Wednesday, August 23, 2017

She Should Smile More.

Photo credit.

I am privileged to be surrounded by some very strong women in my life. I have friends and family who are at corporate executive level positions, some are Doctors who are blazing trails in their research and a few who own their own companies.  These women are strong, tenacious and when seated at the conference table, they lean in.

I was recently having a conversation with a friend who was lamenting how her boss, who is female, is so unapproachable and when pressed more her response made me think. She stated that her boss would listen to employees ideas, but then tell them why they couldn't be done, her emails were straight forward and to the point which came across curt and she made changes to improve work flow and the adage "If it is not broken why fix it?" was expressed.

I listened to her as her words flowed and it is when she stated that her boss was a bitch did I decide to interject with my thoughts.  I asked my friend what she thought of her other boss, who was at the same level as her female boss, but happened to be a man. She stated that her male boss was very direct, but got things done and when he made suggestions to changing the work flow it worked and his emails were to the point as he was a very busy person.

I felt that I should point out the similarities between both her bosses, but somehow the female was made out to be the bitch, while the male was an executive who got things done. Her response was  "Well she should smile more."  I had to smirk as I had a vision of a dear friend who lives in Belgium and who is quite formidable in the corporate world, look at my friend and say "What a load of rubbish!" in her very proper English accent.

I have been in high level corporate positions where I would be at the conference table and many a time was asked questions that would not be asked of my male counterparts. At one conference I was asked why I wasn't home raising my child and taking care of my husband? A male counterpart told me to smile more and not be such a bitch. I think he may still be sitting in some corner rocking back and forth because of my response and gesture.

I am tired of people referring to women in power as bitches, or unapproachable, or whatever words fill the blank to justify their position. As woman we fight hard enough to be at the corporate table, to be treated as equals and to have the same wages regardless of sex. I have watched men denigrate women and only because that person was a threat to their ego.

As I pointed out the similarities to my friend the light bulb did turn on. Sometimes when we have conversations we should listen, make a list if needed, and be open to what people are saying. I learned from her that the thought of women being more motherly is what would be more acceptable in the workplace. I am hoping she took away from our conversation to start viewing executive women in a different light.  We need to separate the corporate executive from the maternal image we have somehow embedded in our DNA.

So to the dynamic, strong females in my life, when you're next seated at a conference table with men and start to feel the testosterone level rise, go ahead, lean in and say "You really should smile more."

Sunday, August 13, 2017

It Can Never Happen Again.

Santa Anita Assembly Center - photograph from

A while ago Bear read the book "Only what we could carry." by Lawson Fusao Inada, when he was done I wanted to read it and had great intentions of reading it, but time passed and the book stayed in the drawer of my nightstand. It wasn't for lack of time or trying, but more because when I read the introduction tears started to fall.

The introduction starts with the following phrase:

"Only what we could carry"
was the rule; so we carried
Strength, Dignity and Soul

While reading the book I went online to do more research. I must admit I didn't know much about the Japanese Internment camps and wanted to learn more about a part of history that to this day remains silent.  The photograph above I found on a website and I studied the photograph for quite some time. The men and women who had been rounded up to be taken to the internment camps were all respectfully dressed which to me screamed the above phrase, "Strength, Dignity and Soul."

We are currently living in turbulent times and it seems that once again propaganda, disinformation and to a degree, brainwashing, is fueled by politicians, extremists and those that are too quick to click the share button on Facebook before validating facts. I struggle with those who profess to be of any faith and start their speech with "I am not a (fill in the blank), but..."  When one feels the need to add a but to their sentence, what follows is everything but what the fill in the blank statement is.

We see posts on social media, in the news etc of "We shall never forget." and I have to wonder what part of 'never forget' are people referring to? It seems as though with history we pick and choose what we become angry about without looking at the entire picture and the cause.  

Wouldn't it be great if there was a magazine at the checkout stand in grocery stores with articles about history and what we learned from hate instead of which celebrity is having an affair, is having a fight with another irrelevant celebrity, or spent thousands of dollars on plastic surgery?  

When people are not directly impacted by racism, war, bigotry and hate, the ostrich head in the sand approach seems to fit. Or maybe it is because so many feel helpless as to what they can do to change the situation. I have always found it odd that when a celebrity is directly impacted by some tragedy befallen them or a loved one it suddenly becomes news and pouring in of help is abundant. What does that say of us as a society that we need to have a celebrity inform us of how we should care. 

The paragraph from the book, Years of Ifamy, sums up my thoughts in a nutshell.

"... I hope this uniquely American story will serve as a reminder to all those who cherish their liberties of the very fragility of their rights against the exploding passions of their more numerous fellow citizens, and as a warning that they who say that it can never happen again are probably wrong"

I am trying not to let my cynicism and helplessness stop me from making a difference. I will continue to research, be vocal and vigilant in my own little fight to make sure it really does not ever happen again.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Just Another Chapter.

After many years of the why me mentality I am hopefully becoming wiser to those chapter events in my past and putting into play the lessons learned theory.

A few years ago I had a bangle made especially for me. I had been reading a book and the phrase "Examine What You Tolerate" really resonated with me. I wear my bangle everyday and recently while facing a dilemma I happened to glance down and see my bangle. I had a choice to make, I could either accept what was put before me or examine what I was tolerating. I made the choice to end that chapter and start a new one.

Normally in text books at the end of a chapter there is a revision section going over the most important points. In my chapter that I have now closed these are a few important points pertaining to that chapter.

1.  When people place you in a box that they believe is your worth, you begin to believe it.

2.  No matter how much kindness you show to others, there will always be people who will accept the act, but quite freely retaliate towards you in other ways.

3.  Your day to day life is surrounded by many acquaintances, but very few friends.

4.  When you tackle a task to the best of your ability, there will be that one person ready to pick it apart and become that formidable Yenta in your life.

5.  When you go off the radar for a bit to regroup, few will notice, but those that do, care.

6.  No matter how long it has been since you have physically seen an old friend, they are forever in your corner.

7.  Living on a separate continent to family and friends has been one of the most challenging things one can do, but your faith and solid bond will forever make sure you are always connected.

8.  Grief never goes away, it is forever present in your tears when a familiar smell makes a connection, a song on the radio is played, or a view that reminds you of home.

9.  There are people who believe in you. Who are your biggest cheerleaders and that those are the people you focus on instead of wasting energy on those who weaken your spirit.

10. It takes both the sun and the rain to make a rainbow.

I know that in this new chapter I will find success and peace because in my last chapter I totally rocked it.