Tag Archives: United States

IWF… the Forgotten Demographic

14 Mar

I  W  F

Invisible
White
Female

I will be the first to admit that I did not see it coming – the slow slide into invisibility that comes with being an over-40 female in America.  My first recognition came when I joined an online survey group offering to pay me for my opinion on a variety of social and retail trends (I quit after the first 20 surveys excluded me for not being in the 20-40 age bracket – the important demographic group).

Next came dining out alone at restaurants where maitre d’s look completely through me to seat couples or families in line behind me (perhaps I should tell him about my 20-30% tipping practice?)

Now I can add craft beer establishments to the list, where if I do not overtly flag someone down, I am unseen for at least 15 minutes (despite empty tables around me).  As an aside, craft beer is also a topic of a blog I write.

The media are no less kind to single white women (age is less relevent here) – especially if we are single mothers (a new target for a senator in WI), or ovulating (note to Rush Limbaugh and elected politicians:  why do we fund Viagra and not birth control?)

  What Happens when Women Age?

Have you heard the Hollywood saying about gender and aging?  Men become “distinguished” (think Sean Connery) and women just grow “old”. Perhaps a distinguished beard would render me less invisible?

Perhaps the invisibility comes from other characteristics?

Could it be that I am independent (my children are grown), or confident (talk about an intimidating trait!), or attractive (I stay in shape!), or financially stable (I pay my own way), or knowledgeable (I write several blogs – one professionally)? No, the people who do not see me do not know any of these things.

Yet, somehow, despite arriving at middle age with status, stature and bearing, these are not enough to ward off Invisibility… (I know it is not “Rejection” because I have not yet met the people to whom I am invisible!)

We are so politically correct in North America so as not to disenfranchise any minority group (if you are disabled+female+veteran+Asian descent you can write your own ticket) or god forbid, offend a member of any minority with a misplaced word – yet a huge majority group – Invisible White Females – is largely disregarded and forgotten.

(It is interesting to note that the average age of women in the US according to the 2010 census is 38, with a life expectancy of 80+ years.  We have a long time to be an IWF!)

What is YOUR Experience?

Certainly males are overlooked, disregarded, or downright ignored at times too, but in talking to colleagues, nothing quite compares to being an Invisible White Female as far as being a non-entity.

I feel like I am fading into the woodwork as I age… what is your experience?  What do YOU think?

Carol

Win/Lose or Win/Win… It’s all up to us

26 Jan

Am I the only one who is dismayed by the Win/Lose or “win at another’s expense” mentality today? Is it just I who does not understand the celebrations of “good fortune” gained by taking advantage?

Today, calamities like foreclosures, unemployment, disease, layoffs, deaths, tornadoes and other misfortunes are not personal or predictable – yet to listen to those who benefit from other’s losses, you’d think there must be skill in avoiding these.  Today you can be on the sunny side of the street (financially or otherwise), and tomorrow you can be down and out.  While lifetime employment used to be the norm, today millions of unemployed say otherwise.  No longer are personality, work ethics or  skills enough to stay employed – with so many Americans out of work through no fault of their own, it could just as easily be you or me!

Yet our press favors the 1% rich or those who act like them, as “winners” and disregards everyone else.  (Perhaps this sells more papers.)  For example, headlines celebrated the good fortunes of condominium bidders who “earned” a property with bids less than 10% of what owners paid for the same properties only 4 years ago.  “Properties bought for a mere $7500 that sold for over $50,000 in 2007,” boasted the article.    What about the homeowners who lost the properties in foreclosures and whose dreams of home ownership (let alone life savings) were shattered by job loss and foreclosure proceedings?  When someone wins and someone loses, our society suffers.  Sure, one side wins financially at the expense of the other, – but I believe society ends up with a net loss in terms of morale, stress, and fallout of family breakups.  (The Tampa Bay Times reported last week that the 50% US divorce rate was actually 75% here in Florida.  I wonder if there is any relationship with FL’s unemployment figures…) How does it affect our societal health when a segment of society takes advantage of others left foraging for their necessities.

A couple of weeks ago, the same newspaper described how hundreds of homeowners in Florida used a loophole to pocket insurance proceeds for vacations and luxuries intended for home sinkhole repairs.  Fraud perhaps, but legal according to Florida law – and the “proud” recipients beamed at readers from full-size photos.  The insurance premiums of all Floridians will increase because of these wins.

I believe that the universe has infinite capacity for abundance when it comes to prosperity and positive energy.  Witness the upward energy amplification that enthusiasm and optimism can generate in a crowd!  There is no indication that the universe needs to balance prosperity with misery or wins with losses.  Win /win situations lead to openness, innovation, creativity, health and increased fortunes for all.

Perhaps there is some pleasure in taking advantage?  It is really a win when success comes at the expense of a corporation, government or people.  Does it matter that it is not illegal?  Can society gain when some bend moral values to justify unethical behavior?  When winning comes at the price of an unfair (or unscrupulous) advantage is it really a superiority of wit, skill or intelligence that prevailed? More often than not – it is sheer luck or opportunity that separates the winners from losers… and if the win/loss mentality continues much longer, we will all pay the price.

Win/Win events give us Hope…

Tonight, in a departure from regular news, a network broadcast featured the story of our local Gulfport, FL idea to assist one of its own. This coming Saturday, instead of following the Win/Loss trend, neighbors are gathering at one resident’s house to repair damage from a kitchen fire, clear brush, and in the words of the homeowner “do in one day what it would take me two years to do.”  It was uplifting and motivating to listen to both the recipient and the helpers talk about the plans.  Participants are donating time, supplies, skills and equipment – all of which will create a Win/Win situation for both the homeowner and the community. 

Why are there not more Win/Wins?  It all starts with an idea, a wish for a better future, and a willingness to give rather than take for oneself.  Win/Lose may be primitive capitalism, but Win/Win benefits all.

What do YOU think?

The top 10 affirmations for 2012… The “Royal We” Checklist

2 Jan

2012 is already starting to be an awesome year – and it’s only two days old!

Instead of having a list of resolutions about what I want to change about myself and my current situation, I want to follow my advice about self-love by practicing what I preach.  In other words, “walking the talk”, doing what I say I am going to do, being consistent and living with integrity – well, you get it.

A bit of background…

I spent most of my life being told:rear view mirror

  • what to believe (a strict no-questions religious upbringing),
  • how to feel (“Carol, you should feel happy about …”),
  • how to dress (vanity is the work of the devil),
  • why I do what I do (“you are purposely making me late so that you will make me embarrassed”),
  • how to be a friend (“you have to be a friend to have a friend” – ignoring the fact that I had any rights in any relationship not to put up with verbal or other abuse!),
  • how much others loved me (“I’m only telling you this for your own best interests because I love you so much”), and
  • how much more they knew about me (“I know you better, Carol, than you know yourself”),
  • and so much more, and the worst part of it all was that

I believed them and allowed these people in my inner circle of life to override my intuition and self-love.

For most of my life, I put more credence into what others purported (and sometimes yelled to insist) to know about me, that I became invisible. In my personal life, I became the amorphous amoeba-like people pleaser that everyone else wanted me to be, and in the process, I fell-asleep to the wonderful, incredible, creative person who is me.

I woke up six years ago (and am happily divorced!) and have been on a path to self-discovery and acquainting myself with the Royal We (me, myself, and I) from whom I have withheld true love since birth.  It has been too long without self-love!

2012 is the Year for Us!

2012 is going to be my year of affirmation and true love for the Royal We, and because of this goal I am already a happier, healthier person.  I share my Royal We checklist with you in the hopes that your journey of self-love can advance to a place where you can become the great person you already are (and just don’t yet know!)

The Royal We Checklist

1. WAKE-UP:  Did I begin the day truly thankful to be in the company of the Royal We?  Did I thank myself for one great characteristic that I am proud to have?

2. GOOD MORNING!  Did I look at myself in the mirror and notice at least one great physical attribute? (I love how my eyes sparkle!)

3. PUTTING ME INTO THE DAY:  Have I planned my day to include at least one totally selfish, self-indulgent pleasure that I can do without anyone else? (It can be as simple as walking down to the seashore for 5 minutes because I live near the water or making sure that I look up at dusk to enjoy the sunsets that I so love!)

4. CHOOSE TO SHARE UNCONDITIONALLY: It is MY choice throughout the day whether or not to share a great aspect of the Royal We with anyone else – to give, to smile, to complement, to help, to be courteous – and if so, it is my gift to the world without conditions or strings attached.  If others choose not to receive or accept graciously, or reciprocate, that is THEIR choice and it has nothing to do with the value of my gift.

5. STOP THE GUILT programming from the past about anything in the present by affirming that the Royal We have rights!  We have the right to our own earned income (the Royal We works hard), good food (yes, we deserve to indulge in our favorite cheese even if it is more expensive), good friends (who respect us and affirm us) and great experiences that  we can afford.  The life I am living today with the Royal We is the only life we have.

6. THE ROYAL WE COMES FIRST!  Remind myself that I am the only one who can or ever should put the Royal We FIRST!  It was a lie that I was taught to put others first and that then others will put me first – it is not the way that life works!  It is a right of life that I should “put on my own mask first” before helping others… and it is about time that this becomes instinctual! (Sidenote: it is not a reflection on oneself when you have to terminate a “friendship” or other relationship that is toxic or off-balance or providing no value… it is a reflection on the incapability of the other person to be a friend to us.)

7. CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY ALONE WITH THE ROYAL WE.  We are on this earth to be happy – to make heaven on earth… yet so many others attempt to make it a living hell for themselves and others!  I choose to be happy today and everyday – content with the satisfaction that I am always in the great company of the Royal We!

8. LOSE THE ANTICIPATION and expectation of anyone outside of the Royal We. While “we” grew up with the Golden Rule and a giving nature, it is not an universal belief.  The only change I can make in life is about me – not about anyone else, and THAT IS OKAY!

9. STAY COGNIZANT THAT WE ARE ONLY RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR OWN BEHAVIOR. When others behave badly, as they inevitably will – it is THEIR responsibility (not ours) to clean up the mess without our involvement!  Just as we must take ownership of our own doings, others are responsible for:

  • their actions (yelling, berating, ranting),
  • their words (especially when negative, disempowering, disrespectful),
  • their tantrums (stomping, screaming, pouting, silent treatment),
  • their lack of support, and
  • their judgments!

When the person in question is over the biological age of 2, remember to be thankful that we have the Royal We to hang out with.

 10. LOVE THE ROYAL WE COMPLETELY AND UNCONDITIONALLY!  I am reminded of the mom-ism (a saying from my mother): “remember wherever you go, there you are!”  Finally at this awakened point in my life — I am truly grateful this is true.

WE, (The Royal We, that is) are going to have an incredible year and we hope that you do too!  Happy 2012!

Carol

2011 in Quotes…

14 Dec

In my training classes, I use a lot of analogies to illustrate key concepts – sometimes with metaphors, other times by storytelling or “painting a picture” using language.

Analogously, 2011 for me can be described by a few relevent quotes… (which follow below).  I’d be interested to know if any of these ring true for you as well.

2011 in hindsight…

I will remember  2011 as a “revolving door” year.  It was a whirlwind of experiences as new and old people in my life interacted to form a patchwork quilt of experiences in love, friendship, career, work, finance, relationships, travel, challenges and fun.  While the “revolving door” represents the series of people, places and experiences that came, went, or lingered; sometimes the door revolved so fast it made my head spin.  I hope to finish the year ultimately ahead, but it was not an easy year.

As a year goes, 2011 was one of

  • Good (some great people such as my kids, my brother Dan, my parents, incredible true friends in Florida and around the world, and new acquaintances);
  • Bad (the incompetent “little boy” realtor and a “fake” friend who highly recommended him hoping to get a kickback; self-centered acquaintances and family; lawyers); and
  • Downright Ugly (hypocritical and greedy U.S. banks; in-your-face disrespectful building inspectors — beware if you need an inspector in Pinellas County FL!)

2011 in Quotes…

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go… Some people move our souls to dance, they awaken us to new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom… Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our hearts for a while, leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same…” — anonymous.

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” – Katharine Hepburn

“Life is a series of moments. To live each one is to succeed.”  – Corita Kent

“There comes a point in life when you realize who matters, who doesn’t, and those who never will. There is a reason that people from our past did not make it into our future.” – anonymous

The cure for boredom is curiosity… there is no cure for curiosity.” – Ellen Parr

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

This one is particularly true with the state of the world economy and how it interferes with some of our best laid plans for adventure:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”Mark Twain

And, finally one of my own:

I would rather be financially poor and emotionally rich, than the other way around… one can always print money.” – Carol Dekkers

HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON WHEREVER YOU LIVE, WHATEVER YOU CELEBRATE…

and wishing you a 2012 filled with health, wealth, wisdom, and great adventures!

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

The Reality “Fog”…

16 Nov

FogYour life is YOUR story – and whatever you experience and feel is your reality.  Personally, the past few months have had its share of ups and downs dealing with false friends, real estate agents, inspectors, banks, movers, and various sundry “characters” in my story.  The good news is that I emerged from it all with a new beginning (having sold my “albatross” house – far too big and far too costly!) and now claim a wonderful waterfront apartment as my new home.

Just like yours, my story is laden with emotions, experiences, and observations that are unique to me.  No one else can tell my story or your story like either of us can, yet we often lose sight of this.  Frequently, we get caught up in thinking that we know another person’s story as well as our own.  I call this the reality “fog“.

As a case in point, last Saturday’s St. Petersburg Times featured an article about a  78-year old woman whose at-home death four months ago was only discovered this week by a property manager.  The article stated that the woman lived alone and that “there’s no evidence that there was anyone in her life as far back as 1992,” according to a police official.

The relevance of the article to my topic concerns not the woman’s death or the circumstance, but rather the judgements and observations by virtual strangers.  “She really was as much of a hermit as somebody can be… she really did not want anybody to come inside ever. It’s a sad thing for sure,”  remarked the managing member of her apartment complex.  A landlord from 16 years ago said “She kept her head down and walked fast and worked hard… I think she was upset that she didn’t have a family or wistful that she lost touch.”

Personally I find it astonishing that people who barely knew Joan Greeley (the woman) would so eagerly think that they knew her story well enough to tell it themselves.   Certainly the story reads better as a human interest story by including observations, but it illustrates that reality in absence of facts is really just “fog.”

I believe we can change this situation!  Before you judge another, get to know the people in your life personally – take an interest in their life and their loves.  Truly listen to their story and be patient to hear their perspective and insights.  Then and only then can you or I begin to see through the fog to envision their reality.

I know that I do not want others to tell my story without listening to what I have to say – how about you?  Let us give others the same courtesy and let them tell us their story!

Have an awesome week of listening, learning, and living!

Carol

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Just for today, show kindness…

3 Oct

Where have all the kind people gone?  I don’t know about you, but I’m frustrated (as are many Americans, Canadians, Europeans, Asians, and others)!  The economy is horrible and getting worse (I live in Florida, USA) and there is an increasing mentality of disrespect and walking on others.  This isn’t the America I’ve come to expect!

When you stop to consider how many people are losing their homes (after investing for years!), losing their jobs, and foraging for the bare necessities in life (at mid-life!), you’d think that the “haves” (those with steady and good incomes) would show empathy to the “have nots”.  I’m not sure why, but it seems like those who walk on others (“I’m so smart I have a steady income, and look how I can buy a foreclosed property for a song!”) also have an entitlement attitude today (“People should bow down at my feet as I walk by…”) which they figure warrants them special status!

As I go through the short sale of my home (long story, but no, I did not overextend or think I could sell in a few years and get rich quick!), I’ve found that my realtor, along with my lawyers (I hired), the buyers, the buyers’ realtor, the banks (and their expert representatives), appraisers, and the building inspectors all have their own best interests (and greed) in mind first – and each in turn has been utterly disrespectful.  In fact, the ultimate experience in disrespect happened last week when my home was again inspected (this time by a boar who runs Suncoast Certified Home Inspections here in Pinellas County who took a full five hours rambling about my house before he was done!)

When I got home to an air conditioner running full blast in 95F heat outside with the windows fully open (as if it would cool inside with windows open!), I inquired of the group (who deferred their response to the inspector)  just  how long they were going to run the a/c with windows and doors open (wasting electrical power on my dime).  The inspector was so disrespectful with his answers and intimidating manner that my daughter (27) told him several times to stop being so unnecessarily rude!

He (and the others) responded with disrespectful actions by leaving my house unlocked (kitchen windows open and unlatched, and my sliding glass doors unlocked) – together with toilet seats in my bathrooms left up (as a single female I certainly did not leave them that way when I left!) when they vacated the premises.

I am a capable, confident, single adult, who does not worry about small children or job loss or an ailing partner to complicate the stressful process of the short sale (it is bad enough with the level of disrespect I’ve witnessed!!!) – but I can only imagine how stressful the process must be to those who are not so fortunate! Imagine having the parties in the process as disrespectful when children are underfoot!  Stress levels and the lack of kindness and empathy must push some to drink (or worse!)

Can I ask you –  if you are in a more fortuitous position with a steady income, home ownership, and happy days,- to please consider showing strangers and others your kindness and respect – even if it is just for today.  There are millions of people like me who are witnessing the worst in the real estate and banking industries – and a bit of kindness during the day from anyone (like you!) would be appreciated.  For my part, I’m continuing to be kind to others (aside from those mentioned above), and trying to stay giving and optimistic (some days it would be easier not to!)

Would you be willing to be kind to perfect strangers (and those people you know) – even just for today?  Millions of Americans will happily thank you — especially if you do it without expectations of immediate reciprocity! As for me, I thank you too!

Have a great week!

Carol

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