Summer Pondering

Funny little girl swims in a pool in an yellow life preserver

It's been a few weeks since I have written a post.  I apologize, it seems as though life has gotten in the way.  Between work, the end of school flurry, a few personal things that have needed some attention, and getting two kids off to camp (sniff sniff), Blooming Betty has been neglected. I guess in busy times, something always does!

But truthfully, more than just the busyness of my crazy life, I have been struggling with the direction Betty should take, how to keep it fresh, build readership, what issues to tackle editorially. The world of blogging is crowded, and really, what do you as readers really have the time and interest for? How many different things can we read in a day or a week? Internet research is showing that despite the abundance of information and great writers, people are actually narrowing their choices, not increasing.  So how can Blooming Betty stay relelvant enough to be important to you? Whether that be to provide a laugh, some insight or even to agree/ disagree with me?   

I re-read Betty's promise … to offer you a more relevant and useful approach to the female challenge: balancing the call of the marketplace, the home and the self.  Through a better mix of opportunities to reflect, read, watch and talk, Blooming Betty wants to  help you navigate the road to a richer life by uncovering, endorsing and supporting your personal definition of success through life’s journey.

So, I'm going to take the summer months to ponder how to continue to live up to this promise and figure a few things out, lets see where the path takes me …

In the meantime, enjoy your summer.  Stay healthy, laugh a lot, feel the warm summer sun on your (sunscreened) face, and spend time with people that make you happy.

See you in September!

 

 

 

 

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Taking One For The Team

There’s a new guy in my life. We started living together 2 weeks ago attempting to get used to each other day by day. We’re really quite different. He’s happy and giddy every morning, me, maybe two out of seven. He doesn’t mind mess, happy to leave his things everywhere, not me. I start making my bed before we're even out of it. I need alone time and he craves company. I use a bathroom regularly he doesn’t feel the need. And so, we are learning to accept each other.

Didn’t have a baby. Didn’t take in a border or leave my husband for another man.  We got a dog.  Archie is an 8 lb Labradoodle puppy (Labrador/poodle mix for us non-dog types). Somehow, despite my reluctance and aversion to living with anything other than humans, in a moment of weakness I succumbed.  Why?  I don’t know still trying to figure that one out.

My husband grew up with a dog so he could easily rattle off the benefits; unconditional love, teachable moments and responsibility for our 10 year boys, companionship and safety for the three of us when he travels and an impetus to get our family outside walking, hiking, and playing in the park again. My boys, well, they just really wanted one. Truthfully, one was horrifically afraid of dogs until a few years ago and then something just clicked. He began to love everything dog. Researched breeds, sought neighborhood dogs to play with, and I think convinced his brother to do the same.  It worked, and so began their 4-year quest to convince me, their only barrier and failed dog owner (a bad 3 week experiment before we had kids that resulted in me driving the dog back to the breeder in a snow storm because I didn’t want him anymoresad) to change her mind.

It wasn’t easy but they did it. Maybe the fact that we never gave them a younger sibling, or that my husband never even got to say good-bye to that other dog we had, but on the boys 9th birthday I threw them a bone (literally) and told them a dog was theirs. And so after waiting patiently for 8 months for the right breeder, timing (not winter!) and litter (we got to pick the parents), Archie was ours. The first few days I spent wondering just how much it was going to cost me to buy my way out of this … new computer, new bike, new anything! The mess, the responsibility, the cost, plumeting productivity and sleep deprivation alone were reason enough to shut it down immediately before anyone got hurt. Don’t I do enough for my family that I don’t need another “to do”? Aren’t our lives busy enough without worrying about feeding a dog? Don’t we travel? A lot?

The answers are all unequivocally “yes”. But 3 weeks later, I am slowly (think molasses) beginning to come around. Archie has become a bit of a celebrity around our neighborhood, probably because he looks a bit like a stuffed animal and naturally makes people smile (although personally, I never ever noticed one person’s dog before I had one). One older woman actually took him for a ride on her motorized wheel chair. She laughed and laughed and it made my heart melt. And so because of that, we have met so many new people, chat with our neighbors more, gaggles of kids come over to say hi at school, our boys are in the backyard playing more than ever, and countless laughter from the four of us over what Archie does, the way he sleeps, or looks at us and amazing moments of tenderness as our boys learn to take care of something other than themselves. Training him I see, will be a bit of an ongoing family project but everyone is doing their best to do their share of the work. They are all terrified just enough to know that this won’t work any other way (if I can return a dog once, I can do it twice).

So, as I sit here writing my column with Archie sleeping under my chair, I am proud that I am challenging myself enough to do something that was important for everyone else in my family and way out of my comfort zone. Refreshing not to be the downer, the reminder of why it won’t work, the naysayer again, and just to simply take that chance. That having a dog might actually add more love to our family instead of just more work. How many other things in my life could I appy the same learning and approach? Probably many. 

Believe me, I am a long way away from being a “dog person”, I will probably always check my house obsessively to see if it “smells” like dog, cringe when I need to pick up poop or worse, vomit, and moan when I need to get out of bed early to walk him, but if Archie keeps smiling and loving me the way he does, no matter what, well, he just might be able to teach this old dog a “new trick” or two.

Anything your family is trying to get you to do?

Have you ever given in and done it?  What made you do it?  How did it work out?

Posted in Relationships, Self | 5,292 Comments

Rant of an Experienced Failure

I’ve failed too many times to count. There have been the little failures like raffles I didn't win some raffle or contest, incomplete crosswords, diets that fell off the wagon and incomplete New Year’s resolutions. There have been bigger failures like not getting the big part in the school play, not making teams in high schools, not getting into first choice schools and getting passed over for jobs I really wanted. Then there were BIG FAILURES, failed relationships (no, not my current one smiley), pregnancies, friendships and a myriad of career moves that didn't measure up. And you know what?  They all sucked. Each and every one of them (all right, the raffle I got over quickly). I remember them all, and the tears, feelings of disappointment and embarrassment, and the painful blows to my confidence and self-esteem that came with each “failure”.

Ouch. Failures hurt.  Loosing hurts. Disappointments hurt. So when it comes to our children, of course our natural instinct is to want to protect them from that pain. Helicopter parenting, constant intervention and advocacy, all with the good intentions of keeping our children sheltered from the hard knocks. Who wouldn’t? We do it all the time. The problem, is that in doing so I think we are also depriving them. Depriving them of the small life experiences that help them deal with the big ones when they come along. And they will come along. So when I read this past weekend about Sport Canada and its change to follow a “long term athlete development” approach over competition, I couldn’t help thinking about the long term affect of such a philosophy.

According to a Globe and Mail article on Saturday April 28th, “The case for killing the competition”, John Allemang reports that all of the country’s 56 national sports bodies, under the direction of Sport Canada, are crafting long-term athlete development (LTAD) programs that value having fun and honing skills over hoisting trophies. In highly detailed documents that reflect a best-practices approach to achieving sports excellence, organizations such as the Canadian Soccer Association are spelling out a mandate for training young athletes in less openly competitive, more age-appropriate ways.

My position is neither “anti-fun” sports nor thinking that inclusive participation is not important, or that there shouldn’t be more skill based sports for those kids that are just interested in playing, nothing more. I believe there is actually a place for ALL of these philosophies to exist along side each other.  For instance house leagues and “select” leagues do just that. How about adding more skill-based programs in addition to the competitive games? I am not competitive at all (and neither are my children) but we all love sports so would welcome many of these additional programs.  However, I leave that all to people far more qualified than me to design the options. But there can still be competition.  

However, my position is on the importance of learning how to lose. Learning to play with winners and losers is not a bad thing. Whatever kind of loss that is. See, while I openly admitted all of my failures, what I didn’t say is how each one of them changed me as a person. After many years and tears, I realized that the most important thing I learned from all my failures was that I could fail and still be o.k.  And each time I learned that I became less afraid of failure and more apt to try, to take a chance. That is where all the real rewards are. How many new experiences, great successes, and amazing people would I not have met if I hadn’t just tried?

Removing the competitive nature of our children’s sports programs is just one more small way our children miss out in the learning they need to function in a world that is competitive and I worry about that a lot.

When a child falls and scraps a knee, there is usually a sting, maybe some blood, some hugs, a purple band-aid, and then the child gets up and starts running again. See, we would never tell our kids to stop running because you could fall and scrape your knee.  Our role as parents is to teach them to take care of themselves, take a moment, feel they hurt, get up, start walking again and they will be o.k.  As much that may hurts us, we owe them that lesson.

 

 

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Go ahead, procrastinate, but just a little!

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Be honest, are you getting lost for hours in Facebook statuses of long lost "friends" instead of doing the report due at 5:00? Cleaning you office instead of having that heart-to-heart talk with your boss or maybe even your partner? Or maybe simply playing with your iPhone instead of making your weekly check-in call with great aunt Sally. Well, you might be guilty of procrastinating. Don't be upset, we all do it. Believe me. But the important question we might want to ask; How much is too much and is it impeding your productivity?

Procrastination has always been thought of as a major stumbling block to success. We need to be “on” all the time, ticking off our to-do lists and tackling our projects with a constant flow of energy and enthusiasm. That if we're wasting time trying to avoid difficult or unpleasant tasks that we set ourselves up for failure. True? I’m not so sure.

Lets look at why we procrastinate? According to my research, there are two major causes of procrastination. The first category is Avoidance. We procrastinate to avoid overwhelming tasks, difficult tasks, tasks we don’t like and sometimes to avoid change. The second category is Fear and Anxiety. We procrastinate because of our fear of failure, fear of success, fear of criticism, fear of making mistakes and fear of rejection. Yup. been there, that sounds pretty accurate to me.

There are also said to be three different types of procrastinators. Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, and Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada identify three basic types in Psychology Today:

  1. Arousal types, or thrill-seekers: They enjoy waiting to the last minute for the euphoric rush of trying to finish on time (that is kinda me).
  2. Avoiders: They may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case, are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability.
  3. Decisional procrastinators: This group, they simply cannot make a decision. They get caught up in their own paralysis of reaching a decision. Not making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events.

According to Psychology Today, there are significanyt costs to procrastination. Health being a big one. Just over the course of a single academic term, procrastinating college students showed evidence of compromised immune systems (more colds and flu), more gastrointestinal problems and insomnia. In addition, procrastination has a high cost to others as well as oneself; it shifts the burden of responsibilities onto others, whom become resentful. Procrastination destroys teamwork in the workplace and private relationships.  Ever work with any of those people? smiley.

Procrastination may result in stress, a sense of guilt and crisis, severe loss of personal productivity, as well as social disapproval for not meeting responsibilities or commitments. These feelings combined may further procrastination. While it is regarded as normal for people to procrastinate to some degree, it becomes a problem when it impedes normal functioning. Chronic procrastination may be a sign of an underlying psychological disorder. Such procrastinators may have difficulty seeking support because others beleive that these people are just being lazy or not focused.

O.K. So now we know the who and the why of procrastinors, but what are procrastinators actually doing (or not doing)? Well apparently there are two ways to procrastinate.  One is by doing something of much lower value than the activity you are putting off (like looking at pictures of the family reunion in Ohio of the neighbor you have not seen in 20 years) and the other is by doing something of higher value than the activity you are delaying (like my choosing to go for a run on a beautiful day instead of doing my filing or researching an article).

I am even proposing that maybe if you are doing a higher value activity well most of time you aren’t really wasting time at all, maybe just prioritizing. For example, I admit it, I care more about exercising than having an organized office. Obviously there are limits to this line of thinking–eventually you have to file your taxes, feed your kids and do your job. You can't choose to do something different.

For me, procrastination has a positive side in addition to all of the negative press. That is as long as you are shifting to an activity that you value more. Maybe that feeling of “I don’t really want to do this” is our subconscious signaling to us that the activity we are about to do really isn’t that important to us and we actually should be doing something different. When that signal forces us to change our plans, reevaluate or prioritize differently, I think this can be a great thing.  

I suggest that the first step is to recognize the “feeling of procrastination” (we all know it) and then thoughtfully decide what to do next. Take a few moments to decide whether the task you want to put off really needs done at all (maybe that load of laundry, errand or gardening is really not as important as you thought it was). And, even if it is important and does need to be done, perhaps it doesn’t need to be done at that particular moment. That taking a few minutes to day dream or play with your kids or whatever you choose, is just more important at that moment in time.

Sometimes you’ve got to let yourself do something else at the expense of what you think you should do. Sadly, most of what we need to do is not so fun so it’s easy to become frustrated and burned-out. Unfortunately, we can't change that but sometimes you need to allow yourself to deviate from the plan and the "must-dos" and give yourself permission to shake it up. Because with that comes a feeling of liberation, knowing you have some control over your day, and a rejuventation of the spirit, that to me, are truly the ingredients of great creativity and productivity.  So procrastinate, a little, I think it will do you some good.  

 

Posted in Self, Topics, Wellness | Tagged | 6,253 Comments

This is your chance!

…. to tell me what you want to see on Blooming Betty!

Topics of blog posts, video, guest interviews or posts, surveys ..you name it.  

Of course within the women's success area. smiley

Don't be shy …I really do want to know what you are thinking about.  Start talking! 

email      Facebook     Twitter

 

 

 

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Give a little, Get a hell of a lot.

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I write a lot about finding our your own version of success, improving your own life, and how to muddle through the trials, tribulations and hard choices to make that happen.  But lets be honest, it is pretty self-centered.  I am not apologizing for it; it needs to be. I full heartedly believe we must learn to reflect and dream, create a vision, set goals, and figure out what we need to do to achieve.  And then, hopefully we can actually get where we want to go. This process is vital.

But, what I haven’t really written about and probably should have already is that that all of our internal thinking and focus needs to be balanced. Balanced with an external perspective. Otherwise, we are disconnected from the world around ys. How we can each do our part in helping to make the world a better place. Not in a Pollyanna-ish kinda way, but in a real way. Something that shows we know there is more going on in the world than just in our own little box (or heads smiley).  Why? Simply because there is! I think that one way to do that is to volunteer. Volunteering is a way to remember that lesson and experience it first hand. Different than donating which is more arms length.  Of course important too but not 3-dimensional enough. Not only is volunteering a portion of your time something that you should do, it can also significantly enrich your own life and maybe even move you that much closer to your own vision?

In her report in the Cornell Chronicle, Phyllis Moen, at the time, the Ferris Family Professor in Life Course Studies in human development and sociology and the director of the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center at Cornell, reported that community commitments, especially formal participation, help enhance our sense of identity, increase confidence and promote social relationships. Moen points out that "we become what we do” and volunteering gives us a sense of ourselves as engaged in meaningful, productive activities that help change the world and gives us a wider view of our possibilities, which in turn benefits our psychological well-being.

Added to all of the “feel good and social benefits” to volunteering, we also get the amazing opportunity to share our skills, expertise and time.  Sometimes it is a great way to learn new skills too in a more “forgiving” environment than the paid workforce. When you are not being paid and giving of your time, there is usually a higher tolerance for “learning on the job”. For those women looking for flexible commitments, volunteer work can be a great match (if you are not depenedent on a paycheck).  Not too mention the opportunity to increase your social and professional network for perhaps a job search, career change or maybe a new friend.

Over the past two decades we have also seen a growing body of research that indicates volunteering provides individual health benefits in addition to social benefits, espeically in the later years. This research is presented by the Corporation for National and Community Service. This is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.

In a report titled The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research,” a strong relationship between volunteering and health is proven:

those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. Comparisons of the health benefits of volunteering for different age groups have also shown that older volunteers are the most likely to receive greater benefits from volunteering, whether because they are more likely to face higher incidence of illness or because volunteering provides them with physical and social activity and a sense of purpose at a time when their social roles are changing. Some of these findings also indicate that volunteers who devote a “considerable” amount of time to volunteer activities (about 100 hours per year) are most likely to exhibit positive health outcomes.

It has also been shown that people who volunteer early in life are much more likely to volunteer later in life, when the psychological affects are particularly important. More of a reason to start early and get our children involved so they can incorporate volunteering into their lives as the grow. That belief has led to things like “community hours” in high schools and other curriculum and character education programs in schools, like the one in my children’s schools called Project Giveback.  Developed by the incredible and dynamic Ellen Schwartz, Project Give Back is an individualized curriculum based program aimed to enhance responsibility and develop a deep-seated feeling in one’s self to make a difference in the lives of others.  This gives children a global and empathetic perspective from early on in the hopes that they will continue to develop this “muscle” as they get older.

Personally, I have used volunteer work for many different purposes at various times in my life; when I was single in my 20’s it was about fun and social outreach, in my 30’s it was first a way to transition to a new City and feel connected, when I had children young children it was a flexible way to bet back to work”, give back and focus on something other than what was happening in my own life. Now in my 40’s, I continue to try and offer my skill set to various organizations where it might be needed, act as a role model for my children, and as a constant reminder that there is a world out there that I am proudly a part of and have social responsibility to share in the care.

So where to volunteer? The opportunities are endless; schools, communities, boards, hospitals, geriatrics, political activism, politics, social causes, soup kitchens, food banks, religious affiliations…. there are even services like Volunteer Match that wil help you find out what is avaiable in your area. Everyone has a cause close to their heart and reasons of their own for choosing what they might do, doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you do something and I promise, it will not only help others but help you too.

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International Women’s Day

Each year around the world, International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8. Thousands of events occur around the world on this day and often throughout the entire month of March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Despite all of these happenings, for many of us (myself included) the day kind of comes and goes without much fanfare. So, I decided that this week I would mark the day with a bit of a primer.  The least I could do considering all of the amazing women we have to thank for blazing the trail and cultivating the endless opportunities open to most women today.

Did you know that International Women's Day history dates back to the early 1900's?  This was a time of tremendous expansion and change in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth changes in labor movements in North America and across Europe.

Here are a few facts that I found interesting about the early years from the International Women’s Day website:

1909: The first National Woman's Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honor of the 1908 garment workers' strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.

1910: The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women's Day, international in character, to honor the movement for women's rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance.

1911: As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women's Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women's rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.

1913-1914: International Women's Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I. As part of the peace movement, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with other activists.

1917: Against the backdrop of the war, women in Russia again chose to protest and strike for 'Bread and Peace' on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar). Four days later, the Czar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.

Since these early years of the 20th century, International Women's Day has assumed a greater global dimension for women in both developed and developing countries. The growing international women's movement has been further strengthened by international United Nations women's conferences too. These conferences have helped mark the commemeration and serve as an opportunity to build support for women's rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.

Organizations, governments, charities and women's groups around the world choose different themes each year reflecting both global and local gender issues. This year’s theme "Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures" is being used by schools, universities, governments, women’s and the private sector as an opportunity to connect young women to business women, politicians, professors and women in the hopes that they will embrace women leadership roles in future.

The United Nations develops their International Women's Day theme as well. Their 2012 theme is “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty”(Canadian Government chose this one as well).  Some organizations develop their own themes that are more relevant to their local contexts. For example, the European Parliament's 2012 theme is "Equal pay for work of equal value".  The United States even designates the whole month of March as 'Women's History Month'.

Whatever the theme, on March 8 events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. The internet lists loads of activity that connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more. Corporations have also started to more actively support International Women's Day by running their own internal events and through supporting external ones. The hub of activity proves that each year International Women’s Day is increasing in status.

What I think is important about International Women’s Day is that is also a day on which we can reflect on the progress made for women, an opportunity to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by the many women who have worked hard to help to shape the path of women. Where would we be without Gloria Steinem, “Rosie the Riveter”, and Madeline Albright (some of my favs)?

There HAS been significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. There are more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life.

There just needs to be more, continuous change. We aren't there yet. Women are still not paid equally, women still are not represented in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men (Catalyst). There is continued need for changes in the workplace to better accommodate the realities of womens' many roles in both the home and the workplace, the essential need for women to have the flexibility to determine their own success and make choices and not feel judged, and the need to help so many women who don’t have access to many of the tools that we do in more developed countries.

Thankfully there has been hard data that supports the continued positive contribution of women in the workplace and society. Recent data shows that women are essential to improving world conditions. When a board has a higher percentage than average of women members it points to higher corporate philanthropy with results that bring aid to those needing the most in global assistance. The September 2011 report called  "Gender and Corporate Social Responsibility: It’s A Matter of Sustainability” by Harvard Business School along with Catalyst, a leading nonprofit membership organization that works to expand opportunities for women and business, have determined that ‘gender inclusive’ leadership leads clearly to greater CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility. Data shows that each woman who is added to a corporate board, drives corporate giving up by 2.3 million, a benefit that can work to bring aid for suffering under global poverty and disaster conditions.

The data is there. Women are still working hard through their employers, government agencies, not for profits, to push.  And we need them to keep pushing so why not take the day to celebrate their efforts and everyone who came before them? Any maybe, join in too.  Find something you can do to help move women forward.  Everyone can play a part! I hope I just did.

 

Blooming Betty will return the week of March 19th.

Posted in Career, Self, Topics | Tagged , , , | 6,143 Comments

Vulnerability can be beautiful. Or so they say.

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O.K. January was clearly not my month. My mom was in the hospital in NYC, tons of deadlines and 3 nasty vertigo attacks from Menieres that rattled me to the core.  One even ended with me in emergency, however, it involved mistakenly taking ginger root instead of real Gravolä(a savior when it comes to vertigo) and so doesn’t really count as an emergency.  More like a typical “Lori adventure” with my husband along for the ride. 

I know I’m lucky. I’ll be fine and February has proven to be a better month, so far (have I told you how superstitious I am?). The Menieres in my right ear is manageable and in my history of dealing with it, I can go long spans where other than a low salt diet it barely affects my everyday life. But nevertheless, this time, I was left a bit shaken, emotional and relying on inner strength down in my toes to just deal. Definitely NOT my “happy place”.

Truthfully, the hardest part for me has been the vulnerability that I’ve felt, knowing that at times I might need a little extra help. That I might not be able to do something myself or in the manner I would choose. “Little Miss Independent and Capable” me has felt more like “Miss embarrassed and flawed”. Blech. So when I stumbled upon Brene Brown’s video on Ted Talks I knew I had to share. After I got over the horror of seeing basically describe "me, I actually learned a lot. I knew I had to share the talk because I know from you, my readers, that many of you share a similar struggle with vulnerability.

I’ve long admired Brene Brown and in my column “Embracing your inner Lucy”, used her book “The Gift of Imperfection” as a proof point. She is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and has the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. But to me she is so much, she is funny, sarcastic, self-deprecating and real.  I like that.

Through primarily qualitative research from focus groups, interviews, and research, Brown tries to answer some pretty heavy questions like, How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy? Like I said, pretty meaty stuff but if you read through it, it really just asks, how can we let our vulnerabilities show, get comfortable with them?  Even learn to embrace them? Why? Because Brown believes that this is how true connection are made. If you are thinking, what does she mean by vulnerability, it can be anything that makes you feel threatened or unprotected. Brown asked her followers on Twitter what made them feel vulnerable and the hundreds of responses ranged from things likje saying “I love you first”, waiting for the doctor to call back with test results, being turned down, to things like initiating sex with your partner or having to ask for help from anyone to a partner, a friend or a stranger.

Brown’s December 2010 Ted Talk, while long, is so worth watching. She speaks candidly and actually quite comically about her own struggle with vulnerability that popped up as a result of her research to understand connections in others. 

The initial project sought to answer the question, what makes some people more connected than others? (Connection, meaning a strong sense of love and belonging.) Brown found that those people who were “more connected” were so because they had the courage to be imperfect and embrace their vulnerability. They connected to people because they could be authentic. They saw their vulnerability as beautiful, not always easy, not always comfortable, but necessary and yes, beautiful. Human.

Conversely, those that were “disconnected” emotionally struggled with issues around their vulnerabilities and “shame of their imperfections”, not wanting themselves to be truly seen by others.  This prevented true connections. Brown defines shame as the fear of disconnection. (Is their something about me, that if people see it, I won’t be worthy of connection?)

Well, Brown admits to being appalled by her findings. As a researcher who tries to “control and predict”, she couldn’t stomach the fact that the key to connection is actually living with the vulnerability. Not trying to fix it up, organize it or push it to the side. But she herself, could not possibly, “lean into the discomfort” (as they say in the world of psycology), of being vulnerable, so how could her research possible show that this was a good thing! She admits it sent her straight into therapy. She spent over a year with a psychologists’ psychologist (or as she says, one that could ‘detect the bullshit factor’) that helped her through the process of examining her own vulnerabilities. 

She learned that if we numb our vulnerabilities, we run the risk of numbing lots of positive emotions too, like joy and happiness, because we can’t selectively numb. It is all or nothing. So instead we perfect and control whether it be our lives, our kids, our kitchens or our work …

Brown openly admits that this year saved her life. It changed her perception, changed the way she lived and changed the way she loved.

“Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back. I lost the fight, but probably won my life back.”

And so Brown inspired me to continue on my own path of authenticity and I truly hope she can do the same for some of you. You show me yours and I will show you mine smiley.

When do you feel most vulnerable? Do you have the courage to be imperfect? 

 

Let our selves be seen and deeply seen, vulnerably seen

Love our selves with our whole hearts even though there is no guarantee

Practice gratitude and joy

Believe that we are enough

Then can be kinder and gentler to others and to our selves

Brene Brown

 

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Self Confidence…Again

Success!

You know how some days you can feel like you can do anything, and other well, you don't?  Well I have had a few of those days lately and needed a a bit of a self confidence boost.  So, when deciding what to write about this week I "re-found" this post from 2010.   It still holds true and gave me just what I needed.  Thought I would re-share in case any of you needed a self-confidence boost too.

 

Happy reading.

 

Self Confidence.  Some of us have it, some of us don’t and wish we did. Some of us don’t even realize we are missing it.   We have all seen it, whether in the boardroom, a party, the PTA or at the gym, those women who just exude confidence in whatever they do.  We get the message whether it’s from their appearance, their parenting style or their professional choices.  Their smiles say: I’m me and liking it. 

I am not talking about the women we all know who are so frightfully insecure that they never question anything in their lives and gain confidence by pushing other women down. Or women who cover their frightful insecurity by promoting and rambling on about the perfection of their kids, husbands, homes, school and cars.  I am talking about the women who are just plain confident and secure with themselves.  They know what they are good at and are comfortable and accepting of what they are not.  They believe in themselves and their choices.  They are not afraid to fail.  They feel inspired by making others feel good. While I know they must have moments of self-doubt … most of the time they are secure in their own skin. Some are women who can confidently say they are a “stay at home Mom” without the back chatter that they are not contributing to society or letting their education go to waste.  Imagine! Some are women who work full time and can say, I’m also a great mom and I’m loving my work.  Possible? Some are women who can walk into a room of strangers and immediately start mingling or networking without a pause and aren’t apologetic about their hair, their clothes, or their butt even on their fat girl days. 

I love these women!  I have always wanted to be one of them.  But I am not.  I have worked hard at becoming even moderately confident and need to be reminded every day to honour who I am, what I’ve done and what I’ve now chosen to do – be a mom, a wife, a volunteer and a women’s advocate.

So my question is this: Does confidence help women feel more successful too? My answer is absolutely. Since confidence is the “belief in ones own abilities” then owning confidence in yourself and your choices automatically puts your further ahead.  You actually believe you have the potential to accomplish what you set out to do whatever that may be.  Isn’t that the first step down the your path of success?

Alternatively and unfortunately, from the women that we talk to it is that same lack of self-confidence, that often shows up in relationships, or work, or both, and is one of the chief reasons women feel badly about themselves and don’t put value on all that they do accomplish.  It’s a confidence deficiency that often leaves them feeling unsure and unsuccessful.

When thinking about self confidence, don't underestimate the "self" part. If you, like many of us, depend on others for approval all the time, then your self-esteem will always be at risk if someone doesn’t give you the praise you crave. This may mean that you tend to avoid taking risks that might lead to people being critical, seeing you as a failure, or disapproving of you. Indeed, the loss of approval can be devastating to those of us whose self-confidence depends on what other people think!

You can see how it follows that a list of strong personal qualities come from having enough self-confidence: you don't depend too much on others to feel good about yourself; you expect to be successful; you don't put yourself down; you congratulate yourself for your achievements instead of thinking you could have done it better; you accept compliments from others; you take risks; you feel you can be an individual and you don't feel compelled to conform; you trust your own abilities. In essence, you believe in yourself. Imagine that?  Doesn’t that just set you up to make choices both everyday and in life that are right for you and only you? 

Confidence results from learning that you can accomplish by yourself; can rely upon your own abilities; can trust your own judgment. Everyone needs the opportunity to learn these things. We certainly know to teach it to our children and are constantly reminded of that in the media, in our schools and our parenting books but we women didn’t all get that. Are we doomed to a life of self-doubt? Can it be learned now?  Is it too late? 

I did quite a bit of research on the different schools of thought.  The market is loaded with self-help books and gurus and life coaches. However, given my pragmatic and slightly cynical nature, I liked and could identify most with Lori Radun of  Lori Radun is a certified life coach, inspirational speaker and author of The Momnificent! Life ~ Healthy and Balanced Living for Busy Moms.  Her website, Momnificent! is a place where mothers go for unconditional support and expert advice on issues the modern mom faces today.  To receive her free e-newsletter The Chocolate Fix, or to join her community of magnificent moms at the Momnificent! Mom Club, visit http://www.momnificent.com

Read through her suggestions, get a buddy and start practicing! Let us know how it goes.  What works for you?  What doesn't.  Don’t we all deserve this chance? 

4 Keys to Increased Confidence

Know Your Worth

What makes you a valuable mom, wife, employee, or friend?  Too often we focus on our shortcomings and we’re blinded to the worth we have to offer this world.  What makes you special?  Are you funny, organized, reliable, honest, or intelligent?  What special skills do you possess?  Can you write, create, sing, crunch numbers, or fix things?  Each and every one of us has unique qualities that make us valuable to other people.  Know your strengths and be proud of them.

Live in Integrity

Living your life in integrity with who you are requires you to know yourself well.  What’s important to you?  What are your top five values?  Is every part of your life aligned with those values?  For instance, if you value health, living in integrity means you take care of yourself by exercising, eating right and getting adequate sleep.  If you life is not aligned with what’s most important to you, your confidence will diminish.  You won’t feel good about yourself because deep inside you know you are not honoring your authentic self.

Acting in Courage

Confidence can be greatly increased by facing your fears and acting in courage.  What are you afraid of?  Do you have a fear of failure or a fear of making mistakes; a fear of disapproval or a fear of the unknown?  Sometimes fear can stop us from being who we really want to be.  Feel the fear and do it anyway.  Keep facing your fear until the fear goes away.  Confidence can replace the fear.

Balancing Internal and External Approval

When we depend too much on external approval, our confidence can rise and fall depending on the validation we do or don’t receive from other people.  While it’s normal to seek praise and appreciation from other people, there needs to be a healthy balance between what we give to ourselves and what we receive from others.  You need to know you’re a great person, or you’ve done your best even when other people don’t notice.  Learn to give yourself a humble pat on the back!

 

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With a little bit of Bloomin’ luck!

After speaking at the annual World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, where Sheryl Sandberg’s subject surprisingly wasn’t the pending Facebook  IPO, but women, she has come under public fire for sounding too elitist, too out of touch with the plight of everyday working women who haven’t had the “luck” and opportunities that she has.  She has also been criticized for thinking that women need to be more ambitious , aim higher and stop blaming men for holding back their careers and instead take responsibility themselves. 

From newspapers, Internet, social media, Ted Talks, YouTube, to even Blooming Betty, Sheryl Sandberg ihas been everywhere. I mean I guess if you were about to become the “1.6 billion dollar woman”, you would be too.  For those that are wondering who she is, Sheryl Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook since 2008. Prior to Facebook, Sandberg was Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google. She attended both Harvard University and Harvard School of Business (graduating at the top of her class), has two children and is married to successful entrepreneur David Goldberg of Survey Monkey. She is consistently part of every important list of powerful women and speaks regularly on promoting and encouraging women in their careers. She sees herself as a role model for women in business and technology. In speeches, she often urges women to “keep your foot on the gas pedal,” and aim higher.

Really, lets be honest, very few could debate her accomplishments and talent. She is crazy smart, crazy driven and supposedly has a big heart and soul to match. But as Sylvia Ann Hewlett, president of the Center for Talent Innovation, a research organization on work-life policy, and director of the Gender and Policy Program at Columbia University states, “I’m a huge fan of her accomplishments and think she’s a huge role model in some ways, but I think she’s overly critical of women because she’s almost implying that they don’t have the juice, the chutzpah, to go for it, or  that Women are, in fact, fierce in their ambition, but they find that they’re actually derailed by other things, like they don’t have a sponsor in their life that helps them go for it.” It is not that simple and it is not just about ambition or good child-care.

I for one, could not agree more. Every woman’s path to success is individual and usually far more complicated than just whether or not you have ambition.  Ambition is multidimensional.  One can have ambition to be a good mother, a good citizen, reduce your carbon footprint or maybe simply to get through one week without any major screw ups.  Our ambitions are ours to own. 

But when it comes to luck.  Well that's where I do take issue with the criticism. What has it been like fore Sheryl Sandberg? Her luck or “golden path”, as cited in the New York Times, included having powerful mentors sprinkled along her career path. As well as having lots of money to afford her certain opportunity (like childcare). After Harvard and Harvard Business School, she quickly rose from a post as an economist at the World Bank to become the chief of staff for Lawrence H. Summers (who was her professor at Harvard), then the Treasury secretary. After that, she jumped to Google and, in 2008, to Facebook. 

So, yes, Sandberg did grow up in a family where there were not huge money issues or illness that we know of, so maybe that is lucky.  However, SHE got into Harvard, SHE was at the top of her class and got noticed by Larry Summers for her intellect and cultivated   a mentoring relationship with Summers. She used that relationship as everyone would and should for that matter.  And lets be honest.  A relationship might give you opportunity, but isn't delivery and performance what propels you forward after that?

I think Rebecca Rosen in the Atlantic put it best:

Luck, it must be said, is a loaded word. Sometimes someone's luck is nothing of their own doing, a result of the privilege of their birth. Sometimes we mean luck in the purest way, the happenstance of sitting next to the right person on a bus. (This sort of luck seems practically mythical; one wonders if it ever happens.) But for many people, "luck" is something of their own making: They work hard, network, self-promote, and so on, and one day, they end up in the right place at the right time and catch their break. Is that luck? Not in the same way, and telling someone who has worked hard that their success is a result of luck is insulting.

So, lets give Sheryl Sandberg a break.  She might not know what it’s like to live pay check to pay check but she certainly can teach us something about working hard, networking and the power of women.  And you know what? I am good with that.

What do you think about luck?  How much does it play into people’s success? How much has it played into your own?

Posted in Career, Financial Success, Topics | Tagged , , , , , | 5,102 Comments