Tag Archives: computer science

Keep your Hand up to Get Ahead…

18 Jun

There are more and more women dropping out of the IT workforce, and since the 80’s peak of 1/3 women in computer science, the statistics are at an all-time low of less than 20% of students being women in computer science programs.

In 2011, an all male team of university researchers published studies and held symposiums aimed to increase female participation in the technical engineering and computer science fields.  The answers are as complex as the questions – with no ready one-size-fits-all solutions.  Is it women not supporting women?  Is it a workplace and environment that does not allow diversity?  Is it an old-boys club that excludes women?  Do women have different needs?  It is all and none of these, but without work and interest to change the future, we will be destined to repeat the past.  Change starts with me and you… and I’ve got lots of ideas (hmmm… a book?)

Here’s a link to an interesting TED presentation on the topic – what do you think?

I LOVE the concept / quote from this video: People (especially Women) need to Keep Our Hands Up to Get Ahead!

(This was in reference to a story she tells where she told an audience she would take 2 more questions.  Once the two questions were posed and answered, most people put their hands down – but not all.  She then proceeded to take a few more questions from the persistent few who had kept their hands up.  Her advice is to Keep your Hand up to gain a step ahead.  Too often, women (especially!)  quit too early (and follow directions too readily) – just because it seems like the game is over!)

Watch and comment (please!)

Here’s the URL: http://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_why_we_have_too_few_women_leaders.html

Have a great week!

Carol

Are Women the Worst (Workplace) Bullies?

3 May

Last week, Forbes published an interesting article titled: Why Women are the Worst Kind of Bullies:

What do YOU think?  My first reaction was:

Charlie Brown’s Lucy (or worse)… in the workplace

If you grew up in North America, you are probably familiar with the cartoon character “Lucy” from the Charlie Brown series.  Lucy would run roughshod over her “frenemies” and friends,  coddle up to her crush Shroeder, and generally disregard the feelings of anyone in her path (especially Charlie Brown, who she would ridicule and torment with endless promises to hold the football!)  Lucy was so ignorant of her own hostility that she even appoints herself the go-to problem solver with her “The Doctor is In” lemonade stand. (No matter, Lucy was still a bully.)

The topic of bullies is front and center these days thanks to the philanthropic efforts of Lady Gaga and Oprah at Harvard, the recent release of the documentary “Bully“, and a rise of suicides linked to cyber-bullying.  But bullying is not confined to schools – in fact, workplace bullying traditionally has been categorized and addressed as sexual harassment, if at all.  Adult bullying can take many forms such as narcissistic bosses (see my post: Walking on Eggshells – Source of Back Pain?), harassment, group think (pressure to conform to the wishes of the group), and biases against minorities/gender/age, etc.  The article in Forbes cites a much more insidious, everyday situation of workplace bullying where women don’t just usurp other women, but can even create hazards and obstacles for others.

It’s not a “Catfight”…

As a female, mechanical engineer by training, and an IT consultant and international speaker by experience, my career has not been traditional.  While it is common knowledge that men are intimidated by strong, confident women when it comes to relationships (I am seldom asked out by professional, single men), it is less frequent in the workplace.  When it is, I have found that in a male-dominated, professional workplace there is a direct and honest response – either the team embraces professional women or they do not.  Seldom when men are involved do I have to “guess” whether I can fit in and be productive.  At this point in my career, I have a name and a solid reputation in my industry, so I find that men will typically accept (and sometimes even celebrate) me on a team and see the positive contribution (there are exceptions of course!)

Stereotypically, it has not been the same situation with women who are on par or above my level – and that has been a source of confusion and at times, “shock and awe”.  In some professional (and more often in personal) situations, same aged women, on the surface, have welcomed me with open arms offering their friendship and help, then reached behind to stab me in the back, and in the process they never stopped smiling.  Sometimes it’s no wonder that men do not understand – I do not understand and I’m a woman!

It is a strange thing… granted, men and women everywhere will step on and use others to get ahead (is it human nature or nurture?) – but the behavior is different.  Men will more often attack head on, directly and consistently; there is no question about their intentions or offensive behavior.  Predictable, consistent, stab you in the chest.  I can accept that and take action to avoid the pain.

What is more difficult to deal with is the in-your-face-nice girl accompanied by the reach-behind-your-back to stab you behavior that women (again stereotypically) use on other women.  While we women are confounded to make sense of female-on-female treatment by our own gender, men often trivialize the behavior as a “Catfight” (thereby marginalizing it as hormones raging out of control.)  There is far more to the behavior than meets the eye, and it is an area undergoing frequent research (with few answers!)

When I look ahead to my daughter in the workplace, I realize that technology advances have not changed the human interactions (in fact they create less face to face communication).  Our workplace and human relations are really not much different today than 30 years ago.  Given my experiences, I posted several articles which may be of interest:

And I found several other interesting posts from others:

And of course, the recent maelstrom of frenzied activity stemming from the UK Mail post:

The question: “Why are females mean to other females?” is today either avoided or hotly debated, but the fact remains that the situation won’t simply go away by marginalizing it as “Catty behavior” or ignoring it all together.

As women, we have enough to deal with in life being parents, co-workers, survivors of the economy, caregivers, neighbors, significant others, and just plain noble citizens without having to watch out for other women gunning to get us!

In the words of Rodney King (the focus of the LA Riots 20 years ago) – Can’t we just get along?

Finding a good team of like-minded people!

I am fortunate to now be a part of a wonderful team at QSM, Inc. with confident, powerful, assertive women who are not intimidated or jealous of other professional women.  Our multi-disciplinary, gender balanced team is forward thinking and definitely supportive of each other.  I am blessed to say I’m on the same team with several high-powered, direct, accomplished, and supportive women – it is a dream come true!

The Way Forward…

I believe that women need to learn to start supporting other women, and we need to stop stereotyping men as the culprits to the bullying phenomenon.

It reminds me of the situation regarding minority cultures who point to other cultures and races as the source of their problems (that they cannot solve), when the answers realistically lie with working within their own community to create solutions.

This brings to mind the saying popularized by the Pogo cartoon:   “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

As popular self-help gurus point out, when you point a finger at another, there are four fingers pointing straight back at you!  As women and mothers, I believe that we need to start a movement (even a movement of one!) that nurtures, boosts, and supports other women – at home, work, and everywhere.   Such a movement of women (and supportive men) would take our country and our workplaces into a brighter future!

Today, take the first step to say a kind word to another – you just never know what that might lead to (especially if that person met a bully only moments before!)

Have a great week,

Carol

Do Mean Girls Grow Up?

6 Mar

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. ~ Dalai Lama

If you cannot say something nice, don’t say anything at all.  – Anonymous

Nice mantras, good ideals I grew up with, but hardly apropos in real life when it comes to mean-spirited women (who probably started out as mean girls.)

The Past

I grew up around mean girls – you know the type – the fashion princesses and cheerleaders in high school who made life miserable for anyone who was not.  I learned to fantasize that their home life was less than ideal or that they would fail at adulthood – anything to keep their taunting at bay.  Some were not so lucky and still hold the scars of teen torment into their adult years.  Who knows why girls (especially) are mean to each other… but that’s all part of childhood right?

The Present

As an adult, why would it amaze me to meet mean women?  After all, mean doesn’t go away (one of my mid-life learnings!) , but I never really thought about this until I met two of them this weekend!

Coincidentally, there was a new pilot TV show launched on ABC called GCB (based on the book Good Christian Bitches. The series considered renaming to Good Christian Belles but settled on just GCB.) The central theme is a group of women who have not changed much since their sniping, bitchy teenage years in Dallas, TX.  A main character returns to Dallas as a thirty-something widow of two teens, having been the biggest queen “B****” in high school.  She thinks she is reformed (in some ways she is), but her neighbors are former friends who remain proud current-day GCB’s and display nasty behavior in front of husbands, children, and congregations.  This series joins the crowded stage of women-behaving-badly shows like the myriad of “Housewives of xxx.”

(As an aside, I loved the Saturday Night Live mock trailer called Housewives of Disney! that you can find on Facebook or YouTube.  Send me a comment if you’d like me to send you the link to that parody!)

Will you Comment Please?

This weekend, I had two separate GCB-like (mean women) experiences and I would like your opinion.  I know that I am not perfect (or crazy!), but I was stunned to see such bitchy behavior in real life by women here in Tampa  Help me out – what is YOUR experience?

# 1. VERONICA (not her real name)

I was good friends with Veronica for about 2 years up until a few weeks after she started dating Bob.  We met him at a local pub and he hit on me first, but it was not reciprocal.  Veronica then started dating him and within 3 weeks they moved in together.  It should not have been a surprise to me when she asked if he could come with us and share the hotel room I booked and paid for in New York City just weeks later.  Originally I said okay, but realized that sharing a room with a new romantic couple would be uncomfortable so I told her no.  She got upset and they both stayed elsewhere. End of story – or so I thought.

While I knew she held a grudge and we stopped hanging out (he is not a nice person), it wasn’t until about two months ago that I found out that she was trash-talking all sorts of things about me (I found out from a mutual friend).  I let it go, considering the source, then ran into Veronica at a local wine tasting event on Friday night.  What a b**** she was there.  To my face she pretended to be as sweet as cream pie, but I knew that anything I’d say would be turned into venom against me.  It was an interesting evening as she squirmed when I went over to talk to her (she tried to avoid me) and simply exchanged small talk.

What would you have done?  Would you confront the person with their own bad behavior or do as I did and simply pretend not to know?

#2. BEATRICE (not her real name either)

Saturday I arranged for a new friend (of less than a month) and I to volunteer at a local event and I agreed to share a ride with her (she drove this time since I’ve driven her for the past month!) I drove to her place where I parked my car, and didn’t say anything to her about the fact that  she kept me waiting for 30 minutes (at the time pre-arranged for her convenience so she could have her “I need to sleep until noon on Saturday” time. Volunteers had to be there by 1pm and it was an hour drive.)  Enroute, I endured her tantrum driving to Tampa (I didn’t realize that traffic could evoke such foul language), two stops for her to pick up money and cigarettes rendering us 45 minutes late to the event.  I was embarrassed to be that late, but didn’t belabor the point since we were at least there!

All day she stuck to me like glue (I’m not used to people being tethered to me at a volunteer gig) and we ended up attending an after-party with organizers at a hotel courtyard.  One guy there was interested in me and I in him so we ended up spending a lot of time talking – and I probably ignored her.  As the party wound up and I got ready to leave with her, she disappeared!

As a friend, I got worried (she had too much to drink to drive home sober) and texted and called her to no avail.  I was DITCHED without a ride home and with no explanation or even courtesy to tell me she was leaving.  The next morning (there were no rooms available so I bunked in on the sofa of two guys who had a room – thankfully!) – as I was hailing a $50 taxi back to my car, – she finally returned a text saying “I am fine… you botched the friendship…. don’t ever contact me again.”   I asked the guys if I had said or done something reckless to her the night before and their response was simply – “we were there, she was simply gone, and wow, that’s f***’ed up!”

This GCB (she professes to be religious and righteous) refused to tell me what horrendous deed I had done to deserve being left behind, but other friends tell me that when alcohol and a guy are involved, bitchy women can become psycho.  How did I miss this whole segment of society to this point?  I realize that there really wasn’t a friendship in the first place to lose, but again, I am stunned at the behavior and would like to avoid this type of person in the future.  (She sent an almost identical text to a guy she had an “encounter” with just the week before when he left her on a Sunday morning.  So she has a pattern of dismissive texting.)

The Future… Advice please?

Do you think mean girls can grow up?  Do you meet these people when you are out and about?  How should I handle these people and what would you do?

Karma says that the Veronica’s and the Beatrice’s of the world will get theirs… and I do not wish harm on anyone.  But whiskey tango foxtrot, I do not need these people in MY life.

Have a great week!

Carol

Where have all the Young Girls Gone…

5 Dec

Where have all the young girls gone?

This phrase from the popular song “Where have all the flowers gone” by Pete Seeger in 1961, came to mind this week as I am in Thailand visiting my daughter who is teaching sixth graders their core curriculum subjects in English.  I am so proud of her and the other foreign teachers who are here: bright, twenty-something college graduates, citizens of the western world.  My daughter is here for at least four reasons: 1. She was tired of using her Honors English credentials (from a top US college) to land bartending and after-school jobs, 2. Promising leads turned into fruitless endeavors (even though she graduated the top of her class) ; 3. She wanted to make a difference where her contribution mattered, and 4. The Thai government and the King have a mandate for all high school graduates by 2020 to be fluent in English. (More about this point later.)

It has been two months since she arrived and my daughter is thriving – she is enthusiastic about life and the future, she eagerly designs lesson plans, and she is passionate about teaching and instilling a love of learning in her students.  The challenges of a foreign language, new customs, and classroom discipline (her students are typical unruly 12 year olds) are minor in comparison.  It is a great thing for a parent like me to behold!

Opportunities abound – overseas

More and more of our professional young people from the Western world are becoming expatriates, and moving overseas to contribute positively in today’s world.  Your response might be, “Good for them, see the world, then they’ll come back home and simply appreciate all they have in America,” which couldn’t be further from the truth.  Many of these young superstars may look at the world outside the US with fresh eyes and see opportunities that the US only once provided in the past. More often they read the news from home on the internet and wonder why it took them so long to leave in the first place.

We are no longer the world

As one of the world’s current superpowers, we are failing our youth and continue to be ignorant of the fact that what made our nation great is eroding in corporate greed, survival of the rich, disdain of social welfare, and ignorance.  Unemployment hovers as two digits in most states, the American dream is in foreclosure, food stamp distribution is soaring, governments fight for partisan wins, and peaceful demonstrations erupt in police brutality. Europe, at the same time, struggles as their financial house of cards readies to tumble at the slightest wind. The rest of the developing world, meanwhile, progresses towards their own sustainability and adapts to a changing world climate:  the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries are propelling ahead in their economies and embracing technology – and English – like never before.  Our dollars, while still returning more than half of what we invest overseas (USA today article cites $.55 return on investment for every dollar produced in Chinese goods), are sought by developing nations, whose citizens yearn for our lifestyle and prosperity. On top of this, many Americans have little interest or regard for what is happening beyond our borders. (Take a look at Thomas Friedman’s books from “The World is Flat” to his latest “That Used to be US” for a NYTimes foreign correspondent’s expert view on the diminishing influence of the US in the world.)

Case in point, the third world is embracing English and western ways like never before:  Korean universities now offer English language technical curriculums to keep academic spending at home; Chinese universities include golf as a core subject; India and China feature sold-out IT conferences on weekends; and the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) open university lectures are viewed over the internet by thousands of third world students. While the world embraces English as a second or third language, we are struggling with illiteracy with English as our first.

What is happening in the US?

Moreover, what do we offer our nation’s aspiring youth?  Unemployment, video games, government ignorance, and outright police violence (with little consequence) when there are peaceful “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations.  What is happening in America today?  As the upper class professionals shutter their windows to silence the cries of the starving and burgeoning lower class, and the middle class erodes into homelessness while foraging for work, our youth – proud college graduates eager to contribute to our society – are quietly exiting because they cannot find good jobs, or worse, giving up!  What kind of America will we have tomorrow if our brightest stars twinkle overseas and make a better world elsewhere?  Who will lead our nation into a sustainable future until the politicians finally wake up and realize the poverty and suffering in our own backyard?  All of this depends on a government who, for the sake of its people, can suspend the trivial blue-red bickering.

English fluency, a novel thought…

It is very interesting to note that the Thai government mandated English fluency for high school graduates by 2020.  What a forward thinking initiative for a country who first language does not even use the western alphabet!  Whether or not they meet this goal is secondary to the fact that this Asian nation recognizes that English is the language of business and technology.  Can you imagine if the US government mandated this same goal for our schools?  As a melting pot nation, I believe that we ought to recognize that English is the international language of business and technology – just so that we can compete in the world.  Instead, I believe that we focus so much on political correctness in favor of minority rights that we fail to recognize the benefits we could gain if all of OUR graduates were fluent in English.  Just food for thought.

Pride in our youth

You might not agree with me, but the previous observations are real and I do not see the situation for our young people getting better.  Open any newspaper today and read about the demonstrations, government corruption, crime, economic distress, foreclosure nightmares, whining of the rich/poor, national woes and international wars, but nowhere will you see the success stories about our youth abroad and the strides they are taking for other nations.  I am proud of our youth who have the fortitude to demonstrate peacefully at home, study relentlessly to earn their degrees, work at sub-poverty jobs to make ends meet hoping to score a job where they can use their skills, and then finally emigrate overseas where their contributions are truly valued.

Our youth should be our pride and joy and a priority.  If we can’t wake up our nation’s leaders to the value and the incredible contributions our youth could make at home for a decent wage, we ought to applaud the rest of the world for doing so.  It may take our government years to glance up from their Republican / Democrat score sheet and realize what is happening, but when they do, it may be too late. As more of our nation’s youth move abroad while the youth of other nations study at home, it is only a matter of time before we import more than we export.  Maybe then, someone in power will look around and ask, “Where have all the young girls gone?”

Wishing you a healthy and productive week!

Carol

Happiness is… no expectations

11 Feb

Remember the Charlie Brown song “Happiness Is…”?

Growing up, happiness seemed like something I was born to live (and it’s true!)  Somehow through the years it eroded with mortgages, workloads, family stress, divorce, and life.  When you watch the evening news it is easy to see that happiness is not the mainstay in society but the road back to it can be as simple as the Charlie Brown song.

For me, happiness comes when I remove expectations of others.

This takes away a lot of the disappointment I used to experience when I expected something of others. Without expectations, there is room for positive surprises. Yes, I realize that life is an interconnected web of people, places and events, but it is in discovering my own pure worth where I find happiness. Reliance on anyone else to achieve my happiness is a surefire way to failure.

I believe Einstein’s quote:

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

The inverse of this is also true: sanity is doing something different each time so that you can expect different results.  Makes sense doesn’t it.

In my first half of life, insanity (from an Einstein perspective) ruled.  Now that I have tried the sane route (different things), I have gained new results.  I would like to share with you my different ways of looking at things that brings about different results.

  1. Hope for the best in others, but never expect it.
  2. Never make anyone a priority for whom you are only an option.
  3. You can only anticipate (and count on) you.

These are new adages for me!  In prior posts I s, I used to think that the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would like them to do unto you) was a universal law, but I know today that it is only an ideal.  People do as they please in spite of or in the absence of me and of you!  Just because your actions may be giving and considerate does not mean that anyone else will behave or  treat you well.

Let’s explore each adage:

Hope for the best in others, but never expect it.

Today more than ever, people are necessarily self-centered and foraging to make ends meet for their family. So, unless you lend them money or give them a high paying job, you are likely a bit player. Expect nothing from others, and it will remove your disappointment. In fact, should another respond positively, it is a bonus.

Instead of expecting that people will be considerate of you or treat you well, remember that you can hope for the best, but know that this may not happen. Expectations lead to disappointment – lower your expectations to none, and your disappointment will slowly disappear.  People will either live up to your new expectations (which are none) or do better. (Yes, I know that supporters of the Secret would argue that the way others treat you is your own manifestation – but this is utter b.s. You can only manifest your OWN behavior.)

Never make anyone a priority for whom you are only an option.

This is my adaptation of a quote I heard a few weeks ago by a dating expert.  As female (and some male) colleagues know – we often over-give our energy to others, prematurely.  We fall in love completely and genuinely and begin to take care of another (and even make him/her a priority in our life) before there is mutuality.

Some partnerships end up with one spouse taking care of the other (with good intentions) and the other taking care of him/herself. This can be prevented by following the adage and taking care of oneself first and foremost. Side dishes may be good at dinners, but not in relationships.

This realization came late for me as I spent too many years in a relationship where we both prioritized his needs. Fool me once, shame on you but fool me twice, shame on me! Never again will I make someone a priority for whom I am merely an option.

You can only anticipate (and count on) you.

This is one point I have included in prior blog posts but is worth repeating. We can only ever change our own behavior, and live in our own heads. As such, every other person we meet is governed by his/her own beliefs and directs behavior.

Since we have no control over anyone else’s mind (except in the case of temporary hypnosis), we can only take responsibility for and anticipate our own behavior. Removing this illusion of control from our lives frees us up for happiness.

Happiness is… no expectations.

Do you agree?

Wishing you a happy day!
Carol

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Dear Daughter, lessons from a female engineer (part 1)

21 Jan

It is amazing how life turns out… who would have guessed that growing up as the oldest of five children in Alberta, Canada that I would find myself today as a middle-aged, divorced mother of two adult children, in Florida and reinventing my career to set up the financial independence I dream of.  Even though I have spent my career in male-dominated industries, I am most proud of my children, who are living happy, healthy, and independent lives as 20’somethings in Brooklyn NY and St. Petersburg, FL.

worldMy life so far has been nothing short of extraordinary – I have enjoyed a great career as a professional speaker, author, engineer, and IT expert with two passports (US and Canadian) bulging with international stamps.  I love to travel and it has been a joy to share international and domestic business trips with my children. Over the years, they have been to Brazil, Australia, Holland, Germany, South Africa, Ireland, and India in their travels. There are so many places I still want to visit – and I hope to share future travel with family and friends. I have co-authored books with experts in Finland, Germany, the US and Australia, none of which has given me financial freedom (a 2% royalty from one book and none from the others), but provided me with great experiences.  I married too young, and moved directly from my parents’ home at 22 (it was expected in my family to live at home during college) and into a marriage.  Twenty three years and three degrees (his) later, I find myself happily divorced, but with encumbrances of a hefty refinanced mortgage, real estate downturns, medical bills, unemployment and disillusionment.  Nonetheless, today I am much more fortunate and grateful than many others around me – I have optimism, good health, and a vision of the future that includes a fully booked keynote presentation calendar for years to come. I am learning that there are many things more important than money (even though money pays bills!)

I grew up in an era when women did not go into Engineering, let alone Mechanical Engineering, and in my class of 65 ME’s at the University of Calgary, I was one of five female graduates.  I keep early lessons from growing up in Canada, relocating to the US, competing in a male-dominated field, and figuring out what life and love really is all about.  I am grateful to learn something new every day…

I read a blog yesterday by Jean Hsu on the Experience of Being a Female Software Engineer, and I realized that the more things change (technology and advances), the more they stay the same.  It made me realize that maybe you and other young women could learn from what I went through, and maybe avoid some of the missteps I made.  Hindsight is 20/20 and even though my daughter’s passion is English and Poetry, and not technology, I hold out hope that she will gain a nugget of insight somewhere in my words.

So, here goes, Dear Daughter (part 1)

Dear Daughter,

I remember growing up and wanting a daughter like you and a son like your brother, with a fairytale nuclear family, but life just does not turn out exactly as we plan.  While your father and I were not the right life partners for each other, we were together for your formative years and I hope you know that there was love – at least from my side.

I admire your strength and I envy your youth – you have an entire wonderful career and love life road out in front of you as it should be.  I remember the altruism and zest that I had at your age and I wish you all the excitement and great experiences that life can hold.

Here are a few things I have learned along the way that I hope may help you:

  • Take care of yourself first – you are the only you that will ever be. Nurture your feelings and respect your intuition because they are keys to the real you.  I taught you to take care of others first as I was taught, but if you do this, you will end up losing yourself in the process. After taking care of everyone for so many years, I found out late that no matter how much I gave to others, I was empty inside because I was not taking care of me.  It is not selfish it is good self-care.  As they say in the airlines, put on your oxygen mask first before helping others. In this way, you will survive so that you can then help others.  You deserve a great, long life.
  • Never allow anyone to impede your dreams. Safeguard your dreams from negligent, but well-meaning others who do not share your journey or passion in life.  Your dreams are yours not theirs, and no matter how much they might purport to know what is best for your life (including me) – follow your heart and your dreams.
  • Life is not fair, but you still can achieve greatness. It is still an inequitable world out there. Growing up in a male preferential family (Boys have to run out and play, girls do dishes and cook), I faced many obstacles based on gender. However, it is only a barrier if you let it be. You will face many men and women alike who will tell you that you cannot do this or that, but as long as what you are doing is not illegal or immoral, you have every right to take your place in any profession  regardless of your gender (construction, engineering, etc) – go for it!  Do not waste even one precious heartbeat on anyone who does not make a difference in your life – even if they get in your face!
  • Never make anyone a priority for who you are only an option. This was a quote on Facebook from a self-professed dating expert and while it pertains specifically to dating, it applies to all relationships.  You can avoid toxic friendships, work relationships, and heartbreak when you keep this point in focus.  If you are not good enough to be a priority in someone’s life, they should not be occupying a place of preference in yours.
  • Opportunity may come disguised as hard work or a gift horse. When I graduated from engineering school in the 1980’s, I had a few job offers extended solely because I was a female engineer.  The big oil companies needed to hire women and fast track us into management, so they made outrageously generous offers to us.  At the time, my ethics (and the influence of peers) were too high – so high in fact, that the mere suggestion that I would be perceived as getting the job immorally (people would invent rumors involving indiscretions for any female given perceived “unfair” advantage) prevented me from taking such jobs.  What a mistake! Those jobs might have given me a gender preference and put me ahead for the first few months, but I have faced far more discrimination from being female throughout my career since then.  I should have taken the opportunities at the time with a genuine thank you for the leg up.
  • Fall in love with yourself first. Self-love and self-esteem are two things you can never have too much of.  When you are healthy and happy with the person you are, you can give love freely and unconditionally to another.  With the amount of negative influence and reinforcement in western society, it takes at least a couple of independent living years to discover and accept who you really are.  Only now am I discovering and unconditionally accepting the true me, and it is a pleasant surprise. It was naïve of me to think that anyone else could love me as unconditionally as I deserve to love myself.
  • You are always worth it! You are unique, complete and perfect just the way you are. You do not have to change for someone else.  If you want to change, do it for you because it is you who must live with the changed you no matter what.   If someone wants you to be someone else (to please them) they do not deserve you.
  • You deserve to be loved unconditionally. You will find that if you wait for the right person it is worth more than if you settle for the first person you fall in love with. Red flags include having to couch your words (in fear of another’s response), unwillingness to do things alone, having to give up your friends in favor of theirs.  Life is too short to be with someone who does not love you for you.
  • Smile – a lot. A smile is the most inexpensive and powerful thing you can give to a stranger or friend.  You never know who will be affected positively by this simple random act of kindness.
  • Always be yourself. If you spend your life being someone else, you are depriving the world of the wonderful you.
  • Keep your girlfriends for life. Life can be lonely when things are tough.  There is no substitute for empathetic girlfriends who accept you just the way you are.  Your friends will outlast boyfriends and husbands. Never take them for granted or ditch them for a “boy” — they deserve your respect and will always be there when the boy is long gone.
  • Pursue your passion. A coach told me just this week to keep two things in mind for your career:

1. Choose a profession where you like the people in it (if you don’t trust lawyers, don’t become one); and

2. Choose an industry that has money to pay you.

He recommended that I get out of the business now, because only #1 is true.  The IT field has great people, but with rare exceptions they do not pay their conference speakers.  I have a choice to leave the business (I am not making enough money) or stay and go broke.  I love to speak to large audiences and would happily represent a company on a speaking or conference circuit, but my current business model is not working.  It is never too late to reinvent yourself.

Pursue your dreams, be yourself, and never be afraid to feel what you feel.  The present is the best gift you can ever give yourself, and is only rivaled by the joy that you have brought to my life.

I love you,

Mom

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A celebration of emotional sobriety…

14 Dec

Celebration
Five years ago today, a Clearwater judge disconnected the life support from my dying marriage and granted me a new life as a single person.  The day was quite different from the beginning (my wedding day) — there was no fanfare, no celebration, no friends around to bid me well on my new direction in life.  Looking back, it was one of the most pivotal days of my life and marked the beginning of the life intended for me… one filled with emotional sobriety!

Now, do not get me wrong – I was in love with the person I thought I married and had hoped for a lifetime of wedded bliss, but things seldom turn out as we plan.   I do have two wonderful adult children who bring joy to my life and who are, in my humble opinion, a gift to the world around them.  I would never go back and make any decision that would invalidate their existence even for a minute.

Without delving into any details about what happened or led to this fateful (and wondrous) day, I would like to share with you some of the learning points from the past 5 years.  It’s been filled with a pile of firsts – the first time in my life I’ve lived alone (I was a mere youngster when I moved away from home to become a wife, and more than 25 years since); the first time I’ve had to deal with an inflated mortgage in a down turned market; the first time I had to make tough love decisions.  I am proud to say I’ve survived!

So, here’s some of what I’ve learned (with gratitude to those who said it better than I ever could in the quotes below!)

  • It is better to travel alone than with a bad companion. – African Proverb
  • The best gift you can give yourself is the present.
  • Language… has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone. – Paul Johannes Tillich
  • There’s a reason that counselors are paid – no one really wants to know the truth when they ask, “How are you?”
  • The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it. – W.M.Lewis
  • Being alone is a million times better than being with a narcissist.
  • To dare to live alone is the rarest courage; since there are many who had rather meet their bitterest enemy in the field, than their own hearts in their closet. – Charles Caleb Colton
  • Mean does not go away. Amazingly, mean people are never alone because misery loves company.  Don’t waste even one heartbeat on a mean person when you can walk away and be with yourself.
  • Letting go has never been easy, but holding on can be as difficult. Yet strength is measured not by holding on, but by letting go.  – Len Santos
  • The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself. – Mark Twain
  • We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us. – Joseph Campbell
  • Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward. – Unknown
  • No one can ever love you as much as you can.
  • There’s no need to miss someone from your past. There’s a reason they didn’t make it to your future. – Unknown
  • Wisdom is not the domain of the aged but of those who speak with compassion at any age.
  • Expecting life to treat you well because you are a good person is like expecting an angry bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian. – Shari R. Barr
  • The measure of a friend is not if they are there during daytime hours, but that they are there for you when crisis strikes.
  • You cannot build happiness on the unhappiness of others. – Unknown
  • “The Royal We” (me, myself and I) make for great company!

While my life is not perfect, I know that I am on the right path headed in the right direction for my life.  I am grateful for life, and I love the solitude and security of being in love with myself. It is great to know that my intuition and my powers of perception work just fine.  I was never as the song says “Crazy after all these years.”

Wishing you a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!

p.s., To all of you who responded that you support my writing of this blog – thank you!  I appreciate that you read my posts and are a part of my virtual community.  While I enjoy my company, sometimes, it’s nicer to be alone with all of you.

HolidayRegards,
Carol

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