What are the worthy goals that you would like to be successful at in each area?

  • Money and Career
  • Relationships
  • Spirituality
  • Health and Fitness
  • Communication
  • Talents
  • Hobbies

Make a plan of attack on how to reach that worthy goal.  Start taking the steps toward it.  Work hard every day and don’t give up.  This is Success.

 

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Week 12: Flaws Out

Click on the video link to view a summary of this week’s post on YouTube.

‘To err is human, to forgive divine!’ is a quote from An Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope.  How apropos.

I have always been an advocate for making mistakes.  That’s how we learn.  That’s how we discover what is important, and what is not.

We all have flaws and we need to open up to them and see them for what they are.  Physical, emotional, characteristical (is that word?), environmental, the way we think, the way we act, how we perform.  Change the flaws of things that really bug you, embrace the rest.  Own it – REALLY own it.

I have taken a ton of courses on leadership and how to be a great leader.  After many, many courses telling me the same thing, I began to feel like I was somewhat of a failure at being a leader, as there were so many rules and expectations and it appeared that I was just not living up to them.  When I verbalized this to one instructor she was shocked at my reaction and admitted that the content was merely to provide leaders with tools to use in various situations. My perception was that a requirement of living up to an unrealistic perfection.

Shortly after, my boss told me about a leadership course he insisted that I take so I could observe my imperfections and find ways to improve.  Whoo boy, I don’t think he was ready for me!  I told him that I was absolutely aware of my imperfections and mistakes and I had decided that I want to keep some of them just the way they are!  I like my faults and they make me, ME!  I am not going to be forced into becoming a homogenous leader stereotype that acts, thinks and talks the exact way that my employer believes a leader should behave.  I am a steadfast INDIVIDUAL and I uphold my right to make mistakes.  (I did not sign up for the course, in case you were wondering.)

Over the years with the vast amount of changes, budget cuts and re-prioritization of projects, my organization provided direction that to achieve the results we wanted, a 70/30 rule should be adopted. Only 70% of the information is required to move ahead on decisions; projects will address 70% of the issues to be considered effective; people cannot be expected to do 100% perfection and if 70% of the important issues are addressed, it will suffice.  Only problem is, most of the leaders did not understand this very well.  Perfection was expected and enforced.  Try to do something 70% and you get reprimanded.  Make a mistake and there is no support, no excuse, no help to fix it.

Many people freeze up and cannot perform when they think that they are not perfect.  I need to tell you something…there will always be someone who is better than you or doing something cooler than you.  You cannot get better or be ‘perfect’ until you try, fail, try, fail, try, fail, and remember to learn and improve in between.  We all had to get on a bike at one point in our lives.  Remember you fell off, you probably scraped your knee, but you got back on and tried again.  After a while, you could ride. Some of us, pretty well!

I recall when my children were very small, probably about five and eight, I helped them learn a little song and dance and play routine.  We planned to do a Christmas concert for their grandparents.  When my husband found out, he was horrified!  He did not want to be embarrassed if their performance was not great, as he was sure it would not be.  What would his Mom think?  What if his Dad didn’t like it?  I told him he was being ridiculous, and to stop making the kids nervous.  We went to Grandma and Grandpa’s and my beautiful little Angles gave a wonderful, charming, hilarious and absolutely Unperfect performance.  No one was embarrassed.  Everyone had fun and there were hugs all around.

One day in the gym as I was getting changed, this woman reached over and straightened my bra strap.  I was appalled.  She told me that could not stand things out of place and a twisted bra strap said so much about a person.  Really?  I was still putting on my pants and had not got to the bra yet…what did that say about her.  The next day when I was getting dressed in the gym, the same woman hurried over to tell me that my belt was twisted in the pant loops (I was still putting them on).  I looked down and said, ‘I know!  I like it like that!  In fact, I think I’ll wear it like that all day!’ and I did.

Laugh at your mistakes and your flaws; they are fun.  Get to know you, the good, the bad and the ugly!  Be true to who you are and be spectacular at being you!  What is the worst that could happen?

Society has an obsession with physical beauty.  You know, I too like my hair to look nice, and my skin flawless and youthful, but how many of us can maintain that?  Even for a day?  The first time I go to the gym, or walk to the post office in the wind, or have 15 minutes to get ready in the morning because the kids are late for school, WHAMO, all the beauty is undone!  This world is full of judgement, shame, and hate.  Don’t do it to yourself.  Haters are gonna hate regardless of how perfect you think you look.

When I was little my sister gave me a nickname of ‘Schnoz’ because my nose is rather large.  She would make fun by pretending that I knocked things over with my nose or bumped into her with it. I would laugh along with her, but inside I was truly ashamed of my giant ‘Schnoz’.  When I spoke to someone, I always put a hand over my nose and looked down.  I tried to find the best angle to look when getting pictures taken, or I avoided photos altogether if possible.  After I was married, I had rhinoplasty to fix my deviated septum and straighten my nose a little.  I realized this did not make my nose any smaller, but I still felt more confident and did not worry about how it looked so much.  Twenty-five years later, I had a horrible cycling accident.  My right nostril was ripped right off, and my lips were completely degloved from my chin.  The plastic surgeon stitched me back together and then a few months later ‘made’ me a new nostril from the surrounding skin.  Sure, there is a little bit of scarring, but I am ecstatic with the results!  I HAVE A NOSE!  Yeah!!!  I am grateful to have a nose, even a big ‘Schnoz’.

One time, my Dad asked me what was great about Evie!  My five sisters had already answered the question with ease, selecting attributes that were amazing about what they could do – great with horses, mechanically inclined, funny, a wonderful speaker, excellent chess player.  I could not think of anything.  I looked around the room and into the faces of my older siblings, experiencing how wonderful each of them truly was, and then suddenly it came to me.  My face brightened, a smile flashed and I proudly blurted out, ‘I have big, strong feet!’   My Dad laughed and laughed, looking at my feet and said, ‘You certainly do!’  Since then, I have always been very proud to have size nine, wonderfully, powerfully, big, strong feet!

We went to a Stage West presentation a couple of years ago, called ‘I Love You Because’.  The story was about two people who began dating each other and ‘putting up’ with each other’s flaws.  At the end of the story, they discovered they were in love. The female character told her mate ‘I love you in spite of all your flaws.’  The male character had a lovely, completely different perspective and told her ‘I love you because of yours!’

Who we are includes our flaws.  Love them.

I adore the Special K commercial that encourages us to own it!  As far as the physical body goes, love yours!  Don’t wish for someone else’s because it is never going to happen. The body you have is the body you have.  Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken (Mike Robbins)!  Honor yourself, pamper yourself, enjoy every little thing about you, and for God’s sake, take care of yourself.  Do nice things for your body, your mind, your soul, and your spirit.  And, embrace your flaws.

You have the right to be wrong.

Questions and Exercises

Make a list of all the things about yourself that you consider ‘flaws’.

Now make a list of all the things about yourself, physical, characteristic, etc., that you are grateful for.

Look at your list of flaws again and see if you have a different perspective.

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Week 11 – WRONG

 

Ouch!  It hurts to be told we are wrong.  ‘You totally flubbed that one!’  ‘What were you thinking?’  ‘Sorry, you fail.’

Life can reach up and grab you where you hurt (yes there!).  Most of us just turn away and pretend it didn’t happen, or maybe we try to blame someone else for our shitty luck.  Really, we need to open our eyes wide and turn to look at what we did wrong right in the face!  Opening up to our faults can be enlightening.

Hey, I do not mean for you to go out and despise things about yourself.  As a world, we have more than our fair share of body-shaming, ugly comments, bullying and bad hair days.  I am here to tell you that your crooked nose, your jiggly butt and your one eyebrow higher than the other are what make you fabulously, bodaciously, BEAUTIFUL!

No, I want us to start facing the things we are DOING wrong.  The lost opportunities that we knew we were passing by, the feelings of inadequacy that we blame on our mother, the lamenting about lack of education or luck or money or whatever it is you think you are lacking!  Step up and take ownership for the wrongness in your life.  Then change it.

Everything that has happened up to this point is a wash. Really.  You cannot go back and change it.  All we can do is move forward.  As you move forward look inward and outward and see the things about you that are holding you back.  Most of the time, it is just attitude.

Have you ever spent time with a person that only points out the negative things?  I used to ride the bus to work and the woman beside me complained every day about EVERYTHING.  Her ex-husband, the size of the bus seat, the sun in her eyes, the person who had their music too loud, how irritating people are at her work and the fact that she cannot lose weight, but it’s not her fault because she uses her treadmill every day.

Do you notice the people who are the most positive are often those people who have had terrible things occur in their life?  Some examples of famous people who represent this demographic are:  Stephen Hawking, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Dani Johnson…and some people who are not so famous:  my mother, my husband, some Syrian refugees, maybe someone in your office, maybe that clerk at the Supermarket, or someone else that you know!

I need to take three steps back from my life and try to see the stuff that I don’t know about myself to get a more realistic view of how good I really have it, and how I am the person who caused all the wrongness in my life.  Anyone who ‘did’ anything ‘to’ me was just reacting to their own feelings and life events.  The things they did were because of them, not because of me.  If there was an impact on me, I am responsible for how I let it affect me.  I need to find all the chips on my shoulders and work at chiseling them away.

I know that I have a few, chips that is…I do not have a University degree.  This is a HUGE one for me, and for the longest time I blamed events in my youth, my family obligations, time, money, blah, blah, blah. Then I continue to blame this lack of education for why I cannot get a job, get promoted, or earn lots of money.

We all have those ‘I can’t do that because…’ situations.

Anyone can get an education. You just have to decide to do this and put in the effort required to get the money (a loan, earn it, a grant, etc.), and put in the effort required to learn the material.   Do not blame your lack of education on your upbringing or money situation.

Anyone can be fit.  This one is actually way easier than education, because it does not cost a thing.  Get off your butt and move it.  Research fitness and follow the rules.  Eat healthy and eat less.  There you go; problem solved.

Anyone can be successful.  Get a goal that inspires you and go to work.

A mental health diagnosis is not an excuse for behaving any way that you want.  It is meant to help you understand why you feel the way you do so that you can adjust your responses accordingly.  No, it is not your fault you have the illness, but it is your fault if you continue behaving badly.

Fat does not run in a family.  It is not genetic. (Sorry.)

Nobody is fantastic at anything the first time they try it, or the second, or third, or sometimes even the thousandth.  Sure, some people have a natural sense of rhythm or a good ear that helps them sing on key, but for most people, there is a journey to learn, improve, and perform. Whether this be dancing, singing, or presenting monthly financials at a Corporate meeting.  You don’t step out of law school knowing how to solve all cases.  It is a process.

Suck it and embrace your wrongness.  It’s on you baby!

Questions and Exercises:

  • Think about all the great things that have happened in your life. Write them down in a list.  Identify what your contribution was to allow these things to occur.  Maybe you got a job that you wanted; bought a house or a car; lost ten pounds; received an award for something.  How are you responsible for the RIGHTNESS?
  • Now, conversely, think about all the things you believe are holding you back in life. Write them down in a list.  Cross out those that you have no control over (be honest here).  Evaluate whether you believe that someone or something is to blame for these things.  No try to identify what is within your control to change any or all of these things.  How are you responsible for the WRONGNESS?

 

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Week 10 – One Foot In Front Of the Other…Motivation

Check out my video of this week’s post on Youtube, by clicking on the icon.

I have been off work for almost a year now.  The TV and the internet have been my best friends.  I have read sooooo many articles about how to get my groove back, watched probably four-hundred-and-fifty-million Maske Media and Ted Talk Youtube videos telling me to find my purpose and more precisely how to do it.  The viewings always make me feel like ‘Rah, rah, rah!  Take up the torch, burn down the house, face the enemy, march in the streets!  Get going, Evie!  You can do it!’  But, then I flick on the TV and either Family Feud or Ellen is on, and I am paralyzed for at least 30 minutes or more.  When it’s over, I frantically flip through the stations trying to find something interesting or at least funny enough to numb my brain and get me through this period where I may actually have to face myself and my thoughts.

And I have a lot of them.  Thoughts that is.  I used to allow my thoughts to be self-defeating and reprimanding, pushing me deeper and deeper into a catatonic state where I felt I was incapable to of doing anything.  So I just sat there.  Surfing, flipping, reading, and catastrophizing my current situation.  How would we retire?  Will we ever get to have another vacation?  I need to buy new shoes.  What if my car dies?  I am never going to own a franchise.  Nobody will hire me.  I am a loser.  Whoa.

But wait a minute.  I have the most valuable asset of anyone in the world.  Time.  The only burden I have is deciding how to spend it.

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Well, I decided to use this to my advantage and set myself up to have some necessary tasks to complete, so that I am moving forward and not sitting here wasting what could possibly be the biggest opportunity of my entire life!

Watching all those videos was inspiring, but at some point, you have to take some action!  Walk the talk!

All of us need to feel like we have a purpose and value to the world.  If we don’t have some sense of this, then there really is no reason to do anything.  Motivating myself to get off my butt and do these things is where the effort comes in.  I needed to set up my environment to provide a sense of urgency to get me off the couch.  While a person may tell themselves ‘there’s always tomorrow’ that is not a guarantee.  Every moment needs to be treated like it is special and fleeting.

I decided to set up my life so that I have purposeful tasks that have deadlines.  I started this blog and made a promise that every Thursday I would write it, and every Monday I would publish it.   I then registered with several Blog sites that remind me of my commitment.  I have taken on some weekly fitness classes that require me to plan and practice ahead of time, so that I must be prepared and show up.  I made a promise to myself that I would set my alarm and wake up by 6 am every day and immediately get ready and dressed like I was going to work.  This way, I am always ready for those unplanned moments when someone calls for lunch, an errand, or perhaps an interview!

Exercising has always been a comfort to me.  Yes, just like everyone else getting starting may be difficult, but once I get going I just feel so fantastic, both mentally and physically, a feeling that helps to set my attitude for all the other things going on in my life.  I have set a goal to exercise every single day.

Outlook has been a great tool for me.  I schedule my time with what I have planned to do every day; however, I have learned not to over plan and not to expect too much, or you will end up feeling disappointed when you fail.  And you will fail.  No one is perfect.

When I was a young girl, my Mom used to always tell us to just put one foot in front of the other and keep doing that and pretty soon you would be moving the in right direction.  She was right.  At first, it does not even matter what you are doing, just get doing it.  Look around you.  Right now.  Is there something you can clean up?  Is there a closet that needs organizing?  Is there a friend that needs a phone call?  Walk the dog.  Rearrange your living room.  Go to the library and get some books on a topic you have been interested in.  Build something.  Do some yard work or gardening.  Write an essay.  Mend that skirt that’s been sitting there for six months.  Clean out your air vents.  Take down the Christmas lights.  Scrub the window frames.  Show up at your spouse’s work and take them for a coffee.  Go to the museum.  Find a meet-up group.  Learn how to do something new on your smart phone.  Paint.  Knit.  Or learn how to do either.  It does not matter, whatever you do you are going to feel so accomplished after you do it.  Now keep doing this. Every day!

After you get into the habit of using all of your minutes to do something (anything), set yourself down and do some planning.  What are the things that you can do that will be most meaningful and impactful to you and your purpose?

In November, I decided that I needed to start looking for a job. I had scared myself with all that thinking I had done in paragraph two above, and had decided this was the only possible way to make myself feel better.  But guess what?  I still don’t have a job, and there is no guarantee that I am going to get one soon, especially in this awful economy.  So, let’s work on my purpose.

Every day, I write.  I research things I want to write about.  I exercise.  I also continue to apply for jobs, but now I am looking for ones that align with who I am and who I want to be.  I have spent quite a bit of my time organizing my home so it is a more comfortable place to be, and I have spent a lot of time being grateful for what I have.   I have great plans for my future, and I am enjoying every single minute getting there.

Questions and Activities:

  • Watch some motivational videos that align with your purpose.  Research your topic of choice.
  • Make a list of things that you can do related to your purpose.  Break them down into small tasks that take 10 minutes all the way up to a few hours or days to complete.
  • Make a list of things in your life that you can do right now.  Get up and start doing those things.  Keep track of them!

Tell me about how you are feeling and what are some of the things that you decided to do.  How did it make you feel?

 

 

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Week 9 – Women Leaders: Observations and Perspectives

WEEK 9 – PART 1

WEEK 9 – PART 2

Click on the Youtube icons to view a video summary of this post!

 

 

I had a really difficult time writing this week’s post, because there is not just one type of woman leader, and I really wanted to write about the evils of women leadership, so I decided to generalize and not discuss any of my leaders in particular.  I do want to talk about all the ‘bad’ things we see come out in women who become leaders, and how that can impact others around them.  Hopefully, this can bring some awareness and discussion to the women who strive to become leaders!  Maybe I just want to start a discussion so that women will start noticing other women.

This is a topic that is very complex and would require a psychology degree and perusal of a myriad of books on women leaders.  I am sure that a life-time could be spent discussing women in leadership and why we behave the way we do!  I find the topic absolutely fascinating.

As a woman, generally I like other women.  In fact, I am an advocate for women to get ahead in our society; to move up in leadership positions, to be entrepreneurs, to study in math and science, to work in construction, to be crime reporters and sports broadcasters, and to move out of the stereo-typical mold that society has placed us in for the last several thousand years before we were something more than the property of a man.  But I am also an advocate for a woman to stay at home and raise her kids without any judgment, if that is what she wants to do!  I will be the first person to give another woman a hand up in her quest to pull herself out of judgment and oppression, to rise above and lead others in a purposeful quest, whether it be in the boardroom, politics, PTA, as an entrepreneur, or a mother!  Triumph!  Success!  Greatness!  And, alas, drama.

Over the past thirty-odd years that I have been in the working world, I have had both male and female leaders.  Mostly female in fact.  Out of about twenty leaders, twelve have been females.  Overall, my experience has been that women seem to feel that they have something to prove.  Maybe not all of them, but a good majority that I have dealt with want to appear to be stronger, fiercer, more intelligent, and (weird) better dressers or prettier or richer, than not just the men they work with, but the women as well.

After watching the “I am Fishead Are Corporate Leaders Egotistical Psychopaths” documentary with commentary from Dr. Hare, and another wonderful documentary film by Jennifer Siebel Newsom published in 2012, entitled ‘Miss Representation’ I have come to some realizations.

Not everyone aspires to leadership.  Sure, most of us have some leadership qualities, but not everyone is inspired or motivated to be the person in charge.  But those that are, may have some specific personality traits.  Power-seeking, money-motivated, better than men, my worth is more than sexuality therefore, I will be less than sexual, disregard for traditional women’s role of family, children and home and possibly even a disdain for it, are some traits that I have clearly viewed in my personal experience with women leaders.

Perhaps the women leaders are justified in feeling this way.  Observations tell me that other people do not often give women who strive to be leaders a fair shake.  Before they even get started, they are labelled as ‘bitches’, ‘dykes’ (even if they are not gay), ‘overachievers’, ‘pant-wearers’ (what? I like pants, especially on cold days) and other unfortunate monikers perhaps more suitable to strip clubs and street corners.

The last organization I worked at had a mentoring program that I avidly participated in, believing that I could glean insight from leaders of the secrets and habits of their success.  In this program, I met the most amazing mentors – I had one male mentor and one female.

The male mentor I chose to teach me specifically about oil sands mining and processing and to help me understand how the various groups in our organization relate to each other and work together.  I felt this would help me understand the flow of the business.  Although he was fabulous, this story is about women.

My female mentor was probably one of the most wonderful women I have ever met in my life, and I chose her specifically to teach me about the characteristics, behaviours and critical thinking required to be a leader – in particular a female leader.  The most worthwhile thing that this woman taught me was that in any situation, you need to identify what is important and all the other flotsam and jetsam is just that – fluff that does not matter.  This little bit of advice allowed me to work through issues without letting unimportant, unrelated topics take my time and attention away from the goal.  She taught me that if the item does not add to the goal, then forget it and don’t worry about it; don’t let it bother you.  In essence, do not take it personally; even if the item seems to be personally aimed at you!  If there is no relativity to the important end goal, it does not matter.  Ignore it, or at least, do not focus on it.  This is a life lesson that I have been able to use over and over again.

This woman was nonjudgmental.  But more than that, she helped me to put less judgment on myself, and feel like I was important.  As a result, I grew more confident.  She always approached situations with a purpose to identify the meaning and the goal; however, she was able to keep the human element in focus as well.  People are important and should not be ‘trod on’ or their feelings ignored.  Everything we do in the world is because of people, therefore, people should be considered.  Think about that for a minute.  You do not have to do what is best for everyone, but you do have to be fair, and you have to consider how a choice, change or decision affects people.  She embodied everything that is considered womanly and at the same time corporate leadership, strength and prudence, the whole time maintaining class and I have no idea how it all happened!  Women and men both admired her and held her on a pedestal without feeling threatened by her.  She exuded confidence without the presence of arrogance, and had an aura that shone around her making you want to believe and follow any quest she led.  I wish that more leaders could be like that.  I wish that more women leaders could be like that, but alas, I have met very few.  I hope you have had better luck.

Women leaders I have met often talk about each other behind their backs.  They seem to secretly hope that another woman leader will fail or look stupid.  Conversations I have had with my past female leaders make me think a good many of them are somewhat vindictive.

Some of the women leaders I have worked with were more direct than their male counterparts, and gave orders rather than a request.  I have experienced women leaders who do not talk to me for days and only come to my desk when they want something.  Sure, she will say please and thank you, but those are the polite attributes required for the conversation; no actual care went into that statement.  Her relationship with me is one of conditional need, rather than collaboration toward a common goal.  If she can use my skills to fulfill a need to jet her toward her goal, then she’ll talk to me.  Otherwise, I am a tool in the cabinet, waiting for my next use.  Not once, have I had a male leader who was like that.

I have seen some egregious behaviour from our women leaders.  Using her leadership power to punish an employee a little more than required because she personally dislikes that person.  Denying other women opportunities if they happen to have a family that may ‘get in the way’ of their responsibilities.  Scheduling meetings during lunch and after hours to achieve her goals, without considering that perhaps priorities need to be pared back a bit if they are continuously spilling over normal work hours.  Ending a relationship with a long-time friend of hers because now she is the leader and it may get in the way of her advancement.

Sheryl Sandberg told all of us perspective women leaders to ‘Lean In’.  There has been a big movement in this area.  More and more women are leaning into the table and participating in the conversation.  Great!  At a ‘Lean In’ group I attended, I spoke with one woman in her early thirties who was so proud of the work she had been doing to move forward in business stakeholder communications.  Her work was being recognized and she felt her career was taking off. When she told us about her three small children at home, she became teary-eyed and visibly withdrawn, both her mood and her shoulders drooping.  She was missing her time with these little angles, as she was working extensive hours and needed to rely on her husband and babysitters to raise her three beautiful daughters, so that she could become the well-rounded all-powerful woman that society demands us all to be.  Ouch!  Lean in, right?

Why do women leaders feel that they must prove they are better than men?  Women leaders are just different and bring a different perspective.  It is very true that women and men are extremely different, recall John Gray’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.  But it’s a good thing that we are different, as we can balance the yin and yang of every situation.

We live in a very misogynistic world and the media often has an in-your-face honest and ugly way of showing us how society sees and treats women.  This influences also how we, as women, treat ourselves and other women.

None of us is perfect.  My Dad had a saying ‘No one is perfect, except for you and me.  And sometimes I wonder about thee!’  This always made me laugh, but it is prudently true.  We tend to see events from our own views, perspectives, morals, beliefs and actions.  Everyone is different; no one is perfect; everyone, absolutely everyone makes mistakes.

*Psychopathy is a personality disorder where a person reacts to their surroundings without a conscience; the emotional connection is absent.  There is a stunning lack of empathy.  They have the ability to look at other people as mere objects, manipulating other people for their own ends.

Hmmm, sounds like some of the characteristics of a leader….

There is a fundamental mistake in this world in the belief that everyone else feels the same way that we do, but everyone can have a different perspective on the exact same situations, problems and motivations. In the ‘Fishead’ documentary, they identified that the Corporate Psychopath believes that with wealth, comes power.  So, the leader is probably making a large sum of money, more than you as the peon, anyhow, and it makes them feel powerful.

67.5 Million North Americans have taken antidepressants like Valium and Prozac.  These SSRIs (Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) change metabolism of serotonin in the brain, narrowing of emotional range and indifference to the social world.  This affects simple human empathy, or can cause the lack of it.

Why is it important in society for people to blindly obey authority?  Leadership begs us to give me your power and I will give you security (or the illusion there of).  None of the rich guys made it big by being empathetic – why should someone who is on their way up the corporate ladder care about people?

Making extreme amounts of money can have an effect on leaders to want to devour more amounts of money.  They have a desire to get it all and have it all – don’t we all?  I mean, I would rather be rich for sure!  Psychologically the limits can be removed and the mind goes for what it wants.    Happiness is not what you get from ‘more’.  When we long for something, our notion is that if we can get it, we will be happy, and society tells us if we cannot get it, then we are not successful.

No one who does ‘evil’ ever thinks that what they are doing is ‘evil’.  It starts out small, just little things that only hurt one or two people, because it’s their own fault anyhow, isn’t it?  Once you cross the small steps between good and evil, the steps get easier and easier until what you are doing is irrefutably evil.

From a very early age, most of us are told to mind our own business, and if the programming works, then we don’t want to get involved in bad things that are happening. We are all influenced by the actions and decisions of other people around us.  A real leader in this world should be seeking power for all people, but it seems like most are self-serving seeking power only for themselves. How a leader treats me at work can have a ripple effect on how I treat the next people I encounter in my world.

Maybe women leaders are not any worse than men leaders, but society gives women a biased slant.  Women in power are often seen in a negative light.  Hillary Clinton was told ‘Iron my shirt’ and she was called a ‘bitch’ when she spoke forthright and strongly.  A woman leader’s credentials are always questioned as if she cannot have earned anything of value on her own merit.

All of us have become numb to the subtly nefarious ways the media misrepresents women, putting them into a pigeon hole that is unfair.  What are the consequences?  Are the rest of us women questioning women leaders too harshly, judging them because we have an image of how women are supposed to behave?

Perhaps, as a woman, we should just stop criticizing women leaders, and have some empathy for them and the hurdles they are crossing for us, or perhaps… in spite of us.  Yes, of course they are not going to do it right all the time, and sometimes not any of the time.  This is new territory for women and we need to support each other to get through whatever we aspire to accomplish.

If women don’t stand up for each other, who else is going to do it?

 

*Items italicized and underlined are direct quotes from the documentary “I am Fishead Are Corporate Leaders Egotistical Psychopaths”

Question:  What would you be willing to do for other women?

 

 

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Week 8 – Do What You Have to Do to Make Money Doing What You Love

You can watch a summary of this blog on:

I quit my job to follow my dream.  Many people have told me that I need to get a job and suck it up so I can make some money; nobody gets to do what they love.  Really?  That seems ludicrous.  You should be happy you had a job because so many people are out of work, especially right now in the economic downturn.   Evelyn, you should be looking for a job doing what you did before because you were really good at it!  But that is something I really do not want to do.  I do not want to be miserable for eight (or more) hours every day of my life, and even if I enjoy it, miss the opportunity to live my dream.

Who are they anyhow?  Giving me unsolicited “advice” when there is no impact to them.  This “advice” is just judgment; they are telling me what they think of me.  Or rather, they may believe that nobody gets to live their dreams.  There are always going to be haters.  There are always going to be people who do not ‘get it’.  People who feel that they have the world figured out and that if everyone just behaves the way they think each of us should, then everything will be just fine!  But it won’t be fine, will it?  Exactly why did I leave that job in the first place?

Because I have a dream.

Now, let’s be realistic; just because I have this dream does not mean that is it going to manifest itself.  Not without some input from me.  Whether you want to start a business, become an actor, write a book, record music, teach dance lessons, go back to school, open a charitable organization, move to Latin America, design clothing, have a baby, etc., etc., whatever turns your crank, you need to put effort into moving your dream in the direction you want to go, AND you are going to need to be able to support yourself while you are doing it.

It is nobody’s business how you support yourself, as long as you are not borrowing from them, leaving a debt to society, or stealing or doing something illegal in order to fund yourself.  It is NOT their business if you want to use your savings to pursue your passion.  It is NOT their business if your spouse (partner, parent, friend, etc.) is willing to pay the bills; that is only between you and that person.  No one else’s judgment counts.  If you don’t have money you can rely on, then you are going to have to rely on you.  Again, it is up to you how to earn it and how much you need.

Before I left my job, I wrote myself an affirmation “Work on your passion as if it was your job, because it is.”  I have not honored this affirmation as I should since I have been off work.  Previously, I would leave my home each day at about 6:15 am to go to work and arrive home anywhere between 6 and 9 pm.  That’s anywhere from 12 to 15 hours each day dedicated to a job that I hated.  Can I not find the motivation to dedicate at least half of that amount of time to my passion which is my life purpose?

There is a lot that a person can do to lead them closer to achieving their goal.

Recently, I have discovered that I can go work at the public library and access internet for free.  They also have computers and printers free of charge if I need them.  I could go to a local coffee shop that has free Wi-Fi as well!  This gets me away from all the distractions that occur at home from chores, to my family, to television.

When I google ‘Writing Jobs’ and I find quite a few possibilities that could be done on a contract or full-time basis dependent on my qualifications.  There are also lists of places to advertise my blog and get advertisements to include on my blog page – another way to get paid.

I have eight hours a day (minimum) that I have identified should be dedicated to work.  On average I teach about one fitness class a day, plus the travel and prep time, so that leaves about six hours each day that I can dedicate to my job of writing.  I need to research publishing a book, free writer’s circles, volunteer writing assignments (and paid ones if I get that lucky), research the topics in my book that need more realism, increase my vocabulary, network with other writers, (publishers, editors, etc.).  Just a quick search shows me that there are grants, writing contests, sponsorships that I am currently unaware of.  You know nothing, Evelyn Earl!

Instead of bogging myself down in the mire of laundry, dishes, watching television game shows and reruns, I need to focus on what I want to do and who I want to be.  Writing is not just about…writing, but all those peripheral activities that go along with it.

 

Sure, I could allow myself to fall back into the ‘quick fix’ of making money by getting another job that I absolutely hate and being eternally too tired to write when I get home after work, or I could take the opportunity that has been lain before me right now and just…WRITE!

So seriously, if you want to start a business, then spend eight hours a day investigating what it takes; what registrations and licenses you need, how much money and where can you get it, what is the best venue to use (brick and mortar building or online), who are your competitors, what makes you special.  If becoming an actor turns you on, investigate actor’s associations, movies and theatre in your area, someone you can practice with.  If
you want to record music, start a Youtube channel, go to karaoke, get on local television, start a band.  If you want to go back to school, research ways to have it paid for or get a job that works around your schedule.  OMG, anything that you want to do has some way of doing it.  There have been pioneers before you that can show you the way and there is sooooo much on the internet to get you started.  Do not be afraid to pick up the phone and start making phone calls; even if the response is a ‘No’ you can keep calling others.

It is up to you to make your passion, purpose, pursuit into a cause worth fighting for.  If you do this, then you will be successful.

 

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