Bullying, Career, Empowerment

Harassment and Bullying: The “Power”-ful Connection

The news of Matt Lauer’s behavior and firing sent shock-waves through the country. We’re used to waking up in the morning and seeing his face, waiting for him to bring us the breaking news of the day. But something changed last week and I think it deserves some attention.171129-matt-lauer-mc-1227_7efd4c1aa088bf7867b00153d79d43c3.nbcnews-fp-1200-630

I’ll be honest. At the start of last year when it seemed like everyone had been harassed, I was quicker to brush it off. There are those who seek fame and fortune and are willing to manipulate the system, making us less likely to believe true victims. I’ve changed my stance on this to some degree.

When I would see Matt on the Today show, I saw a powerful man. I saw someone who was determined to keep his “seat,” who wouldn’t back down, and sheer strength; someone untouchable. I saw a bully.

My point [and realization] is that harassment and bullying are closely linked. And that link all stems with a desire to preserve and protect power, at all costs. Rape is a power move. Abuse is a power move. Maintaining control and power by subjugating the “weaker” to fear and be under you, a power move.

People say, “Well why is it all happening right now?” I’d reply that it’s been happening for years, this is how business was done, and it’s just now coming out and being labeled “unacceptable.” But if I’m completely candid with you, I don’t think the executives are sorry it happened so much as they’re sorry it’s been discovered and what it could do to their brand. It’s going to take another wave of morality to get motives pure.

I’m hoping the next move is to work on eradicating bullying from the workplace. I’ve undergone it, many of my friends have, and HR brushes things to the side. The reasons? The bully many times is a high performer and brings in X amount of money or Y amount in sales/clients, therefore “can’t” be removed. Creating a culture where everyone feels safe and can work to the best of their faculties isn’t as important as the Almighty Dollar. But I’d venture to guess that if we valued the morals first, the money, and even MORE money would follow.

Enough time has been wasted letting “top” talent stick around because we fear them. Enough time has been used up in excuses for why we can’t handle the bully or get rid of an abuser in the workforce. It leaves the victims with little options and makes them a victim all over again when they have to leave the company at no fault of their own.

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” –  Lord Acton.

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Choice, Empowerment

How to Enjoy Life When it’s Hard

I know personally, I had a pretty rough couple of days before my weekend. I just felt super down and in a funk. There’s things in life that I just wish I was “further ahead” in and when I don’t feel that way, I can get really discouraged.

Discouraged that:

  • We don’t have more money
  • Student loans still exist
  • Haven’t lost every bit of baby weight — it’s starting to just be “me”
  • Don’t own a home yet — we are (pause) RENTERS

It sounds so petty, but you know those moments where you just feel like you aren’t “there” yet, wherever “there” is, so you get yourself into a mental tailspin? I mean there’s more than enough things to be grateful for:

  • Living in the USA
  • Having a healthy family — having A family
  • A nice place to live
  • Two full-time jobs
  • Health insurance
  • Food, clothes, indoor pluming…

But yet, we all desire PROGRESS. We all want to know that we are getting somewhere and that our efforts aren’t for nothing. And you know what I think? I think we do see progress every day. But maybe it’s not the massive changes we are looking for. We lose a couple pounds a month, not 10 in one week. We pay off a bill every month or two months, it’s not all gone immediately. We make progress in our day to day struggles. And that’s totally okay.

Maybe we should start making a bigger deal out of our accomplishments. When we lose that weight, celebrate! Paid off your student loans? You go girl! Rented a new place while you save for a house? There’s nothing wrong with that.

Go out and get some coffee and celebrate the wins! It’s the best way to beat the “funk.”

Empowerment, Struggle, Work Freedom

There’s No “LinkedIn” For Moms

Moms have a super tough job. There’s no on-boarding process, there’s no manager to tell you if you’re doing it right, and everyone is a critic. It’s all volunteer, you won’t be paid. You don’t go to get a four year degree to help you understand your new job, and there’s no prior job-skill experience for motherhood. It is something that we choose and then the weight of it gets thrust upon us in our most vulnerable moments. It is a thankless job and one that never really gets the credit from society that it deserves. Why is that?

As a mom, I struggle with the fact that there is no concrete tangible reward for what I do. When I go to work, if I do a good job, perform well, and put in the effort, I will most likely move up and be promoted. I will maybe even get a raise. My superiors might even tell me that I handled a situation well — there would be appreciation and thanks. But when I’m at home and clean up a dirty diaper, there’s no fanfare. When I finish what seems like the 100th load of laundry, no one is doing “the wave”. It’s simply expected as, “this is what you do”, “this is motherhood”.

In the working and professional world, we have something called LinkedIn. It’s a great networking tool that helps other professionals to connect and observe others’ skills. They can list all the places they have worked, projects they have been involved in, and recommend others for certain positions. But there is NO LinkedIn for motherhood. In a world where accomplishment and professionalism is so celebrated, why is it that one of the most tough and necessary jobs gets little to no recognition?

I think sometimes this is why moms have a hard time. They have a hard time staying home or working because they never feel like they are truly enough. The world says you need an impressive LinkedIn profile, you need ten degrees and glowing recommendations. So we find ourselves tired, burnt out, and feeling inadequate.

What’s the solution? How do we get the recognition we crave while also not neglecting our roles as mom/wife/employee? I think we start by making ourselves happy first. I think we start by understanding we are enough as we are. I think we start by recognizing our own self worth and letting the world see how necessary we are. I think when we start believing we are impressive, society will join us. By filling our cup, we can then show others our dexterity.

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Family, Persevere

The Hardest Year

All in the course of a couple of months:

  • We had just gone through job transitions
  • Moved
  • Had a horrible miscarriage
  • Found out we were expecting

All sorts of different life events, good and bad hitting us all at once. I knew I felt isolated being an hour away from my family but somehow we felt there was a reason for it. Day by day, nothing made sense. We tried to figure out why things were going so off kilter but nothing added up. I remember how hard it was just trying to survive during this time, how it felt like survival mode would never end. The feeling of constantly focusing on bills, cleaning, and doctor bills.

Just as things started to look up — Greg started to convulse one night. He twitched and moved on the couch in such an erratic way that it looked like a gran mal seizure. We rushed him to the hospital and he was checked into the trauma unit — Lyme carditis. After almost losing my spouse, and being 33 weeks pregnant, I felt myself losing some sense of joy and sensibility. I don’t know if you’ve gone through something that knocked the wind out of you, but that’s where I was at.

I remember sleeping on the floor of the hospital and wondering what would happen next –to all of us.

Greg made it out of the Lyme well, and Chase was born. It was an emergency birth and it was difficult. It was the year that yielded some of the greatest blessings and the greatest challenges.

Hoping for Greg to get called back to work quickly, months passed by. Construction season wasn’t moving as it should, but the medical bills didn’t stop, and my benefits and pay weren’t great for a growing family. So back to the interviews I went at 3 months post-par tum. I had borrowed some suits from a family friend because I wasn’t completely deflated yet. But I pounded the pavement. I’m not sure where I got that strength from if not from God. The year had worn me out. I went to counseling, I prayed, and I cried.

But I say all that, not as a pity party or self-indulgence. But mama’s, ladies, you’ve been through stuff and I know you have. I’ve talked with you, I’ve cried with you. And it’s okay. Sometimes our road to motherhood, wife-hood, starting out is hard. I know sometimes we see photos of Cancun vacations and margaritas on the beach, but it’s not the whole picture.

This past year was the hardest year of my life. It tested the life right out of me. But it also was a blessing in it’s own right. We loved more deeply, appreciated our son post-miscarriage, and realized how tough we really are. I found I can get a job pregnant or post-pregnancy and maintain it. I found my grit, I found my strength. We have a new found appreciation for what we have and a deep sense of gratitude.

It was the hardest year, I never wish to repeat it. But man, we did it.

Cheers!

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Change, Persevere

Hold On

Today I brought my son to his 9 month check-up. As I pulled in, as I have done the past 3 months since he was born, I couldn’t help but remember the previous times driving him to this very spot.

When Chase was born, we were both undergoing job transitions and money was tight to say the least. I remember not being able to afford the family plan for insurance of $850 a month and having to put Chase on Medicaid. I felt like such a failure. Medicaid? That’s for those who are down-trodden and have no option. How can that be us? How did that get to be us right now? How am I earning that low that this is where college brought me? I felt like a failure, a complete failure.

This was a time in our lives where I’d have to search out which credit card to use for medical bills because of Greg landing in the ICU for 5 nights the months prior due to Lyme Carditis. It was a time where I wanted to cry all the time and couldn’t see how life could possibly get better. We were two professionals, two people with degrees, two people with solid values and work ethic. But there I sat staring at hospital bills and screening my calls.

But this time, this time when I pulled into the pediatrician’s office, it was different. I was peaceful, resolute, and sure of myself. Those hospital bills are now paid. Our family has great insurance that’s mostly all employer paid. Those two professionals now have stable jobs. That baby we had in December, is healthy and oh so happy.

My point in writing is this: many times when we go through really tough times, I mean, knee-jerking, wind out of our lungs, bad times, we get tunnel vision. All we see, is our problems, it’s like the wall paper of our brains just “bad times”. We dread the phone ringing, the mail in the mailbox, or the doctor’s report. However, we also need to know this, that the storms do pass. The crap does go away with a big shovel. If we are willing to just take another step forward, to survive another day, it will get better in time.

9 months ago, I didn’t see all this as possible. I didn’t see a savings account back in our future, a healthy spouse and baby, a healthy me, new and better career paths, a better home, bills paid early. But as I pulled into that drive today, such a simple thing really, I saw hope. I saw what time and hard work can do with prayer. And I gave God some seriously overdue thanks.

So hold on, mama. Hold on in your tough times and know we see you sitting in your car, your bathroom, your office, in tears. We see you struggle, we see you feeling alone like it’s only you. It’s not. Just hold on for another day.

Awareness, Family, Female Entrepreneurs, Mom Life, Persevere

Best Days

“Oh, honey… enjoy this. These are the best days of your life.” Falser words could not have come flowing from anyone’s lips than these did when they hit my ears. And yet I heard this, all. the. time. My ears still ring when I think about it. Talk to any new mom, any mom at all, and tell her how awesome new motherhood is, go ahead, I dare ya. Then just watch her face. I promise you, if she’s anything like me, she’ll twitch. And I hear ya, these well meaning folks, they want you to treasure your time and your family. But statements like these, feel about as awkward to me as putting on last years’ bathing suit.

I guess what bothers me most about the sentiment is how dishonest it is. New moms hear a lot of weird garbage if we’re being real, and we are pretty thick skinned. After all, we did go through 9 months of beyond awkwardness and unwanted belly-touching. But to have a place of candor to talk about how weird it all is, really refreshes me and maybe you too. When I think about the truth of new motherhood–I think of massive changes. Every change that could possibly happen, your marriage, your money, your work, your friendships, your body,  your home, your career… it is ALL different. You wonder if you’re doing it right, you wonder if you’re co-workers will think less of you, if you’ll get fired, if your spouse still feels the same way, if you’ll lose those final and stubborn 10 pounds of baby weight… it just keeps going. And all day, every day, there’s a television screen in your mind just swirling with all the changes and things you need to do. And when we tell that same mom who underwent massive changes in such a short period of time, the woman who can’t remember if she brushed her teeth today or who just cleaned up a massive blowout diaper in her car on the way to work, “These are the best days…” no wonder she doesn’t get it — she’s a finalist in the series of Survivor. She’s the zookeeper to the animals– making sure they stay safe and no one throws any poop.12141658_1026342174076669_3828444627179536575_n

So in the spirit of being truthful, tell her something different perhaps. Say something like, “It’s hard to be a new mom–I remember, but it will be worth it,” or maybe, “Is there something I can do to help?” Better yet, ask to get her some coffee. Because when you’re brand new to all of this change, and it hits you like a truck full of bricks, all you really want is to be understood and for some genuine heart-felt help.

Awareness, Change, Empowerment, Forgiveness

Why We Resist

Do you ever find it difficult to get along with people? Not your close circle of friends or the happy bank teller, but with the difficult boss or the cranky spouse? It’s so much easier to tell these people “off” or to resist them.

We are seeing it all the time in our world. Rebellions and resistance efforts all advocating for their side of the way things should be. Whether it’s right or wrong, done righteously or self-indulgent, it’s so much easier to rebel than to unify.

I remember as newlyweds, I had a real fire inside. It wasn’t in a bad way all the time but I was much less gentle and a lot more demanding. I was a compulsive complainer and tended to be anxious about everything. I was pretty sure the way I was doing things was the right way and my spouse was just a pain. But over time, I realized that this “going against the grain”, it gets you nowhere.

It was so easy to get mad. It was easy to feel I was right and someone else was wrong. It was easy to not get along with others and to sit quietly in a self-righteous stew. And most of all, to succumb to unity felt like I was giving up my identity and my own ideas. To sit quietly felt like weakness instead of strength. But I learned quickly that sometimes the one that’s quiet, the one that admits they’re wrong, they are truly the ones with all the strength.

We went to the state fair a few years back and I saw they had a set of ox that were yoked together. If one ox tried to go in the other direction than the other, it was near impossible. They would start to flail and buck in place. The yoke forced them together and to move around, they had to go together, step by step in unity.

This observation is not only a great picture in marriage or working relationships, but for our country and world. We can choose to kick and buck under the yoke but ultimately we will get nowhere and be more frustrated than when we started. It is imperative that we work together. And working together doesn’t mean we always agree. But it does mean we are walking together toward a common goal for a common purpose.

There is infinite power in unity.

 

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Change, Empowerment, Self Help, Struggle, Uncategorized

WHEN THEY GET WHAT YOU WANTED

It’s been a personal struggle of mine for a while, albeit, one that seems to improve over time. But isn’t it challenging, when you see a friend get the job you wanted, you felt YOU deserved, or when someone got a promotion at work that YOU felt you worked so hard for? The list goes on… their car, their kids, their spouse, just seems BETTER?

I think with social media, the problem of “coveting” or wishing we had what we don’t have, has only gotten worse. We see pictures on Facebook and Instagram and somehow think that’s a glimpse of reality; sometimes it is, mostly it’s not.

In my own life, I remember being really envious of someone I had worked with in the past who seemed to be so financially well off. No student loans, no obligations, just doing (according to my mind) really well. And I had such a hard time NOT resenting this person. I thought about how many menial jobs I’d worked in high school and even in college, and thought, how dare you be doing better than me when you didn’t work as hard? But see, all those statements I made up in my head (because they aren’t the truth) were all just inferences I had made. I don’t know his struggles, I don’t know how hard he worked or his story. I’m just making snap judgments to make myself feel self-righteous. But I’ve been there, and I know that it can be so challenging to truly say, “I’m happy for you.”

Over the years, I’ve learned to say that phrase–even when I didn’t mean it yet. Because I realized, we aren’t all competing with each other, we are empowering one another to bigger and better things. When I stopped viewing others as a “competitor” in a race to “greatness” or “success”, I started helping them, seeing them as humans with flaws. We all have struggles, even if they are silent ones. I also realized how grateful I was to have them in my life, and for all the blessings I have every day, that my envious spirit was blinding me to. When I focused on what I had an my own abilities, I became more self-aware than outward focused. By doing so, I become more friendly, joyful, a better peer and friend.

So appreciate all you have, don’t worry about the competition. You aren’t in a race against others, only for your personal goals.

Persevere, Struggle

The Struggle

Struggle. It’s a word that I feel I’ve become very familiar with, as has my family. The word isn’t exclusive to us, I think many are, or have been, in the same boat. But for the past ten years, on and off, it’s been incredibly challenging and, if I can “let loose” I’d say that this word is pretty accurate. Sometimes I think we like to pretend that we don’t struggle, that life comes effortlessly, and we are perfect; we have perfect families, perfect homes, perfect financial situations and perfect health. And there are moments when our peers fool us, and we believe that, somehow, we are the only imperfect ones, the only ones going through hard times. But that would be a lie. The Jones’ aren’t real, and they struggle too.

When my mother left, I was about sixteen and my sister was eleven. Not only did she abandon the family, but, with that, she abandoned all her obligations, including financially. Although my dad was a professional engineer with a great job, she had left him with a mountain of debt that she never told anyone about. So we went from being somewhat upper middle class Americans to, being house poor and faking it. We started shopping at discount stores, we didn’t buy as many groceries as we once did. It wasn’t to say we were destitute, but life had definitely changed. I remember feeling like I needed to contribute so I picked up a job as a hostess at the local Italian restaurant where I worked for about three years. We all started hustling and grinding, just trying to make it through and not knowing what other disaster might arise. I didn’t go hang out with friends much, we worked nonstop. When I wasn’t working, I was at school. There weren’t all the little “extras”, like shopping with mom for school clothes or getting your hair cut every two months. It was just survival. Can you relate?

Now I’m not complaining at all. The experience that I had, that was born out of a horrible situation taught me mental toughness, coping abilities, and work ethic. It was what molded my personality and shaped me. However, I understand that a lot of people feel this struggle. With our economy trying to recover, with baby boombers not retiring and a flood of college studuents entering to the job market, it’s changed the financial landscape for many.  Our nation is trying to get back to its roots and  health, I think it’s indicative of what many of us feel. The car breaks down, the vet bills pile up, we have an argument with our spouse, we lose or change jobs…all these things are part of that life season of “struggle”.

I know I have moments where I ask God when that time will be up? When it’ll feel normal again. Because just starting out as a newly married couple, as cool as it sounds, it’s a huge adjustment. I see the posts on Facebook where everyone smiles and they go on a romantic Jamaican cruise, but that is not us. And logic tells me that someone else probably paid for that cruise, or it’s paid for on “plastic”; that the facades we see on social media, many times, just aren’t real. But do you feel that way? When you’re going through the grind, work piles up, and the dishwasher breaks, you feel like it’s just you going through it?

I can assure you, it isn’t just you. We all undergo tough situations where we question ourselves, question our decisions. Did we make the right move? Did we pray enough? Did we think through the decision the right way? It’s like we think that the struggle is somehow always our fault, and sometimes, it’s simply life taking it’s course.

The struggle, it’s not always a bad thing. Webster’s dictionary defines struggle as: “to make forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction”. It is synonymous with to “fight, grapple, or wrestle”. These aren’t always bad words. Sometimes a fight is worth it, sometimes breaking free and loosing yourself, is a good thing. So when you feel like it’s just you today struggling, trying to break free, know that it’s not; we all struggle and grapple with things in our lives. And don’t stop trying to break free, to keep fighting, keep wrestling, and striving forward. Because you don’t know what’s on the other side if you give up. You don’t see the progress you’re making in the wrestling match; but you’re doing it, and little by little, you’re gaining ground. Keep taking one step at a time; your struggle is worth the fight.

Business, Career, Change, Empowerment, Work Freedom

Why Transitions Are So Difficult

I recently went through a transition, a change. I’d been in a certain employment position for almost 4 years, I’d started the Monday after I’d graduated college. When I’d started, I’d thought that I’d found something I’d being doing for a long time. But what we don’t realize, is that as we grow, we change, our desires and what we want out of life changes…Here’s the good news; that’s totally okay! It is 100% okay to not fully enjoy what you are doing and to find what you like more. It’s okay to leave a friendship that isn’t right for you or a job that doesn’t fulfill like it used to. Sometimes, it’s God’s way of saying, there’s something better. 

Now this doesn’t mean that at the time you’d started on a particular path, that it wasn’t right for you then. Life, like nature, has seasons. There are so many lessons we learn from each experience that we take with us, people we meet that shape us, and a greater understanding of ourselves. But when that season is over, and you haven’t moved on to fall because you enjoyed summer so much, you end up missing on the next part of life, the richness fall could bring to your life, because you’re holding on to a season that is over.

The reason why I think transition and change is so hard for us, is because we like the familiar, the old, the comfy and the perceived “safe”. I have a family member who has a particular chair that is falling a part, but he won’t part with it, because “that’s his chair”, he’s always used it so why would he pitch it? We assume all change is bad, it’s going to be worse, because as our survival instincts kick in, they tell us, “stay safe”, “don’t try something new”. Even at certain restaurants that I frequent, I have a hard time trying a different menu item, because I already know what I like. We all get accustomed to our habits, and creature comforts.

As human beings, we don’t “do” change. But I’ve found that the more I give in to what lies ahead in the future, the less I cling to comfort, the more happy and joyful I become. I’ve given in to what my talents are, I’m not trying to make myself something I’ll never be. There’s a distinct role that we all play in life, and the world needs you to play your part. A screw driver can’t do the job of a wrench, not one is better than the other, they don’t compete for who looks more prestigious. But when you need a particular tool, you’re so glad you have what you need and that they don’t all become wrenches! In the same way, if we fight the changes in life, the seasons that are meant to center us, to bring us back to who we truly are, then we miss out. We truly miss out on our joy in life, because only our distinct gifts will truly fulfill us; living in the talents we were given.