Saturday, January 25, 2014

It's Not Easy Being Queen

"Women have been called queens for a long time, but the kingdom given them isn't worth ruling."
~Louisa May Alcott

This past week I've been getting ready to revamp my life and my schedule. After 18 years of raising three children, often working at least one if not two part time jobs, I'm heading back to the 40 hour work week while still maintaining my coaching business.

I've been trying for the last year to find something challenging and interesting that still pays a livable salary. As many of you know that is rough. It's especially hard when you haven't been on a "career" path. I am lucky enough to be given a shot with a great company. To say I'm nervous and excited is putting it mildly.

Finding a job for many right now is challenging. We most assuredly have a large variety of over educated workers in food service, custodial or retail at the moment. But women with children looking for work also have to consider the hours, childcare costs and often the sad statistic that 54% are paid below their potential.

I read an article recently on the NBC News website suggesting that all women getting married create a post-nuptial agreement protecting themselves financially for the loss of their career if they choose to stay home and raise their children.

Jeff Landers writes: "A women's child rearing years are usually her highest earning years.There's no mistaking the cruel timing here.For most women, the phase of life devoted to child rearing and the phase of life devoted to corporate-ladder-climbing tend to overlap."

And yet as women and mothers, when we do get an opportunity, we still are expected to do it all by some.  

My children's father refuses to take on any more responsibility then simply taking the kids when not working because it's not convenient. When my children were younger and I did want to go back to work full time I was told no, because he would have to get the kids ready in the morning (I would leave early) and he shouldn't have to due to his higher pay check. Yet I have been called lazy for not being able to snap my fingers and find a position over the last year, working jobs that have paid little but at least bring in income while sending out 2 to 20 resumes a week.

I have someone now who is a huge support for whatever I want to do in life and thankfully my boys are learning from that role model. And really, if we love someone we should be willing to sacrifice for their dreams instead of focusing on how inconvenient it might make our lives.That's what it means to be a partner.

So I applaud all of the women I know (and don't know) whether you're raising kids, working part or full time, or basically doing whatever you can in life to be Wonder Women. Thankfully we don't have to wear that skimpy outfit (unless what you do requires it and if so-you go girl) but I would love an invisible jet.

"Women hold up half the sky."
~Mao Zedong

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Ugly Sweater

"I've cried, and you'd think I'd be better for it, but the sadness just sleeps, and it stays in my spine for the rest of my life."
~Conor Oberst

I'm not sure anyone who's made it to adulthood can't relate to that quote. Whether it was a circumstance, experience, decision, mistake or accident, we've all had a time in our lives where the sadness of what we're in feels overwhelming, suffocating.

For too many it's a real depression, in some form, that covers us like an ugly sweater. It makes us afraid to go out, and if we do we know everyone can see our sweater and how hideous it makes us feel. The sweater can be itchy and uncomfortable, often feeling three sizes too small in it's constriction . When we look in the mirror all we can see is how ugly it is. But as much as we try we just can't get it off.

Sometimes we get crafty, we can hide the sweater under layers and no one can see it's there, but we know. And sometimes the sweater can be put away for weeks or months before we wake up to this terrible wardrobe change.

This time of year, with short, cold, dreary days, is when many discover their sweater. Holidays are another trigger, or it can be as simple as a Tuesday.

Depression is a strange, tricky weave that hits young and old equally. About 22 veterans a day take his or her own life. Teen suicides in the U.S. range about 4,600 a year.

There has always been a sort of stigma to depression, as if it's a weakness that should not be acknowledged. But strength comes from the acknowledgement. It's a disease that can be treated or managed but not ignored. The sweater will only get uglier the longer you wear it.

Martha Manning wrote; "Depression is such a cruel punishment. There are no fevers, no rashes, no blood tests to send people scurrying in concern, just a slow erosion of self, as insidious as cancer,it is essentially a solitary experience; a room in hell with only your name on the door."

So pay attention. Pay attention to your kids, your spouse, your friends or coworkers. Can you see their sweaters? Or maybe you are the one donning the disgusting. How can you shed that layer, or at least make it a little less itchy and uncomfortable?

One of my favorite quotes is by A. A. Milne, "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

And so you are.