You need a Happy Dance

 

We almost wish no one could see David Brent’s (Rick Gervais) happy dance. Except it’s supposed to be ridiculously funny and satirical. And so is yours. When you’ve achieved something that makes you feel great or when someone has said something to you that makes you feel you can move mountains, celebrate it. Privately sometimes.

Create your own happy dance. Here’s a cute song to help you. In the middle of all this career talk there has to be fun, celebration and humour. There will be many times that you are great and you owe it to yourself to acknowledge it. Out loud. Dance like no one can see you. Sing like you can actually sing. High-five yourself with a mirror just don’t break the glass (unless it’s a ceiling).

Better still, when you fail to close a deal, (there will be other deals), you’ve been fired, (your job sucked anyway), your business has just gone under, (it took 10,000 experiments before Edison harnessed electricity into a lightbulb), your husband has left you, (he was a jerk) and your best friend isn’t speaking to you, (she has her own problems), screw it. You’ll survive. You always have. You’re knocked down but you’ll get up again because nothing keeps you down for long. And why not? You’ve earned it.

Here is a classic happy dance from Tom Cruise before he went weird on us
Here’s Stewie being his usual egotistical self.
Pixar made something unique with a mouse and a classic rock song
See if you can keep a straight face to this one.

Dance like no one can see you. Or like everyone can. What the hell.

 

 

 

 

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Perfectionists will relate to this one

I was reading this article on LifeHack called 10 things only people who are hard on themselves can understand. by Amy Johnson. Some of the traits are true and some of them are nonsense. (That’s one more things for the author to hate about failing). Some of the traits I wholeheartedly agree with, because I share them and so do other people I know woman-upset-620jt120612who are fairly hard on themselves:

  1. we are over-thinkers. And then some. In fact I over-think to the point where I exhaust myself. Ridiculous.
  2. we fixate on past mistakes. Certainly and usually with regret and shame.
  3. we give ourselves pep talks. True and that’s a good thing.
  4. we want to live life to the fullest. So does everyone but in this case  Johnson means we want to live amazing, celebrity-like lives and aren’t happy when we live good lives like everyone else. True and that’s just unrealistic.
  5. we can’t stop thinking about constructive criticism. Sometimes that’s true and it can be very irritating – both the criticism (how dare she? what the hell does she know about me?) and whether or not there’s any truth to it.

The rest of it is nonsense as far as I’m concerned:

  1. we aren’t hard on other people only ourselves. Ridiculous. I expect the same work performance and work ethic from other people in my situation as I do for myself.
  2. compliments make us feel awkward. Really? I love them. They fuel me.
  3. we say sorry a lot. Actually I find it very hard to say sorry. It’s embarrassing and I hate to admit when I’m wrong even when I am.
  4. we don’t like asking for help. How can we not ask for help? I’m a perfectionist not infallible. No one lives in a vacuum. I need the advice from successful people in order to succeed. I don’t want to make blunders I can avoid – that’s just one more thing to over-think – and cringe about later.

Everyone is different and I am only one subjective example so maybe what’s true for Johnson isn’t true for me and vice versa. That’s what is do great about human nature. We look at things from different perspectives and analyze our experiences quite differently. At the same time Johnson is correct in stating that there are similarities in people with similar perspectives. We need a bit of both to enable diversity to work while still celebrating our uniqueness. Vive la difference.

The best future you can give your daughter is pride in being a girl

Girl Power. Do you remember that terrific slogan the Spice Girls invented? They were two powerful words that helped to launch the Spice Girls and catapult them to fame. It’s a great slogan and nowadays we never hear it. If there’s anything we should take away with us from the whole Spice Girls era is pride and power in being a girl.

In the years before and since that crazy era stigma and coercion have always been women and girls’ number one enemies. It exists in culture, religion, stereotypes, lifestyles, history. Most likely it will never fully be obliterated from this earth. In many cultures, it will always be a man’s world.

But that doesn’t mean your daughter has to suffer. If you live in a Western World country filled with opportunity and wealth your daughter could enjoy a very free and fulfilling life. The time to start her on that journey is from the moment she is born. How do you do that?

If you were lucky enough to have a supportive mother you already have strong mothering skills. That’s a powerful force in your daughter’s corner. If you weren’t you have been through a lot of difficult struggles of your own. You may still be a strong mother. It depends on how you came through it.

If you suffered during your childhood the best thing you can do for you and your daughter is to get counselling as soon as you can. You can’t inspire your daughter with leadership skill and faith in herself when you have neither. Your childhood isn’t your fault. But now you are an adult and now only that, you are a mother. You can make choices you were unable to make as a child. Choose wisely.

I’ve seen women break the cycle of abuse. One woman friend of my mother’s was raised terribly. Her mother had two daughters. She raised one like a princess and the other like happy-girl-and-mother-JC5023-890Cinderella. Guess who slept in the ashes? This woman suffered under the chafe of her mother’s disapproval and abuse throughout her childhood and teens until she was able to leave home. She married and her own children. Somehow she was able to break the cycle of abuse. She became an exceptional mother. She knew what it was to suffer at the hands of a parent and she refused to do the same to her own children. Somehow she survived and thrived. You can too.

Your daughter’s future started the moment she was born. You’re going to make mistakes. This blog isn’t about being a perfect mother. No one is a perfect parent because no one is a perfect human being. But you can be a wonderful mother. Start by reassuring your daughter that she is pretty, intelligent and kind. Encourage her to make friends and include people.

Why is it important to tell your daughter she is pretty? Because unless she conforms to “ideal” beauty standards she will believe she is unattractive, ergo, inferior.  You know how harshly this society judges people by their appearance. Like it or not, we are all superficial to some degree. Marilyn Monroe, the sex goddess of the world once said, “When I was a little girl no one ever told me I was pretty. All little girls should be told they’re pretty even if they aren’t.”

Monroe shouldn’t be your child’s role model of course; sexually abused as a child, exploited as a sex goddess and a suicide at only 36, one of her most powerful quotes was “I wasn’t used to being happy so that was something I never took for granted.” The importance of Monroe was not her beauty so much as in spite of appearances even an enviable woman could be unfulfilled.

Your daughter is lucky. She has you. With your guidance the two of you can take advantage of the virtual and local opportunities this part of the world has to offer girls:

Clubs just for girls such as the YWCA
Virtual and real-life organizations that strengthen girls’ self-esteem such as Girls Inc.
Big Sisters chapters in your area
Girls for a Change
Educating Jane.com
About-Face
Afro Puffs and Ponytails Inc
Fathers with Daughters
Start your own mother-daughter group
Canadian Moms Online

Here are great stories to read to your daughter when she is young, including a fairy tale:

Robert Munsch Series
The Paper Bag Princess
Angela’s Airplane
Judy Blume Series
Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret
Blubber
Carolivia Herron Series
Nappy Hair
I Love My Hair!
Amy Tan
The Joy Luck Club
Cynthia Kadohata
Kira Kira
Laura Lippman
The Girl in the Green Raincoat
First published in the NY Times
Anne Brashares
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – this site includes the free movie

Quotable Quotes

I don’t mind living in a man’s world as long as I can be a woman in it.”
Marilyn Monroe

“It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies; but even more to stand up to your friends.”
-J.K. Rowling

“I am not afraid. I was born to do this.”
-Joan of Arc

In spite of everything I still think that people are really good at heart.”
Anne Frank

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
-Eleanor Roosevelt

I’m no model lady. A model’s just an imitation of the real thing.”
-Mae West

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”
-Margaret Mead

There is only one pretty child. And every mother has it.”
-Anonymous

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help your daughter to find her way in the career world – and in being a girl

There are some great sites to be found (and books and magazines etc) that can help your daughter figure out what she wants to do with her life. Naturally she needs to assess her happy-daughter-mother-10869553skills and her interests before she can make an informed decision. Here is a great site. I like the fact that it includes mentors, real life examples of women who are making it work in their chosen fields.

Don’t tell your daughter she can do anything she wants in this world. That’s a lie. You certainly know that’s true. You have your limitations and so does she. We all do. We are well-intended when we say such things to our children but it’s an extreme that is misguided.

Here are a few more sites for your daughter to investigate:

Accenture Careers for Women|
The best jobs for women in 2015
Careers by Nature – women and gender studies
Opportunities for women – careers in construction
Jobs and careers for women at the YWCA in Toronto
Women for women International

It’s also helpful to let your daughter know that she may be up ahead of gender bias and if she’s a minority, also prejudice. Don’t taint her future with concerns that will make her dread her potential career, just make her aware that these things exist and she may or may not have to deal with them one day. Here’s a great blog from The Huffington Post about Women and Careers. Here’s a particularly good article. Here’s another one.

Encourage her to enroll in both academic and applied courses high school, if your secondary school boards offer these options. For instance, most students choose either an academic or an applied focus but they are permitted to take a number of courses in the alternative program.

The availability of both of these programs has led to an increase in the number of Ontario postsecondary school graduates. There are students who do not achieve the same success results as children in the academic program, but if your daughter finds the academic streaming too difficult, don’t push her into it. She will still achieve her best grades in the program that is right for you, so long as you remain her champion.

Perhaps the most significant website you and your daughter can explore together is called Girls Inc.: USA and Canada. It addresses issues such as body shame, conformity, sex abuse and other issues affecting girls today.

The most significant influence your daughter will have is you.

 

 

 

How maternity leave can ruin your career

Maybe having a baby won’t ruin your career but taking the time away from your job certainly can. A woman named Louisa Clark who worked in the entertainment industry had a baby and was assured she could take as long a maternity leave as she wanted; her job would still be there. The promise was well-intended but it didn’t turn out that way. 9 months later Clark returned to her job only to find that it had been restructured. Executives had been fired and she was given a job in an area she disliked. She quit her job and took a job working for her friend as an administrative assistant at minimum wage. “I feel like I’m standing with my face pressed against a window, watching the world carry on without me.” That sucks.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, a campaigner for U.S. maternity leave, conducted research that showed that a woman who took a total of more than two years off lost 18 per cent of her earning power forever. If she took three years off, this figure soared to 38 per cent. …With the decline in earning power, many husbands have a heavy financial burden placed on them after their wives fail to find subsequent work, or work of equal value to their previous jobs. As a result fathers can’t spend much time with their children or wives, putting undue stress on marriages.

Alexa Kerr, a careers focus consultant, stated emphatically that women cannot return to their previous career status after returning from a maternity leave.  I think really pretty much that’s universally understood. Everyone has to accept that things will not be the same.” I disagree that everyone has to accept these conditions. What’s universally understood about mat leave shouldn’t be universally accepted. It happens because corporate America and Canada allow it to happen. In the workplace, women on maternity leave find themselves made redundant before worse-performing male colleagues.

Katie Powell was a corporate executive for more than a decade. At 23, she became the youngest-ever director at Cable & Wireless. “The answer isn’t always to set up your own business either, as that is incredibly demanding and you may have to put in far more hours than as an employee. You can plough everything you have into something but many startups go out of business in the first couple of years.”

Occasionally a woman is fortunate enough to be married to a man who doesn’t mind being a stay-at-home father. If that’s the case and he’s content to be at home raising kids, and they can afford this godsend, then she’s lucky. The reality of having a househusband however can be very different. Penelope Trunk blogged, My husband, in fact, has brought up divorce…I think it is career related since I have a great career and his sort of stalled when he became a stay-at-home dad and it went to hell from there.

There is always the option of working for other people from home. There are many executives who hire virtual personal and executive assistants. They communicate over the phone and on email. The job description is virtually (pun) the same as if you worked in an actual office. The money is the same too. You might also consider a job as a word processor or a transcriptionist from home. You might blog for a magazine. There are a plethora of online jobs. You just need to put in the time to do the research.

These are some sites you can investigate to see if there is anything that meets your needs. Have a look at these:

Upwork
Elance
Indeed
FlexJobs
CareerJet
FindVirtualJobs
Neuvoo
Totaljobs

Here is an article on eHow about finding virtual jobs. Here’s another.

Women who are lucky enough to work for the public sector such as government employees, and in Canada schoolteachers and law enforcers, don’t face that dilemma. They are guaranteed a certain number of months for mat leave (up to a year for Ontario teachers but no pay after several months) and a return to their jobs. There is no guarantee a woman will get her previous job back but she has to be provided with a job of equal value.

For instance a schoolteacher might not be able to return to her former school but have to work at a new school. A police officer may or may not be able to return to the same platoon or bureau but there has to be an opening for her in a similar job at the same salary.

As far as I’m concerned, this is how it should be in the corporate and non-profit sectors.

 

 

 

An unplanned pregnancy doesn’t have to ruin your career

One advantage of being a man in the work force is he will never have to face the dilemma of being both employed and unexpectedly pregnant. He can’t truly understand the stress of deciding whether or not to have the baby and if she decides to have it, planning her career around a brand new life that she may end up raising on her own.

black-baby-girl_1920x1200.jpgPerhaps you or a friend have recently discovered you are unexpectedly pregnant. If this isn’t welcome news, the shock is resounding, not to mention the panic. For women who are Christian, especially Roman Catholics, having an abortion is difficult. For many it isn’t even an option. If you’re going to get an abortion then make a quick decision. Agonizing over getting an abortion is one of the worst things you will ever do, except perhaps having the abortion.

One way to decide if you should have an abortion is to mind map your beliefs to help you think it through. Here’s an example I made on Wisemapping. I included a link to a good worksheet from the Children by Choice website here.

If you decide to have the baby, it’s best to make yourself a career plan. There will be some challenging changes in your professional life, make no mistake. Penelope Trunk’s blog Quit work for a while to have kids. Your career will be just fine states ost potential parents today are much less consumed with money and prestige, and more concerned with personal growth and flexibility. So taking a position below the last one is not as upsetting as it used to be. People do not think of a career as a straight shoot up the corporate ladder.

Once you have determined that you can keep your job and will have a job to return to after your mat leave is finished, here are some ideas to help you.

Explore a work from home option. Perhaps you can arrange this through your company or you may have to leave your company and get a work at home option somewhere else. That’s aside from the work you will put in raising a baby of course.

If you have worksite daycare that relieves you of much of your stress when you return to work. You don’t have to worry about leaving your baby with a complete stranger and you probably won’t have to pay for it.

If you have a website and a blog you have been building for some time, consider a career in social media.

Find other ways make money than your current job. For instance open a business online and attach a shopping cart option.

Explore family and friends as child care options if your work doesn’t provide daycare.

Retrieve needed resources well in advance of the delivery date.

Reflect on the positives of being a career woman with an unplanned pregnancy:

  1. you have the income to support a child;
  2. you have legal means to get financial support from a man who is probably also employed and making a good salary;
  3. you have the maturity to develop solid parenting skills;
  4. you are aware that there are support groups for women in your situation;
  5. you are aware enough to seek out resources such as groups that offer free baby items.
  6. young mothers, especially teenage mothers, often do not have these options or don’t know they are available.
  7. there are women who would love to be in your shoes. Not everyone can get pregnant and many women who have children are unemployed.
  8. you will love your baby until the day you die.

 

 

 

 

How one woman’s dishonesty destroyed her career

Her name is Meagan Kunert. She is an intelligent and talented woman who resembles Madonna. At one time Kunert was a photographer who wasn’t making enough money to pay the bills so she stole photographs and photography blogs from other people’s websites. When she did, she began booking many more clients and her revenues went up. meagan300The day she was caught, her life as a photographer and a social media voice was all but over.

Kunert received communication from people worldwide. Her telephone was flooded with voice messages, she received scathing emails and news media discussed the “madness of her method.” Kunert was a professional pariah:

Newspapers and news stations documented what happened. I received tons of backlash from people all over the world telling me what a horrible person I was. I received anonymous emails telling me that I should kill myself.

She began to rebuild her social media career and refused to use a pen name. For each 100 negative comments from readers she found 1 positive comment. Eventually she received more positive comments. She helped to organize an online support group called People of the Second Chance. Her career as a photographer is over. She has a damaged reputation that will probably follow her for the rest of her working life.

Some of you may think she deserves this bleak future. Others may be more forgiving. I offer it as an example of what not to do during your career no matter how much you are struggling.