I am not a feminist. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and came to believe that a feminist was an angry, bra-burning woman who hated men.
I love men. Some of my favorite people in the world are men; my husband, son, dad and brothers are at the top of the list. So I decided long ago that I was not a feminist.
But what is feminism really?
The definition is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”
This brings me to Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech. She said:
“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”
Feminism is not about women being angry and demanding our due.
Patricia Arquette is talking about advocating for ourselves just as vigorously as we do for our loved ones and the causes that we feel so passionately about. It is about us knowing our worth and working toward receiving the same treatment and pay as men.
We have, for too long, gone quietly about our business take caring of everyone else, giving ourselves what’s left, only to find there is nothing left.
It is time to stop being stingy with our compassion and acceptance when it comes to ourselves.
We must give ourselves permission to ask for what we want but first we must know what we want.
It is time we speak up and let our voices be heard without judging ourselves as arrogant or self-centered.
It is time we help lift each other up and stop calling women who assert themselves a bitch.
Go for that thing that may seem out of reach. Celebrate yourself if you get it. Heap yourself with the same compassion you give others if you don’t. Then go out and try again.
If we live our lives modeling feminism then not only will our daughters learn to do the same but our sons will grow up to be feminists too. We owe it to ourselves to do this, we owe it to future generations.
You’ve heard of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? All I can say is it must have been a man who thought this up because no woman in her right mind would ever say anything so stupid.
I agree that the Golden Rule is positive in most situations. In dealing with the people I encounter, I try to be calm, polite and kind. All traits I appreciate in others when interacting with me.
However, recently I took issue with my husband treating ME as HE would want to be treated. Specifically when it came to my birthday.
When my husband and kid’s birthdays roll around, I try very hard to give them a special day. When the kids were younger, we had parties. Now that they’re older, they choose between dinner at their favorite restaurant or dinner at home with me making whatever they choose. And the same goes for my husband.
With my birthday so close to Christmas, it has always seemed to get lost. With all the hoopla over the holidays, everyone is too tired and partied out to have yet another party, including myself. As an adult, I have learned to accept this. Or so I thought.
This year, I felt resentful as I thought about my upcoming birthday. When I looked to see what the cause was, I realized the past few years, my birthday dinner consisted of takeout pizza. I love pizza, don’t get me wrong, but on my birthday?!
When I thought about how my husband wanted to spend his birthdays recently, I noticed he doesn’t care to make a big deal out of it. I realized he was treating my birthday the same way. He didn’t understand that I wanted something more than takeout food.
I knew I needed to have a conversation telling him that I did not want to be treated like he wants to be treated. I wanted to be treated the way I want.
All that meant was either choosing to go out for dinner or having him cook dinner at home, NO TAKEOUT!
In case you’re wondering, he cooked our family a delicious meal of artichokes french, jambalaya and tiramisu. My favorite foods with my favorite people! It was the best birthday ever because I felt heard and honored! Not only by the people I love but by myself as well. (And it was extra special because my husband doesn’t often cook.)
Where are you expecting your partner to treat you as you treat them? A hint: Start by looking at where you’re feeling resentful. Speak up and practice asking to be treated the way you want.
Remember the Golden Rule of Relationships: Do unto your partner as you would have them do unto you, unless they tell you otherwise.
In a recent conversation with business women, we examined, at a networking event, how to deal with someone who is only looking to sell and has no real interest in anyone else.
The following suggested replies were offered:
• Tell the person you need to talk to someone on the other side of the room and you’ll catch them later.
• Excuse yourself for a personal need.
• Tell the person you don’t want to monopolize their time, suggesting you re-connect at another time to continue the conversation.
I suggested answering honestly. Tell the person you are not a potential client but would be happy to keep them in mind if you come across someone who might seek their services.
Wanting to be “nice” came up next. According to clinical psychologist George Simon, “Nice people tend to let things slide because they don’t want to seem harsh, but as the saying goes: Give people an inch, and they’ll take a mile.” Be “nice” and you resent the person for having to endure a coffee meeting or hoping they will stop contacting you.
The true definition of nice is pleasant, good natured and kind. For many, “nice” has become a strategy to be liked, avoiding conflict. That makes it more about us than the other person.
Learn a new way of being. Pay attention to your own behavior. Notice when you’re being honest and when you’re not. Recognize that it is possible to be polite, respectful and honest. By doing this, we honor the other person and empower ourselves.
It can be uncomfortable when we begin to practice being honest. Start being honest with those whom you are comfortable, for example your spouse, your friends or a trusted co-worker. As your comfort increases, extend the practice to people with whom honesty is more challenging.
This was published in the Democrat and Chronicle on October 28, 2014. The Women at Work column is written by members of the Rochester Women’s Network (rwn.org).
“Hi, my name is Linda and I am a recovering people-pleaser.”
My people-pleasing was created as a child because I was looking for my mother and father’s approval. At its peak, it left me feeling tired, drained and disconnected.
I thought this was how I was supposed to live. I thought I needed to put other’s needs and opinions above my own.
Before I knew it, I found myself caring way too much about the opinions of strangers.
At times, I didn’t know who to please or what to believe. I ended up confused and wanting someone else to think for me.
For example, my father was not a golfer. He thought it was a waste of time chasing a little white ball around. He would rather be out riding his horse. My husband, on the other hand, loves golf. Horseback riding… not so much.
Who was right? Was it my dad? Was it my husband?
What if they were both right?
We all look at life through a filter. The filter I created said I needed to make other people happy in order for me to be happy. Not only is this not true, it’s a set up for true despair.
To my dad, golf was a waste of his time because he did not enjoy golfing. To my husband, horseback riding did not bring him the same joy as golfing.
There are endless examples in the world. One person says GM cars are the best, another says Ford and others say BMW. Still others say don’t drive, take the bus or ride your bike.
Look at all of the opportunities we have to choose what’s right or wrong, good or bad for US.
In my peak people-pleasing days, getting it right meant constantly trying to figure out what the person in front of me wanted to hear. This meant that no one got the real, authentic, speaking-my-truth Linda.
I didn’t even know what my truth was so I came across as bland as plain yogurt.
And that was how life occurred for me, bland, no rainbows, no kittens, no chocolate almond ice cream! I learned that it is our thoughts and opinions that add flavor and spice to the world.
The great thing about my filter is that I created it so I can choose to create something different. Now I get to explore MY truths, opinions and likes.
By losing our people-pleasing filter, we are able to step into our authentic power. And by doing that, we inspire others to do the same.
That is truly what the world needs now, not a bunch of “yes” men.
It’s Spring! Before you know it, it will be time to break out the shorts and swimsuits. Nothing like the thought of having to give up the bulky sweaters and winter coat to create the motivation to get into shape.
Having literally been in hibernation due to illness this winter, I feel like a bear who is emerging from a cave. Unfortunately however, I have not been living off my fat stores. This bear is out of shape and overweight. Wow, that was hard to put out there.
I have had an up and down relationship with food and weight since I was 12 years old and someone called me “pleasingly plump.” I still can’t believe anyone actually said that to a kid.
I remember being taken to Lane Bryant to shop for clothes. Nothing against the store, it has beautiful clothes. But as soon as I figured out that the store was for “bigger” women, I marked myself as fat.
Between 8th and 9th grade my weight didn’t shift but my figure did. No one else thought I was fat except me.
Thus began an endless string of diets. When I was pregnant, it was a relief to be able to eat what I wanted. And it was torture watching the number on the scale go up.
After my second child was born, I was overweight and uncomfortable and decided to join Weight Watchers. It was a wonderful program that helped me plan my meals and I was able to get down to a reasonable weight.
I have been fairly successful in maintaining my weight until I became ill this past November.
As I begin to feel better, I’d like to learn to feel comfortable in my own skin. I have begun by questioning my relationship with food. It turns out how I eat has a lot in common with how I live my life.
I am a planner. I feel most comfortable and safest when I know exactly what’s going to happen. I don’t do well when surprise cake, cookies or pizza show up. I think that’s why I did so well on Weight Watchers.
Planning works until my rebellious shadow kicks in and says, “I’m tired of you depriving me of a good time and good food! Who cares what you weigh!” Suddenly all bets are off.
In life, my pattern has been to go along to get along, push through and restrict and not listen to myself until I reach the breaking point. Then my rebel says “Screw it! I’m going to do what I want! I’ve had enough!”
Although I call myself a spiritual person, I don’t feel safe in the unknown. Because I like to be in control, I have a tough time surrendering to my Higher Power.
Unfortunately, God doesn’t send out emails with an update of what’s to take place in my life that day, week, month or year.
By choosing to practice surrender and trust, I can cultivate the faith that God is in all things, especially the future.
I am a secretive eater. People rarely see me eat sweets or foods that I consider “bad.” I’m afraid they will think “Wow, she really should not be eating that! Take that cupcake away and get that woman a celery stick instead!”
In life, I have always had a passion to learn more about God and how to live a life that is authentic for me and help others do the same. I felt resistance to following that passion because I am not only afraid of what others will think but I had fear of failing, not being good enough and being rejected by the world and even those I love.
So I would hide. I wouldn’t talk about my dreams or my fears. And I wouldn’t talk about God. I did NOT want anyone to see me as a Holy Roller!
I put on a happy face to look as if all is well even though I was miserable inside. Until I decided I couldn’t take living this way anymore and began working with a coach.
Since becoming a coach myself and doing the work to connect with myself and especially God, I am now living a more authentic and joy-filled life.
Practicing not using food to numb my feelings helps.
I have once again set out to get myself in shape. I’m not sure what that will look like but I know I am older, wiser and will be more compassionate with myself.
My plan is to listen to me and listen for God. And to ask myself questions such as, am I getting in shape for me? For others? For God? How will being fit and healthy impact my relationship with God? With others? With myself?
If you’re interested, I definitely recommend reading Ganeen Roth’s book Women, Food and God and following her guidelines along with me.
We’re in this together. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you on your journey to God, health, fitness and the life you are meant to live!
I was diagnosed with shingles around Thanksgiving. While the blisters have long since gone, it is taking longer for the pain to completely dissipate. My doctor informed me that I could have residual pain for up to a year. (For more information about shingles go to http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/shingles/shingles-topic-overview)
While I would not wish this illness on anyone, it brought some lessons that have been life changing.
Because I had shingles over the holidays, I told myself that I would hunker down and take good care of myself. My plan was that when the first week in January came, I would get back to work and my normal routine. However, my body had something else in mind.
I found that even though the pain had lessened and I was able to take less pain medication, my stamina was low. I was fatigued by 3pm and even if I took a nap, I was exhausted by 7pm.
I was frustrated and wondered what was wrong with me. After all, I “should” be better by now because I had taken good care of myself. Right?
My mind was full of useless internal (and some external) whining. I was thinking about how this wasn’t fair… I was afraid because I needed to get back to work because money doesn’t grow on trees… I began thinking that my family probably thinks I’m a slacker and I just need to suck it up…yada, yada, yada…
Suddenly I could hear Eckhart Tolle’s words ringing in my ears. What if I totally accepted how I felt each moment, no stories, no pity party, no internal dialogue? What if there was no place I needed to be? What if I was exactly where I “should” be?
For that day, I decided to clear my head of all the “shoulds” and judgments. I simply did what I could and what felt right.
And here’s what happened, I connected with a colleague and a friend on the phone, created a good portion of a workshop, ate a delicious and nourishing breakfast and lunch, washed, folded and put away a load of laundry, dusted and vacuumed the living room, showered and wrote this.
As soon as the pressure to be somewhere else was gone, I was free to be exactly where I was. I realized that a lot of my fatigue was caused by me not accepting how I was feeling.
I also realized this is how I do life, I fight it. I worry about what others think. I’m always trying to figure out what will make those around me happy. I battle between what I want to do and what I feel I “should” do. It’s a constant fight, no wonder I’m tired.
By accepting what is, there is nothing to push against. And by listening to my own inner wisdom, I empower myself and rely less on the approval of others. As a consequence, it frees up a lot of mental and physical energy.
Needless to say, this feels great. And this way of being has to be more conducive to healing.
It’s clear this is something that’s simple and powerful but not always easy. And I will continue to practice.